Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, was born in 1821 in Bow, Massachusetts. She was raised in a religious home and became a member of the Congregational Church. She had always loved reading and studying the Bible and praying to understand its practical message.
In 1866, she was told that she would not recover from a fall on ice. She sought comfort by reading Jesus’ healings in the Bible. Her quick healing caused her to “dig deeper,” resulting in the founding of the Christian Science movement.
In 1879 she established the First Church of Christ, Scientist “to organize a church designed to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.”
Christian Scientists believe in one, infinite God who is All and all-good. They believe that God is not distant and unknowable, but that God is all-encompassing and always present, and that each individual is loved by God, cared for by Him, and made in God’s image—spiritual, not material.
Christian Scientists believe in the Bible and in Christ Jesus as the Son of God, or promised Messiah. And they believe that Jesus’ teachings and healing work expressed scientific Christianity, or the application of the laws of God—laws which are still practical and provable today, by anyone, anywhere. Christian Scientists consider the Commandments, as well as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, to be central to their lives and practice of Christianity.
Above all, Christian Scientists believe in the saving, healing power of God’s love—that no one is beyond redemption, that no problem is too entrenched or overwhelming to be addressed and healed. In other words, Christian Scientists don’t believe that salvation occurs at some point in the future, but that the presence of God’s goodness can be experienced here and now—and by everyone.
One of the best ways to learn more about Christian Science is to explore the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, written by Mary Baker Eddy.
The Tenets of Christian Science are as follows:
1. As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.
2. We acknowledge and adore one supreme and infinite God. We acknowledge His Son, one Christ; the Holy Ghost or divine Comforter; and man in God’s image and likeness.
3. We acknowledge God’s forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal. But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts.
4. We acknowledge Jesus’ atonement as the evidence of divine, efficacious Love, unfolding man’s unity with God through Christ Jesus the Way-shower; and we acknowledge that man is saved through Christ, through Truth, Life, and Love as demonstrated by the Galilean Prophet in healing the sick and overcoming sin and death.
5. We acknowledge that the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection served to uplift faith to understand eternal Life, even the allness of Soul, Spirit, and the nothingness of matter.
6. And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure.
Historical Overview of the Life of Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Morse Baker was born on July 16, 1821, on the family farm in Bow, New Hampshire. Deeply religious, her parents were members of the Congregational church and her father followed the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. Mary also had a great love for the Bible and studied it often. Her formal schoolwork was often interrupted by ill health, but her early letters show that she was an avid reader and writer. Her brother Albert was educated at Dartmouth and often tutored Mary.
1st marriage and son
Mary Baker married George Washington Glover on December 10, 1843, and they settled in Wilmington, NC. Glover died of yellow fever ‘six months later and his young, pregnant widow returned to her parents’ home. Here George Washington Glover II was horn on September 12, 1844. Mary continued to suffer from ill health and was often not well enough to care for her son. In 1850, a year after her mother’s death, her father, Mark Baker, remarried, and Mary and her son were not permitted to remain in his home. Her sister Abigail Tilton offered a place for her, but not for her son. Women at this time did not legally govern their own children. After her husband died, legal guardianship of George ll went to Mark Baker. George was sent to live with Mahala and Russell Cheney (Mahala had previously helped to care for George when Mary was ill).
On June 21, 1853, Mary Glover married Daniel Patterson, an itinerant dentist, with the hope that she would be able to get her son back. This did not happen and in April of 1856 the Cheneys moved to Minnesota, taking George with them. George was told at this time that his mother had died. Mary’s struggles with ill health continued. Patterson proved to be unfaithful and largely absent. He eventually deserted Mary for good in 1866. She was granted a divorce on November 4, 1873, on the grounds of abandonment.
In 1866, when a severe fall on an icy sidewalk left her in bed in critical condition, Mary Patterson asked for her Bible and, while reading an account of Jesus’ healing, found herself suddenly well. Eventually, she referred to this as the moment she discovered Christian Science. She could not explain to others what had happened, but she knew it was the result of what she had read in the Bible. Her conviction grew in the coming weeks and months as setbacks were met with even stronger proofs of spiritual healing. This led to nine years of intensive scriptural study, healing activity, and teaching, culminating in the publication of Science and Health in 1875.
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
Mary Baker Eddy’s primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, is a 700-page textbook on Christian Science healing and includes her commentary on the Scriptures. Eddy first published Science and Health in 1875, and over the next thirty-five years, she frequently revised it, making its healing message clearer and stronger. The last edition that she edited is considered the “current” edition and is the one used by Christian Scientists since her passing. The Women’s National Book Association named Science and Health as “one of the 75 books by women whose words have changed the world.”
On January 1, 1877, she married one of her students, Asa Gilbert Eddy. A former sewing machine salesman, Asa Eddy proved to be a loving husband and partner who gave her unflinching support in her publishing and healing work. Asa Eddy died on June 3, 1882.
In 1879, she secured a charter for the Church of Christ, Scientist, established “to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.” The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, was built in 1894 and a large Extension was added in 1906. In the early years Eddy herself served as pastor, followed by a few others. In 1895, however, Eddy ordained the Bible and Science and Health as the pastor of The Church of Christ, Scientist, and the Sunday sermon is comprised of readings from these two books. Wednesday testimonial meetings also include readings from the Bible and Science and Health and attendees participate by sharing accounts of healing and spiritual insights. Today the Church of Christ, Scientist, includes The Mother Church and about 2,000 branch churches and societies around the world. See Christian Science.
Healing and Teaching
After her discovery in 1866, Eddy wanted to use her healing system to help others. She soon began healing people in her community of conditions resulting from accidents and disease. She then began to teach others how to heal. In 1881, she founded the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, where she taught classes in Christian Science healing until 1889, when she closed the institution to focus on a major revision of Science and Health. Over the years Mary Baker Eddy taught her system of healing to hundreds of women and men who in turn established successful healing practices across the United States and abroad.
Eddy founded The Christian Science Publishing Society in 1898, which became the publishing home for numerous publications devoted to Christian Science launched by her. Publications include The Christian Science Journal, Christian Science Sentinel, Christian Science Quarterly-Weekly Bible Lessons, and The Herald of Christian Science, published in 13 languages.
The Christian Science Monitor
In November of 1908, Mary Baker Eddy founded an international daily newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, also published by her Publishing Society, with the mission to “injure no man, but to bless all mankind.” This paper has won seven Pulitzer prizes to date and is offered in both a print and online version.