William W. Walter (1869-1941) is known today as “the founder of eschatology,” a movement based on the study of last things, such as the end of one’s life, the end of the world, and the resurrection after death. It takes a practical, scientific approach to the study of these and does not include any mysticism in its teachings.
Though it is known today as eschatology, Walter himself termed it “The Walter Method of Christian Science,” and the term “eschatology” was not used before the 1920s. Although it is now known as a religious movement, Walter believed it was entirely science-based and never mentioned religion in any of his writings. Though he believed that the Bible’s Book of Revelation mirrored his own work in a prophetic manner, he did not perceive himself as having any special missionary work from God. For Walter, his method was simply, as he called it, “the science of right thinking” and “the science of life.”
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Walter was born in the town of Sublette, Illinois on July 13, 1869. He was raised as a Catholic but often attended church services of other church denominations as a teenager. At seventeen years old, he left home and moved to Aurora, Illinois, returning to Sublette shortly after and purchasing a barber shop. He later moved back to Aurora and married his wife, Barbara Stenger, when he was twenty-one. The couple’s son was ill and disabled. Walter worked in an Aurora department store, a job he held for the remainder of his life. When his son was fourteen years old, Walter became involved in the Christian Science movement.
Officially founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879, the “Church of Christ, Scientist,” as it was then known, Christian Science is categorized as a “metaphysical” movement. Practitioners believe that reality is spiritual in nature, with the material world being an illusion. The movement has a strong emphasis on healing oneself through the mind and prayer. Indeed, Mary Eddy believed that prayer could cure all ills, and that illness was just an illusion of the mind, which could be corrected through proper though processes and prayer. For Eddy, Christian Science was a return to the primitive nature and lost art of healing that had characterized Christianity for centuries.
Walter, who was frequently depressed because of his son’s disability, was diagnosed with tuberculosis at the age of thirty. Though he had no formal education, over the course of several years, Walter studied Christian Science techniques for healing, including those written by Mary Eddy; he credited these with ultimately curing his tuberculosis. These techniques, which involve prayers being said for the sick person by a Christian Science healer (with the cooperation of the sick individual), were so inspiring that Walter himself became a Christian Science healing practitioner and tried to heal others. Christian Scientists are not opposed to doctors and medical intervention, and even Mary Eddy had her family vaccinated. Yet, the subject of Christian Science healing has been a controversial topic, from its beginning in the 1880s through to modern terms, due to several deaths of sick children whose parents took them only to Christian Science healers, not medical doctors. In general, Christian Scientists do not believe that medicine and prayer can effectively heal when used together, only when used individually. Thus, to lessen the controversy, Christian Science healers changed the nature of their prayer, so that it would be more effective when used in conjunction with medical therapies. Indeed, Walter, who had studied philosophy, Christian, and non-Christian teachings, believed that the correct application of his own method of “right thinking” and doing could cure all diseases, though it took him many years to find the most effective way to pray. The concept of healing through prayer alone remains the most controversial topic in Christian Science.
The Mother Church of Christian Science is located in Boston, Massachusetts, where Mary Eddy lived. The Christian Science “reading rooms,” as they are known, were first opened there in 1888 to make Eddy’s publications available to the public. The Christian Science movement currently maintains nearly 1,200 reading rooms throughout the world. Regular personal reading and study of the Bible and other texts, along with attendance at group study classes, is strongly advocated for followers of the Christian Science movement, and this is something that Walter did himself and encouraged others to do. In fact, for many years, he taught courses at his own home.
As Walter stated in his pamphlet, “Our Plan,” his “method of right-thinking,” simply referred to as “the Walter method,” was a clear and practical application of Mary Eddy’s mental healing principles, augmented by an understanding of life’s unfolding and study of the last things. For Walter, his particular method of Christian Science was closely linked to the science of mathematics, and he frequently used this analogy to explain his teachings to new followers. Mathematics takes study and practice, which give students a solid foundation. Similarly, the Science of Life can be studied and practiced in daily living, and with deeper study, one can learn to correct their incorrect thought patterns, which gives them a feeling of control and peace. Walter’s eschatology teaches that an individual is responsible for his or her own well being, happiness, and salvation, and that he or she can achieve healing, health, and happiness through specific methods of prayer.
