Did Mary Baker Eddy write it? “Law of Reversal”

September 14, 2020

We are sometimes asked about a long document that begins “Extracts From a Letter written by Mrs. Eddy to one of her Students Sept. 25, 1896.” It includes a shorter section that is circulated separately, sometimes known as “Law of Reversal.” Are the statements in these texts authentic?

While Mary Baker Eddy was not the author of this document, we know more about it than many others attributed to her, because it was created during her lifetime. In fact, after receiving a copy she forwarded it to the Christian Science Board of Directors, with a note at the top, written in pencil: “I never wrote this in a letter or letters[.] It is compiled in part from my teachings[.] But there are some errors that I never taught.”1

Eddy also wrote two letters to the Directors regarding this document. She wrote the first on October 5, 1903, asking that the manuscript not be circulated further:

Letters to me enclose Mss. [manuscripts] that are headed “Extracts From a Letter written by Mrs. Eddy to one of her Students Sept. 25, 1896.”

This letter contained about 15 typed pages! I never write letters of that length and the whole thing was a compilation of my public writings, interspersed with an occasional bad mistake that lost the scientific statement of C. S. Warn those present against such dishonesty that must prevent truth, for truth and a lie do not have the same effect. I have not written to any student such a letter as the aforesaid.2

Initially Eddy wanted the Directors to make a statement to teachers of Christian Science that she had not written the manuscript. Two days later, she changed her mind in favor of a more general statement about spurious materials:

On due consideration I deem it wiser not to name what I wrote to you relative to the manuscript ascribed to me and circulated. It would create much feeling to hear my denial that I wrote it. The person who did write it will be present and she compiled most of it from what I have written and taught her. Were all of it scientific I might be led to think I had written it to her and forgotten it but it being otherwise I would name only this. Mrs. Eddy says there are papers in circulation which purport to be her writings but they contain some errors that she never wrote.3

On the back of the final page to this document, Eddy wrote, “Counterfeit MSS.” The Mary Baker Eddy Library has been unable to determine its author.

If you would like to request authentication of a document or statement attributed to Mary Baker Eddy, please feel free to contact us at [email protected].

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  1. Mary Baker Eddy, undated document, A10534.
  2. Eddy to the Christian Science Board of Directors, 5 October 1903, L00359.
  3. Eddy to the Board of Directors, 7 October 1903, L00360.