TESTIMONY OF A FORMER CHRISTIAN SCIENTIST by Keith Edward Tolbert Vincent Perna, a former

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TESTIMONY OF A FORMER CHRISTIAN SCIENTIST by Keith Edward Tolbert Vincent Perna, a former Christian Scientist, has donated his entire Christian Science collection to the Library of Apologetic Research Coalition. The Vincent Perna Christian Science collection contains over 3,000 titles including books, pamphlets, periodicals, articles, audio tapes, etc. Its scope is extremely comprehensive and is in excellent condition. Founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879, the Church of Christ Scientists (Christian Science or simply'CS') is a Gnostic cult claiming to have discovered the lost teaching of Jesus - mental healing. (see "Christian Science: a Biblical Critique," on page 10) Rejecting the orthodox view of God, Jesus and salvation, Eddy created a new religion based on her personal existential experiences and teachings borrowed from Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, precursor to all New Thought religions in America. Vincent Perna, now an evangelical Christian, is a former Class-Taught Christian Scientist of 30 years. After reading the Bible alone, apart from Eddys interpretations, Perna became a Christian and has spent over 10 years re-examining his former church. His research into Christian Science has uncovered doctrinal errors, false prophecies, governmental abuses and historical myths. The extensive scope of the Perna collection is born out by the wide-ranging literature genres of which it is comprised. The primary literature, that literature produced by Christian Scientists, include not only virtually every edition of Eddys Science and Health, but also other Eddy-related writings, e.g., writings attributed to Eddy, New Thought literature contemporary with Eddy, and literature which influenced Eddys thought. In addition, this collection takes in Christian Science doctrinal works, histories, references, didactic (teaching), and periodical literature. Moreover, in the Perna collection resides Church governmental literature, correspondence, Hymnals, and audio tapes as well as non-official Christian Science writings. With regard to secondary literature, that literature produced about Christian Science, the Perna collection excels in that it features literature produced by Christians, non-Christians and Pernas own manuscripts. Perhaps the most important elements in this collection are the various editions of Science and Health (regarded as CS scripture), some dating back to the earliest days of this movement. After photocopying and scanning all of these editions onto our computers hard disk, I will write a computer program to compare each edition, word by word, with the previous ones and mark the noted changes. Thereby, we will be able to trace changes which may have occurred throughout the publication history of Science and Health. Next in importance would be the "Eddy-related" literature. Among the many Eddy writings are Historical Sketch of Metaphysical Healing, What Christmas Means to Me, and Memoirs of Mary Baker Eddy. Perhaps more important to Christian Science mythology than to Christian Science history is a small collection of works attributed to Eddy, but not recognized by the church, entitled Fragments Gathered from Unpublished Items Ascribed to Mary Baker Eddy. Also included are works to which scholars have traced many of Eddys ideas, e.g., The Quimby Manuscripts, and The Phenomenology of Mind by G.W.F. Hegel. In fact, even competitive literature within the New Thought movement like Dressers The Perfect Whole and On the Threshold of the Spiritual World are included. Official writings of the Christian Science Church, excluding Eddy-related literature, comprises the largest segment of the Perna collection. Among the scores of doctrinal works are included The Overwhelming Evidence Concerning Spiritual Healings and The Continuity of the Bible (a CS commentary series on the entire Bible). The 30 or so CS histories are almost exclusively about Eddy; included are Mary Baker Eddy: A New Look, Mary Baker Eddy: a Biography by Norman Beasley, Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy by Irving C. Tomlinson, and Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Discovery 1821-1875 by Robert Peel. However, a few doctrinal works are also among the history collection, e.g., Lectures and Articles on Christian Science of Edward A. Kimball. An absolutely indispensable reference is The Students Reference Dictionary which establishes the meaning of key words used by Mary Baker Eddy in her writings as she understood them. CS instructional literature in the Perna collection takes in both courses taught at individual churches and Principia College (the only CS approved college). Among these many courses are the Holy Bible: A Reading Course on the Old Testament and OT and NT surveys. Christian Science church government documents are subdivided into three general categories, manuals, reports and position papers represented by The Church Manual of the Mother Church, Reports of the Committee on General Welfare, and Legal Rights and Obligations of Christian Scientists, respectively. While not complete, the Perna periodical collection takes the ARC Library several steps closer towards realizing a complete collection of the Christian Science Sentinel and the Christian Science Journal (including the April, 1904 issue). CS works produced outside of the United States but still printed in English contain Mary Baker Eddys Other Writings and Christian Science: Its Continuous Evolution, whereas also included are several non-English volumes, primarily in Chinese. Also of significant interest are several CS hymnals, audio tapes and a correspondence collection between the Christian Science Board of Trustees and CS dissident Reginald G. Kerry. Too numerous to mention here are the boxes and boxes of books which promote Christian Science, are written by Christian Scientists, but are not published nor endorsed by the Church of Christ, Scientists. The nominal collection of secondary literature, in comparison to the vast amount of primary CS literature, points up the need for scholarly work in Christian Science studies. The Perna collection includes critiques from both evangelical and secular positions, the latter represented by an original copy of Mark Twains Christian Science. Among this collection are at least 20-30 very rare finds, including an original copy of the April 1911 Muncy magazine, featuring the article "The Girlhood of Mary Baker," and prints no less than 4 early photographs of Eddy along with a sample of her handwriting. A representative rare find which has been reprinted is Edward A. Kimballs Normal Class Notes: A Gem of Metaphysical Teaching which was used by him to teach the first class in the Board of Education of Mary Baker Eddys Massachusetts Metaphysical College. The condition of the Perna collection is excellent. Rare Books and periodicals were carefully banded and wrapped, respectively. Of course, this is a testimony to Perna's understanding the value of this collection. The body of Christ in general and ARC Fellowship in particular owe a huge debt of thankfulness to Vincent Perna. Very few people understand the lifetime of study, travel, searching and expense that a collection such as this represents. If just the extensive collection of Science and Health editions were the only contribution Perna made to Christian Science studies, it would have been significant. However, as you can see from the above representative titles, Pernas contribution to Christian Science studies must be judged significant to the extreme! I speak for everyone at ARC when I extend to Vincent Perna our gratitude for his donation to our ministry. I only hope we at ARC Fellowship will be able to conduct research worthy of this type of collection [By the way, Vincent also sent along a collection of about 300 titles of occult literature, primarily on astrology and reincarnation. For this we at ARC are also thankful.]


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