I am a regular contributor to the Danbury News Times Forum on Faith column, which is also picked up by the Connecticut Post and the Stamford Advocate. (Note: I don’t pick the titles!) You can read it online here, here and here, respectively, or simply read it below:
Woman’s Vision Paved Way
for Christian Science Church
In honor of March as Women’s History Month, I have recently read the new biography for young people titled A World More Bright by Isabel Ferguson and Heather Vogel Frederick. It is about the life of Mary Baker Eddy who is the founder of the Christian Science church. In her own time she was as famous as Oprah is today, but now it seems people do not know much about her, so I thought I’d share a bit of her wonderful story with you.
Born in 1821 to Christian parents, she grew up on a farm in New Hampshire, learning from an early age to turn to God in prayer. She was often ill, and although she tried all sorts of avenues for relief, she remained uncured.
Then in her 40’s she slipped and fell on some ice and sustained such serious internal injuries that she was not expected to live. While lying in bed, she asked for her Bible, and after reading accounts of Jesus healing the sick, she was healed, much to the surprise of everyone.
This complete healing, without the use of medication, got her attention! After that she devoted herself to careful study of the Bible. She wanted to understand not only how her own healing had come about, but also desired to figure out how Jesus healed.
She wrote of that time, “The Bible was my textbook. It answered my questions as to how I was healed; but the Scriptures had to me a new meaning, a new tongue. Their spiritual signification appeared; and I apprehended for the first time, in their spiritual meaning, Jesus’ teaching and demonstration, and the Principle and rule of spiritual Science and metaphysical healing, — in a word, Christian Science. … The miracles recorded in the Bible, which had before seemed to me supernatural, grew divinely natural and apprehensible…”
She started consistently healing others. Once when she healed someone on their deathbed by praying for them, the individual’s doctor who was there pulled Mrs. Eddy aside. If he hadn’t seen it for himself, he would have found it hard to believe; he wanted to know how she had done it. “Put it in a book and give it to the world,” he exclaimed.
And she did. She wrote Science and Heath with Key to the Scriptures, which remains the definitive book on Christianly scientific healing. A best seller even today, the last 100 pages of it document how readers in her own time were radically healed of all kinds of difficulties, just by reading and pondering this book together with the Bible.
Eventually, in 1879, Eddy founded a church – the Church of Christ, Scientist – for devoted readers of the Bible who had come to better understand God and Christ from also reading her book. She ordained both the Bible and Science and Health as the actual pastor of her church, where sermons consist of Bible lessons read from these books on a certain topic each week. With the founding of this church Eddy’s intention was to “reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.”
This indeed was the result. Countless testimonies of gratitude for healings brought about by the system she discovered and taught are documented in over 130 years of weekly and monthly publications still being printed by the Publishing Society she founded. Additionally, there are weekly testimony meetings in local Christian Science churches worldwide, held on Wednesdays.
In her late eighties, Eddy went on to start the Christian Science Monitor, which is still a respected news source today. Her goal with this newspaper was to provide unbiased, straightforward world news that did not capitalize on sensationalism, but instead sought to impartially bless all mankind.
Eddy was also a revolutionary in her Victorian age to define God as both Father and Mother, and in a time when women were not allowed to own property or speak in public– let alone found churches– she, with God’s help, simply did it anyway.
What Mary Baker Eddy accomplished was amazing. Her pioneering work in metaphysics and her place as the forerunner of the mind/body connection, were over a century ahead of its time. Many people don’t realize the legacy she gave us by reintroducing spiritual healing back into the Christian church. The contributions of this profound woman continue to bless the world in general, but have also dramatically improved the lives of innumerable individuals, including mine.
By Polly Castor, a Christian Science Practitioner, and member of the Church of Christ, Scientist, Ridgefield. She can be reached at PollyCastor@gmail.com