God, Mind, and Apostolic Healing
by Colin Campbell
September, 2011

A primal teaching of Christian Science is that God is infinite, is everywhere and everything, a theme which Mary Baker Eddy orchestrates symphonically in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She founded her church, the Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, in order to “reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.” (1) What I intend to do in this paper is examine the link between God’s allness and apostolic healing.

Born in 1821 on a farm near Bow, New Hampshire, Eddy grew up reading the King James version of the Bible, a book which became the spine of her life and in which she discovered the system of healing and worship she named Christian Science. Today, as at the time of its founding, all the members of her church subscribe to six tenets, the first of which is about the Bible and reads like this: “As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.” (2) She joined the Congregational Church as a teenager and remained a member until 1875, the year Science and Health was published. In addition to her achievements as an author, healer, and religious leader, she launched a number of periodicals, including an international daily newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor, which first appeared on the streets of Boston two years before her death in 1910. By this time she was widely and publicly recognized in the United States and Europe as one of the most distinguished women of her generation.

“He that believeth on me,” Jesus promised his followers, “the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (3) Arthur John Gossip, expositor on the Gospel of John in the Interpreter’s Bible, responds to Jesus’ promise with astonishment: “If this is even remotely possible, then we have never taken in what Christ has in his heart for us, and have been satisfied with much less than what he has planned to give us. For Christ has made a far deeper mark in human history than any other. And to assure us that we can do what he has done and even greater things, sounds a mere throwing about of idle words that have no manner of connection with the reality of things.” (4)

According to Christian Science, it is the “reality of things” which makes gospel healing possible for all Christians, healing by the power of God alone, healing without drugs and surgery, healing as practiced by Jesus and his disciples. That this “reality of things” is God Himself is the foundation upon which Eddy erected her theology. “God is Mind, and God is infinite. Hence all is Mind,” (5) she writes in Science and Health. This statement is the only fully italicized sentence in all of her published writings. Eddy acknowledges all that the inspired Word of the Bible has to say about God, but she lifts the concept of His allness to a pinnacle far above its elevation in the thinking of other Christian theologians.

Attribute-infinitude, when applied to God, is a concept well understood and much discussed. It answers questions about how many attributes He has and whether or not they are boundless in their extent. For example, in their book The Divine Attributes, Joshua Hoffman and Gary S. Rosenkrantz examine God’s omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience, and ask how these three characteristics coexist in the life of a Being who is maximally perfect and possesses an infinite number of other properties.

Substance-infinitude, on the other hand, is not well understood. It is viewed by theologians in the main faith traditions as a bucket of fishhooks, and often they just ignore it. Hoffman and Rosenkrantz touch upon it briefly in connection with Spinoza’s pantheism, but for them, substance-infinitude is not hefty enough to be listed in the glossary of their book or in its index. The concept of a Person who is everywhere and everything is alarming, so it is no wonder that theologians have been slow to befriend it. One reason for their reluctance is obvious. If we affirm that God as an individual Person is infinite, this leaves no room for additional Persons, as in the trinity of the creeds.

In Christian Science, the trinity is comprised of God the infinite Mind, and two of His ideas, Christ and the Holy Spirit. These ideas are part of creation. They are effect, not cause, and have their ongoing existence in God’s thinking. Some years ago, at a conference sponsored by the Society of Christian Philosophers, I was discussing the trinity with a fellow conferee. After I explained to him what Christian Science teaches on this topic, he said: “Colin, your trinity is guilty of every known trinitarian heresy, as well as some that are unknown,” which is probably true. The trinity in Christian Science is beset with many of the same enigmas we find in more traditional views, but it takes the idea of a single divine Person who is everything and everywhere with total seriousness, and so is not hobbled by the incoherent notion of three Persons in the Godhead, each of whom is substantially infinite.

