Christian Science: The Light by Which We See
Noel D. Bryan-Jones, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Some time ago we in
This incident illustrates a common tendency of mankind. It gropes around in spiritual darkness and ignorance, unaware that light is here if only we would use it. This light is faith, not blind faith, but faith that is scientific and Christian. It illuminates man's true being for us, the spiritual reality inherent in each one of us. Its supply of power from God, Spirit, can never be overloaded, can never fail, no matter what demands are made upon it. My purpose tonight is to show the availability of this enlightened faith and how we may put it to use.
The most majestic and imperative command ever uttered was, "Let there be light" (Gen. 1:3). We find it in the Bible, in the first chapter of Genesis, when it was thundered out in the darkness and formless void of material ignorance and fear. Today it's just as imperative, just as full of majesty and might, as it was then. In the sense that we're going to consider it this evening, "Let there be light" is not a mere human plea. It's a divine command. It impels immediate fruition, for we read, "And there was light" (Gen. 1:3) – not solar or incandescent light, but spiritual light, by which all creation,, all reality, is revealed. So the earnest seeker for spiritual enlightenment can still turn to God, the divine source, and confidently claim, "There is light." Like God Himself, spiritual light is omnipresent.
As we obey the intuitive urge to reach out for light, for divine revelation, we can surely find it. Contemplating the spontaneous outpouring of light which bases all creation, Paul triumphantly wrote, "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (II Cor. 4:6).
That's where the glorious light of spiritual understanding is to be found – in our hearts. As we learn this through scientific Christianity, we find man's true nature, the perfect spiritual image of perfect God, right here within ourselves. Christian Science is not a process of thought by which man is made perfect. It's a revelation to thought by which the spiritually natural perfection of man as God's exact image or reflection is seen. Physically we need light if we want to see. Spiritually we need the enlightened spiritual understanding which enables us to exclaim, "Oh, I see!"
Spiritual Sense Includes Intuitive Hope
Those who are in need of healing,
whether the problem is one of physical disease or discordant living of some
kind, or perhaps of satisfying a deep spiritual hunger, are usually looking to
some source outside of themselves for light on their problem. They often
instinctively turn to God for help, but then look for Him elsewhere than within
the spiritual sense of God which each one of us possesses. God is of course
infinite, but that infinity is all-embracing and permeates the spiritual sense
of each one of us. So we find the true sense of spiritual being, the
Mary Baker Eddy, who made the great discovery that Christianity is exact Science, knew so well this progress from intuition to hope and faith. From childhood to her discovery of Christian Science, and after, she devoted much of her time to praying and searching the Scriptures, following an intuition that the healing work of Christ Jesus is as available today as it was when he was teaching and demonstrating it on earth. In her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" she writes, "The search was sweet, calm, and buoyant with hope, not selfish nor depressing. I knew the Principle of all harmonious Mind-action to be God, and that cures were produced in primitive Christian healing by holy, uplifting faith; but I must know the Science of this healing, and I won my way to absolute conclusions through divine revelation, reason, and demonstration" (p. 109).
This discovery was no easy or sudden revelation. She knew the light was there, but she spent many years before she discerned its full radiance. During that period she proved, first in her own healing and then in the healing of others, that there was a reason for the hope that was in her. The reason was the same one which has brought us here tonight – the inescapable fact that God, who is Love and Life, is here in our hearts to heal and save. We only need to avail ourselves of the ever-present light of spiritual sense, in other words, to find and recognize it within ourselves. The Psalmist saw it even before Christ Jesus made it plain and practical. He sang, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God" (Ps. 43:5).
The Prayer of Faith
Our ability to demonstrate that God is indeed the health of our countenance, the source of our well-being, is ever present. The way to do it is through spiritual sense, a sense of the allness of God as Spirit. The ascending steps of spiritual sense start with intuition or inspiration. Then we glimpse something of the glorious reality of power and perfection that God has given to man, by creating him in His own spiritual likeness. Mrs. Eddy, in Science and Health, refers to these gradations of spiritual sense in these words, "Spiritual sense, contradicting the material senses, involves intuition, hope, faith, understanding, fruition, reality" (p. 298).
