Christian Science: The Solution for Mankind's Entanglements
Arch Bailey, C.S., of San Francisco, California
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The members of this church have invited you here today because they are genuinely convinced that nothing offers mankind so much, by way of healing and regeneration, as does an understanding of Christian Science. Indeed, they are firmly convinced that there is no problem confronting mankind today which cannot be solved through an understanding of this Science.
In the chapter called "Fruitage" in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key lo the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, there are nearly one hundred pages recording remarkable healings which were brought about alone through study of this book. I urge you to read these accounts. Among them you will find rheumatism, hernia, substance of lungs, and fibroid tumor healed. You will find cataract of the eyes, heart disease, Bright's disease, and cancer healed. In all Christian Science churches there are Wednesday testimonial meetings where accounts of healing through Christian Science are given. Also the periodicals, the Christian Science Sentinel, The Christian Science Journal, and The Herald of Christian Science, published in ten languages, including English, carry accounts of Christian Science healings. And for the past few years the accomplishments of the healing ministry of Christian Science have been carried to many parts of the world by radio and television.
Not only does Christian Science disentangle human problems in individual cases but, as the Bible says (Rev. 22:2), its "leaves" are "for the healing of the nations." The precepts of this Science speak to the whole world in the words of the prophet Isaiah (2:5), "Come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord." This light of the Lord we understand to be the light of Christian Science, the Science of Truth, the Science of the light "which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9). This light of spiritual understanding is basic to the solution of all problems, and the solution may logically start with a clearing up of any false concepts of God.
The New Testament promised that God would send a Comforter which would abide with us forever. This Comforter would teach us all things and guide into all truth. We understand this Comforter to be Christian Science which Mrs. Eddy discovered and revealed to this age.
This Science lifts the curtain of material beliefs and gives us an unrestricted view of God and His spiritual creation. Christian Science shows clearly that the testimony of the material senses is never the scientific fact. This Science shows the spiritual idea to be the scientific fact in all things. Just how this Comforter has clarified the search for an understanding of God is stated in this passage from the textbook (Science and Health, p. 114): "Christian Science explains all cause and effect as mental, not physical. It lifts the veil of mystery from Soul and body. It shows the scientific relation of man to God, disentangles the interlaced ambiguities of being and sets free the imprisoned thought."
God Reasonably Defined
The most enlightened writers of the Old Testament state that God is the creator, the everlasting Father, God Almighty; He is incomparable, immutable, invisible, and all-inclusive; He is just and true in knowledge, wisdom, power, mercy, and love, and beside Him there is no other creator. The prophet Nahum states that (1:7) "The Lord is good, and he knoweth them that trust in him." Job said that (23:13) God is "in one mind, and who can turn him?"
Christ Jesus' words and works — his teachings and demonstrations — show that his knowledge of God was demonstrably perfect. Traditional theology accepted Jesus' teaching that God was his Father, but pictured the creator as an anthropomorphic or corporeal being. Christian Science shows that Jesus used the word Father to indicate Spirit as the source of his being. The unfoldment of God as Spirit and of man as spiritual reveals that Jesus' remarkable works were not personal feats of miraculous power, but were the effects of the natural activity of primal intelligence or divine Principle.
In a dialogue with a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well Jesus insisted that God was Spirit and Truth. He also taught that God is eternal Life, and toward the close of his earthly experience he earnestly urged his disciples that they should increase their understanding of God as divine Love. So we see how Mrs. Eddy found the authority in the Bible to formulate her definition of God as follows (Science and Health, p. 587): "GOD. The great I AM; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Sou1; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence." This definition of God corrects the false beliefs about a Supreme Being and supplies the receptive individual with a demonstrable understanding of Deity.
