Christian Science: Its Religious Philosophy
The Hon. Clarence A. Buskirk
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
It is probably true that the extraordinary growth and strength of the Christian Science movement is due very largely to the successful accomplishment of its evidential works in overcoming physical sickness and vicious habits and tendencies. Accomplished facts are always persuasive, yet it ought not to be overlooked that these works, however great their humanitarian and evidential value, are the "signs following," just as they were in the early Christian centuries.
The paramount question through all the coming generations of men and women must continue to be, as now, is the religious philosophy taught in Christian Science true or false? Through the crucible of this paramount question Christian Science is now passing, and must continue to pass. This question must be, and finally will be, answered according to the standard and measure of the eternal truths. It is not to be answered according to the standard and measure of current creeds, dogmas, and beliefs, for all these have shown themselves to be changing as the years go by as well as contradictory among themselves.
Using the term "science" according to its higher meanings, a religious teaching must be strictly "scientific," or else it is not true. If not thus scientific, a teaching is in irreconcilable conflict with eternal truth. To say that there is no science of Christianity would be to stigmatize Christianity as a false teaching. It is unthinkable that eternal truths are not in absolute harmony with each other; hence, what is true in religion is likewise true in science.
Christian Science insists that the teachings of Jesus are in perfect accord with eternal truth; it teaches, therefore, that there is a Science of Christianity, or Christian Science. But are the doctrine and practice known by the name of Christian Science, as taught by Mrs. Eddy, in accord with the teachings and practice of Jesus, and are they in accord with our highest spiritual discernment and reason in respect to eternal truth? This seems to be a fair and clear statement of the question on its answers to which Christian Science is to be judged.
The teachings of Jesus could not be rightly judged from the view-point of the established Hebraic or pagan religions of that time. The astronomical teachings of Galileo could not be rightly judged from the view-point of those who imprisoned him because his teaching that the earth revolves around the sun was both heretical and unscientific if tested by the opinions and beliefs of the Ptolemaic astronomy. Christian Science is not to be approved nor condemned because its teachings seem to be or not to be in alignment with the teachings of other systems, whether medical or ecclesiastical. They are only to be approved or condemned as they are or are not in alignment with eternal truth.
Let us instance this, let us take the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mrs. Eddy. It seems to be the just and intelligent way of arriving at a verdict in respect to its teachings, first to try to grasp the meaning of the writer as a connected and entire system of thought, and to seek patiently to do this while free as possible from the bias of preconceived opinions and beliefs; in other words, to pursue the judicial method of suspending judgment until the matter is fully before the court. It is customary for judges to instruct juries to form no opinions in respect to what their verdicts will be until the cases have been fully presented. He is deemed an unfit juror whose opinion is biased at the beginning of the inquiry. To read the Christian Science textbook in a fragmentary way, and to toss it aside as discredited in one's judgment because some statement it makes is wholly opposed to a belief previously formed, is quite contrary to the fairness which is carefully sought by those of a judicial attitude of mind.
Let us now consider the question whether the Christian Science doctrine and practice are in alignment with eternal truth and with the teachings and life of Jesus. Christian Science teaches that there is one Supreme Being, God, who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; who is infinite, eternal, and unchanging. It teaches that "God is Spirit" (Revised Version), to use the apt words of Jesus, and "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." If God be omnipresent, it follows that He cannot be a corporeal or physical being, limited by the dimensions of space, but that He is infinite Mind, the supreme intelligence. It also inevitably follows that all real power belongs to God and His infinite manifestation, and that as His government and law are spiritual in their origin, they must likewise be spiritual in their true nature and processes. We frequently hear the phrase, natural law, and also the phrase, material law. But we need for the purpose of clear thinking to keep in mind that there are no laws apart or distinct from the laws of God. Any supposed law other than these is merely of human origin and belief.
If God is Spirit, and if that which is born of Spirit is spiritual, it follows that all of God's manifestations, creations, and resultants are likewise spiritual. These could not be of a nature contrary to the nature of God. Christian Science insistently teaches that everything which is unlike and contrary to the nature of God cannot be of God, and must be relegated to the realm of human origin and belief. To reason and understand rightly we must have correct classifications and precise definitions.
If God is our Father and we are His offspring, it follows that the Scriptural statement must be true that man is in the likeness of God, and therefore spiritual and not material in his true being and individuality. All that is spiritual being eternal and unchanging, it follows that man in his real being and individuality is immortal. Wisely did Paul, contemplating this eternal truth, exclaim: "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
When Paul wrote that the things which are seen are temporal, and that the things which are not seen are eternal, he stated an eternal truth which is the only possible deduction from the proposition that God is Spirit and that everything born of Spirit is likewise spiritual. The human beliefs entertained by many persons, even yet, that what is termed matter is an entity, noumenon, the reality of being, and therefore eternal, instead of mere phenomena, appearances that are witnessed to only by the physical senses, – all such human beliefs, when followed to their logical outcome, are atheistic as well as materialistic. They are atheistic because they are irreconcilable with God as Spirit. Fortunately the most modern textbooks, dealing with philosophy and what are termed the natural sciences, are helping to remove the fog of loose thinking which until recently seemed to envelope this subject, and which has occasioned a good deal of misdirected ridicule against the Christian Science teaching in respect to matter. All who keep in touch with current thought are aware that for several years such ridicule has been recoiling upon those who ignorantly or maliciously employed it.
