Christian Science: Rightness of Reality
Frank Bell, C.S.B.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Methods Are Not Occult
Christian Science is applied to human problems through what St. Paul calls transformation by the renewing of the mind. Sin, disease, poverty, and the like, are healed by means purely mental or spiritual. The means thus employed, to help mankind are not supernatural, not occult, but Christian and scientific. They express the simple, natural, accurate rightness of reality.
Reaffirming and emphasizing the essential goodness of God, Christian Science defines evil, the opposite of good, as the unlikeness of God. The degree of the unlikeness is the measure of the evil. Stimulating and enlarging the student's understanding of the nature of God, Christian Science enables him to distinguish evil from good and thus equips him to deal with evil intelligently and effectively.
The great spiritual thinkers who speak to us through the Scriptures are of one accord in urging acquaintance with the divine nature as essential to mastery over evil. Jesus taught that to know God aright Is the remedy for all ills, even to the realization of "life eternal," the perfection of being. Pure Christianity must be superior to everything that would tend to deplete or to destroy man, or even to hold him in a limited sense of life and destiny.
Christian contemplation of God's nature as spiritual, therefore not material, as infinite and perfect, therefore neither limited nor incomplete, helps one to recognize that materiality, limitation, and imperfection are unlikenesses of God, therefore not good but evil. Gross material mindedness may not take kindly to such realization, but to spiritual mindedness it is natural and inevitable. Spiritual mindedness may be cultivated by any earnest individual through the study of the textbook of Christian Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy.
Materialism's Hold Loosening
Spiritual mindedness is the opposite of material mindedness. "The things of the Spirit" are discerned to be real and tangible as material sense is put off through the transforming processes of correct Christian thinking, in which there is diligent and systematic effort to love God, infinite Spirit, "with all the mind." To spiritual mindedness it is increasingly clear that whatever is unlike the goodness of God is in its final analysis false, and "Be not afraid!" thus becomes scientific.
The hold of materialism is loosening. Philosophers speak with assurance of matter as a mere mental impression; the human voice encircles the earth in a moment; an ocean of space is but a day's journey by air. Those who see natural progress in these things are not far from recognition of the fact that Jesus could be at "the other side" of the sea instantly by reason of the perfection of his state of mind, the spiritual purity of his thought. Enlightened thinking in our day has reduced a continent to a few hours of travel and will continue to reduce matter until it no longer obstructs. Obstruction is the opposite of freedom, and true freedom is good. The general trend of human progress, despite occasional gross deviations, bespeaks the ultimate triumph of the good. In her book, "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 345), Mrs. Eddy says of "modern material Inventions," "They are preparing the way for us."
Accomplished Through Prayer
What is needed is not to disregard or to alter reality but so to correct the sense of things that the fact rather than the error shall be revealed. Christian Science accomplishes this correction through prayer, through spiritualization of thought, through the cultivation of a state of mind that rejects false physical sense testimony and accepts the spiritual truth.
Jesus frequently said that his sense of things was different from that of materially minded persons. This is especially noticeable in connection with his healing work. Being spiritually minded, he saw the ten lepers as clean, ready to show themselves to the priest. He saw the paralytic by Bethesda pool as able to "arise and walk." No question appears to have occurred to him as to whether the two blind men could see; they were questioned only as to their belief. To him Lazarus and the daughter of Jairus were not dead but asleep. His statements on these and other like occasions show that he was conscious of the fact that through his immaculate spiritual understanding the physical sense evidence of evil was reversed and cast out. Such was the purity and strength of his realization that nothing but the good is true, that many earnest persons caught something of the "mind that was in Christ Jesus" and were lifted out of a sense of pain, deformity, sin, or lack. Not a fact was changed.
Jesus verified the prophecy of Isaiah that he should not judge according to "the sight of his eye" or "the hearing of his ears," according to the material sense verdict. Since the time of Jesus the truth of being, in contradistinction to the human belief in evil, has not been uttered with anything like the courageous clearness with which Mrs. Eddy has set it forth in her many writings. The purity of her realization of the basic rightness of reality increasingly appears to the earnest student. Christian Scientists therefore rejoice to acknowledge her spiritual leadership.
