Who is telling mankind of the foe in ambush?
Many are willing to open the eyes of the people to
the power of good resident in divine Mind, but they are not so willing to point
out the evil in human thought and expose evil's hidden mental ways of
accomplishing iniquity. (S&H. 570:30)
GOING to church on Sunday was a deep--rooted custom in
the mid--nineteenth century. Mary Baker Eddy's followers longed for a place of
worship. They felt lost without the church they had so recently left to join
the ranks of Christian Scientists.
Mrs. Eddy had not wanted to form an organization;
however, the difficulty of launching her great mission, together with the force
of events, led her to conclude that a church organization could be useful in
the beginning--a"suffer it to be so now" expediency. She saw it as a
concession to the lack of spirituality of the age in which she was carrying out
her God-appointed work. Thus in 1879 the first church organization was
In 1889 she closed the material organizations she had
established--her church and metaphysical college. She felt they had outlived
their usefulness and that the time had come to adopt "the purely Christly
method of teaching and preaching." At the time she closed her College she said,
"When students have fulfilled all the good ends of organization, and are
convinced that by leaving the material forms thereof, a higher spiritual unity
is won, then is the time to follow the example of the Alma Mater." The
swaddling clothes of material forms of worship must be dropped. Though Mrs.
Eddy never arbitrarily demanded that Christian Scientists dissolve their
organizations, or desist from organizing churches and associations, she did
persist in her strong warnings that continued organization would retard
spiritual growth, blight spirituality, and finally wipe it out totally. She
knew that material organization and spiritual organization are two different
standpoints. We cannot obey both, for one absolutely destroys the other since
one or the other eventually becomes supreme in our affections. It is impossible
to work from two standpoints; therefore we shall presently "hold to the one and
despise the other." Tens of thousands of dedicated Christian Scientists have
come to realize the true meaning of Church, and have left material organization
which "wars with Love's spiritual compact ."
In the Preface to Science and Health Mrs. Eddy wrote,
"The time for thinkers has come." In 1891 misguided, misdirected students tried
to form a general association for the dispensing of Christian Science
literature. Mrs. Eddy was quick to detect in this move the beginnings of an
arbitrary control of what students should and should not read. She immediately
sent word to the Christian Science Journal that she disapproved of such
an organization as it tended "to promote monopolies, class legislation, and
unchristian motives for Christian work." Her instruction, reproduced
below, indicates that she would have deplored the present rule of "authorized"
and "unauthorized" literature. This policy of "authorized literature" was
enacted six years after Mrs. Eddy's departure to prevent Christian Scientists
from reading anything that might shake their blind faith in the Board of
Directors as Mrs. Eddy's successor.
Since my attention has been called to the article in
the May Journal, I think it would have been wiser not to have organized the
General Association for Dispensing Christian Science Literature.
1. Because I disbelieve in the utility of so wide
spread an organization. It tends to promote monopolies, class legislation and
unchristian motives for Christian work.
2. I consider my student as capable, individually, of
selecting their own reading matter and circulating it, as a committee would be
which is chosen for this purpose.
I Shall have nothing further to say on this subject,
but hope my students' conclusion will be wisely drawn, and tend to promote the
welfare of those outside, as well as inside this organization.
MARY B. G. EDDY
Shortly after the "great literature litigation" the
page containing this wise and timely warning--so crucial to the success of the
Christian Science Movement--was removed from copies of the Journal in
the Christian Science Reading Rooms throughout the country. To maintain its
prestige, power, and authority, the ecclesiastical hierarchy knew it must
control what its membership reads or hears.
NOTE TO READER
The two letters by Mary Baker Eddy, printed below,
came to light after this book had gone to press. They are inserted here because
they graphically spell out Mrs. Eddy's feeling that the "authorizing" of
Christian Science literature was little short of criminal. There can be no
doubt that Mrs. Eddy reserved her severest criticism for the attempt on the
part of her students to "authorize" only Mrs. Eddy's writings and "the
literature best adapted to the demand [which] will be named by a Committee"
(The C.S. Journal, May, 1891.)
Mrs. Eddy termed the students' plan to authorize only
her own writings "prescriptive and tyrannical, working against justice and
love." Further denouncing their plan, she vehemently characterized the
authorizing of literature as "most wicked. . . . uncharitable," as a
"curse," an "offensive," and "obnoxious" measure. She declared that her
writings were for the entire world; that what God had dictated to her was for
THE WORLD and that she has not given God's Word to just a privileged MONOPOLY
to tyrannize over other writers."
Mrs. Eddy rightly discerned what the outcome of such a
scheme would be. Her letters to Mr. Nixon show her deep, heartfelt concern that
Christian Scientists remain free of all attempts at mind-control by an
ecclesiastical body. The reader can see for himself, from these letters to Mr.
Nixon that the authorizing of Christian Science literature, which was
begun six years after Mrs. Eddy's passing, was the very thing our Leader wished
to prevent above all else:
- Letters to Wm. G. Nixon: * 1891
1. ([Dated June 24 and signed "Yours, M.B.G. EDDY")
Dear Mr. Nixon: Did you consent to sell Science and
Health and my works to those only who would buy and sell my writings, by
a vote on this question, of the General Asso. for Dispensing C.S.
Can it be that one who has written to me as you have
on offensive measures used in our Cause could have done this?