Christian Science teaches that God is Truth. We cannot really think of God otherwise. And it follows that God cannot be the author, directly or permissively, of anything which is not absolutely true in all respects and in all ways. Suppose that all persons still believed that the sun revolves around the earth, or suppose that a lunatic believed that the earth is pyramidal in form. Such beliefs do not stand for anything which is of God, or true. We must classify everything which is not true, even if humanly believed to be true, as contrary to the nature of God as Truth, and therefore not of God. Christian Science therefore insists upon the scientific accuracy and value of the remedy which was taught by Jesus, for all forms and phases of false human beliefs: "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
Christian Science teaches that sin and sickness are not of God, because contrary to the nature of God, hence that they must have their origin in erring human mentality; and the panacea therefore is the one taught and exemplified by Jesus. Would Jesus have been able to overcome sin if sin were of God, or a truth of man's being? Would Jesus have been able to overcome physical sickness, or the physical phenomenon called death, if physical sickness or physical death were of God, and so a part of the truth of man's being? Surely not. Jesus sought to overcome, and proved himself able to overcome, sin, sickness, and death, because they were not of God. He overcame them by the power of Truth, declaring that his works in overcoming them were the works of the Father; and he thus classified these evils as falsehoods. It is thus seen that Christian Science is not the invention or promulgation of any new way of overcoming sin and sickness. It is seeking to teach the right way for overcoming the discords or falsehoods of human existence by the power of Truth.
Jesus gave the command to his followers, of all times and countries, to heal the sick, at the same time that he gave his command to preach his gospel; indeed, he gave the two commands in the same sentence. He did not limit these commands to any one people or any one generation, and whenever Christian Scientists successfully perform the Christian works of overcoming human discords, whether of sin or sickness, according to the Christ way, they furnish the highest possible evidence of the truth of the teachings of the Galilean Wayshower, of the trustworthiness of his promises, and of the sacred validity of his commands. Jesus said to his followers: "If ye love me, keep my commandments;" and this was said to his followers of all times.
On all recorded occasions Jesus employed the same process for overcoming sin and sickness, and he proved thereby that they were of the same origin and nature. We never read that he diagnosed diseases, or classified them into functional and organic, acute and chronic, curable and incurable. In the Old Testament God is described as the "great Physician," He of whom it is said that He "healeth all thy diseases." Jesus declared that his works were the works of the Father. Accepting these statements as true, we cannot diagnose any disease as incurable without limiting the infinite power of God. Jesus not only taught that there are no incurable diseases, but he also proved it by his works, − "healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease;" and for many years this has been likewise accomplished successfully through the ministry of Christian Science, which fact is established by an array of trustworthy evidence which leaves no legitimate ground of question.
Christian Science earnestly insists that all physical diseases are curable through the power of divine Truth. It gratefully insists that its followers for many years have been able to prove to mankind that the promises and teachings of Jesus are neither false nor impractical, but are true and dependable for all mankind, at all times and for all of the real needs of humanity, and ought not all Christian believers to be grateful to Christian Science for furnishing to this age of doubting Thomases a mass of evidence which refutes the contentions of the infidel and revitalizes faith in Christianity.
Christian Science seeks to emphasize to the world that the divine Truth-cure which was taught, exemplified, and commended to his followers by Christ Jesus, always has been true, is true now, and always will be true. That which has once been proven to be true is always capable of being proven to be true. What was true nineteen hundred years ago must be true yet. What the Christ-truth stood for in the first century it stands for in this twentieth century, for eternal truths are spiritual and of God; and like God, they are "the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever;" having "no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
There could not be now, and there never could have been, any basis for scientific understanding and performance if the eternal truths of God's universe did not shine like fixed planets forever the same. God's universe is the universe of divine Truth, and therefore not a lawless universe. The eternal truths of God's universe would not be eternal if capable of any change whatsoever; hence the rules or laws thereof are likewise incapable of change. Jesus declared to his followers: "He that believeth on me [i.e., on what he taught], the works that I do shall he do also." This statement is intimately associated with man's destiny and being, and hence Jesus did not limit his statement to any country or age. He proclaimed that he came to fulfill and not to destroy the law. These words, as well as the words just quoted, together with his statement that it is the truth which makes us free, and that the works of deliverance are the works of God our Father, – all these unite in showing that Jesus did not regard his works in emancipating mankind from the bonds of evil, such as sin, sickness, and death, to have been in suspension or nullification of God's eternal laws, but in conformity with and in obedience thereto.
The word "miracle," in the original Greek from which our English Testament is a translation, signifies a wonder or sign. It was medieval churchcraft which gave to the word "miracle" the unauthorized meaning of something anti-natural because of the greater power residing in the more divine personality of Jesus. The teaching that the works of Jesus were melodramatic exhibitions of his personal power, despite his declarations that they were the works of the Father, and that of himself he could do nothing, may have suited the purposes of the churchcraft of the dark ages, but they have been a powerful weapon in the hands of infidelity ever since. How much more useful to our race are his works when we understand that he taught and proved that they were in obedience to universal and eternal laws which humanity can make use of for its deliverance and salvation at all times!
Christian Science recognizes the statement of an eternal truth in those inspiring words of the Bible: "God is love." Those words explain the motive of the creation and being of everything in God's universe. Divine Love purposes the divine will; therefore, everything in human belief which is antipodal to God as Love is nonexistent in God's universe. Their only place is in that human consciousness which seems to be the abiding-place for so many falsehoods. Is it not really impossible to conceive of the Supreme Being apart from divine Love?
