What is the Historical Background of No and Yes by Mary Baker Eddy?

February 7, 2014

No and Yes began as an article in the Journal of Christian Science (later renamed The Christian Science Journal) of March 7, 1885, titled “Defence of Christian Science.”1 The major impetus for the article was several attacks by clergymen who asserted that Christian Science was not Christian. Specifically, a letter by Rev. A. J. Gordon (pastor of the Clarendon Street Baptist Church) read by Rev. Joseph Cook at a lecture on February 23, 1885, at Tremont Temple in Boston, was the criticism to which Eddy was responding in “Defence.”

(She later defended her ideas in person at one of Cook’s lectures at Tremont Temple on March 16, 1885. Her speech can be found in the April 1885 issue of the Journal under the title “A Strong Reply” as well as on pages 95-98 in Miscellaneous Writings in a piece titled “Christian Science in Tremont Temple.”2 A fuller account can be found in the article “Mrs. Eddy’s Address at Tremont Temple—1885” by William Lyman Johnson in the June 1939 issue of the Journal.)3

“Defence” contained most of the questions that form the framework of No and Yes, and was soon issued as a pamphlet. In August 1887 “Defence” was expanded into a much longer work, Christian Science: No and Yes. The book is very similar to the No and Yes of today, with this exception: Eddy quickly eliminated the sections “The Mind-healing Quack” and “Animal Magnetism.” As author Robert Peel wrote: “In the first edition of No and Yes she pointed sharply to abuses in the practice of mental science and named names; in the second, the names disappeared; and in the third, the whole section on animal magnetism was dropped—all within a few months of the book’s first publication.”4  In January 1892 the work was first issued with the shortened title of No and Yes.

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  1. “Defence of Christian Science, Journal of Christian Science, March 7, 1885,  http://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/29zbk308iv8?s=t.
  2. Mary Baker Eddy, “A Strong Reply,” The Christian Science Journal, April 1885,  http://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/2ayrng6ba6k?s=t.
  3. William Lyman Johnson, “Mrs. Eddy’s Address at Tremont Temple—1885,” The Christian Science Journal, June 1939,  http://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/28zvg9asab0?s=t.
  4. Robert Peel, Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Trial, (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1977), 230.