Christian Science: A Science for Everyday Living
Arch Bailey, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The birth of Christianity, the
outgrowth of the life and works of Christ Jesus, was cradled in everyday life.
His words and works touched the lives of mankind in the fields and vineyards,
along the Judean roadside, with the shepherd and his flock, with the rugged
fishermen along the shores of
Recently I was studying Jesus' teaching and healing ministry from the standpoint of its practical application to everyday needs. I glanced through the King James Version of the New Testament and found these Chapter headings: "Jesus cleaneth the lepers," "stilleth the tempest," "healeth the blind and dumb," feedeth the five thousand," "restoreth sight." I was immediately impressed by the practical application of his ministry.
Comforter in This Age
For about three centuries after Jesus, this spiritual activity was expressed by the early Christians with signs following. His followers continued in the demonstration of his word, and this made them free. Eventually, however, the spiritual significance of Christianity - the vital breath of divine Love - as lived by Jesus and his followers was obscured by paraphernalia and dogma, and men again returned to formal worship. But had Jesus not promised his disciples, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth" (John ,17)? In the nineteenth century this promise was kept when the God-inspired revelation of Christian Science came to this age through Mary Baker Eddy.
Mrs. Eddy was raised by God-loving parents in an age of expanding spiritual thought, but she was not content in accepting certain fundamental religious teachings. For many years she sought diligently the answer to healing as Jesus had accomplished it, through spiritual means alone. She was divinely led to find this answer for herself when she was pronounced dying from the effects of an accident. Mrs. Eddy glimpsed in this extremity the practical import and availability of Jesus' healings. She sought out and found, in the ensuing years, the divine Principle and rule with which all mankind may now repeat the ancient healings.
Christian Scientists revere and love Mary Baker Eddy. They acknowledge and appreciate the great purity which enabled her to become the revelator of Christian Science. She not only founded the Christian Science movement but is the acknowledged Leader in this modern crusade against all that would turn us from Spirit and exalt matter.
When Jesus heard the words of his Father, "This is my beloved Son" (Matt. ), he had no temptation to accept complacently this great truth of being for himself alone. He immediately began his ministry of sharing it with others. Like Jesus, Mrs. Eddy, when she discovered Christian Science in this age, harbored no temptation to treasure the pearl of great price for herself alone. She immediately wanted to share it with all mankind. These are her words from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "The lame, the deaf, the dumb, the blind, the sick, the sensual, the sinner, I wished to save from the slavery of their own beliefs and from the educational systems of the Pharaohs, who today, as of yore, hold the children of Israel in bondage" (p. 226).
Authority Derived from Bible
It is sometimes said that Christian Scientists do not revere the Holy Bible; that they have a Bible of their own written by Mrs. Eddy. This, of course, is a misunderstanding, because Mrs. Eddy states clearly that the Bible was her sole teacher and her only textbook. She loved and cherished the Holy Bible from early childhood. She had no intention of writing another Bible or of adding to or taking from the inspired Word of God. With unequaled insight she discerned the spiritual sense of the Scriptures and saw the contradictions of a literal reading. These contradictions were harmonized through inspired interpretation, and in the mighty words and acts of Christ Jesus she discerned the fundamental truths of Christian Science. Each Christian Scientist who obediently follows his Leader's instruction studies the King James Version of the Bible daily. In the Christian Science textbook the following statement is given as the first tenet of this Science: "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life" (p. 497).
Enlarging Our Concept of God
When Mrs. Eddy sought the answer to the questions, "What is Deity? What is Truth?" she found it clearly implied in the Bible that God is Spirit, Life, Truth, Love. The ages possessed these synonyms, but had only faintly glimpsed their true significance. Despite such clear statements in the Bible as "God is love" (I John ) and "God is a Spirit" (John ), men have clung to a corporeal, personal sense of Deity. Students have sometimes found it easier to believe in such a sense of God than to gain an understanding of Him. If this temptation is followed, the student will gain no satisfactory understanding of God. One's sense of Deity may dawn in faith, but it must progressively glow full-orbed in spiritual understanding. Mrs. Eddy writes, "Material sense does not unfold the facts of existence" (Science and Health, p. 95). She also says that through spiritual sense you can discern the heart of divinity. So we pursue the search for divinity through the spiritual sense which we understand to be an inherent endowment of man, as the image and likeness of God. With clear spiritual perception Mrs. Eddy wrote in the textbook, "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love" (p. 465). As we turn the lens of spiritual sense on this definition in our search for the heart of divinity let us study first the four words incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite, and then the seven nouns Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life Truth, Love.
