Esoteric Christian Science: MBE as the Woman in Revelation

This post covers a lesser-known topic, the idea of Mary Baker Eddy as the Woman in Revelation. Until I started researching Christian Science, MBE and the colorful, often forgotten history of CS, I had never heard of this theory, neither had anyone else on the ExCS Admin Team. The theological debate is less interesting than the drama and intrigue that surrounded some of these decisions and official statements. For those interested in further reading on the issue, there are extensive links — all of them work as of the time of publication. 

This post previously appeared on kindism.org, and has been reprinted with slight modifications and updates to external sources. 


In April, 1938, a six-member committee of editors and former editors of CS periodicals was assembled “to discover just what Mrs. Eddy believed concerning herself with respect to Scriptural prophecy.” The committee was given access to Mrs. Eddy’s private correspondence, and published writings. After five years and 57 typewritten pages, the Board of Directors published a statement Mrs. Eddy regarded herself as having fulfilled Bible prophecy in the July 1943 issue of the Christian Science Journal. (1)

I am not an expert on the Book of Revelation, Ms. Eddy’s views, or the finer points of the controversy that followed the Board’s 1943 decision to announce to the world Ms. Eddy’s place in Scriptural prophecy. I was never taught about Ms. Eddy’s views on the topic, and the book of Revelation was not mentioned much in my Sunday School classes. I was only vaguely aware of any controversy in the 1990s over TMC’s media empire and the Bliss Knapp book, and had only read little bits here and there in very unauthorized literature.

Did Ms. Eddy consider herself to be the woman in Revelation? In Science & Health she has an entire chapter dedicated to the Apocalypse, and she tells the reader,

Mortals, obey the heavenly evangel. Take divine Science. Read this book from beginning to end. Study it, ponder it.   (emphasis mine)

I don’t think it is too much of a leap to read “divine Science” and “this book” as referring to Science & Health. As for any blatant statement that she is the woman in Revelation, to the best of my knowledge she never makes such a statement in S&H (2).

Bliss Knapp is one of the better known perpetrators of this idea. His foundation has made extended documentation available to substantiate these views. The main one, titled Historical Facts Regarding Mary Baker Eddy’s Student, Bliss Knapp, has extensive citations from Miscellaneous Writings. On page 15 of these Historical Facts the heading of Fulfillment of Prophecy is discussed:

  • The Destiny of The Mother Church places on record our Leader’s spiritual life story and how she fulfills Bible prophecy. It has also brought out into the open the division in teaching about our Leader which began at the time of the Woodbury trial. After the trial, one group of teachers took Mrs. Eddy’s statement quite literally that ” … a little white-haired, old lady couldn’t be the woman in the Apocalypse.” (3) In this line of teaching, she was just Mark Baker’s daughter who had an unusual spiritual gift. However, her own faithful students accepted her as God’s chosen Messenger bringing the promised Comforter, — the woman with the leaven foretold by Jesus and spiritually identified with his prophecy to John. (Mrs. Eddy refers to 15 Jesus’ parable of the leaven in Science and Health page 117:29 and also in Miscellaneous Writings page 174:30.)

So where does that leave us today? Official Church Doctrine – at least as I was taught it, does not mention Ms. Eddy as the woman in Revelation. A few of my Sunday School teachers mentioned that the second coming of Christ had occurred, and was embodied in Christian Science, but they never really elaborated on these ideas.

I don’t really have an opinion on Ms. Eddy’s place as the woman in Revelation but the intrigue and infighting among the church makes for interesting reading.


Bible Resources on Revelation

Books & News paper articles which deal with the issue on some level

Destiny of the Mother Church Controversy & Financial Crisis


  1. http://www.endtime.org/2ndcoming/2ndcoming.html, I am still looking for the actual CSJournal article
  2. I may be wrong about this, please let me know if I am and send the citation!
  3. On p. 8 of Historical FactsIra Knapp had explained to his family, that he could not say in court that she was the woman in the Apocalypse, because he knew of Mrs. Woodbury’s intent to bring Mrs. Eddy into court to make her publicly declare she was “the Woman”. This would not have been acceptable to other Christians at that time.No kidding.

