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Chapter I – Historical Background

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Who is telling mankind of the foe in ambush? (S&H. 571:11)

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 formed.

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.


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.


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. Literature'?

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. EDDY":]

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. P.2-a

*(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 continued organization.

"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.


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 Christian Science."

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.


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 material organization.

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 organization." 15a

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 more."15b

"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 organization.

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 members. "

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."


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 reflected.

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 place.

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 centralized control.

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 periodicals.)

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.


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 Health.

* 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 is self-governed."

* 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 sovereignty.

* 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, control.


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 lifetime.

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 said:

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 excommunication.

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 Board:

... 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 them."

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 writings.

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 Directors....

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 practice.

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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Mary Baker Eddy's Church Manual & Church Universal and Triumphant

Introduction | Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3 | Ch. 4 | Ch.5



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