Christian Science: Its Present Promise and Proof
W. Stuart Booth, C.S.B., of Denver, CO
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Before a large gathering in a city in the United States four men, with widely differing religious beliefs, including an avowed agnostic, presented their reasons for their religious belief or disbelief. However, the three who professed belief in God had nothing more to offer to the agnostic than divergent, and to his sense unproven claims, theories and beliefs. To at least one observer the mental picture of Paul's experience on Mar's hill was presented as being quite similar. Doubtless there were some agnostics among the Athenians whom Paul addressed, while those who professed belief in Deity were able to do nothing more or better than to erect an altar with the inscription, "TO THE UNKNOWN GOD." To those doubters and disputers Paul announced definitely that he could and would declare God to them, that is, he would make God clear to them. Then he proclaimed God as the infinite Creator of all, the impartial restorer of all life and good, in whom "we live, and move, and have our being." (Acts 17: 22-28).
Paul spoke with a confidence inspired by a religious zeal which had been verified to him by demonstration. Not only had his sense of justice and reason been satisfied by the science or exact knowledge of Christianity which had come to him, but, in addition he had witnessed many convincing proofs of the healing and protecting power of God's law. When he had voiced the word of God to a man at Lystra who had been a cripple from birth, having never walked, the man immediately both walked and leaped with joy. (Acts 14). This healing and Paul's preaching so incensed the religious bigots that he was stoned until they regarded him as dead. But as the disciples stood around him, praying no doubt, Paul arose, healed of his wounds, and went forth on his mission of preaching and proving Christianity.
Paul's experiences and his writings indicate that he understood the true nature of Jesus and the Christ. Although he had not had personal association with Jesus, Paul was able to discern and declare more clearly than some of the twelve disciples perhaps, the basically important fact that the Christ is the spiritual idea or manifestation of God, which was exemplified so perfectly and completely by our Master that he thereby earned the title of Christ Jesus. The Christ or true idea of God had been glimpsed, at least, by Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and the prophets: but to meet the world's need by being appreciable to mortals, the Christ must find expression humanly. So, as John says, the Word or Christ, "was made flesh, and dwelt among us." (John 1:14). Jesus so clearly discerned and so completely and perfectly demonstrated the Christ in his walk among men that he is referred to as our Saviour. For in saving men from sin and sickness, from discord and death, Jesus demonstrated the continuing presence and power of the infinite divine Principle or divine Love.
When Jesus began his glorious three years work the whole world was enslaved by the educated belief that sin, sickness, sorrow, and death were real and even God-inflicted. But of the Messiah it had been prophesied, "And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord; and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth." (Isa. 11:2-4). This "quick understanding" and right judgment led Christ Jesus to see and to state that sickness is not from God, good, any more than is sin. And since sin and sickness together with all their afflictive and enslaving traveling companions, are not from God, Truth, they do not express the truth about man. Christ Jesus recognized the fact that the material human body is but the servant or expression of thought, and this enabled him to heal all manner of disease by rebuking, denying, and correcting the fear or other wrong thoughts which were the root of the trouble. Christ Jesus knew God to be the one infinite Mind, Truth, and Love, the Father or source of all true ideas; and so Jesus rejected as utterly false, worthless, and powerless, every thought or suggestion of evil, discord, disease, limitation, and death. Then he said to those who believed on him, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31, 32.) These words make it evident that when we are enslaved by any sense of lack, sin, or sickness we are not knowing the truth, but are believing a lie. To swallow a pill, or blindly to swallow some creedal belief will not heal one from believing a lie; but knowing the truth about God and His good creation makes men free now even as it did in the time of Christ Jesus.
Mrs. Eddy's Discovery
Referring to the Christ, Truth, Jesus said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." (Matt. 28: 20.) The verification of this comforting phrase was realized when the Christ was again revealed to and was discerned by a spiritually minded person, a New England woman, Mary Baker Eddy. Rev. Lyman Powell, Episcopal minister, recently wrote one of the most adequately authenticated of all the biographies of this remarkable Christian woman. Therein Dr. Powell pays just tribute to her Christian character, to her unselfish aims and motives, and to her unwavering trust in God. In Mrs. Eddy's life these words of Robert Browning were exemplified:
"Indeed the special marking of the man
Is prone submission to the heavenly will —
Seeing it, what it is, and why it is.
The best men ever prove the wisest too;
Something instinctive guides them still aright."
But the greatest monument to Mrs. Eddy is to be found in the constantly increasing number of those whose lives have been transformed and regenerated through the spiritual influence of her teachings. However, the grateful thought of Christian Scientists regarding this great benefactor of mankind partakes not at all of personal worship or adoration.
