The world is preparing for a new century. In the past, people have tended at these times to step back and reevaluate life. They've thought more deeply about what is most important, where they've come from, and in what ways they want to improve our world.
When the 19th century turned into the 20th, the scope of thought broadened in many areas. The world gratefully saw the conclusion to the Philippine-American War. Yet, there were other battles taking place, battles significant to the ways people perceived their world. Marie Curie's discovery of radium, Friedrich Nietzsche's declaration that God is dead in his widely read book "The Joyful Wisdom," and the respected Protestant liberal Phillips Brooks's statement that religion is the highest reach of our human life, all contributed to the world's religio-philosophical soup. The ongoing battle between creationism and Darwinism stirred the pot briskly.
There was clearly a burgeoning interest in God. In the United States, for example, church membership more than doubled between 1850 and 1900. And the scope of theology was as wide as the country. Amid Calvinism, Roman Catholicism, Protestant orthodoxy, Congregationalism, Transcendentalism, seeds were being sown for contrasting, novel ideas.
Into the sea of theological discussion, Mary Baker Eddy launched her original work "Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures," explaining that Christ Jesus healed scientifically and declaring, "In the spirit of Christ's charity, - as one who 'hopeth all things, endureth all things,' and is joyful to bear consolation to the sorrowing and healing to the sick, - she commits these pages to honest seekers for Truth" (Pg. xii).
To many people throughout the world, Science and Health was a breath of fresh air in what they felt was the stale air of old theology, dogmatism, and unfounded opinion. Not only did ideas in the book bring to readers a spiritual perspective promoting effective prayer and healing; Science and Health challenged the very essence of generally accepted concepts about existence and reality, asking quite simply how the fact of an omnipotent God, who is good, could allow for the existence of evil of any nature. Here is a sample excerpt from the second chapter: "Now is the time for so-called material pains and material pleasures to pass away, for both are unreal, because impossible in Science. To break this earthly spell, mortals must get the true idea and divine Principle of all that really exists and governs the universe harmoniously" (Pg. 39).
These certainly could have been radical ideas for people in the epilogue of easy Victorianism. And in the coming years, materialism worldwide would be challenged as never before. Backed by the Bible, Science and Health both transformed thought and opened the way for new revelations of God and spirituality - through two world wars, and through the cold war, maybe the most significant battle that was never fought.
Now, a new millennium is on the horizon. Sometimes it is hard to tell what's ahead. But it is clear that God doesn't have a calendar. The law of God, the law Mrs. Eddy named Christian Science, is our safety net in every century. Bringing God's law to all the aspects of living will make the difference. When understood, this law heals. Consider this statement: "If all who ever partook of the sacrament had really commemorated the sufferings of Jesus and drunk of his cup, they would have revolutionized the world. If all who seek his commemoration through material symbols will take up the cross, heal the sick, cast out evils, and preach Christ, or Truth, to the poor, - the receptive thought, - they will bring in the millennium" (Science and Health, Pg. 34).
The next hundred years surely will have its Curies, Nietzsches, and Brookses. And global events assuredly will reflect the world's evolving understanding of morality and spiritual love. But to the degree that individual thought reflects the goodness and love of God, regeneration and healing will take place naturally in daily life. Through it all we can know, not only intellectually but spiritually, the power of divine Spirit, which is God. "Let us feel the divine energy of Spirit, bringing us into newness of life and recognizing no mortal nor material power as able to destroy. Let us rejoice that we are subject to the divine 'powers that be' " (Science and Health, Pg. 249).