We've taken the first two steps of intuition and hope by meeting together at this lecture. Many have found a lifetime of joy, health, and prosperity through obeying their intuition to attend a Christian Science lecture, perhaps at the invitation of a friend. They came with a hope in their hearts that they might learn of something which would meet their need. And so these two first steps – intuition and hope – awakened them to gain a glimpse of the glorious light of Truth.
The next step, faith, follows in a natural progression, and it is our main consideration this evening. Christian Science is preeminently a religion of faith – not mere blind faith but faith which is advanced to spiritual understanding. This faith is defined in the Epistle to the Hebrews as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). The evidence of what we spiritually know through faith always supersedes the false testimony of what we mistakenly believe through lack of faith, such as disease, or disaster, or sin. Describing her sense of prayer at the very beginning of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy writes: "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, – a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love" (p. 1).
All Christian religion teaches in a measure the need for faith in God. As well as this, however, Christian Science tells of God's faith in man. God created man for a specific purpose – to express Him, to show forth His divine character in spiritual qualities. Then surely God has absolute confidence in the ability of man to do what He created him to do. I have so often been helped and encouraged, when in a tight corner, by remembering that God has absolute faith in my ability to be what He made me, the spiritually active image of Himself.
I'd like to share with you the experience of a friend of mine who is a Christian Science practitioner. At a certain time he was feeling a great sense of burden. He had a number of patients who didn't seem to be responding to Christian Science treatment. One night he was praying earnestly about this, desiring with all his heart that he might have more faith with which to help those dear people who had turned to him. He found himself praying, almost desperately, in the words the disciples used when they went to Jesus and said, "Increase our faith" (Luke 17:5). He wanted so much to have his faith increased so that he could do better healing work. After a while it occurred to him that he couldn't remember what Jesus replied to his disciples. So he looked it up in Luke's Gospel and found that Jesus didn't agree to increase their faith at all. On the contrary he assured them that if they only had real faith as a grain of mustard seed, the most wonderful things could come to pass. The practitioner then saw that it wasn't more faith he needed, but a greater use of the faith he had.
He opened Science and Health and found four words standing right out at him, almost as if they were in relief: "Who dares to doubt?" Then he read the whole passage, which refers to the raising of Lazarus: "Who dares to doubt this consummate test of the power and willingness of divine Mind to hold man forever intact in his perfect state, and to govern man's entire action?" (Science and Health, p. 493) "Who dares to doubt?" Immediately he felt really ashamed of himself for daring to doubt. His spiritual sense severely rebuked him, it seemed almost audibly – "How dare you doubt? You who have had so many proofs of God's love and care for man, how dare you doubt?" He said he felt about so big! But he resolved there and then he would doubt no longer. He would exercise full faith in the fact that disease and discord were not creations of God, and that the healing Christly sense, which had revealed this to him, had also touched the thought of his patients. During the next few days most satisfactory healing took place, in some instances of serious conditions. You see, the spiritual perfection of man is not a human accomplishment. It's a divine fact, which just needs to be spiritually discerned.
Faith Is Spiritual Recognition
The faith which heals is a positive faith, Mrs. Eddy called it "an absolute faith," and you can find it within yourselves right now. It is the cultivating of a spiritual sense of more faith in truth than in falsity, more faith in good than in evil, more faith in love than in hate or fear, more faith in God as Life than in mortality and death, more faith in your true selfhood as the image and likeness of God, than in the mistaken sense of yourselves as helpless mortals. This is expressed in quiet, earnest, confident prayer – the prayer of faith which the Bible assures us "shall save the sick, . . . and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him" (James ).
This praying is Christian Science treatment: sacred, close communion with God. It is more affirmation than petition, affirmation of the power and presence of God maintaining man whole, healthy, and happy. The scientific prayer of faith is the most powerful activity in the world, more powerful than the atom bomb, more potent than any human device yet to be invented. The prayer of faith has moved mountains of ignorance and fear, and it will always do so. It makes room for the power of the Christ and heals all manner of disease and discord.
