The Scientific Breakthrough in Religion (Summary)
Otto Bertschi, C.S.B., of Zurich, Switzerland
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
"Breakthroughs aren't limited to the physical sciences," lecturer Otto Bertschi, C.S.B., told a public audience.
Any genuine religious experience, he said, is in the nature of a "spiritual breakthrough."
"It comes to men as a moment of divine consciousness that lifts us into an entirely new region of experience unlike anything we have ever known before." The result is often a profound change in a person's character and circumstances.
Such changes, he said, are evidence of "spiritual reality" reaching human consciousness, breaking through into human experience, through the operation of "spiritual law".
Mr. Bertschi, a teacher and practitioner of Christian Science from Zurich, Switzerland, is currently on tour as a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship.
The lecture was titled, "The Scientific Breakthrough in Religion."
New Idea Formed
"A breakthrough takes place in the thought of an individual," Mr. Bertschi noted. "It comes as a new idea. Its practical application will change conditions ... Mankind's whole experience can be changed for the better."
He stated that anything men do that brings good into human life is in some degree part of a breakthrough that "reveals our spiritual identity ... Any real good that any of us is expressing has its source in Spirit and is part of the divine Life."
To recognize the nature of these "breakthroughs," he indicated, is an important step towards the "understanding of spiritual reality."
Breakthroughs also bring new insight into study of the Bible, said the lecturer, and he described how a Bible passage led to the healing that was experienced by Mary Baker Eddy in 1866 and is generally regarded as a turning point in the discovery of Christian Science. He quoted a statement from her "Miscellaneous Writings:"
"That short experience included a glimpse of the great fact that I have since tried to make plain to others, namely, Life in and of Spirit; this Life being the sole reality of existence."
The idea that reality is spiritual is not entirely new, Mr. Bertschi observed.
There are "evidences throughout recorded history that this insight had come in a degree to others," and the Bible tells of many men and women who were "great witnesses to spiritual truth," this witness coming to its "fullest flower in the life of Christ Jesus."
It was Jesus, he noted, who defined God as "Spirit."
"He didn't have to discover this fact of reality. ... The awareness of Life in and of Spirit was in Jesus from the beginning — it was his natural understanding."
"In his presence, men's bodies and characters were changed. He was applying truths of God and man to conditions of illness, poverty, loneliness, injustice, immorality and even death. There resulted from his ministry moral and physical freedom to an extent the world never had known before."
To explain this unseen spiritual power and how it operates, said the lecturer, Jesus alluded to the rustling of leaves in a tree.
Power of Spirit
"What moved them? The wind. You can't see the wind. In the same way you can't see or smell or touch Spirit, but just the same, it's the power behind all that is right and good. The ultimate fact is always Spirit."
Mr. Bertschi stated he had recently witnessed the spiritual healing of an elderly woman suffering from a serious bronchial condition, and described it in these words:
"The conviction that God is Spirit, and that her life was the expression of this Spirit, was so vivid that sickness faded as the mist does before the sun. The power of Spirit had filled her consciousness and this changed the physical condition, as an unseen wind shakes leaves from a tree."
In such cases, the lecturer emphasized, far more important than the physical change is "the religious experience, . . . the individual spiritual breakthrough which comes with each healing."
This he described as an "awareness of Truth," a "conviction of spiritual reality," that serves to heal and redeem every aspect of human experience.