The lecture on Christian Science given by the Rev. W. J. Ferrar,...

Hampstead and Highgate (Eng.) Express

The lecture on Christian Science given by the Rev. W. J. Ferrar, as reported, manifests such a desire to discuss the matter without prejudice that it is a pleasure to reply to him. The lecturer explained that he found Mrs. Eddy's writings contradictory and illogical. That, however, is a charge which is brought against most fresh systems of thought, and most old ones for that matter. The ones which escape it do so, as a rule, by reason of their shallowness. It is a charge, moreover, which is sometimes due to the failure of the critic to master in a reading the subtleties of thought incidental to all close reasoning. As a matter of fact, there is no book against which such an accusation can be brought more easily than the Bible. There are, as every one is aware, two apparently contradictory accounts of creation, in the first two chapters of Genesis, to say nothing of two equally contradictory accounts of the flood immediately afterward, and half a dozen other historical contradictions before the book closes. While, if it comes to logic, what is to be said of the exegetical possibilities of a text which permits such discordant deductions to be drawn from it as Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism, Presbyterianism, Lutheranism, and Calvinism, to say nothing of every phase of dissent from these, trailing off into the doctrines of the Anabaptists and the Ranters? Now, Christian Science is founded entirely on the Bible. Mrs. Eddy says, on page 126 of Science and Health, "I have had no other guide in 'the straight and narrow way' of Truth;" and it is the claim of Christian Science that every word of its teaching can be made good from the page of the Bible.

Then the lecturer went on to insist that Mrs. Eddy's teaching was "opposed to the thought of the best minds;" but could anything be more opposed to these best minds than these best minds are to each other? From the time men began to think down to today these minds have been, and are continuing to differ fundamentally, so that it has been said, almost in the words of Mr. Gilbert's sentry in "Iolanthe," that every infant born into the world is either a little idealist or else a little materialist. Plato did not exactly agree with Aristotle, any more than Anselm did with Abelard, or Locke with Berkeley. Even in our own time we have seen two of "the best minds" in all the world contending somewhat warmly, in the pages of a certain review, over what one of them was pleased to call "the Gadarene pig affair." Perhaps, however, the best example of this oposition of "the best minds" to each other is to be found in the famous letter of Leibnitz to the Princess of Wales, in which he took a drily sarcastic exception to the theories of Locke and Newton themselves.

To show that "the best minds" have contradicted each other as emphatically as they are supposed to have contradicted Mrs. Eddy is not difficult; nor would it be difficult to show that these contradictions of Mrs. Eddy have their lacunæ. It must be admitted that the teachings of Christian Science have roused a certain class of critics into attacks more violent and more venomous than Paul experienced at the hands of Tertullus, or Darwin from the pulpit of Shrewsbury. These attacks, however, were frequently delivered because the speakers were too ignorant to appreciate how often the deepest thinkers were in accordance with Mrs. Eddy.

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February 17, 1912

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