If God is Love, are not Christian Scientists right in refusing to accept any dogma or creed which, when pursued to its logical outcome, would represent our Father to be either unjust or cruel, capricious or revengeful? How can one reasonably affirm that God is Love, and then affirm that the sinner can rely with perfect assurance upon God's help when appealed to, but that the sick man is denied this privilege? That Jesus was mistaken when he employed the same spiritual process for overcoming both sin and physical sickness? That the records, both Scriptural and non-Scriptural, of Jesus' successful ministry to the sick as well as the sinning, are false records? That our loving Father discriminates between the classes of His children, though all are equally needy?
A few years ago I heard from a Christian pulpit an attack upon what the preacher thought to be Christian Science. He sought to deny the Christian way of healing the sick on which Christian Science relies. He said that Jesus did not employ a process wholly spiritual, and to sustain this statement he instanced the occasion when Jesus in restoring sight to a blind man anointed his eyes with clay and spittle. Let us analyze this proposition. If Jesus placed any reliance at all upon the healing efficacy of the clay and spittle, why did he never employ that remedy on the other recorded occasions when he restored sight to the blind? If the clay and spittle had any medicinal virtues, why is it that during the nineteen centuries which have since elapsed the learned schools of medicine have not discovered some kind of a clay-and-spittle ointment which is good at least for weak or sore eyes, even if not for blindness? Can any one honestly believe that the mud had anything to do with the restoration of sight to one who was blind? Is it not more reasonable to suppose that Jesus on that occasion, in conformity to the then oriental custom, may have been expressing his contempt for matter as a curative agency? Such an argument against the spiritual healing of the sick by Christ Jesus is puerile and unworthy.
The same gentleman attempted two other arguments against the spiritual healing of the sick, and the first of these was that the apostle who declared that "the prayer of faith shall save the sick," first said that the priests should anoint the sick man with oil, etc. But, if the apostle attributed any healing efficacy to the oil, why did he not say so, and declare that the oil and the prayer of faith should save the sick? Why did he attribute the healing wholly to the prayer of faith? The reverend gentleman must have known that it was the custom among the Jews at that time for the priesthood to anoint the sick with oil, and that the apostle was merely recognizing that religious ceremony, without caring to offend upon a point which he may have considered inconsequential. If he had considered the ceremony to be consequential, he would surely have mentioned the oil when he declared what it is that saves the sick. Further, if the rubbing with oil had possessed any healing power, why did Jesus never employ oil in his healing work? And why did he never mention either the oil or the Jewish ceremony? When he declared that his works of saving the sick and sinning were the works of God the Father, why did he add that of himself he could do nothing? If he had confidence in the curative value of the Jewish rite, he could certainly have done something by rubbing the sick with oil.
The other argument presented against the healing of the sick as a spiritual process was this: that God intends us to be healed, and has provided means all about us for our intelligent use, in herbs, minerals, etc. For all Christian believers it ought to be a sufficient reply to this claim that Jesus never recommended such remedies, never even made any reference to them, and never employed them. To this it may be added that God is all wise as well as loving, and it follows that God would not have provided as remedies anything which by its human use would lead to such dire results as we all know are attendant at times upon the use of drug medication.
If we really believe in the divine omniscience and love, how can we consistently believe that God provided or intended for our use such dangerous remedies as many drugs are admitted to be? Would He not rather have provided remedies incapable of injury to us, and would not mankind have long since been employing them, instead of the wholly unsatisfactory and often fatal experimentation with material medication which history has chronicled? Divine wisdom does not need to blunder in any way like this, and divine loving-kindness surely would avoid mixing good and evil together for humanity's use.
Is it not more rational to believe that Jesus pointed out the right and true way for overcoming both sin and sickness; that if this is indeed the right and true way, it is the only right and true way, and therefore that any other way is more or less dangerous at all times. The Christian way of overcoming sin and sickness is never attended by injurious effects, but rather blesses us in every way.
But it may be asked, Upon what grounds do any doubt that an all-powerful, all-wise, and all-loving Supreme Being has provided some right and true way to relieve human discord, which will always prove a dependable way if we understand and obey it? Must we believe that there is no such God-provided remedy? How can we so believe, if we believe in God at all? Must we believe that when we have a case of suffering, whether from sin or sickness, we must wait for the symptoms to show themselves, and then proceed to experiment with supposed material remedies for such symptoms, employing remedies which are believed to be capable under other conditions of destroying health and life, for the purpose of restoring health and life? Such symptoms are the mere effects of the sin and sickness, and would it not be wiser to deal with the cause than with the effects? If we believe in God's existence, is it reasonable to suppose that He would intend and provide for us nothing better than scores of conflicting theories and contradictory remedies, to be attended by such a lamentably small and discouraging measure of success?
It may be asked of those who believe that God has intended and provided a sure, right, and true way for overcoming sin, upon what grounds they can say that God has not intended and provided for us also a sure, true, and right way for overcoming our distresses, if we will only understand and obediently employ it. Is God partial? Is He kinder to the sinner than to the virtuous sick?