Nine years after her discovery Mrs. Eddy wrote and published the first edition of the Christian Science text-book under the title of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." That it Is a veritable key to the Scriptures is acknowledged daily by those who use it. Some who have not used this key decry it, not understanding it, but surely the testimony of those thousands who do understand it and have used it must be accepted as more credible. Let us suppose that you, in common with all mankind, had been given access to an immense storehouse of many and varied rooms, and were told that in every room, there are wonderful treasures for all to share: joyously you entered on the quest: but after many weary wanderings and vain searching through its mazes, and when, turning from the quest in despair, you were met by a sweet faced, gentle-woman who offered you a key, with which she and many others had gained access to the treasures in the storehouse, would you reject the key because is was proffered by a woman? Would you test it to ascertain if it were similar to the one that had failed you, and then refuse it because it was different? Would you spurn the loving offer because the directions which went with the key agreed not with your own opinionated, but unsubstantiated belief? No, if you were wise, and if your desire for the promised treasures outweighed all else, you would at least investigate, you would honestly study the directions, and humbly endeavor to obey them. Now the Bible is the storehouse, and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures was offered to a waiting world by that brave woman, Mrs. Eddy, who suffered the revilings and persecutions of those who misunderstood her mission and message, and misrepresented her motives and aims; steadfastly she stood at her post of duty, voicing the call of God, which she had heard and obeyed. Many, many thousands have heeded her call and accepted the key, and as they have used it, to them rich treasures have been given. They have found that as they have been faithful to the directions in the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, not only have they been made healthy and strong, the load of poverty and fear has been lifted, but greater than these they have found the true riches, which "neither moth nor rust cloth corrupt," and where "thieves do not break through nor steal": they have found peace, joy, a spiritual enlightenment and confidence in God that exceeds all else.
Because she had labored long and hard in preparing Science and Health, the first edition was precious to Mrs. Eddy. But she had not then learned the necessity of careful proof reading, so that many typographical errors appeared therein, which were corrected in later editions. Furthermore, Mrs. Eddy labored unceasingly to simplify, clarify, and perfect the statements in Science and Health, and thus she made such revisions as were needed in a scientific exposition of Christianity. Hence her words found in her book, The First Church of Christ Scientist and Miscellany, page 237:5. "What I wrote on Christian Science some twenty-five years ago I do not consider a precedent for a present student of this Science. The best mathematician has not attained the full understanding of the principle thereof, in his earliest studies or discoveries. Hence, it were wise to accept only my teachings that I know to be correct and adapted to the present demand."
Only by way of illustration, it is interesting to note that umbrellas were used in the Far East for centuries as a sign of rank and to shield royalties from the sun; but they were unknown in England until the reign of Queen Anne. Even after the ladies there began to use umbrellas as a means of protection from the rain as well as from the sun, no man was allowed to use one. Finally a certain Jonas Hanway appeared with an umbrella. Some people think he invented the umbrella; he did not, he only used it like a sensible man as a means of protection from the rain. For thirty years he used his umbrella and kept dry, while others ridiculed him and got wet. At last it dawned on them that they were foolish, not he, — and so the umbrella came into its own. Thus it is with Christian Science. Its earliest exponents stood quite alone for some time, but they patiently and prayerfully persisted in their labors for others in spite of the scorn, criticism, and even derisive opposition of those who preferred to remain in bondage to materialism and creedal beliefs rather than accept a different teaching shout God. Gradually this darkness of misunderstanding and opposition has been dispelled by the strong light of demonstration, so that now for one to be known as a true Christian Scientist is commendation.
Heaven at Hand
Now let us consider somewhat the teachings of Christian Science, together with its present promise and proof. For Christian Science instead of preaching a post-mortem heaven emphasizes the teaching of Christ Jesus that, "the kingdom of heaven is at hand." You recall that when Christ Jesus was questioned about the kingdom of God he replied. "The kingdom of God comets not with observation: Neither shall they say. Lo here! or. lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20, 21). In other words, the kingdom of God is not a far off locality to be ocularly apprehended, but rather is the kingdom of God simply the government of God, good, in individual consciousness, and may be realized here and now. Hence the consistency of the opening words in the Preface to Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, today is big with blessings." Think of it! Today, — not tomorrow, or next year, or after you leave this plane of experience, — but today is big with blessings for all who lean on the sustaining infinite God, the ever-present Giver and Governor of all reality. "To those leaning on the sustaining infinite," to those trusting solely in divine Mind for evidence and protection, to those depending on spiritual power and means alone for healing, today is big with the blessings of peace and power, of goodness and gratitude, of health, harmony and happiness. But in order to lean on God we must have something more than a blind faith in God; we must heed the admonition in the book of Job: "Acquaint now thyself with Him. and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee." (Job 22:21).