Walter wrote numerous books and small pamphlets outlining his teachings. Yet, for the most part, even today, they are not widely known and not often advertised. This is intentional, as Walter himself did not publicize eschatology or speak often of his writings. He did not want anyone to be persuaded by others to study his teachings. Rather, he wanted people to seek out his teachings motivated solely by their own desire to learn, as he knew that only those individuals would give eschatology the dedication necessary to learn it.
Walter’s first publications were written between 1907 and 1910 for his clients, including some who were not Christian Science practitioners. In them, Walter discussed the topic of mental healing in a straightforward manner. To clearly explain his beliefs and allow people to form a personal connection with them, these works were cleverly crafted as a trilogy of novels, featuring a variety of fictional characters. The first of these novels, entitled “The Pastor’s Son,” tells the story of the enlightenment of a young pastor’s son, as he discovers the metaphysical “truth of Being.” It also details how the pastor himself, initially hesitant, eventually comes to believe in these truths himself. The book mirrors Walter’s own journey toward eschatology and Christian Science principles, from his initial struggles through to his acceptance of the truths and his sharing of these with others. The sequel to “The Pastor’s Son,” published in 1908, was “The Doctor’s Daughter.” This novel asserts that healing comes through prayer and following the Walter method of right-thinking, rather than through medicine. As in the previous novel, the younger character, the doctor’s daughter, is the one who is open to this idea, with the doctor being reluctant to embrace it. Again, as with the pastor, the doctor eventually converts and accepts that prayer is the real healer. The final novel in this series, “The Arbiter of Your Fate,” was published in 1911. It is more practical than the other two books in the series, and teaches that each one of us is the arbiter of our own fate. It states that there is no “personal God”who governs the fate of all mankind, but that there is a universal power for good, which one can use to gain personal salvation, health, happiness, and peace.
Walter’s next book, published in 1910, was titled “Five Years in Christian Science.” It was a summary various case studies in which formerly sick individuals had been healed by the application of Walter’s methods. Also in 1910, Walter published his work, The Christ Way, under a pseudonym, and he later published it using his real name. Controversially, it presented Christian Science topics without mentioning Mary Eddy. As such, it was rejected by most church members, though it was accepted by those outside the church.
“The Sower, The Seed, The Soil” was published in 1912. It takes the form of a short story with fictional characters, used to explain the parable of the sower in a metaphysical sense. It explains why some people are healed and some are not. In 1913, Walter published another novel, The Healing of Pierpoint Whitney, using characters to explain the principles of self-healing in an accessible manner. 1914 saw the publication of Walter’s first volume of “The Unknown God,” in which he explained the gospels of Matthew and Mark from a metaphysical perspective, stating that Christ’s “miracles” were actually the natural results of correct application of the “Science of Life.” “The Unknown God” was completed in 1921 with the publication of Volume II, which explained the gospels of Luke and John, again from a metaphysical perspective. In this volume, he emphasized that the truths of life are to be found in the mind, not in the body; that is, in the mental, rather than the physical, and he asserts that this metaphysical nature is the central idea that Christ sought to teach, above all else.
After completing the first volume of “The Unknown God” in 1914, Walter’s next major work was his novel, “The Sweetest Story Ever Told,” published in 1916. It traces the life of Christ, from his birth and his ministry to his disciples, through his crucifixion and death, culminating in the Resurrection. Walter relates that Christ gave us “positive proof of a hereafter,” and that life is not dependent on the body, but on the spirit.
In the years 1916 through 1925, Walter published a series of twelve informational pamphlets, entitled “Plain Talk,” which he used for teaching purposes in Christian Science classes he taught at his home during that period and in later life. These explained proper, practical applications for Eddy’s metaphysical principles and were most often used in beginner’s classes. They covered issues such as fear, joy, work, rest, harmony, business, thinking, and mental practice. Walter’s “Common Sense” pamphlet series was written between 1925 and 1940. It contained over thirty booklets and was designed for more advanced practitioners. It covered advanced topics, such as the metaphysical nature of the Bible and the Creator, how to achieve healing, the true purpose of life, and thoughts on life after death.
