Mary Baker Eddy could be viewed as the Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer of the 19th century except Eddy wrote a book, Science and Health that sold well before she started a church. Once Eddy did start a church in 1879, she could hardly keep up with its increase in membership. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, was dedicated to bringing back spiritual Christ-like healing and the religion took off around the world. Eddy wrote in 1902, “With no special effort to achieve this result, our church communicants constantly increase in number, unity, steadfastness. Two thousand seven hundred and eighty-four members have been added to our church during the year ending June, 1902, making total twenty-four thousand two hundred and seventy-eight members; while our branch churches are multiplying everywhere and blossoming as the rose.”
Now imagine if some average street person in year 1902 also said: Hey you church goers, I’m here to tell you that just over the horizon of the future, only forty years hence, this prosperous religion, marked with spiritual healing and a lively membership will be blighted with ritualism and creed. The number of members will become negligible. What is more, the church will then embark upon over half a century of living in the past, making vigorous effort to repeat and control the words and history surrounding Christian Science.
The average street person voicing this hypothetical tirade would have been ignored and judged a lunatic in 1902. Spiritual healing was happening at a time when medical science was crude and unreliable. Spiritual seekers were receiving purpose and direction at a time when the industrial revolution had brought social upheaval and technological progress had ominously transformed the agrarian lifestyle. Religion grounded those who were surrounded by a skyrocketing capitalism. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, was a stronghold to those being affected by gender and echelon injustice.
But Eddy warned against living in the past, a hypnotic state of mind that “entices its victim by unseen, silent arguments.” A mind in the past becomes suspicious, relies on that which they should avoid, or becomes confused. “Other minds are made dormant by it, and the victim is in a state of semi-individuality, with a mental haziness which admits of no intellectual culture or spiritual growth,” writes Eddy. (Miscellany) Living in the past misleads the religious practitioner to assume they are spiritually successful when in fact their mentality regurgitates long out-grown knowledge and produces evidence of a self-sabotaging behavior, all the while claiming to be following Mary Baker Eddy.
Paul told the Corinthians, “When one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” Spirituality and its healing power increases as we follow God, Love, not Paul, Eddy, Osteen, or Meyer.
Yes, we can be thankful to these religious leaders however living in the past is not gratitude, but idolization or obsession, leading to a huge let down. When I first considered revising Eddy’s book, Science and Health, the living in the past mentality reacted and troubled me until I carefully analyzed its arguments and found they had no credibility whatsoever. My book, 21st Century Science and Health, epitomizes the seed within itself, an outgrowth of the book explaining Christian Science. The book introduces new thoughts however future ages must hone and shape the ideas in order to make them understood. The revision work dissolves the hypnotic state of living in the past and I not only share in today’s world an increase in unity and spiritual steadfastness but I also more so experience spiritual healing traceable to Christ, God with us.