Mary Baker Eddy

Mary Baker Eddy

Mary Baker Eddy was the founder of Christian Science, an American Protestant denomination. She became a patient of Phineas Quimby in 1862 and gained some benefits from his "magnetic healing." Later, she declared hypnotism to be ineffective and abandoned Quimby. After a fall in 1866 that injured her spine, she "turned to God," and spent the next three years reading and thinking about spirituality and healing.

In 1875, she published her most famous book, Science and Health. It became the textbook of the Christian Science movement. She opened the Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston in 1879. She died in Newton, Massachusetts, on December 3, 1910.

Mary Baker Eddy on Race and Slavery

Many people and institutions in the United States are going through serious self-examination on the question of race right now. Christian Scientists must look at the legacy of Mary Baker Eddy on the question of race and slavery. I grew up believing that Mary Baker Eddy was a brave abolitionist while living in the South, boldly standing up and defending equality and justice for all at great personal cost. These are the stories that she told about herself decades later. At one point I wanted to write a book about Mary Baker Eddy the brave abolitionist. In 2011, I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, and while there I began to research Mrs. Eddy’s time in the Carolinas. The picture that emerges based upon further research is not consistent with the stories that she told about herself many decades later. In fact they reveal quite the opposite.

Decades after her time in the South, Mrs. Eddy spoke of herself as having been an outspoken abolitionist [1] . But there is no evidence to support that claim. In fact, all the evidence we have shows that in 1844 she enthusiastically campaigned against abolitionist and moderate candidates [2] , literally comparing the moderate to demons [3] , while supporting pro-slavery politicians [4] . She supported pro-slavery politicians even when the majority of North Carolina voted against her candidate. Decades later she claimed to have freed her husband’s slaves after his tragic death. [5] But there is no evidence to support that claim. In fact, there is no evidence that her husband ever owned slaves. [6] There is no evidence that she freed the slaves, which was illegal in South Carolina and would have required a special act of the North Carolina legislature. [7] Decades later she told stories of one of those slaves heroically rescuing her from thieves after her husband’s death. [8] But there is no evidence to support that claim. In fact she told mutually contradictory stories, [9] and in telling the stories she claimed that her father was a strong abolitionist [10] – when all evidence points to him hating Abraham Lincoln [11] and, like Mary’s brother Albert Baker [12] , being a firm anti-abolitionist [13] . Decades later, Mrs. Eddy spoke of herself as having been outspoken in opposing her family on the question of abolition in the 1852 election. [14] But there is no evidence to support that claim. In fact, she opposed the abolitionist candidate for senate in 1852, which the majority of the state of New Hampshire supported, and campaigned for his opponent. [15] Had she been an abolitionist she wouldn’t have made a passing comment saying that she didn’t think much of the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin. [16] In story after story, she paints herself in heroic terms, living a grand, romanticized life. But the documentable facts don’t support any of her claims. In fact they point in the opposite direction.

Decades after the abolition of slavery, she compared Christian Science to the abolition movement in Science and Health. In 1891 she added to this statement a reference to the African slave being “on the lowest plane of life.” [17] She later revised this statement to merely refer to the slave as being “on the lowest plane of human life.” [18] In private conversation, decades after the Civil War she referred to “the negro” of that day as being on the lowest plane of human life, and she told a Christian Science teacher who was teaching African-Americans that they should stop teaching them [19] , and shouldn’t teach African-Americans Christian Science until after half of the world had become Christian Scientists. [20] In Science and Health, she contrasted the “Red Men” with the “more enlightened races.” [21]

Though her defenders might say she was merely a woman of her times, she was out of step with the voters of New Hampshire and North Carolina as she campaigned for pro-slavery politicians, and she held to widely denounced and discredited racial teachings as well. In fact, Mary Baker Eddy followed a heretical teaching that claims that the “Anglo-Saxon race” were the real lost tribes of Israel, and that the English and white Americans were the chosen people of God. This Anglo-Israel theory was widely ridiculed and denounced by Christians and historians for decades before Mrs. Eddy publicly espoused it. This teaching is completely heretical, completely unbiblical and completely unfounded in history. Mary Baker Eddy wrote approvingly of an author (C.A.L Totten) who advocated for Anglo-Israel teaching in his many books including Our Race [22]. She supported and encouraged various of her students who held to this Anglo-Israel teaching. [23] She thought that if the Anglo-Israel connections could be shown, that it would prove some sort of spiritual authority and superiority for herself. [24] Some of her students who believed this teaching believed that Mrs. Eddy could be proven to be the heir of the throne of David and entitled to be Queen of England. [25] She referred, in private conversation, to Christian Science as an “Anglo-Saxon religion.” [26] As late as 1898, in a poem published in Boston newspapers, The Christian Science Journal, and Miscellany she referred to the people of England and the United States as “Anglo-Israel” and “Judah’s sceptered race.” [27] Far from advocating universal equality, she clearly articulated in her published writings that the Anglo-Saxons are the chosen people of God.