Christian theologians have been diffident about confronting God’s allness for another reason: If God the creator is everything, then there is no room for something in addition to Him, no room for a creation, no room, that is, unless creation is conceived as something that God includes in His own being, and this is where Eddy’s concept of God as infinite Mind steps into the pulpit. According to Christian Science, creation is comprised of an infinite number of ideas which live, move, and have their being in the infinite Mind. He is therefore correctly conceived to be All-including-all. Furthermore, since God not only includes His ideas but also causes them to instantiate His attributes, He is All-in-all as well as being All-including-all. “God is everywhere,” Eddy writes, “and nothing apart from Him is present or has power.” (6) And again: “Spirit, God, has created all in and of Himself.” (7)

At another conference, one which centered on the conflicting concepts of the Supreme Being in western religions, I questioned my fellow philosophers about a paradox which Christians have embraced for so many centuries that we no long feel the brain-cramp it rightfully triggers: Why did God create the opposite of Himself? Why did He usher into being a universe the substance of which is the opposite of His own? Why did Spirit create matter? Quite apart from Jesus’ thoughts about grapes and thorns, figs and thistles, commonsense suggests that like produces like, that a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. The dialogue below is a collage of memories from conversations about God and matter at a number of different conferences.

“What’s your beef with matter, Colin? Who are you, a born-again Gnostic?”

“Without matter there would be no death, no grief, no sin, no guilt, no disease, no pain, no fear, no war or crime, no famine, flood, or drought, no hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, or erupting volcanoes.”

“O.K., so the thought of matter springing from Spirit is paradoxical, even painfully paradoxical, but look around, a material universe is what God gave us. You can’t deny it!”

“But I do deny it. I am looking around, and I reject what I see. The universe I am experiencing is not the one God created. My material senses are offering me a counterfeit of God’s creation.”

“You are biologically hard-wired to experience the world around you in a certain way. You don’t have the power to defy your senses.”

”Since I do defy them, I can.”


“By praying. My senses are testifying falsely about God’s spiritual creation, so in my prayers I testify truly. I affirm the truth about what He has made.”

“Are there truth makers for these affirmations?”

“The truth makers are spiritual states of affairs in the mind of God.”

“What evidence do you have that these states of affairs exist?”

“Every spiritual healing is inductive proof that the truths affirmed in authentic prayer are descriptions of real, although invisible, spiritual states of affairs.”

“What healings are you talking about?”

“Those in the Bible and the thousands which Christian Scientists have experienced since Science and Health was first published”


“You can read about them in two of the periodicals which Eddy founded, the Sentinel and the Journal, which are on sale in any Christian Science Reading Room. Her textbook, Science and Health, ends with a chapter which includes one hundred pages of testimonials from readers. And there are other books which collect reports of cures. One is A Century of Christian Science Healing (8) and another is entitled Spiritual Healing in a Scientific Age (9) by Robert Peel.”

“So all Christians, you are saying, should be healers.”

“Yes. Without apostolic healing, the Church founded by Jesus is missing one of its vital organs.“

In passage after passage, Eddy elucidates the alliance between the healings performed by Jesus and his concept of matter, a concept which it is possible for all his followers to achieve. For example: “In proportion as matter loses to human sense all entity as man, in that proportion does man become its master. He enters into a diviner sense of the facts, and comprehends the theology of Jesus as demonstrated in healing the sick, raising the dead, and walking over the wave. All these deeds manifested Jesus’ control over the belief that matter is substance, that it can be the arbiter of life or the constructor of any form of existence.” (10)

“If ye continue in my word,” Jesus said, “then are ye my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (11) This Bible verse is one which Eddy quotes only once in her textbook, but it runs like an underground river through everything she wrote. The facts of being, encapsulated in truthful propositions which are conscientiously and enthusiastically affirmed in prayer, have the power to heal, to free us from the prison of material sense experience. Granted, what Christian Science teaches about the testimony of the senses and the power of prayer to overrule that testimony is counterintuitive in spades. It is a view so radical that most people reject it without a moment’s thought, but it is a linchpin principle in the metaphysics of this religion.