The basic teaching of Christian Science, that God is Mind, establishes the correlative idea that there can be but one Mind for there is but one God. Thus revelation and reason thrust the sword of Truth into the basic error of idolatry and show the fable of more than one God and of many minds to be unscientific and untrue. Likewise, the statement that God is Soul establishes the fact of one Soul and annuls the theological belief, accepted by many, that there are as many souls as there are material bodies.
In Christian Science the word Soul has the following meanings: when it is spelled with a capital "S" it refers exclusively to God, and when it is spelled with a small "s" it alludes either to material sensation, or to spiritual sense. Thus the curtain of mystery and superstition is lifted from the concept of Soul and body. The teaching that corporeal beings are spirits and that there are good and evil spirits, these notions also are challenged and destroyed by the revelation that Spirit is God, that there is one Spirit, and that creation consists of spiritual ideas, not corporeal beings.
Incorporeal Nature of Man
In seeking a solution for mankind's problems, it is as essential to have a correct understanding of man's true nature as it is to understand God correctly. Mrs. Eddy writes with clear understanding of the real nature of man (ibid., p. 557), "Divine Science rolls back the clouds of error with the light of Truth, and lifts the curtain on man as never born and as never dying, but as coexistent with his creator."
It is generally known that the book of Genesis in the Holy Bible presents two accounts of creation. Christian Science refutes the Adam and Eve account of creation, presented in the second chapter of Genesis, as an allegory or mortal concept of creation. It accepts the spiritual account of creation given in the first chapter.
In this account of creation there is no reference to a material person, to matter, or to evil. The record states that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Since God is Spirit, His image cannot be material. How could infinite Spirit form a universe and man of matter, when matter and Spirit are opposites and Spirit is all? A creator who is Spirit and a creation which is material would be in disagreement — and at variance. Such divergence would not be in harmony even with natural law.
The likeness of Spirit must of necessity be spiritual. It is therefore imperceptible to the material senses, just as God is. The Scriptures declare (I John 4:12), "No man hath seen God at any time." That is, no mortal has ever seen God. It follows that no mortal has seen the likeness of God at any time, that is, through the material senses. However, both God and His image are clearly perceptible to spiritual sense.
Right here someone might say, "When you discuss that which is spiritual, that which we cannot see, hear, smell, taste, or feel through the material senses, then I begin losing my way." But this is not necessarily a correct attitude, for there are many instances in daily life where we deal with things which are imperceptible to the material senses. For instance, no one has seen electricity, but we do not hesitate to turn the switch to utilize the light, heat, and energy which derive from the electric current. Likewise, no one has ever seen or heard love, or purity, or truthfulness, but we have all seen and felt their effects in daily living.
How can we get a clear glimpse of man as spiritual idea? Let us consider the principle of music. Suppose we have before us the complete score of a classical symphony. In this score are tabulated every key and tempo signature. All melodic line, harmonic structure, and counterpoint figurations are indicated. Climax and anticlimax, diminuendo, crescendo, accellerando, and ritard are all written into this score with minutest detail. Now, let us suppose that this score is completely destroyed by fire. Every symbol of musical writing is gone. Then would it be true that the principle of music and the symbols are lost? No. The principle of music is intact and is indestructible. Musical ideas still exist in thought, and so do the material symbols used in notation.
The image of mortal thought which appears to the material senses as a corporeal person is no more the real than are the notes which appear in the musical score. If all material forms which people the earth as a material sphere were wholly destroyed, the divine Principle of being and its idea, spiritual man, would be unchanged. We must grow in spiritual perception if we would gain an understanding of man as spiritual idea. And this growth is achieved through the practice of the spiritual qualities of God in daily living. We must achieve the ability to discern the spiritual opposite of the mortal who appears to the senses.