God is incorporeal. That is, He has no bodily structure; He is not somatic. This use of the adjective incorporeal was revolutionary, for the belief of an anthropomorphic Deity had held the thought of mankind for centuries. God is supreme. This word clearly denotes absence of superiors. It precludes equals. It denotes the highest rank of power, peerless and incomparable. It is generally conceded that God is divine, but we are not always consistent in our acknowledgment of this fact. Deity is accused of indulging in anger or retaliation toward His creation and of withholding good. These human characteristics are impossible in the light of His divinity.
Mrs. Eddy has included all these adjectives in the climactic use of the word infinite. For God to be infinite He would necessarily be incorporeal, for corporeality is finite. To be divine He would be infinite, for divinity is God. His supremacy would be included in the infinite, for infinity precludes any exterior determining power. This word infinite includes all meanings and terminates argument. The ages will ponder this great fact of infinity until it dawns upon consciousness that any seeming unlikeness of infinite good, Spirit, is no thing, no entity, no place nor power. This infinity of good becomes real to spiritual sense, and it will eventually be demonstrated in human experience through scientific right thinking. And the kingdom of heaven, divine reality, will appear.
But these adjectives are only the qualifying words used to point up the seven synonymous nouns Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life Truth, Love. Although these words, as used in Christian Science, are the same in meaning, they are specific in function and express the character, essence, and perfection of the Supreme Being. In considering the sun we are fully aware of it through its light. Our only knowledge of the sun is from what we know of its reflected qualities. We know its essence deductively from its reflection. It manifests light, and we rightly deduct that its nature must be light. And just so the divine nature is understood by us through the quality of its manifestation. Mind is manifested in awareness, discernment, wisdom, perception, comprehension. Soul is manifested in beauty of holiness, nobility, grace, symmetry, satisfaction, completeness. God as Spirit is manifested in integrity, soundness, substance. As Principle, God is manifested in government, law, rule, control, intelligent activity, orderly unfoldment of good. As Life and Truth, He is manifested in ageless indestructible Being and the infinity of good, reality. Love is manifested in God's will enforcing the eternal purpose of good. And so as we expand the meaning of these seven synonyms for God in our consciousness we grow in the understanding of true being.
Right Identification Heals
Just as Mrs. Eddy's spiritual perception of the Scriptural account of creation refutes the age-old belief of God as a corporeal Deity, so it refutes the belief that man is a corporeal personality. The image and likeness of Spirit cannot be material. It is stated in the textbook, "Man is the expression of God's being" (p. 470). Now the expression of Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love could not possibly be a mortal, material, animal personality governed by material laws and animal instincts. Man is an immortal, spiritual, individual identity, reflecting the innumerable qualities of his divine Principle. With the spiritual understanding of the true nature of man as God's reflection comes an enlarged appreciation of his true selfhood. He reflects in quality the wholeness of God. This is the correct view of man which heals the sick today as it did centuries ago in Jesus' time.
In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy writes, "The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same Principle, or Father; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother's need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another's good" (p. 518). This gospel of brotherly love is Christian Science active in everyday life. I once knew a man who was enjoying a successful career as a singer and teacher, but despite this he felt defeated in spirit and purpose. He was obsessed with human will. He was also in bondage to tobacco and alcohol. Reliance upon them for stimulation had brought him to the point of nervous exhaustion with its corresponding depression, self-condemnation, and devastating fears. A Christian Scientist who knew of this man's desire to be liberated from this confusion told him that a certain branch Church of Christ, Scientist, in the city in which he was living, was holding auditions for soloist. The singer was then employed as a soloist by one of the large orthodox churches of the city, and there seemed no reason why he should change positions. However, he soon found himself auditioning for the music committee of that Christian Science church.
