Christian Science: Its Practical Appeal
W. Stuart Booth, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
A lecture on Christian Science was
given under the auspices of First Church of Christ, Scientist, of
The subject of the lecture was "Christian Science: Its Practical Appeal." Mr. Booth spoke substantially as follows:
"Sixty years ago there was but one Christian Scientist in the world, Mary Baker Eddy, and at that time she had but touched the hem of the Christ in the spiritual illumination which had accompanied and accomplished her recovery from a supposedly fatal accident. This healing was realized through the spiritual illumination of a simple Bible verse which recounts a healing wrought by Christ Jesus and indicates its means and method of accomplishment.
Mrs. Eddy had been from childhood a devoted student of the Bible, and so it was but natural for her to search therein for an explanation and understanding of the spiritual law, by means of which Christ Jesus healed, and which, she was convinced, was responsible for her own healing. After Mrs. Eddy had verified this conviction in the healing and redemptive works by means of which she tested her discovery, she wrote as the first of the religious tenets of the Christian Science faith this simple, unequivocal declaration: "As adherents of Truth we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life." This, together with four other brief declarations of religious teaching regarding God, Christ, the destruction of sin, and the purpose and work of Christ Jesus, and a pledge of Christian practice are accepted by all who unite with the Cause of Christian Science. These are found on page 497 of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," the Christian Science textbook. This book was written by Mrs. Eddy in order that the whole world might share in the spiritual understanding of the Bible, and thus become beneficiaries of the blessings which this spiritual understanding bestows.
The inestimable value of spiritual understanding recognized by Solomon led him to write in his words of wisdom: "My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh" (Prov. ,22). The fact that sincere, God-fearing people have read the Bible faithfully, and yet have not had health manifested in their flesh, as the Bible repeatedly promises, plainly indicates that they have not realized the spiritual and true meaning and import of the Scriptures. Paul stated the necessity of gaining the spiritual sense of the Bible when he wrote to the Corinthians: "The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life" (II Cor. 3:6.). A great host of grateful Christian Scientists bear convincing testimony to the fact that ''Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" has unlocked for them the Bible, the world's greatest treasure house of spiritual blessings and practical teachings. The Bible promises include healing to the sick, supply to the needy, comfort to the sorrowing, confidence to the timid, courage to the fearful, forgiveness to the sinner, and dominion to those who are bound by circumstances or environment. These Bible promises have all been practically and convincingly verified by Christian Scientists as they have gained some spiritual understanding of the Scriptures by means of the light shed upon its pages by Science and Health.
Because people have been wrongly taught by scholastic theology that the day of miracles has passed, and that the purpose and function of the church is to prepare men for a future world salvation, many sincere readers of the Bible who have been told that sickness and death are part of God's inscrutable plan, have wished that Christ Jesus were again an inhabitant of the earth, that they might appeal to him to be healed. To all such Christian Science brings the glad message voiced by Christ Jesus, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:20). This promise was given just before that wonderful event called the ascension, when Jesus' thought became so uplifted and so completely spiritualized that it found no material oppression. Evidently our Master intended us to see that, although the human Jesus would not be present with men, nevertheless the Christ, the spiritual idea of God which had enabled him to do his marvelous works, would ever be with men, even unto the end of all material beliefs. Mrs. Eddy's explanations of Jesus and the Christ impart the true concept according to the Master's own declaration. For instance she writes in Science and Health, "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. Christ expresses God's spiritual, eternal nature" . . . "Jesus demonstrated Christ; he proved that Christ is the divine idea of God - the Holy Ghost, or Comforter, revealing the divine Principle, Love, and leading into all truth" (333-332).