Because men have not been acquainted with God they have been taught to depend upon non-intelligent matter, people, and things instead of leaning on the sustaining infinite Mind or God. Now Christian Science acquaints us with God by appealing to our reason as well as to our religious sense of the Bible teachings. Hear this definite statement from Science and Health, p. 140:4-13, "That God is a corporeal being, nobody can truly affirm. The Bible represents Him as saying: 'Thou canst not see My face; for there shall no man see Me, and live.' Not materially but spiritually we know Him as divine Mind, as Life, Truth, and Love. We shall obey and adore in proportion as we apprehend the divine nature and love Him understandingly, warring to more over the corporeality, but rejoicing in the affluence of our God. Religion will then be of the heart and not of the head."
It is certain that the infinite Creator of the infinite, eternal universe must be good in order to be eternal: evil is destructive in its very nature. This infinitely good Creator of all that is true must be infinite Mind and all-embracing Truth. And, since God is ever giving or expressing all of good impartially and universally, it follows that God is Love. Thus Christian Science reveals God as both the Mother and Father of all reality, the one infinite Mind and Truth, the source of all true ideas. But, says someone, there is nothing new or different about that concept of God, for the Bible teachings implicitly and explicitly set forth these ideas about God. That is absolutely true, for Mrs. Eddy employed the Bible as her sole guide in her study and elucidation of the Science of Christianity. The difference between Christian Science and other religious teachings is to be found in the acceptance and application of these truths about God in the meeting and mastering of the problems of today.
Through Christian Science the practical, present-day importance of the words and works of Christ Jesus is realized. Christ Jesus was the Way-shower that we might be way-goers, that we might think as he thought, that we might live and love as he did, and that we might perceive and prove the power and presence of God, good, even as he did when he healed all manner of disease, cast out evils or devils, and overcame the belief in death. After Christ Jesus had healed a man who, because of sin, it appears, had been ill for thirty-eight years, he was criticized because he had healed on the sabbath day. To those critics he said. "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." (John 5:2-9, 14-17). Christ Jesus observed the Sabbath aright, and Christian Scientists endeavor to follow the Master Christian in this as in all points. Evidently Jesus' critics were materially minded sticklers for the letter of the law, not perceiving the most important part, the spiritual meaning of God's word. Perhaps they regarded sickness and sin as real and as either God-sent or God-permitted. Whereas Christ Jesus, thinking from the standpoint of the omnipotence and omnipresence of God, good, recognized sin and sickness as expressions of the carnal mind, as false beliefs only. For Christ Jesus stated explicitly that sickness is from Satan. and he defined Satan as a liar and the father of lies or unrealities. (Luke 13:11-16; John 8:44).
Thus Mrs. Eddy had the best of authority for writing in Science and Health (495:6), "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 bath 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."
An English Bishop said that one day after he had missed a train because his watch was incorrect, he told one of his parishioners that he failed to understand it because he had great faith in his watch: to which the parishioner rejoined, "Well, Bishop, that shows that faith is not sufficient, for you must have works with your faith." That Christian Scientists show their faith by their works, as the Bible counsels, is convincingly shown by the carefully verified testimonies of healing published in the Christian Science Journal and the Christian Science Sentinel, and also by the oral expressions of gratitude for the healing and regenerative effects of Christian Science heard at the Wednesday testimony meetings held in Christian Science churches throughout the world.
I have many dear friends among the members of the medical profession, and I am happy to testify to their honor and devotion. But in spite of the fact that the average medical practitioner labors earnestly to relieve the sufferings of human kind, too frequently his decisions, based upon nothing more dependable than physical diagnosis, operate like a disheartening verdict of defeat, despair, and death on sufferers. But they can now appeal to God's law, Christian Science, with the comforting assurance of the unalterable verity of the Bible promise, "behold, now is the accepted time: behold, now is the day of salvation." (II Cor. 6:2). The Twentieth Century New Testament rendering of this verse, "now is the time for acceptance," clearly indicates that present salvation from the distressing, discordant conditions of human experiences can be realized by trustingly accepting the spiritual truths taught by Christ Jesus. Naturally such acceptance involves the consistent rejection of every suggestion that sin, sickness and discord are real. Sometimes students of Christian Science unwittingly cling to the belief in the reality of discord, even when voicing or thinking certain absolute statements of spiritual truth, much like a little girl who had cut her finger badly. She was told to close her eyes and repeat the Scientific Statement of Being as given in Science and Health. (p. 468). Her mother saw her repeating the words, but gazing intently at her finger. When again told to close her eyes to error, and to mentally look to Truth, God, the child, still gazing at her finger asked, "Can't I keep one eye on it?"