At the conclusion of the audition a member of the committee said, "You might be the next soloist of our church." Another committee member questioned, ''Of course you do not use tobacco or alcohol?" At that very moment the singer had a pocket full of cigars, and with absolute frankness he replied that he indulged in both tobacco and alcohol. At this the member replied, "Then, of course, you will not be our next soloist." The finality of this remark, however, was rebuked by the prompt and loving observation of the first member, who said: "Let us not be too sure about that. Why not wait a few days and pray about it?" The singer was healed instantaneously of the false appetite and has not desired either tobacco or alcohol since. In a month this man was soloist of that Church and later had his first church membership there.
Christ Jesus said, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John ). Surely such loving understanding is Christian Science at work. Not only was the man healed of the use of tobacco and alcohol, but he soon learned the meaning of Mrs. Eddy's statement, "Christian Science silences human will, quiets fear with Truth and Love, and illustrates the unlabored motion of the divine energy in healing the sick" (Science and Health, p. 445). With this understanding of the truth came the healing of the nervous condition with its undesirable symptoms.
To Love Is to Understand
Jesus said: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these" (Mark ,31).
To love God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind means that we must understand Him with an undivided devotion and loyalty. We must have no divided allegiance between Spirit and matter, between good and evil, Truth and error, Love and selfishness. Mrs. Eddy has said, "We lose the high signification of omnipotence, when after admitting that God, or good, is omnipresent and has all-power, we still believe there is another power, named EVIL" (Science and Health, p. 469). Any house-divided-against-itself attitude of thought cannot stand.
The fallacy of this way of thinking is illustrated in the plus and minus quantities of mathematics. If I have a plus five and a minus six, it is plain that I have nothing. Or, rather, I have a minus one which is less than nothing. However, if I have a plus quantity of twenty and a minus quantity of five, it is plain that I have a plus fifteen; I am on the positive side. A predominant minus destroys a plus, and a predominant plus destroys a minus.
If we affirm that God is good and is all, and later allow thinking to fall to the level of belief in another power, consciousness is divided and healing does not readily appear. We must hold thought steadfastly to the good, to spiritual reality, to the perfection of God and man. Only plus or positive spiritual thinking wins the victory in Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy has stated this point with unequaled imagery where she says: "The bird whose right wing flutters to soar, while the left beats its way downward, falls to the earth. Both wings must be plumed for rarefied atmospheres and upward flight" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 267).
Principle and Rule
It may be said that the principle of mathematics is adequate to the solution of every mathematical problem. This does not mean that each individual has solved all mathematical problems. The individual must gain an understanding of the principle of mathematics. Then through right thinking, in obedience to the rules, he will see the solution made manifest. Likewise it can be said that every human problem is already solved in divine Mind, the eternal Principle of being. That is, God, the Principle of being, is adequate to the solution of every human problem. But in the Science of being, as in mathematics, these problems must be solved through individual integrity of thought held to the rules of divine Science. This application of Truth to human needs is practice or prayer, and it is the way of progressive salvation.
On page 111 of the textbook its author has written, "The Principle of divine metaphysics is God; the practice of divine metaphysics is the utilization of the power of Truth over error. Its rules demonstrate its Science." This does not mean that two antagonistic powers, Truth and error, have been put into perpetual warfare. A close study of this passage will show that there are not two real powers at war with each other. It is not stated that the practice of Christian Science is the utilization of the power of Truth over the power of error. The passage reads specifically, "the power of Truth over error," hereby attributing power to Truth, but withholding it from error. "Therefore," says Mrs. Eddy, "we accept the conclusion that discords have only a fabulous existence, are mortal beliefs which divine Truth and Love destroy" (Science and Health, p. 231).