Life Spiritual, Not Material
The common belief about a man's life is that he lives within a physical body, that his identity is located inside a material structure of flesh and bones. How life got into the body, what keeps it there, how it is to get out, and where it is to go when it gets out, are subjects of much speculation and little assurance.
All human ills are associated with the sense of life in the flesh. Therein man is supposed to live a precarious life and to die an inevitable death; therein are his aches and pains, his fears and disappointments, his sinful habits, devastating appetites, illusive pleasures. The sorrows and sufferings from which mortals pray to be delivered all have to do directly or indirectly with the so-called corporeal, fleshly selfhood, including that which is called the mind within the body. Christian Science, concerned with the overcoming of human ills, that the inherent rightness of God's creation may appear, invites men to consider the reasonableness of the proposition that since discord is found only within the realm of physical sense, the way out of trouble lies through the taking on of a better sense. It is possible to do this in a perfectly natural way.
To hold to the belief that man lives inside of a material body one must well-nigh ignore the fact that actual life has not been found in the body; Each of the activities within the body can be truthfully described only as an effect of something else. If that something else were inside of the body it scarcely could have escaped detection by this time.
Man Image of Spirit
The situation is illumined by such statements as this from the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, page 208: "You embrace your body in your thought, and you should delineate upon it thoughts of health, not of sickness;" A moment's consideration makes it plain that we do embrace our material body in our thoughts. Therefore both we and our thoughts must be in fact outside of that body. One could not well be inside of that which he embraces. We contemplate our so-called physical selves from without, not from within.
If man does not really live in the flesh, then clearly he ought not to go on believing that he does. Inspired thought beckons us out of materiality. In Genesis we are assured that true man is the image and likeness of infinite Spirit. A psalm reminds us that we shall be satisfied when we awake in God's likeness, the likeness of Spirit. Isaiah urges, "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?" Jesus, commanding his followers to take no thought for the body, declares that real life, life eternal, is a state of mind, to know God aright. St. Paul, seeing that "they that are in the flesh cannot please God," advises Christians to cultivate a willingness "to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." John, the Revelator, explains the possibility of beholding new heaven and new earth, not material but spiritual, through mental purification.
Life No Mystery to Jesus
Christian Science teaches and proves that to lift one's sense of identity and reality up out of the flesh into infinite Spirit promotes health and harmony. Thus Christian Science restores that which was lost, Christian healing.
Life was no mystery to Jesus. "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing," said he. The sick are healed and sinners are reformed through learning to look outside of the flesh for that true spiritual animation which alone is capable of maintaining the universe and all that is therein.
To the Master evidently it was clear that health is primarily a state of thought and only secondarily or incidentally a condition of body or matter. To him the sick were those "whom Satan hath bound," the Satan whom he described as "liar, and the father of it," a self-constituted lie or false sense, having "no truth" in it. Both the casting out of devils, sick, deluded beliefs, and the spiritual quickening of those who came to be healed were accomplished through the operation of the Mind that was in Christ Jesus, as St. Paul describes it. Those who were healed were those whose hearts were open to the regenerative influence of that mind or sense which perceived and reflected the absolute truth concerning God's creation.
True Sense Versus False
The teachings of Christian Science coincide with the affirmations of the Scripture that all things were made by God, that without Him was not anything made, that God saw, comprehended, creation in its entirety, and it was very good.
The Bible also avers that everything that was made not only was in the beginning perfect and complete, but is now and everlastingly will be perfect and complete. In the words of Ecclesiastes, "Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it."
These declarations are true, not only because they appear in the Bible; they are true because they could not possibly be untrue. Reason and logic affirm the sublimely simple proposition that the intelligence and ability to create a universe imply the intelligence and ability to create it aright.
But while revelation and reason agree as to the unanswerable fact, human sense argues through a thousand daily experiences that discord, fear, sin, and disease, myriad forms and phases of evil, do exist, are a part of actuality; that creation, if it ever was good and right, was not sufficiently good and right to remain forever good and right.
There is conflict, in other words, between pure reason, and human experience. Neither the unstable theories of material science, the blind hopes of superficial religion, nor the stupid dreams of sensualism will solve this problem.
