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

XXVIII. Popular Bibles

§ 9. General effect

Through her book Mrs. Eddy has achieved results, having made effective a recognized principle in psychology. On a smaller scale others too have obtained results. The Emmanuel Movement and the Nazarene Society, though they differ in content and technique, have made a worthy record in their field. No matter what their language, the healing plans usually use suggestion as psychologically defined, re-enforced by faith, and Christian churches are experimenting with religious healing methods without breaking with the family doctor.

Drugless healing has been everywhere subjected to scientific study. Professor Goddard’s only interest is psychological, and he reports that the cases he has studied cover almost the whole field of pathology. Of the patients thirty-three per cent. claimed instantaneous healing, fifty per cent. a gradual cure, and seventeen per cent. incomplete. Parkyn, Van Rhenterghem, Cabot, and others have made analogous studies and make similar reports. Christian Science submits to no such tests. It admits practically no limitations to its possibility of cures. Percentages are therefore not scientifically ascertainable in Christian Science. But the average man has perhaps little interest in scientific percentages. He is a pragmatist. He takes his neighbour’s word. He is apt to agree with Theodore Dreiser that “If a religion will do anybody any good, for Heaven’s sake, let him have it.”

In these days when suffering is more general and more intense, many honestly report that they find in Science and Health what Ex-President Crowell calls “a remarkable personal narrative, combining the contemplative and the practical in the field of Christian teaching.” There are (as in the chapter on prayer, where in spite of the discouragement of petition and of audible expression there is a deeply religious spirit) some passages which seem helpful in spiritual distress. The general effect of the book has been to encourage daily Bible reading until today Christian Scientists are probably the most numerous and most faithful Bible readers in the world. Dean Charles Reynolds Brown of Yale University is convinced that Christian Scientists, with this book before them, as “a class are upright and clean.” With allowance for those in every religion who do not try to live up to its highest teachings, they measurably avoid friction and irritation and preserve considerable serenity and other worldliness amid temptations which many of us seem unable to resist. They have to their credit a widely read daily paper which for editorial ability as well as excellent news service ranks among the best journals in the country. Finally, as the years go by, it is thought by many that Christian Scientists seem to be increasingly disposed to emphasize only the outstanding virtues which their book teaches, and in consequence to bring forth “the fruit of the spirit—love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.”