Despite all of her claims, the evidence shows that she opposed abolition. Her stories about freeing the slaves were just stories, intended to paint her as a heroic figure – as all of her stories about herself did. In fact, she considered “the African slave” and “the negro” to be on the lowest plane of life. She held to an entirely heretical and completely ridiculous teaching that the Anglo-Saxon race were God’s chosen people. Far from being a heroic abolitionist and defender of equality, Mary Baker Eddy was a serial fabulist and an unrepentant advocate of indefensible teachings about the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race.

Tanner Johnsrud was a fifth generation Christian Scientist and a Journal-listed practitioner for over a decade. He and his wife left Christian Science in 2017 and became Christians. He is currently working on a book on the development of Mary Baker Eddy’s teaching and claims about herself.

[1] Reverend Irving C. Tomlinson, M.A. C.S.B. Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy Recollections and Experiences. (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1996.) 19

[2] Robert Peel Mary Baker Eddy: Years of Discovery. (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.) 71

[3] Ernest Sutherland Bates and John V Dittemore. Mary Baker Eddy: The Truth and the Tradition. (New York: Knopf, 1932.) 33-35

[4] Gillian Gill Mary Baker Eddy. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus Books.) 66

[5] Lyman P. Powell. Mary Baker Eddy A Life Size Portrait. (New York: Macmillan, 1930.) 81.

Julia Michael Johnston. Mary Baker Eddy: Her Mission and Triumph. (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society. 1998.) 15

[7] Peel Years of Discovery, p. 323 note 2

[11] McClure’s Magazine January 1907. Volume XXVIII, No. 3. p. 229.

[13] Peel Years of Discovery, p. 320 n. 93

[14] Sibyl Wilbur. The Life of Mary Baker Eddy. (New York: Concord Publishing Co., 1908.) 52-54.

[16] Peel vol 1, p. 88 The letter was written January 1, 1853, but it is not quoted in Peel. Evidently it exists in the archives of The Mary Baker Eddy library.

[17] Science and Health 61st Edition, pp. 121-122 (1891)

[18] Science and Health 257th Edition, p. 225 (1902)

[19] Elizabeth Earl Jones Mrs. Eddy in North Carolina and Memoirs pp. 109-110

[20] (Bliss Knapp and Eloise M Knapp – Their Book 1953.) This is from a notebook maintained by Eloise Knapp, wife of Bliss Knapp. It is located in the Principia College archives.

[21] Science and Health 26th Edition, p. 357.

[22] Mary Baker Eddy and Biblical Prophecy p. 17

[23] Peel Years of Authority pp. 116-117

Richard Nenneman. Persistent Pilgrim: The Life of Mary Baker Eddy. Etna, New Hampshire: Nebbadoon Press. 1997. 250-251

[24] Robert Peel Mary Baker Eddy: Years of Authority. New York: Holt Rinehart Winston, 1977. 117

[25] Peel Years of Authority 116.

[26] Elizabeth Earl Jones Mrs. Eddy in North Carolina and Memoirs. 109-110

Mary Baker Eddy's Carriages and Sleighs

This virtual program, designed for students in grades K-5, will explore some of the different forms of transportation used by Mary Baker Eddy during the 19 th and early 20 th centuries. Students will learn about a number of her vehicles and about her much-loved horses who pulled her carriages and sleighs. The program will include an up-close look at one of Mrs. Eddy’s carriages currently on display at Longyear Museum, as well as a set of her sleigh bells from our collection and a short video showing sleighs in action here in New England. We look forward to welcoming you and your family and young friends to this program!

Recommended for students in grades K-5.

Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any questions regarding the program.

Sign up for A History Snapshot: Mary Baker Eddy’s Carriages and Sleighs now!


Above image: “American Homestead Winter,” Currier & Ives lithograph.

Mary Baker Eddy Home

Mary Baker Eddy. Courtesy Library of Congress. Mary Baker Eddy House, Lynn, MA. Courtesy of Judy Wellman.

Mary Baker Eddy Home, 8 Broad Street, Lynn, Massachusetts

Born in July 16, 1821, Mary was the youngest of six children in the Baker family. She spent much of her youth chronically ill. She received an education from supportive men in her life, despite her illness. Her religious training reflected New England Protestantism of the early 19 th century, although she disagreed with the doctrine of predestination. During her early education she became interested in writing.

As a young adult, Eddy faced the loss of a number of significant people—her brother, her first husband, her mother, and a new fiancé. Still in frail health, Eddy tried to support herself but writing and teaching could not sustain her. She married again, but this choice proved difficult as her husband deserted her for months at a time. She finally received a divorce on the grounds of adultery.