The Christ as expressed today in Christian Science is "revealing the divine Principle, Love," and is leading men into the demonstrable understanding of all truth. In thus leading men into all truth, Christian Science reasons logically, following the deductive method of reasoning instead of the inductive, as is employed by others. The inductive method, reasoning from effect, or assumed effect, to cause, begins with the material concept of man and things, which it claims is God's creation, and thus argues that God must be humanly manlike. The Bible teachings are explicit and unmistakable in renouncing and denouncing such materialistic teaching. For instance, we read: "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing" (John 6:63). And, "They which are children of the flesh, these are not the children of God" (Rom. 9:8). Mrs. Eddy's rational and religious sense led her to adopt the deductive line of reasoning in presenting the Science of Christianity to the world in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." In so doing she but followed the example of Christ Jesus, whose constant purpose and practice were consistent with his prayer that God's will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Christ Jesus put God first in his logical thinking and speaking and in his daily living. Christian Science, being the restatement of primitive Christian preaching and the reinstatement of primitive Christian practice, likewise bases its argument of words and works upon the Scriptural teaching about God, and reasons deductively therefrom.
Christ Jesus, in referring constantly to God as his Father and our Father, evidently desired to emphasize the preeminently important fact that God, divine Mind, is the sole creator and governor of men and of all that is real and true. Judging by his words and works it is evident that his spiritual sense of God's fatherhood also conveyed to Jesus the conscious, confident assurance that God's love is shown to men in ample providence to meet our every need and insures protection from all evil. You recall that Christ Jesus said that he came to do the will of his Father. Therefore it is obviously God's will that, by means of applied spiritual understanding, the sick shall be healed, the sinner shall be reformed and thus saved from sin, the sorrowing shall be truly comforted, the hungry shall be fed, and the last enemy, death, shall be overcome. Christ Jesus knew that God's good, harmonious, perfect nature and being are expressed in His creation, and that whatever does not manifest the goodness, harmony, and perfection of God, Truth, must be untrue, a false concept only. Acting consistently from that premise Christ Jesus healed sickness, reversed the claim of sin, and overcame death.
Mrs. Eddy reasoned in a similar logical manner when she wrote in Science and Health "If sickness is true or the idea of Truth, you cannot destroy sickness, and it would be absurd to try. Then classify sickness and error as our Master did, when he spoke of the sick, 'whom Satan hath bound,' and find a sovereign antidote for error in the life-giving power of Truth acting on human belief, a power which opens the prison doors to such as are bound, and sets the captive free physically and morally" (p. 495).
I would not have you suppose from anything I have said that Christian Scientists attack or criticize the religious beliefs of others, for such is not true. Most of those who are now Christian Scientists were formerly associated with some of the various Christian churches, although there are many Christian Scientists whose reasoning tendency would not permit them to accept the religious teaching previously offered to them. Those of us who were formerly associated with one of the other Christian denominations have found that Christian Science takes naught of good from our old teachings, but instead have we found that Christian Science greatly enlarges and vitalizes that sense of good, making it the dominating influence in our public, private, and business lives, as well as in our religious aspirations and experiences. From this I would not have you infer that there is no difference between Christian Science and the teachings of other denominations. There is a fundamental difference between Christian Science and all other denominations. Christian Science is unique and stands alone in its peremptory announcement that Christianity is not merely an avowed belief, but it is Science, based on divine Principle and law. Therefore, Christian Scientists have set before them the definite pronouncement that they cannot properly call themselves Christian unless their understanding of Christ's teachings stands the test of healing and reforming, in proof of the spiritual law which expresses divine Principle. In short, Christian Scientists see that the Christian Science Church would fail to justify its existence did it not fulfill this requirement so definitely laid down by Christ Jesus as the test of Christianity.
