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The First Church of Christ,
Scientist, in Boston,
Massachusetts

 

Two Schools of Teaching in the CS Movement
Appendix B

 

Annie M. Knott on the Variant
In 1899, Mrs. Knott, a personal student of Mrs. Eddy from Detroit, had an experience which henceforth would enable her to detect variations from Mrs. Eddy’s teachings. One of Mrs. Knott's most loyal and devoted students, who had been healed of invalidism, attended the 1899 Normal class which was taught by Mr. Kimball. When she returned to Detroit as a new teacher she circulated around that Mrs. Knott’s teaching was incorrect. Because of this misinformation, one of Mrs. Knott’s students sued her for the return of his tuition plus damages. In the court room, shouts of "'Fraud!' * * * 'Quack!!'* * * 'Imposter!!!' were heard." The attorney for the prosecution "roared, to adulterate Christian Science is to impose on mankind!" (“Detroit Today” (newspaper) Jan. 13, 1903. “Mrs. Knott on the Witness Stand” p. 1) In 1903, the court ruled in Mrs. Knott's favor, but in the meantime her reputation was seriously damaged.

These court actions were a serious attack on Mrs. Knott and her reputation as a teacher and practitioner. The clarity and purity of her teaching had been assailed. Even though the ruling had been in her favor, members of her pupils’ association withdrew and deserted her. The experience left her with an indelible awareness that a variant teaching now existed within the Christian Science movement, and during this time she learned the differences between Mrs. Eddy's school and the Kimball teaching. Although she had suffered loss of respect as to her teaching ability, the day of vindication and redress was not far off.

When Judge Hanna resigned his posts as First Reader and Editor of the periodicals in June, 1902, he was succeeded by Mr. Archibald McLellan, with Mr. John B. Willis as assistant Editor. Both were students of Mr. Kimball. A year later, Mrs. Eddy appointed Mrs. Knott as an assistant Editor to serve with McLellan and Willis. In corresponding with the Directors about this appointment Mrs. Eddy wrote:

It is just to pay Mrs. Knott her price and she will earn it, I trust. She is good, well educated and has been through the primary and normal classes under my instruction [i.e., at the Massachusetts Metaphysical College]. A student qualified thus the directors know is needed on the staff Editorial. Do not fail to secure her price and so inform her at once. ("Proceedings in Equity,” pp. 88, 89)

This letter shows that Mrs. Knott was being engaged as a guardian, or monitor, to see that Christian Science as taught by Mrs. Eddy at the Massachusetts Metaphysical College in the 1880s and 90s was adhered to in the periodicals. The "needed" qualification was not that of "well educated" for Mr. McLellan and Mr. Willis were both highly educated; but it was "the primary and normal classes under [Mrs. Eddy's] instruction." Both the Editor, Mr. McLellan, and the Associate Editor, Mr. Willis, were pupils of Mr. Kimball. What were the circumstances which caused "the directors [to] know" that this particular qualification "is needed on the staff editorial" in mid-1903?

At the time of the third annual meeting of the General Association of Teachers, Mrs. Eddy called the Directors and the Editors to a meeting at her residence in Concord on October 3, 1905. The Editor, Mr. McLellan, was also a Director. The two Associate Editors were Mr. Willis and Mrs. Knott. This group of seven was seated in front of Mrs. Eddy in a semicircle. After her greeting she asked each Director if he carefully read the drafts of the Editorials and lead articles of the Journal and Sentinel before they went to press. It was a requirement in those days and for several decades that the Editorials and lead article in each issue of the periodicals were to be read and approved before going to press by all of the Directors.

She then took from her desk a copy of the Sentinel for September 30, 1905, and called attention to the lead article, titled “‘The Redemption of our Body,’” by Clarence W. Chadwick (a pupil of Mr. Kimball) and read these words: “A diseased body is not acceptable to God.” She did not indicate in any way whether or not she approved or disapproved of the statement. She asked the Director at the end of the semicircle if he considered that statement scientific. He said that he did. She read the statement over in turn to each Director and asked him specifically the same question. All of the Directors and Mr. Willis gave affirmative answers.