These experiences, her frailty, and her questions about predestination led her to research the role of the mind in curing physical illness. She tried a variety of alternative medical practices, which had minimal effect for a limited time. Then, she had what she described as an epiphany: that the source of physical ills could be resolved with faith and mental focus. For the next decade, 1866 to 1875, she developed and applied the scientific method of using one’s mind through the “ever-operative divine Principle” by which she meant God.

In 1875, she purchased a house in Lynn MA, started lecturing, and completed her seminal book Science and Health. In it, she outlined a healing method she hoped would reform religious practice in the Christian church through a return to “primitive Christianity,” as she came to call it. The book would undergo multiple revisions and printings, become one of the most influential books on spirituality ever written by an American, and help launch a new denomination. Eddy’s initial hope of reforming existing religious beliefs gave way after multiple rejections by the public. Nevertheless, her own followers grew and together they formed a new Church of Christ (Scientist).

The Christian Science movement grew rapidly through the 1880s. Eddy held classes in Boston and in Chicago where she travelled to teach those who expressed an interest in Christian Science in the Midwest and beyond. She established and edited a monthly magazine called The Christian Science Journal founded the National Christian Scientist Association and added a Normal class at her college to educate trained teachers of Christian Science to spread the religion as they convened classes of their own across the country.

As public interest in Christian Science grew, so did public criticism – especially from the twin male bastions of the clergy and the medical establishment. Both felt threatened by this outlier’s incursion into their territory, and both resented the defections from their ranks. The affront was compounded by the fact that Eddy was a woman.

While feminist issues were never the main thrust of Eddy’s work, her life offers a prime example of a woman rejecting conventional gender roles and creating a space for herself outside the social strictures of the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries. Her movement recognized a dual-gendered Deity and valued the contributions of both sexes equally. From the beginning, women played an integral part in the Christian Science movement, as healers, teachers, lecturers, editors, and church officials. In founding and leading a successful movement of national and eventually international scope, her life mirrored and exemplified the social currents of the late 19 th century, as women expanded their traditional roles in society.

The house at 8 Broad Street in Lynn, MA proved the best location to recognize Eddy’s contributions to the United States. She purchased this as her first home. She completed and published her most important theological statement, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, here. In this house, she taught and preached formally leading to her establishment of a church and college. She established the foundation for her church organization that launched a trajectory that would take her to the national stage and beyond. The Longyear Museum restored the house following its purchase in 2007.

The National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites, at the request of National Park Service, Northeast Division, worked with the Longyear Museum to propose Eddy’s home as a National Historic Landmark in 2016. The Museum completed and submitted the proposal to the NPS in December 2018.

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Mary Baker Eddy - History

Mary Baker Eddy lived in Lynn at number 8 Broad Street from 1875 until 1882. The historic site has undergone a major restoration. This was the first home owned by Mary Baker Eddy author, publisher, speaker, and healer where she finished writing and published the first edition of her primary work, "Science and Health," in 1875.

The Mary Baker Eddy Monument In Lynn

Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy has rededicated the historic Mary Baker Eddy monument in Lynn, created by sculptor and Lynn native, Reno Pisano.

The tribute is in recognition of the 145 years that have passed since the discovery of Christian Science which was the result of Eddy&rsquos healing from a critical fall on the ice at this site in 1866. The monument is located at the corner of Oxford and Market Street here in Lynn, Massachusetts.

The Mayor Kennedy's re-dedication ceremony is a timely reminder that this worldwide legacy of Mary Baker Eddy all began here in Lynn.

The Lynn Reporter carried a short item about her condition in their February 3, 1866 edition. Not expected to survive, three days after the fall she was healed while reading from her Bible. Her quest to understand how this recovery took place led her to the discovery of Christian Science. This event midway through her life became the turning point in her life-long search for health and a divinely scientific method of healing.

One hundred years ago when she passed away on Dec 3, 1910 at age 89, Mary Baker Eddy was a household name. Hundreds of tributes appeared in newspapers around the world, including The Boston Globe, which wrote, &ldquoShe did a wonderful&mdashan extraordinary work in the world and there is no doubt that she was a powerful influence for good.&rdquo

In 1907 Human Life magazine proclaimed Eddy &ldquothe most famous, interesting and powerful woman in America , if not the world today.&rdquo Her legacy and ideas continue to make a profound mark today but her name and story have receded in public recognition.