By way of illustration, let me relate an experience of one of my friends, who from boyhood had been associated with one of the Protestant churches. After suffering much from stomach trouble and after physicians had despaired of helping him, he finally yielded to the advice of friends and consulted a Christian Science practitioner. After he had told his troubles to the practitioner, my friend was asked if he believed in God, to which he made a vigorous affirmative reply. When he was next asked, "What is God?" he made answer from the catechism which he had been taught from boyhood, that God is Spirit. Again his answer was from this catechism when the practitioner asked him, "Where is God?" for he said that God is infinite, everywhere present. After assuring the Christian Science practitioner that he really believed that to be true which he had stated regarding God, my friend was then asked, "Well, if God is Spirit and God is infinite, everywhere present, then where is your stomach trouble?" My friend saw that since God is everywhere it must be that stomach trouble is created by God, or else it does not exist as a reality. And he was instantly healed of that which had appeared as stomach trouble, when he thought logically from the standpoint of God. At that moment God became more to him than stomach trouble, and that correcting of his thought relieved his body, which had been expressing the discords he had believed to be real and God-made.
Christian Science teaches that one of the best ways to glorify God is to fearlessly face and obediently overcome all that is unlike God and His good creation. It is not Christian Science merely to say that sin is unreal; and then continue in sinful practice, but it is Christian Science to find that there is neither pleasure nor profit in sin, and thereby to strip all sinful beliefs and habits of their false pretences and thus overcome them. As Christian Scientists consistently follow Mrs. Eddy's teachings they are law-respecting and law-abiding citizens; therefore they are happy to observe the law of our land, both in its letter and spirit, which is designed to rid our country of the curse of [alcoholism. Christian Science is most effective in its appeal and influence in connection with the mastering of any and all false and degrading appetites and habits. It points out that desire is mental and is not in matter or the human body. The Christian Science reasons logically that man's true desire is always and only for that which is good, harmonizing, liberating and uplifting: that whatever seems to be desired by man which is evil, debasing, and enslaving in its nature and effect, is but a false belief which is as devoid of inherent power as it is devoid of Principle. That this is not a mere theory, but is demonstrable Science, has been proved in the well known and authenticated experiences of thousands of men and women who have been freed from the false belief that they desired and required alcohol, tobacco, morphine, or other habit-forming drugs. These people gratefully testify that Christian Science awoke them to the fact that the one real] attraction is Spirit, good, and that therefore their true desire was for good, for spiritual understanding and spiritual living. Such practical proofs of the utility of the Christian Science teaching that evil is unreal and powerless should silence and shame its critics who are disturbed because Christian Science consistently claims that evil is untrue and impotent because God, good, is omnipresent and omnipotent.
Christian Science does not teach us to ignore sickness and distress any more than mathematical science teaches us to ignore mistakes made in our mathematical calculations. If a child had written on a paper that two times two equals seven and you told him that was not true, he might reply that it was true because he could see it on the paper. You would not regard that as a paper condition, or a pencil condition, nor would the child's fingers need correcting, because it is obviously a false belief only. As you would explain this to the child, and then teach him that two times two equals four, the nothingness of the disturbing error would be seen and its expression on the paper quickly displaced.
Similarly Christian Science, reasoning from the basis of God as the Father, the creator of all that is real and true, deduces the fact that sickness, not being from God, good, as the Bible teaches, is an error of human belief, which cannot be ignored, but must be considered and dealt with from the standpoint of God, spiritual Truth. Thus Christian Science declares that sickness is no more a condition of matter than was the false belief that two times two equals seven a condition of the paper on which it was expressed. And Christian Science proves this declaration by healing or destroying the disease by correcting the wrong thought or false belief, of which the disease is an indication or manifestation. Thus it is that Christian Science practice is both scientific and Christian. It is scientific because it deals primarily and solely with the mental cause instead of its physical effect. It is Christian because it is the very same means and method employed by Christ Jesus, who in his healing ministry, dealt with the mentality, and not the physicality of his patients. Furthermore, the Christian nature of Christian Science practice is shown in the reformation and spiritual transformation which accompanies it and is the most important part of its healing ministry. A woman who was not a Christian Scientist listened on her radio to a Christian Science lecture which was being radiocast. The next day she hastened to a neighbor, whom she knew to be a Christian Scientist, and told her that she had learned from the lecture that a trouble from which she had been suffering was due to her hatred of her daughter-in-law, and that she had been healed of both the hatred and its disturbing effect while listening to the Word of God expressed in that Christian Science lecture. Do you wonder that she was eager to purchase a copy of Science and Health so that she might learn more of this wonderful redemptive law of divine Love? I would not have anyone infer from this single instance that Christian Science teaches that all sickness is due to some specific sin, for that is far from true. The generally accepted world belief in life and mind apart from God, with its coincident false claim in the reality and power of evil, is responsible for a large portion of humanity's ills.
