By Rev. Maurice E. Wilson, D. D., Dayton, Ohio
One of the keenest observers of America has made the remark that "the reason so many new isms are constantly springing up is because the old Gospel is so hard to live." People are looking for a comfortable life here, and an easy way to heaven. They are scanning earth and sky for a royal road. The fight with sin which the Gospel demands is a fierce and bitter fight; and many men and women are anxiously searching for a way of escape, desiring to be "carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease."
This desire lies at the basis of Eddyism. Its fundamental principle is that sin and sickness have no real existence. They may be banished by a process of thought. There is no matter; mind is everything. And, in proportion to the progress of the individual in this creed, all disagreeable and unpleasant things vanish.
Mrs. Eddy's basic propositions are four in number, and are thus expressed in her own words: "First, God is all in all. Second, God is good, good is mind. Third, Spirit, being all, nothing is matter. Fourth, Life, God, omnipotent good, deny death, evil, sin, disease. Disease, sin, evil, death, deny good, omnipotent God, Life" (p. 113, "Science and Health").* Unconscious of the absurdity of the thing, she placidly tells us that since these statements may be read backward as well as forward, this is a proof that they are true! "The Divine metaphysics .... proves the rule by inversion." So far as their value goes, these four propositions might just as well be read perpendicularly, or obliquely. And by the same method of argument, it would be easy to prove that angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim, are butterflies, lizards, guinea pigs, and horses.
[* NOTE: All quotations from "Science and Health" in this article are from the Edition of 1903.]
It is not necessary in this article to review Mrs. Eddy's life or discuss her personality. It is interesting as the study of an eccentric character, but the personal aspect of this subject is a minor aspect.
In seeking for the exact teachings of this 'ism', we naturally turn to the fountain and source of it all, the text-book, "Science and Health." This book is to Eddyism all that Blackstone is to the lawyer, or the pharmacopoeia to the physicianand a good deal more,for never did a body of people accept the utterances and decrees of a superior more slavishly than do the disciples of this cult accept those of its founder.
It is out of the question, of course, to consider all the teachings or positions of "Science and Health", and other writings of Mrs. Eddy. That would require more space than "THE FUNDAMENTALS" can give to the subject. To examine only a few of its underlying principles will be sufficient, if these claims can he shown to be contrary to the Word of God and to the experience and common sense of mankind, the whole thing must be rejected as unworthy of confidence. Not only this, but it should be opposed and aggressively combated as a pestiferous error.
Now, "Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures" treats of such subjects as Prayer, Marriage, Atonement and Eucharist, Animal Magnetism, Science, Theology, Medicine, Physiology, Creation, and Spiritualism. And these chapters are as utterly destitute of logical arrangement, or natural sequence, as if they had been shaken up in a bag and drawn out by a blind man.
Rather than offend the logical sense of the reader, I shall offend the book itself, and selecting a few of these topics consider them in their proper order.
What does Mrs. Eddy teach concerning God? Well, for one thing, that God is not a person. He is "Principle"; and of the same impersonal character as the "principle of mathematics." That is her own analogy"the principle of mathematics." This statement is iterated and re-iterated with intense positive ness. God, moreover, is the only Principle.
Mrs. Eddy denies that she is a pantheist. This at first is most astounding; but when we turn to her definition of pantheism we understand her denial. Pantheism, she tells us, is "a belief in the intelligence of matter" (p. 129, "Science and Health"). Since waters began to run, the world never heard so wonderful a definition of pantheism. Even Spinoza himself was not a pantheist according to this interpretation of the word. But inasmuch as in Eddyism "there is no matter", and "mind is everything", and "there is no mind but God", sensible people can reach only one conclusion. We have here out and out pantheism.
The author tells us, "There is but one I or Us." "But one I or Us"! Mrs. Eddy declares that Christian Science completely cleansed her mind of all such trivial things as grammar. It certainly looks so. Again, we are told that "God is the only Ego."
Perhaps the adherents of this cult believe its founder when she denies that she is a pantheist, but nobody else believes her. The God of Eddyism is hopelessly entangled in the meshes of His own creation. He is imprisoned as the sap is imprisoned in the tree.