Mrs. Knott was the last to be asked the question. She replied that she had stumbled over it several times but decided to let it go through. Mrs. Eddy responded: "Then you are the one to blame. You are my student are you not?" (Mrs. Knott was the only member of the Editorial staff so qualified.) Mrs. Eddy continued: "Did I ever teach you anything like this? Then, to the whole group she said in strong tones: "Now, will any of you tell me whether God has any more use for a well body than for a sick one?"

Turning to Mrs. Knott again, Mrs. Eddy "said that her reason for having me [Mrs. Knott] come to Boston was because she hoped I would have been able to see that her teachings [i.e., as given at the Massachusetts Metaphysical College] were strictly adhered to in the articles which went out... She insisted that man's likeness to God is never a bodily likeness, and called our attention to page 313 of Science and Health, lines 12 to 19.” (We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, Third Series. Boston: Christian Science Publishing Society. 1953. p. 87)

At the same meeting, Mrs. Eddy again rebuked Mrs. Knott for allowing an Editorial to go through unchallenged. Mr. Willis, an Associate Editor like Mrs. Knott, had recently written a Sentinel Editorial titled “Watching vs. Watching Out,” (September 16, 1905, page 40) which Mrs. Eddy corrected the following week with an article by the same title (September 23, 1905, page 56). Mrs. Knott did not know she was responsible for what the other Editors and the Directors wrote, but Mrs. Eddy made it clear that each one was responsible for keeping the periodicals "distinctly and unmistakably scientific."

Mrs. Eddy talked with us for nearly two hours, and left it very clear that no one is to be judged by his or her physical condition [body], but by character and spiritual attainments." (We Knew Mary Baker Eddy,” Third Series. p. 89) "Mrs. Eddy wrote me soon after my return to Boston, expressing the hope that I would rise above this false sense which had made me let error pass unchallenged into our periodicals, and she gave me the encouraging thought that she would pray for me." (Private memorandum from Mrs. Knott)

Mrs. Eddy rebuked Mrs. Knott, and not the Editor—Mr. McLellan—for allowing Mr. Willis' editorial "Watching vs. Watching Out" to "go through unchallenged." Mrs. Knott was not a person to make excuses, but it is not hard to understand why she might hesitate to correct those two items for which she was rebuked by Mrs. Eddy when one has the picture of Mr. McLellan's human characteristics as described in Proceedings in Equity, page 675, "that Mr. McLellan would be opposed to any man he couldn't carry around in his vest pocket; that however great his [Mr. McLellan's] virtues might be he had the fault of wanting to dominate people that he was associated with;" "...he wanted to dominate." When the position of a woman at the turn of the century is recalled; and also that Mrs. Knott was the most recent in longevity in the office, associated with two highly educated men both of whom were students of Mr. Kimball, it is not difficult to understand why she might hesitate to propose a correction!

This conference of October 3, 1905, corrects the mistaken belief that Mrs. Eddy approved of just any interpretation of her writings. It is clear that its purpose was to correct variations from her teaching and to expose the difference. This conference had the effect of commissioning Mrs. Knott, for the remainder of her life in Boston, to see that Mrs. Eddy's teachings were strictly adhered to. Church history shows that it was St. Paul who disputed with Peter on matters of doctrine, and single-handedly saved Christianity from becoming merely a sect of Judaism. Similarly, Mrs. Knott defended the doctrines of Mrs. Eddy and prevented their loss.

Personal views

"Mrs. Eddy had for some time seen the necessity for organized effort which would unite Christian Scientists everywhere in their endeavors to supply a great need,namely, intelligent and unified efforts on the part of all workers, as even at that early date [1886] there were those who were ready to substitute their own personal views for the inspired guidance of our great Leader, through whom this revelation had been given to the world.

"There were, perhaps, not many who understood what it means to be a sufficient 'transparency for Truth' (Science and Health, p.295) to give out the revelation of Christian Science, and to maintain its ministry under divine inspiration."