Not Mental Suggestion
However, this simple typical instance should prove to any inquirer that Christian Science healing is not due to the influence of one human mind over another, nor is it simply the influence of mind over matter. This healing was clearly the result of the activity of divine Mind's ideas, such as humility, forgiveness, unselfishness, and love, which right thoughts antidoted, annulled, and displaced the hate and its evil brood of self-pity, self-justification, and resentment. Any honest doctor of medicine will tell you that hatred, anger, fear, and worry have a very marked bad effect on the human body. Probably the woman who was healed of the hate and its physical expression, had had medical treatment, which treatment, however, considered and dealt with the physical effect and ignored the mental cause. Had she been temporarily relieved by the medical treatment, it would have been due to her faith in the doctor or in his medicine; but the trouble would have been liable to recur, because its primal cause, the hatred, had not been eradicated.
Almost from the beginning of Mrs. Eddy's endeavor to share with others the spiritual understanding of God's law, there were some individuals who, although they recognized the mental origin and nature of disease and discord, seemed unable or unwilling to accept and abide by the purely spiritual declarations and demands of Christian Science. Such persons have seemed unable to appreciate and apprehend any healing and corrective agency beyond or other than the human mind, which has precluded their observance of and obedience to the purely spiritual laws of Christian Science. Some of them, in their futile attempt to counterfeit Christian Science, go so far contrary to its teachings as to claim to deify the human mind, or claim that each person is God. I speak of this only because such persons claim that the psycho-therapeutical theories they advance are the same as Christian Science. A bank teller is protected against counterfeit money because of his acquaintanceship with the genuine. This is a most commendable method to follow in connection with your study of Christian Science. Study its textbook, read its authorized literature, and apply its rules for right thinking and living, and you will be safeguarded from any counterfeit teaching; and you will have no desire nor time to waste on them, for you will find that your every need is met and your religious sense is satisfied by Christian Science.
Years ago a member of our family, after a protracted illness was told by his physician that material medicine could do nothing for him, and he was advised by the doctor to try Christian Science, as he had known of some of its beneficial results. However, the sick one was so prejudiced against what he supposed Christian Science to be, that instead of appealing to Christian Science for help, he sent for a hypnotist. The hypnotist, standing at the foot of the bed on which the sufferer was laid, held a shiny brass button aloft and directed the patient's gaze and attention to it. He then made certain passes with his hands over the patient in the attempt to gain control over him. This failed completely and a Christian Science practitioner was then summoned. This practitioner did not attempt to personally control the patient's thought; and, instead of turning his attention to a brass button or anything material, directed his thought to God, according to the Bible injunction, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else" (Is. 45:22). The experience of this member of our family verified Mrs. Eddy's words in Science and Health: "If we look to the body for pleasure, we find pain: for Life, we find death; for Truth, we find error; for Spirit, we find its opposite, matter. Now reverse this action. Look away from the body into Truth and Love, the Principle of all happiness, harmony, and immortality. Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts" (pp. 260-261).
