Total Pageviews

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Clifford Smith's writing: engaging, insightful, convincing

There are 15 authorised biographies of the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, currently available from The Christian Science Publishing Society. You can see the complete list at a glance on the "Who was Mary Baker Eddy" tab at This beautiful website is a project of the Christian Science churches, groups and societies in Queensland. The page about Mary Baker Eddy captures information from reliable sources, such as the Mary Baker Eddy Library and

This month's book comes from that collection of fifteen biographies. Its title is quite long: Historical Sketches from the life of Mary Baker Eddy and the History of Christian Science. But don't let that put you off. It's an easy read. I was surprised that I couldn't find a copy of this book on my bookshelf, and was very glad to find a copy at our Reading Room. I've been reading a chapter each night before bed and I'm just about to begin chapter 7. I'm enjoying it immensely. Its author is Clifford P. Smith, CSB. 

Judge Clifford P. Smith's style is appealing, engaging, succinct, straightforward, and flows easily. He also writes with authority about his subject. It is a very refreshing read and thoroughly convincing in its logic.

The Longyear Foundation article about Smith notes that, as an early pioneer of Christian Science, "One of his early services to the Christian Science movement was to define and preserve the legal rights of Christian Scientists to heal by prayer." He was especially suited to this work because of his legal training and profession as a judge.  

I quote in full an example of Smith's ability to lay out his subject with clarity and precision. This is a copy of a newspaper article reprinted in the Christian Science Sentinel October 27, 1917:

The third attack on Christian Science by a certain reverend...

Judge Clifford P. Smith

Virginia (Minn.) Enterprise

The third attack on Christian Science by a certain reverend gentleman, which the Enterprise has printed, again illustrates the fact that people who try to convince others that Christian Science is something bad, continually find themselves relying on misrepresentations. The reason is this: Christian Science is good; it is good in what it teaches and in what it does for its adherents; therefore the choice of material for opposition is very limited.

In this situation, one of the consequences of opposition is that the admissions or concessions made by one opponent refute what is said by another. For instance, here is the reverend gentleman trying to convince the people of Virginia that Christian Science is against the Bible and against prayer. On the other hand, at Alliance, Ohio, not long ago, when a preacher and editor spoke to the representatives of fifteen churches or denominations on how to stop the inroads of Christian Science, he said: "There are many things the church might learn from Christian Science, including greater loyalty to the Bible, more faithful testimony to the power and grace of Jesus Christ, the value and privilege of prayer, and last but not least, the potency of a holy life."

Acceptance of the Bible is the first tenet of Christian Science. Moreover, a Christian Scientist keeps his Bible in active use. It is neither covered with dust in a forgotten drawer nor kept on a parlor table as an ornament. It is needed every day for the study of prepared lessons on which, as Mrs. Eddy has said, "the prosperity of Christian Science largely depends" (Church Manual, Art. III., Sect. 1). The Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mrs. Eddy, is read at the same time because the light which it throws on the Scriptures justifies its name and has opened the Bible to unnumbered thousands of people for whom the Bible had been closed. With Christian Scientists this textbook does not take the place of the Bible; in connection with the Bible it takes the place occupied, or at least sought, by sermons in other churches.

I feel so glad to be getting to know this author and his subject better. Will you join me?

Julie Swannell

No comments:

Popular Posts