I cannot escape the nagging suspicion that something is at least a touch rotten in the Denmark of Bible lessons. I sense a nefarious tampering with the lessons over many years by hidden hands, sometimes conspicuous, at other times subtle, but still "darkness visible". No loyal Christian Scientist can deny the importance of the Bible lessons. Mrs. Eddy writes on page 31 of the Church Manual of "the Sunday lesson,--a lesson on which the prosperity of Christian Science largely depends."
Here are three specifics. One is in Section 4 of this past week's lesson, "Unreality", where Jesus spits on the eyes of the blind man (Mark 8: 22-25). Another is the similar instance where Jesus makes clay of the spittle and puts it on a blind man's eyes (John 9: 1-9), a healing which is used in the lesson of November 8-14, "Mortals and Immortals". The third is the healing at the pool of Bethesda (John 9: 1-7), which appears in the very next lesson, November 15-21, "Soul and Body". In my experience at least, these healings reoccur in lessons with what I believe to be suspicious and insidious regularity. In the current Quarterly all three are used in fewer than two months.
Well, so what? one may think. I would suggest that to give these healings unwarranted emphasis could suggest, misleadingly of course, that there is in Christian Science an openness to material aids in healing (i.e., medicine) or that there are other equally valid means of healing, as at the pool of Bethesda and that, ergo, Christian Science is just another gawky kid on the crowded healing block. Other questionable tamperings could also be cited.
Some will simply classify these assertions as the demented ravings of a paranoid kook, but once obvious misues of the Bible lesson have been perpetrated, e.g., Woman's Year shenanigans, how can a now compromised spring ever again be trusted to issue uncontaminated waters? If there is any truth to these assertions it makes it all the more important that one study the Bible lessons from the books in order to read the citations in their contexts and observe or fill in any puzzling omissions. Even if the above is hooey, though I'm confident it is not, it is also important that Scientists be studying on their own, beyond the Bible lessons, the Bible and writings of Mary Baker Eddy. How, by the way, does one study a pamphletized Bible lesson?
It has also been reported or rumored that in the fairly recent past some Bible lesson committee members were not even Christian Scientists. Pure baloney? Write the Board and ask them to assure you unequivocally that over the past 20-25 years--under their watch and their immediate predecessors' watch let's say--that every member of the Bible lesson committee has been a long-standing, well-seasoned, class-taught member of the Mother Church. That shouldn't be difficult to attest to if there are no skeletons in the closet. Don't hold your breath waiting for a reply.
Note: I noticed after this entry was posted that in the Bible Lesson-Sermon for 2 October 1898, "Are Sin, Disease, and Death Real?", that the healing at the pool of Bethesda (John 5: 1-9) was, coincidentally, one of two healings in that lesson, the other being the healing of the woman "diseased with an issue of blood" (Matt 9: 20-22) for those who might be curious. What is much more notable, however, about the 1898 use of that healing in John (referred to in the above entry) is that verses 4 and 7 are omitted, thus ignoring the healing powers believed by many to be present in the waters when they were troubled. The healing focuses entirely, therefore, on Christ Jesus' unambiguous spiritual healing of the man "which had an infirmity thirty and eight years." It would therefore seem logical that if spiritual healing were the sole focus of healing in the Bible lessons, and why wouldn't it be?, that verses 4 and 7 would be eliminated in this week's official lesson. As I said at the beginning of this entry, I have some nagging suspicions about the purity of current Bible lessons.