Focus on the Author: Cheryl Petersen

Author of 21st Century Science and Health

//I hope to mix in the occasional author bio, or perhaps an author’s personal motivation/inspiration for writing a book. Authors, if I’ve reviewed your book (or if I have it for review) feel free to contribute a short post, if you’d like further exposure. To kick off this idea, here’s a short note from the author of 21st Century Science and Health. The Dubious Disciple review can be found at here.

When Cheryl sent a review copy of her book, I bluntly asked about her authority to basically rewrite the founding document of her religion. It’s a pointed question, to be sure, but Cheryl replied quite gracefully as follows:

Hi Lee,

The authority behind a revision was a tough tough question for me because I had nothing to go on except a persistent resilient internal demand that an update is sensible, practical, legitimate, and necessary.

I avoided revising for years, justifying my neglect with the fact that I’d risen in the church ranks and was heavily involved in what church authorities approved of. I was a Journal listed Christian Science practitioner, taught by a respected Teacher in the movement who also was on the Board of Directors. But, I could see and more importantly, admit, that my actions appeared futile and hypocritical. Why could I speak and write in contemporary words but insist readers read an outdated book?

To put it bluntly, I finally admitted I was following church authorities before I was following Christian Science.

In a roundabout way, it was the public that gave me permission to revise Science and Health. The public wanted a book they could read and understand, referring as nearly as possible to what Eddy dubbed Christian Science. It is all ironic now, because the public was basically telling me they didn’t want to come to me anymore for insight and healing, they wanted to read about Christian Science and get to know God on their own, with God.

Honest, moral, spiritually minded, scholarly, and courageous people in the public actually worked with me for years, until the revision had enough momentum that I was left to continue the project.

When it came time to copyright, my name was affixed to 21st Century Science and Health, because I have done the greater majority of the work.

There are some church members who feel adamantly that a revision is wrong, they absolutely can’t envision reading anything but Eddy’s last version of Science and Health.  A very few people believe the Christian Science Board of Directors should be the only outlet for a revision however, I’ve had extensive communication with the Board and their mentality is excruciatingly afraid to admit to a revision. In fact, the fear and confusion was so predominant that I withdrew my church membership in order to break contact with that mentality.

I have studied extensively Bible revisions and history, however I firmly believe the Science and Health is not a Bible, nor is it part of the Bible. Therefore, my technique for revising is different.

I apologize for the length of my answer. Your question was excellent.




  1. I unforgettably remember the anguish of breaking away from traditions of men to better follow the commandments of God. (Mark 7) In my younger years, I’d been a Bible thumper (in a different religion than Petersen) until I realized God doesn’t judge. It was decades ago, but to leave my outgrown opinion about God and the Bible was scary to me. It’s difficult enough to follow God but I realized that following the traditions of men is divisive and backward. I hope people in Cheryl’s former church aren’t neglecting or ignoring her vision and hard work like they’ve neglected caring for Science and Health. I’ve read some of 21st Century Science and Health. I like it fine mainly because I can relate to the God of life, joy, and healing, but to be honest, the book needs more revising.

  2. I am always suspicious of writers justifying themselves by writing off critics as closed minded. Could be that the critics see things differently, and are no more closed minded than the writer. Let the book sink or swim on its own. That said, the reason I didn’t order it is because the reviews that gave specific examples, like the substitution of the word teacher for master, convinced me that this version lacks fullness and depth. Could be that an updated version is needed. Or it could be that some things– like becoming an artist or true scholar– require hard work, and there’s no way around that. And few will reach success because few are willing to do that work.


  1. Dubious Disciple Posted My Letter - Everyday Spirituality - […] Click here to read the letter posted by Dubious Disciple […]

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