Christian Science

 

Frank Bell, C.S.B., of New York City

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

Given under the auspices of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Kalamazoo, Michigan, Central High School Auditorium, April 15, 1940.

 

Christian Science operates in human experience through the understanding and demonstration of divine Principle. The Christianly scientific remedy for sin and disease, want and woe, is found in transformation through the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2).

Spiritual-mindedness is natural and normal. There need be no mystery about how to acquire it. As one would not expect to be mathematically minded without earnest attention to the theory and practice of numbers, nor to be legally minded except through learning the law, so spiritual-mindedness requires devotion of thought to spiritual realities. To love God with all the mind is a Scriptural requirement.

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 of 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.

It was prophetically said of the Founder of Christianity that he should not judge "after the sight of his eyes" nor after "the hearing of his ears;" physical sense would not govern his thinking. The Gospels make it clear that he was well aware that his sense of things, was different from that of materially-minded persons about him. The immaculate concept of the Master, pure spiritual-mindedness enabled him to to see the absolute rightness of God's perfect kingdom "in earth, as it is in heaven." He knew, therefore, that evil is not the reality it appears to be, but "liar, and the father of it," self-constituted falsity, as he said.

Many who spiritually apprehended the teachings of Christ Jesus found that he indeed had come "a light into the world." Their open minds were so illumined through his pure teachings that human ills became to them less real, less a part of themselves. Thus was Christian healing accomplished without annulling a law, without altering a fact. The lame walked, the blind saw, the deaf heard, to the poor all things needful were added.

Way-shower is a term for Jesus of Nazareth which indicates the nature of his mission. His words and works show that physical sense is not to be trusted to reveal either the true nature of human ills or the true way out; that spiritual sense is fully available and adequate to dispel the discordant illusions of material-mindedness. Jesus proved the correctness of the Scriptural assurance that God, infinite Spirit, gives man "dominion . . . over all the earth," divine mastery over materiality.

"The physical healing of Christian Science," writes Mary Baker Eddy on page xi of her book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," results now, as in Jesus' time, from the operation of divine Principle, before which sin and disease lose their reality in human consciousness and disappear as naturally and as necessarily as darkness gives place to light and sin to reformation."

Since the time of Jesus the truth of being, in contradistinction to the human belief in evil, was not made clear until Mrs. Eddy set it forth in her writings. Her statements direct thought to increasingly vivid realization of the rightness which God has bestowed on His children. Her spiritual leadership is acknowledged by vast numbers of liberated thinkers.

 

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.

The situation as 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.

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.

 

Effectual Christian Prayer

At the beginning of the chapter on "Prayer" in her book, Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy quotes two familiar statements of Jesus: "What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him."

Can there be doubt that the Master sought to make it clear that prayer requires a correct attitude of mind on the part of the one who prays? To pray as Jesus taught, one must control one's thoughts, bringing them into accord with divine Spirit. This is the method in Christian Science.

Since what we need is known to the Father, divine Spirit, we can know what we truly need only through adjusting our sense of need to the divine will. Thus what things are rightly desired will be realized. Mere wishing cannot be substituted for prayer; and this must be understood, for the human heart might wish for things not truly desirable or needful, therefore not to be gained through prayer.

Christian Science wields no magic wand for the attainment of anyone's willful wants. It works through prayer for the achievement of ends worthy of prayer, such as health, purity, plenty, and peace.

The Master's method is not altogether unfamiliar to human beings. The mathematician attains results through adjusting thought and action to the rules of mathematics. "Who would stand before the blackboard, and pray the principle of mathematics to solve the problem?" asks Mrs. Eddy on page 3 of Science and Health; and she adds, "The rule is already established, and it is our task to work out the solution."

Likewise in music, art, law, agriculture, mechanics, there is no real achievement contrary to basic rightness. In teaching his students how to pray, Jesus indicated that they should restrain mere human wishing, should cultivate instead true desires, that God's will be done in earth as in heaven. Explaining the unerring effectiveness of his prayers, he said he kept himself at-one with divine Spirit, so that it was literally the Father doing the works in and through the son.

Surely it was natural, not miraculous, that sin, disease, lack, death, utterly unlike God, should lose the semblance of reality in the spiritual consciousness of the Saviour. The great healer taught his followers to pray as he did, that they too might be Christian healers.

Jesus declared his teachings would not pass away. They have not passed away, but are available today to all who are ready and willing to comply with the unchanged requirements. The results are now, as always, in perfectly exact accord with the degree of Christlikeness. Jesus made it plain that grapes are not gathered from thorns, nor figs from thistles, but good fruit is of good tree. Prayer that is effectual is the prayer of the righteous, the right thinking of the right thinker.

 

The Nature of Evil

"As named in Christian Science," writes Mrs. Eddy on page 103 of Science and Health, "animal magnetism or hypnotism is the specific term for error, or mortal mind. It is the false belief that mind is in matter, and is both evil and good; that evil is as real as good and more powerful."

We all have dreamed. We may recall how real the events in a dream appeared to be. Those who have experienced the dream state produced by hypnotism may remember how convincing were the incidents therein. The sense of identity seemed accurate. The reactions of joy, sorrow, fear, pain, could not have been more vivid had they been true. But they were not true. It was not really you. It was not anyone.

Coming out of the dream state, whether induced or "natural," one is aware that his sense of himself had been misdirected into a realm of illusion, more or less out of control. Things that seemed good in the dream are seen to have been of no value, the bad things of no harm. Awakening puts an end to them all.

Is mortal existence anything like that? Are its conditions and events, otherwise unaccountable on any reasonable basis, to be explained after all as possibly more over on the dream side than we had suspected? Many thinkers, including writers of books in the Bible, have been strongly of this opinion.

