The 19th century had a movement of Americans who were paying attention to faith healers, or Christian Scientists, as a way to heal rather than just the science without faith methods traditionally used. By the 20th century the practice was commonly known as “mind-cure.” The most famous Christian Science practitioner was Mary Baker Eddy.
Founder of the First Church of Christian Scientists
Naturally, a woman was thought to be more intuitive than a man, and although women are still thought of as the weaker sex, when it comes to mind matters women have the minds to tap into the divinity of healing power easier than men. Or so the intuitive healing nature of women still figures in the strength of women. Mary Baker Eddy, like other healthy minded people, was very much interested in alternative therapies (homeopathy, hydropathy), and she consistently studied biblical passages that provided healing experiences. Eventually she realized that belief, a patient’s belief in healing had more to do with it, than medication. She experimented with placebos to come to this conclusion.
Her childhood upbringing was with a strict Congregational religious belief. She rebelled against it by actually studying the bible for hope. She was also a sickly child so that may have had something to do with her interest in alternative therapies for healing. Her chronic illness accompanied her into her early adult life. She became a devotee of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, who had a modified version of mesmerism (hypnotism) based on Christian principles that really cured. She became well, and continued to study with him until he died unexpectedly.
During her study with Quimby she learned about false beliefs. People became ill because they believed that their bodies were separate from their minds. Minds were whole and well, but bodies weren’t. He saw the body as a reflection of the mind, and if people could change their mind beliefs about illness then the body would heal and become well.
Eddy became incapacitated from a miserable fall, and she thought she was near death. So she turned to her bible for relief, read a passage from the Gospel of Matthew, and felt divine healing. Indeed she did arise from her bed and believed that the reality of the universe is spiritual, and all can rise from their beds because everyone is whole and healthy, they just don’t believe it. This is very succinct, and there is more to her story of her healing, but it is her basic story.
This changed her life to drop the mesmerism of Quimby’s teachings and become a Christian Scientist teacher instead. At the time there were no women; preachers, medical doctors or voters. Through her preaching, teaching and authorship she was the leader of the Christian Science movement. She had published Science and Health with the Key to the Scriptures (1875), rewritten since, but considered the foundation of Christian Science, and includes her system of healing. The book has been translated into many languages, sold over 10 million copies (the highest in 2000-2001).
She started her own church, the Church of Christ, Scientist in 1879. In her words it was established, “to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.”
Christian Science Beliefs
One of the most soothing beliefs is that the one God who is All and all-good is imaged in man spiritually, not materially. The ever present God love and cares for each human who is made in God’s spiritual likeness.
God’s presence is here and now, and available to everyone. Salvation isn’t to happen futuristically because the teachings and healings of Jesus (promised Messiah) are shown to be scientific Christianity, or applied of the laws of God. The laws are provable and practicable today by anyone anywhere. The book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, is used as the textbook for the beliefs and practices, and it is read along with bible scriptures in church.
Mary Baker Eddy Quotes
To live and let live, without clamour for distinction or recognition; to wait on divine love; to write truth first on the tablet of one's own heart - this is the sanity and perfection of living.
Health is not a condition of matter, but of Mind.
Disease is an experience of a so-called mortal mind. It is fear made manifest on the body.
Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal.
A scientific mental method is more sanitary than the use of drugs, and such a mental method produces permanent health.
Belief is changeable, but spiritual understanding is changeless.
Reject hatred without hating.
Mary Baker Eddy Library
The library and museum are all about this unconventional leader, and some think of her as an early feminist, and a repository for her work. It is located in Boston, MA. but available online.
She founded a publishing company, The Christian Science Publishing Society, for her and her followers numerous publications. Two noted works are:
- The Christian Science Journal - A monthly issue (started in 1883) that reports Christian healing and an understanding of the Divine principles involved in Christain Science practice. It has a world-wide directory of Christian Science teachers, churches and practitioners.
- The Christian Science Monitor - A global news publishing, recipient of 7 Pulitzer Prizes, founded in 1908 by Eddy, and available online or in print. Not too shabby for the influential and unconventional female leader.
These are just two of her works that are still going strong today, in 2011!
A couple of years after Eddy started her church, she also started the Massachusetts Metaphysical College to teach courses on spiritual healing. They must have been quite valuable and highly attractive to the countless people of like mind who yearned to tap into their own divinity, within themselves. After the first year (1881) in Lynn, MA, the college was moved to Boston. It thrived with hundreds of students applying from all over the country. In 1889 she closed the college, and moved to New Hampshire.
Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Science founder, healer, author, teacher, preacher, and quoted as to have said why she started The Christian Science Monitor, “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind,” was a true visionary.
photo credit - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Public_Domain_Mary_Baker_Eddy.jpg