Let us diverge just here and consider an inquiry which perhaps may seem to some no better than mere transcendental dreaming, but which does not seem so to the Christian Scientist. Is not divine Love the creator of all that is truly beautiful? Do we not know that our deceptive senses can only convey to our thoughts mere appearances, and not the realities behind the appearances? And yet through even these poor senses do we not at times catch such radiant glimpses of surpassing beauty in earth and sky that our thoughts are uplifted and inspired? If behind these material images presented to our thought through our senses, if behind this simulacrum, as Carlyle terms it, reality is a spiritual universe, may we not rationally suppose that such a universe, when we may behold it, infinitely surpasses all the splendors of the sky, all the fairest scenes of earth, all the music which has ever delighted and transported us, all the dreams of artist, sculptor, musician, and poet?
Much in this material world offends and disgusts us. If we believed it to be reality instead of phenomena, to be the eternal verity instead of a passing show, temporal and changing, how could we reconcile such a belief with an omnipotent, all-wise, and perfect Deity? Why should we doubt that divine Love is the infinite and eternal artist, sculptor, musician, and poet, and that all the realities of His universe are likewise infinite and eternal, and of a surpassing and unfading beauty? But to behold it we must attain the spiritual vision of God's man.
Christian Science recognizes the statement of an eternal truth in the Scriptural declarations that God is good, and that everything which He has made is "very good;" not partly good and partly bad, nor sometimes good and sometimes bad, but always "very good." Take any of the forms or manifestations of evil, physical disease, moral disease, or intellectual disease. We cannot rightly call any of them good. We must admit that they are unlike the Supreme Being, and that therefore they are not of God; that they cannot belong to God's universe, that they must belong to the world which our multitudinous false beliefs create for us. Inexorable logic drives us to this; else we are driven to the unthinkable proposition that there is no God.
Sometimes ecclesiasticism, seeking
to support some dogma or creed, has tried to avoid this dilemma by asserting
that God at times makes use of evil as an instrumentality for the accomplishment
of good. For example, we have too frequently heard from the pulpits that
sickness and death are "mysterious dispensations of divine
It may be admitted that in the realm of human belief suffering sometimes tends to purify, as it sometimes tends to harden, the sinner, and one can see how this circumstance has led ecclesiasticism, in its efforts to support the dogma that sickness and other phases of evil are a part of the truths of being, and therefore of God, to mistake one of the movements of human belief for a supposed movement of divine intelligence; but this is disorderly reasoning. God is absolute good, and therefore must be, as the Bible declares, of too pure eyes to behold iniquity. When one human statement contradicts and undoes another human statement, the process is evidently human and not divine.
It is in the realm of human belief that error is followed by retribution, and that retribution teaches the folly of error. In the realm of eternal truths all is harmonious and nothing discordant. Eternal truth can have no recognition of error or retribution or folly. Human error and retribution belong to the "things seen," which are temporal and form no part of the "things not seen," which are eternal. If discordant conditions could become a part of things eternal, there would be no things eternal, for all discord is destructive. Human error and retribution, because of their nature, are necessarily transitory, and no part of the eternal order of things. They are man-made, not God-made, and hence no part of reality, which is eternal and, therefore, unchanging.
At this point the critic may attempt to make an inconsistency appear. He may say that he cannot see how it can be that the works of overcoming sin and sickness are the works of God, if God be of too pure eyes to behold them. Under analysis, however, this criticism is discovered to be untenable. It is made from the view-point of an anthropomorphic Supreme Being. The works of overcoming sin, sickness, all discordant human conditions, are accomplished under the operation of the eternal laws of God. These are the laws of Life, Truth, Love, and hence the phenomena of sin, sickness, and death, all disharmony, must disappear under their operation. To suppose that the "great Physician," who "healeth all thy diseases" and "forgiveth all thine iniquities," by one and the same process, under the operation of divine law, comes into the sick-room like a doctor, to experiment with some drug; or, that He comes to His children whip in hand, like an irate schoolmaster when he discovers that his pupil has transgressed the rules, − all this is but a false anthropomorphic concept.
Christian Science teaches that God's man neither sins nor suffers. The real man is harmonious, not discordant; the false, material sense of man is by nature abnormal and inharmonious. It is unthinkable that the Supreme Being has ordained any law under whose operation men sicken and sin; such laws would be wholly unlike God, and there can be no laws of God's universe apart and distinct from the laws of God. God is Spirit; and His laws are likewise spiritual and perfect. The supposed laws under which we sin and suffer do not exist in truth and reality, hence Jesus offered the only true remedy when he declared, "The truth shall make you free."
Christian Science strikes at the causes of sin and discord, which are to be found in erroneous thinking and beliefs. If we remove the cause, effects are more likely to disappear than when we deal with the effects themselves and fail to deal with their cause. Suppose fear, hate, or grief has made a man sick; can we destroy fear or hate or grief by putting pills into his mouth? We must employ a spiritual remedy, not a material remedy; else our remedial efforts cannot possibly be more than transient and ineffectual in their results. The Christian Science practitioner diagnoses his cases; but he does not diagnose them in respect to their classification as mere physical symptoms and effects. There can really be no such arbitrary classification which is strictly scientific, even from the viewpoint of materia medica.
Any well-informed physician will concede, for example, that no two cases of the same disease which he diagnoses are precisely the same in any two of his patients. He will declare that the cases differ because patients differ physically and mentally; and further that no two patients can properly be doctored alike according to his system. He can only experiment and cautiously feel his way, governing his experimental medication and frequently changing it altogether, according to what he conjectures from the symptoms.