“By the truthful arguments you employ, and especially by the spirit of Truth and Love which you entertain, you will heal the sick,” (12) Eddy declares. This declaration makes clear that something in addition to truthful arguments is required of the healer. He or she must be in a faithful relationship with God. “Then,” Eddy says, “if your fidelity is half equal to the truth of your plea, you will heal the sick.” (13) So how, according to Christian Science, do we, Jesus’ twenty-first century disciples, put God’s power to work? Eddy’s answer is in the chapter on prayer in Science and Health, a chapter in which all the sometimes puzzling things Jesus taught on this subject are harmonized. Here is the opening sentence: “The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love.” (14) Eddy is not talking here about prayer as something we do but about what sort of person we must be if our prayers are to be efficacious. She describes Jesus’ prayers as “deep and conscientious protests of Truth,--of man’s likeness to God and of man’s unity with Truth and Love.” (15)

Once, at a conference in Michigan at Calvin College, after I explained to a questioner that prayer as taught in Christian Science makes strong demands on the healer, he remarked that my brand of Christianity must be difficult to practice. I agreed. It is difficult. Being a Christian Scientist is not an easy way to be a Christian. But, I told him, my religion has given me a God I can love and worship with all my heart and all my mind, a God who did not create evil, does not permit evil, and who knows nothing about evil. “’God is Love,’” Eddy writes. “More than this we cannot ask, higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go.” (16)

During the final banquet at another conference, the theologian to my left leaned over and said, “In a thimble, Colin, what is Christian Science all about?” Whether my answer will fit in a thimble or on the back of a postage stamp, I don’t know, but here is what I told him: “Given that God is all there is, gospel healing is just as possible to days it was when Jesus was alive, because the world as delivered in material sense experience is not what it seems to be.” He ruminated for a while, and then replied, “I don’t believe for a second that Christian Science is true, but I wish it were.”

My thimble-summary, of course, was oversimplified. Eddy would want to add that we can learn from Jesus how to heal as he did only with the help of Christian Science, which she viewed as the Comforter promised by Jesus when he said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” (17) And again, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (18)

Eddy’s belief that Christian Science is the Comforter I will not have time to discuss in this paper. The same is true of her conviction that the “little book” in the angel’s hand in the tenth chapter of Revelation prefigures Science and Health. Her thinking on these matters is viewed as heretical by traditional Christians. Speaking for myself, I would say, in reply, that Jesus was the greatest heretic who ever walked our planet. Why? Because he defied the one earthly authority which almost no one is willing to defy--the testimony of the senses.

Christian Science says that this testimony is not only false but unreal, since Spirit is not the author of sentient matter. At many of the conferences I attend I am the only Christian Scientist, and often someone will ask, “What is your take on Jesus?” My answer is that he was a revolutionary, a freedom-fighter, an iconoclast who upended ancient orthodoxies, a soldier of God fighting to free mankind from the shackles of physical sense experience. “His mission,” Eddy writes, “was to reveal the Science of celestial being, to prove what God is and what He does for man.” (19)

God has the power to create a spiritual universe, and according to Christian Science, that is what He did. Then what is the creation offered to us by our senses? Eddy taught that it is a counterfeit of the spiritual universe held in being by God. I say “held in being” because in Christian Science, creation is viewed as something which, like God, has always existed. Like Him, it has no beginning and no ending, and is recreated moment by moment by the divine Mind, who is continuously thinking His ideas, His spiritual offspring. As a counterfeit, the material universe is viewed as something which seems to exist but really does not. It is fundamentally unreal. It is nothing appearing to be something.

“Spiritual teaching must always be by symbols,” writes Eddy in her textbook, and she uses figurative language extensively to elucidate the connection between healing and God’s infinitude. Science and Health contains 678 direct quotes from the authorized version of the Bible and there are biblical echoes on almost every page. Like the writers of the sixty-six books of the Bible, she also thinks in pictures, and two of her most striking metaphors we will examine in detail. One is the idea that human existence is a waking dream, and the other may be seen in statements like the following: “The visible universe and material man are the poor counterfeits of the invisible universe and spiritual man.” (20) In other words, she argues that the attributes, objects, events, forces, and states of affairs given in the waking dream are counterfeits of spiritual originals which are ideas in the mind of God, the ideas which make up His spiritual creation.