Susan B. Anthony once publicly wrote in support of Eddy. Clara Barton in commenting on Christian Science in the New York American said &ldquoIt is doing more in the world to-day, and will continue to as more people become cognizant of the beauty of its teachings, than any other one influence for good.&rdquo Even Mark Twain, a critic of Christian Science, confided, &ldquoWhen we do not know a person &ndash and also when we do &ndash we have to judge the size and nature of his achievements as compared with the achievements of others in his special line of business &ndash there is no other way. Measured by this standard, it is thirteen hundred years since the world has produced anyone who could reach up to Mrs. Eddy&rsquos waistbelt.&rdquo He also commented, &ldquoIn several ways she is the most interesting woman that ever lived, and the most extraordinary.&rdquo

Lynn &rsquos legacy as the &ldquoCity of Firsts &rdquo was enriched as a result of Eddy&rsquos groundbreaking accomplishments that began in Lynn . Here she struggled to share her discovery and be heard at a time when women could not vote and were generally barred from the pulpit, seminaries, and the medical profession. Her first healing works in Christian Science practice began in Lynn . She said &ldquoThe Bible contains the recipe for all healing.&rdquo One included healing a little boy of club feet while with him on the Lynn shore. The beginnings of a new religion were born here as well as the first steps for forming a worldwide church. In Lynn , the first public address on Christian Science was delivered May 23, 1875 by Eddy at Concert Hall on Market Street : &ldquoChrist Healing the Sick.&rdquo In June the first Sunday services were held at Good Templars Hall. On January 31, 1881 she founded and received a charter for her Massachusetts Metaphysical College.

From her study of the Bible came her main work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which she completed and published in 1875 while living in Lynn at 8 Broad Street . Her home is now a historic stop on the Essex National Heritage Area trail. Philosopher Bronson Alcott wrote that her work had &ldquothe seal of inspiration.&rdquo In 1992 her book was named &ldquoone of 75 books by women whose words have changed the world&rdquo by the Women&rsquos National Book Association.

1 For an account of the donation, see Peel , Robert , Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Authority ( Boston : Christian Science Publishing Society , 1982 ), 9 – 10 Google Scholar .

2 Mary Baker Eddy, “Pond and Purpose,” Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, in Prose Works other than Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (Boston: The First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1924), 206.

3 Eddy , Mary Baker , No and Yes, in Prose Works Other Than Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures ( Boston : The First Church of Christ, Scientist , 1925 )Google Scholar , 45, 46. First published in 1891.

4 See Stark , Rodney and Bainbridge , William , The Future of Religion: Secularization, Revival and Cult Formation ( Berkeley : University of California Press , 1985 ), 237 – 238 CrossRefGoogle Scholar . The authors cite a 1926 census on religious membership in the United States in which the breakdown by gender for Christian Science is 75.5 percent female in comparison to a statistic of 55.7 percent female for overall church membership in the United States. A 1906 census, as published in Religious Bodies: 1906, vol. 2 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1910), gave a gender breakdown for the Church of Christ, Scientist, in the United States as 72 percent female. I conducted a gender analysis of the Christian Science Practitioner (healer) listing in the December 1910 issue of The Christian Science Journal. My results gave a rough figure of 89 percent female for Christian Science practitioners as authorized by the Christian Science Church at this time: the month and year of Eddy's decease.

5 Stephen Gottschalk, The Emergence of Christian Science in American Religious Life. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973), 218. While Gottschalk identifies such a Christian Science persona as representative of only a minority of Christian Scientists, his analysis indicates its prominence in perceptions of Christian Science culture. For example, he also remarks in the same paragraph that “some of the more ethereal of Mrs. Eddy's followers affected a high-pitched, superficially sweet tone of voice—so that Ezra Pound, for example, could readily identify a woman he referred to in a letter as having a ‘Christian Science voice.’” See Paige , D. D. , ed., The Letters of Ezra Pound, 1907–1941 ( New York : 1950 ), 17Google Scholar , cited in Gottschalk, The Emergence of Christian Science in American Religious Life, 218.

6 Putney , Clifford , Muscular Christianity: Manhood and Sports in Protestant America, 1880–1920 ( Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press , 2001 ), 144Google Scholar .

7 Beginning with the landmark fiftieth edition of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (1891), Eddy included a new chapter, titled “Science, Theology, Medicine,” in which she systematically discussed Christian Science in relation to these disciplines.

8 Gottschalk has argued that “Christian Science is best understood as a pragmatic interpretation of Christian revelation.” Gottschalk, The Emergence of Christian Science in American Religious Life, 278.

9 Erwin Canham, Commitment to Freedom: The Story of The Christian Science Monitor (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1958), xvi. Canham held the following editorial positions at The Christian Science Monitor: managing editor (1941–1944), editor (1945–1964), and editor-in-chief (1964–1974).

10 “Mr. Thomas Hughes And His Address,” Harvard Advocate Supplement 10, no. 1 (Cambridge, Mass., October 14, 1870).