Meeting Human Needs
At the thousands of testimonial meetings which are held Wednesday evenings in Christian Science churches throughout the world, grateful acknowledgment is voiced that Mrs. Eddy's words in Science and Health have been proved true: "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need" (p. 494). This meeting of our every human need by divine Love is not something mysterious and impractical, but rather is it simple, understandable, and eminently practical. To appreciate this fact we need to recognize and acknowledge that we live primarily in a world of thought where all business is but the expression of thinking, and where the so-called physical conditions are but states of thought expressed on the body, even as the Bible teaches and as Christian Science has proved for over half a century. Now when discord is manifested in our business or on our bodies, Christian Science enables us to see these as merely indicators of wrong mental conditions. A steam gauge on a boiler indicates the pressure of the steam in the boiler. Any engineer who would be so foolish as to attempt to fix the gauge when it indicated too great pressure of steam would soon be out of a job. Christian Science teaches us to be good, sensible engineers, so that when the human body indicates some pressure of fear, worry, anger, envy, or other error, we do not attempt to fix the body or the indicator, but we turn our sole attention to the thought condition.
It is plain that all which can displace wrong thought or false belief, and thus eliminate its expression or effect, is right thought or true ideas. That is the simple, scientific, Christian way in which divine Love meets our human needs. For divine Love, God, is also perfect Truth and infinite Mind, and is therefore the source of all true, real thoughts. These true thoughts are always and only good in their nature and effect, as the Bible teaches; and these good and true thoughts alone have power to support and enforce them, because good and true thoughts are from omnipotent divine Mind. After she had been healed by Christian Science it was plain to the woman who hated her daughter-in-law, that her real need had been for love, although previously she had probably thought that her need had been for physical relief. Divine Love met her human need when she permitted Love's ideas such as forgiveness and gratitude to enter and dominate in her human consciousness.
Thus Christian Science meets the human need for health by first making plain and provable the fact that health is primarily and wholly a condition of Mind, not of matter; the next step in Christian Science healing is the replacing in individual human consciousness of such disturbing false beliefs as fear, worry, envy, selfishness, grief, and human will by the accession and activity of true, spiritual ideas such as peace, confidence in God, gratitude, unselfishness, and humility. Exactly the same spiritual means and simple method are employed in Christian Science to meet the human need in connection with business problems. Admittedly all business is nothing more nor less than the expression of thinking, and a truly successful business is simply the natural result of spiritually right thinking. A study of the Bible and Mrs. Eddy's writings leads us to see that Christian Science cannot be legitimately employed to obtain a house, an automobile, nor any material object, but Christian Science can be and is being successfully applied to the meeting of all human needs by supplying us with a demonstrable understanding of divine Principle. And the correct, harmonious result is seen and manifested in connection with business and all problems as we conform our thinking to divine Principle, just as the right answer to a mathematical problem is seen and expressed by one who conforms his thinking to the rules of mathematics.
In Science and Health we read (p. 373), "The love of sin and the fear of disease are the sources of man's enslavement." Christian Science makes man free by mastering the sources of his enslavement, the love of sin and the fear of disease. Indeed many people have been healed of sickness when their fear of sickness was destroyed by Christian Science.
We all have seen grotesque and to us highly amusing arrangements standing in garden and farm fields, which we call scarecrows, because they are designed to frighten crows and other birds away from the growing or ripened grain and fruit. It is perfectly plain to us that these man-made, inert contrivances are unable to harm anything, in spite of their threatening appearance. But timid and unlearned feather-folk are handled by their baseless fear, and are thereby kept from finding food, and are thus needlessly limited. Other birds have gained some sense of the inability of the scarecrows, which naturally destroys their fears and their attendant limitations, and they feed fearlessly. Mankind, uninstructed by Christian Science, exhibit less true discernment and intelligence in this respect than the birds, for men everywhere are afraid of, and thus give power to a large number and a great variety of scarecrows, all of their own making. We have scarecrows in our fields of business, in our homes in connection with our loved ones; some of them are labeled sickness, accidents, decrepitude, poverty, and old age. Some men make a bugbear for themselves of a draft of air; others are afraid if they do not have an oversupply of air. Some men are afraid if they do not have much and heavy clothing; other men seem to be affected oppositely. And so men are beset on every hand by scarecrows of their own making which they fear, and which thereby limit their sense of freedom, dominion, peace, and happiness.
