Mary Baker Eddy is the discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, which she described as “the law of God; the law of good.” Her wish was to “reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.” A devoted Bible scholar and previously an invalid, she had a revelation that healed her, and she then went on to heal and teach others the divinely scientific method that Jesus utilized for healing. She is not only one of the most fascinating individuals you could ever study in history, her thought was so profound and such a radical paradigm shift that we are still catching up with its practical import today.
There are many things I love about this woman. In a day and age where women couldn’t own property or speak in public, she didn’t simply fight for that right, she went ahead and did it anyway. She was a bestselling author of life changing books. She pioneered new developments in theology and lay the groundwork for what today is called the “mind-body connection.” She was a generous philanthropist. In her late 80’s she started an international daily newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, charged with raising the standard of journalism, which it still does today. This was one vigorous, inspired woman! There is nothing at all quaint about this Victorian powerhouse!
Often today we don’t realize that she was literally far and away the most internationally famous person of her day. Yet her motives were pure and she was a humble person on a mission. She made this statement in 1907 in an interview with the New York American, “All my efforts, all my prayers and tears are for humanity, and the spread of peace and love among mankind.”
To Mary Baker Eddy, God was all. And therefore anything unlike God had no chance of existence. This made it paramount to understand God’s nature. So all those years ago, she claimed a Father/Mother God. She also defined seven synonyms of God: Life, Truth, Love, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Principle.
Her idea of God being all and unmixed with His unlikeness, as well as God being considered Mother, let alone Principle, was new and radical and controversial. But Mrs. Eddy also made a crucial distinction between Jesus and God which had been lost in Christianity ever since the Council of Nicea. The early Christians did not think Jesus was God (yes, he was the Messiah and the son of God) and for the first few hundred years after his ascension, his followers healed just as he did. Their independence and power threatened Constantine, whose coercion dampened the course of Christianity by one well placed, manipulated, doctrinal change, defining Jesus as God. Mary Baker Eddy, in turn, boldly went up against a traditional church long steeped in that misguided convention.
Similarly, one of the other different perspectives she held was on heaven and hell. She flatly rejected the doctrine of predestination. She taught that be it fast or slow, we all will arrive at the fullness of being, with none of God’s ideas rejected, unworthy or left out. For my part, I see this shift as critical in establishing world peace, leading away from an “us vs. them” mentality toward a healthy equal footing as all of God’s beloved, progressing children. This assertion also met with the rancor of Christians who read the Bible literally instead of spiritually, and were unwilling to reconsider some of their inherited interpretations of it.
She wrote in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “Must Christian Science come through the Christian churches as some persons insist? This Science has come already, after the manner of God’s appointing, but the churches seem not ready to receive it, according to the Scriptural saying, ‘He came unto his own, and his own received him not.’” She also wrote, “Until the author of this book learned the vastness of Christian Science, the fixedness of mortal illusions, and the human hatred of Truth, she cherished sanguine hopes that Christian Science would meet with immediate and universal acceptance.” She never intended to start a church, but those embracing her fresh perspective on the Scriptures wanted to convene, and so the Church of Christ, Scientist was born.
A science? Mary Baker Eddy’s theology is provable. Otherwise, I wouldn’t believe it; however, I do see its awesome power and verity because I have demonstrated its validity over and over. Mary Baker Eddy asserts that, “Reason is the most active human faculty.” It is by observing, and experimenting with these ideas, that we consistently find that they are true. But you have to put it into application. But what is Christianity if not applied?
She points out that, “Human philosophy has made God manlike. Christian Science makes man Godlike.” I was an atheist, as so many are today, because I rejected that manlike God. But when you come to understand God instead as truly infinite, all-powerful, ever-present and good? What about God as Life itself, or Love? Learning to turn to that and lean on that and commune with that is beyond wonderful. Starting to express that and reflect that is not only vastly exciting, but is working out one’s salvation as well as, collectively, the whole world’s.
As Christian Scientists, we “take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.” We are Christians in the purest sense, endeavoring to align all our thoughts and actions with the Christ. We worship God, and definitely do not worship Mrs. Eddy. But we owe her an eternal debt of gratitude for her courage, insight and conviction in bearing us this precious gift.
She councils and admonishes us: “Beloved Christian Scientists, keep your minds so filled with Truth and Love, that sin, disease, and death cannot enter them. It is plain that nothing can be added to the mind already full. There is no door through which evil can enter, and no space for evil to fill in a mind filled with goodness. Good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort. And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited.”
A hundred years later, the time is ripening for the ideas that Mary Baker Eddy was the forerunner of. In her words, “This age is reaching out towards the perfect Principle of things; is pushing towards perfection in art, invention, and manufacture. Why, then, should religion be stereotyped, and we not obtain a more perfect and practical Christianity? It will never do to be behind the times in things most essential, which proceed from the standard of right that regulates human destiny….Metaphysical healing, or Christian Science, is a demand of the times. Every man and every woman would desire and demand it, if he and she knew its infinite value and firm basis.”
She asks of us, “in hope and faith, where heart meets heart reciprocally blest, drink with me the living waters of the spirit of my life-purpose, — to impress humanity with the genuine recognition of practical, operative Christian Science.” Following in her footsteps, or standing on her shoulders, I try to do that in my own little way. This is a potent cause that cradles great blessings.
I’d like to end this tribute by praying with you Mary Baker Eddy’s Daily Prayer: “Thy kingdom come;” let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!”
Thank you Mrs. Eddy, for all you are and have stood for, and for all that you have done. Thank you for being willing to question your assumptions and to challenge the limitations of your day. Thank you also for your clear thought and lucid writing; I am honored and humbled to be a student of your works. You are even more relevant 100 years later! What a legacy!