11 Winn , William E. , “ Tom Brown's Schooldays and the Development of ‘Muscular Christianity,’ ” Church History 29 , no. 1 (March 1960 ): 73CrossRefGoogle Scholar ,

12 See Brett McCay and Kate McCay, “When Christianity Was Muscular,” in Muscular Christianity: The Relationship Between Men and Faith (Jenks, Okla.: Semper Vigilis, 2018), chap. 3, Kindle. They note that “the Muscular Christianity movement was never officially organized, or headed by a single person, but was instead a cultural trend that manifested itself in different ways and was supported by various figures and churches—predominantly those of the liberal, mainline Protestant variety.”

13 Putney, Muscular Christianity, 7.

14 See Putney, Muscular Christianity, 69–70.

15 Luther Gulick, “What The Triangle Means,” Young Men's Era, January 18, 1894.

16 Gulick, “What The Triangle Means.”

17 Putney , Clifford , “ Luther Gulick: His Contributions to Springfield College, the YMCA, and ‘Muscular Christianity,’ ” Historical Journal of Massachusetts 39 , no. 1–2 (Summer 2011 ): 158Google Scholar . Luther Gulick's grandfather, Peter Gulick, took up the Christian missionary cause in the 1820s, accepting an appointment in 1827 from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) to serve in the Kingdom of Hawaii. Subsequent descendants of Peter Gulick also took up careers and posts as missionaries in foreign lands.

18 Gulick, “What The Triangle Means.”

19 Gulick, “What The Triangle Means.”

20 Putney, Muscular Christianity, 72.

21 Mary Baker Eddy wrote this in a passage on “Testimonials” for the Manual of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts (Boston: Christian Science Publishing Society, 1895), 47.

22 See Putney, Muscular Christianity, 150–153.

23 See Mary Farrell Bednarowski, New Religions and the Theological Imagination in America (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989), 34. While Bednarowski has observed that viewpoints of Christian Science as gnostic are “misleading,” she also has acknowledged their preponderance.

24 See Williams , Peter , Popular Religion in America: Symbolic Change and the Modernization Process in Historical Perspective ( Urbana : University of Illinois Press , 1989 ), 132Google Scholar .

25 See Sydney Ahlstrom, “Harmonial Religion since the Later Nineteenth Century,” in A Religious History of the American People, 2nd ed. (1st ed. 1972 New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2004), 1019–1036. Ahlstrom identifies “harmonial thought” as an important tendency in American religiosity. Still, he singles out “Christian Science,” “New Thought,” and “Positive Thinking” as “major modes” of this spiritual orientation.

26 Ahlstrom, “Harmonial Religion since the Later Nineteenth Century,” 1019.

27 Catherine Albanese, A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2007), 295.

28 Stephen Gottschalk, Rolling Away The Stone: Mary Baker Eddy's Challenge to Materialism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006), 364.

29 Putney, Muscular Christianity, 150.

30 Eddy, Manual of The Mother Church, 41, advised: “When it is necessary to show the great gulf between Christian Science and theosophy, hypnotism, or spiritualism, do it, but without harsh words.” On Helen Van Anderson as “one of Hopkins's star missionaries,” see Beryl Satter, Each Mind a Kingdom: American Women, Sexual Purity, and the New Thought Movement, 1875–1920 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 116 and see Charles Braden, Spirits in Rebellion: The Rise and Development of New Thought (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963), 140–141. According to Braden, Hopkins took instruction in Christian Science from Mary Baker Eddy in December 1883. Beginning in September 1884, she served as an editor of The Christian Science Journal and subsequently “was dismissed as editor in October 1885.” Also, for a biographical entry on Hopkins, see accession nos. 550.58.010–550.58.027, The Mary Baker Eddy Papers, accessed November 11, 2020, It reads in part that Hopkins “was a student of Mary Baker Eddy's, taking Primary class instruction in December 1883,” and that she “joined the Christian Scientist Association (CSA) in 1884 and was briefly the acting editor of The Christian Science Journal.”

31 Mary Baker Eddy, “Questions Answered,” The Christian Science Journal 5, no. 1 (April 1887): 25.

32 For an analysis of the relationship of Spiritualism and Theosophy, see Stephen Prothero, “From Spiritualism to Theosophy: ‘Uplifting’ a Democratic Tradition,” Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation 3, no. 2 (Summer 1993): 197–216 and see Robert Ellwood and Catherine Wessinger, “The Feminism of ‘Universal Brotherhood’: Women in the Theosophical Movement,” in Women's Leadership in Marginal Religions: Exploration Outside the Mainstream, ed. Catherine Wessinger (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993), 69. They write that Theosophical Society founders Helena Blavatsky and Henry Steele Olcott “believed that if the nonsubstantial realities of which Spiritualism hinted could be penetrated and joined with the science of the progressive spirit of the day, then the unity of life might again be grasped.”