Before factoring the contents of these two metaphors and explaining the manner in which they pull in tandem, I need to say a few words about how Eddy structures her figurative thinking. Her arguments are not linear but musical, very much like a theme with variations. A good illustration of this is the way she orchestrates the concept of God’s infinitude. The word “infinite” as a noun appears in the first line of the Preface to Science and Health--”To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings”--and in the chapters which follow there are 254 references to God as infinite, some of which apply to attribute-infinitude and some to substance-infinitude, and each one of which enriches the basic motif in a rhythmic and melodic way.

Although this musical arrangement of ideas is a nodal feature of Eddy’s prose, Science and Health does contain straightforward arguments. A good example is what she calls the Scientific Statement of Being, a paragraph which is read aloud at the conclusion of the Sunday service in every Christian Science church. Here it is: “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual.” (21) Because they reject all eight of her premises, mainstream Christians will deny the truth of Eddy’s conclusion, but if they know anything about deductive logic, they will acknowledge that the validity of her argument is immaculate.

Since figurative language sausages many meanings into one picture, my assessment of the metaphors in Science and Health may be contested by other dedicated students of this book, but in the Christian Science movement there is no supreme court of correct interpretations, and everyone is free to think independently. The Bible and Science and Health are the only authorities. “The time for thinkers has come,” (22) Eddy writes in the Preface of her book. The kind of thinking whose time has come includes asking questions about her tropes and looking for good answers. Sometimes equally competent and committed readers will disagree sharply about both the questions being asked and the answers being offered, which may be the case with some of my readers as I unpack Eddy’s thinking about dreams and counterfeits.

The dream-trope is deployed by her in passages like the following: “Mortal existence is a dream of pain and pleasure in matter, a dream of sin, sickness, and death; and it is like the dream we have in sleep, in which every one recognizes his condition to be wholly a state of mind.” (23) The marrow of Eddy’s metaphor is the claim that the objects and events which we experience with our senses are just as thoroughly mental in nature as the images in a sleeping dream. And another passages she makes the additional claim that the objects we encounter in the waking dream are counterfeits of spiritual originals, God’s ideas, much in the way a counterfeit dollar bill is a distortion of the genuine article. The two metaphors embrace each other, and both must be understood in the context of what Jesus said about the truth which makes us free. The truth of being has the power to awaken dreaming mortals from the stupefying illusions they experience in their daily round, all of which are counterfeits of spiritual originals.

Who or what is the counterfeiter? Who or what is the source of the moral and natural evils which afflict mankind? In her efforts to answer this question, Eddy uses all of the familiar biblical names for evil, like Adversary, Accuser, Serpent, Red Dragon, and Satan, but the one she employs most frequently is “error,” of which she writes in Science and Health: “An inquirer once said to the discoverer of Christian Science: ‘I like your explanations of truth, but I do not comprehend what you say about error.’ This is the nature of error. The ark of ignorance is on its forehead, for it neither understands nor can be understood. Error would have itself received as mind, as if it were as real and God-created as truth; but Christian Science attributes to error neither entity nor power, because error is neither mind nor the outcome of Mind.” (24)

Error means the opposite of Truth, a name which Eddy uses as one of seven synonyms for God. The others are Life, Love, Mind, Principle, Soul, and Spirit. As a noun, error appears in Science and Health 2,703 times. In contrast to a name like Satan, error designates just one feature of evil, and so is free of excess semantic baggage, a fact which enables Eddy to move about more easily in her efforts to analyze evil and to do so unhampered by too much specificity in the language she is using. The contrast between Truth and error may be seen at work in statements like the following: “The eternal Truth destroys what mortals seem to have learned from error, and man’s real existence as a child of God comes to light.” (25)

Thus, as a first approximation, Eddy equates the counterfeiter with error, but her preferred analysis of basic evil is the one given by Jesus in the fourth gospel. To his persecutors he said: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (26) Among the 678 quotations from the authorized version of the Bible in Science and Health, only two others are used more often than this one. Eddy quotes and dissects it eleven times.

