Surrounded by reform movements and the burgeoning industrial revolution of the 19th century, Mary Baker Eddy became publicly involved as a thinker, writer, teacher, and religious leader. Born in 1821, Eddy was middle aged before she admitted a pro-active stance concerning contemporary world issues. She spent the last half of her life pushing the predominate social norm out of the patriarchal culture while representing women’s ability — equal to men — to minister to the sick and lead in decisive matters relating to religion and civilization.
On a national level, the 19th century railroad and telegraph were recalibrating spatial and temporal orientation. Working conditions were often deplorable and medicine was brutal. Science however was piercing superstitions and dogmatic theology was yielding to an empathic theology. On a personal level, Mary Baker (her maiden name) was not fitting into the cultural mores typical to the 19th century period when women got married and had children. And forget voting rights.
Leaning on her Christian proclivities and spiritual interpretation of Scripture, Mary eventually realized the potential to tap into divine Mind instead of the human mind for direction and power. The human mind was too prone to degradation, discrimination, and exploitation. Mary therefore analytically discovered a method of personal and social improvement based on divine Mind and branded it Christian Science, or divine Science.
Finding the mindful method effective and less intrusive, Mary Baker destined herself to employ divine Science to improve the plight of healthcare and the inequalities of the living standards for individuals and the world. She wrote, and revised multiple times over, the seminal book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. People from all walks of life can read her remark in Science and Health, “I have found nothing in ancient or in modern systems on which to found my own, except the teachings and demonstrations of our great Master [Christ Jesus] and the lives of prophets and apostles. The Bible has been my only authority.”
After marrying for the third time, her name was established as Mary Baker Eddy and she became a public figure. Not too surprisingly, a following of people — interested and willing in pursuing this spiritual pathology — prompted Eddy to start The First Church of Christ, Scientist.
After Eddy’s death in 1910, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, attempted to simulate Eddy’s leadership acumen, but instead slowly developed unwritten religious rules and arcane protocol in the church, making it difficult to advance divine Science in a world now moving at the speed of sound, while being bombarded with information and new technology. In the mid-20th century, church followers began dwindling in number. However, followers of what can be identified as divine Science continued moving forward.
A milieu of spiritual seekers, not attached to The First Church of Christ, Scientist linguistically or culturally, but likewise promoting Scriptural spirituality and a non-aggressive ideology, are alive and well. Scripture is being revised to meet the standard of universal goodwill and to moreover satisfy the mission to remove all that opposes life, truth, and love.
I myself have revised Eddy’s book and published 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, incorporating gender-inclusive language and the latest discoveries in the fields of religion, medicine, and science. The revision is a work in progress, paralleling itself to modern civilization.
A promising future reveals learned lessons from the past, and 21st Century Science and Health takes into account the fact that mass consciousness is now stamped with the experiences of two World Wars, a series of unwanted wars, many hard earned women, civil, and animal rights movements, atom splitting, instant messaging, high-tech surgeries, etc.
Divine Science, along with other faiths, is dealing with these brain imprints effectively and human consciousness is yielding to God, good. “You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (II Cor. 3:3, NIV)
From 21st Century Science and Health, “The central fact of the Bible is the superiority of spiritual over physical power.” Revisions advocating the valid visions of humanity advancing in peace and well being are necessary. Although these reworked forms are different in appearance as compared to one hundred, or thousands of years ago, the mission of divine Science is the same: finding instruction and training in the spiritual interpretation of Scripture and increasing genuine understanding in the world.
Bio: Cheryl Petersen is a freelance writer and correspondent for The Delaware County Times. She and her husband raised two daughters plus fostered children for 15 years. They now live in upstate New York. Cheryl’s website is Healing Science Today and she blogs at Beliefnet. The 4th edition of Cheryl Petersen’s book, 21st Century Science and Health, has recently been released and can be found online.
Tagged Cheryl Petersen, Christian Science, Christian Science founder, Christian Science origin, church of christian scientists, divine science, divine science church, history of Christian Science, Mary Baker, Mary Baker Eddy, Mary Baker Eddy biography, mary baker eddy quotes, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, The First Church of Christ Scientist