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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
From the Plains Baptist Challenger, March 2014
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, was born July 16, 1821 in Massachusetts. She was reared as a Congregationalist, but early in life came to reject teachings such as predestination and original sin. She suffered from chronic nervous disorders as a child, and displayed a strong interest from an early age in the Biblical accounts of miraculous healing.
At a young age, she began to hear voices calling her name; and would go to her mother only to learn that her mother had not called her at all. When she was eligible to join the Congregational Church at age 12, she was at great odds with her father over the doctrines of predestination and eternal judgment and hell. She was so upset by a confrontation over these that she developed a high fever. Her mother bathed her hot temples with a cool washcloth, and told her to rest upon God's love. As she prayed, the fever suddenly left her.
Mary Baker was a fragile child, and suffered from a number of physical complaints. Possible they were psychosomatic in origin. She developed a great interest in homeopathy, dietary cures, hydropathy (curing illness by drinking large amounts of water), and mesmerism, (the ability to control others through using one's mind alone.)
She was married three times. Her first husband, George Glover, died of yellow fever just before the birth of their only child. She then married Dr. Daniel Patterson, a dentist, who would not adopt her young son. She was so plunged into despair that her health deteriorated and she turned to treatments involving electricity shocks and morphine for relief. She separated from Patterson in 1866 and married Asa Eddy in 1877.
Mary developed an interest in spiritualism, and counted herself as a spiritualist for a time, engaging in séances and communicating with departed spirits. She then became interested in Protestant theology from the influence of her new physician, Dr. Quimby.
Mrs. Eddy suffered a fall in 1866 with a resulting spinal injury. While she was suffering from the effects of this fall, she was reading the Scriptures and claimed to experience complete healing. She began to dwell heavily on the fact that it was God's love while meditating that had healed her. In 1875 she wrote her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In that work, she developed and described the tenets of belief that make up Christian Science as it is known today. God was to her, the Divine Mind, and all matter, including illness, was actually unreality. One could be healed through meditation and concentration, without the use of medicines or medical procedures, she believed.
Mrs. Eddy never intended to start her own Church, but rather to introduce her methods of healing through the power of the mind, but her beliefs became so popular after the publication of her book that she started the Church of Scientist Christian in Boston, which still remains the Mother Church for the movement.
Christian Science was extremely popular among Hollywood stars for many years, counting among its adherents such famous faces as Alan Young, (Wilbur in the Mr. Ed television series), dancer Ginger Rogers, and singer Doris Day.
Although it has waned in popularity in recent years, there are still 2400 Christian Science local congregations in 70 countries. Many communities have a 'Reading Room' where they can be indoctrinated with the principles of Christian Science, and can be, upon the vote of the organization, be admitted to the fellowship of the Church. Unusual among religious groups, there are probably more people waiting to be admitted to the 'church' of Christian Science than there are present members.