I will rip up all my business relations and take into
my hands before this most wicked, prescriptive, uncharitable measure
shall be carried. I never read the May journal and never knew till now the
curse in this platform of Stetson's. I never dreamed of such a platform as
Stetson's being brought forward by a Christian Scientist! No man or woman has
told me of this obnoxious feature, but my Father has, and it shall be stopped
by His servant who has given His word to the world--not to a privileged
monopoly to tyrannize over other writers.
N. B. [ signed "Affectionately, M.B.G. EDDY":] I
cannot blame you if you did this out of a conscientious consent to my request
[under the "Seven Fixed Rules,"] but I only marvel that you did not tell me of
this prescriptive tyrannical clause on buying and selling other literature than
mine. It is the "old" made worse than at first.
2) [Dated June 26 and signed "Lovingly, M.B.G.
My dear Mr. Nixon: I did not believe you would
consent knowingly to anything that works against justice and love. Neither
would my precious student, Mrs. Stetson. But neither of you see what God
shows me would grow out of this movement. I cannot make you see it. God alone
can, and even He cannot until you grow up to it. Then what can I do--only
to speak His word of warning and wait for all the doubts to grow up to
understanding His ways, and mine whom God directed?
N.B. Nothing should be published now relative to this
organization--[now] that Mrs. S. has stopped the movement, if indeed she
has. She will see me today. Then I shall know, for this work is ours to do.
*(Richard Oakes' Mary Baker Eddy's Six Days of
Revelation, p. 373)
Regarding the archives of The Mother Church, a former
high official in The Mother Church writes: "Most Christian Scientists do not
know the real purpose of the Archives. Ostensibly they were started to
'preserve' the historical documents and papers of the church. Actually they
were intended to bring in and bury all evidence that showed that Mrs. Eddy did
not want a highly organized church!
Biographers and historians can testify to the
difficulties encountered when seeking admittance to the archives. Professor
Braden, wishing to consult the archives, writes that an important official of
the church told him that if he would "submit anything he might write concerning
Christian Science, they would consult the archives and tell [him] whether or
not it was true."
The experience of Gilbert Carpenter, Jr. and Gilbert
Carpenter, Sr. illustrates the Boston Board of Directors' determination to
control the reading matter of the church. When Gilbert Carpenter, Jr.
established The Carpenter Foundation for the preservation of unpublished
documents, articles, letters, private instructions, and other material by and
about Mary Baker Eddy, he was harassed by The Mother Church Board of Directors,
who felt this material should not be given out to the Field, but should be kept
"safe" in the archives of The Mother Church. Their reason, of course, was that
the Field was not ready for what Mrs. Eddy taught students privately, in
person, or via letters, articles, etc.
As an interesting side note here, when Gilbert
Carpenter, Sr., who had at one time served as Mrs. Eddy's secretary and had
lived in her home, felt the need to broadcast the truths he had learned from
Mrs. Eddy in her home, the Board of Directors complained that his activities
were not "authorized" by them. In other words, he hadn't "got a
license," Carpenter, Sr., pointed out that Mrs. Eddy had given him his degree
of C.S.B. and declared he would continue to make his observations available to
the public as he and the public saw fit. The Directors, however, insisted that
Mrs. Eddy's having conferred on him the degree of C.S.B. didn't automatically
include the right to teach.
When the elder Carpenter continued with his teaching
activities the Directors removed his practitioner's card from The Christian
Science Journal, stripping him of a major source of his livelihood. When
Gilbert, Jr., who did have a Boston-recognized license to teach,
expressed support for his father he was suspended from "teaching" for three
years (further depriving the Carpenters of their meager means of subsistence).
Gilbert was never reinstated; and the local church authorities in Providence,
being no more enlightened than those in Boston, followed Boston's lead in
ostracizing the Carpenters.
Bravely the Carpenters struggled on. By convincing the
Boston authorities that only those who were advanced enough for these
publications would be allowed to have them, the Carpenters managed to avoid
excommunication and entanglement with Boston's "legal arm." Meanwhile Gilbert,
Jr., was widely circulating, privately, these treasures of inestimable
spiritual value to genuine students of Christian Science. Thus, the Field was
blessed with an unheralded circulation of items from what became known as the
"Carpenter Foundation." These included personal observations about Mrs. Eddy,
her teachings and intentions (which, by the way, often revealed far more about
the observer than about the Revelator of Christian Science.)
The Directors in Boston tolerated these personal
glimpses of Mrs. Eddy, and then virtually endorsed many of them when they
gathered them into official biographies--Robert Peel in his books drew heavily
on the Carpenter collection. But much of the material has been buried by the
church because it contained Mrs. Eddy's written instructions and divine
warnings about the unscientific direction church authorities were
taking. When it was the Board of Directors' own position which was called in
question, it was heresy which must be suppressed by any means. Betes
noires that troubled the Directors were the Johnson History of
Christian Science and the Carpenters' Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual
Precepts. These books contained documented examples of how Mrs. Eddy kept
making it plain to "infants in Christian Science" that her church was
the manifestation of divine Principle and had nothing to do with material
organization and personal decisions; and making plain also the dire
consequences of continued organization. The Board felt compelled to suppress
these outspoken warnings which evoked dire forecasts of the ruinous effects of
"Fear is the weapon in the hand of tyrants," and
Gilbert, Jr., was led to fear legal action if he circulated "private" messages
concerning the Board of Directors which might cast doubt on the Board's claim
to be worthy as Mrs. Eddy's successor. Gilbert therefore mentioned nothing of
copies which were somehow or other in circulation. Accordingly, in God's good
time, the Johnson History reached the public domain, and Mary Baker
Eddy, Her Spiritual Precepts (never subjected to copyright) reached and was
sold on the open market in 1966 (by the estate of a lady in Texas).
