According to her own account, in 1866 Mary Baker Eddy had a serious fall which endangered her very life. As she lay suffering, near death, she suddenly had a revelation—illness, pain, sickness and death have no reality. They are illusions. They do not exist at all. Eddy supposedly arose from her bed of affliction, completely healed. And full of determination to proclaim to the world her new truth.
In 1875 she published her magnum opus, Science and Health: With Key to the Scriptures. She claimed this book was divinely inspired, and even more authoritative than the Bible. In 1879 she founded the Church of Christ, Scientist. She claimed she was restoring the true doctrine of Christ, which consists of a “scientific” understanding of the nature of God, sin, sickness and mental health. She was strongly influenced by a faith healer named Phineas P. Quimby, a well-known mesmerist. She mixed mesmerism, positive confession, pantheism and Gnostic ideas into her “scientific Christianity.” Basically, Eddy denied the existence of the material, physical universe. Much like Hinduism or Buddhism, she saw matter, sin, evil, sickness, and death as illusory things. They have no reality, but are only errors in thinking.
As a result of this understanding, she denied the Incarnation of Christ, as well as His atoning sacrifice and resurrection. There is no need for a blood atonement or payment for sin because sin and evil do not actually exist. Where does Christ fit in this scheme? He is an expression of God’s mind; He is the divine Idea. Much like Gnosticism, Eddy asserted a wholly spiritual conception of the Savior. As for salvation, again like Gnosticism, the problem is not the need for redemption, but instead for more knowledge. Ignorance and error are the culprits, not sin and fallenness.
Unfortunately, despite all her assertions of the power of faith and positive mental energy, the history of Eddy shows her to be a woman bound by paranoia, fits of depression, chronic physical afflictions, and emotional traumas. She died in 1910, but her church and her legacy linger on. Although Christian Science has dwindled somewhat in numbers, the doctrines of the movement have dramatically influenced other cultic systems, e.g., New Thought, Unity, Divine Science, the New Age Movement, and many other healing and metaphysical groups.
Summary of Beliefs
God: A pantheistic concept of God. God is everything. All that exists is mind. And
God is mind. The idea of the Trinity is pagan.
Jesus: A overly spiritualized, Gnostic idea of Christ. He is the divine Idea. No incarnation,
because matter does not exist. Also, no resurrection. Christ’s blood does not save from
sin. Christ’s atoning work is unnecessary, because sin does not exist.
Salvation: To free yourself from the false illusion that matter, evil, sin and sickness actually
Human nature: Man is a spiritual being. There is no material existence.
Sin: A false idea. Sin and evil are only illusions.
Afterlife: Eternal life is to exist as spiritual beings, free from material illusions.
Scripture: Eddy’s book Science and Health is considered a revelation on par with the Bible.
Medicine: “Scientists” are noted for not believing in medication, doctors, vaccinations, etc.
This has often caused Eddy’s followers to end up in court, when these beliefs affect the
lives of sick children.
Truth: Revealed through Eddy and her works.