Shadowy Nature of Evil
In Mrs. Eddy's writings the words illusive and illusion are used by the author over one hundred times to indicate the unreal nature of evil. She also uses in this light such words as phantoms, dreams, and hallucinations. An illusion never partakes in any way of reality. It is a perversion of thought about something. It has no entity, no place, no power. In approaching any so-called problem of error in the practice of Christian Science, we must take firm hold of the fact that we are never trying to get rid of something real or actual. If the problems called sin, disease, and death were actual or real, they would be of God, and it would be wrong to undertake to destroy them. This is clearly stated in the textbook: "Error is unreal because untrue. It is that which seemeth to be and is not" (p. 472).
The chimerical claims of evil to reality are shadowy lies which can do no more to mankind than belief allows. I recently read about a unique and interesting method of fishing practiced by the people in some southern islands. The natives launch two boats from the shore and anchor them several hundred feet apart. Between these boats they extend a rope which is strung with wooden floats several inches apart. When the sun is at just the right height, each float casts a long shadow into the water. These shadows appear to the undersea life to be a series of bars. When the boats move toward the shore, the fish, believing that the bars enclose them, move ahead until they are easily taken in nets near the shore. They are caught, needlessly, because they believe the shadows to be real.
The great spiritual fact that Mind is God, that He is infinite and eternal, having no unlikeness, this eternal Truth enables the student to break the mesmerism of fear based upon belief that evil is real.
In dark and hidden places
There shines the blessed light;
The beam of Truth displaces
The darkness of the night.
(Christian Science Hymnal, No. 2)
No Duality in Mind
Christian Science teaches that there is one Mind, one divine intelligent Principle, named God. This Mind is expressed by innumerable spiritual ideas and their identities which comprise the universe and man. This Mind is understood to be "I AM THAT I AM" (Ex. 3:l4). It is the one forever continuing, indestructible Being. The so-called mortal mind appears to the senses as a contradiction to this oneness of Mind. This seeming contradiction Christian Science proves to be an illusion, no mind, no intelligence, no principle.
A simple illustration will help us to see that there is only one Mind, perfect and complete within itself, although it appears to the senses otherwise. Let us imagine two circles. Within one circle we have all the correct equations possible in mathematics. That is: two and two equals four; four and four equals eight; eight and eight equals sixteen. In this circle of correct equations we have the complete statement of mathematics. Now in the other circle we have every incorrect statement of mathematical equation possible. That is: two and two equals five; five and five equals seven, and every erroneous statement possible.
At a glance someone might think that both circles contain mathematical equations, but a closer study will show that one contains such mathematical equations and the other contains none at all, only misconceptions about mathematics. Perhaps the most striking part of this example is, that within the circle of errors there is nothing by which any of the errors could be corrected or solved. Do you not see the analogy between the divine Mind and so-called mortal mind, and these two circles? Divine Mind contains every true statement of Being. Christian Science shows that the opposite of real Life or Mind is no mind, no intelligence. It is a circle of suppositional, conceptional, misstatements of Being. Furthermore this circle of errors has no solution within itself for its own errors. The blind cannot lead the blind. Conversely it shows that all Truth, and the solution for every mortal problem, is in the divine Mind, the one perfect and only Mind.
Application of Healing Principle
So we see that the solution to any problem can never be found within the problem. In spite of this fact, there is a tendency for people, in their state of mesmerism, to allow thought to dwell predominately on the problem. This has a tendency to enlarge one's belief in the reality of the error and so increase fear. This is overcome only through a clear realization that all is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation without an unlikeness. Mrs. Eddy tells us in Science and Health to look away from the body (problem) into Truth and Love (supreme Mind). (See Science and Health, p. 261) Whenever we realize the oneness and allness of Mind and sustain this realization, this spiritual light of divine Truth will so illumine consciousness as to cause the problem to vanish like smoke in a summer sky.