Annie M. Knott
The Christian Science Journal,
March, 1924

In a 1908 Sentinel Editorial ("Immortality," vol. 11, p. 150), Mrs. Knott corrected a mistaken concept about the material body:

The long centuries of mortal belief and experience all show that the material body is not immortal, while spiritual understanding declares that it must be put off, with all the erroneous beliefs which it represents. That the world's thought is changing greatly of late years is evidenced by a statement of Sir Oliver Lodge, in which he declared that the body does not represent the individual, and "that death merely marks the end of a certain grouping of physical materials."

In 1913, just three years after Mrs. Eddy's departure, Mr. Archibald McLellan, Editor of the Christian Science periodicals and Chairman of the Board of Directors, asked Mrs. Knott to "write some Editorials" to expose and condemn the variant teaching. The McLellan Editorial and the two corrective Editorials by Mrs. Knott are reprinted below.

Editorial
Impersonal Correction

...A few months ago several letters were received from different places, indicating that there was considerable misconception extant as to Christian Science treatment. One letter, for instance, mentioned a lady who was told that her hand was an idea of God, and therefore exempt from pain. Because of the manifest sincerity of this correspondent, and because of other letters which had brought up similar questions, the Editor asked one of his associates, one of Mrs. Eddy's oldest and most trusted students, to write some Editorials which would correct the false impression of Christian Science treatment which these letters indicated was abroad. These Editorials appeared in the Journal for December, 1913, and the Sentinel for January 10, 1914. The erroneous views of Christian Science which were condemned in these Editorials had never been taught by Mrs. Eddy, as was well known to the Editors of the Journal and Sentinel, and it was not supposed by them that such views had been taught by any authorized teacher of Christian Science. They believed that these letters simply put into words some of the various vagrant misconceptions of Christian Science which pass current among many who call themselves Christian Scientists, but who have failed to grasp the true intent of the teachings set forth in Science and Health.

Imagine the Editors' surprise, therefore, when letters began to come in which claimed that these Editorials were regarded by some as having been written in condemnation of the teachings of a well-known and greatly honored and respected teacher of Christian Science...

The lessons which the field should draw from this incident are these: that the Editors of the Sentinel and Journal are not taking part in any expressions of difference of opinion or any misunderstanding between individual Christian Scientists; that when they undertake to clear up some misconception of Christian Science which it is their duty to clear up, they are dealing strictly with the error to be corrected and not with any person. This is entirely in keeping with Mrs. Eddy's statement (Science and Health, p. 452) that "incorrect reasoning leads to practical error. The wrong thought should be arrested before it has a chance to manifest itself."

Archibald McLellan
Christian Science Sentinel, February 7, 1914, p. 450

First of two Editorials by Mrs. Knott

Apart from the teachings of Christian Science, the relation supposed to exist between soul and body was at one time discussed with a good deal of freedom, when we consider the impossibility of reaching any definite conclusions on the subject by material means. The writer once heard two good deacons disputing warmly over the location of the soul, one insisting that it was in the brain, and the other being quite certain that it was in the heart, and each quoted Scripture in support of his argument. It is needless to say that no one was enlightened by the discussion. Some time after this, the subject was publicly canvassed by several well-known medical men at a convention held in Chicago, and a distinguished specialist gave it as his opinion that man had no soul, because neither scalpel nor microscope could find any trace of it.

The tendency of the human mind has ever been to cling to the body, to study its structure and constantly minister to it, and yet the Bible counsels us to be "absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord," the only mental state which can give us assured freedom. This state is not, however, reached in a day; indeed it can only be reached through entire spiritualization of thought, motive, and action, and this calls for an ever-advancing comprehension of the great truths taught in Christian Science. A student of Christian Science once remarked rather airily, during class instruction, that she had always believed God to be incorporeal. She was then asked if she understood man to be the image and likeness of God, and when she replied affirmatively, she was obliged to admit that the real, spiritual man must be like his creator, incorporeal.