Jesus' life was one of constant, unceasing prayer. He frequently retired from the turmoil of his busy human ministry to spend long periods in communion with God. The Gospels show that after these times of quiet prayer he performed many remarkable healings. On one occasion, sensing the necessity to pray understandingly, one of his disciples asked him to teach them to pray, and he gave them what has proved to be the most wonderful and comprehensive prayer ever recorded, the Lord's Prayer. This prayer, understood in its spiritual sense, has done more for the healing and regeneration of mankind than any other. It is the prayer, not only of faith, but of love, unselfed and unselfish love. It is unselfish because it is not a prayer to my Father but to our Father. It is all-embracing, praying for our daily bread – not just mine – a realization that Love, God, cares for and supplies all mankind with infinite good, not just a chosen few. It petitions "forgive us . . . lead us . . . deliver us" with the assurance that because God is infinite good, because His is the kingdom and the power and the glory, such a prayer is answered.
Mrs. Eddy gave us a beautiful description of prayer when she wrote in her book "No and Yes": "True prayer is not asking God for love; it is learning to love, and to include all mankind in one affection. Prayer is the utilization of the love wherewith He loves us" (p. 39). A little girl was saying her prayers one night and was giving God quite a list of those whom she wanted Him to bless, including her parents, relations, dolls, pets, and so on, and she concluded, "and please, God, bless all those I love." Then she added, "Oh, and you'd better bless all the others too, in case I get friendly with them one day."
Prayer brings with it a wonderful sense of peace and courage to go forward, for it is the closest, most precious communion with God. In a certain sense we here, tonight, are sharing this hour in prayer by lifting our thought above human doubts and fears. We are seeing more clearly through enriched spiritual sense the power and presence of God, and gaining more faith in the process. We can, here and now, renew faith, in prayer. We can and must, "Pray without ceasing," as Paul recommends (I Thess. ). Why should we ever cease to pray? Why should we succumb to feelings of care, worry, fear, weakness, and so on when we can pray, always? We can pray wherever we are, on the street, in the car or bus, as well as in the quiet sanctuary of church or home.
Prayer isn't something to be switched on or off at special times. The attitude of thought which affirms positively, humbly, and gratefully God's presence, His goodness and love, is constant prayer. The act or habit of praying like this, with faith, meekness, and unselfed love brings immediate joy and strength and healing.
Scientific prayer must be quiet, not clamorous. Jesus said we must enter into the closet and shut the door in order to pray aright. We must mentally and spiritually retire into the sacred sanctuary of spiritual sense, into a sense of the ever-presence of God, Spirit. This closet of spiritual sense, by the way, is not a dark little room. It is the great audience-chamber of divine Love, which is always illumined by the Christ. Scientific Christianity shows that the Christ is the illumination or manifestation of God's presence. Jesus embodied this in his life and work, and he is our Exemplar. "Whenever we find in our hearts the true spiritual idea of God, of Love, of Life, of Truth, of the Spirit which is all-good, then we find the Christ, which is the Son of God, the manifestation, or emanation, of God, good. The enlightenment of Truth in individual consciousness – the truth of God, man, and the universe – is the Christ.
In retiring into this sense of true Christian prayer, we may readily enough shut out the noise of mortal distractions, but do we always remember to silence our own mental chatter and listen? May we not sometimes be in danger of declaring the truth of God and man so vociferously, of asking God so desperately, that we fail to hear the still small voice of Love with its quiet, calm assurance that all is well? Aren't we sometimes inclined to reverse the young Samuel's petition, "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth" (I Sam. 3:9) by saying, "Listen, Lord, for Thy servant speaketh"?
Scientific faith is always positive – an advanced step from hope. A young boy was worried because he was afraid he wouldn't be able to pass his exams. His mother said, "You mustn't take that negative attitude, you must be more positive." He replied, "All right, I'm positive I won't pass." He still had something to learn.
