"Christian sermons"

On page 345 of Science and Health Mrs. Eddy writes, "When the omnipotence of God is preached and His absoluteness is set forth, Christian sermons will heal the sick." The fact that Christian Science churches are usually so well attended each Sunday is an occasion for frequent and somewhat surprised comment on the part of casual observers. Often the comment takes some such form as this: "Christian Scientists have no ritualistic ceremony, no elaborate musical program, no regular sermon. What do they get from their Sunday services that they are found so persistently in their places Sunday after Sunday?" The query is a natural and pertinent one. May not the answer be found in the sermon itself, even if at first glance it does not seem to be a "regular" sermon?

Philology teaches that words are the signs for ideas. The word sermon undoubtedly suggests widely differing ideas to various people. Webster's dictionary defines sermon as "a discourse delivered in public for the purpose of religious instruction, and grounded on a passage of Scripture." Mrs. Eddy, in the Explanatory Note prefacing the Christian Science Bible Lessons, states succinctly some essential characteristics of "a sermon undivorced from truth, uncontaminated and unfettered by human hypotheses." In accordance with her instructions this note is read at the Sunday services in every Church of Christ, Scientist, throughout the world, before the beginning of the Lesson-Sermon. In the opening sentence attention is called to the fact that, as Christian Scientists, "the Bible and the Christian Science text-book are our only preachers." To one who has been, perhaps for many years, accustomed to attach to the word sermon the conventional idea of a set discourse, based on a single text and depending largely on the personality of the speaker to give it force, the presentation of truth through the reading of correlated passages from the Bible and Science and Health doubtless seems a radical innovation.

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Man as Idea
January 6, 1917
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