Carol Murphy, “The Image That Heals,” Pastoral Psychology, Feb. 1971, 37-42.

From an unusual commentary by a Quaker urging more serious engagement by mainstream Christians with the “historic Christian mission” of healing:

“…Healing is a historic Christian mission often overshadowed by the glamor and prestige of modern medicine, but increasingly being rediscovered today. It has been emphasized to an extreme by the Christian Science movement, which has acquired much experience and done much thinking on the relation between healing and the image of God in man….

“The Christian Science position was arrived at by Mary Baker Eddy after years of neurotic and physical suffering, caused, perhaps, not so much by constitutional weakness as by abundant energies not sufficiently absorbed by a 19th Century woman’s conventional life. As in the case of that other unorthodox prophet, Sigmund Freud, she tried to understand her own neurosis, underwent a period of tutelage by a lesser mind (Quimby in her case, Fliess in Freud’s) and had to contend with jealousy and backbiting in the small flock of her followers.

“Her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, is a scandal to both skeptics and orthodox theologians. In the first place, its ideas fly in the face of secular common sense: they are a call to radical trust in another power than physical and mechanical forces as we know it, or think we know it. Secondly, a woman as religious prophet is hard for the man-dominated religious Establishment to take seriously….

“Our religion is predicated upon the supremacy of God, the power of love and the actuality of freedom; but most of us unconsciously assume the supremacy of mechanical determination and the helplessness of love. An either-or choice between these alternatives may seem too simplistic; yet our attempts to combine them often look very like fence-sitting….It may be that our growing knowledge itself will force us to a choice. The two diseases that mark our times – cancer and schizophrenia – are double-faced. Our researches track them back to the very blood and cell-structure of the body on one hand, or to the basic tendency of the personality, whose body it is, on the other. Why do our body-cells betray us? Only the wholeness of the person whose cells those are can answer this mystery.

“We may be grateful to Mrs. Eddy for sharpening the issue, and hope for further dialogue between such a challenging view and the more orthodox majority….”