Gilbert Carpenter, Jr., was well aware of what would
happen to his Foundation when he was no longer here. His cry of anguish was
heard by one Richard Oakes residing in South Africa. Gilbert arranged for
Richard to obtain the material which is now available from Rare Book Company in
the "Red and Blue books " The full strength of the legal arm was then invoked
against Oakes, the compiler of these "Red and Blue books" (Essays and Other
Footprints, and Divinity Course and General Collectanea). After many
years of harassment all that the legal arm achieved was to rescue Oakes, the
compiler, from personal responsibility for the books. When the law was
persuaded to stop him putting out the books, Ralph Geradi (Rare Book Company)
stepped in as publisher, and the books remained in God's hands. The Court never
disputed that the books were in the public domain anyway. The Court also agreed
(May 1975) that the uncopyrighted items, acquired without restrictions by a
lady in Texas, could not be included in items the Carpenter Foundation usurpers
thought they were burying.
No person can decide what God has in store for His
own. This is cause for joy and confidence on the part of God's "remnant"- those
who look to divine Principle as the only governor of the universe.
THE DICKEY "MEMOIRS"
Before leaving the subject of The Mother Church
archives, a word about the "Dickey" book which has just recently been in the
limelight, as the Boston Board of Directors' legal arm again reached out and
sought to stem its further distribution. This book came to be written because
on August 25, 1908, approximately two and a half years before Mrs. Eddy left
us, she called Adam Dickey to her side and asked him to promise that if she
ever left here, he would write a history of his experiences while living in her
home as her secretary.
For sixteen years he neglected to keep his promise,
because he was engrossed in the lawsuits (which are a subject of this book; he
was one of the Directors being sued by the Publishing Society, and who in turn
sued the Publishing Society).
"But when he felt his last illness upon him, he took
pen in hand. He did not live to finish his story, but he completed one hundred
and forty-one pages which were published in book form by his widow in 1927, the
year after his death. The copies were distributed chiefly among the members of
an association of Dickey's pupils.
"But when the [Boston Board of] Directors read the
book, with its intimate details, their 'astonishment' they said, 'was great
beyond expression. "
A work of this kind must be suppressed at once! The
Board sent a letter to every member of the Dickey association requesting that
the copies be returned. In their letter they said:
"'We found that a grave mistake was made by Mrs.
Dickey in publishing the book without direct instructions from our Leader, for
even Mr. Dickey himself does not claim that he was authorized to publish,
but merely to write, a history. ...In estimating the purport of the request
which Mr. Dickey recites ... it is necessary to consider that she was then
contending with an acute physical claim....
"'It has been maintained that Mrs. Eddy's request that
Mr. Dickey write a "history of his experiences" would have been fully complied
with had he deposited his writings, relating to her, for preservation in the
files of The Mother Church."
Like a flock of sheep, nearly all the recipients of
this letter returned their copies to the Boston headquarters where they were
promptly destroyed. But there were still the copyright copies in the Library of
Congress, and a few photostated copies elsewhere. And it is said that within
five years fifty thousand people were reading Adam Dickeys words. It is not so
easy to do away with a book; "tradition may be strong, but in the long run
Truth is stronger."
This policy of "authorized" literature is in direct
opposition to everything Mrs. Eddy taught. Mrs. Eddy freed every Christian
Scientist not only to read what God leads him to read, but also to write on the
subject of Christian Science what God leads him to write. "Christian Science is
not copyrighted . " She said, "A student can write voluminous works on Science
without trespassing, if he writes honestly, and he cannot dishonestly compose
Material organization rapidly develops a frozen crust
of ritual, rules, regulations and dogmas, arresting the spirit, impeding
inspiration, and precluding unfoldment. Many instances could be cited where
inspired writing and teaching have been suppressed in the name of "keeping the
doctrine 'pure." Under this ecclesiastical policy, writing and teaching,
however scientifically true, is branded as "incorrect" if it is not sanctioned
by the Board of Directors.
THE SECOND CHURCH
Even though unprecedented spiritual progress was being
made after Mrs. Eddy dissolved the first church organization in Boston in 1889,
her students began to clamor for a second organization. Letters and documents
extant show Mrs. Eddy's unalterable opposition to reorganizing. In a March 23,
1891 letter Mrs. Eddy warned the Board of Directors that their only danger now
lay in the past being repeated. She reminded them that all she had counseled
had worked well for the Cause and church. She admonished them to watch.
The hour is ominous, she said, when a student "goes against my advice and
still gives orders in my name." Then she rebuked them for reporting that she
had given orders to organize when she had not.
Also she again repeated that they should not change
their present materially disorganized church, but were to go on in
spiritual organization alone.
Much can be learned concerning Mrs. Eddy's mistrust
and opposition to continued organization from letters she had written to her
students in 1889 at the time of dissolving the first organization: The students
were again called, she wrote, to accept, without a present understanding, the
marked providence of God. Quoting Jesus, she said, "What I do thou knowest not
now, but thou shalt know hereafter." She urged her followers to trust God in
this "unlooked-for event" and He would sooner or later show them the wisdom of
disorganizing. She told them that for the past two years this change had seemed
to her the imperative demand of Christian Science in consonance with the
example of Christ Jesus.