On the other hand, the Christian Science practitioner diagnoses the case of his individual patient from the view-point of the mental or moral cause of his ailment. If he thus diagnoses correctly, he has ascertained the cause, and then deals with the case accordingly. He finds that the same mental or moral cause may manifest its effects or symptoms differently in different persons; in one patient in rheumatism, and in another patient in fever, for example, but the same mental or moral cause is to be dealt with, rather than mere symptoms. Thus the Christian Science practitioner finds how applicable to many cases were the words of Jesus, when he said to a certain sick man, "Take up thy bed, and walk," which meant precisely the same as his previous words, "Thy sins are forgiven thee." To remove the sin or the fear is to deal scientifically with the symptoms or effects.
It ought not to be overlooked, in this connection, that the well-informed physician is wont to state that the large majority of sick persons would get well anyway. This is often because of what may be observed in nearly every sick-room, namely, something which tends to restore health. The medical profession has crystallized its observations along this line into the Latin phrase vis medicatrix natures; which means, the restorative power of nature. Christian Science would make it read, vis medicatrix Dei; which means, the restorative power of God, who is divine Principle, Life, Truth, Love. Yet another reason may be given why a large majority of sick persons would get well anyway; viz., because in such cases the mental or moral provocative or exciting cause of the sickness has passed. The fear or the grief or the hate, etc., has either passed, or become far less intense.
These are the cases which the drug physician diagnoses as merely acute or functional; but it is found that there is another class of cases, and the drug physician classifies them as organic, and many of them as incurable. Why is this? Jesus proved that there were no incurable sicknesses. Christian Science explains this. In the organic and incurable diseases of the drug physician the mental or moral cause of the sickness has not passed, but remains active and pernicious. Drugs cannot deal with mental or moral causes, but the Christ way of healing the sick deals with them directly. As a man thinketh, so is he. As Jesus taught and proved: "It is the spirit that quickeneth."
Christian Science teaches that the various mental and moral conditions which make for sin, sickness, etc., on the one hand, or which make for health and harmony, on the other hand, are not wholly confined to the individual who manifests their effects. Many a person gets sick, for example, because he is environed by sick thoughts and beliefs. Many a person's restoration to health is retarded, and sometimes prevented, by an unhealthy mental and moral atmosphere about him. Gloom, discouragement, persistent sorrow, and so on, are always pernicious presences in the chamber of the sick. On the other hand, it is also a matter of common observation that cheerfulness, hope, and their like, are very useful. Let one who is ordinarily sympathetic and receptive meet some person whose merry countenance manifests a merry heart, and his own face quickly begins to relax its rigid lines. Many men and women are mental and moral sunbeams, who radiate something of their joyousness to all they meet. But go into the presence of one who is sunk in the depths of despondency or abiding grief, or who is storm-tossed on the waves of anger, and you are liable to come to some extent under the same conditions. Every great battle that has ensanguined the page of human history, every political campaign, every religious "revival," in short, every period of any great popular excitement, shows that one human mind may be most powerfully affected by another human mind. It is for this reason that Christian Science so insistently warns us to beware of thinking and of talking sickness. It is because we thus endanger our homes, our friends, and others, as well as ourselves. Immoral thinking and talking are likewise to be avoided.
Christian Science teaches us how to guard ourselves against such perilous influences. It teaches us to maintain at all times, and under all conditions, an absolute reliance upon the ever-protecting care of divine Love. It teaches us to maintain a cheerful and serene attitude of thinking and consciousness everywhere and always. It teaches us a consistent, rational, and joy-inspiring religious philosophy as a sure foundation for an attitude of abiding optimism and faith. It teaches us that whether we are smiling in the sunshine or sorrowing in the shadows, that whatever successes or whatever disappointments, dangers, or disasters may seem to visit our mortal lives, that however our earthly fortunes may seem to prosper or to decay, still we should find humility, gratitude, cheerfulness, trust, joy in the abiding consciousness that behind all the transitory appearances of mortal existence is the eternal good, and over all a Father of unlimited loving-kindness. Even greater than the deliverance from bodily ills through the blessed Christ, Truth, are the understanding, incentives, and ideals which this brings to us. Such is the glad and grateful testimony which has now awakened a pean of praise and rejoicing over all the earth.
Into what a hopeless labyrinth of wretched wandering have those come into whose lives the truth of being has never shone. Wealth and all that wealth can purchase may be theirs, rank and power may be theirs, their mouths may be filled with the fruit of selfish gratification, but if they have no satisfying religious philosophy they have wholly missed the happier pathways of living, and they must continue to cry out, "All is vanity and vexation of spirit!" We show our love for our Father by manifesting loving thoughts, words, and deeds toward His children. The sense of having performed a loving act of kindness, the sense of having faithfully met and performed some duty toward another, these and their like assist us toward human felicity. Selfishness is the sure tendency of atheistic and materialistic belief, and the children of selfishness are sure to retrogress into lower levels. Humanity needs true religious ideals, aspirations, and incentives, to beckon it forward and upward.
Christian Science recognizes the statement of an eternal truth in the Scriptural declaration that God is Life. This means, of course, that God is the life-creating and life-sustaining divine Principle of the universe. This explains the tendency toward health and harmony to which reference has been made. Are not all the laws of disease and death which have been enacted in human beliefs, and which are so heterogeneous and inconsistent, irreconcilably in conflict with this primal truth that God is the life-creating and life-sustaining divine Principle? Do the supposed laws of disease and death act in harmony with and are they obedient to this primal truth? Rather, if there were in truth such laws, if they possessed any power outside of human belief, would they not always operate in opposition to the purposes of divine Life?