Not long ago in a Christian Science church service a testimony was given by a young lad about twelve years old. He stated with great poise that he was grateful for a new and clearer understanding of man's true spiritual nature which had come to him that day through a conversation with his mother. The boy said that he and his mother had been talking about the true nature of man and she said that in Christian Science we learn that man has a spiritual body. The boy asked his mother, "Can I see my spiritual body?" "Yes," the mother replied, "just close your eyes and think only beautiful, good, and loving thoughts." This the boy did and after a short time he was asked to open his eyes. The mother then told him that the qualities or thoughts he had seen were glimpses of his spiritual body or identity. What a glorious revelation that the real man transcends corporeal personality! What a wonderful experience that so young a lad glimpsed Mrs. Eddy's meaning where she writes (Science and Health, p. 280), "Rightly understood, instead of possessing a sentient material form, man has a sensationless body; and God, the Soul of man and of all existence, being perpetual in His own individuality, harmony, and immortality, imparts and perpetuates these qualities in man, — through Mind, not matter."
True Identity Includes Dominion
Spirit identifies man as its eternal idea. God comprehends and expresses man as His manifestation, representation, or reflection. Immortal man is the divine emanation of divine Mind. He is not human person trying to establish himself as the child of God. Immortal man is the child of God and is forever established as God's reflection. Jesus made a clear statement of his true spiritual identity when he said (John 10:30), "I and my Father are one"; (John 14:11) "I am in the Father." That is, there is one Mind or Ego, and all identity is the reflection of this Ego.
Spiritual man's dominion over the lesser ideas in the universe is as fixed in Science as is the nature of man himself. This God-bestowed dominion is evidenced in human experience proportionably as our material notions of man yield to the truth of his spiritual nature.
Mental Suggestion Exposed
In these days the anti-Christ, the belief of an evil power opposed to God, is assiduously demanding the attention of the human mind. Mrs. Eddy foresaw this when she wrote nearly one hundred years ago (ibid., p. 102), "The mild forms of animal magnetism are disappearing, and its aggressive features are coming to the front." Those who understand Christian Science are not dismayed by this display of error. They know that the more vividly error exposes itself, the more nearly it approaches its zenith, is seen as error, and is self-destroyed. If man were material person at the mercy of every aggressive suggestion he would be helpless before this labyrinth of mortal belief. But one of the crowning truths of man's real nature is that he reflects the dominion of God over the erroneous suggestions of mortal mind.
The question might be asked here, "What is aggressive mental suggestion?" It is the belief of life and intelligence in matter, impressing itself upon the mentality of the individual. The most insistent form of this belief is that man is circumscribed in a material body. It also appears as temptation, disease, lack, or discordant human relationships. Of course evil cannot appear as a personal problem unless the individual accepts the suggestion that he is a mortal living in a material body. To illustrate: a pain in the knee never comes as matter talking to me. It would come as personal sense saying, "I have a painful knee." What is our defense against this aggressive suggestion? It is to keep our minds so filled with the understanding of man's spiritual identity that erroneous suggestions, no matter how aggressive, cannot beguile us into accepting them.
Defense Against Suggestion
There has never been a time when humanity has had imposed upon it such a maze of information as it has today. Some of this is helpful; much of it has only added to mankind's involvements in discord. One thing is sure: we are confronted with the necessity of discriminating between what is right and what is wrong; what is true and what is false; what is beneficent and what is degrading.
Although modern mediums of communication such as newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and telephones are not always used as tools for evil, yet today some are being utilized to broadcast error. About two years ago I was lecturing in a large American city. I spent the afternoon in our hotel room preparing for the lecture that evening. About five o'clock I decided to take a walk. On arising from my chair I looked out at the panorama of the city.
What do you think met my eyes? An electric sign flicking on and off, on and off, twenty-four hours a day — three hundred and sixty-five days a year. And what do you think the sign said? On and off it flared out to me with the impudence of error, "You want beer."
Now, my friends, despite the possible facetious nature of this incident it is wrought with need for sober reflection. As I said before, we need not fear this sort of thing, we need only be aware of it and be willing and ready to defend ourselves against its subtle suggestions.