Ultimate evil, then, is the Father of Lies, who causes us to experience mesmeric illusions. How does he do this? By counterfeiting spiritual originals--the ideas which constitute God’s creation--and by inventing a dream-world in which the Creator Himself is nowhere and nothing rather than everywhere and everything. The objects and events and states of affairs we encounter in our daily walk and conversation are falsehoods turned into mental pictures by the Father of Lies. These dream-shadows are not merely picturized falsehoods, they are lies, falsehoods deliberately designed to deceive, but not only to deceive. The Liar is also a murderer, goaded by a hatred of truth, including the truth about God and man which Jesus taught and demonstrated in his healing ministry. Thus the Father of Lies is the Father of Dreams, and what emerges from the interaction of Eddy’s two dynamic metaphors is a picture of mortals as figures in a dream, imprisoned by objects and events which are numerically distinct counterfeits of spiritual originals.

The issues raised in the paragraph above have been bonfires of controversy among philosophers and theologians ever since human beings began to worship their gods, visible and invisible. Eddy confronts these mysteries not because she hopes to explain them away. Her goal is to show Christians how to master the ills which throng human experience and how to liberate themselves from the bondage of the waking dream. But, she argues, inasmuch as we haven the Comforter a pragmatic antidote for evil, we do not necessarily need answers to all the puzzling theoretical questions it spawns.

Eddy solves the problem of evil pragmatically. Classically stated, the problem is this: Given that the Supreme Being is infinitely loving and powerful and intelligent, why are the innocent suffering? Since according to Christian Science, God is All-including-all, so that nothing exists in addition to Him, it follows that evils like sin and sickness must be unreal illusions, dream-shadows, lies about reality turned into hypnotic mental images. But now we come face to face with a bruising question. Why isn’t God’s allness as much of an obstacle to the seeming existence of evil as it is to its actual existence? This query is the pith of the problem of evil, and Christian Science answers it not with fancy verbal and conceptual footwork but by erasing it from the chalkboard, by taking away the occasion for asking it, by nullifying the suffering which prompts the question in the first place. Since evil seems to have had a beginning, it will, as the Bible prophesies, have an ending. The waking dream of human history will come to end. “The material world,” Eddy writes in Science and Health, “is even now becoming the arena for conflicting forces. On one side there will be discord and dismay; on the other side there will be Science and peace. The breaking up of materialistic beliefs may seem to be famine and pestilence, want and woe, sin, sickness, and death, which assume new phases until their nothingness appears. These disturbances will continue until the end of error, when all discord will be swallowed up in spiritual Truth.” (27)

Commenting upon Christian Science and its assertion that God is the sole reality, the Swiss theologian Karl Barth wrote this: “God is the basis of all reality but He is not the only reality. As Creator and Redeemer he loves a reality which is different from Himself, which depends upon Him, but which is not merely a reflection nor the sum of His powers and thoughts, but which has in face of Him an independent and distinctive nature and is the subject of its own history, participating in its own perfection and subjected to its own weakness.” (28)

Barth is responding to an essay on Christian Science by the German church historian, Karl Holl, in which he wrote: “The statement that God is the sole reality is the basis of every true religion, not of a degenerate religion. The intellectual converse of this proposition is that the world is an illusion. The highest exponents of religion have been the very ones who have at all times touched upon this proposition. A sufficient number of statements could be adduced, not only from Neoplatonic, mystic, and Buddhist writings, but from the Oland New testament, the purport of which is that the world is only smoke and vapor before God.” (29)

As explained above, Christian Science asserts that the realm of the waking dream, the world which Holl calls “smoke and vapor,” is a counterfeit of God’s spiritual creation. Both Barth and Holl have profoundly misunderstood the ontology which undergirds Science and Health. The absurdity of thinking that matter is the offspring of Spirit is lost on Barth, and Holl fails to grasp how absolute is Eddy’s devotion to a God who is All-in-all as well as All-including-all, the divine fact which makes gospel healing possible today. And both fail to see that the clash between Science and the senses is seismic. “The five corporeal senses,” Eddy writes, “cannot take cognizance of Spirit. They cannot come into His presence, and must dwell in dreamland, until mortals arrive at the understanding that material life, with all its sin, sickness, and death, is an illusion against which Science is engaged in a warfare of extermination.” (30)

The distinction between the way things are and the way they seem to be--one of the most venerable in the history of western philosophy--is also one of the most momentous concepts in the theology of Christian Science. In order to explicate Eddy’s sense of what it means to say that evil seems to exist but really does not, I will compare her view with that of Karl Barth in Book Three, part three, of his magisterial Church Dogmatics. Eddy‘s view helps us to understand her claim that gospel healing is possible today and has been possible throughout Christian history.