Seers Not Deceived
Fortunately, in all ages there have been prophets and seers who were not wholly deceived by the apparently overwhelming material sense testimony on the wrong side. In the nineteenth century a woman saw the incongruity between the truth of being and experiences of human life. She saw that perfect God and imperfect man could not both be true. Imperfection could not be real unless God, the creator of all, is its author. Imperfect creation could be the product only of imperfect creator. To her the question was clear-cut and unescapable. Her answer was such as would come from one who loved God whole-heartedly and pure-mindedly as did Mary Baker Eddy. In her textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," page 113, she writes: "According to the Scripture, I find that God is true, 'but every [mortal] man, a liar.'" The sense of things that denies the perfection of God and His creation is false.
When Mrs. Eddy learned that it is the physical senses which presume to take issue with God's perfection, she saw that it is the impressions of these senses which constitute what the Bible terms the "carnal mind," that "is enmity against God." If God's man is all right, the mind or sense which says that he is partly wrong is a lying mind, a false sense. Mrs. Eddy calls this false sense of things mortal mind, to distinguish it from immortal Mind, which latter is properly spelled with a capital M, for it is a true synonym for God. When Paul declared that salvation should be found in taking on the Mind that was in Christ Jesus, he knew that Jesus had repudiated the so-called mind or sense of things that accepted any evidence of reality, in aught unlike the nature of God.
Mortal mind must be put off. Why? Because it is composed of that material sense which is unable to resist the temptation to believe that mindless, inert, non-intelligent matter has the capacity within itself to think, to .act, to live; to believe that man, therefore, is not the image and likeness of God, Spirit, but is a physical mechanism. Mortal mind consists of the thoughts that it thinks. Therefore, as the Bible declares, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood." We are engaged in a warfare against wrong thinking. The true sense is spiritual and its fruits are the opposite of sin and death.
Application Is Simple
"Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual, — neither in nor of matter, — and the body will then utter no complaints," writes Mrs. Eddy on page 14 of Science and Health. How is one to acquire that consciousness? By diligent right thinking. You are master of your thought, if you so choose. Your affairs, of body, mind, surroundings, are the coincident expression of your thought.
If you will begin, as a systematic daily mental practice, to contemplate the essential nature of God, as best you can conceive of Him, and definitely and in an orderly fashion to affirm in your thought the reality of God's nature; if you will in like manner systematically and persistently deny the essential reality of all that is unlike the nature of infinite Spirit; if you will do this not as a matter of vain repetition, but with an earnest striving to bring into this activity some degree of conscious realization of the actual presence and power of God, operating in and through you to bring into expression the essentials of His nature, you will find that, asking bread, you will not be given a stone.
You will find, if your experience does not differ from that of countless thousands of your fellow-men, that the setting into operation of these processes of Christianly scientific thinking will begin to be made manifest in most practical ways in your experience, in healing of sickness, overcoming of sin, mastery of lack, suppression of discord, elimination of fear. There is rich reward in taking your stand mentally on the side of the good God and His good creation.
There is in spiritual reality nothing the matter with God or His creation. The trouble is with our sense of things. We need to take on the Mind that was in Christ Jesus, which enabled him to say with absolute conviction, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." We need not merely to believe this theoretically, but to affirm it practically, to use it as a spiritual weapon against suggestions of imperfection, as did the Master.
Method Always the Same
The medicine of the Great Physician was denial of error and affirmation of truth. Those whose hearts opened to his teaching were mentally purified and stimulated, and the outward effects were manifest. By this purely spiritual process the sick were healed, the lame walked, the dumb spake, the blind saw, the dead were raised. And the method was always the same — the definite rule of imperfection denied, perfection affirmed. "He sent his word, and healed them." Here was such clear realization of the fact of perfection that mere belief in imperfection faded out of consciousness.
The rediscovery of the Christ method of healing, the setting forth of the simple rule and method by which this healing may be accomplished, and the establishment of a church to protect her discovery for the benefit of mankind, these affirm, and will increasingly affirm, the greatness of Mary Baker Eddy. Through her pure love for God and man millions have been blessed with health, strength, abundance, joy, and peace, such as they had believed impossible.
This Science quickly verifies itself in the experience of the earnest student. It is like mathematics in that respect. A few simple applications of the primary rules will prove the Principle and inspire the confidence necessary to further progress.
