Mary Baker Eddy – a New England gumshoe

A Christian Science perspective: How can we follow Christ Jesus’ example in confronting and healing evil?

New Englander Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) was a gumshoe – not a detective in the sense of solving a crime, but in the sense of solving a mystery that had beset Christianity almost since its beginning: Given the goodness of God, as demonstrated by Christ Jesus, how do you explain the existence of evil?

Mrs. Eddy didn’t start out to solve the problem of evil, but she was led to deeply search the Bible for answers in her often heartbreaking life experiences – including family loss; her child’s forced removal from her care; sickness and poverty; the US Civil War, in which her family was directly involved; and the killing of three US presidents (she visited one of the assassins in prison, to wake him up to the fact that his action was a crime). Though Eddy had a fundamental conviction of God’s infinite goodness from her earliest age, how, she wondered, could she square that infinite goodness with the evil and suffering she saw?

Eddy solved this question only gradually, through inspiration and a heartfelt desire to truly understand God. Though evil certainly seems present, an infinitely good God could never create evil, either to play a counterpart to good or as a requirement to develop good. God’s spiritual creation, which includes all of us, logically reflects God’s own perfection. The Bible says God is “of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness” (Habakkuk 1:13, New King James Version).

Eventually, following a life-changing healing that led to a deeper understanding of Jesus’ teachings, Eddy came to a simple but profound conclusion: God is infinite, spiritual light that cannot know darkness. This is consistent with what the Bible says: “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5).

But what then to do when faced with the darkness that appears so real to the human mind, but is unknown to the one true divine Mind that is God? Leave it alone? Ignore it? How can we confront and heal evil, as Christ Jesus did – and with the same compassion?

Eddy concluded that the moral person must devote herself wholeheartedly to destroying evil as a tragic illusion in human experience, tragic until the infinite goodness of God helps us strip off the falsity of evil’s claim to power. The main instrument for doing this reforming and healing work is one’s own innate holiness and purity of thought, motive, and action, all of which can only be shown forth by spiritual growth and selflessness and by turning to this infinite light of God. As we think and live in ways that are consistent with our true, spiritual nature, we realize the authority of God, divine Love, to harmonize and heal. Following in the path Jesus pointed out, step by step we can master selfishness, sin, fear, and sickness.

Over some four decades, Eddy shared with the world the divine Science underlying these ideas, explaining it in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” demonstrating it by overcoming and teaching others to overcome evil and disease, and founding the Church of Christ, Scientist.

Though putting these truths into practice is not always easy, we can all bear witness to the supremacy of God, good, and prove Love’s power to reform and heal.

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