Consequently, the teachings of "Science and Health" preclude all need and all possibility of prayer. If God is only "Principle", one might as well pray to "the principle of mathematics", or to chemical affinity, or to the Constitution of the United States.
There is an entire chapter devoted to "Prayer". But it is not Christian prayer at all. Mrs. Eddy's prayer is virtually a soliloquy, or an attempt at auto-suggestion. And this kind of prayer, we are told, "will be answered, inasmuch as we shall put our desires into practice."
It may be worth while to note a few choice morsels from this chapter. "Desire is prayer," and then by way of a fling at the Christians of the world, we are informed that "the habit of pleading with Divine Mind, as one pleads with a human being, perpetuates the belief in God as humanly circumscribed." Is that a fact, or a falsehood? Do Christian men and women believe as they approach their heavenly Father that He is "humanly circumscribed"? Does such a thought ever occur to any of us who have lived in any true sense a life of prayer?
Later we come upon the statement, that prayer, as understood by the Christian people of the last 1900 years, "implies the vain supposition that we have nothing to do but ask pardon, and that afterwards we shall be free to repeat the offence." I ask, again, is that a fact or a falsehood? The author either knew that statement to be false, or she did not. If she knew, then she meant to vilify the godly men and women who for all these generations have lifted up holy hands of prayer in the name of Christ their Lord. If she did not know, then it is evident that her chapter on prayer is a tissue of misrepresentations woven out of ignorance, and has as little value as the remainder of the book.
There is no room within the confines of Eddyism for the prayer, "God be merciful to me a sinner"a prayer which, our Lord Himself tells us, sent the publican down from the temple forgiven and justified. There is no place for it because we are distinctly told that "principle does not pardon."
She is against "audible prayer", as she calls it. And having endlessly revised and expurgated, without sense and without conscience, her so-called Divine Revelation, she insists that we, who are not her disciples, worship a "corporeal Jehovah."
She found it impossible to keep her hands off even the Lord's Prayer. Every Sabbath in every one of her congregations her version of the Lord's Prayer is read aloud, sentence by sentence alternately, with that version which we owe to Jesus Christ. The audience, led by one of the readers, recites the Christian version; and the other reader recites Mrs. Eddy's lingo, in which she addresses God as "Our Father-Mother God, all harmonious" (p. 16, "Science and Health"). As another has said, the alternating sentences produce a well-marked, almost physical nausea, as if one had suddenly been plunged into foul air. "The difficulty is to sit still; to resist the longing to get away, out into the streetanywhere to cleanse the mind of these sacrilegious puerilities." I can corroborate this from experience.
As Eddyism is distinctly un-Christian in its views of God, so is it un- Christian in its views of prayer.
"Sin and Atonement"
Then there is the great fact of sin. Concerning this subject, too, Mrs. Eddy's teaching is pantheistic. It mistakes the whole purpose of Christ's coming into the world. "The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" "Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." We very well know that the greatest impediment to man's progress is not sickness, but sin.
And yet in the text-book of Eddyism we are told that "The only reality of sin is the awful fact that it seems real to human belief, until God strips off its disguise." "Sin is an illusion" we are informed. And so this scheme seeks to save the sinner by convincing him that he is not a sinnerunless he believes himself to be! Which is another earmark of pantheism. Pantheism necessarily excludes the possibility of sin. And this modern high-priestess of 60,000 American people does the same. If our reason be God's reason, our intelligence God's intelligence, our activity God's activity, of course we cannot sin. If God is Mind, and man is "the full expression of Mind" (as "Science and Health" says), there is nothing in us which is not God. God is God in the Apostle John or in the Emperor Nero, in Phillips Brooks or John Wilkes Booth. "God is all in all. God is good. Therefore all is good." Therefore nothing is evil!
