It was Plutarch who said, “It must be borne in mind that my design is not to write histories, but lives;” and since the foundress of Christian Science was Mary Baker Glover Patterson Eddy, who had close associations with another man, a Mr. Frye, there is the better part of nine lives. Mrs. Eddy thought of herself as a Minerva, goddess of invention and patroness of physicians and actors, and has been portrayed as a Xantippe, Socrates’ hen-pecking wife, a tongue-scalding shrew. She also sets herself forth as, at the age of twelve, (official church. records show she was seventeen) following Christ’s footsteps when she entered the Congregationalist temple and disputed with the elders against the doctrine of predestination. She revealed her contempt of this truth when she referred to it as “the practically rejected doctrine of predestination” (Science and Health, 1906 ed., p. 150). Her family physician said that Mary had “hysteria mingled with bad temper.” The latter may indeed bring on the former. It is of interest to note that the most conspicuous part of her costume was the gold-rimmed spectacles she wore. She resented the optics, as, naturally, she was often asked why she wore them. For how could they comport with her theories? The religious background of this woman was that of an apostate Congregationalism, spiritism, and unitarianism. She was known to have been addicted in her later years to morphine, which she took to help her through her fits. Her life is described as a baffled one, miserable and unhappy, with “fear its keynote, fear of inferiority, fear of disease and pain, fear of poverty and of dependence, fear of reality, fear of self” (E; F. Dakin’s Mrs. Eddy, index, Fear, a slave to).
Following the title page in “Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures” we discover this pearl of wisdom: “There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”—Shakespeare. As you remember, Buddha also thought like this. He, a rational-moral being, believed he could think himself into non-being. Do you want good, nothing but bliss? Thinking makes it sol What did Mrs. Eddy mean by this? Consider her advice to be given a child hurt in an accident. “The better and more successful method for any mother to adopt is to say, ‘Oh, never mind! You’re not hurt, so don’t think you are.’ Presently the child forgets all about the accident, and is at play” (ibid. p. 1154). The best refutation of this “thinking makes it so” jargon would be to place over against it what you think when you stumble in the dark of your bedroom and stub your toe. To this way of thinking the rebuttal of a great American writer provides us with his classic answer.
Mark Twain in his book, Christian Science, imagines a conversation’ between a man who has fallen over a seventy-five foot precipice and a villager whom he had sent for aid to the female healer from Boston. “Did you tell her I walked off a cliff seventy-five feet high?'” “Yes.” “And struck a boulder at the bottom and bounced?” “Yes.” “And struck another one and bounced again?” “Yes.” “And broke the boulders?” “Yes.” “That accounts for it; she is thinking of the boulders. Why didn’t you tell her I got hurt, too?” “I did . . .” “And . . . she wished me to remember that there was nothing the matter with me?” “Those were her words.” . . . “Why?” “She said you would need nothing at all.” “But I am hungry and thirsty, and in desperate pain.” “She said you would have these delusions, but must pay no attention to them. She wants you to particularly remember that there are no such things as hunger and thirst and pain.” “She does, does she?” “It is what she said.” “Does she seem to be in full and functional possession of her intellectual plant, such as it is?” “Bitte?” “Do they let her run at large, or do they tie her up?” “Tie her up?” “There, good night, run along; you are a good girl, but your mental Geschirr is not arranged for light and airy conversation. Leave me to my delusions.”
Then in Science and Health (pp. 177-178) there is the teaching that poison has no power to kill; it is the belief that poison is deadly which kills. A man may take strychnine, thinking it is quinine, but it kills him. Why, when he takes it believing it to be quinine? She explains this by saying that although the man took what he thought was harmless, “the vast majority of mankind” believes strychnine to be poison, and so it kills the man despite his own belief1 “The result is controlled by the majority of opinions.” What if the majority of people could be induced to believe that whiskey is nourishing, not intoxicating? Not another drunkard would be found on the face of the earth! But what if the majority opinion could be persuaded to believe that milk is intoxicating? Then the world would be full of drunken infants! Mrs. Eddy herself is almost as entertaining as Mark Twain. But she goes on. A woman who “always breathed with great difficulty when the wind was from the east” she cured at her bedside. “I then requested her to look at the weather-vane. She looked and saw that it pointed due east. The wind had not changed, but her thought of it had and so her difficulty in breathing had gone . . . she never suffered again from east winds . . .” (pp. 184-185). Elsewhere, expatiating on the dissipation of fatigue, she avers that food and drink are not necessary for refreshment. “A cup of coffee or tea is not the equal of truth, whether for the inspiration of a sermon or for the support of bodily endurance” (pp. 79, ff.). Useless then for our ministers to continue the habit of warming the study with the coffeepot! No, we restore ourselves “in doing good,” that is, in “our apprehension of the truth” (p. 80). This renders food unnecessary. “The primitive custom of taking no thought about food left the stomach and bowels free to act in obedience to nature . . .” (p. 176). In what period of history was that custom in vogue? Does she mean pure, primordial man? We are sure she does mean that hunger pains are an error of mortal mind, coming as a result of “thought about food.” But even if it were so that ceasing to think about food made eating unnecessary, how could it follow that then the intestinal tract would be free to act according to its nature? If the proper function of the mind is to blot out all thought of food, what is the natural function of stomach and bowels?