The Overcoming of Lack
Christian Science heals poverty in the same manner that sickness and sin are healed, through "the renewing of the mind," as St. Paul puts it. Inspired writers repeatedly have asserted that thought adjusted to the divine nature will bear fruit "after its kind." Jesus gave the unfailing rule for success when he said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." This kingdom, the Master said, is "within you," and "at hand;" therefore the individual Christian has the right to feel that the essential completeness of reality is present, not absent, and only needs to be realized in order to be enjoyed.
A divinely intelligent and loving creator has not made a man to be impoverished any more than to be sick or sinful. Poverty, like disease and sin, involves a mistaken sense of God and His work. The evil quality of poverty is not that it makes men suffer but that it misrepresents God. The Christian aim in overcoming poverty, as in healing sickness and sin, is to the glory of God. Mere getting of money would not glorify God, but the demonstration of power over material things through spiritual understanding does "magnify the Lord." The writer of Genesis affirms that divine Spirit has given man dominion over earthly things. Jesus proved this to be true and said his followers should do likewise.
One who for many years had been distressingly limited in income or salary found himself trying vainly to use his early glimpses of Christian Science to enlarge the salary by some mysterious process. Finally he saw that what needed to be enlarged first was his understanding of man as God's image and likeness. It was his narrow, pinched sense of self that was bringing forth "after its kind" in his personal experience. Cultivating a larger and more spiritual concept of God and man, as he learned to do in a perfectly natural way through the teachings of Christian Science, he soon found this clarified vision reflected in his affairs. Men and things began to manifest an unmistakeable tendency to help rather than to hinder. Unexpected opportunities appeared and unsuspected capacities came to light. Human relationships became more fruitful of good, after the manner of true brotherhood.
Christian Science cannot be used for the mere acquisition of money or other material things, but it is successfully employed to the overcoming of that abnormal sense of lack which is the result of ignorance of spiritual substance and which in turn bears fruit in human fear and poverty.
Mastery of materiality is the secret of wealth and health. It is the mastery that comes to light in daily experience through the Christianly scientific cultivation of spiritual-mindedness.
Reality Brought to Light
Christian healing is becoming less mysterious to those who see, as men are increasingly seeing, that so-called material objects are objects in sense or thought, not. outside of thought or sense, and that this is true of the individual object called a physical person and of the aggregated object called a person's affairs. Modern discovery and invention reveal a distinct trend away from many long-entrenched beliefs in the so-called substantial qualities of materiality. Liberated thought is being prepared to accept Mrs. Eddy's teaching, that "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all" (Science and Health, p. 468).
St. Paul did not require a laboratory in order to be convinced that the flesh, materiality, "cannot inherit the kingdom of God," that is, has no place in reality. He was sufficiently Christian to see that there could be no essential reality in that which does not conform to the simple logic that the creation of a good creator is good. It was this Christian purity of thought which enabled Paul to be a distinguished healer of the sick, after the manner of his great Master. His emphatic reminder to the Athenians that "we live, and move, and have our being" in God, in infinite Spirit, revealed a state of mind through which healing inspiration would naturally radiate to those who were suffering from the discordant effects of the belief that man lives in the unlikeness of Spirit, namely, in the flesh.
In the nineteenth century lived a woman whose love for God was so pure and true that she gladly accepted the divine commission to declare to this age the omnipresence of God's goodness and the consequent unreality of whatever is unlike the goodness of God. Mary Baker Eddy could not have discovered the Science of Christianity had she not been willing truly to follow him of whom it was prophetically said, "He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: . . . and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth." A mere theory of Christianity might affirm the goodness of God and seek to ignore appearances to the contrary. The actual Science of Christianity must not only assert the goodness of God, but must "smite the earth" in proof of God's goodness, teaching its adherents how to reverse the suggestions of physical sense, which otherwise would deny that the cause of reality is either wise or good.
The Nature of Evil
There need be no perplexity in regard to Mrs. Eddy's use of the term "animal magnetism" on the part of those who accept understandingly her statement, on page 103 of Science and Health, that "As named in Christian Science, animal magnetism or hypnotism is the specific term for error, or mortal mind."
Mrs. Eddy has not undertaken to invent a new kind of evil, nor is the student of Christian Science invited to substitute a mental devil for a physical one. He is invited to use the term animal magnetism as "the specific term for error," because to do so will help him to adjust his thought intelligently to the problems of evil as they appear in his human experience.