Barth’s discussion of evil makes it clear that he believes without qualification that something demonic is at work in human affairs, the concrete manifestation of which we experience as metaphysical, moral, and natural evil. “There is real evil and real death,” he writes, “as well as real sin. In another connection it will fall to be indicated that there is also a real devil with his legions, and a real hell.” (31)

In trying to unveil the nature of evil, Barth posits three ontic categories--being, non-being, and something in between which is nothing claiming to be something. This strange and logically conflicted something he calls “das Nichtige,” usually rendered in English as “nothingness,” although translators sometimes use “the null,” or “that which is not,” or “the nonexistent.” Either evil is nothing, we might think, and cannot seem to be anything, or it is a strange sort of something. Barth embraces wholeheartedly the logical confusion at work here. “Nothingness is not nothing,” he says, “but exists in its own curious fashion.” (32)

The best analysis of Barth’s views on evil I know is by Nicholas Wolterstorff in Faith and Philosophy (33), an essay which is a diamond mine of sparkling distinctions. Wolterstorff shows how rich and dense, numbingly dense, are the sections in Church Dogmatics in which Barth parses “das Nichtige.” For my purposes, however, much of this complexity can be set aside, because the core of Barth’s view is that although evil is nothing, it is terribly real, whereas for Eddy, it is terribly unreal. “Why stand aghast at nothingness,” (34) she writes.

Barth asks “What is real nothingness?” (35) and then spells out the implications of his question by declaring that sin “confirms the real existence of nothing. Nothingness is a factor so real that the creature of God, and among his creatures man especially in whom the purpose of creation is revealed, is not only confronted by it and becomes its victim, but makes himself its agent.” (36) The Evil One, the Father of Lies, is “das Nichtige,” and the manner in which he has victimized mankind from the beginning of human history is explained by Barthlike this: “It is worth noting that in Gen. 3 the failure of the creature consisted in the fact that succumbing to the insinuations of nothingness, it desired to be like God, judging between good and evil, itself effecting that separation, unwilling to live by the grace of God and on the basis of the judgment already accomplished by Him, or to persist in the covenant with God which is its only safeguard against nothingness.” (37) To Barth, basic evil is as real as pig iron, even though his name for it is “das Nichtige.”

Eddy’s view of evil as nothing claiming to be something stands in vivid and stark contrast to Barth’s. If evil is both nothing and a strange sort of something, which aspect of it shall we embrace as fundamental? Relying as usual on the is/seems dichotomy, Eddy argues that the reality of evil is its nothingness, while its somethingness is a false appearance. Furthermore, the fact that it only seems to exist means that its “seeming” can be destroyed by the power of God. Eddy’s interpretation of the story of the woman within issue of blood, recounted in the Gospel of Mark, illustrates her concept of how the power of God and the power of faith work together in prayer to heal illusions.

The woman Jesus cured had been sick for twelve years. After she touched the hem of his garment, “she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press and said, Who touched my clothes? The woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.” (38) This healing depended both on Jesus’ power to heal--the “virtue” which went out of him--and the faith of the woman. According to Eddy, God sent Jesus to show all of us, all Christians, how to heal spiritually, and in this episode related by Mark she found an example of the fact that, as Whittier wrote, “The power that filled the garment’s hem /Is ever more the same.” (39)

Barth attacks Christian Science directly in volume four, part three, of Church Dogmatics, and I suspect that if we were to plumb his hostility, we would find that its source is Eddy’s interpretation of what Jesus preached about the Kingdom of God. Most Christians believe that God sent Jesus to die on the cross for us, so that after death we might have eternal life with the Supreme Being in His Heavenly Kingdom. According to Eddy, on the other hand, God sent Jesus to show us how to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, right here and right now, by healing evil in all its forms as Jesus did and doing this so successfully that the waking dream of human history is driven back into its native nothingness, a dream which is awaking nightmare for most of the seven billion members of the human family.