Then on November 23, 1889, she wrote her students that
this morning had finished her "halting between two opinions , " and she had
definitely reached the decision that "this Mother Church must disorganize ,"
Now was the time to do it, she said. She counseled them to form no new
organization, but to go forward in spiritual organization alone.
She urged them to follow Jesus' example and not the
example of his disciples. What the disciples organized has come to naught in
Science. She said Christian Science should establish Science, not
Mrs. Eddy saw that the hour had come when the great
need was for more of the spirit instead of the letter, and that Science and
Health is adapted to work this result. In closing her Metaphysical College she
stated "The fundamental principle for growth in Christian Science is spiritual
formation, first, last, and always, while in human growth material organization
is first." Then she counseled, "Because it is more in accord with Christian
Science for you to unite on the basis of Love and meet together in bonds of
affection, from unselfish motives and the purpose to benefit each other, and
honor the Cause...I strongly recommend this method alone, of continuing without
Scarcely two years had elapsed since the dissolving of
the first organization. It was now 1892 and Mrs. Eddy's students were pressing
hard for a second organization. Mrs. Eddy strongly warned against
reorganizing. She insisted their move to do this was "not of God" and that only
harm could come from returning to a position outgrown.
She carefully explained to the clerk of The Mother
Church, William B. Johnson, that she hoped "a word to the wise would be
sufficient, hence my caution .... If you organize again, " she said, "it will
ruin the prosperity of our church." She said she had given full
permission, or her poor consent for the church to do anything she chooses. "But
I tell you the consequences of reorganization and you will find I am right.
Open the eyes of the church to these facts. I have consented to whatever the
church pleases to do, for I am not her keeper, and if she again sells her
prosperity for a mess of pottage it is not my fault."
At another time she sharply warned the church
Directors that while they had her permission to reorganize if they desired to
do this, yet she realized it was her duty to say that "our heavenly Father's
hand was seen in your disorganizing, and I foresee that if you reorganize you
are liable to lose your present prosperity and your form of church government,
which so far has proved itself wise and profitable...."
When they continued insisting upon reorganization,
Mrs. Eddy trenchantly warned that she heard so plainly the words that told her
she had been doing too much for the church in Boston, more than it was her duty
to do. So, she said, "Let ... the church reorganize if she thinks best. Perhaps
this is the best lesson for her... God tests us all - tries us on our weakest
points. Hers has always been to yield to the influence of man and not God. Now
let her pass on to her last experience and the sooner the better. When we will
not learn in any other way, this is God's order of teaching us. His rod
alone will do it, and I am at last willing and will struggle no
"It is only a question of time,' she wrote, "when God
shall reveal his rod and show the plan of battle."16 God's plan is spiritual
Writing about reorganizing a second time and
reflecting on the determined push of her students to do this, Mrs. Eddy first
mentions the "new light" that broke in as the result of dissolving all
material organization, and then added, "After this experience and the divine
purpose is fulfilled in these changing scenes, this Church may find it wisdom
to organize a second time for the completion of its history [their
history, the students' history]. This, however, is left to the
providence of God. " All records show Mrs. Eddy was unalterably opposed to the
forming of a second organization, but knew she could not legislate freedom and
decontrol. When it was clear that her students were not yet ready for a higher
step, she accepted it as her "cross , " and hoped it would be a step on the
road leading to the "Church Universal and Triumphant" that Church which exists
in consciousness alone as the "structure of Truth and Love."
So, trusting in the assurance that divine Love would
eventually force each one to accept what would best promote his growth, Mrs.
Eddy directed twelve of her students to meet on September 23rd, 1892, and form
the organization as a "suffer it to be so now" contingency. It is highly
significant that Mrs. Eddy herself was not present at this meeting, and
one of the twelve students (Ellen Clark) was absent. A new book by Richard
Oakes gives a comprehensive story of God's dispensation whereby twelve of Mrs.
Eddy's students were able to "organize" a church, and yet be told by Mrs. Eddy
(in a letter to one of the twelve, dated September 21, 1892): "You organize no
special organization by which to obtain a charter, but only for the purpose of
having a President of your meeting and Secretary in order to vote on receiving
As explained on page 130 of the Church Manual,
Massachusetts law permitted the Directors to be a body corporate for the
purpose of holding church funds without organizing a corporate church. Their
duty was to select a pastor who would not deviate from the principles of
Christian Science as laid down in Science and Health. This requirement was
later obviated by the ordination of the Bible and Science and Health as the
perpetual pastor. The duty of the twelve First members (later increased to
forty, later renamed Executive members, later disbanded) was to vote
trimestrially on admission of members (who had no say in the church
"organization") and annually on the officers to conduct meetings and attend to
business matters without any say in the appointment of the pastor, or in the
framing of the rules, which developed from seven purely procedural regulations
into Mrs. Eddy's Manual. Thus the statement that students met to
reorganize the church and adopt rules is a palliative for saying they really
organized nothing at all, and when this is seen Mrs. Eddy's church is
reconveyed "to Mary Baker G. Eddy, her heirs and assigns forever by a proper
deed of conveyance."
Mrs. Eddy was determined that any semblance of
material organization should last only as long as she was personally with them
to guide and control it, which she did with a firm hand. Like Jesus, Mrs. Eddy
listened only to the voice of God. In everything she did she was guided by God.
