Stephen Gottschalk,“Christian Science and Harmonialism,” in Lippy and Williams, eds., Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience: Studies of Traditions and Movements (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1988), II, 902-916.
An assessment of the relation of Christian Science to American culture that differs significantly with conventional academic views:
“Strictly speaking, the aims and theological standpoint of Christian Science and of harmonialism differ so markedly that the two cannot be assumed to represent the same tendency….
“What [Mary Baker] Eddy felt she had discovered through her exploration of Scripture was a radically new and enlarged concept of God that correlated with her own deepest religious experience….
“For her this meant that God was real, sovereign, and absolute in a way that contradicted materialistic assumptions far more radically than traditional Christian theology had ever conceived. Given Eddy’s strong religious background, it would simply never have occurred to her to question that God was the intelligent, loving Father to whom Christians prayed. But she held too that the full promise of Christianity could not be realized until God was seen as the Life, Soul, and ordering Principle of all being, which must like [God] be spiritual – until it was understood that there could be no actual life, substance, or intelligence apart from him….
“Eddy and her followers saw her teaching as opening a new stage for Christian experience, restoring ‘primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.’…
“These points help to locate Christian Science within the spectrum of American Christianity as one of those groups in the radical Reformed Protestant tradition that insists upon going back to pure and normative Christian beginnings….”