Christ Jesus' Example
Now you will all agree that the one man in all history who was the most courageous and the freest from fear was Christ Jesus; and you will also agree that his freedom from and dominion over fear were coincident with, dependent upon, and due to his spiritual understanding, his acquaintanceship with God, his Father, and our Father. The Bible states that Jesus was "tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. ). This evidently means that he was tempted in every conceivable way to believe in a power and presence apart from God, as manifested in a false sense of good and pleasure or in evil as being more real and powerful than good. The winds of human belief tossed in threatening manner the habiliments of man-made scarecrows at Christ Jesus, but for him they held no terror. Through her spiritual discernment Mrs. Eddy discovered, demonstrated in her healings, and declared for us in her writings, the spiritual law which freed Christ Jesus from fear and enabled him to overcome all evil, including sin, sickness, and death. The Bible statement that Jesus was tempted in all points like as we are, indicates clearly why and how our Master overcame evil. He saw evil, no matter how it was presented to him, not as his own thought, but as a temptation to believe in a mind, cause, attraction, and power apart from and unlike God, good.
To illustrate this point, let us consider the case of the epileptic boy who was brought by his father for healing to the disciples during Jesus' absence. The disturbed and discouraged father had had this trouble held before his gaze so continuously that it had served as a brass button to him and he was completely mesmerized by it. His vivid description of the disease to the disciples and the material sense testimony regarding it served to so mesmerize them that they were unable to heal the boy. When Christ Jesus came upon the scene and the man appealed to him for help, the same vivid mental picture was painted and the same material sense testimony was presented. But Christ Jesus saw this as a temptation to believe that disease was more powerful than divine Mind. It was plain to Christ Jesus that the boy's body was not doing something to and of itself, but that the generally accepted evil belief or belief in evil was using his body. Therefore, as the Bible states, Christ Jesus rebuked the devil or evil belief, took the boy by the hand, and lifting him up physically as he had lifted him up in his thought, he restored him to a condition of normality,
Divine Principle Unfailing
Of course no one would claim that the disciples' failure in the least disproved the divine Principle and rules for healing taught by their Master and our Master. As he explained to them later, their failure was due to their lack of faith in and understanding of God and His unfailing, unerring, ever-operative law of life, liberty, and harmony. In other words, at the moment they had believed in the seeming reality and power of evil and matter more than they had believed in God; and this false belief, accepted by them, bound them as it had bound the boy and his father. After the day of Pentecost when a larger measure of spiritual understanding had come to the disciples, and they found they could no longer depend upon the personal presence of Jesus, they learned that they must needs live and express more of the Christ, Truth, which had enabled their Master to do his marvelous works.
In this connection Christian Science offers a clarifying explanation of a Bible promise which has been a stumbling block to many. Christ Jesus repeatedly said that whatsoever we ask in his name shall be given us. The Greek word here translated as NAME really refers to character or nature. So we see that Christ Jesus intended us to claim for ourselves and to express the same spiritual nature and strong, loving character which had resulted from his spiritually right thinking in connection with every problem which came to him. Christian Science is the science of right thinking and right living which our Master used; and by means of Christian Science we are enabled to pray in his name or nature by approximating in some degree to the mind which was in Christ Jesus.
This practical appeal of Christian Science, its logical, scientific reasoning being supported by Christian works, accounts for the marvelous increase from one Christian Scientist in 1866 to the present uncounted host of grateful adherents, all of whom are convinced by their own experiences that Christian Science is the Comforter of promise. And so today the Christ, speaking through Christian Science, as the Christ spoke through Jesus, reiterates this compassionate, healing message to all: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls" (Matt. 11:28,29).
[Published in a Chicago area newspaper, name and date unknown. In the section “Overcoming Evil,” a portion of the text, which was missing from the original, has been supplied from another copy of the lecture and has been set off by brackets.]