While she personally governed the church it grew in power and stature because
of her spirituality. Her whole demonstration showed that she was not acting as
a person, but was at all times responding to and demonstrating God's man/woman.
Her only successor would be "man in the image and likeness of the Father-Mother
God, man the generic term for mankind."
MRS. EDDY'S THEOCRATIC
When the church members and the Board of the newly
formed second organization asked Mrs. Eddy to provide them with specific
written rules for governing their church, they were in effect acknowledging
Mrs. Eddy's supreme authority and were relinquishing their independent
democratic status. They adopted a theocratic spiritual government with Mrs.
Eddy occupying the unquestioned position of Leader. They "reorganized under
her jurisdiction" (Man. 18:15, Historical Sketch).
The By-Laws prepared by Mrs. Eddy were adopted. This
act constituted the laying down of the essentially democratic government in
exchange for a theocratic spiritual government under the jurisdiction of the
Christ, manifested by Mary Baker Eddy. Early members, in recognizing Mrs.
Eddy's absolute authority in all church matters, began referring to the church
as "Mother's Church." Only later was it called The Mother Church.
It cannot be denied that once the church had
relinquished its own democratic will and had subordinated itself to the
authority of Mrs. Eddy, it did function as a Mother Church, inasmuch as the
entire Movement was being loved and nourished by the Christ-mentality of Mary
Baker Eddy. The By-Laws in the 88 Manuals issued by Mrs. Eddy "were
impelled by a power not one's own" they were impelled by the Christ-Mind she
In making the By-Laws Mrs. Eddy worked to get the
divine leading. She then unhesitatingly followed that leading regardless of
what the human reaction to it might be. The Board of Directors sometimes balked
at these By-Laws, and after she passed on they resorted to legal measures in
order to circumvent and annul her By-Laws.
Mrs. Eddy used estoppel clauses in the Manual
because she knew that to place enactments of holy inspiration in the hands
of groups of individuals, such as her Board of Directors, was to incur the
possibility of the divine idea being lost sight of and human wisdom taking its
Mrs. Eddy wanted the Movement free to expand and
develop infinitely under the spiritual guidance of the one infinite Mind as it
reveals itself in our textbook, Science and Health. But the Board of Directors
in 1910 had not attained this lofty level of spiritual understanding, and they
did not see the dangers inherent in material organization.
During the last few years Mrs. Eddy spent on earth,
the Board of Directors on several occasions urged her to either delete the
estoppel clauses or write a transferal clause in the Manual designating
the Board of Directors as her successor- assigning and transmitting her
authority to them. But Mrs. Eddy yielded to no pressure, firmly insisting the
estoppels had been dictated by God and must remain to prohibit eternally all
Among the items preserved by the Carpenter Foundation
in Providence, R. I., is an account by Mrs. (Warren) Mabel E. Brill, at one
time Bicknell Young's secretary. Mrs. Brill states that just a year before Mrs.
Eddy left us the Board of Directors realized the precarious situation the
estoppel clauses in the Church Manual posed for them and their positions
when Mrs. Eddy would no longer be present to fulfill the requirements of the
By-Laws. Thus, states Mrs. Brill, the Directors made repeated unsuccessful
attempts to have Mrs. Eddy delete these estoppels or write an additional By-Law
transferring her authority to the Board when she was no longer here. Mrs. Eddy
steadfastly maintained that the estoppel clauses were God-impelled and must
therefore remain. She told her Directors that she understood God showed her how
to write the By-Laws, including the estoppel clauses, and that she had no right
and no desire to change what God had dictated to her.
Frustrated by their failure to persuade Mrs. Eddy to
change her mind and consequently her Manual, the Board arrived at a
plan. They knew of Mrs. Eddy's high regard for her trusted friend, General
Frank Streeter, an attorney. General Streeter had, through diligent study,
acquired a good grasp of the teachings of Christian Science. His great desire
was to represent and serve Mrs. Eddy in framing the legal instruments she, from
time to time, called upon him to prepare. He earned her trust and confidence
not only because he was a capable lawyer, but even more because he was able to
catch the spirit of her wishes.
The Directors' plan was to engage General Streeter
under a private financial agreement to approach Mrs. Eddy as though acting
entirely on his own initiative and volition. He was to impress upon her the
perilous state of affairs the Movement would be left in if she refused to write
a transferal clause conveying her authority to the Board of Directors.
Additionally, he was to offer his assistance in the drafting of this transferal
clause which the Directors so eagerly desired.
While on his way to see Mrs. Eddy, General Streeter
suddenly became aware of the real motive back of the Directors' plan. When he
entered Mrs. Eddy's study, he immediately divulged to her the entire scheme the
Directors had tried to involve him in. The following afternoon Mrs. Eddy
dictated to Calvin Frye the Manual By-Law, p. 70, which reads: "Pastor
Emeritus to be Consulted. Sect. 18. The Mother Church shall not make a church
By-Law, nor enter into a business transaction with a Christian Scientist in the
employ of Rev. Mary Baker Eddy, without first consulting her on said subject
and adhering strictly to her advice thereon." This By-Law appeared in the 83rd
Manual, the last of nine Manuals to appear in 1909.
