The Simple Truth About God and Man
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
Simple acceptance of the power of
the Christ, Truth, is basic to Christian healing, Noel D. Bryan-Jones, C.S.,
told an audience in
"Jesus found and taught the power of Truth and proved it in healing," he declared.
A member of the Christian Science
Board of Lectureship, Mr. Bryan-Jones spoke in The Mother Church, The First
Church of Christ, Scientist, in
Mrs. Elizabeth Selover of
Wrong questions asked
"The simple truth." Do you believe that truth is really simple? I do. It's the questions that are getting more and more complicated. And we have to be careful that we're not led into complicated answers.
So many questions today are complicated because they are based on false premises. Questions such as, "Why does God permit evil? Why is man fallen?" Such questions presuppose that God does permit evil, and that man is a sinful mortal; and it's these presuppositions that we have to guard against in looking for simple, satisfactory answers.
I know we're sometimes warned of the danger of oversimplification, but however abstract or scientific the subject under discussion may be, the basic law is always a simple statement of fact. In mathematics, for instance, the most complicated formula is built on the simple fact that one added to one makes two. Unless we accept that, we can never demonstrate higher mathematics.
Many hundreds of years ago nearly 2,000 to be exact a question was asked by one whose work lay partly in establishing true facts. He was governor of the province, and he had before him a man, Jesus of Nazareth, charged with heresy and treason.
The trial was a travesty of justice. There were so many contradictory statements, so many obviously false witnesses, that the governor, Pontius Pilate, washed his hands of the whole thing. He went to Jesus and said quietly, "Art thou the King of the Jews?" (John 18:33.)
According to John's Gospel Jesus replied, "Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth." Then, possibly in despair after so much contradictory testimony, possibly even with a touch of cynicism, Pilate turned away and said, "What is truth?"
But Jesus had already answered this question by bearing wonderful witness to Truth in all its glory. This was his life purpose and work.
Let's spend some time in seeing the simple way in which Jesus did bear witness to the truth the truth of God and of man. And how, as Christians, we can bear that same witness and do the same powerful works that Jesus did. Because he said most emphatically, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also" (John ).
Plunging beneath the turbulence
The simple answer Jesus gave to Pilate's question was that Truth is God. Why is Truth God? Because nothing is more powerful, more unopposable, more infinitely available, than Truth. Truth, understood, immediately destroys all that is unlike itself; nothing can contradict a true statement of fact; and the truth about everything is always at hand to be discerned.
So you see, Truth itself has all the qualities and characteristics often associated with God ever present, all knowing, all powerful. Truth goes right down below the stormy turmoil of human searching, human rebellion, to the calm assurance of simple facts.
Like a diver who has gone down through the restless waves on the surface to find the calm, simple beauty of the ocean bed, so the Science of Christianity enables us to find beneath the waves of unrest and unbelief the calm, strong currents of God as infinite Mind, unutterable Love, omnipotent Truth.
The truth Jesus taught and proved, the truth of God's goodness and love, is no mere theological argument. Christianity is demonstrable Science, with God as its Principle and goodness as its rule.
This fact was discovered just over
100 years ago by Mary Baker Eddy, a
The Bible a practical textbook
In her study she used the Holy Bible, not as a mere historical record, or a compilation of beautiful literature, but as a practical textbook. Inspired by this book, she found God to be the divine Principle of the Science of Life; and she found the rules for the scientific application of this Principle in correcting the ills which are consequent upon a mistaken sense of life.
Jesus found and taught the power of Truth and proved it in healing. Mrs. Eddy discovered how he did this, and also proved the healing power of Truth in her own experience and that of her students. She found Truth to be simple and absolute.
She then set out her discovery in a companion textbook to the Bible, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." It is these twin textbooks which Christian Scientists study daily in order to be able to demonstrate the benevolent power of God and the God-given dominion of man.
In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy briefly writes of her discovery like this. First she speaks of her early religious contacts and how her prayers, based on traditional theological concepts, failed to heal. Then she continues: "But when the spiritual sense of the creed was discerned in the Science of Christianity, this spiritual sense was a present help. It was the living, palpitating presence of Christ, Truth, which healed the sick" (p. 351).
This simple spiritual sense of the Christ which Mrs. Eddy gained was the same which Jesus had when he bore witness to Truth. To him, Truth was God. The scientific definition of God must inevitably include the word Truth. Let me read to you a definition of the word "God" from Science and Health. "GOD. The great I AM; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life;
Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence" (p. 587).
I doubt if there is anywhere a more comprehensive definition of God than that! And in its light we can accept God as so infinitely good, so infinitely loving, so infinitely powerful, so infinitely available, that, as we truly understand His nature, any sense of evil in our experience must inevitably disappear because it is not sanctioned by God.