In his healing work Christ Jesus so often said it was the faith of those who went to him which made them whole. A typical case is related in Mark's Gospel (Mark -52). Bartimaeus was blind, and because of this he also labored under the conviction that he had to beg for a living. As he sat by the roadside he heard a commotion, and learned that it was Jesus, accompanied by a great number of people, who was passing by. Whereupon he cried out, "Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me." It's interesting here to note that, although the expected Messiah was to be the son of David, the Jews of that time didn't admit that Jesus was the one, and yet he was a direct descendant of David. But Bartimaeus discerned the presence of the Christ, and in spite of the protests of those around him, persisted in his prayer, "Thou son of David, have mercy on me." Jesus heard him and invited him to come to him, fully knowing that despite his handicap he'd be able to find him in the crowd.
Casting aside his ragged garment of a beggar with a new-found sense of spiritual richness, Bartimaeus went to Jesus and prayed confidently for his sight. His spiritual vision perceived the presence of the Christ, manifested so fully by the human Jesus, and he went in full faith and recognition that the Christ would heal him. Jesus saw, not the blind man which the onlookers saw, but the true spiritual man of God's creating, the man endowed with limitless spiritual vision. He recognized the humble faith which Bartimaeus expressed in his approach. His words were significant: "Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole."
Such faith, such recognition of the ever-present Christ, is true seeing. We today can't turn to the personal Jesus, but we can look to the impersonal Christ which he embodied and expressed. As we recognize within ourselves the spiritual sense of Christliness, this is true vision, for to recognize is to see. Then we are looking out from the standpoint of man's unity with God, in which there is only perfection. This in turn will correct what may seem to be a faulty condition of human sight.
Mrs. Eddy puts it this way in Science and Health: "The real man being linked by Science to his Maker, mortals need only turn from sin and lose sight of mortal selfhood to find Christ, the real man and his relation to God, and to recognize the divine sonship" (p. 316). Not only Bartimaeus, but many Christian Scientists have proved that, as Paul says, "We walk by faith, not by sight" (II Cor. 5:7).
Isaiah assures us that "The eyes of them that see shall not be dim" (Isa. 32:3). This puts the matter in proper perspective. The scientific fact is that we don't see because the eyes function. The eyes function according to either human belief in good physical sight or a spiritual understanding that real vision is of God and is therefore always perfectly manifested by man. Perfect spiritual vision and dimness of physical sight just can't go together. Shortsightedness, for instance, is not primarily a physical defect; it is the manifestation of a limited sense of the infinite nature of God's being. Longsightedness may be said to express the belief that the wonderful universe of Spirit can be seen afar off but not at hand. Both these defective conditions are scientifically corrected, not by glass lenses, but by bringing into focus by specific and appropriate arguments, the spiritual sense of man's perfection as God's reflection. This is faith advanced to spiritual understanding, the light of spiritual discernment by which we see.
There are two points here well worth considering. One is that Jesus indicated that the pure in heart see – they see God. (See Matt. 5:8.) Man, God's likeness, is by his very nature pure in heart because he dwells in the heart of spiritual purity. The other point is the fact, stated repeatedly in the Bible and clarified in scientific Christianity, that God is All. From this we reach the glorious conclusion that there is nothing but God's perfect creation to see, and nothing but the faculty of God to see with!
Spiritual Sense Contradicts the Material Senses
Physicists and others, from the basis of physical sense, have evolved various laws and rules which tend to bind man to materiality, and to blind him to spirituality. In that passage I quoted from Science and Health regarding the six stages of spiritual sense, do you remember what Mrs. Eddy says spiritual sense does? She speaks of it as "contradicting the material senses."
