Mary Baker Eddy was a household name one hundred years ago—Christian, preacher, author—a Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyer of the 19th century. However, Eddy’s main book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures made some rather bold statements for a time period filled with horses, buggies, and a scientific field that stressed the solidity and stability of matter and physical laws.
Circa 1900, before women had the right to vote, imagine reading these words from Science and Health, “The astronomer will no longer look up to the stars,—he will look out from them upon the universe…thus matter will finally be proved nothing more than a mortal belief.” Not only was Eddy refuting a static material universe and its indelible physical laws, but she predicted that humankind would harness the ability to travel into outer-space.
The first half of Eddy’s life was spent grasping a system supported by divine law, able to allow us to overcome physical laws of limitation and sickness. Eddy discovered the system to be metaphysical. She spent the last half of her life broadcasting this understanding of divine law to the masses. People studied and applied the mental power and quite a record of healings was racked up, even among members of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, established by Eddy in 1879.
During the 20th century, Christian leaders, e.g. Aimee Semple McPerson and Frances and Charles Hunter, also emulated divine healing powers. The Hunters book, How to Heal the Sick parallels the intent of Science and Health even though the approaches differ. But why does it seem as if these charismatic healers are a thing of the past? Why isn’t Christian healing more systematic today? Is it because of the human minds tendency to live in the past?
Mary Baker Eddy warned against living in the past because it produces a hypnotic state. A mind stuck in the past becomes suspicious. It starts to rely on that which it should avoid or it becomes confused. Eddy admonished, as recorded in Miscellany, “Other minds are made dormant by [living in the past], and the victim is in a state of semi-individuality, with a mental haziness which admits of no intellectual culture or spiritual growth.” Is this lack of intellectual refinement contributing to the dying churches?
Living in the past also tempts personality worship. Human beings fixate on the personalities of Christ Jesus, the apostles, Mary Baker Eddy, the Hunters, or even modern day healers. The fixation cripples self-sufficiency.
Paul told the Corinthians, “One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’” (I Cor. 1:12, NIV) Christ isn’t a human personality. Christ isn’t a human culture or language. Christ is forever, undivided. To follow Christ is to live in the now. Eddy counseled in a Message for 1901, “Follow your Leader only so far as she follows Christ.”
A fixed familiarity with personalities tends to buffer the impact of divine law. We think we know it all because we have stories and scenes etched into our consciousness in regard to these great healers. Our minds become static—although often disguised as devoted. It takes a mental earthquake to shake the mindset stuck in the past to wake up to a new reality that includes healing.
Human mindsets must be revised. Today we no longer need to argue for the insubstantiality of matter. We are now dealing with quantum energy fields. We read in the revision of Eddy’s book, 21st Century Science and Health, “While dwelling on a physical plane, human terms must generally be employed to speak of the things of Spirit. It takes time for human thought to adjust to the higher meaning.” During the 20th century, mounting evidence was collected to verify the fact that matter isn’t solid and physical laws are subordinate to metaphysical laws therefore human terms are adjusted accordingly. No longer living in the past, we can continue to reach and experience the higher meaning, including metaphysical Christian healing.