Mrs. Eddy says: "Man's true consciousness is in the mental, not in any bodily or personal likeness to Spirit. Indeed, the body presents no proper likeness to divinity, though mortal sense would fain have us so believe" (Science and Health, p. 302). It is therefore a mistake to attempt to trace our likeness to God by taking the physical body, or its members, even as symbols of divine ideas, and this is done only because mortal mind is so unwilling to let go of the belief of life, substance, and intelligence in matter. It is true that the Bible speaks of "the hand of the Lord," also "the eyes of the Lord," but it will surely be conceded by all Christian Scientists that it would be grossly materialistic, and even irreverent, to take these passages as in any wise relating to corporeality.

On page 38 of Science and Health Mrs. Eddy explains that the hand of the Lord "expresses spiritual power," a concept of vital significance to us in every hour of need, but which loses its true meaning for the one who attempts to argue that his own hand cannot be painful or diseased because God's hand is not, an utterly false and unspiritual logic as will be readily seen when we attempt to apply it to the digestive system, brain, nerves, etc. Its tendency would be to lead thought away from the divine teachings of Christ Jesus, who said that God must be worshiped "in spirit and in truth," and away from obedience to the stern prohibition of the second commandment, which says, "Thou shalt not make unto thee ... any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above," for it is no less idolatry to materialize our thought of God than it is to make a graven image and bow down to it. The gods of the heathen were all corporeal, but not so the one infinite Mind known of old as the true deliverer, and known today in Christian Science as ever-present Life and Love.

It is true that it seems almost impossible for mortals to rise to the heights indicated and reached by Christ Jesus, indeed they can never do this until they cease clinging to the physical body in a vain attempt to make it symbolize Deity; but we are helped by knowing that the "human sense of Deity yields to the divine sense, even as the material sense of personality yields to the incorporeal sense of God and man as the infinite Principle and infinite idea,as one Father with His universal family, held in the gospel of Love" (Science and Health, p. 576). If we could but realize always that the true sense of God and man alone can liberate us, and help us to free others from the oppressive bondage of belief in a material body with all its false pleasures and pains, we would never consent to the error of trying to link it to the spiritual idea. The "old man" must be "put off," not retained as a type of God's man, who is perfect because of his divine origin.

Our Leader's inspired teaching on pages 260 and 261 of Science and Health cannot be too often studied and pondered, especially as it meets the human need of health and happiness by directing thought away from the body to the divine Principle of all being. We are there told to "forget our bodies in remembering good and the human race;" and we have this strong assurance: "Breaking away from the mutations of time and sense, you will neither lose the solid objects and ends of life nor your own identity."

Christ Jesus said we should take no thought for the body, and he not only declared the freedom which the understanding of Soul gives, but he demonstrated it in healing the sick, raising the dead, in walking upon the stormiest waters and stilling them. His last commands to Peter we may well take to ourselves, "Feed my lambs," and also, "Feed my sheep,"not with mortal opinions, but with the truth which now and ever "giveth life unto the world."

Annie M. Knott
The Christian Science Journal, December 1913, p. 553

"Perfect Models"

Mrs. Eddy tells us that we "must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives" (Science and Health, p. 248). A glance at the Concordance to Science and Health shows us where to find a number of deeply interesting and helpful references to this topic, all of which point away from the material to the spiritual. Close self-examination reveals the tendency of the human mind to cling to mortal and material concepts instead of laying hold upon the spiritual and perfect, and this explains the slow advance made by mankind in their efforts to escape from the bondage of material belief. The student of Christian Science who attempts to spiritualize matter, to his own sense or that of others, can find nothing in the teachings of Christian Science to support his views.