A meaning of the word "contradict" is "to deny the truth of." If you look into your thought and find therein a foreboding of evil, you can deny the truth of it by recognizing in its place your God-given intuition of good's allness. It you find despair, you can deny it with hope. If you find a blind belief in God, you can replace it with real faith. The understanding which is inherent in consciousness denies the ignorance which would persuade you that you just don't know enough. Having gone this far in recognizing the presence of the Christ within your consciousness, you can deny failure with fruition. You can dispel the illusion of changing earthly conditions with the unchanging reality of heaven, of divine government. This heaven is not far off in the future, but where Jesus declared it to be – "within you" (Luke ).
Don't ever be reluctant to contradict any sense of material law, good or bad, with the facts of spiritual law, the immutable and immediate unbreakable law of God, the first rule of which is, "Let, there be light" – always. This is how you can scientifically heal anything which seems to need healing. This is how you can keep yourself well, because there's no law against health. The only real law, which is divine omnipotence in action, is the law by which the eyes of our spiritual understanding are enlightened. Spiritual understanding is a characteristic of the all-knowing divine Mind, God, and therefore is reflected in His expression, man. It is always present and needs only to be claimed and so brought into action. John said in his first Epistle, "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true" (I John ). Well, do we know this? We certainly should! The Bible is full of it. The Psalmist said, "Be still, and know" (Ps. 46:10). He didn't say, "Rush around and hope."
True Vision Is Spiritual Discernment
Mortal mind, or the carnal mind, may try to argue that you haven't enough faith, enough spiritual understanding, to heal yourself, or to protect yourself from harm. But that's not true. "Mortal mind" is a term used in Christian Science to designate a supposititious mind apart from God. It is supposititious because there is no mind apart from God. God is the only Mind – not merely the greatest mind. In most technical language we need terms which express a negative. Black, for instance, is not a color of the spectrum; it expresses the absence of light. It has of itself no entity, no power. Whoever heard of blackness, or darkness, turning off the light? In a speech in the British House of Lords, a speaker once said. "When the creator of the world pronounced 'Let there be light,' He did not consider it necessary first to proclaim that He was about to deal with the problem of darkness." So in Christian Science mortal mind expresses something hypothetical – a mind which supposedly manifests the absence of God, the all-knowing, ever-present Mind. A friend of mine once remarked that we might as well speak of dry water as of mortal mind, because God, the only Mind there is, is immortal! Mortal mind only argues with the arrogance of ignorance; it doesn't know. Only God is all-knowing, and man is the reflection of God. We can't tell God anything. We can't tell Him anything good about man that He doesn't know already; and we can't tell Him anything bad about man because He knows it isn't true. He made man! And He made him unalterably perfect.
Sometimes one is asked, "If God doesn't know about my disease, how can He help me?" Have you ever asked that question? It reinforces our faith to remember that God is all-knowing, the only Mind which knows anything, and He knows that only health is true. The reason He knows it is true is because He made it. It is the normal state of man in His likeness. Health means wholeness; and wholeness means holiness. And since, according to the first chapter of Genesis, "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Gen. 1:31), man, God's likeness, can have no faculty with which to see anything the slightest bit bad! In reality he can't even see badly!
This has been proved over and over
again by the healing through Christian Science of defects of vision. Let me
tell you about a boy I know who wanted to make the navy his career. He was a
fine scholar and the prospects of his being accepted as a student in the
In a few weeks they took the boy
to have his eyes examined privately, and he was put through the most rigorous
color tests known, and passed them all. He applied for entrance to the
Fruition of Mrs. Eddy's Work
The fruition of one's labor is always a wonderful experience. With the typical gratitude and affection which Christian Scientists naturally feel for Mrs. Eddy, I have often thought of the fruition of her work, of the time when her own intuition, hope, faith, and growing understanding brought its fruition in the establishment of scientific Christianity as a demonstrable religion. The path had not been an easy one, even though she has said, as mentioned earlier, it was "sweet, calm, and buoyant with hope." Many had reviled her for her courage in questioning their strongly held beliefs in the reality and power of evil, opposed to the omnipotence of God, good. She suffered insults and indignities which would have daunted any woman who was not absolutely convinced that she had a God-appointed and therefore a God-sustained task to share her discovery with all mankind. In order to understand that the Science of Christianity is of God and not of man, it's necessary for us to see more clearly the character of Mrs. Eddy. We need to understand her unselfed motive for pressing forward with this sacred work, the work of making plain in Science and Health and her other writings the availability of spiritual healing to you and me. That unselfed motive power was Love, expressed in the great love which Mrs. Eddy held for all mankind. All who knew her spoke of her love which was so much a part of her life.