Sometimes we are tempted to go beyond that child by keeping both eyes on a discord which is troubling us, even when we are voicing truths from the Bible and Science and Health which deny the discord and proclaim God's omnipresent harmony. Remember Isaiah's words, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." (Isaiah 26:3). Christian Science enables us to keep our minds stayed on God, Truth and Love, by pointing out that whatever does not speak to us of God's goodness, harmony, perfection, and abundance is but a false belief, whether it be manifested as sin, sickness, sorrow, lack, discord, or death.
One of the tantalizing, limiting, false beliefs of mankind, whence spring many of the world's troubles, is the notion of chance, the belief that things merely happen, the educated superstition of luck. This notion of chance furnishes a convenient excuse for many errors of omission and commission, but it is also responsible for much misery expressed as fear, worry, sickness, accidents, and business failures. In dealing with this phase of error Mrs. Eddy states in Science and Health that "we must leave the mortal basis of belief and unite with the one Mind, in order to change the notion of chance to the proper sense of God's unerring direction and thus bring out harmony. (424:5).
As we study the words and works of Christ Jesus, our Way-shower, it becomes clear that he knew that nothing merely happens, he understood the falsity and baselessness of the human belief in and fear of chance: he was not a believer in luck, because he understood that everything in human experience is the expression of thinking. And since the basis of his thinking was the truth that God, good, is the one infinite Mind, the source of all true and eternal thoughts or ideas, Christ Jesus logically classified as untrue and powerless every suggestion of evil, discord, sickness, sin, and death. He proved that he was not subject to the belief in chance in connection with weather conditions when he rebuked the winds and the waves; "and there was a great calm." (Matt. 8:24-26). When his true sense of compassion caused Jesus to reach forth his hand assuringly and touch the man who regarded himself as a menace to others because of leprosy, our Way-shower was in no danger of contracting leprosy. His immunity was not due to vaccination, but to his conscious obedience to God's law of harmony, which naturally protected him from believing in discord.
The difference between Christ Jesus and other men was not physical, but mental. He thought correctly, that is from the standpoint of God, Spirit, not from the standpoint of material evidence. Since Christ Jesus thought correctly it is inevitable that everyone here or hereafter must sometime learn to think as he thought, for belief in error is mortal. Because the acceptance and expression of true ideas protected Jesus from the discordant conditions associated with the beliefs in chance and luck, we too are protected from such discords as we follow his example by accepting as true only those thoughts which speak of good and perfection, and reject as false every suggestion of accident, evil, disease, fear, and loss.
This has been verified in the experiences of great numbers of Christian Scientists the world over, with whom the sense of helplessness and fear engendered by the belief in luck and chance, has been replaced by a sure confidence in God's unerring direction and adequate protection. Perhaps you have been told that you were born under adverse planetary conditions; and perhaps you have used that belief as a justifying excuse when you have met with reversals in your inadequate and misdirected endeavors. As you learn through Christian Science to regard yourself and all else from the standpoint of God, divine Mind and Love, you will see that the truth about you in God's sight is that you are created under God's law of spiritual perfection, spiritual direction, and spiritual attraction. You will learn to see and gratefully claim for yourself and for all that God's unchanging law of harmony, health, and success is ever-operative in behalf of all mankind.
A man who had suffered a continuing series of business reversals and losses was empowered to think and speak with spiritual authority and to prove his God-given dominion as he learned that nothing merely happens, but that every condition of business or of body is but an effect or expression of thinking. The recognition of this fact led him to classify as untrue and powerless every suggestion of discord, dishonesty, fear, injustice, selfishness, disability, or inability. This change of mental attitude on the part of this man replaced the vitiating and discouraging beliefs in chance and ill luck with the proper sense of God's unerring direction and sure protection. To him was verified the assuring promise voiced by Moses, "it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God," (that is if you accept as true only the thoughts which speak of God's goodness, harmony, justice, and perfection) "the Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto." (See Deut. 28:1-14).
Obedience to God's Law
To realize those blessings in our business and in our bodies we must be consistent in adhering to God's law of right thinking. We must not be like a little girl who after having attended a Christian Science Sunday School but a short time was taken ill; her mother told her to quietly think over some of the truths about God she had learned in Sunday School. In a few minutes she bounded off joyously calling, "Oh, mama, I'm all well: I don't have to think good thoughts any more." Ere this that child has learned that we have to think good thoughts continuously, because good thoughts only are true thoughts.