In almost every work critical of Mrs. Eddy her words written in 1901 concerning her magnum opus appear: “I should blush to write of Science and Health with the 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 of the Christian Science text-book.” Is the meaning that if this book were of mere human authorship, she would be ashamed to own it, but that since it is from God, and she only the stenographer, the amanuensis, the copyist of the divine original, then no one can blame her for her inordinate boasting in its praises? Perhaps so. Certainly she did not hesitate to sing her own praises, declaring that nearly two thousand years ago God who revealed himself in a man with the Scriptures, had now revealed himself in a woman “with Key to the Scriptures.” But then if this text-book is the key to the Scriptures, it certainly ought to harmonize with the Bible, the key to which it is supposed to be. Then compare Eddyism with the Bible. First, its doctrine of God denies the Trinity. “The theory of three persons in one God (that is, a personal Trinity or Triunity) suggests polytheism” (p. 256). It denies the Holy Spirit. “This Comforter I understand to be Divine Science” (P. 55). It denies the creation of the universe, stating that God “never created matter” (p. 335). It denies the creation of man when it claims “he co-exists with God and the universe” (p. 266). Its Christology is Nestorian. “The invisible Christ was imperceptible to the so called personal senses, whereas Jesus appeared as a bodily existence. This dual personality of . . . the eternal Christ and the corporeal Jesus manifest in human flesh, continued until the Master’s ascension, when the human material . . . Jesus disappeared, while the spiritual self, or Christ continues in the eternal order of divine science” (p. 334). Its conception of the virgin birth denies that fundamental truth. “The Virgin-mother conceived this idea of God and gave to her ideal the name of Jesus… Jesus was the offspring of Mary’s self-conscious communion with God” (p. 29f.f.). Its anthropology denies, the fall of man, denies that man has since lost the image of God, and claims that with proper reflection it “cannot be lost” (p. 259). Sin does not exist, the soul cannot sin, therefore, and, consequently, the soul is not lost (p. 311). Concerning the atonement we read, “The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon ‘the accursed tree’ than when it was flowing in his veins” (p. 25). The vicarious death of Christ is denied in the words; “Final deliverance from error . . . is not reached . . . by pinning one’s faith without works to another’s vicarious effort” (p. 22). Christ did not pay the price of sin—the sinner himself must do that. “One sacrifice, however great, is insufficient to pay the debt of sin. The atonement requires constant self-immolation on the sinner’s part. That God’s wrath should be vented upon His beloved Son, is divinely unnatural. Such a theory is man-made. The atonement is a hard problem in theology, but its scientific explanation is, that suffering is an error of sinful self which Truth destroys . . .” (p. 23). Modernism would agree that “the efficacy of the crucifixion lay in the practical affection and goodness it demonstrated for mankind” (p. 24). It denies death, which is only “a mortal belief or error” that “what appears to the senses to be death is but a mortal illusion” (p. 289). It denies the ascension, speaking of it as a rising above “the physical knowledge of his disciples” (p. 46), when “the human, material concept, or Jesus, disappeared” (p. 334). It denies the last judgment. “No final judgment awaits mortals” (p, 291). It denies the resurrection of Christ. Jesus’ three days in the tomb was to provide him “refuge from his foes, a place in which to solve the great problem of being” (p. 44). The disciples thought Jesus had died, but after his crucifixion “learned that he had not died” (p. 46). It denies heaven and hell. “The sinner makes his own hell by doing evil; and the saint his own heaven by doing right” (p. 266). “Heaven is not a locality, but a divine state of Mind” (p. 291). Christian Science denies the reality of sin, sickness and death. But this damnable heresy is throughout full of sin, suffers with more than one kind of sickness and ends in eternal death. Mrs. Eddy and her “science” revealed as much blackness of darkness as can enshroud and fill the totally depraved soul of the natural man.