Now, this is not merely untrue, but it is pernicious in the highest degree. This is exactly the kind of doctrine which ill-balanced peoplemorally ill-balanced, I meanwill be only too pleased to welcome. For one person who seriously persuades himself that his headache is not a real headache, you may find twenty only too happy to persuade themselves that their sins are not real sins. I have but one name for teaching which denies sin and declares vice to be an illusion: it is neither more nor less than moral poison. Let us face facts. We all should like to know that sin is only a bad dream, as was taught by Brahmanism, and which we shall find to have been a dream when we awake. Men would give almost anything to be delivered from the sense of sin as a dread reality, for it makes them uncomfortable; it interferes with their peace of mind. To be delivered from the acute discomfort of shame, remorse, self-contempt, were surely more desirable for all men of lofty character than to be cured of any gnawing ulcer that eats into the flesh. And to be so delivered in the name of religionto be told that since all is God, nothing can be eviloffers a tremendous bribea tremendous, but most unholy bribe. To accept this doctrine is to head straight for moral disaster. The higher evolution of our race consists in man's growing sensitiveness to the distinction between good and evil, and anything calculated to dull that sensitiveness, to wipe out that distinction, is high treason against humanity. To pretend to solve this problem of evil by denying its existence, to teach that "there is no will that is not God's will," so that whatever the individual does is God's doing, is far worse than folly, or one of the aberrations of an eccentric cult; it is a crime against the moral universe.
As to the Atonement, or the relation of Christ to the fact of sin, Eddyism favors us with the amazing statement that "The Atonement is the exemplification of man's unity with God"! The idea of Christ giving His life as "a ransom for many", of being "made sin for us", though He "knew no sin," is entirely foreign to Mrs. Eddy's scheme. There is no sin to be atoned for, and no need for a ransom to be paid.
Then, as if it were not enough to deny the reality of sin and the atonement, Eddyism indulges in what to the Christian is blasphemy. For example, "The true Logos is demonstrably Christian Science" (p. 134, "Science and Health"). If that be so, then we might read the first verse of the Gospel according to John in this way: "In the beginning was Christian Science, and Christian Science was with God, and Christian Science was God. All things were made by Christian Science, and without Christian Science was not anything made that was made." We are also told that the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, is Christian Science! And Mrs. Eddy herself is also the Word, and the Comforter, and the Second Advent, and the Woman in the Sun, and the Last Day.
A comical side of this presents itself to us in the claim that the prophet Elijah was Christian Science; so were the river Euphrates, and the river Hiddekel, and the New Jerusalem! (See Glossary).
"The Lord's Supper"
As related to this whole subject of sin and atonement treated in this sacrilegious manner, we should consider for a moment her parody of the Lord's supper. She tells us that the passover which Jesus ate with His disciples the night before His death "was a mournful occasion, a sad supper"; and that it "closed forever Jesus' ritualism, or concessions to matter." What a contrast between our Lord's last supper and His last spiritual breakfast with His disciples in the bright morning hours, at the joyful meeting on the shore of the Galilean Sea! "This spiritual meeting with our Lord in the dawn of a new light, is the morning meal which Christian Scientists commemorate" (pp. 32-35, "Science and Health").
"Thus does Eddyism heap its insults upon the sacrament itselfthe very heart and citadel of Christian worship. Jesus says, 'This do in remembrance of Me.' And Mrs. Eddy and her easy victims immediately set about doing something else. They must not even think of blood or pain or death, for these all are illusions of mortal mind. They will have nothing to do with the Lord's supper, because it is 'a mournful occasion.' And they must always be comfortable, able to forget sin and its consequences! 'The less said of them, the better.' That is her desperate advice. 'I lay down My life for the sheep,' said Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It was a mistake to dwell upon that. The agony in the Garden, the scourging, the torture of the crucifixion, all were errors of sinful sense!"
So it is better, Eddyism thinks, to forget this "sad supper, taken at the close of daywith shadows falling around" (p. 32, "Science and Health"), and have a "last spiritual breakfastin the bright morning hours" (p. 34, "Science and Health"). No cross, no passion, and a resurrection, not from the dead, but from sleep, or a swoon!
The so-called "Communion Service" used to be held once a year; but in 1908 it was abolished from the Mother Church in Boston, because the crowd was inconvenient. That was the reason assigned, but in her order Mrs. Eddy decreed: "There shall be no more communion season in the Mother Church that has blossomed into spiritual beauty, communion universal and Divine." Thus this "dead rite," as she called it, was done away with.
