Christian Science: The Joyous Way of Love

 

Arch Bailey, C.S., of Sacramento, California

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:

Christian Science from the celestial heights of divine Principle, God, with scientific, demonstrable certainty, proclaims to a confused and weary world, "Be not afraid." Every human problem is soluble in the light of divine Love, irresistible infinite Truth. There is a way out.

In the Holy Bible, in the thirty-fifth chapter of Isaiah, we read, "And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs; and everlasting joy upon their heads. . . . And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness." This was a prophetic call to exiles in Babylonia to prepare for their journey toward the recompense of God and His salvation. It is also a call of deliverance today to those exiled in materiality, those confused by the false testimony of the senses. Centuries after these utterances of the prophet Isaiah we find those endeavoring to follow Christ Jesus referred to as those seeking "the way," striving to enter into "the way," or as those following in "the way." The Hebrew and Greek words translated as "the way" literally denote a trodden path or road, indicating a journey to some end. They also indicate, by a favorite Hebrew meaning, a mode or habit of conduct; an attitude of thought or consciousness. This way of following the Christ embraces the healing of sin, disease, and death, includes the model of thought and action found in the Sermon on the Mount, and leads on to the origin and ultimate of all being, God.

 

Mrs. Eddy Defines God

What and where is God? is perhaps the most insistent yearning of the human heart. The answer to this question has generally been sought from the standpoint of the material senses. Consequently the answer has been conceptional, fulfilling neither the requirements of logic nor reason.

The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, presented a satisfying idea of Deity. It was a wholly scientific one, fulfilling reason and revelation, and was capable of demonstration. This is the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mrs. Eddy. I shall read her definition: "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love" (Science and Health, p. 465). The design of such a Father-Mother God could not include evil. God's will for all mankind is abundant joy, peace, harmony, health, and unlimited supply of all good. Mrs. Eddy's understanding of this law of infinite, unfailing good established her as the Founder of this religion and as the Leader of the great host following in this way. She knew that the divine Mind is God and that this is demonstrable. In this Science the power of the divine Mind is crowned as the Messiah. And this Christ-power acting on human consciousness is supreme over every claim of error.

 

Christ and Jesus Not Synonymous

In the fourteenth chapter of John we find the account of a memorable meeting of Jesus and his disciples. He has told the disciples he is going away; they will follow him and will know the way. Thomas said unto him, "How can we know the way?" Then briefly Jesus pointed the way for all mankind in all ages. These are his words: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." At other times Jesus spoke of himself as "the bread which came down from heaven" (John 6:41); as "the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25). And he said of himself: "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30); "I am in the Father" (John 14:11); "I am the true vine" (John 15:1). Popular thought has appraised these passages from the standpoint of personal sense. It has believed that Jesus was announcing himself personally as "the way, the truth, and the life."

Many have sought to deify the personal Jesus and use this theological belief as a medium for reaching the Father. Through the revelation of Christian Science we see that in these passages Jesus did not allude to a human concept of himself, but rather to his real spiritual selfhood, his divine nature or Christ nature. The Christian Science textbook explains clearly the difference between the man Jesus and his divine nature, the Christ. I shall read the passage: "The word Christ is not properly a synonym for Jesus, though it is commonly so used. Jesus was a human name, which belonged to him in common with other Hebrew boys and men, for it is identical with the name Joshua, the renowned Hebrew leader. On the other hand, Christ is not a name so much as the divine title of Jesus. . . . The name is synonymous with Messiah, and alludes to the spirituality which is taught, illustrated, and demonstrated in the life of which Christ Jesus was the embodiment" (Science and Health, p. 333).

This redemptive Christ, Truth, is the activity of divine Love in human consciousness. It comes bringing salvation from sin, disease, and death and from every illusive belief of human experience. This saving light of divine Truth is humanity's great hope. There is no other way. As the Apostle Paul has said, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

In the mid-years of the nineteenth century the claims of matter were asserting themselves in no modest way. Physics and chemistry were declaring what they called immutable laws. Geology and evolution had convinced a considerable part of the popular thought that man's ancestry was in the animal kingdom. Biology and physiology were gripping the thoughts of men and women in a manner frightening to the average religionist of the day. During these years, when the popular concept was gravitating toward materiality, the thought of an intrepid New England woman had pierced the veil of matter and was soaring toward the realm of reality. Mary Baker Eddy came as a God-inspired Leader to guide the ages through, and out of, this modern Egyptian bondage.

To any of you not acquainted with Mrs. Eddy's discovery, let me suggest that you read her autobiography entitled "Retrospection and Introspection." In this book she presents with great clarity thirty short articles covering not only biographical data, but the extraordinary steps leading to her spiritual discovery. This is literature alive with spiritual truth and this noble woman's rich experience with divine Love. Also if you are not acquainted with the two authorized biographies, published by The Christian Science Publishing Society, and if you wish to read them, you may borrow or purchase them at any Christian Science Reading Room. May I digress a moment here to say, to any who do not already know it, that each Christian Science church maintains a Reading Room where Mrs. Eddy's books may be purchased or borrowed and where authorized Christian Science literature may be read and purchased. You will find the biographies just mentioned of great help in evaluating Mrs. Eddy's work as Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. It is easy to see in these books that, from earliest childhood, through girlhood, and into womanhood, her gentle nature was companioning instinctively with Spirit.

 

Man's True Nature Revealed

Through prayerful study of the Scriptural account of creation, as recorded in the first chapter of Genesis, Truth illumined her consciousness; God unfolded to her the celestial light of Being, for she had discovered the blessed truth that man is not material; he is spiritual. It became clear to her that the image and likeness of Spirit could not be material; that as the image and likeness of infinite Mind man was the expression of Mind. She saw that Mind's offspring was the spiritual and perfect man. When this spiritual fact unfolded, she understood that man is an active, individual consciousness, reflecting the ideas of divine Mind. She had arrived at the fundamental premise of this religion, its "scientific statement of being," and was able to proclaim these immortal words: "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual." When this spiritual fact of man unfolds, the Scientist begins to understand that man is an active, individual consciousness, the reflection of divine Mind.

But some may be thinking, "What about this flesh-and-blood me which I see before the senses?" In Mrs. Eddy's book "Miscellaneous Writings," we find these words (p. 309): "I warn students against falling into the error of anti-Christ. The consciousness of corporeality, and whatever is connected therewith, must be outgrown." What is anti-Christ, this opposing suggestion which claims to influence the minds of men and women away from the Christ toward the deification of the human sense of self? Many hinder their progress Spirit-ward when they deny matter in general but cling to a personal sense of being. Students sometimes realize, in a degree, the unreality of matter, but when they are confronted with discordant situations between fellowmen, they may hold to personal sense. It is no less requisite to understand the falsity of a personal sense than it is to know the unreality of matter. This impersonalizing the personal sense is no simple task. But we must remember that there can be no marked spiritual progress until matter is known as the image of mortal thought which it is, and personal sense is understood to be a lie about man's spiritual individuality. So long as there is, in belief, personal sense, evil will be able to exhibit, in belief, personal problems.          

Rising above a personal sense of existence in no way implies the destruction of people. Christian Science teaches no such thing. In this Science matter and personal sense are never destroyed as something. They are understood to be, like the horizon, an appearance only. The horizon can do nothing to us and we can do nothing to it. We can know the truth, and the truth is that the horizon is not there. It is an illusion, and so also is personal sense. When we exchange self-will for willing obedience, and self-righteousness for the acknowledgment of God as the only good, when we forsake self-importance for meekness and yield self-confidence for confident trust in God, then we are dispelling the dark shadows of anti-Christ and awakening to the radiant light of spiritual being. We are exalting God's spiritual idea, the eternal, indestructible man. This man, the image and likeness of God, reflects God. Mrs. Eddy declares that Mind, not matter, speaks, acts, sees, hears, and feels; and man reflects each one of God's spiritual qualities. Man as God's expression is perfect in form, function, and faculty. He is never distorted nor deformed, for he is Mind's outlined excellence. His functioning can never be impaired nor obstructed, for he expresses Mind's perfect activity. His faculties can never be dimmed nor lost, for they are eternally secure in Soul. This spiritual man is the true nature of each one here tonight.

 

Prayer

Christian Science is a religion of sustained prayer. When we identify ourselves or our fellowmen with the one perfect divine Mind, we are praying, for communion with God is prayer. There is no more spiritually inspired treatise on prayer than the first chapter in the Christian Science textbook. Let me urge you never to cease digging in the mother lode of this chapter. Here to be discovered are untouched veins of the pure gold of Spirit. You will find in this chapter rich unfoldment for each successive stage of your spiritual development. At the conclusion of this chapter Mrs. Eddy has presented a most discerning discussion of the prayer which Jesus gave as a model to his disciples and to all mankind, the prayer which has been named by the ages "The Lord's Prayer." She has also given here what she understood to be the spiritual sense of this prayer.

Has it occurred to you that the first two words of this prayer, "Our Father," realized, fulfill the requirements of the two great commandments, complete love for God and love for all our fellowmen? Is it not significant to note that Jesus, in this inspired moment, did not address his Father or John's or Peter's Father? He promptly raised the prayer above the personal and launched it on its universal mission. Do you not see that in a right comprehension of this word "Our," we can encircle all mankind with love? Is not this our proper approach to the world problem today? We must accomplish in consciousness the full expansion of this word "Our." In using it thought must extend beyond our immediate loved ones; must reach out beyond state, national, or hemispherical boundaries; must reach beyond the iron curtain of anti-Christ and encircle all mankind in the tender embrace of Christian understanding.

Christian Scientists, in their metaphysical work, often use the spiritual interpretation of the Lord's Prayer (Science and Health, pp. 16 and 17). And they have had it proved in their experience that it does cover human needs and that it instantaneously heals the sick, as their Leader said it would. Let me tell you of an experience I had several years ago, when I was the Christian Science worker at a school for delinquent boys. Each Saturday, with the permission of the medical doctor, I was allowed to go to the hospital with our literature. One afternoon as I approached the hospital it was very evident to the senses that someone was in great pain. As I entered, an attendant and a nurse met me and said: "We will be glad to turn this case over to you. This boy's suffering has been going on for a night and a day." All the means of handling pain, according to their belief, had failed. I did not enter their discussion, but sat a few moments and went my way as usual. Finally, as I passed his door, the boy cried out, asking if I could not do something for him. When I entered his room, he asked if I would pray for him. I asked if he would repeat the Lord's Prayer with me. He said he would, and I led in the prayer. As we finished the prayer he was to the senses still in full manifestation of the pain. I was led to speak to him of the spiritual interpretation of the prayer, as given in the textbook. Then after a moment of realization I spoke several times, "Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious" (Science and Health, p. 16). This spiritual Truth was the "Peace, be still" to his troubled thought. The pain had vanished. He was healed. He was out of the hospital in a few days, and in a few weeks I saw him on his way home.

 

Joy

The Scriptures are rich in exhortations to rejoice and be glad. We are told to "sing aloud" and "make a joyful noise unto the Lord." In the fifteenth chapter of I Chronicles it is recorded that David, and the elders of Israel, and the captains over thousands, went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the house of Obededum, with joy." And the account continues, "David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of musick, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy." This joy that is sought throughout the Scriptures in every noble effort is a spiritual quality and rises in the heart whose purpose and desires are anchored in God. Webster's dictionary gives in substance as one definition of joy, "an emotion arising because of good received or because of good expected." What an engaging definition! An emotion arising because of good already received would be gratitude. Emotion in anticipation of future good would be expectancy. Here we find gratitude and expectancy beautifully joined in this grand word joy. Yes, it can be said that joy is essential to successful Christian work. How could we, so many times, have missed wedding joy and laughter in our work, when we find in the Bible that "all the sons [and daughters] of God shouted for joy," "the morning stars sang together," "the trees of the field shall clap their hands," "and the little hills [skipped] like lambs." If we are without joy, we are not fully aware of our oneness with God, good. Gratitude and expectancy of good are treasures; which as sons and daughters of God we have inherited just as we have inherited purity and holiness. Let us cherish and expand in our consciousness as one of our priceless treasures this jewel, joy.

In fable it is told that Satan, disappointed with the efforts of his legions, called them to council behind a distant cloud. They were failing to frustrate and annihilate the Christian effort in the world, and he had decided upon a change of tactics. His legions had been instructed that the followers of Christ believed themselves to be "the light of the world." Satan's legions had been told that their task was to extinguish this light and spread darkness everywhere. He had discovered that this method was failing because such a direct effort met great resistance. The light could not be completely put out and often grew brighter under the bold effort to extinguish it. Thus in the council behind the clouds he was instructing his demons to be more subtle, and told them they should no longer attempt directly to put out the light. "We will simply dim their lights," he told his legions. "We will suggest to them fatigue, impatience, discouragement. We will cause them to indulge in criticism of each other. We will still their singing with heaviness. And our crowning effort will be to dim the joy in their hearts." This fable should awaken every Christian in "the way." We should be alert and see that our lamps of joy are trimmed and burning, not dimmed and fading.

If this Satanic suggestion should whisper to us of concern or distress we must counter with assurance, joy, and peace. If it should insinuate unhappiness or fatigue we must answer with contentment and refreshing zest. This is in accord with our Leader's statement, "The utterance of truth is designed to rebuke and destroy error" (Science and Health, p. 233).

 

Treatment

When the Christian Science textbook was published, its author was able to include eighty-three well-authenticated accounts of healing.

These healings were received through study of the textbook alone. They testify to the healing of a variety of diseases, including cancer and tuberculosis. About 1867 the first public practitioner accepted patients, and during the eighty-six years since, thousands of consecrated men and women have been instrumental in healing every kind of physical and mental disorder through spiritual means alone. This way of healing at first met great resistance, but Love has marched triumphantly and humbly on through these years, and today Christian Science healing literally encircles the globe. State governments have recognized it as a lawful method of treating disease, and the Constitution of the United States protects in the exercise of their religion individuals who choose this way of healing. The chapter on Christian Science practice in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" is the author's own statement of her application of Truth to human needs. A part of this chapter is given to mental treatment and a part to dealing with specific types of disease, including insanity. Formulas are forbidden, and there are no printed treatments. Each Christian Science treatment is an individual experience with Love's design as All-in-all. For Love to be All-in-all it must be total, as, indeed, it is. In these days we hear expressions of total war and total hate. These are impossibilities. They are deflections of mortal belief. It is upon these erroneous phases of human consciousness that divine Love acts naturally, as the sun shines, asserting its totality by dispelling the suppositional mists of mortal belief. This tender impulsion of Love to be Love knows no beginning and no ending. Neither a personal practitioner nor a personal patient can put into motion this eternal activity of Love. And neither can stop it.

As human thought awakens to the eternal purpose of Love, the dream of materiality, including sin, disease, and death, vanishes, and the true nature of being becomes apparent. Concerning treatment Mrs. Eddy has said (Science and Health, p. 411), "If Spirit or the power of divine Love bear witness to the truth, this is the ultimatum, the scientific way, and the healing is instantaneous." If the human consciousness does not awaken quickly thus, through the power of divine Love, and added treatment is required, we may proceed by argument to establish in consciousness the fact of God's perfection, including man as His image and likeness. Treatment in this Science is never the power of God struggling against another power called evil. Rather it is the recognition on the part of the student of the omnipotence of God proving the powerlessness of evil. Christian Science never attacks discordant conditions of matter as realities. Sin, disease, death, sorrow, want, and woe are revealed as erroneous mental states of sense testimony. Thus healing is spiritually mental, always in consciousness.

A simple illustration shows plainly that the testimony before the senses is only an appearance, an objectified state of erroneous thinking. Suppose we were walking down a straight railroad track. The senses would tell us that the rails were converging before us. However, we would not say, "We must get off the tracks." Something we know about this phenomenon of the rails means more to us than what our eyes see. So we go confidently on. But suppose that we do not understand that the convergence is an illusion; suppose we have to get down the tracks through what seems to be a real obstruction. Is it not plain that all we can do is to change our false sense about this phenomenon? When we do, it will then be plain that the convergence can do nothing to us, and we can do nothing to it, for it is an illusion of the senses. And so it is with the triad of errors called sin, disease, and death. What we know about God and His perfect man means more to us than the sense appearance of this erroneous triad - and we walk through such an appearance confidently. Christian Science awakens us to reality. May I tell you of such an awakening?

A few years ago a practitioner was called to the home of a woman, who was in great physical distress. After she greeted him she told him this story, or it might more correctly be said she told him this fable; for so it was proved to be later under Christian Science treatment. The woman said: "Over a period of years I have had a series of falls. About a year ago after one of these experiences I was in great pain and unable to arise. A physician was called and he made an examination. After a conference with my family I was moved to a hospital where X-ray pictures of my spine were taken. The following day I was told by a leading bone specialist that the lower vertebrae of the spine were in a terrible condition; the cushions between the vertebrae were carious and disintegrated. He said my only hope was to lie in a perfectly flat position for several months, and that any help for me was highly improbable. For three months I submitted to being in this flat position under this specialist's care, but was none improved. I then insisted on being taken home. I was advised against this and told that I would be in great pain and never again have normal activity. Here at home," she continued, "I have been for several months as they predicted. I have now turned from materia medica, and my only hope is the memory of Christian Science which touched my thought thirty years ago. Will you help me?"

This woman came under Christian Science treatment and in three weeks was up and walking, and in three months she had realized her complete healing. During the years since this healing this woman has done her own housework and has been normally active in every way. She is now a member of a branch church and of The Mother Church. Something the practitioner knew about God and man meant more to him than the sense testimony, and the patient was guided lovingly through the illusion. Under Christian Science treatment the patient's thought was roused to discern the reality of true being in Christ.

 

Love

As we study the teachings of the Bible, Paul's writings, and the works of Mrs. Eddy, we are led to conclude that the way in Christ is the way of love and service. Jesus taught that there were no greater commandments than love for God and love for one's fellowmen. His life of sacrifice and service to mankind proved that to him love was more than a word. The Apostle Paul's life after he entered the Christ-way was one grand activity of love. In Mrs. Eddy's book "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" she has written, "Each day I pray: 'God bless my enemies; make them Thy friends; give them to know the joy and the peace of love' " (p. 220). The universality of her love for mankind is reaching out to every receptive heart and will continue to do so, through her writings, until all mankind accepts the joyous way of love in Christian Science.

Love is more than a transcendental mood of meditation. It is more than a beautiful future hope. Love is dynamic power, divinely active throughout God's spiritual universe, and appearing in human consciousness as the transforming activity of Spirit. One of Mrs. Eddy's statements illustrates this universal, beneficent activity of divine Love: "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need" (Science and Health, p. 494). But how can we believe that statement when so many of mankind's needs seem to be unmet? It might help us to ask two questions: Where and how does Love meet mankind's needs? Since we understand that all experience is in consciousness, it is clear that these needs are always met right where they seem to exist, in human consciousness. It is also clear that divine Love, being infinite intelligence, would have infinite resources with which to meet mankind's needs. These resources of Love are wholly spiritual and therefore come to each of us as ideas, and necessarily have to be understood and demonstrated by each human consciousness.

By way of illustrating this, think of a human father who has nurtured and educated a son, has provided a place for his son in his business; yet the son continues to live apart from the father in great need. Is it not plain that the father's provision for his son must be acknowledged and accepted if it is to be helpful to the son? So every right idea which mankind can ever need has already been provided by divine Love - but must be understood and demonstrated.

A recent experience illustrates this very well. A young man came to my office seeking help for right employment. When asked if he was presently employed, he said that he was not. He had been, but several days before had quit his job - to use his own words. The young man did not wait to be interrogated further, but went immediately into a scathing description of the tyrannical boss he had had. It was uncovered that the so-called tyrannical boss was a rather successful and well-thought of man in the community. It came to light that his tyranny toward the young man was, largely, that he expected him to arrive at his employment on time, to manifest accuracy in his work, and to show loyalty to his employer when with other employees of the firm.

After several months the boss had had a conference with the young man, calling his attention to the fact that he wanted him to give more attention to the expression of these qualities in his work. This had offended the self-will of the young man, and he decided to quit and seek other employment where there was less tyranny. This problem was worked out in a scientific way, and the young man now has congenial employment and understands what his contribution to a position must be. Do you not see in this experience that divine Love had already met this young man's need - had given him opportunity for service and provided him with the qualities of promptness, accuracy, and loyalty - but these provisions of Love had neither been received nor rightly appropriated? So we see that "divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need," and that mankind's privilege is to understand and treasure this affluence of the heavenly Father-Mother Mind, so bountifully bestowed on all.

Mrs. Eddy has written, ". . . blessed is that man who seeth his brother's need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another's good" (Science and Health, p. 518). What an opportunity to live active love! This opportunity of supplying in our consciousness those qualities which our brother seems to need is the way to find our own good, and is a practical application of the second commandment, to love thy neighbor as thyself. The Christian Scientist understands that evil is not real, that good alone is reality. He goes forth each day to demonstrate in Christian Science that good is everywhere.

A Christian Scientist came to a practitioner and told him that several years before, she had befriended a land tenant by loaning him five thousand dollars. He had not paid even the interest and was now avoiding any opportunity to discuss the matter. She told the practitioner that she used to believe the man to be honest, but now she was sure her judgment had been wrong. She continued in her remarks to build up just the kind of man who would not meet his obligations. At this point she was reminded, lovingly, that she was not really telling the truth about this man according to Christian Science. It was plain that she saw this man's need, but was not supplying it. She was asked to make a list of the qualities with which she thought God would have endowed this man. She was asked to realize these qualities to be the actual nature of her tenant, despite the fact that to appearances he was otherwise.

The practitioner did his work along the same line of right identification. Four days later the man called at the home of the woman, paid twenty-five hundred dollars of the debt, and said that the balance would be taken care of soon. He apologized for his indifference, stating that he believed she did not need the money. A month after this the entire amount was paid. When we realize the scientific fact concerning any condition, environment, or situation - and sustain this realization - this is the truth, the correct view, which acts on the belief, spontaneously, causing it to give place to the spiritual fact. This is right identification. To practice it we need not change anybody or anything outside ourselves. This way of right thinking - thinking the thoughts of Love - is the joyous way of love in Christian Science. What a glorious revelation, that the real man transcends material personality; that he is an individual consciousness possessing dominion over the whole earth; and that, knowing this, a man is endowed with sovereign power to think and act rightly.

Earlier this evening it was asserted that in the name of Christian Science "there is a way out." I am sure we are beginning to see that the way out could more properly be called a way up. It is a stairway of ascending consciousness, each step radiant with hope and promise. Instead of being a journey to some distant destination, it is seen to be wholly a mental experience. There may seem to be mazes of negative beliefs in our journey, but there is always a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. Love's presence is always with those in the way. It is a straight way, but a safe and joyous one. Hear Mrs. Eddy's words of loving admonition: "Through the wholesome chastisements of Love, we are helped onward in the march towards righteousness, peace, and purity, which are the landmarks of Science. Beholding the infinite tasks of truth, we pause, - wait on God. Then we push onward, until boundless thought walks enraptured, and conception unconfined is winged to reach the divine glory" (Science and Health, p. 323).

 

[Published in The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, October 7, 1954.]

 

 

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