An arrow-keen difference between Barth’s concept of evil as nothing which seems to be something and Eddy’s is this. Starting wither conviction that God is both All-in-all and All-including-all, she understands that there are no empty spots in God’s allness, no vacuums, no place where evil could manage to be nothing, and if it can’t be nothing, it can’t be nothing which seems to be something. It is nothing as “not-anything,” because there are no empty spots in God’ infinite being. This is the opposite of Barth’s view of evil as nothing which is nonetheless menacingly real. According to Eddy, healing sin, disease, and death as less-than-nothing-seeming-to-be something is possible through prayer and the power resident in the divine Mind. Although he masquerades as a tyrant, Eddy would say, the Father of Lies is quintessentially unreal, which is why his dream-kingdom can be overthrown.

It is time now to ball and burlap the argument. I set out to show that gospel healing is just as possible today as it was for Jesus when he walked the hills of Samaria and the valleys of Galilee, “healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” I first argued that God is everything, the sum total of reality, a fact which entails that evil must be less than nothing, although it seems to be something. Next I claimed that prayer and the healing power of God can destroy evil in all its illusory “seeming.” In the paragraphs of this paper I have sounded many chords, but the tonic chord is this: All Christians can demonstrate God’s dominion over the Father of Lies, over the lies themselves, and over those lies made manifest in physical sense experience, made manifest as sin, disease, death, pain, fear, guilt, war, drought, famine, floods, and all the other wounds and woes which canker our joy and blight human flourishing.

How God’s power may be harnessed for the redemption of the human family Eddy explains in every chapter of Science and Health. Here is how she puts it in the Preface: “The physical healing of Christian Science results now, as in Jesus’ time, from the operation of divine Principle, before which sin and disease lose their reality inhuman consciousness and disappear as naturally and as necessarily as darkness gives place to light and sin to reformation. Now, as then, these mighty works are not supernatural, but supremely natural. They are the sign of Immanuel, or ‘God with us,’--a divine influence ever-present in human consciousness and repeating itself, coming now as was promised aforetime, ‘To preach deliverance to the captives [of sense] And recovering of sight to the blind, To set at liberty them that are bruised.’” (40)

And in another passage she explains how apostolic healing will end the waking dream: “As a material, theoretical life-basis is found to be a misapprehension of existence, the spiritual and divine Principle of man dawns upon human thought, and leads it to ‘where the young child was,’--even to the birth of a new-old idea, to the spiritual sense of being and of what Life includes. Thus the whole earth will be transformed by Truth on its pinions of light, chasing away the darkness of error.” (41)


1. Mary Baker Eddy, Church Manual, p. 17
2. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 497.
3. Gospel of John, 14:12.
4. The Interpreter’s Bible, 1952, volume VIII, p. 70
5. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 492.
6. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 473.
7. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 335.
8. A Century of Christian Science Healing, the Christian Science Publishing Society, 1966.
9. Robert Peel, Spiritual Healing in a Scientific Age, Harper and Row, 1987.
10. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 369.
11. Gospel of John 8:31-32.
12. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 418.
13. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 418.
14. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 1.
15. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 12.
16. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 6.
17. Gospel of John 14:16.
18. Gospel of John 14:26.
19. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 26.
20. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 337.
21. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 468.
22. Eddy, Science and Health, p. vii.
23. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 188.
24. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 555.
25. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 288.
26. Gospel of John, 8:44.
27. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 96.
28. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, volume 3, pp. 364-365.
29. Karl Holl, “Der Szientismus,” p. 3.
30. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 543.
31. Barth, Church Dogmatics, volume 3, p. 318.
32. Barth, Church Dogmatics, volume 3, p. 360.
33. Nicholas Wolterstorff, “Barth on Evil,” Faith and Philosophy, October, 1996, pp. 584-608.
34. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 563.
35. Barth, Church Dogmatics, volume 3, p. 349.
36. Barth, Church Dogmatics, volume 3, p. 352.
37. Barth, Church Dogmatics, volume 3, p. 356.
38. Gospel of Mark, 5:25.
39. John Greenleaf Whittier, “The Healer.”
40. Eddy, Science and Health, p. xi.
41. Eddy, Science and Health, p. 191.