With full alertness to duty let us humbly and understandingly declare that we are God's children. And as children of God we can with divine authority realize that there is in reality no carnal or evil mind to influence us in thought or act. Let us know that the Christlike consciousness cannot be hypnotized or mesmerized into believing that it is subject to any law of hate, envy, revenge, sensuality, false appetite, fear, or hypnotic will. Let us declare man is superior to any astrological superstitions or false theological beliefs. His dominion transcends any suggestions of discouragement, depression, melancholia, weakness, or insanity. Complete dominion is our heritage as the children of God.
Discoverer, Founder, Leader
The continent which Columbus discovered existed before its discovery, and electricity existed before it was harnessed by Thomas Edison to light the incandescent bulb. Just so the Science of Christ is eternal; it existed before it was discovered by Mrs. Eddy. She founded the vast church organization based on the teachings of Christian Science; and she is the acknowledged Leader of the host proclaiming its teachings throughout the world. With beautiful humility she exhorted her followers to follow her only so far as she followed Christ.
In her early womanhood she had, within a few short years, experiences which would have tested to the limit one of much more mature years and of a more robust nature. She was happily married, but soon this happiness was taken from her. Her husband, a beloved brother, and her mother passed on during this period. She bore a son, but he was separated from her against her will.
There is a Latin motto which freely translated states, "We attain the stars or heavenly heights through difficulties." The crumbling of the material aspects of existence and of entangled personal relationships were the difficulties through which Mrs. Eddy reached up to the stars — the heavenly heights of Spirit.
It is indeed significant that Mrs. Eddy's thought was pure enough to receive the revelation of Christian Science in this age. It is equally notable, and often less recognized, that she established the vast Christian Science organization after she had passed her fiftieth year.
She wrote and published the textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures;" she established The Mother Church and its Manual; The Christian Science Board of Directors; she organized The Christian Science Publishing Society and established its publications; she founded the Christian Science Board of Education for teaching Christian Science; and established The Christian Science Board of Lectureship and the Christian Science Rending Room. In many of lesser ways she established the plans by which the movement is going forward today, disentangling mankind's confusion and setting free its matter-imprisoned thought.
Healing a Divine Impulsion
It is sometimes said that Christian Scientists are a prayerless people. This, of course, would never be said by anyone well acquainted with Mrs. Eddy's writings; nor would it be said by one who had observed the lives of Christian Scientists generally. The followers of this religion strive to pray without ceasing. They undertake to cultivate an attitude of thought which attains continuing audience with infinite Mind, God. In this prayerful attitude of thought they are more apt to be listening to God than informing Him. Their prayer is often the prayer of gratitude for good already received or for good at hand. They rest their faith on the understanding of God's ever-present goodness. The only hope of escape from the world's present complexities lies through an enlightened understanding of prayer. Such enlightened prayer will rescue thought from faith in matter and anchor it in the understanding that all existence is spiritual.
The Christian Scientist takes firm hold of the Biblical teaching that the prayer of faith or understanding heals the sick. Indeed, in this religion prayer, practice, and treatment are considered synonymous terms. Each Christian Science treatment is prayer which acknowledges divine Love's purpose and power to heal and bless mankind.
Divine Love cannot do less than bestow all good. Each treatment in this Science must find its origin in Love. This is why Christian Science treatment is so natural and unlabored; its impulsion is from divine Mind. In "Miscellaneous Writings" Mrs. Eddy says (p. 59), "That individual is the best healer who asserts himself the least, and thus becomes a transparency for the divine Mind, who is the only physician; the divine Mind is the scientific healer." A Christian Science practitioner, once asked how he gave a treatment, replied, "I do not give them; I listen to them." The unlabored activity of the divine energy is proved in each healing.
A young mother related to me an incident which illustrates the simplicity of Christian Science healing. One afternoon this mother became overwhelmed by the insistent suggestion that she had a headache. She finally went to bed to seek relief in sleep, but she could not sleep.
