Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to header Skip to footer

Church Alive

Mary Baker Eddy and the living church

From the June 2011 issue of The Christian Science Journal

When I was asked to speak on Mary Baker Eddy’s “concept of church” at the Church Alive Summit in Southern California, I immediately turned to my colleagues Judy Huenneke and Mike Davis who are both so conversant with the historical facts. Through our conversations and from researching Mrs. Eddy’s own words in her letters, sermons, articles, the minutes of the organizations she founded, and reminiscences of her students, among other records, we pieced together the following talk. I’m not a professional historian but over the years I have worked in the Library, I have come to appreciate the early struggle of her life and the courageous choices she made to practice, communicate, and teach Christian Science rather than to personally experience spiritual healing and carry on with her life. Instead, she was impelled to find out what had happened to her and share it. She understood the importance of this history and wrote: “People seem to understand C.S. in the exact ratio that they know me and vise versa. It sometimes astonishes me to see the invariableness of this rule” (F00537, Mary Baker Eddy to Julia Field-King, November 26, 1897, The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, The Mary Baker Eddy Library).  

You have access to this material, too! Log in to or call the Research Room at  617–450–7218 and get to know Mary Baker Eddy through inquiry, research, Library programs, and exhibits.

Religious life for Mary Baker Eddy in the 1820s in rural Bow, New Hampshire, appears on the surface vastly different from the amazing array of religious beliefs found in this country today. In the colonial era, most families worshipped God at least once a week and held twice-daily prayers and Bible reading in their homes. The desire to read the Word of God was the contributing factor to the high literacy rate in New England among men and women. Her father, Mark Baker, was a staunch believer in Calvinism and a faithful member of the Congregational Church. His family before him embraced Calvinism, which included the doctrine of election or predestination—meaning that through God’s grace you were already chosen for either salvation or damnation. Nothing you could do on earth could change that even if you lived the most selfless and moral life. But gradually people came to think that if you were a good person, you probably were one of the chosen.

Sign up for unlimited access

You've accessed 1 piece of free Journal content


Subscription aid available

 Try free

No card required

More In This Issue / June 2011


Explore Concord—see where it takes you.

Search the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures