The Christian Scientists

The marriage between Science and the Bible, brought about by Mary Baker

Eddy, has given birth to a most prosperous sect. In this amalgam, the

Christianity is not of the purest, and the Science appears rather in

the form of the negation of its own principles; but so great is

humanity's desire for the union of revelation and experience that

believers crowd from all parts to range themselves behind the hew

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There is something almost disconcerting in the ardour and devotion of

Mrs. Eddy's followers. Truly, in the success of Christian Science we

see one more proof of the ease with which a new religion can be started

if, in addition to faith, it concerns itself with man's earthly welfare.

The founder of the sect was a clever woman. Well aware of the power

and fascination of the mysterious, she exploited it with a profound

understanding of the human heart. She mingled the realities of life

with the mysteries of thought, and the sun of her revelations is always

veiled by intangible clouds. From her gospel one might cull at random

scores of phrases that defy human understanding. "Evil is nothing, no

thing, mind or power," she says in _Science and Health_. "As

manifested by mankind, it stands for a lie, nothing claiming to be

something." And again--"Mortal existence has no real entity, but saith

'It is I.'"

The nonsensicalness of her phraseology can find no comparison save in

the inconceivable chaos of her teachings. She goes so far as to imply

that the supreme effort of a woman's spirit should suffice to bring

about conception. Jesus Christ having been conceived of the Holy

Ghost, she suggests that man should follow this example, and renounce

the lusts of the flesh. "Proportionately as human generation ceases,

the unbroken links of eternal, harmonious being will be spiritually

discerned"--and in another place, "When this new birth takes place, the

Christian Science infant is born of the spirit, born of God, and can

cause the mother no more suffering."

In the explanations of the Bible given in her _Key to the Scriptures_

we are told that when we come upon the word "fire," we are to translate

it as "fear," and the word "fear" as "heat"; while we must remember

that Eve never put the blame for her sin upon the serpent, but, having

"learnt that corporeal sense is the serpent," she was the first to

confess her misdeed in having followed the dictates of the flesh

instead of those of the spirit.

Like all prophets and saviours, Mrs. Eddy was crucified during her

lifetime. She had to engage in a continuous struggle with the envy and

jealousy of those who sought to misrepresent her teachings and bring

her glory to the dust. But she was far from being an ordinary woman,

and even in childhood seemed to be marked out for an exceptional

career. At the age of eight, like Joan of Arc, she heard mysterious

voices, and her mother, who was of Scottish origin and subject to

"attacks of religion," remembered the story of the Infant Samuel and

encouraged her to speak with the Lord. But Mary was alarmed by the

voices, and wept and trembled, instead of replying to them like a good


About her forty-fifth year, however, being in the grip of a serious

illness, she did hold converse with the Lord, who told her how she

might be cured. She listened and obeyed, and was cured. This was her

"great initiation." She then retired from the world, and spent several

years engaged in meditation and prayer, while her study of the Bible

revealed to her the key to all mysteries, human and divine.

The deductions of her philosophy are often characterised by an

astonishing naïveté. "God being All-in-all, He made medicine," she

tells us; "but that medicine was Mind. . . . It is plain that God does

not employ drugs or hygiene, nor provide them for human use; else Jesus

would have recommended and employed them in His healing."

She frequently makes use of ingenious statements whose very candour is

disarming, but she had considerable dialectical gifts, and can argue

persuasively, especially against spiritualism. In _Science and Health_

she violently denies the authenticity of spiritualistic phenomena, "As

readily can you mingle fire and frost as spirit and matter. . . . The

belief that material bodies return to dust, hereafter to rise up as

spiritual bodies with material sensations and desires, is

incorrect. . . . The caterpillar, transformed into a beautiful insect,

is no longer a worm, nor does the insect return to fraternise with or

control the worm. . . . There is no bridge across the gulf which

divides two such opposite conditions as the spiritual, or incorporeal,

and the physical, or corporeal."

In the confusion of precepts and principles championed by Mrs. Eddy

there are sometimes to be found thoughts worthy of a great

metaphysician. Her teaching, when purified from admixture, does at any

rate break away energetically from all materialistic doctrines.

Her literary output was considerable, for in addition to her gospel,

_Science and Health_, she wrote _The Concordance of Science and

Health_, _Rudimentary Divine Science_, _Christian Science versus

Paganism_, and other works, including some verse.

The Christian Science churches, with their adherents, who number more

than a million, are spread all over the world, each having an

independent existence. They are found chiefly in the United States,

England, Germany, and the British Colonies. The number of "healers"

exceeds several thousands, for the most part of the female sex. In

France the first "Church of Christ, Scientist" has been founded in

Paris, in the Rue Magellan, under the name of Washington Palace.