When her eight-year-old son came in from school, he asked, "Why, mother, what is the matter with you?" The mother with some embarrassment said, "Son, I may as well admit I'm having a terrible headache; I'm not well." With trip-hammer response the lad replied, "Well, you can't get any better." The surprised mother found herself sitting upright and saying, "What do you mean, son? I must get better." "But," replied the boy, "you are already the perfect child of God. How can you get better?"
Concurrently with this boy's understanding came his mother's healing. She later arose and prepared the family's evening meal as usual. Only that which actually exists can be demonstrated. As a mathematical equation, 5 plus 5 equals 10 can be demonstrated because it already exists as a mathematical certainty. Contrariwise, 5 plus 5 equals 11 can never be demonstrated because it has no actual mathematical existence. Such an error can only be believed to exist. This mother's perfection as a child of God was demonstrable because it was factual.
Christ, Truth, Heals
Let us consider for a few moments Jesus' statement (John 14: 12), "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do." To believe that the Master's healings were feats of personal power possible only to him and only in the period in which he lived would be to challenge the truth of his statement.
Jesus did not set aside God's law and invoke some special supernatural power in his healing ministrations. His understanding that God's spiritual law is divinely natural, and his knowledge of the falsity of accepted mortal beliefs posing as law, enabled him to demonstrate his dominion over all mortal conditions. He did not set aside God's law. He set aside material belief and invoked God's law.
The personal Jesus, the son of Mary, the corporeal man, was human. Christ, his spiritual identity, is the divinity which animated Jesus in the accomplishment of his marvelous redemptive works. This same Christ — this same spirituality — is the divine manifestation of God which comes today to seek and to save, from their entanglements, those who feel that they are lost. Christ reveals the radiance of Soul, its beauty of holiness and completeness; Christ is the full expression of divine Mind. The power of Christ is universally active in human consciousness as the present and forever expression of good, silencing the false claims of matter and of material sense. Through yielding to the activity of the Christ, the individual experiences salvation.
Healing is the Awakening to Reality
The awakening to the reality always brings healing in Christian Science. May I tell you of just such an awakening. A teacher of Christian Science had been thinking consistently for several weeks of the great spiritual truths of divine reality. He was preparing a paper on this subject. He held persistently to the fact that there is only one Mind. One day, when he was at the height of his prayerful thinking, a woman came to his office by appointment. The practitioner had no previous knowledge of her problem. As she started to tell of her condition the practitioner looked out his office window, oblivious of everything except the oneness and allness of God.
The practitioner was surprised after a few minutes, when the woman arose and, striking her hand on the desk, said, "It is evident that you are giving no attention to the statement of my problem, and I don't think I want you to treat me."
The practitioner lovingly told the woman that he would admit that he had not heard her statements, but that he wanted to help her. He said that if she would repeat the story, he would listen. She replied that it was very evident to anyone who looked at her that she had an advanced goiter and that it was not necessary for her to tell him of it.
The practitioner replied that he could see no such evidence, and he requested that she look in the mirror. She did this. Then she saw that the goiter had disappeared and she was struck with consternation.
What did this practitioner do to bring about the healing? He did not destroy a goiter. He did not destroy any actual material entity. He knew that the one Mind was his Mind and the Mind of the patient. This blaze of spiritual truth simply obliterated the suppositional error of mortal thought that there was such a thing as a goiter. And the false evidence completely disappeared.
Healing by Argument
The Scientist expects his mental treatment to heal quickly and permanently, and many such healings are accomplished in Christian Science. However, if the errors of belief do not yield immediately, he continues to declare the truths of Christian Science until the great spiritual fact of perfect God and perfect man is realized, and the complete healing is evidenced.