Irving C. Tomlinson was a member of Mrs. Eddy's household in daily contact with her for over twelve years, and therefore it's reasonable to think that his assessment of her and her work has some authority. In his book "Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy" he writes, "When, in the mid-nineteenth century, Mrs. Eddy discovered the great spiritual truth of being, her God-imposed task and whole endeavor from that moment were so to expound this truth that mankind might be blessed. In this sacred undertaking she encountered opposition. The carnal mind was stirred to the depths by this spiritual truth which challenged its very right to exist" (p. 93).
The Science of Christianity has always existed. Mrs. Eddy didn't invent it. It was through the divine command, "Let there be light," that she discovered it. She found it in the Bible, in the teachings and demonstrations of Christ Jesus and the apostles. She gleaned it from the words of the Old Testament, and understood the light which illuminated the thoughts and acts of the ancient prophets and seers, the omnipotent power of God, the incontestable truth of man's perfect being.
Reality Brought to Light
The purposes of God just can't be
impeded. That's why the work of Christ Jesus came to fruition in the ascension,
proving his dominion over death and all other material conditions. That's why
Mrs. Eddy's work came to fruition in the establishment of the Science of
Christianity. That's why the church she founded, The First Church of Christ,
The perfection of divine reality reveals the reality of divine perfection, and vice versa – the reality of divine perfection shows the perfection of divine reality. The difference between reality and unreality is important in Christian Science because this distinction is basic to spiritual understanding. It can be expressed in this way: all that God creates is real, because it is indestructible. That which is not entirely good, or which is temporal or destructible, is not a creation of God and therefore is not truly real. Science and Health tells us: "All reality is in God and His creation, harmonious and eternal. That which He creates is good, and He makes all that is made. Therefore the only reality of sin, sickness, or death is the awful fact that unrealities seem real to human, erring belief, until God strips off their disguise. They are not true, because they are not of God" (p. 472).
The perfect real can be expressed because it is already within us, the light shining in our consciousness of God. That light is the Christ which Jesus embodied and which he said is "the light of the world" (John ). But he also said to his disciples, "Ye are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14), thereby implying that all who through earnest prayer become more conscious of the light of Christ are able to radiate that light in themselves and to others. Remember it is already here, within us.
In his first Epistle John writes, "No man hath seen God at any time. . . . Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit" (I John ,13). Man is always the image of God, the individualized evidence of Mind's intelligence, of Life's activity, of Truth's integrity, and of Love's nobility. This true sense of man isn't something which comes with time – it is ever present and needs only to be discovered within us. Neither does it fade with the passage of time. Man, the true idea of God, isn't subject to the human conditions of immaturity or old age. He's always at the eternal of spiritual poise, dominion, superb appreciation, intelligence, and perfect being. This eternal is the unchanging light of spiritual reality, of man's true being.
Scientific Christianity shows us that no matter how dark the way may seem, no matter how difficult the situation or disease may claim to be, the light of ever-present Love, of infinite Spirit, of our Father which is in heaven and earth, illuminates our present existence with all that is good, with a consciousness of spiritual being, right now. With deep compassion, born of her own experience, Mrs. Eddy in Science and Health assures her reader, "Take heart, dear sufferer, for this reality of being will surely appear sometime and in some way. There will be no more pain, and all tears will be wiped away" she says, "This spiritual consciousness is therefore a present possibility." This is not something new, it is the clear statement of something which has always been true. Isaiah, countless years ago, didn't write that the light of spiritual being may come some day in the future. No, he wrote, "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee" (Isa. 60:1).
©1964 Noel D. Bryan-Jones
All rights reserved