33 Boston Daily Globe, January 7, 1895.

34 See A10835B, The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, The Mary Baker Eddy Library.

35 L. L. Doggett, History of the Boston Young Men's Christian Association (Boston: Young Men's Christian Association, 1901), 72.

36 Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, vol. 1, 3rd ed. (Cambridge, Mass.: University Press, 1881), 233 (hereafter cited as Science and Health [1881]).

37 See Ann Douglas, “The Loss of Theology: From Dogma to Fiction,” in The Feminization of American Culture (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1977), 121–164.

38 Douglas, “The Loss of Theology,” 124.

39 Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (Boston: Christian Science Publishing Society, 1934), 227 (hereafter cited as Science and Health [1934]).

40 Mary Baker Eddy, The First Church of Christ Scientist and Miscellany (Boston: First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1913), 218.

41 Charles Howard Hopkins, History of the Y.M.C.A. in North America (New York: Association Press, 1951), 246.

42 Hopkins, History of the Y.M.C.A. in North America, 254–255. Gulick read this talk at the twenty-ninth international convention of the Young Men's Christian Associations, Kansas City, Missouri, May 9, 1891. See Young Men's Era, November 26, 1891.

43 Mary Baker Eddy, “Christian Science in Tremont Temple,” Miscellaneous Writings, 1883–1896, in Prose Works Other Than Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (Boston: The First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1925), 96.

44 The Theosophical Society's early emphasis on Spiritualism made it attractive to women in the Spiritualist community. See “Theosophy,” in June Melby Benowitz, ed., Encyclopedia of American Women and Religion, 2nd ed. (Santa Barbara, Cali.: ABC-CLIO, 2017), 597.

45 Banner of Light, November 10, 1866, p. 2, cited in Ann Braude, Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America (Boston: Beacon Press, 1989), 83.

46 Peel, Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Authority, 10.

47 See Eddy, “Pond and Purpose,” 203–204.

48 William James, Is Life Worth Living? (Philadelphia: S. Burns Weston, 1896), 61.

49 See Eddy, “Pond and Purpose,” 204.

50 Eddy, “Pond and Purpose,” 205.

51 Eddy, “Pond and Purpose,” 205–206.

52 Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Merriam Webster, 1991) dates the origin of the term “rapid transit” to 1873.

53 Eddy, “Pond and Purpose,” 206.

54 Eddy, “Pond and Purpose,” 207.

55 See Donald Meyer, “The Scientific Humanism of G. Stanley Hall,” Journal of Humanistic Psychology 11, no. 2 (October 1971): 201–213. Meyer notes, “In 1904 Hall revealed the wider dimensions of his ‘higher anthropology’ when he published his greatest work, Adolescence.” Meyer describes Hall's view of adolescence as “an especially crucial time in a person's growth because, in this period, the higher sensibilities develop and the ideals of love and service take form.” Meyer, “The Scientific Humanism of G. Stanley Hall,” 209.

Mary Baker Eddy

The church founded by Mary Baker Eddy, known as Christian Science, is built upon the premise that sickness and death have no basis in reality because matter itself is unreal. They are illusions produced by unbelief and the failure to understand the true concept of God.

Christian Science is best known today from the refusal of its followers to take medication or to consult a doctor. Eddy believed that reality, created by God and therefore inherently good, could not contain anything not good, such as poverty, suffering, and death. The illusion ended for Mary Baker Eddy on December 3, 1910, when she suffered a very real death resulting from pneumonia.

Mary Baker was born in New Hampshire on July 16, 1821. Her childhood was filled with frequent periods of sickness, physical and emotional, for which she was treated with morphine and hypnotism. This era saw the rise of many enthusiasms such as mesmerism, spiritualism, Quakerism, and Mormonism, all of which influenced her philosophy.

She claimed that after a fall on the ice in 1866 which left her with crippling injuries (later denied by the attending doctor in a signed affidavit) she rediscovered the secrets of faith healing used by Christ which were lost when the early Christian church apostatized. She proceeded to write down these spiritual laws in a textbook, published in 1875, known as S cience and Health with Key to the Scriptures.

Eddy claimed the book was dictated to her directly by God. Of its authorship she said, “I should blush to write a Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures as I have, were it of human origin, and I, apart from God, its author but as I was only a scribe echoing the harmonies of heaven in divine metaphysics, I cannot be super-modest in my estimate of the Christian Science textbook.” In actual fact this work, considered by her followers to be of equal importance to the Bible, is of human origin. It is largely the result of plagiarism, the remainder being the pantheistic ramblings of Eddy herself.

The plagiarized material, much verbatim, was taken from the writings of P. P. Quimby and Francis Lieber.

