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Despite her view of the non-existence of evil, an important element of Christian Science theology is that evil thought, in the form of malicious animal magnetism, can cause harm, even if the harm is only apparent.Eddy viewed God not as a person but as "All-in-all".[and] acknowledge His Son, one Christ; the Holy Ghost or divine Comforter; and man in God's image and likeness." Christian Science theology differs in several respects from that of traditional Christianity.Eddy's Science and Health reinterprets key Christian concepts, including the Trinity, divinity of Jesus, atonement and resurrection; beginning with the 1883 edition, she added with a Key to the Scriptures to the title and included a glossary that redefined the Christian vocabulary.The process involves the Scientist engaging in a silent argument to affirm to herself the unreality of matter, something Christian Science practitioners will do for a fee, including in absentia, to address ill health or other problems.Wilson writes that Christian Science healing is "not curative ...Most significantly, she dismissed the material world as an illusion, rather than as merely subordinate to Mind, leading her to reject the use of medicine, or materia medica, and making Christian Science the most controversial of the metaphysical groups. According to the church's tenets, adherents accept "the inspired Word of the Bible as [their] sufficient guide to eternal Life ...
Eddy's idea of malicious animal magnetism marked another distinction (that people can be harmed by the bad thoughts of others), introducing an element of fear that was absent from the New Thought literature.
Parents and others were prosecuted for, and in a few cases convicted of, manslaughter or neglect.
In the latter half of the 19th century these included what came to be known as the metaphysical family: groups such as Christian Science, Divine Science, the Unity School of Christianity and (later) the United Church of Religious Science.
Adherents believed that material phenomena were the result of mental states, a view expressed as "life is consciousness" and "God is mind." The supreme cause was referred to as Divine Mind, Truth, God, Love, Life, Spirit, Principle or Father–Mother, reflecting elements of Plato, Hinduism, Berkeley, Hegel, Swedenborg and transcendentalism.
Medical practice was in its infancy, and patients regularly fared better without it.