INDEX: Free Masons

A collection of references discussing the Masonic connections of Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science.


If you’re looking for a great conspiracy theory, look no further, Mary Baker Eddy and her Masonic Connections! The Free Masons are behind many great conspiracy theories so it comes as no surprise that Ms. Eddy herself was involved with them!

Like in most things esoteric we find there is Freemasonry involvement. Like the fact one of the most important New Thought organisations Christian Science uses the symbol of the crown and the cross. Which is also a Freemasonry symbol. The crown also has five points on it. So if it was laid out flat it would be a five pointed star or Pentagram. As previously explained the Pentagram is associated with the Rose, so it is sort of Rosy Cross symbol, as used by the Rosicrucians. The cross also goes through the crown showing a obvious sexual association. Though it is also a symbol of unity of making the masculine and feminine One. Christian Science was also the first Christian sect to put forward the concept of a Father and Mother god and so help to bring back the Goddess. It was also the first Christian Sect to be started and led solely by a woman, Mary Baker Eddy. Her first husband Colonel George Washington Glover was a Freemason. She had some of her writings published in “Freemason’s Monthly Magazine” and many early Christian Scientists leaders under Mary Baker Eddy were also Freemasons.  via Freemasonry and the hidden Goddess


 

Mary Baker Eddy discussing the Free Masons in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany Chapter XIX [The Christian Science Journal] A Memorable Coincidence and Historical Facts 

Dear Editor: — I send for publication in our periodicals the following deeply interesting letter from Elizabeth Earl Jones of Asheville, N. C., — the State where my husband, Major George W. Glover, passed on and up, the State that so signally honored his memory, where with wet eyes the Free Masons laid on his bier the emblems of a master Mason, and in long procession with tender dirge bore his remains to their last resting-place. Deeply grateful, I recognize the divine hand in turning the hearts of the noble 327Southrons of North Carolina legally to protect the practice of Christian Science in that State.
Is it not a memorable coincidence that, in the Court of New Hampshire, my native State, and in the Legislature of North Carolina, they have the same year, in 1903, made it legal to practise Christian Science in these States?
MARY BAKER EDDY
PLEASANT VIEW, CONCORD, N. H.
October 16, 1903

Eddy’s response to the McClure’s Magazine features via The Truth about Mary Baker Eddy

Regarding my first marriage and the tragic death of my husband, McClure’s Magazine says: “He [George Washington Glover] took his bride to Wilmington, South Carolina, and in June, 1844, six months after his marriage, he died of yellow fever. He left his young wife in a miserable plight. She was far from home and entirely without money or friends. Glover, however, was a Free Mason, and thus received a decent burial. The Masons also paid Mrs. Glover’s fare to New York City, where she was met and taken to her father’s home by her brother George. . . . Her position was an embarrassing one. She was a grown woman, with a child, but entirely without means of support. . . . Mrs. Glover made only one effort at self-support. For a brief season she taught school.”

My first husband, Major George W. Glover, resided in Charleston, S. C. While on a business trip to Wilmington, N. C., he was suddenly seized with yellow fever and died in about nine days. I was with him on this trip. He took with him the usual amount of money he would need on such an excursion. At his decease I was surrounded by friends, and their provisions in my behalf were most tender. The Governor of the State and his staff, with a long procession, followed the remains of my beloved one to the cemetery. The Free Masons selected my escort, who took me to my father’s home in Tilton, N. H. My salary for writing gave me ample support. I did open an infant school, but it was for the purpose of starting that educational system in New Hampshire. [emphasis added]


From an excerpt of “En Route to Global Occupation” by Gary H. Kah, published by Huntington House. 

