Home  »  Volume XVIII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART III  »  § 8. Criticism and Comment

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXVIII. Popular Bibles

§ 8. Criticism and Comment

This post-war world is not the world of 1906 and 1907 when Christians of many folds seemed suddenly to discover that there was a new cult knocking loudly at the door of public interest, winning men and women from the various denominations, giving no reason which the average man outside Christian Science could understand for the faith it taught, using a vocabulary strange and even queer to many, making worthy doctors trained in the best schools seem to be of none effect, giving them for rivals ambitious healers of scant training and that not in institutions recognized, and only under public compulsion abandoning its claim to supplant surgery and to deal with contagious diseases which might sweep a whole community unless subject to conditions imposed by Boards of Health. Little wonder then that for the first time what seemed to many a menace to conventional Christianity and to scientific medicine was placed along with its founder under the microscope of ruthless scrutiny, and that on both sides where fifteen years ago light alone was needed, heat was often generated.

Critics studied Science and Health with varying results. Some saw nothing good in book or author. That was inevitable, but it must also be admitted that under criticism many Christian Scientists have kept a silence usually as wise as it is Christian. Others, in a purely scientific spirit, dissected the book without bias, and the author’s career with no more bitterness than the trained historian brings to the consideration of Mahomet or Queen Elizabeth. Others approached the task from the practical point of view, discussed the author only as far as seemed necessary to understand her teaching, analyzed the book in sincerity, tried to find where it reached back to Quimbyism, and where to an idealism as old as Democritus of Abdera, and discovered a curious theology often quaintly expressed in such words as “Principle,” “Father-Mother God,” and “Demonstrate,” a sacramental system they believed evacuated Baptism and the Lord’s Supper of their historic meaning and a tendency to dualism through an emphasis on Animal Magnetism so like the Devil of orthodoxy that some adherents are reported to have abandoned Christian Science because they could not see how God could be All in All and “M. A. M.” be half and half.

To crown all, many outside of Christian Science are puzzled that the Lord’s Prayer should seem to need the curious commentary given it in both Science and Health and public worship:

  • Our Father which art in heaven.
  • Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious.
  • Hallowed be Thy Name.
  • Adorable One.
  • Thy Kingdom come.
  • Thy kingdom is come, Thou art ever-present.
  • Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Enable us to know, as in heaven, so on earth—God is omnipotent,
  • supreme.
  • Give us this day our daily bread;
  • Give us grace for today; feed the famished affections;
  • And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
  • And love is reflected in love.
  • And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from Evil;
  • And God leadeth us not into temptation, but delivereth us from sin,
  • disease, and death.
  • For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory forever! For God is infinite, all-power, all Life, Truth, Love, over all, and All.*
  • * (Science and Health, p. 16.)
  • After her experience in passing from a youth and middle age of doubtful health into an old age of good health, the more remarkable because of her natural frailness, Mrs. Eddy staked the value of her magnum opus upon the therapeutics which it taught. Her followers have done the same. Results have been shown in the many cures reported in the Wednesday evening testimony meeting, so well attended, in some places regularly by thousands, that the mid-week service, to most denominations a problem, and to many a farce, must be reckoned with by those who study Science and Health from any point of view.