Several years ago a Christian Science practitioner was called to a home where a young man was confined to his bed with a very painful physical condition. Because there was evidence that the disease might be contagious a physician was called, and his diagnosis was that the boy had poliomyelitis. The physician said he was required to report the case immediately to the health authorities and that the patient would have to submit to segregation. The boy promptly stated that he did not want medical treatment, that he and his mother had always relied on God, and that it was his intention to do so now. The mother stood firmly with the son in this decision.
After the physician had left the house the mother, son, and the practitioner discussed the situation in the light of Christian Science. It was clearly established that the diagnosis, the predictions, and the warnings of materia medica would not be accepted as having any bearing on the case. They recalled that Mrs. Eddy had written that "Jesus restored Lazarus by the understanding that Lazarus had never died, not by an admission that his body had died and then lived again" (Science and Health, p. 75). It was decided that they would approach the present mortal belief not from the standpoint of the medical diagnosis, but from the basis of truth of the one infinite, divine Mind and His image and likeness, without an unlikeness. This did not mean that the error was left undenied; rather the understanding that infinite Mind has no unlikeness was all that was necessary to prove the illusive claim of an unlikeness to just that - an unfounded claim. The mother and the practitioner maintained these spiritual facts while the boy was in quarantine in the hospital. He refused all medical aid, and at the end of five days it was admitted that the boy's condition was improved. This improvement continued, and in eighteen days, without fulfilling the predictions of the medical profession, the boy walked out of the hospital without aid.
In two months the boy made application for enlistment in the Navy and was accepted after a thorough examination. He was told that no trace of such a diseased condition could be found. He served three years in the Navy and now holds a good position in the business world.
As Mrs. Eddy's discovery of Christian Science clarifies the popular concept of Deity and of man, so it has clarified theological beliefs about Christ Jesus and salvation. For centuries theology had made little distinction between the human Jesus and his divine nature, the Christ. It had used the belief of a deified Jesus as the medium for attaining salvation through vicarious sacrifice. This view of sonship and salvation through sacrifice became so shadowy in explanation as to be practically impossible to understand. The layman was expected in some instances to accept the statement of this theology without questioning. Christian Science shows that the words Christ and Jesus are not synonymous. It shows that Jesus was the divinely appointed representative of the Christ, Truth, without beginning of years or end of days. Christ is the transforming power of Spirit destroying all error. The textbook defines "salvation" as "Life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; sin, sickness, and death destroyed" (p. 593).
So we see that until every erroneous illusion of mortal belief yields to the present and forever perfection of good and all claims of matter and sense are forever silenced, the Christ, Truth, will be overturning, healing, and saving in human consciousness, in fulfillment of the eternal purpose of Love.
In her book "The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany" (p. 238) Mrs. Eddy has written, "God is understandable, knowable, and applicable to every human need." Let us consider briefly two ways in which this great Principle of supreme good can be applied - in the home and in our thought about government.
Mrs. Eddy says, "Home is the dearest spot on earth, and it should be the centre, though not the boundary, of the affections" (Science and Health, p. 58). In a book of synonyms the only words given for home are: domicile, abode, residence, house, dwelling, habitation. Each of these words would hold home within the restrictions of matter. I am sure that our sense of home would transcend such a definition. Home is in fact a complete spiritual idea, reflecting all the qualities of divine Love. It appears individually to us as protection, security, companionship, unselfishness, moral strength, obedience, stability, harmony, joy, peace, and so on. When we entertain these qualities and express them, then we are home lovers and home owners. Home, being a spiritual idea, must rise from and rest upon Principle.
One of the qualities inherent in and necessary to home is obedience, which implies discipline. Discipline in Christian Science is never the domination of one human mind over another. Man, being the reflection of God or good, reflects the good government of God, divine Principle. When man understands his relationship to God, divine Love, and is obedient to this understanding, he is properly disciplined. This does not mean that Christian Scientists do not discipline their children. In the early and formative periods of childhood it is the duty of parents to wisely guide these tender thoughts until they are firmly established through self-discipline as Mind's reflection.