Many in high places in the Christian Science Movement
felt the estoppels in the Manual should be obeyed. Notable among these
was Mr. Frederick Dixon, a Christian Science teacher, who had been summoned
from London at Mrs. Eddy's request to become editor-in-chief of The
Christian Science Monitor. (He later became editor-in-chief of all church
Shortly after Mrs. Eddy's departure Director Archibald
McClellan insisted to Dixon that if the Board of Directors had not taken prompt
action to ignore the estoppels and proclaim that Mrs. Eddy had left
instructions that the Board was to run the Movement, the whole thing would have
collapsed. He stated it was their prompt action that "saved" the Movement from
being decentralized at Mrs. Eddy's passing.
Mr. Dixon wanted no part of this disobedience to Mrs.
Eddy's estoppels. He is reported to have reasoned that Mrs. Eddy established
the Publishing Society legally, granting it a perpetual Deed of Trust.
She also provided legally for the continuation of the local Boston
Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, through her two Deeds of Trust
in the Manual, pp. 128-138. If she had wanted The Mother Church to
continue she could have so provided legally, instead of inserting 26 or more
estoppel clauses in the Manual to prevent its continuation. When Dixon
was unable to persuade the Directors to his point of view, he resigned. In his
letter of resignation from The Mother Church he said,
Obedience to Mrs. Eddy can only be achieved by
dissolving the material organization of The Mother Church. The spiritual
reality [of The Mother Church] is, of course, indestructible.
Where many Christian Scientists are under the
impression that Mrs. Eddy established a material organization, Dixon saw her
real establishment was "the structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon
and proceeds from divine Principle."This spiritual concept supplants the
concept of membership in a material organization and obedience to constituted
authority rather than to Principle.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON GENERAL
Mr. Dixon was joined by a number of other
upper-echelon Christian Scientists. And before proceeding with our detailed
analysis of the entire situation, let us review briefly two of the other
numerous attempts to point out the dangers of disobedience to Mrs. Eddy's
estoppels. We will first review the famous Report to the Members of The
First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts (sponsored by
the Christian Science Board of Directors), and then take up the celebrated case
of John W Doorly of London. The findings and recommendations of the prestigious
Committee on General Welfare was completed March 3, 1920, and
copyrighted by Richard P Verrall and Martha W. Wilcox.
The Board's failure to accept the Committee's
recommendations eventually led to the excommunication of the foremost thinkers
in the Christian Science Movement, notably such world-famous leaders as Herbert
Eustace, Alice Orgain, John Doorly, Peter Ross, and Laurence Sinton. Bicknell
Young somehow escaped excommunication, but his one-time secretary, Margaret
Laird, who became world-famous in her own name, particularly as a healer and
demonstrator of the Truth she taught, was not spared excommunication.
The Report of the Committee on General Welfare was
eagerly awaited. It must be remembered that this was at the time of the "great
literature litigation," and the Board, in authorizing this Committee, no doubt
expected a Report favorable to themselves. The Committee was chaired by the
highly honored and influential Martha W. Wilcox, CSB, a teacher of Christian
Science who had lived in Mrs. Eddy's home, and by Richard P. Verrall, CSB.
Here in essence are some of the findings and
recommendations of this Committee:
* The discovery of Christian Science by Mary Baker
Eddy in the year 1866, was followed by a new and more spiritual definition of
the word "Church" as found in the Glossary, page 583, of Science and
* During the first few years after her discovery, Mrs.
Eddy herself was the chief visible manifestation of this Church, for, in the
words of the definition of Church, Mrs. Eddy, above all others, was "found
elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to
the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science,
thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick." Mrs. Eddy lived
what she taught and this attracted others to Christian Science.
* In the spring of 1879, thirteen years after her
discovery, Mrs. Eddy united with a little band to form a church to revive
primitive Christian healing. After a ten-year struggle, this first
church organization was dissolved, in 1889.
* On September 23, 1892, a second organization
was formed in which Mrs. Eddy retained for herself, during its eighteen-year
history, some thirty reservations of authority, which have become known as
estoppel clauses. Upon the demise of Mrs. Eddy these estoppels would bring to a
halt all centralized control, and begin the ushering in of her only real
successor, namely, the spiritualized consciousness, or man in the image and
likeness of the Father-Mother God. On page 9 of the Report of the
Committee on General Welfare we read that it is evident" the Manual
had definitely determined the limitation [through its estoppel clauses] of
the Board's powers, and it is generally conceded that no amendments shall be
made to the Church Manual." Furthermore, nearly ten years before this,
Mrs. Eddy had, with characteristic foresight and wisdom, provided for her
successor, when she wrote in Miscellany, page 346:29:
Science and Health makes it plain to all Christian
Scientists that the manhood and womanhood of God have already been revealed in
a degree through Christ Jesus and Christian Science, His two witnesses. What
remains to lead on the centuries and reveal my successor, is man in the image
and likeness of the Father-Mother God, man the generic term for all mankind
[the perfect man].
The "perfect man" is that compounded spiritual
individuality which reflects God as Father-Mother, as two individual natures
in one. As we gain this insight of what man really is we lose the sense of
corporeal being. Writing of this perfect man on page 577 of Science and Health,
Mrs. Eddy says, "In this divinely united spiritual consciousness, there is no
impediment to eternal bliss,--to the perfectibility of God's creation." On page
57 of Science and Health Mrs. Eddy states, "Union of the masculine and feminine
qualities constitutes completeness."