Quimby was a hypnotist and faith healer who had previously treated Eddy and had won from her adoration and published endorsements. He coined the terms “Science of Health” and “Christian Science” to describe his theories which he compiled in a work titled Questions and Answers . A copy of this exists with corrections in Mary Baker Eddy’s own handwriting.

Lieber had produced a manuscript on the metaphysics of the philosopher Hegel, and Eddy freely copied from it. Newspapers of the day unmasked the plagiarism, The New York Times of July 10, 1904 printing parallel columns of Eddy and Quimby for comparison.

Christian Science purports to be a Christian organization. It borrows heavily from the Christian vocab-ulary but denies all the fundamental Christian dogmas. It rejects the belief in a personal God, the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the existence of sin and the devil, the Resurrection, and heaven and hell. Instead Christian Science substitutes a vague pantheism. Referring to its textbook, Mark Twain wrote, “Of all the strange and frantic and incomprehensible and uninterpretable books which the imagination of man has created, surely this one is the prize sample.”

When her third husband, Asa Eddy died, Mary Baker Eddy convinced a coroner to change the cause of death from heart attack to “arsenic poisoning mentally administered.” In a letter to the Boston Post she insisted that former students had used “Malicious Animal Magnetism” to kill him. “MAM” was the term used by Eddy to describe the misuse of the mental powers she was teaching others to employ.

Mary Baker Eddy wished to acquire wealth. The original edition of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures was advertised as “a book that affords an opportunity to acquire a profession by which you can accumulate a fortune.” Her followers were commanded to buy and sell copies under pain of excommunication. They were forced to buy each new edition, even though only a few words might have been changed. Eddy, who started her religion without a penny, died a millionairess.

Christian Science is a non-Christian sect masquerading as Christian. When Mary Baker Eddy was alive, perhaps some were better off reading her fanciful textbook than submitting to bloodletting and primitive surgery. (Medicine was in a primitive state by today’s standards.) But disease is real, and modern medicine often can cure it. No one should labor (and die) under the illusion that “matter and death are mental illusions.” In short, Christian Science has proved itself neither Christian nor scientific.

Imparting a Fresh Impulse: Mary Baker Eddy Teaches the Class of 1898

It had been almost a decade since Mary Baker Eddy had taught classes at her Massachusetts Metaphysical College in Boston. Hoping to ensure the highest quality teaching for the future of the Christian Science movement, in mid-November 1898 she sent messages to some seventy prospective participants from near and far, requesting that they be present at Christian Science Hall in Concord, New Hampshire, Sunday afternoon, November 20, to receive “a great blessing.”

Almost all were able to come. And when they had gathered, they found out why they had been called, as Edward A. Kimball read Mrs. Eddy’s greeting to them:

You have been invited hither to receive from me one or more lessons on Christian Science…. This opportunity is designed to impart a fresh impulse to our spiritual attainments, the great need of which I daily discern. I have awaited the right hour, and to be called of God to contribute my part towards this result. 1

The class consisted of two lessons, Mrs. Eddy examining the spiritual fitness of the students, taking them higher in their understanding of God, and preparing them for the work that lay ahead. The Christian Science movement had come a long way in the thirty-two years since the discovery that impelled it, but it still needed the inspired wisdom of its Leader to temper and hone its momentum, and to establish its teaching on a sound and consistent basis.

The year 1898 brought significant action on the part of Mrs. Eddy for her church. Refining some functions within the organization brought progressive steps, including the establishment of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship, the Christian Science Sentinel, and the Board of Education. And in November, having become increasingly concerned over the quality of teaching in the Christian Science field, Mrs. Eddy decided to teach again. It would be the class of 1898, a significant event as time would tell, and her last class.

Letters or telegrams went out to some seventy people to be at Christian Science Hall in Concord at the appointed hour. Those invited were not only from nearby, but also from greater distances — the western, midwestern, and southern United States, and Canada, England, and Scotland. A “great blessing” was promised, but no specific information as to the nature of the blessing was given. And the invitations were strictly confidential. Students were told about the class when they had gathered, and why confidentiality had been essential:

I have awaited your arrival before informing you of my purpose in sending for you, in order to avoid the stir that might be occasioned among those who wish to share this opportunity and to whom I would gladly give it at this time if a larger class were advantageous to the students. 2

Christian Science Hall Concord, New Hampshire. Interior and exterior photographs. Longyear Museum collection, P2304. Christian Science Hall Concord, New Hampshire. Interior and exterior photographs. Longyear Museum collection, P2313. Stained-Glass Window. From Christian Science Hall, Concord, New Hampshire. Longyear Museum collection, AF0963.

Preparing the next generation

The class was composed of about an equal number of men and women from diverse regions, from varying walks of life, and representing varying levels of experience in their practice of Christian Science. Also invited were observers representing the press.