Though pamphlets dominated Walter’s written works from the late 1910s through the early 1930s, he wrote a few significant longer works in this period. As with his pamphlets, most of these longer works were also instructional in nature. His 1918 book, “The Sickle,” has become a standard textbook for the Walter method of Christian Science. It seeks to instruct the reader in how to reconcile the difference between human belief and common sense, arriving at a deeper understanding of the truth. It was followed by the next textbook in the series, “The Primary Notes,” published in 1919; this book discusses the nature of mental harmony.
The trilogy of textbooks concludes with “The Sharp Sickle,” published in 1928. This culminating book is 568 pages and is intended to be used as an enrichment method, building on and increasing the student’s metaphysical understanding of earlier topics, such as the universe, the meaning of life, and the individual, so that one may arrive at a comprehensive understanding of all of these.
In his 1921 book, “The Unfoldment,” Walter outlines the differences between the Church Scientist approach and his own method.
It emphasizes that the Walter method is a continuation of church science, adding in the understanding of the last things and illustrating how this understanding alters the unfolding of one’s life for the better, making it more in line with Christ. “The Allness of Good,” published in 1924, was a sixty-three page book that Walter described as “an ever-present companion” that one could refer to in times of doubt. It details how to rid one’s life of evil through focusing on the positive nature of right-thinking and correcting one’s thought patterns accordingly.
Although Walter stated that it was impossible to be a leader without followers, he himself was the sole leader of eschatology for the duration of his life. In 1941, he died suddenly at his home in St. Petersburg, Florida, at the age of seventy-two. Though the issue of self-healing through prayer continues to be controversial, and Christian Science has been likened to a cult (as many other movements have) Walter’s prolific writings have enriched and changed the lives of many for the better.
As with all religious groups there has been criticism of Christian Science as well as The Walter Method, The Journal of the American Medical Association (22 September 1989) reported on a study of more than 5.5 thousand Christian Scientists as compared to a lay group of almost 30 thousand. The death rate among Christian scientists from cancer double the national average, and 6 percent of them died from causes considered preventable by doctors. The non-“Scientists” on the average lived four years longer if they were women and two longer if they were men (male Christian Scientists are more likely to seek medical help than female believers). For critics this study is relevant to Eschatologists as well. For example, on May 2001 Juan del Río, founder of a school based on Eschatology teachings in Mexico City and author of Sánate a ti mismo (How to heal yourself) died of cancer after a four-year battle with the disease. Eschatologists counter that not every practitioner correctly applies the techniques, and claim that a school “based on Eschatology teachings” or Christian Science as it stands today is not Eschatology as taught by William Walter.
Several reasons, first of all the work of William Walter is an excellent addition to any metaphysical library and contains some very useful information in relation to Christian Science and parallel paths of healing. Secondly, several of his books have been intentionally suppressed for over 4 decades from the general public. When “The Sickle” was first published in 1918 it was indeed a work before its time, but since almost 100 years has past it is no longer the seminal work they believe it to be. With the works of DeWaters, Goldsmith, Fricker, Aikens, Canon and many others it is a solid addition to a library, but no means is it the esoteric work of 100 years ago.
It is quite evident that the organization that is run in Mexico is more of a political / business organization then a healing foundation by the fact that the past President did not possess the abilities that they proselytize. Juan del Río, founder of a school based on Eschatology teachings in Mexico City and author of Sánate a ti mismo (How to heal yourself) died of cancer after a four-year battle with the disease. It is unfortunate that he could not heal himself with his understanding and with access to the close inner circle around him,so there are certainly justifiable doubts about the efficacy of the teachings. This does not detract from the validity of Walters teachings, it’s merely an indication that the most qualified do not necessarily rise to the top of the corporate structure.
We will place information and free audios of his work as they become available to us to give you an informed understanding of his works and those of Christian Science. As I said, the work is valuable and your time will be well spent by studying The Sickle & The Sharp Sickle but as far as joining or following any organizations, just follow the admonition of the master healer Jesus.
You Will Know Them by Their Fruits: Matthew 7:15-20
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
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