Can one rationally conceive that God could have ordained laws of disease and death to interfere with, and even to defeat, His manifestation and maintenance of life? Is not the Christian Science teaching far more rational, that these supposed laws of disease and death must be relegated to the realm of erring human belief?
Do we not recognize that there is such a realm when we recognize false human opinions or beliefs of any kind? If laws of disease and death, or of any other phase of evil, were a part of God's government, would they not be laws of discord, instead of harmony, and would Jesus have sought to defeat them, or would he have denominated his successes in defeating them to be the works of God? If, however, these laws have their origin, like other falsehoods, in human beliefs, then we see the practical and rational basis for the promise of Jesus that the truth will make us free.
It is not necessary to discuss the many curious ways in which our false beliefs come to be formed and nurtured, and often to become petrified falsehoods, but it is well to consider the now prevalent false belief that the various phases of evil, inclusive of physical sickness, are a part of the law of God, to discipline mankind into being better, although Christian Scientists unite in witnessing that the Christian healing which Jesus promised and commended to his followers cannot be successfully achieved until this false belief is wholly destroyed. The origin of this false belief is historical. We find it proven by indisputable historical evidence that not only did Jesus and his immediate disciples and followers heal the sick, but that such healing was likewise successfully accomplished during the first three centuries, and even into the first few decades of the fourth century. Then began the rapid decadence of the Christian healing which has given occasion for the question sometimes asked: If true and dependable, why has the Christian way of healing the sick passed into practical disuse throughout Christendom for some sixteen centuries?
Coincident in point of time with the beginning of the disuse of Christian healing, history shows us that vast numbers of Greek and Roman converts followed the Roman emperor Constantine into the ranks of Christianity. Those converts had been taught polytheism, − that there were some good deities and some evil deities, and that to their evil deities were to be ascribed the various ills which afflict humanity, among them being sickness, death, etc. When they were converted to Christian monotheism they brought with them their belief in the deific origin of evil, and to the one true God they ascribed the causation of all human ills, and this doctrine has persisted until the advent of Christian Science. Our arts and literature owe a very great debt to
The glory that was
And the grandeur that was
but the baneful dogma that sickness and death are "mysterious dispensations of divine Providence" is also largely to be traced to Greek and Roman mythology.
Christian Science declares that the time is coming when all Christian believers will gladly recognize that it is both their privilege and their duty to obey the command to preach the gospel and heal the sick; but they also recognize that this time cannot arrive so long as men persist in retaining the dogmatic teaching that sickness and other forms of evil are by divine appointment. The truth makes us free only as we understand that the discords we seek to be delivered from are not of God, and that therefore they are not a part of the truth of being.
Reference has been made to the powerful influences upon the body which are wrought by a person's mentality. We may observe them every day. Anger flushes the face, inflames the eyeballs, etc. Fear can suddenly spoil the appetite, whiten the hair in a night, and even stop instantaneously the pulsations of the heart. Business worries and domestic discords show themselves physically in many ways, and frequently bring people to premature graves. The description of jealousy as "the green-eyed monster," is not a mere poetic extravagance, as sometimes supposed, but is based on a literal fact; for it has been found that a protracted spell of jealousy actually gives the skin under the eyes a greenish tint. Chemical experiments have proved that anger and other baneful passions so greatly alter the breath and the excretions of the body that chemists have pronounced them to be poisonous.
Of course, the secretions of the body must be changed first, before the excretions can be changed. A few years ago the question was sometimes asked in a lofty sort of way by some of the drug physicians, "How can mere thinking or mere mental conditions change the secretions and excretions of the body, and thus overcome its discordant conditions?" and they complacently continued to dose with drugs, notwithstanding the manifest effects of the remedies which they administered were sometimes worse than the ailments. Everyday life proves that good thinking benefits us in all ways, the physical included, just as wrong thinking harms us in all ways; and everyday life also shows that our good thinking and our bad thinking influence and affect those about us as well as ourselves.
Upon what basis can any one seek to measure or limit these influences and effects of right thinking? Has the circumference ever been pointed out or proven? Is it not an unproven assertion to say that they may reach and overcome sinful tendencies, and may also reach and overcome some bodily ailments, but that they cannot reach and overcome all of them? All the proof stands the other way, and this proof is furnished abundantly in the New Testament, in the history of the earlier days of Christianity, and it is still being furnished throughout Christendom. Are not accomplished facts to be trusted rather than mere theories of denial and negation? Theories of denial and negation have always interposed themselves against every forward step of humanity; they are not based on facts or evidence, but upon preconceived opinions and old habits of belief.
Christian Science appeals to proven facts. These facts and their evidence now encircle the globe. They constitute a mass of evidence such as was never arrayed in any courtroom on earth. It is not hearsay evidence, not mere theory or opinion, but it comes direct from unnumbered witnesses in this and other lands as the expression of their personal experiences. Facts are the irresistible weapons of truth. Theories, especially those of mere denial, have always been deceiving and misleading mankind. The proven facts of healing cover "all manner of sickness and all manner of disease," as well as vicious habits and sinful tendencies. These facts and those of the New Testament are mutually corroborative, and this means a very great deal to basic Christianity, whatever the effects upon denominational creeds and dogmas.