We can have only one God
How can we believe that evil has any power if we accept that God has all power? We can't have it both ways! The first revelation which came to Moses when prayerfully working out the basic law, or commandments, was the utter impossibility of having any other gods than the one God. God said, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:3).
There is a simple reason for this. There are no other gods to have! From his understanding of this simple fact Moses formulated a moral code which has never needed changing. That basic moral code has proved so sound that even today the breaking of it can only bring suffering. God doesn't send the suffering. It's our disobedience to law which brings suffering. And it's Truth which removes the suffering.
John, in his Gospel, said, "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John ). As he said, Jesus didn't come to destroy one jot or tittle of the law. He came to show the blessings of fulfilling the law, condensed into two basic commandments love for perfect God, for all that is good, and love for man in his real nature as God's perfect son.
So Christianity, being truly scientific, accepts Truth, as Jesus did, as God, and man as the spiritually perfect expression of, or witness to, God. The Bible says at the outset that man is the image of God. This is a simple statement which we, as Christians, accept as fact.
In all his teaching and healing Jesus stressed this that man in his true nature is the perfect creation of perfect God, the beloved son of God. He demonstrated for us all the dominion of man "over all the earth" by healing all manner of disease, physical and mental, by restoring the dead to life, and finally by his own resurrection from the grave.
At no time did he downgrade his followers. On the contrary, he devoted himself to the task of lifting their thought of themselves so that they should recognize, as he did, their divine origin and spiritual identity. Constantly he turned their thought away from the mortal concept of themselves to a recognition of their real nature as spiritual reflections of God. And he did this not only for his immediate followers but for all time for you and me.
The origin of Jesus' spiritual identity is the same as yours and mine. It is Spirit. It is our Father which is in heaven. Jesus claimed spiritual identification with God for us all when he said, "I and my Father are one" (John ). You and your divine origin, or Father, are one in spiritual quality. Just as a drop of sea water has within itself all the ingredients of the ocean, so each one of you has within yourself the full measure of all that God is in quality. This refers to the true identity of each one of us here.
And if you point to your human body and say, "Isn't this me? Isn't this man?" The answer is "No." Christian Science shows us that a human sense of man and body isn't the reality of man. It manifests an immature sense of man, stemming from an immature sense of God.
Take, for instance, the numbers which express the rules of mathematics. They are ideas, not things. They are perfect, operating according to invariable law. But they are manifested as figures on a blackboard. The figure four, for example. This can be written in various forms according to the one doing it. It can be large, small, tidy, or malformed. But the idea, or number, behind every figure remains unchanged, a perfect idea.
So the true spiritual identity of man, the oneness with God which is man, remains a perfect being, and the human consciousness which manifests a human body is our immature sense of that perfect being. Through the understanding of Jesus' teachings in scientific Christianity, this human consciousness will rise above a physical sense of man until we all recognize within ourselves the spiritual, divine sense of God, expressed in God-given dominion and perfect being, health, wholeness, and holiness.
Man expresses Gods nature
This is possible here and now. The Psalmist saw it even before Jesus taught it. He sang: "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet" (Ps. 8:4-6). And the simple truth is that you are that man!
Well now, what is it that reveals this true idea, man, to human consciousness? It's the Christ. Christ is the true idea of God and man. Science and Health gives this definition:
"Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness" (p. 332).
Jesus showed so plainly that the Christ was his spiritual identity. His mission to reveal the true nature of God to man entitled him to be known as Christ Jesus, or Jesus the Christ. His divine nature, that which he lived and embodied so powerfully and so lovingly, was the exemplification of Truth, of the simple fact that, as the son of God, man has dominion over all evil.
Now the question arises, how does the knowledge that I am a spiritual entity serve to heal? How can it help me when I am attacked with pain or sickness or a broken bone?
Let me tell you of one of the countless occasions on which it has healed me. One day, when walking along a city street, I tripped over a partly submerged pipe and fell heavily to the ground. I picked myself up, feeling none the worse, but as the day went on I became conscious of a pain in my chest. This, I found afterwards, was evidently caused by a cracked rib, for that evening, as I was pulling out a heavy piece of furniture, the rib broke.
I tried to deal with the situation through realizing that such a condition was not according to the law of God, the law by which I was governed. But by the morning it was no better if anything more painful. So I telephoned to a Christian Science practitioner and asked for Christian Science treatment. As the morning wore on, however, things got no better.
Systematic approach to healing
So in support of the practitioner's work I studied the definition of "Man" in Science and Health which includes the statement, "The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God" and later adds, "He is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas" (p. 475).
I tried to see myself more clearly as this compound spiritual idea "including all right ideas" and no wrong ones such as pain, breakage, and so on. All the elements, or ideas, constituting my true being were working harmoniously together with no pain nor breakage.