The argument in Christian Science does not really of itself heal; it only aids in attaining the spiritual altitude of consciousness — the Christlike consciousness — which is the "peace be still" to the confusion and discords of mortal thought. The argument in treatment might be called a mental tuning up. The violinist cannot give his most beautiful rendition unless his violin is in tune. Of course, with both the violinist and the healer the aim is to be always in tune. With the healer this state of thought is progressively attained as materiality, human pride, and self-will are laid down for that Mind "which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5).
Healing by argument includes both affirmation and denial. We affirm the truth and deny the error. Here someone might be thinking that there was no denial when the woman was healed of goiter. But we must remember that the practitioner in that case had been reviewing the truths of Christian Science for many weeks. Doubtless during this time he had denied erroneous beliefs, and affirmed the truth of God's creation countless times, and as a result of this his consciousness was in tune.
Proper Denial Essential
In argument it is not enough to make only general absolute statements of truth; denial is essential. Our denial, however, must never be the supposed power of human will arrayed against our own belief that evil is real. If we should ever undertake to deny error without first having a clear understanding of its nothingness, we would have unconsciously admitted duality of power. This would never destroy error, but would rather increase our belief in it even though our intention was to destroy it. However, if, after understanding the illusive nature of error, we array the omnipotence of God against the impotence of error, this, then, is proper denial.
Several years ago a practitioner was called one night and asked if he would come to the home of some friends. Their daughter was very ill. The practitioner replied that be would come immediately. The father then told him before hanging up the receiver, "Mortal mind has been handling this household for several weeks." When the practitioner arrived at the home, the excited mother met him and exclaimed, "Mortal mind has simply taken possession of this household." The practitioner went to the patient's room and found her unconscious. He then withdrew to another room and established as the basis of his treatment the great spiritual fact that Mind is God and is, therefore, one Mind, not mortal, but immortal.
He realized that this one divine Mind governed this household. Therefore it was not governed by, nor had ever been governed by, a so-called mortal mind. The practitioner acknowledged that in reality man is idea, the reflection of the one Mind, God. This acknowledgment denied the testimony before the material senses, and in half an hour the mother informed the practitioner that the daughter was conscious and wanted to talk with him. Within an hour the healing was complete and the patient was asking for food.
For approximately one hour we have been considering how Christian Science disentangles the snarled ambiguities of being and sets free the matter-imprisoned, thought of mankind. Let us briefly summarize this:
We saw that "the light of the Lord," the light of Christian Science, is applicable to mankind's problems universally as well as individually. A better understanding of true being is the necessary basis for the solution of these problems. We found how Christian Science clears up false concepts of God, demonstrating that the testimony before the material senses is never the scientific fact, and that spiritual sense reveals the heart of divinity — the truth of God. Because God is Mind, and is one, there cannot be many minds. Nor can there be finite souls, since God is also infinite Soul or Spirit.
Just as this Science reveals the true nature of God, so it challenges the worn-out beliefs of man as a corporeal person and shows man to be an immortal, indestructible idea, reflecting the divine Mind. Man, as a spiritual idea, has God-derived dominion over aggressive mental suggestion and every form of error. Our defense against the aggressiveness of error today is in keeping our consciousness filled with the understanding of our true spiritual identity.
We have seen that prayer in Christian Science is more the act of listening to God than of informing Him. Effective prayer is the acknowledgment and demonstration of that which already exists. We saw that Jesus proved the healing power of Christlike thinking, and that the same Christ power is being expressed today in healing sick bodies and minds.
What satisfaction is ours when theological mysteries begin to dissolve in the clear light of revealed Truth! What strength is ours when we claim our God-established identity and our dominion over aggressive mental suggestion! What capabilities are evidenced by us when we catch even a glimpse of our spiritual nature and discern the unreality of the Adam-dream man! What joy is ours when we realize that awakening to spiritual reality, even in a degree, brings healing!
No matter how complex our entanglements, individually or universally, the acknowledgment and application of the truth of Christian Science will open the way to their solution. Let us never doubt the supremacy of good!