The Christian Science leader denounced the established churches and

spared them no criticism, and her doctrine contained a seed of truth

which enabled it to triumph even over its own lack of logic and


The world, submerged in matter, either denies spirit or turns away from

it. Mrs. Eddy exalts the power of spirit above that of matter, the

universal goddess, by means of statements which are heroic rather than


Matter does not exist. God is all, and God is spirit; therefore all is

spirit. Matter is not spirit, but is a fiction which only exists for

those who persist in believing in it against the evidence of facts. As

matter does not exist, and is only a lie and the invention of Satan,

the body, which we see in the form of matter, does not exist either.

The suffering caused by the body is simply an "error of mortal mind,"

for since the body does not exist, there can be no such thing as bodily

suffering. Therefore instead of concerning ourselves with the healing

of the supposed body, with the prevention or cure of pain and

suffering, we must go straight to spirit. Spirit is perfect, and the

thought of pain or disease can have no place in it. Let us then leave

the curing of our bodies, and seek to rectify our spirits.

Doctors and surgeons, on the contrary, follow the errors of centuries

in concerning themselves with the body, and causing it to absorb drugs

which, having no connection with disease, can neither cure nor relieve

it. "Mind as far outweighs drugs in the cure of disease as in the cure

of sin. The more excellent way is divine Science in every case. . . .

The hosts of Aesculapius are flooding the world with diseases, because

they are ignorant that the human mind and body are myths."

A follower of the "true doctrine," according to Mrs. Eddy, is never ill

for the simple reason that he does not believe in the body or in any of

its infirmities. If he should be overtaken by illness, it is because

his spirit is ill, and his faith not sufficiently pure.

From this results a very simple method of healing. The "healer" merely

seeks to re-establish the faith of the sufferer, and to convince him of

the non-reality of his illness. No medicine is given, the treatment

consisting of thoughts and suggestions from _Science and Health_.

Christian Science healers need to have a robust and unshakable faith,

for if they do not succeed in their task it is because their own spirit

has been infected by doubt.

Mrs. Eddy declared that our concrete and practical age required, above

all, a religion of reality; that men could no longer be content with

vague promises of future bliss. What they needed was a religion of the

present that would end their sufferings and procure for them serenity

and happiness on earth. The title of "applied Christianity" has been

adopted by Christian Science, which advises us to make use of the

teachings of Jesus in our daily life, and to reap all the advantages of

such a practice. We have need of truth "applied" to life just as we

have need of telegraphs, telephones and electric apparatus, and

now--say the Scientists--for the first time in man's existence he is

offered a really practical religious machinery, which enables him to

overcome misfortune and to establish his happiness, his health, and his

salvation on a solid basis.

The Scientists claim to have recourse to the same spiritual law by

means of which Jesus effected His cures, and they declare that its

efficacy is undeniable, since all Mrs. Eddy's pupils who use it are

able to heal the sick. One may suggest that Jesus performed miracles

because He was the Saviour of the world. Mrs. Eddy replies that

statements are attributed to Him which never issued from His lips; that

He said (in the Gospel according to St. John) that it was not He who

spoke or acted, but His Father; and stated elsewhere, that the Son

could do nothing of Himself. Also that Jesus never sent His disciples

forth to preach without adding that they should also heal. "Heal the

sick," was His supreme command. And that He never counselled the use

of drugs or medicines.

The healing of the sick, according to Mrs. Eddy, was one of the chief

functions of the representatives of the Church during the first three

centuries of Christianity, her subsequent loss of importance and power

being largely due to the renunciation of this essential principle.

Healing is not miraculous, but merely the result of a normal spiritual

law acting in conformity with the Divine Will. The leader of the new

"Scientists" explains that Jesus had no supernatural powers, and that

all He did was done according to natural law. Consequently everybody,

when once brought into harmony with spiritual truth, can accomplish

what He accomplished.

Some of Mrs. Eddy's statements have an undeniable practical value. For

instance, she attacks "fear" as one of the chief causes of human

misery, and declares that it is wrong to fear draughts of air, or wet

feet, or the eating and drinking of certain substances--and wrong,

above all, to fear microbes.

But exaggeration is always harmful. The total suppression of fear

would mean the suppression of often necessary and desirable

precautions. In order to succeed, however, a religion has need of the

absolute, for conditional truths are not likely to impress the public;

and the founder of Christian Science was well aware of this.

Health, according to the Scientists, is truth. In order to enjoy

existence, we must live in the truth and avoid sin, and ultimately

death itself will disappear, being entirely superfluous. Jesus said

that whoso believed on Him should never see death, and He would not

have said this if death were necessary for salvation. Therefore

believers are taught that humanity will in time conquer sickness and

death, and that this blessed consummation will be reached when human

beings attain to the heights of the Christian Science "gospel," and are

guided by it in all the thoughts and actions of their everyday life.