It is important to note what Mrs. Eddy has to say about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. "The lonely precincts of the tomb gave Jesus a refuge from His foes", where "He met and mastered, on the basis of Christian Science, all the claims of medicine, surgery and hygiene" (p. 44, "Science and Health"). "But it was not a supernatural act" (p. 34, "Science and Health"). "His disciples believed Jesus dead while He was hidden in the sepulchre; whereas He was alive, demonstrating within the narrow tomb the power of Spirit to over-rule mortal, material sense" (p. 34, "Science and Health"). When "Jesus' studentssaw Him after His crucifixion," they "learned that He had not died" (p. 46, "Science and Health"). Mrs. Eddy speaks of His condition "after what seemed to be death," and she quotes Paul in this fashion, "we were reconciled to God by the (seeming) death of His Son" (p.46, "Science and Health").
Now the public does not know all this, or any small part of it, indeed. No follower of Mrs. Eddy, so far as I have discovered, ever mentions these wholesale and outrageous denials of New Testament truth. They never refer to these things either on the platform or in their newspaper correspondence. Hence, until one goes to "Science and Health", to read and find out for himself, he is very apt to be deceived by the brazen pretensions of Mrs. Eddy to a place among Christian teachers.
Next we are to consider the matter of healing. It is the custom of Mother Eddy's followers to point to the wonderful cures that have been effected by themselves and their co-religionists. The aim of the healer is to persuade the patient that he is not sick, that he has no disease. If the case is a cancer he is told that the inflammation in the flesh is caused by mortal mind; the seat of the trouble is in the thought, the belief.
A man drinks poison and dies; but it is not the poison that kills him; vicious belief, or mortal mind, sends him to his long home. If he only had been able to convince himself that the poison was pure, clear spring water, it would have done him no injury.*
[* "If a dose of poison is swallowed through mistake, and the patient dies, even though physician and patient are expecting favorable results, does human belief, you ask, cause this death? Even so; and as directly as if the poison had been intentionally taken" (p. 177, "Science and Health").]
The infant when he utters the first wail has an "inherited" belief in pain! The horse when left standing without his blanket on a bitter winter day takes cold because there is a sort of universal horse conviction that this will happen.*And this is called "science"! Of course, it is as unscientific as anything ever foisted upon the attention of the world a mere jumble of unlearned assumptions without a scintilla of proof. It is the philosophy of idealism gone mad.
"You can even educate a healthy horse so far in physiology that he will take cold without his blanket; whereas the wild animal left to his instincts, sniffs the wind with delight. The epizootic is a humanly evolved ailment, which a wild horse might never have" (p. 179, "Science and Health").]
This does not mean that the followers of Mrs. Eddy do not effect cures. They do. But just as astonishing cures, and a great many more of them, are effected by Catholic shrines all over the worldat Lourdes, for exampleand by relics such as those of St. Anne in New York City. Francis Schlatter, in Denver a few years ago, and Alexander Dowie, in Chicago, probably far surpassed in this respect any single follower of Mrs. Eddy who ever coped with the ills that flesh is heir tonot even excepting the founder of the sect herself. And yet none of these other healers ever thought of denying the facts of the material world.
The claims of Eddyism to cure organic diseases break down under the most elementary rules of criticism. That it does cure "functional" diseases, all will admit, for it is simply a matter of suggestion. It never has cured, and never will cure, any diseases, except those which have been cured again and again by "mental therapeutics." And from the works of healing in the temples of Aesculapius down to the present time, mankind has used, for better or worse, mental therapeutics.
We often wonder why Mrs. Eddy and her followers are so sure that God is a physician, but are unwilling to trust Him as a surgeon. She is ready to turn over into His hands every case of stomach trouble or liver complaint; but for a broken leg or a dislocated shoulder, she wants a surgeon!
I make bold to repeat that Eddyism has not one iota of evidence to support its theory of healing; "no evidence," as another has said, "but would be thrown out of the lowest police court." Its cures differ neither in character nor in numbers from those effected by others, as remarked above. And all may be accounted for by the well-known fact of the influence of mind over mind, and of mind over body.