The critic of Christian Science is apt to be addicted to the microscopic rather than the telescopic view, and may seek to discredit Christian Science because some Christian Science practitioner has not been able to achieve the full measure of success which was attained by Christ Jesus. It should be remembered, however, that we do not claim to have attained the understanding and obedience which were manifested by Jesus. What we do claim is that we have proven that the Christian way of healing the sick is true and dependable, and that even one indubitable instance of success in following the rule in the Christian way of healing proves the rule to be true and trustworthy, just as even one indubitable instance of adding or multiplying figures under an arithmetical rule proves the rule to be true and trustworthy.
We claim further that the evidence shows that our successes are so great and abundant as compared with the failures or semifailures, that the restored Christian method of healing has not only accomplished a grand humanitarian work already, but has shown itself to be far more dependable and practical than any other method. Would any one say that railroad transportation is not a proven success because now and then there is a derailment of a train? Would it not be far better to seek to improve the practical service?
Jesus showed his appreciation of the evidential value of his healing works when he said, "Though ye believe not me, believe the works." Thus the evidential value of healing works is shown by the extraordinary growth and development of the Christian Science movement. It has had to meet and overcome many obstacles. Its followers have needed a great amount of patience, charity, courage, faithfulness, and faith. Yet how could it fail of success when its followers are made up of those to whom its teachings have been demonstrated in their own lives and homes to be true and dependable, while its opponents are made up of those who base their opposition, not upon the evidence, but upon former opinions, beliefs, and prejudices?
Its breadth of view and its practicability are shown by the fact that Christian Science appeals alike to all classes and conditions of people. The common laborer, the mechanic, the merchant, the farmer, the banker, the lawyer, the former clergyman, the former drug physician, – all these find in its teachings and practice what they need. It may here be asked if there will be a peculiar class of reasoners in the future who will gravely urge that the Christian Scientists of this early part of the twentieth century must have believed in drug medication, from the fact that a physician who practised drug medication for a quarter of a century, is not only a leading adherent of but also an authorized lecturer upon Christian Science.
This would be on a par with the supposed argument assailing the Christian healing of the sick in the day of Jesus, because Luke is mentioned as "the beloved physician." It is not shown that Luke practised medicine after he became a follower of the humble Nazarene, nor that he or Jesus ever made use of or even referred to material remedies; but, on the other hand, that Luke, like Jesus, healed by methods wholly non-physical. The critic of the future could make out a much stronger case, because in addition to the above-mentioned physician he could cite the fact that several scores of former drug doctors have become Christian Scientists of recognized standing.
We admit that there are many things which appear to our physical senses to be inconsistent with our spiritual intuition and our highest reason that the Supreme Being must be infinite Life, Truth, Love, and infinite good, but we cannot compromise our beliefs along these lines. Here is a gulf which cannot be bridged. Ought we not, as rational beings to doubt the conflicting meanings which men often draw from the testimony of physical sense, when such meanings deny or discredit the Supreme Being?
Jesus said, "Have faith in God." These words imply that God is always worthy of our absolute trust in His protecting power and wisdom. Jesus proved by his works that all his words were true. He declared that it is done unto us according to our faith. He proved that faith is more than a mere opinion or belief, and that it is a positive force in our lives. On several occasions when he healed the sick he spoke of faith as a powerful curative agency. On at least one of these occasions he said, "Thy faith hath made thee whole." When we have faith, or absolute trust in God, who is infinite, eternal, universal good, our worries and fears, our discords of every kind disappear from our thoughts and consciousness. The mortal mind and body work together as a unit.
As we come to have more faith in God we thereby come to have a surer understanding and realization that all which seems to be evil is not of God, and that the distempered beliefs which have come to us do so just as a false view of objects comes to us if we wear colored spectacles. Thus, according to our faith in God's omnipotence and love, all discordant mental conditions are recognized by us to be mere negations, or the suppositional absence of good; and when the human mind is no longer discordant the body begins at once to manifest harmony. This is the divine alterative, or divine truth-cure, as Jesus taught and demonstrated, and as Christian Science is today engaged in teaching and demonstrating.
We pray according to our faith in God. Wisely did one of the immediate disciples of Jesus declare that, "the prayer of faith shall save the sick." The disciple was not giving to the world his mere opinion on the subject of the power and efficacy of the prayer of faith. He was speaking of what he had seen done in the ministry of Jesus and his followers. When we postulate God and realize that we are His children, it follows that there must be some means of communion between man and God and that such communion is not useless. Can you think of any other way than prayer by which we can commune with our divine Parent? Must it not be the inevitable effect of such communion that we climb to nobler and purer altitudes of manhood and womanhood; that we cast aside our falsehoods and immoralities, our fears, our hatreds, our animality, more and more?
We never truly pray to God except when we pray with absolute faith, that is, with full trustfulness in Him. Thus only can we truly pray: "Not my will, but thine, be done." True prayer is not a selfish or egotistic effort to change God's intentions, or to better any of God's ways in dealing with us or with others. God's intentions can neither be altered nor bettered. Prayer alters and betters us. The more we commune with the only true God, through the prayer of faith in Him, the more closely do we commune with divine Truth, and receive into our consciousness the divine thought, the truth which Jesus promised shall make us free. But if we commune in prayer with a being whom we erroneously believe to be the author of discords, sickness, want, and death, are we not then communing, to that extent, with falsehood?