In one of Mrs. Eddy's classes, a student remarked that she always endeavored to have the perfect body in her thought when giving treatment. Mrs. Eddy at once asked where she found her authority for such a method. The student unhesitatingly responded that it was from Science and Health, and after a little search she triumphantly read the statement on page 407, "Let the perfect model be present in your thoughts," etc. Smiling, as one would at the mistake of a child, Mrs. Eddy then asked if she regarded the body as the "model" here referred to, and the student said she had so believed up to that moment. With the utmost patience Mrs. Eddy then explained to her students that we can only perceive the divine and perfect model as we are, to quote Paul, "absent from the body" and "present with the Lord."

Humanity has been slowly yielding up the belief in a corporeal God, but it still clings to the belief in a bodily model for man, while accepting the Scriptural statement that he is God's likeness. Its model is therefore that of the sculptor who studies the human anatomy, with some regard to the emotions, passions, and tendencies of the carnal or bodily mind. Strictly speaking, we can have but one model, God's perfect idea, with countless reflections, all governed by the one divine Principle. This does not, however, authorize us to say that there is only one eye, ear, or foot, for when we begin to talk of these we are getting away from the perfect, spiritual model. While it is true that mortals are at present dependent upon the body for the outward expression of their thought and activity, it is none the less true that the eye does not see, nor the ear hear, but that Mind and its idea alone compass seeing and hearing; and because this is true, our revered Leader bids us "look away from the body into Truth and Love, the Principle of all happiness, harmony, and immortality" (Science and Health, p 261). Thus we shall find perfect models, and "carve them out," not in bodily consciousness, but "in grand and noble lives" (p.248).

In substituting one's undeveloped or faulty concepts of Truth for the perfect ideas of Science, the student not only retards his own growth, but in pressing his views upon others he is apt to lead them even farther astray than he is himself, for the reason that it is very difficult to present metaphysical ideas through the medium of language. Before we decide any question of Science it is well to read in our text-book the various statements of the question involved and strive to apprehend them spiritually. There are a number of references to models, which may be said to correspond to the Bible phrasing of the pattern shown to Moses in the mount, a figure used by Paul more than once. To Timothy he explains how the Christ-idea was manifested by him in long-suffering, "for a pattern to them which should thereafter believe on him [Christ Jesus] to life everlasting." It is for this reason that we should, as our Leader bids us, keep ever before our gaze perfect models, and if we love our task the result will be health, happiness, and harmony.

Annie M. Knott
Christian Science Sentinel, January 10, 1914, p. 371

Spiritualizing Matter a Mistake
Why is it "a mistake to attempt to trace our likeness to God by taking the physical body, or its members, even as symbols of divine ideas"? Because it tends to "link" matter to the spiritual idea and thus apparently to spiritualize matter and organs. "The 'old man' must be 'put off,' not retained as a type of God's man, who is perfect because of his divine origin." Mrs. Eddy says: "Entirely separate from the belief and dream of material living, is the Life divine." (Science and Health, p. 14:25)

Mrs. Knott detects and clearly identifies the variant teaching and shows how it is to be corrected. The fact that the variant teaching has since become the official doctrine of the Boston headquarters was made evident from the lead article titled "How shall we think of our body" in the Centennial edition of The Christian Science Journal. This may be borne out by such statements as the following found in that article:

Every apparent cell, every nerve and tissue, every organ, gland, fiber, and muscle, every bone and joint, counterfeits an invisible spiritual idea. (The Christian Science Journal, Vol. 101, April 1983, p. 193)

This article from the 1983 Journal is evidence of a 180 degree change from Mrs. Eddy's standard of Christian Science to a doctrine "never taught by Mrs. Eddy" and which was officially exposed and "condemned" in 1913 and 1914. If this Centennial lead article is read in association with the two Editorials by Mrs. Knott, it is clear that they are distinctly opposite in substance.

The mazes of so-called mind-cure

"There were others ['early workers in this movement'] who failed to reach the spiritual ideals without which Christian Science cannot be understood, who lost their way in the mazes of so-called mind-cure, and who therefore ceased to be Christian Scientists. Happily there were those who pressed on, keeping close to the promise of Christ Jesus, 'He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.'"