Glancing over the ordinary newspaper of the day one might be led to believe that crime is irresistibly rampant and that accidents are so widespread and unavoidable that one's daily experience is hazardous and insecure. But such is not the case. The law of God protects its observers from crime and enables them to prove that there are no unavoidable accidents.
A student of Christian Science who was an executive of a manufacturing company inaugurated a campaign to reduce accidents among the employees of his company; but instead of using placards which depict or suggest accidents, he posted many cards throughout the factory, on which was printed in large letters the single word, THINK. Not only was the number of accidents in that factory greatly reduced because of that terse advice, but the efficiency of the employees was greatly increased.
Sometimes human belief cruelly imposes upon children and adults certain disagreeable and distressing traits of character, temperamental tendencies, and even criminal instincts, because of the belief in heredity or environment. But Christian Science teaches that nothing is natural to man which does not express the good nature of our Father-Mother God, and thus enables us to realize present proof of the Bible promise of the nullification of the claim that "the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." (Ezek. 18:1-3).
Some farmers in cultivating their fields have encountered many stones which they have removed from the fields and have so arranged the stones that they form fences to protect the fields from intrusion. Similarly there have been many fields of thought or individual consciousness wherein have appeared hard, stony thoughts, such as selfishness, hatred, greed, envy, resentment, dishonesty. Encouraged by the Christian Science teaching that such ungodlike traits are no part of God's true creation, many, many people have eliminated such beliefs and tendencies by the prayer of spiritual desire. And these victories furnish a fence or sure protection against intruding evil suggestions, even when they come under the guise of one's own thinking.
Although the subject of prayer is dealt with directly or indirectly in all of Mrs. Eddy's writings, the first chapter in the text-book is devoted exclusively to prayer. Therein the subject is explained in such a manner that one is led to realize the truth of these words of the poet: "Prayer is the Christian's vital breath, the Christian's native air." In writing to the Thessalonians, Paul gave the injunction to "pray without ceasing." Christian Science shows that literal obedience to this injunction is not only possible, but it is absolutely essential to our well-being and happiness. Prayer is communion with God. And since God is Mind, we pray aright or commune with divine Mind as we continually and consistently keep God's true, loving, pure, and perfect ideas active and dominant in our consciousness. In other words, prayer is having the Mind which was in Christ Jesus; it is knowing God as Christ Jesus did. Such prayer protects us from belief in chance and delivers us from enslaving sins.
Sometimes uninformed people are misled into regarding Christian Science as merely a therapeutic agent put forth to compete with doctors of medicine, but that is far from true. The primal purpose of Christian Science is the overcoming and obliteration of sin. This is accomplished by showing that there is no real pleasure, profit, and satisfaction in wrong thinking and wrong living. Some of the most impressive testimonies of healing heard in Christian Science churches are voiced by those who have proved that now is the day of salvation from degrading desires, false appetites, and from distressing temperamental habits.
Although Christian Science deals in a scientific and Christian manner with the individual in thus freeing him from debasing and enslaving habits and desires by teaching him that man's true desire is for good only, still Christian Scientists, being law respecting and law abiding, uphold every movement which tends to the lessening and obliteration of evil. Thus the great international daily newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, is recognized as one of the ablest and most effective newspaper agencies supporting the enforcement of and obedience to the law prohibiting liquor traffic. This is directly in line with Mrs. Eddy's definite expression found in her book, Miscellaneous Writings, p. 289:2. "Strong drink is unquestionably an evil, and evil cannot be used temperately: its slightest use is abuse: hence the only temperance is total abstinence?."
You cannot license evil and expect to control it. It must be stamped out.
The Christian Science teaching that evil is never a person, even though it may use him, gives moral courage to those who need it by pointing out that when one declines a proffered drink of alcoholic liquor it is as if he were refusing to believe or condone a lie. The suggestion that there is good or pleasure in evil utterly false.
Since Christian Science comes to save, not to condemn those who err, even those who have been paralyzed as a result of believing there was pleasure in drinking alcohol have been and are being healed through the loving ministry of Christian Science.
A visitor to the Louvre said, as he was leaving, "I see nothing remarkable about the pictures." An officer at the door replied, "Sir, the pictures are not on trial, but the visitors are." So Christian Science is no longer on trial, for it has been tested and has been proven to be the reinstatement of primitive Christianity: its promise of present release from bondage and of present reward for right endeavor has been abundantly verified. "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."