I know of a Christian Science home where the discipline of two children devolved wholly upon a young mother, and her approach to this problem was so effective that I would like to tell you about it. It was simple, scientific, and successful, as the lives of these children show in their maturity. Confronted by a problem of discipline this mother prayed for guidance and was led to place the Manual of The Mother Church by Mrs. Eddy on the breakfast table. When a problem of personal relationship came up for discussion, the mother referred to and read aloud "A Rule for Motives and Acts" which reads in part, "In Science, divine Love alone governs man" (p. 40). This so beautifully handled the problem that it became a daily custom for the Manual to be before these children as they left for school. Thus they were taught to govern by God. This early training has continued with them in their adult experience, and one of them is now carrying on a successful real estate business, in a large western city, on the basis of his early teaching in Christian Science.
Those who understand that God is working His purpose out as year succeeds to year will not be dismayed today by the overturning of the false concepts of world government. It would be frightening, indeed, as we look out upon world conditions, if we were not assured by the revelation of Christian Science that the sense testimony is never the scientific fact. All progress indicates moving from one state or condition to a better one, and this progressive movement sometimes appears as retrogression. But this state of change is never hopeless. It is always moving forward just as a modulation or change of key in music is always leading to some new expression. We know that the eternal purpose of divine intelligence includes the solution to this problem of world government, and we know that mankind's awakening to the great fact of present perfection is inevitable. Let us be willing, as the textbook states to "wait patiently for divine Love to move upon the waters of mortal mind, and form the perfect concept" (p. 454). This does not mean that the Christian Scientist has his head in the clouds. Rather he is alert to his present responsibility to intelligently apply his understanding of Science to the everyday problems of government. And particularly is he aware of his individual responsibility to reflect those qualities of Love which will bring increased harmony between himself and his fellowman. He is always striving to eliminate from his consciousness all that is small, selfish, or covetous, all prejudice or pride. He is endeavoring to attain a full demonstration of the second commandment, to love his neighbor as himself. He is consciously and joyously striving to do unto others as he would have them do unto him. He cherishes his democratic rights in a free government and exercises his right of franchise intelligently, in the everyday affairs of his community and his world.
In these days when the threat of atomic extinction is so widely discussed and it is said that atomic energy is the greatest power in the world, we should be sure that we are rightly evaluating the power of divine Love. Because God is both omnipotence and Love we begin to understand the power of divine Love. The human, finite sense of love so belittles the diviner meaning of this word that we may not have allowed it to unfold into its native strength and activity. Love is more than a mood of contemplation. It is divine activity expressed throughout God's universe and appearing in human consciousness as the transforming power of Spirit. Destructive atomic energy is but the counterfeit of divine Love. Seventy five years ago Mrs. Eddy defined the material atom. She spoke of it as "an outlined falsity of consciousness, which can gather additional evidence of consciousness and life only as it adds lie to lie" (Unity of Good, p. 35). This definition of the atom immediately puts it in the realm of the illusive unreal.
Someone might say, "But where would Christian Scientists be if the threat of atomic attack became imminent?" The answer to this question is that their individual experience would be at the very point of their belief or understanding. They would be found right where they are found when meeting other testimony of the material senses. With an enlightened understanding of divine Love they would be where Noah was when the flood came - in the ark which he had built in obedience to God's commands. They would be found in the place of safety, understanding themselves as idea, or reflection, as immortal as their divine Principle. They would be found in Science where the spiritual realities of all things exist forever. They would be found where their great Wayshower, Christ Jesus, was found as he met each step of the way, with divine Love. Mrs. Eddy, paraphrasing a verse of Paul's, has given a concluding answer: "Then shall man be found, in His likeness, perfect as the Father, indestructible in Life, 'hid with Christ in God,' - with Truth in divine Love, where human sense hath not seen man" (Science and Health, p. 325).
As the cinema of world conditions passes before the senses today we can remember the comforting promise given in the ninety first Psalm: "He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." Through this understanding of the supremacy of divine Principle we bring the minutiae of everyday experience into accord with divine law. We are then awakening to the true Science of living - eternal Life itself expressed in our individual experience.
[Published in The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, June 12, 1956.]