Christian Scientists are forging new links with other Christians in such areas as prayer and fellowship since their church has engaged in ecumenical dialogues, according to the current issue of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies (Spring).
The Christian Science Church began a series of informal dialogues with the National Council of Churches about five years ago, and such ecumenical contact has had direct and indirect influences on members. Shirley Paulson writes that language differences between Christian Scientists and other Christians remain a divisive issue, since the church under founder Mary Baker Eddy developed a distinct and unorthodox vocabulary.
But the dialogues have inspired a number of Christian scientists to re-examine Eddy’s original concepts of Christianity, paying special attention to the eucharist and baptism (sacraments the church doesn’t practice) and the role of the cross in the healing practice. Whether or not it is directly related to the dialogues, there has also been a new awareness about the church’s biblical roots.
“A cultural shift—especially among a number of younger Christian Scientists—is moving from a very private individual religious practice to a more community-oriented experience,” Paulson writes. One sign of this is young Christian Scientists’ participation in the popular game Radical Acts, which is both played online and is a kind of card game where players learn about the teachings of Jesus in an ecumenical context, with interpretation left open to anyone who participates.
Another fairly new practice has been Christian Scientists praying for other Christians and their churches, “because they are within our own Christian family,” Paulson concludes.
(Journal of Ecumenical Studies, http://journal.jesdialogue.org/home/.)