Christianity teaches, according to St. Paul, that man lives, moves, and has his being in God, in infinite Spirit. Christians presumably accept St. Paul's statement that "they that are in the flesh cannot please God." Spiritual existence alone is in accord with the design of Deity.
Good men and women in all times have yearned for the realization of spiritual existence, but have found it difficult to resist the attraction of a sense of life not in God, Spirit, but in animal flesh, which, according to the Scriptures, "lusteth against the Spirit." Like St. Paul they could say: "With the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."
The specific term for anything is the term which reveals its exact or particular nature. Christian Scientists find that the use of the term "animal magnetism" as "the specific term for error" helps them to understand that evil is a false and fraudulent attraction of the sense of life from Spirit to the flesh, and that outside of the mesmeric illusions of this false and fraudulent sense there is and can be no field of operation for evil mental influences or tendencies. Thus the student learns that evil is not a mysterious something to be either feared or ignored, but a common impulse of the mortal mind, or fleshly sense, to be overcome. Through meeting and mastering this fraudulent impulse, on the basis of the essential rightness of God and His creation, the scientific Christian makes himself a channel for divine Love, which is the specific term for the only spiritually real impulse, influence, attraction, or law. Thus he becomes a Christian healer.
Resisting False Influence
The activity of Christian Science is not of the nature of mental suggestion or hypnotism. Jesus expounded the rule, "Not my will, but thine, be done." The effort of mental suggestion is to impose one human will upon another. Much that is involved in the so-called laws of evil and disease in human experience can be traced to some such wrong mental activity or mental malpractice. Jesus denounced human will and proclaimed the will of God to be the only real will-power. That rule brought healing to the sick nineteen centuries ago, and it brings healing to the sick today.
The rule, "Not my will, but thine, be done," is, of course, the rule of perfection. God's will is perfect. Thought that is open to the fundamental rightness of being catches something of the spiritual import of Jesus' teaching, and this improved state of mind manifests itself, after its kind, in outward conditions and affairs. Jesus must have meant this when he said regarding one of his healings, "Thy faith hath made thee whole." His affirmation of God's will that man is perfect had encountered a measure of acceptance, and that improved state of mind which he named faith, expressed itself in a corresponding state of body, as states of mind never fall to do. The scientific relationship between state of mind and state of health is affirmed and reaffirmed in the Scriptures.
The study and application of Christian Science will stimulate one's natural capacity to reject the mental suggestions of evil and so to counteract their effects. Christian healing will thus be seen to be the result of the adjustment of thought to the nature of God and His good creation. St. James must have been aware of this when he admonished those who were sick to seek healing through the prayer of the righteous. Mrs. Eddy was spiritually minded enough to pray in that manner and to teach others to do likewise. She devoted herself to that loving mission from the time that she discovered Christian Science.
Disposing of a Negation
Having accepted the Scriptural assurance that the author of all reality is good, and the creator of that only which is good, the Christian Scientist does not shun the logical conclusion that evil is not an entity. The teaching of Christian Science, that evil is primarily a negation, may be illustrated by the negativeness of the evil called ignorance.
The schools are devoted to the overcoming of ignorance, yet they do not regard it as something. No time is wasted in the schools in trying to instruct any one as to the origin or elements of ignorance. If a pupil were to demand to know who made ignorance, where it came from and what it consists of, he would have to be told that nobody made ignorance, it does not come from anywhere, nor does it consist of anything. The educator knows that ignorance is not the presence of something but the absence of something, in other words, a pure negation. Knowledge of the essential negativeness of ignorance does not tempt the educator to ignore the effects of the negation.
One who has gone to school could not consistently say that it is impossible to comprehend the idea of a purely negative evil, a mere nothing, which yet needs to be positively and vigorously handled and overcome. Christian Scientists accept the definition of evil or devil as given by the Master, namely, that it is "a liar, and the father of it," and has "no truth" in it; in other words, a self-constituted lie, utterly devoid of truth.
Jesus' practice was consistent with his preaching as regards the nature of evil. The essential nothingness of evil need not be accepted as a mere theory; it can be proved in many ways by those who are willing to adjust their daily thinking to this rule, as explained in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy.
[Delivered at Third Church of Christ, Scientist, in Brooklyn, New York and published in The Brooklyn Eagle, July 19, 1941.]