In a January 1898 letter to Daphne Knapp, Carol Norton, John Lathrop, and James Neal thanking them for the gift of a parasol, Mrs. Eddy addressed them, “My beloved Quartette.” About a year earlier, in December of 1896, she had recommended that these four young people become First Members of her church, an early governing body of the church.

Her reasons were clearly stated:

First, for their faithfulness in the field. Second, for the advantage to them individually. Third, from a desire to have them grow up with the First Members of the Mother Church who receive more directly my counsel and assistance. 3

When Mrs. Eddy was asked why she chose so many young people for the class, she replied, in substance, because I want my teaching carried on. — Emma C. Shipman 4

A Shared Experience

There were in the class some close family relationships — mothers and daughters, a mother and son, sisters, some husbands and wives, and even future marriage partners.

Several years after attending the 1898 class, Daisette Stocking and William P. McKenzie were married. But they had known each other since she had introduced Christian Science to him at a gathering of friends in 1891. He had been prepared for the ministry and possessed exceptional poetical and rhetorical abilities. Mrs. Eddy early perceived his talents and deeply Christian character and appointed him as one of the first members of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship in 1898, only one of many important positions he would fill in the church over the years. Daisette wore the clover-shaped gold pin (below) during the 1898 class.

Rose Cochrane and her mother, Effie Andrews, attended, as did Abigail Dyer Thompson with her mother, Emma Thompson. Of the experience Abigail wrote,

It was my blessed privilege to be a member of our Leader’s last class. Through the influence of my mother’s deep appreciation of Mrs. Eddy as God-inspired in her leadership, I was prepared to follow with absorbing interest every word of her teaching. 5

Experience lifted to higher ground

Mrs. Eddy had come to rely on workers in the Field that were strong and steady for the immense work to be done. Their resolute Christian foundations, ability to stand in the face of battle, and untiring efforts to move the Cause forward were a joy to her.

She had once referred to two of these stalwart individuals, Effie Andrews and Marjorie Colles, as “old grand soldiers,” and she invited both to partake of the class.

Judge Septimus J. and Camilla Hanna were Editor and Assistant Editor of The Christian Science Journal at the time they were invited to attend the class. This had given them a close working relationship with Mrs. Eddy, including private instruction. Camilla’s healing through Christian Science had convinced her husband to become a student, and he left his legal career and served in many responsible capacities, including First Reader of The Mother Church, a member of The Board of Lectureship, and Normal class teacher in the Christian Science Board of Education in 1907.

Certificate for Normal Class Instruction. Given to Kate Davidson Kimball after instruction by Mary Baker Eddy in the November 1898 class, Longyear Museum collection, LMDB-6018.

Edward and Kate Kimball were from Chicago, where Edward had managed a successful manufacturing business for some twenty years. As was the case for many other families, Edward’s healing through Christian Science changed the course of their lives, which became devoted to working for the Cause. Edward held several prominent positions — he was one of the first teachers appointed to the Christian Science Board of Education, and one of the first members of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship. He is said to have delivered over 1,000 lectures in nine years. The certificate (below) is the one presented to Kate Kimball after attending the 1898 class.

Sue Harper Mims had been a leader in social and public life of Atlanta, Georgia, for many years, when her healing of a long-standing illness brought her into the active practice of Christian Science. She became one of the first teachers to be established in the southeastern United States, and was appointed in 1898 to The Christian Science Board of Lectureship— one of the first women to serve in that capacity.

In her Communion address of June 4, 1899, Mrs. Eddy said, “The students in my last class in 1898 are stars in my crown of rejoicing.” 6 These words recall thoughts expressed in her earlier article, “Fidelity”:

Is a musician made by his teacher? He makes himself a musician by practising what he was taught. The conscientious are successful. They follow faithfully through evil or through good report, they work on to the achievement of good by patience, they inherit the promise…. The lives of great men and women are miracles of patience and perseverance. Every luminary in the constellation of human greatness, like the stars, comes out in the darkness to shine with the reflected light of God. 7

Student Irving C. Tomlinson writes about the class in his Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy: “The purpose of the gathering was not to teach the letter of Christian Science, Mrs. Eddy said, for the members were supposed to possess that knowledge. It was rather to spiritualize the Field, and she remarked to me afterward that her work with that class changed the character of the entire Field.” 8

Where is color?

Mrs. Eddy writes: "Has not the truth in Christian Science met a response from Prof. S. P. Langley, the young astronomer? He says that 'color is in us,' not 'in the rose' and he adds that this is not 'any metaphysical subtlety,' but a fact 'almost universally accepted, within the last few years, by physicists.'" (Rudimental Divine Science, page 6.)

For additional background on Mary Baker Eddy and Natural Science, scan down to "Christian Science and Natural Science" on the Founder's page here.

Watch the video: Soul of A Woman - The Life and Times of Mary Baker Eddy