Then I considered carefully another statement of Mrs. Eddy in Science and Health, "Adhesion, cohesion, and attraction are properties of Mind" (p. 124). I took attraction first. It is defined in Webster's dictionary as "a force acting mutually between particles, tending to draw them together, and resisting their separation." So the true law of attraction, I saw, is what brings all "right ideas" together in one Mind. It is a spiritual law which can't be resisted by any physical accident.
Adhesion is defined as "steady or firm attachment." This law binds all right ideas firmly together in the one Mind, and so renders them inseparable and unbreakable.
Finally, cohesion is "Molecular attraction by which the particles of a body are united throughout the mass." So the divine law of cohesion holds "all right ideas" together as one "compound idea of God," not a union of parts but a unity of ideas, inseparable from each other or from the Mind that originates and contains them.
By this time the feeling of ease was remarkable, and by the next day I was able to get in the car. On Sunday I was in my place in church with a great sense of gratitude and freedom. Through the orderly, systematic application of the absolute Truth to the error of belief, the healing was complete and permanent.
Doesn't this healing demonstrate the fact which Jesus taught and demonstrated that Truth is God, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and omniactive? He taught that man's full and perfect expression of God, Truth, can be experienced here and now as the simple fact of scientific cause and effect.
And he taught that the practical nature of the Christ as the divine Truth of God and man is available to each one of us. We only have to accept this simple fact and make it our own, the basis of our thinking.
Jesus perceived true sonship
The next question is, "How can we follow the example of Jesus in bearing witness to Truth and so heal the ills of mankind?" The answer is found in obedience to simple spiritually scientific rules.
One such rule is a childlike acceptance of Truth. Nobody was ever more manly, yet more childlike in his obedience, than Jesus. He said that we must enter into the kingdom of heaven, into a glorious sense of our divinely royal sonship, "as a little child." There are so many examples of how young children have proved for themselves and others the healing power of Christian Science because of their simple, unquestioning acceptance of God as ever-present Love.
A little boy I know went to stay with an aunt for a vacation. On his first night his aunt, when tucking him up in bed, asked if he would like the light left on, but he politely refused. She asked, "Aren't you afraid of the dark?" He said, "No." His aunt persisted, "Why aren't you afraid?" He replied, "Because God's here." "Oh, how do you know God's here?" With infinite patience he explained, "Because I'm here." That calm acceptance of the loving presence of God is what heals fear.
In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy sets out in simple basic terms what she calls "the doctrine of Christian Science." It is compatible with the doctrine that Jesus taught and practiced, and which he said was not his but God's.
Here it is. "This is the doctrine of Christian Science: that divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object; that joy cannot be turned into sorrow, for sorrow is not the master of joy; that good can never produce evil; that matter can never produce mind nor life result in death" (p. 304). Let's just examine each one of these statements to see the simple logic behind them.
First, "Divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object." When you're faced with some difficult situation, a tragedy in your life, or a persistent disease, do you sometimes feel you're separated from God, that you can't make contact with Him? Should you ever feel like this, you're reasoning from the wrong standpoint.
It isn't so much a matter of you being deprived of God as it is the impossibility that God could be deprived of you! God must have His manifestation or He would be Mind without ideas, a Father who had no son. How could a father be a father if he had no son? You, at this very moment, at every moment, are in your real being the son of God, the manifestation of divine Love. You are the object of divine Love. You are necessary as God's expression.
How do we know we express God? Wouldn't it be true to say that, because you can think intelligently, you express Mind? Because you are alive, you express Life. Because you are capable of affection, you express Love. It's as simple as that! You express God all right, whether you know it or not! God's care for each one of us is full, all embracing, like the all-embracing warmth of the sun.
The second basic fact of the doctrine is "that joy cannot be turned into sorrow, for sorrow is not the master of joy." Would this sometimes seem questionable to you? Does it sometimes seem that, for some reason, sorrow is completely overwhelming, that grief or disappointment or worry has completely mastered your joy? This is one of the fallacies of a mistaken sense of joy, a joy which is dependent upon human situations or persons instead of the joy which comes of constant, conscious awareness of one's unity with God.
This deep, conscious joy is spiritual and can't be touched by human experience. Jesus said, "Your joy no man taketh from you. . . . Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. ... In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John ;;).
So the joy that Jesus left with us is a conscious spiritual dominion, and sorrow has no part in it, no mastery over it.
The third statement of the doctrine is "that good can never produce evil.'' We're seeing, aren't we, the logical impossibility of two opposite creators, God who is entirely good, and a mistaken sense of a god who includes evil. Then isn't the simple truth the fact that the one creator, the one God and Father, must produce His own characteristics in man? And isn't it equally logical that, He being the only producer, evil is not produced by anyone or anything?
Evil is supposed; it is mistakenly believed; but it is never produced or created as a reality. God never made a miserable sinner. Of course He never made a happy one either. He just never made a sinner, because "good can never produce evil."
