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Reproduced from the archive of The Mary Baker Eddy Library

Faith Cure

“Faith Cure” was an approach to Christian healing that began to be practiced around 1870 among Christian churches and combined conservative theology and pursuit of personal holiness with belief in the operation of “gifts of the Holy Spirit,” including divine healing. Its proponents believed that illness was not sent by God and advocated strong faith in Bible verses they interpreted as God promising freedom from illness to Christian believers. Indeed, one approach to understanding the faith cure movement is to see it as a reaction against the idea of Christian submission to illness and suffering that had been current before divine healing began to emerge in the latter part of the nineteenth century. For a detailed history and analysis of the faith cure movement, see Curtis, Heather D. (2007) Faith in the Great Physician: Suffering and Divine Healing in American Culture, 1860-1900. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Mary Baker Eddy began receiving letters in 1884 in which correspondents wrote of healings of illness taking place among believers in the faith cure and asked why sometimes these cures seemed to take place more quickly than those brought about through the practice of Christian Science. Although we do not have Eddy’s responses to these letters, an article published in The Christian Science Journal in August 1884 by longtime student Hanover P. Smith began to address the differences between faith cure and Christian Science. Eddy then addressed questions about faith cure in a pamphlet published in 1885 titled Historical Sketch of Metaphysical Healing. This pamphlet was widely circulated, and the section on faith cure later became part of her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection (pages 54 and 55):

It is often asked, Why are faith-cures sometimes more speedy than some of the cures wrought through Christian Scientists? Because faith is belief, and not understanding; and it is easier to believe, than to understand spiritual Truth. It demands less cross-bearing, self-renunciation, and divine Science to admit the claims of the corporeal senses and appeal to God for relief through a humanized conception of His power, than to deny these claims and learn the divine way, -- drinking Jesus’ cup, being baptized with his baptism, gaining the end through persecution and purity.

Millions are believing in God, or good, without bearing the fruits of goodness, not having reached its Science. Belief is virtually blindness, when it admits Truth without understanding it. … There is danger in this mental state called belief; for if Truth is admitted but not understood, it may be lost, and error may enter through this same channel of ignorant belief. The faith-cure has devout followers, whose Christian practice is far in advance of their theory.

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