“Ministries of Healing: Mary Baker Eddy, Ellen G. White, and the Religion of Health,”
Numbers, Ronald N. and Rennie Schoepflin. “Ministries of Healing: Mary Baker Eddy, Ellen G. White, and the Religion of Health,” Pages 579–95 in Women and Health in America: Historical Readings. Edited by Judith Walzer Leavitt. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999.
Ronald Numbers and Rennie Schoepflin take up Mary Baker Eddy and Ellen White illustrating how similarities in their life experiences shaped their ministries. In a time when science and medicine were intent on removing religion from their midst, both these women “actively integrated physical and spiritual concerns” (579) in their theology and practice. Although Eddy would name her religion Christian Science, logically claiming that its principles, if studied, could be demonstrated with mathematical certainty, White’s claim to authority and divine inspiration was validated by her public visions with signs following. Yet their similarities are striking. These two contemporary women were semi-invalids in youth, experienced poverty in their early ministries, felt divinely chosen, defied orthodox theology and medicine, created movements focused on health and healing, were prolific writers, successfully “combine[d] pragmatism with dogmatism as the situation demanded” (592), and both “feared coming under the influence of unscrupulous mesmerists” (587). “Above all, Eddy and White sought control: over sin, sickness, and society” (592). Biographical sketches of their lives, ministries, organizational and evangelistic skills, illustrate their movements’ appeal to women, giving them careers in health care, and explain their churches’ exponential growth.