Adapted from Watches Prayers and Arguments by Gilbert C. Carpenter

A formula is a superstitious belief in the efficacy of the repetition of mere words.  When Mrs. Eddy found students using the repetition of mere words without the spirit, she declared that they were chattering the letter of Science like mockingbirds.  She explained that the apathy, the lack of love and Christian vigor, came of seeking only the letter of Truth and stopping there, because it cost so much more to gain the spirit thereof.

Arguments in Science are like the match one uses to light the gas in the stove.  It is the gas that bakes the cake.  Arguments become a formula when one tries to heal by their means as if one tried to make the cake with the match.

In Science and Health page 454 we read “Remember that the letter and mental arguments are only human auxiliaries to aid in bringing thought into accord with the spirit of Truth and Love, which heals the sick and the sinning.”  She furnished the tools of scientific thought and work, but she told her students always to go to God for the wisdom to use these tools correctly, as well as for the love to put into them the unction necessary.

We seek God’s wisdom to direct us and God’s love to inspire us.  No student should apply mere words, statements or arguments mechanically without the spirit or directing wisdom of God or else we shall break the letter and the spirit of the By-law in the manual forbidding the use of formulas: article 8 sect. 9.