Tomorrow, December 3, 2010, marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of the discoverer of Christian Science and the founder of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Mary Baker Eddy. Friend and colleague Steve Salt has authored the following post regarding the occasion. Steve is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher, as well as the Christian Science Committee on Publication for Ohio.
Mary Baker Eddy was not one to celebrate birthdays. In fact in a letter she once called their commemoration meaningless. She was making a point about the timeless nature of man as must be the case in light of one eternal God. Eddy felt the same about memorializing death. So rather than making a fuss over a 100 year anniversary, this is a good time just to look back and see the impact Eddy had in Christian theology, medicine and science.
Newspapers around the country covered the story of the emergence of Christian Science at the turn of the twentieth century. The Denver News ran this story:
The dedication of the new Mother Church of the Christian Scientists in Boston is not a matter of interest to that city alone, but to the nation; not to the nation alone, but to the world; not to this time alone, but to history.
The growth of this form of religious faith has been one of the marvels of the last quarter century. It is, in some respects, the greatest religious phenomenon of all history.
Unaccountable? Hardly so. Whatever else it is, this faith is real and is given very real tests. Thousands upon thousands believe that it has cured them of diseases many and diverse. All the passionate love for life with which nature endows the children of men, grips hold of their faith and insures fidelity in pain or death for self or dearones.
But, while health-seeking is the door to this gospel for many, it is not the only source of appeal. A faith which teaches that hate is atheism, that discord is poisonous, that gloom is sin, has a mission that can be readily grasped by sick or well.
The world is enormously richer for this reincarnation of the old, old gospel of “on earth peace, good will toward men.”
The arrival of Christian Science in the latter part of the nineteenth century invigorated the debate over the nature of God. Wrathful, vindictive, mysterious, and punishing were accepted as God’s trademarks. But what about the loving, kind, and nurturing aspects of the Creator? In her most important work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Eddy notes, “…we have not as much authority for considering God masculine, as we have for considering Him feminine, for Love imparts the clearest idea of Deity.” It doesn’t get any plainer than in John’s First Epistle, “God is Love.”
Christian Science also ignited a vigorous look into the nature of man. Hopeless sinner or child of God? Flawed from creation or made in His image and likeness? That debate, of course, continues today. But it does open up a whole new vista to the old Biblical question, “What hath God wrought?”
Eddy also introduced the idea that God need not be so mysterious, that He is knowable to some degree and always available to meet the needs of humanity. The notion that God was detached from His own creation and aloof no longer made sense. For God to be God, He must be omnipresent (always at hand), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipotent (the power, not apower). Praying to God, communing with the source of all, is practical religion and a must-have ingredient in daily life. Interesting ha?
And just where does spiritual life fit into human health? Eddy established the Christian Science Church to “reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing,” enabling all of us to heal sickness as Jesus promised we could. More on this next week.
It has been said by more than one critic that Christian Science isn’t so Christian. I guess that depends on what you consider ‘Christian’ means. For me, what could be more Christian than following the words and works of Jesus who asked of his followers not only to preach the gospel, but to heal the sick and raise the dead? Christian Scientists like me endeavor to do just that while living up to the highest standards Jesus gave us, to love God and neighbor.
For more information about Mary Baker Eddy, visit the library named after her, The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity.
To read more of Steve’s posts, I encourage you to visit his blog.