Annie M. Knott
Christian Science Sentinel,
December 22, 1928, p. 323

The 1937 Normal Class
The effect of Mrs. Knott's appointment in 1919 to the Board of Directors (its first female member), and added to this the Supreme Court decision of 1921, was that during the 1920s the Directors appointed only personal students of Mrs. Eddy to teach the Normal classes. This was in keeping with the "regnant design" and demand of Mrs. Eddy. That no teacher with Kimball background taught Normal classes following the Supreme Court ruling shows that most of the Directors at that time understood that the variant teaching did not qualify under the terms of the ruling.

From 1917 to 1939, there was one Director on the Board who had taken Primary class under Mr. Kimball in the Board of Education, and in 1907, Normal class under Judge Hanna. This Board member, William R. Rathvon, C.S.B., favored Mr. Kimball's teaching over that of Mrs. Eddy's, taught by Judge Hanna. The following note was made from a conversation between Stanley Larkin and Ursula Pim, Secretary to the Hanna Association, at Laguna Beach, California, on July 22, 1962:

In 1922 Mr. Gale told a Hanna pupil in San Francisco (Mr. Hanson) that he (Gale) was teaching the Normal class that year and for him to apply to the Board of Education. He applied, but was not accepted. To find out why, he took the train to Boston and called on the Directors. Mr. Rathvon told him: "As long as I am on the Board no pupil of Judge Hanna's will ever be in the Normal class."

In 1931, Mr. Duncan Sinclair, an Associate Editor of the periodicals, was appointed to teach the Normal class. He was an adherent of the Kimball school, but not a personal student of Mr. Kimball.

When Mrs. Knott retired from the Board in January, 1934, the chief personal guardian or monitor of Mrs. Eddy's teaching was gone. With this Board change, the Directors who favored the Kimball teaching over Mrs. Eddy's, of which at that time there were three, took this opportunity to re-entrench their favored teaching into the Church's teaching system, and thereby shift the momentum of the 1920s away from Mrs. Eddy's school as quickly as possible.

The Kimball teaching in the 1930s reached a crescendo, starting with Mr. Sinclair, proceeding to the stronger presentation of Mr. Cook, and peaking with Mr. Young, the ultimate Kimball teacher. It was Young’s 1937 class that carried the Kimball school into the future. Together with the two preceding classes, this class in 1937 had the effect of annulling the work of Mrs. Knott, as well as breaching the Mrs. Eddy's trust deed. Mrs. Eddy's school had been so well established during the 1920s that it was impossible to inject the variant teaching except in this gradual way, overcoming the influence of Mrs. Eddy's teaching.

Dr. Charles S. Braden, in his book “Christian Science Today," (researched in the libraries of Kimball adherents) found it "surprising that he [Bicknell Young] was chosen for this important task" of teaching the 1937 Normal class, because Young was the most ardent of the Kimball students and was the one who best identified and presented the teaching. He had taken Primary class with Kimball in 1895, and Normal class with Kimball in 1901. Dr. Braden refers to him as “the most outstanding of Kimball students.” Mr. Young brought a copy of the book “Lectures and Articles on Christian Science” by Edward A. Kimball into the classroom and held it up for the class to see, recommending it for self-instruction. Dr. Braden refers to some of the events and pupil reaction in this class as disruptive:

Several members of the 1937 Normal class report that there was quite a stir among them when, at the opening session, it was discovered that Young was to be the teacher. One of them told me that two men, seated in front of her, voiced great disapproval of a teacher bearing the Kimball [stamp], and even some horror that Kimball's daughter, Edna, was present as a fellow student. Others have confirmed the report, and they add that in the field generally there was an adverse reaction. Rumors were circulated that the Normal class would have to be retaught, breaking all precedent. So insistent was the gossip that the Board was obliged to send out a letter to prevent further disruption. (p. 328)

The ensuing disruption and outcry from the pupils wanting Christian Science as taught by Mrs. Eddy was a last gasp for the adherents of her school, who now saw the Kimball school being entrenched again.

More About this Topic

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Appendix A
More information on the two schools of teaching.

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Appendix C
More information.

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