Response 1: Christine Driessen
Thank you for alerting us to this wonderful opportunity to open our church doors to the community and show our support for our fellow Christian Churches. They have a great video on YouTube, which effectively but simply addresses the concerns people have about going to church.
National Back to Church Sunday (September 18), could be a wonderful time for Christian Science churches to join the effort of thousands of other Christian churches in sharing the value of Church as a healing force in the community and to encourage our members to invite family members, friends, or colleagues who have left church or never attended. It could also be a time to introduce the community to our Sunday Schools, Reading Rooms, periodicals, websites, and healing services on Sundays and Wednesdays; to offer lectures or organize interfaith panel discussions on the healing power of the Christ; and to open dialogue with other Christian Churches on our deep love for Christ Jesus as the Wayshower and Savior for all mankind.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "Love all Christian churches for the gospel's sake; and be exceedingly glad that the churches are united in purpose, if not in method, to close the war between flesh and Spirit, and to fight the good fight till God's will be witnessed and done on earth as in heaven" (Christian Science versus Pantheism, p. 13). Christ Jesus taught us to judge no one, but to love all mankind. We can unite with so much of what they present in their statement of faith and trust the rest to God’s guidance.
The one key difference is their statement that Jesus is God, even though Jesus himself said, "Why callest thou me good; there is none good but one, and that is God" (Matt 19). He always identified himself as the son of God, and yet he was also the manifestation of the Christ in the flesh and said he, and each of us, is one with God. This concept is very difficult for people to understand—even for Christian Scientists.
Listen to Mrs. Eddy’s own words on the question: “The Christ was the Spirit which Jesus implied in his own statements, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life;’ ‘I and my Father are one.’ This Christ, or divinity of the man Jesus, was his divine nature, the godliness which animated him” (Science and Health, p. 26).
We all have a long way to go before we will truly understand the infinite nature of God and the unique role of Christ and Christ Jesus. Rather than arguing with people over doctrine, I find it much better to build bridges to all that unites us, trusting the Christ to communicate to each heart and to help us all gain a deeper understanding of the divine nature manifested through Jesus.
Response 2: Miles Harbur
To me, participating in events with people of differing beliefs can be a good thing. At the very least, I always learn a lot more than I thought I would. By being willing to overcome the fear of social "risk" in interacting with people of differing beliefs, we're enabled to learn about their beliefs directly. We learn what aspects of Mary Baker Eddy's ideas are especially appealing to them, and we learn what ways of expressing and demonstrating these ideas are most comprehensible and useful to them.
And beyond learning, sometimes the results of these events are truly amazing and humbling—people who are unfamiliar with the healing ideas and practices in Science and Health get to have first-hand experience with them from someone who loves them deeply. That's a basic purpose of church!
To help grow mankind's awareness, appreciation, and practice of Christian Science, we must be willing to mix, share, listen, and build authentic relationships with people and organizations whose lifestyles and beliefs differ significantly from our own. Mrs. Eddy made this point in Christian Healing: “We have asked, in our selfishness, to wait until the age advanced to a more practical and spiritual religion before arguing with the world the great subject of Christian healing; but our answer was, ‘Then there were no cross to take up, and less need of publishing the good news’ ” (p.1).
Jesus also illustrated this principle in his inclusion of all kinds of people in his sphere of relationships: greedy businessmen, respected Pharisees, lowly hookers, playing children, outcast Samaritans, and skeptical fishermen.
This being said, it does require humble, honest spiritual listening and prayer to decide which events to take part in and how to participate if we decide to go forward. Some events are more useful than others. It's good to consider what could be negative downsides to participating in a specific event. To me, the bottom line is whether the event might be a means of connecting with some spiritual seekers—the same seekers Mrs. Eddy had in mind when she wrote Science and Health.
I’ve learned from participating in different public events that the motive that brings the best results is not the desire to tell other people about Christian Science. It’s a willingness to listen to others, to honor their ideas, and to practice Christian Science during the event in response to this listening. I love that you’re considering this opportunity!