Professor Carpenter, the English physiologist, speaking of what is known as "expectant attention," says: "There is scarcely a malady in which amendment has not been produced by practices which can have had no other effect than to direct the attention of the sufferer to the parts, and to keep alive his confident expectation of a cure." But, as everybody knows, this method of operation will not cure diseased tissues, set broken bones, or heal structural derangement.
Neither will it cure a toothache permanently, as the followers of Mrs. Eddy themselves prove by their patronage of the dentist. When one discovers, as I have more than once, a devout follower of Mrs. Eddy resting uneasily in a dentist's chair, he naturally asks himself if the nerves in the teeth are the only nerves that can cause pain?
Some years ago Mrs. Eddy herself had a tooth removed under local anesthesia. It caused her theories to be held up to ridicule in a good many quarters. In her reply she gave out this ingenious explanation: that the dentist's belief in the means he employed was a mental force which combined with her ownexerted in a different directionand produced a painless operation as a logical, mathematical "RESULTANT OF FORCES" (Brooklyn Eagle Library, 1901).
Eddyism, therefore, denies evident facts, and claims for facts what universal experience proves to be false. Its advocates themselves give the lie to their creed every day of their lives by treating their bodies as if they were real. They eat and drink, and with the change of seasons they change the weight of their apparel. Mrs. Eddy declares that "Man has a Sensation less body" (p. 280, "Science and Health"). But yet "one should not tarry in the storm if the body is freezing" (p. 329, "Science and Health"). Why not? If the body is "sensation less," it will not be affected in the least by the degrees of Fahrenheit, either up or down. Anyway, Mrs. Eddy insists that there is neither heat nor cold. "Heat and cold are products of mind."
Of course, every one who denounces "Science and Health" is immediately reminded by the erudite members of this cult that he does not understand the book; and that he will forever be incapable of understanding its profundities until he becomes a disciple. His mental capacity will have to be enlarged before he can appreciate the fine distinctions to be found in the learned writings of this lady. It is amusing. A man, like General Horatio C. King, for example, may be college bred; may have spent years in the practice of the legal profession, and other years as a newspaper editor, and still others as an author; he may have traveled extensively, and been a student of the Bible all his life; but if he criticises "Science and Health", it is because he cannot understand its philosophy. A man may be acquainted with the entire history of thought from Thales to Hegel, he may be able to read Kant's "Critique" with some degree of pleasure; he may have spent years in the company of Spinoza, Descartes, Locke, Leibnitz, and other thinkers, but he is out of court as a critic unless he acknowledges the vast superiority of Mrs. Eddy. But if one is willing to make this acknowledgementeven though he be ignorant as night of all things elsehe is at once entitled to a place among the wise men!
The pity of it all is that the jargon of "Science and Health", and its kindred publications, is accepted as Gospel by over 60,000 people in this enlightened land of ours.
It is well known that Eddyism claims anywhere from one to three millions in America. The official figures as given by Dr. Carroll in the last religious census are 85,717. But many of these even "are counted as members of the Mother Church in Boston, and also members of the branch churches throughout the world!" Dr. Carroll's estimate is that there are at least 20,000 duplicationswhich would leave a grand total for the last census of about 65,000 members. The official board has now for several years declined to give any reports to the public, which may mean that the crest of the wave was reached some time ago, and the movement has begun to recede.
But even though the numbers were as great as claimed, this would prove nothing as to the truth of Mrs. Eddy's teachings. In India there are millions who worship the Ganges, and other millions who worship cowsand the Hindu mind is second to none in the world in its metaphysical aptitudes. It is sad to think that a single man or woman should be misled by Joe Smith, Alexander Dowie, or Mary Baker Eddy.
But these false claims are not the only dishonesties perpetrated by Eddyism. The pages of "Science and Health" teem with them.
The press agents of Mrs. Eddy will tell you that "unless preaching is accompanied by signs of healing the sick, one has no proof that he is presenting the Gospel as the Master said it should be" [Lloyd B. Coate]. But it is a dangerous thing to prove too much. If healing the sick is a necessary adjunct to presenting the Gospel, so is the power to "speak with tongues," "take up serpents", "drink any deadly thing", "cleanse the lepers", and "raise the dead)? It looks, therefore, as if, according to their own argument, all the lecturers and press agents and publishers and "readers" of Eddyism should immediately retire and cease their propaganda.