The Committee on General Welfare saw this prophetic
utterance as the key to the question of Mrs. Eddy's rightful and legitimate
successor, since it enunciates the Principle upon which the government of The
Mother Church could fulfill the Magna Charta of Christian Science, and prove
itself "essentially democratic, its government [being] ad ministered by the
common consent of the governed, wherein and whereby man governed by his creator
* The Committee could see that this Magna Charta of
Christian Science, like the Declaration of Independence, has been realized in
human experience only one step at a time. Thus, during the period of Mrs.
Eddy's personal leadership she promulgated new By-Laws, introduced reforms, and
established new agencies only as her followers advanced in understanding
sufficiently to be able to obey and support them.
* Mrs. Eddy's vision extended far beyond the visible
organization, and in her "Magna Charta" and her "Declaration of Independence"
she depicted her ideal church.
* Every step toward the equalization of the
responsibilities and honors in church government is therefore a step nearer to
the fulfillment of Mrs. Eddy's ideal of the Christ Principle:
For this Principle there is no dynasty, no
ecclesiastical monopoly. ... Its only priest is the spiritualized man.
* In this true government each individual has immortal
* On page 9 of the Report, we find that what hinders
the progress of accepting this immortal sovereignty is that element in human
nature which cries out: "Nay, but we will have a king over us! The servile
element in human consciousness responds to the suggestion that it is easier to
rely on someone else who apparently has greater ability and authority. To think
out and work out one's own salvation requires more effort than many care to
make. The dependence upon personal control and the disposition to take
advantage of it, all the way from an individual to an organization, is a form
of idolatry insofar as it limits dependence upon divine power. And there are
always persons quick to take advantage of this dependency trait and assume "the
divine right of kings" rule.
* In proportion as these human negative traits are
overcome, will that "man," referred to by Mrs. Eddy, who is to "lead on the
centuries and reveal [her] successor," appear.
* It is the destiny of Christian Science to show to
the world that mankind cannot be deprived of its right to think.
* The Committee on General Welfare found considerable
sentiment in the Christian Science Field decrying the Directors' assumption
that the Manual By-Laws placed the direction of the spiritual and
business affairs of the Church in the hands of the Christian Science Board of
Directors. The Committee found a consensus that the estoppel clauses should be
obeyed--in other words that those reservations of authority retained by Mrs.
Eddy for herself, through her use of the estoppel clauses, passed legitimately
to her true successor as named in her statement on page 347:2 of
Miscellany. There she refers to "man in the image and likeness of the
Father-Mother God, man the generic term for mankind" as her only successor.
* The Committee averred that the recognition of Mrs.
Eddy's successor (as the God-like man) was of paramount importance because it
supplies that potential authority without which neither the spiritual nor the
business affairs of the Church can be properly administered. This means that
the spiritualizing influence exerted by Mrs. Eddy's teachings upon the general
human consciousness constitutes a moral force that can't be measured. What must
be individually demonstrated is the true nature of man. This true nature is
Mrs. Eddy's successor, and should be recognized as the great impersonal Leader
of the Christian Science Movement.
This spiritually unique Report of the Committee on
General Welfare did not support the position of the Board of Directors, and
it was therefore quietly suppressed. Comfortably ensconced in their position of
prestige, power, and authority, their inclination was toward more not less,
THE HERESY TRIAL OF JOHN W.
John W. Doorly of London, England, was an outstanding
Christian Science practitioner, teacher, and lecturer, who had at one time
served as President of The Mother Church. He had a natural proclivity for
scientific research, and as a result of his forty-year dedicated study of Mary
Baker Eddy's writings, he began to comprehend the system Mrs. Eddy had
embodied in the textbook, and to glimpse the pure Science of Christian Science.
Elated with the results of his research, which had culminated in great new
insights into the textbook, Doorly began holding regular meetings to
communicate his findings to his students and other interested Christian
Scientists. When news of this type of independent thinking reached Boston an
ordeal of relentless persecution began for Mr. Doorly. He was faced with
countless charges, many of them scarcely to be distinguished from gossip.
Mr. Doorly's attempts to explain the "system" and the
pure Science he saw in the textbook only brought further charges of
improprieties--infractions and violations of Church Manual By-Laws. Each
letter imperiously implied that the Board of Directors was the final authority
in the interpretation of the Christian Science textbook. No ideas were to be
advanced that had not been settled upon as correct during Mrs. Eddy's
Their persistent harassment led Mr. Doorly to write
the Board on November 7, 1946: "Your ... mistaken policy has distorted our
Leader's 'mother' government into one of the most despotic oligarchies our
world has ever known."
In making the decision to publish and circularize a
booklet of his understanding of Mary Baker Eddy's pure Science of Christian
Science, and extracts of correspondence exchanged between himself and the
Christian Science Board of Directors, entitled A Statement, Mr. Doorly
I am taking this step because I am convinced ... that
unless we make a definite and dignified issue, and a very decided issue
of this whole matter, we shall lose a golden opportunity that may not occur
again for many years.
Mr. Doorly hoped that circulating his correspondence
with the Board of Directors would stimulate, motivate, and impel the Directors
to retrace their steps and in the future leave church members alone to develop
their own progressive sense of Christian Science. Mr. Doorly was also aware
that refusing to submit to the Boston authorities might bring instant
No one has contributed more to the step-by-step
progress out of ecclesiastical bondage than the great and courageous Mr.
Doorly, who was glad to be counted among the many men and women who have been
willing to be ostracized and driven out of religious organizations rather than
submit to the control and restraint of their spiritual vision.
