The Church Manual
From the September 17, 1910 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel by Mary Baker Eddy. This notice was later republished in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany: My. 237:20-24
The article on the Church Manual by Blanche Hersey Hogue, in the Sentinel of Sept. 10, is practical and scientific, and I recommend its careful study to all Christian Scientists.
Mary Baker Eddy.
The Church Manual
by Blanche Hersey Hogue
Christian Scientists have for their instruction the Scriptures, the writings of Mrs. Eddy, which open to them the Scriptures, and the Church Manual, the rules of which help them to apply what they have been taught. The Bible, understood through Christian Science, is aiding its students individually to live in Christian discipleship; the Manual of The Church of Christ, Scientist, in providing that Christian Scientists shall work together, is helping them collectively to live in Christian fellowship. The teaching of the Scriptures and the Christian Science text-book bring about the individual correction of thought, while the rules of the Church Manual make possible right action through groups of individuals and through the whole body of Scientists. So, the Bible, Science and Health, and the Manual are equally important in their places. The Manual bears definite relation to the other two books in that it shows us how to take the steps that will bring their teaching into our lives in all necessary relations with our fellow-men. It safeguards and regenerates Christian fellowship by promoting the best possible form of church organization. For these reasons, therefore, it can no more be dispensed with than can the Scriptures or the Christian Science text-book.
Of the Bible Mrs. Eddy has written: “Christian Scientists are fishers of men. The Bible is our sea-beaten Rock. It guides the fishermen. It stands the storm. It engages the attention and enriches the being of all men” (Sentinel, March 31, 1906). Christian Scientists themselves know what place the Christian Science text-book holds in their regeneration; how it makes plain the words of prophet, apostle, and of the Master himself; how it brings Christian healing into human experience today. And concerning the Manual Mrs. Eddy has said: “Of this I am sure, that each rule and by-law in the Manual will increase the spirituality of him who obeys it, invigorate his capacity to heal the sick, to comfort such as mourn, and to awaken the sinner” (Sentinel, Sept. 12, 1903). In keeping with the law and order set forth in the Manual, we have the Sunday Lesson-Sermons, the mid-week testimony meetings, the provision of monthly, weekly, and daily reading-matter, the board of lecturers, the Christian Science reading-rooms, the publication committee work, the rotation of church officers, etc., while, in keeping with its instructions, students are being taught and patients are being healed in all the world. Great reforms, indeed, are going on through the united action for good which operates through the Christian Science movement, and the outward and visible activities bear witness to the inward and spiritual understanding, which is itself being quickened by the law and order and discipline of right organization.
It is best for the Christian Scientist at present that he is not allowed to live to himself. His place in organization teaches him many things that he cannot learn otherwise, for it lifts him from the selfish consideration of his personal problems to the unselfish support of an impersonal cause. Within the ample boundaries of the Christian Science organization he finds multiplied opportunities for surrendering his own will, his own opinion, and his own comfort to the good of the whole,—opportunities unafforded even by the home or by any outside life in the world; and he is cheered by good example and by happy fellowship to higher faith in good as the ends of organization are worked out together.
If, then, the Church Manual, with the organization for which it provides, has so large a place in the establishment and growth of Christian Science, it is essential that Christian Scientists be keenly alive to its provisions and its demands. Continual fidelity, for instance, to the instruction found in Article VIII., Section 1, that “neither animosity nor mere personal attachment” shall govern motives and actions; to the warning in the same paragraph against “prophesying, judging, condemning, counseling, influencing or being influenced erroneously;” to the demand for a charitable attitude toward all religious, medical, and legal points of view; to the adoption, so insistently urged, of the spirit of the golden rule,—this fidelity, we know, will help in the making over of human nature, until in some fair day by-laws to provide for such consistent Christian behavior shall be no longer necessary. And it is unquestionably true that he who really does heed the requirement set forth in the Manual concerning Jesus’ teaching that each shall go to his brother alone and tell him of his fault before publishing it to others, accepts a discipline which makes him in deed as well as in profession a genuine Christian Scientist.
Because the question of church organization is so vital a matter, it becomes naturally an important point to protect. A Christian Scientist who cannot at the moment be made suddenly disloyal to the Bible, to the Christian Science text-book or to its writer, can perhaps, through innumerable arguments, be persuaded into a lukewarm attitude toward church organization. Indifference, restlessness, criticism that is mere fault-finding and is not constructively helpful, are the symptoms of coming under such persuasion. To prevent this each member needs to keep his thoughts warm and loving toward all church activities; to be cheerfully in his place at meetings whenever possible; to be helpfully interested in every detail of cooperative work, though this does not mean necessarily that he shall take part, personally, in every church undertaking; for the quietest and least conspicuous church-member is sometimes best serving the church. It does mean, however, that we must guard zealously our love for organization, even in its present incomplete form, that we may not hinder its growth into greater beauty and utility.
Indifference to organization indicates that we believe we value the Scriptures and the Christian Science text-book, but refuse the discipline their teaching asks of us through the rules and by-laws of the Manual. Finding and keeping a place within organization means sometimes the surrender of ease and self-will, but it means, too, shelter and safety and the right to peace. So long, then, as the Leader of the Christian Science movement sees there is need for organization to establish Christian Science, no student may fancy that he has rightly “outgrown” organization. The Christian Scientist is a standard-bearer within The Church of Christ, Scientist, and he who remains loyally and lovingly at his post best serves God, all humanity, and himself.
It may be said, truly, that the inspiration for the Church Manual is found in the life of Mrs. Eddy. Everything asked of Christian Scientists in maintaining the cause beyond and above all personal interests, Mrs. Eddy herself has done before them. Had she consulted only her own comfort she might have been tempted to apply what she knows of God just to the working out of her own salvation. Instead, she has labored forty years and more to give of her store to the world; she has been impelled to found the church with all its educational branches, and to protect its growing activities; she has foregone ease, and has bound herself to this task, that we, too, may find the Christ-healing for our sin and pain. Consistent and blessed is the Christian Scientist who can bind himself with her until many more shall find their healing and until The Church of Christ, Scientist, shall stand in good will to all men, radiant and triumphant in the earth.