It is not surprising that the
Christian way of healing the sick should have passed into disrepute during so
many centuries, or that those pulpits which persist in entertaining an anthropomorphic
concept of the Supreme Being look unbelievingly upon the practical works in the
Christian healing of the sick which are being accomplished. The works of Jesus
and his followers, in his day, were thus regarded by the established
religionists who denied and persecuted him. Even their hatred was aroused,
because they looked upon his teachings and especially upon their accompanying
works as a rebuke to them. This regrettable trait in human nature has not
displayed itself in religious concerns only. When Harvey, the English
physician, three hundred years ago, announced his discovery of the circulation
of the blood, he encountered so much ridicule and enmity from the medical
profession that from a lucrative
The most of us have been educated along materialistic lines of thinking. Many may find it easy to comprehend how one material object can affect another material object, but they find it more or less difficult to comprehend how one's thoughts can be dynamic in their effects on the human body; and prevailing notions in respect to God are often so vague, often so erroneous, that many fail to comprehend the reasonableness of the declaration of Jesus that the works of over-coming sin, sickness, and death are the works of our eternal Father. Cumulative experiences have, moreover, abundantly shown in the Christian Science movement that the understanding comes surely, however slowly, to all who patiently study our textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mrs. Eddy, in a truth-loving and unbiased mental attitude, and who seek earnestly to prove as they learn step by step, and thus to hold fast what they find to be good.
Suppose one desires to learn about wireless telegraphy, which only a few years ago was scouted at as an absurdity, even by many educated electricians. He will find that wireless telegraphy is now a proven fact, and that as he follows the rules the desired results are sure to follow. He will also find many things, the reason for which may appear to be more or less mysterious and elusive; he may find his sense of the probable frequently outraged. He may find that the very electricity with which he is dealing, and which is accomplishing indubitable practical results, is so much of a mystery that those who are supposed to know the most about it, like Tesia and Marconi and Edison, freely admit that they cannot explain even what electricity is.
Let us here note a specific illustration. In wireless telegraphy what is called the receiving instrument must be harmonized or attuned to what is called the sending instrument, and the receiving instrument which is so harmonized receives the message. The sensible telegrapher acts upon this demonstrated rule, although many mysteries in the electrical phenomenon with which he deals still remain unexplained. The Christian Scientist has learned from actual experience that he must attune himself to divine Truth, and that the prayer of faith, the prayer of perfect trust in eternal Life, Truth, Love, is the process by which he is thus attuned. He has learned that he needs to do something himself in order to come into touch with the truth which delivers and makes him free. In humility he recognizes that his human intelligence may not grasp all the mysteries of the processes which belong to infinite intelligence; that he sometimes sees as "through a glass, darkly;" but he is always gratefully ready to attest the blessings he has received, like the blind man who, when his sight was restored to him by Jesus, exclaimed that he knew that, whereas he had been blind from his birth, now he could see.
The Christian Scientist was taught that a great effort must be put forth in order to achieve a great result, but he has learned that the works of God, which Jesus taught and proved, are achieved by great power and not by a great effort. Christian Science affirms, and has repeatedly proven, that God's law is the infinitely great power which is sufficient to overcome all forms of human discord. It is by no human effort except that of harmonizing ourselves to God's law, by getting rid of our false beliefs, just as we walk out of the darkness if we wish the benefits of the sunlight. The sunlight awaits us, but we must avail ourselves of it; divine Truth awaits us, but we must avail ourselves of it. We can invent for ourselves all sorts of false beliefs, just as we can shut ourselves up in darkness, if we choose to do so. Ignorance is false belief, but truth dispels it.
Sometimes the question is asked, If Christian Science be true, why did the world have to wait so long for it? We can answer this question just as we would answer the question why wireless telegraphy or the steam-engine was not sooner known. History shows clearly that humanity has been rising
Of their dead selves to higher things.
Again, the question is asked. Why was it left for a woman to rediscover the divine truth-cure? That question is wholly inconsequential. The vital and true question is, Are the Christian Science teachings in alignment with eternal truth, and is the Christian Science practice proving by its practical fruits that it is a blessing to mankind? Is it not sufficient to know that Mrs. Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, is a profound thinker and a noble Christian woman, and that because of the good her teaching has accomplished she is enshrined as the greatest benefactor of our age in the grateful hearts of many hundreds of thousands? What she has done for humanity is already an assured part of history, and future generations will hold her in loving and reverent memory. She has advanced the ideals and anchored the hope of the race by the noble example of her life, as well as by her teachings.
In conclusion, let me say that Christian Science teaches that right living is more important than ritualism; that good words must be accompanied with good works; that practical demonstrations in overcoming discordant conditions constitute the test of right religious doctrine; that the teachings, the promises, and the commands of Jesus are for all mankind and for every age; that to be true, religion must be adapted to all of humanity's real needs, at all times and in all ways; that such was the religion taught and exemplified by Jesus, and that any religious philosophy which does not fully meet all the real needs of humanity, whether moral or intellectual or physical, is false in so far as it is thus incomplete and impractical. Christian Science must abide by the test just mentioned. If the future shall show that it has failed to endure this test, it will pass from the thought of the world. We may, however, trustingly judge of its future from its past and its present.
[Published by The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1909]