Born in 1821, Mary Baker grew up during the time when religious, moral and scientific circles were wrestling with questions about life before birth, the human experience and the afterlife. Her father, a staunch Calvinist, believed that all mankind was predestined before birth to experience one of two possible life tracks - to live eternally in heaven or to forever burn in hell.
This all or nothing life and death belief met with resistance in the young Mary, who from an early age rejected some of her father’s strong religious views. She couldn’t reconcile a capricious human life with the God of Love that her own study of Scripture brought out. An independent thinker, a questioner of truth, Mary grew into a courageous and serious young woman. She dared to challenge the many theories and beliefs of human life and God that cropped up around her.
"At the age of twelve I was admitted to the Congregational (Trinitarian) Church, my parents having been members of that body for a half-century...Before this step was taken, the doctrine of unconditional election, or predestination, greatly troubled me...So perturbed was I by the thoughts aroused by this erroneous doctrine, that the family doctor was summoned, and pronounced me stricken with fever.
Mary’s spiritual journey continued into adulthood. Despite an extraordinary amount of personal loss, stress, and insecurity in young adulthood, she leaned on God continually and stayed close to her Bible. And occasionally people were healed by her prayers. There are reports of blindness and other illnesses cured through her prayers a full decade before she discovered the divine Principle of healing in Christian Science.
The desire for more consistent health for herself and others led Mary to explore allopathic medicine, hydropathy, homeopathy and a variety of popular mind cures – and when I say explore, I mean she took up serious study, often becoming a practitioner of some of these methods for a time. But one by one, disappointed in their results, she abandoned each system, trusting her Bible to continue to guide her to answers to her questions about life and health and healing.
Then came a pivotal experience following a bad fall. Unable to walk and in debilitating pain, she was cured through her own prayers of what her doctor later indicated was a possible spinal dislocation and concussion. She discovered that not only is God an aid to healing, but that God, who she understood to be the divine Mind or intelligence of all, is the only true healer on any case - that God is all and that matter has nothing to do with life, health or healing. A radical new premise, yes. But, having been healed by its revelation, she couldn’t argue with the results of her discovery.
Mary Baker Eddy, Mrs. Eddy as she would soon be known, described this great discovery in her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection:
“The divine hand led me into a new world of light and Life, a fresh universe — old to God, but new to His "little one." It became evident that the divine Mind alone must answer, and be found as the Life, or Principle, of all being and that one must acquaint himself with God, if he would be at peace…
Of her quick physical healing, she explained, “I had learned that Mind reconstructed the body, and that nothing else could. How it was done, the spiritual Science of Mind must reveal. It was a mystery to me then, but I have since understood it.” (ibid. 28)
As a child Mary Baker was a healer even before she could explain how to heal. As an adult, she was healed of the effects of the accident before she completely understood how such healing was done. But the divine Spirit that is God was always supreme in her affections. Honesty, unselfishness and purity were a natural part of her character. These elements that render one susceptible to divine healing were always hers, so healings naturally occurred even before the full explanation of how to do it was discovered. Consistency in good results, however, required an understanding of the Science of divine healing. And when that understanding developed following her discovery, Mary Baker Eddy became world renowned as a remarkable Christian healer, teacher and founder of a new religious movement, Christian Science.
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures is the exposition – the full explanation of Christian Science. It is the seminal textbook of Christian healing, rooted in Scripture and developed over 44 years of Mrs. Eddy’s personal research and practice. Science and Health explains what life is about, who and what God is, and how one can heal like Christ Jesus.
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