The fourth statement is "that matter can never produce mind." Physicists today work from the standpoint that matter can be converted into energy and energy back into matter. This "solidification" (if I may use the term), this solidification of energy, is classified as matter, but it is recognized only by the five material senses. Humanly we can only touch matter, feel matter, see matter, hear it, smell it, with our sense of, or belief in, matter.
Matter claims to recreate itself, but only itself a re-formation of material elements. That's all. It can't think, it can't reason; it can't produce anything that can think or reason. There's only one Mind, God, and what we call the human mind is a relative immature sense of God as Mind. But this sense is never produced or created by matter: and it's never created by God. And God is the only creator.
Life without beginning or end
The last of the statements in the doctrine of Christian Science is that life can never result in death. Life is God, eternal, indestructible. Death is part of a mistaken sense of Life as beginning and ending. Death may seem to terminate a human sense of life or existence, but Life, God, is never terminated, by death or anything else. Christian Science emphasizes that Life is that which exists before human birth and continues after what is called human death.
There are doubtless some among you who feel you have lost someone dear to you through death. Let me assure you most earnestly that such a sense of loss can be healed has been healed by a true sense of God as the only Life of man. Let's go back to that definition of man as a "compound idea of God, including all right ideas."
Those wonderful spiritual ideas and spiritual qualities, which your loved one expressed and which endeared him to you, still constitute his real being. Nothing has happened to them. Nothing can happen to your love of them.
All that ever constituted his true being is here, is still with you in your conscious awareness of Life as God. You are still together in that Mind, that Love, which is all inclusive. This awareness of his true being will not diminish; on the contrary it will
become clearer, nearer, dearer, more real to you as you learn to replace the human mortal picture in your thought with the true idea of God, which IS your loved one. Mrs. Eddy writes beautifully of this in her book, "Pulpit and Press," where she says, "When the light of one friendship after another passes from earth to heaven, we kindle in place thereof the glow of some deathless reality" (p. 5).
The glow of that deathless reality of Life man's Life can never include a sense of death. As you cling to this truth, you will find that God, in His great love, will sustain you and heal your grief. You will prove that Life has not resulted in death, and that therefore joy has not been turned into sorrow.
The truth of God and man, when accepted simply, destroys evil of any kind in our experience.
Mrs. Eddy writes, "The way to extract error from mortal mind is to pour in truth through flood-tides of Love" (Science and Health, p. 201). That's what heals. The love of God, the Love which is God, pours into our lives as we acknowledge and bear witness to Truth as Jesus did. This inpouring of Love comforts, heals, and destroys all that is unlike God.
The practice of Christian Science isn't a tentative thing of trial and error. It's the scientific exercise of Truth which destroys error.
A Christian Science treatment
Distance is no impediment to the
efficacy of this practice. The scientific application of Truth instantly healed
the small son of a friend of mine at a distance. They were on vacation on an
island off the coast of
Her mother-in-law set off to the local village to the nearest telephone, from which she was able to call a practitioner on the mainland. In telling me about it, the mother said, "Suddenly I felt that calm and peace which comes as the result of Christian Science treatment." She found the boy had fallen asleep. She looked at the clock and noticed it was just .
When her mother-in-law returned with comforting messages from the practitioner, my friend asked her if she had noticed the time. She said, "Why, yes. Just as I left the post office the church clock struck 3."
From this moment the child had no more pain, and in three or four days the burst finger ends healed up and all swelling and discoloration vanished.
That's what practicing, the witnessing to Truth in Christian Science, really means scientifically certain results when properly and faithfully applied.
Jesus made a definite statement that, if we continue in his word, if we abide confidently and steadfastly by his simple explanation of God and man, "ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John ). It is this freedom to know always and only what is true about anything which brings to light man's God-derived dominion.
You are entitled here and now to
exercise this dominion. You are entitled to invoke the healing law of Truth in
your own behalf and that of others. This Truth is, like the
The scientific method of applying the simple truth of Christianity to our human problems is to start with the truth about them and work out from that. We don't start with the problem but with the solution. Perfect God and perfect man existed long before any thought of human problems arose. Sometimes we start out with the idea that we have a problem, and then try to fit the problem into God's plan.
Dispelling the dream of evil
You will remember earlier I mentioned the questions which are being asked today "Why does God permit evil? Why is man a sinner?" The simple answers to these questions must destroy the false premise behind them. God doesn't permit or include evil in the first place. Man isn't a mortal sinner in the second place; he's God's perfect image.
A teacher was correcting a small boy's spelling and said, "K-A-T does not spell cat." He looked up innocently and said, "Well, what does it spell?" We can't make our erroneous
conclusions fit correct premises. E-V-I-L never spells "man." Start out with God, with good, and you'll find man is spelled out in perfection, health, joy, and dominion. And you are that man. That's the simple truth.