Structure of the 
Christian Science Church Manual


The horizontal correlation between
 "Temple" and "Church"

presented by Rolf Witzsche

"Meetings" (4)   "Board of Education" (12)

 

"Board of Education"
"Meetings"

These two elements belong to the highest row where our divine resources are represented.

The subject of "Meetings" here pertains to the regular Annual Meetings of the Mother Church at which only the officers are required to be present. The members are not barred, but neither are they required to attend as no special befit would be derived from it. 

The current convention is, and has been for a long time, that thousands are coming for a mass gathering at Annual Meeting time to be entertained with speeches and presentations. But as Mary Baker Eddy points out in the painting Seeking and Finding, that the spiritual resource for individuals is not located in such meetings, but is located in the individual member's unity with God.

The same sense is reflected in the Manual section, "Board of Education." The central focal point here is the position of her college. She writes about the college in the preface of her textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

The first school of Christian Science Mind-healing was started by the author with only one student in Lynn, Massachusetts, about the year 1867. In 1881, she opened the Massachusetts Metaphysical College in Boston, under the seal of the Commonwealth, a law relative to colleges having been passed, which enabled her to get this institution chartered for medical purposes. No charters were granted to Christian Scientists for such institutions after 1883, and up to that date, hers was the only College of this character which had been established in the United States, where Christian Science was first introduced. During seven years over four thousand students were taught by the author (Mary Baker Eddy) in this College... She closed her College, October 29, 1889, in the height of its prosperity with a deep-lying conviction that the next two years of her life should be given to the preparation of the revision of SCIENCE AND HEALTH, which was published in 1891. She retained her charter, and as its President, reopened the College in 1899 as auxiliary to her church.

She never vacated her office of the President of the Massachusetts Metaphysical College but established a Board of Education for it, consisting of the President (the position she retained), a Vice-President, and a teacher. The question needs to be asked why she didn't resign her position? In fact she complicated the issue by specifying "The signature of the teacher and of the President of the College shall be on all certificates issued," while also stipulating that "Teachers must have Certificates." (Manual p.85 and p.91) 

Did she suggest that all formal teaching of the science of Christian Science must grind to a halt without her presence? After all, a dead person cannot sign certificates, but certificates are required for all teachers. 

With this consideration another question comes to the surface: Is Mary Baker Eddy dead? Or is the President of the Massachusetts Metaphysical College a position that has been established and rests within mankind's cultural continuum of discovered and established spiritual ideas, a continuum that never ends? Didn't she thereby retain her position as the primary teacher? In actual practice, this is the case today. Her position as the primary teacher is still essential, simply because there is not not a single teacher in the field today who is able to teach from the position of her pedagogical structure of divine Science that she made all of her major works subjective to as contributory structures. In fact, there is nobody in the field today, or ever has been, apart from the President of the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, who is qualified to teach Christian Science. Therefore no teaching is actually happening as the result of this fundamental deficiency of not knowing what Christian Science really is based on.

In time this deficiency will likely be corrected and the process as outlined in the painting Christian Unity may begin to unfold, which of course is foundational for the work of the "Board of Lectureship" (which is liked to by this painting) which cannot really function until the primary deficiency is dealt with. 

Mary Baker Eddy may have expected the deficiency to have been dealt with before her passing, at which point the college could have had a new President. But this was not to be. Nor could she have imposed her pedagogical structure onto the field, though she had made all of her works contributory to it. Such an imposition would have created a dogma instead of opening the scene to the process of discovery, which is the leading edge of Science. Christian Science resulted from a discovery and needs to remain on this platform, as the process of discovery is one of the key elements in human culture without which it wouldn't exist.

In the mean time, until the process of discovery comes anew to Christian Science no degree can be awarded in the Board of Education as none of the signing officers are aware of, much less understand, the very foundation for what the college is designed to be teaching. Still, Mary Baker Eddy didn't close the door completely. She suggested in her application forms for Church membership that the degree that cannot be awarded, can however be simply taken by one who understands and can acknowledge his right to do so.

We face a cultural failure here that is not uncommon in the larger world. In many an election for the leaders of State, none of the candidates who stood for election, or were allowed to stand, were actually qualified for the task, resulting in enormous tragedies in society. In this sense Mary Baker Eddy's continuity as the President of the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, and the huge challenge that this presents for teaching Christian Science, stands as a model for the kind of challenge that society as a whole must recognize and master in order to assure the continuity of civilization which is increasingly threatened by society's failure to recognize and master this challenge.

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Published by Cygni Communications Ltd. North Vancouver, BC, Canada - (c) Copyright 2008 - public domain - Rolf A. F. Witzsche