How many dead have they raised in any community, from Boston down to the smallest town in which they have established themselves? One has a feeling that it would not be difficult to give the figures. How many lepers have they cleansed? There are plenty of opportunities in the world to try their hand at this. Let some of them repair to Molokai, for example, and get to work. Or does Eddyism enable any of its most ardent devotees to handle serpents that have poison in their fangs? Or to drink carbolic acid, just by way of proof? Or to speak with foreign tongues, without a course of study? How many languages did Mrs. Eddy speak? It looks as if she could not speak one with any very great degree of accuracy.
But then she told the world that her Divine revelations had purged her mind of all such trifles as Latin and Greek and Hebrew. She certainly should not have been so reckless with her "new tongues," since, according to her own teaching, Jesus meant all His disciples to possess and use them.
Take another example of dishonest treatment of the Word of God. In "Science and Health" (p. 75), after quoting the words of our Lord to His disciples, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep," Mrs. Eddy declares that "He restored Lazarus by the understanding that he had never died," and this in spite of the fact that in the third verse below that in which Christ uses the figure of sleepdiscovering that the disciples did not understandHe "said unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead."
Again, "the injunction, 'Believeand thou shalt be saved!' demands self reliant trustworthiness." Every student of the Bible knows that these are the words of Paul to the Philippian jailer, and that he says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." The Apostle is enjoining the very opposite of "self-reliant trustworthiness." He is showing to the trembling jailer that Jesus is the One upon whom he must rely!
No doubt many of her disciples who were formerly members of the evangelical churches think they still have the same Saviour as of old. But it was her boast that she had "taken away their Lord." In a letter to Judge Septimius J. Hanna, the founder of Eddyism says: "I have marveled at the press and pulpit's patience with me, when I have taken away their Lord."
Suppose a minister of the Gospel were to declare that "the true Christ is Calvinism", or that "Arminianism is the Holy Spirit", or that "Lutheranism lights the fires of the Holy Ghost", how long would it take the public to discover that such a man was unworthy of a place among Christian teachers? Yet this woman has gone on perpetrating blasphemies of this sort year after year. And when she and her followers are criticized and their statements denounced, some people are horrified and talk about persecution.
In conclusion, let us notice two or three specimen absurdities from the pages of "Science and Health", in addition to those already mentioned. They are taken somewhat at random.
"Because the muscles of the blacksmith's arm are strongly developed, it does not follow that exercise has produced this result? The trip hammer is not increased by exercise. But why not, since muscles are as material as wood or iron?" (pp. 198 and 199, "Science and Health").
"Destructive electricity is not the offspring of an Infinite Good." Which implies a radical difference between harmful and harmless electricity. When it attends strictly to business and follows the wires, it is a moral agent; but when it breaks away, burns out a fuse, or sets a house afire, it becomes immoral!
"The Christian Scientist takes the best care of his body when he leaves it most out of his thoughts." Therefore, the Spanish beggars and the Italian lazaroni would make ideal members of Mrs. Eddy's organization.
"The less mind there is manifested in matter, the better. When the unthinking lobster loses his claw, it grows again. If the science of life were understoodthe human limb would be replaced as readily as the lobster's clawnot with an artificial limb, but with a genuine one" (p. 489, "Science and Health"). It did not seem to occur to the author that while the lobster's claw grows again, the lamb's tail does not. But this is accounted for, no doubt, by the proposition that "the less mind there is manifested in matter, the better." The lobster gets his claw again because he has so little mind; the lamb does not get his tail, and the man does not get his leg, because each one of them has too much mind. The only hope for the one-legged man, then, is to become either a lunatic or a lobster!
And yet there are people who are willing to apply to this farrago of irreligion and nonsense two of the most significant words in the English language, "Christian" and "Science."
It is comforting, however, to know that it will come to an end by and by, and will be numbered with many other strange and indefensible infatuations that have "gone glimmering through the dream of things that were,"