Mrs. Eddy did not offer Christian Science to the public until she had proved through many healings the correctness of her discovery that the reality of being includes no evil. Today the Science of Christianity is widely practiced throughout the world. Countless thousands of men and women now know from personal experience and observation that sin, disease, and disaster are not the devastating realities they were once believed to be; that evil of all kinds yields to awakening   spiritual-mindedness, as spiritual sense eliminates "animal magnetism or hypnotism . . . the false belief that mind is in matter," a shoddy counterfeit of intelligence.

 

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 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 unmistakable 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.

 

Intelligent Choice of Remedies

The use of spiritual means in healing is consistent with the assurances that come to the student of Christian Science that realities are spiritual, not material.

From the standpoint of material-mindedness, and with merely physical ends in view, material remedies might be considered reasonable. Probably nobody contends, however, that man is wholly physical. Generally he is acknowledged to be both material and spiritual.

Some natural scientists admit, with reservation, that material things are not the detached realities they appear to be, but are objects in thought. Medical men frequently say mental states are involved in disease. So far, so good. But these cautious advances seem to get into a bit of a jam as they approach consideration of the thing called the brain. For if the asserted seat of thought is itself but a thing of thought, where is material sense to hang its hat?

Nothing is to be gained by pressing these comments unduly. We rejoice to know that so-called physical science is yielding, step by step, to spiritual facts.

The human body being a mortally mental concept in consciousness, its conditions must be determined by the state of mind, particular or general, in which it is held. The same must be true of the material remedy. No organ or member of the physical body can decide for itself how or when it will act. No drug has intelligence.

Material remedies therefore are but roundabout substitutes for the right kind of thinking. Since man is not in matter anyway, a remedy directed only at a material accomplishment would not serve the ends of Christian healing.

If everything claimed for or expected of material medicine were possible the Christian still would be justified in choosing rather the medicine of the Great Physician, who said: "Take no thought . . . for your body." "The flesh profiteth nothing." "It is the spirit that quickeneth." "Thy faith hath made thee whole." "Go, and sin no more."

Our preference for spiritual remedies instead of material is therefore not fanatical. Material remedies do not reach the source of human woe, but minister at best merely to superficial effects. The ills of the flesh exist only in fleshly sense, which is mistaken sense. True intelligence is spiritual. Victims of sin, disease, and lack need to be "renewed in the spirit of (the) mind."

 

The Discoverer and Founder

Mary Baker Eddy's discovery of Christian Science came at a time when science, theology, and medicine were heavy with self-satisfaction, and with masculinity. The human mind, perhaps especially the male variety, does not like to be aroused suddenly out of repose. The fact that in this instance the challenger was a woman did not add to the amenities of the occasion. In "the sixties" it was still very much of a man's world.

Mrs. Eddy's manner of presenting her discovery probably did not lessen the disturbance. In the Preface to her textbook she wrote, page x, "The author has not compromised conscience to suit the general drift of thought, but has bluntly and honestly given the text of Truth." Materialistic science, theology, and medicine were outraged. They rose almost "as one man" to drive out this daring intruder. Some less respectable elements, including literary mercenaries, joined the chase. The campaign to discredit Mrs. Eddy makes anything but a pretty story. It is an old and familiar story, however, to those acquainted with the human mind's reactions toward the best friends of mankind.

Mrs. Eddy's' trust in the ultimate triumph of the truth was unshaken. In the midst of the unlovely turmoil, in which volumes were written, sermons were preached, and scandalous tongues whispered busily, she said with tranquil assurance, "Those who look for me in person, or elsewhere than in my writings, lose me instead of find me" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, page 120).

In less time than even the most eager of her friends may have expected, the ugly volumes are accumulating well-deserved dust, the pulpit grows kind, medicine frankly seeks a mental way out of disease.

Misrepresentation and abuse, of course, could not stop something so practically provable as Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy knew this better than her foes, better than some of her friends. While the enemy was wasting time and effort against her personality she was perfecting the presentation of her discovery, revising her textbook into flawlessness, establishing her church with peculiar fitness to its task of safeguarding the purity of her revelation, that suffering mankind should never need to lack assurance of where to look for real Christian Science.

Those who still seek Mary Baker Eddy elsewhere than in her writings still lose her, as always. Those who seek her where she only can be found are increasingly aware of the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, in the reality of her remarkable selfhood.

 

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 fail 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 anyone 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.

 

On The Way To Freedom

Reason agrees with revelation that non-intelligence is naturally subject to intelligence, that matter is not the master of mind. This logical line of thinking becomes clearer as human progress presses forward. The hold of materialism is loosening, not only in philosophic theory but in practical affairs.

Liberated thought manifests itself, step by step, in the realm of human invention. Despite the frequent abuse of man's newfound dominion over things the broad view shows the forward movement to be essentially in the right direction.

When the human voice encircles the globe in a moment, when an ocean of space is but a day's journey and a traveler may cross a continent in a few hours, it would be a dull thinker indeed who would deny that man is on his way toward understanding of omnipresent being. Time and space, are being shorn so rapidly of power to obstruct human movement that we may well consider what may be required of us in readjusting the sense of self to the entire absence of physical interference.   The Christian is somewhat prepared for this unfoldment. He reads in his Bible that without annulling any law the Founder of Christianity demonstrated the inability of matter to prevent his being on the other side of the sea immediately, and that St. Paul urged the importance of recognizing that man lives, moves, and has his being in infinite Spirit, God.

When the ultimate of human inventive genius has been attained and there remains no suggestion of material hindrance to man's "dominion . . . over all the earth," will anything have been accomplished that was not always the spiritual fact, affirmed in Christian teaching and proved in the deeds of the pure thinker, Jesus of Nazareth.

 

[Published in The Otsego (Michigan) Union, April 18, 1940.]

 

 

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