In 1889, Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, asked her fractious Church of Christ (Scientist) in Boston to disband. No scholar has studied this “Church of 1879,” the predecessor of the present Mother Church founded in 1892, nor analyzed the members of this religious body. Therefore, after briefly discussing Eddy’s journey of faith, this article delves into pertinent affairs of her early, struggling church and investigates the largely forgotten people from most levels of society who comprised her initial flock. Many of Eddy’s actions to curb unruly personalities or undue adulation of herself followed sociologist Max Weber’s theories about the “routinization of charisma.” The headstrong membership, coupled with unreliable preaching by invited clergy and confusion over competing metaphysical groups, led Eddy to disincorporate her first church and found the more centralized Mother Church—The First Church of Christ, Scientist—in 1892. This article shows the institutional birth of an American religion.
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Research Article| August 01 2018
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Rolf Swensen; Mary Baker Eddy’s “Church of 1879”: Boisterous Prelude to The Mother Church. Nova Religio 1 August 2018; 22 (1): 87–114. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/nr.2018.22.1.87
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