Freemasonry experienced tremendous growth during the nineteenth century, particularly during the second half of the century when Freemasonry flourished as never before. This was also a time of rapid growth for Masonically-inspired religious cults. In addition to founding the Theosophical Society, Freemasonry participated in the rise and spread of Christian Science and Unitarianism; and Masons Rutherford and Russell founded the Jehovah’s Witnesses. [emphasis added]


Further Reading:

Each Mind a Kingdom: American Women, Sexual Purity, and the New Thought Movement, 1875-1920

Originally published at kindism.org, republished with permission and slight modification.


Each Mind a Kindgdom: American Women, Sexual Purity, and the New Thought Movement, 1875-1920, Satter

Each Mind a Kingdom, firmly places Ms. Eddy in the historical context of the New Thought movement, as an undeniable student of Quimby, and inspiration for several prominent New Thought leaders (aka renegade students), one of whom, Emma Curtis Hopkins, went on to inspire a much larger group of prominent individuals in the New Thought movement.

Satter touches on Ms. Eddy’s control of the Christian Science “brand” through copyright and church structure, verses the New Thought movement’s lack of organized framework, and popular teachers having their own followings/ideas. When you think of Christian Science, you think of Ms. Eddy, when you think of New Thought there are nearly a dozen big names who have influenced the movement over the years, each adding their own interpretations and ideas to the mix.

Each Mind a Kingdom, is a dense read, heavy on the historical and sociological aspects of the New Thought movement. It also addresses the evolution of the New Thought ideas from Quimby, through his primary students: Dresser, Eddy and Evans, and their students, and so on, as they are modified, re-worked, and shared.

Satter discusses the social and economic conditions in which these ideas began, and why they were popular with white, upper and middle class women. New Thought provided women a platform with which to make, among other things, social reforms, and economic opportunities through income from faith healing, lectures, pamphlets, and teaching.

I highly recommend Each Mind a Kingdom for anyone who is interested in the origins of Ms. Eddy’s and New Thought ideas, as well as the broader context in which Ms. Eddy began her religion.

There is also this wonderful chart which shows the spread of New Thought, 1875-1920 from Each Mind a Kingdom: American Women, Sexual Purity, and the New Thought Movement, 1875-1920. Beryl Satter

 

Historical Context of Christian Science

One of the most important things to keep in mind when talking about Mary Baker Eddy is the context in which she founded Christian Science. With this in mind, we at The Ex-Christian Scientist are devoting the Sundays in October to sharing information and additional resources.

The following resources are for people who wish to explore Mary Baker Eddy’s life and Christian Science in a broader context. This is by no means an exhaustive list, merely a starting place for further exploration.


Timelines:
Other Theological Influences of the Day:

Books

Recommended biographies of Mary Baker Eddy:

Additional Reading for further context:

Each Mind a Kingdom

Each Mind a Kingdom: American Women, Sexual Purity, and the New Thought Movement, by Beryl Satter

The New Thought Movement was an enormously popular late nineteenth-century spiritual movement led largely by and for women. Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science is but one example of the fascinating range of these groups, which advocated a belief in mind over matter and espoused women’s spiritual ability to purify the world. (via Amazon)


Institutions cataloging Mary Baker Eddy’s Life & the History of Christian Science 
  • The Mary Baker Eddy Library opened in 2002 as a place for people to explore the life, ideas, and achievements of Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910), a remarkable nineteenth-century New England woman who overcame adversity to write a groundbreaking book on religion, health, and spirituality. She was a woman decades ahead of her time, pioneering such fields as business, education, and publishing.
  • Daystar Foundation & Library – Daystar Foundation and Library was established in 1990 with the purpose to collect, care for, and make available books, papers, and memorabilia relating to the early days of Christian Science, its Discoverer and Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, and those individuals who helped her in the fledgling stages of the Christian Science movement.
  • Longyear Museum – Longyear Museum is an independent historical museum dedicated to advancing the understanding of the life and work of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer, Founder, and Leader of Christian Science.

Other Resources