Other equally enchanting prospects are conjured up, like mirages in the

desert, before the dazzled eyes of Mrs. Eddy's followers. Making use

of the ancient conception of angels, she teaches that such beings are

always close at hand, for angels are "God's thoughts passing to man;

spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect." "These angels of His

presence . . . abound in the spiritual atmosphere of Mind."

Thus Christian Science is seen to be a religion of health, longevity

and happiness, the fruits of spiritual action; a religion which denies

both the theoretical and practical existence of matter.

There are, however, occasions when the invocations of "science" prove

powerless to deal with rebellious matter. But this does not embarrass

Mrs. Eddy. She considers that her doctrine is in advance of the age,

and that men themselves must progress in order to rise to its level.

Their spirits will then become pure and perfect, and matter will have

no more power over them. Man will be able to live quite differently,

for hygienic conditions--even those considered most indispensable--will

no longer be of any importance.

One of the most irresistible attractions of Christian Science lies in

its declaration that it will be possible at some future time to

overcome death--a dream that has been known in all epochs. Yet, for

all our love of life, how unprofitably we squander it! Our normal life

could be prolonged to a hundred and fifty, or even two hundred

years,[1] but we have stupidly imposed upon ourselves an artificial

barrier which we scarcely ever surpass!

Mrs. Eddy knew well what charm the possibility of destroying the "King

of Terrors" would add to her doctrine, and she made effective use of it.

We may note that the idea of overcoming death can be traced back for

some three thousand years or so. Hermes, the "Thrice Greatest One,"

taught that only "by error" had death become installed upon our planet,

and that nothing in the world could ever be lost. "Death does not

exist; the word 'mortal' is void of meaning, and is merely the word

'immortal' without its first syllable." He taught further that the

world was the second God, immortal and alive, and that no part of it

could ever die; that "the eternal" and "the immortal" must not be

confused, for "the eternal" was God Uncreate, while the world which He

had created and made in His own image was endowed with His immortality.

Hermes also suggested that it was only necessary to send our bodily

sensations to sleep in order to awake in God and rejoice in immortality!

There was a close relationship between Hermes, the Essenes of Egypt,

and St. John, the author of _Revelation_. Indeed, if we search

carefully, we find that the Gnostics of every school believed in the

possibility of banishing death from the earth.

"Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never

thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of

water springing up into everlasting life." (St. John iv. 14).

And what superiority over the claims of Mrs. Eddy is shown by Hermes,

when he declares that in order to reach the spiritual worlds we only

need to free ourselves from sensation!

Unsuspected sources of inspiration, as yet unutilised, abound in the

writings of the Pythagoreans, the Essenes, and even the Neo-Platonists.

The creators of future religions are likely to draw much water from

these wells, but Christian Science can lay claim to be the first to

have made use of the mysticism of the past in a practical fashion, so

that its adherents rejoice in the prospect of endless life, even as did

the visionaries of former ages.

When one examines the doctrine closely, its lack of originality becomes

apparent. The idea that matter does not exist has had numerous

protagonists in the realms of philosophy, and is ardently defended by

Berkeley. In the dialogues of Hylas and Philonous, the latter speaks

of the "absolute impossibility" of matter, which has no existence apart

from spirit. But Mrs. Eddy succeeded in giving this purely

metaphysical conception a concrete value in the affairs of every-day


She opened the first _School of Christian Science Mind-healing_ in 1867

with one student; towards the end of the century her followers numbered

close on a hundred thousand; while to-day the "Mother Church" can boast

over a million adherents, to say nothing of its financial resources.

Without doubt suggestion is the basis of the miraculous cures which are

the pride of Christian Science, but the prophetess and her followers

have always denied this. As Jesus ignored the power of suggestion,

they also must not only ignore it, but wage merciless war upon it.

They deny both suggestion and matter, while making use of each--but

neither the use of suggestion nor the doctrine of the non-existence of

matter could alone or together have procured for the new sect its truly

phenomenal success. That is due largely to ingenious methods of

publicity, on the most modern lines (and is not advertisement itself

one of the most effective forms of suggestion?). When one miraculous

cure after another was announced, money flowed in, and Mrs. Eddy made

use of it to increase the numbers of believers. Adapting herself to

the mentality of her hearers, or readers, she demanded large fees for

the manifestations of the "spirit" which was incarnated in herself and

her helpers, and left behind her when she died, an immense personal

fortune, and hundreds of prosperous churches. "Matter" does not seem

to be altogether negligible, even for pure spirits who do not believe

in its existence, and consider it an invention of the devil!