In a letter dated November 7, 1946, Doorly wrote the
... Mrs. Eddy was, in the purest sense, the 'mother'
of her church. She was, moreover, a great spiritual genius who knew the value
and the danger of By-Laws, as the Foreword in the Manual of The Mother
Church indicates. Mrs. Eddy retained for herself the powers of appointment, of
dismissal, and in fact the complete control of her church in every way through
many specific By-Laws. Shortly before she left us, Mrs. Eddy was asked to amend
those By-Laws which gave her complete control, and she absolutely refused to do
so. It must be evident to any intelligent individual that a 'mother'
government, exercised and controlled by one of the world's greatest thinkers
and religionists, could not possibly be the same government when this control
is removed, and the government is left to a Board where amateur ecclesiasticism
and commercialism might hold sway...
With Mrs. Eddy's passing, her 'mother' government
passed also, and became an impossibility for exercise by anyone else. No one
could for one moment believe that Mary Baker Eddy, who knew the fallibility of
human beings so well, would commit her life work into the hands of five people
whom she did not even know. If she had done this it would have been utterly
unlike all that she ever taught. The fact is that Mary Baker Eddy left the
future of Christian Science to the spiritual animus and development of her own
demonstration and that of mankind. Hence she writes, "What remains to lead on
the centuries and reveal my successor, is man in the image and likeness of the
Father-Mother God, man the generic term for mankind."
This man is revealed in a spiritual understanding of
the Christian Science textbook and the other writings by Mary Baker Eddy. When
the Boston Board advised Doorly of the rumors and reports concerning him, the
intrepid Doorly wrote Boston, July 4, 1942: Yes, "to put it quite frankly, the
wolves of religious persecution are in full bay in London, and the theory on
every hand is that your Board- collectively or individually--has unleashed
Here was an eminent spiritual thinker of world renown,
honored with the respect and friendship of tens of thousands of Christian
Scientists, suddenly being faced with excommunication, only because he had seen
deeper into the Christian Science textbook and was the first of Mary Baker
Eddy's dedicated students to divinely fathom and begin to teach the pure
Science of her discovery, embodied in the textbook and amplified in her other
On July 30, 1946, in answer to further accusations and
threats, Doorly countered:
... If your Board imagines that honest, intelligent,
and progressive men and women of today are going to submit to such processes,
utterly unworthy of Christian Science and inconsistent with ordinary justice,
then your Board is making a mistake. One individual who went to Boston on a
matter of this kind wrote me as follows:
'... A group of 37 of us from all over the United
States, unable to believe that the Board of Directors would place our teacher
on probation on hearsay evidence from one side, went, of our own accord, to see
the Board and place the facts before them. We were met in the reception room by
their legal representative who asked us, when we told him our mission, if we
were aware that we were approaching 'the highest ecclesiastical court in the
land ' " Our reply was that we had come to see our loving Board of
Continuing his letter, Mr. Doorly again warned the
Board that its regressive and false sense of Christian Science was helping the
enemy destroy our Leader's lifework.
The foregoing extracts from Mr. Doorly's Statement
speak with clarity and eloquence. They portray graphically what hundreds of
genuine dedicated Christian Scientists have faced when their lives and careers
have been temporarily blighted by the shadow of fear cast over them by the
Boston Board. But once freed by excommunication, these doughty veterans and
eminently distinguished healers rose higher in demonstration and usefulness to
the human race. Beyond the restrictions of organization they were free to
write, lecture, hold classes and seminars, and continue their healing
The world stands sorely in need of a deeper
understanding of the God-inspired writings of Mary Baker Eddy. In the next
Chapter we will look at documents which reveal that the Church Manual in
no way conflicts with the textbook, Science and Health, but instead shows
the way out of a seeming seventy-year captivity to centralized ecclesiastical
control. Gradually it will be seen that the Church Manual is the matrix
of that spirit of Mrs. Eddy's Declaration of Independence, and her Magna
Charta, that lifts man to the point of ascension where organized animate matter
is no longer a legitimate state of man's conscious evolvement. Man will realize
his divinity, held "forever in the rhythmic round of unfolding [bodiless]
bliss, as a living witness to and perpetual idea of inexhaustible good."
Because of the deep spiritual significance behind the "stuffy little Manual
" Mrs. Eddy could say to a student that she considered her Manual
second in importance only to Science and Health. In Miscellany she
wrote, "Eternity awaits our Church Manual . " Mrs. Eddy saw material
history drawing to a close. As she looked out on the dawning twentieth century
(which would urge its highest demands on mortals) and sensing "the human hatred
of Truth, " she wrote of this century's "God crowned ending-the threshold on
which we now stand:
THOU God--crowned, patient century,
Thine hour hath come! Eternity
Draws nigh--and, beckoning from
One hundred years, aflame with Love,
Again shall bid old earth good-by--
And, lo, the light! far heaven is nigh!
New themes seraphic, Life divine,
And bliss that wipes the tears of time
Away, will enter, when they may,
And bask in one eternal day.
'Tis writ on earth, on leaf and flower:
Love hath one race, one realm, one power.
Dear God! how great, how good Thou art
To heal humanity's sore heart;
To probe the wound, then pour the balm--
A life perfected, strong and calm.
The dark domain of pain and sin
Surrenders--Love doth enter in,
And peace is won, and lost is vice:
Right reigns, and blood was not its price.
Pleasant View, Concord, N. H., January, 1901.
THE SUNBURST The Christian Science
Journal Vol. 12
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