Christian Science: Religion for a Scientific Age

 

Gordon F. Campbell, C.S.B., of Santa Monica, California

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

"Deep in everyone's heart there is a desire for spiritual things," Gordon F. Campbell, C.S.B., told a public audience at a Christian Science lecture in Boston, Jan. 20.

Despite the prevalent fascination with material things, the world is hungering for the lasting peace and satisfaction that is gained through spiritual growth and progress, the lecturer stated.

Mr. Campbell is a teacher and practitioner of Christian Science from Santa Monica, Calif., and is currently on nationwide tour as a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship.

He spoke in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, where he was introduced by the Second Reader, Mrs. Rose M. Henniker-Heaton. The lecture was titled "Christian Science: Religion for a Scientific Age."

Mr. Campbell observed that "natural science is capable of contributing much to the task of freeing mankind from ignorance, privation, and apathy.

But its ultimate success," he declared, "requires the acknowledgment of a higher law than the supposed laws of physics, biology, and psychology.

The Science of Christianity brings this harmonizing spiritual law to human experience."

Commenting on the use of the word Science as applied to Christianity, he said it means that Christianity is provable and operates as law. "It means that the elements of Christianity - goodness, love, kindliness, unselfishness, justice, dominion, mercy, wisdom, health, peace, all of which Jesus preached - are not vague, indefinite, illusive qualities, but that they are enduring, immutable, powerful, and that when they are, understood and lived, they lift us above human discords."

A partial text of the lecture follows:

 

Are you satisfied?

One of the most commonly heard statements today is that we live in a scientific age - an age in which natural science is gaining increasing mastery over our material environment. There is great abundance available and the promise of much more. Yet it is probably true that not one of us would be here tonight if he were completely, or even substantially, satisfied with what he has as a result of this great material progress.

If I should ask any one of you whether or not you were completely satisfied with the effects of scientific progress, you would very likely answer, "Well, I'm here at the lecture, am I not? Here to gain a better grasp of that which is spiritual. I'm tired of materiality - scientific or otherwise. I'm here to gain something which I know materiality can never give me."

This answer would indicate a fact proved throughout the ages - that material things never satisfy. Material abundance and pleasures - even a material sense of health - have never satisfied anyone; and they never will. The reason that they never will is that deep in everyone's heart there is a desire for spiritual things.

We read in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy (Page 265), "The aspiration after heavenly good comes even before we discover what belongs to wisdom and Love," and a little further on, "The pains of sense quickly inform us that the pleasures of sense are mortal and that joy is spiritual." Nowhere does the Bible say that materiality brings peace, but it does say, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee" (Isa. 26:3).

 

Christianity is provable

So, you and I would not be together here if we were satisfied with the easy living and vast number of things that modern scientific development has given us.

But there is a present-day scientific discovery which has brought us together, which holds the promise of satisfying us fundamentally and completely, and which offers proof of its ability to do so. This discovery is the Science of Christianity - Christian Science.

I hope many of you here are new to Christian Science, perhaps investigating it for the first time. If so, you might be tempted to feel that the word "Science" makes Christianity seem cold. May I say that this is not at all so. In reality, and in practical experience, the two words "Christian" and "Science" complement each other. The word Science applied to Christianity means that Christianity is definite, orderly, provable, and operates as law. It means that the elements of Christianity - goodness, love, kindliness, unselfishness, justice, dominion, mercy, wisdom, health, peace, all of which Jesus preached - are not vague, indefinite, illusive qualities, but that they are enduring, immutable, powerful, and that when they are understood and lived, they lift us above human discords.

Christ Jesus said (John 14:12), "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." Also he said (Mark 16:17,18), "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."

 

Spiritual law evidenced

Were these promises tentative, wishful, or were they firm, assured statements of fact? Surely the works of Jesus were consistent and gave evidence of the operation of definite, spiritual law. Did not the promises just spoken of assure to Jesus' followers the ability to demonstrate this spiritual law which brought healing and redemption? Certainly they did, provided his followers thoroughly believed, in fact understood, this divine power or law. Jesus' promises were founded upon eternal, basic, unchanging, spiritual law - provable, hence scientific.

What more could we ask than to find that these and other promises of Christ Jesus are fulfilled by scientific, assured, definite, orderly means - that is, according to law? How wonderful to realize that these promises are for all ages, including this one which we call the scientific age. Is it to be wondered at that this is not only the age of natural or physical science, but also the scientific age of religion, of Christianity?

This age of scientific Christianity had its beginning nearly 100 years ago, through the healing of a New England woman in a town near Boston. The healing was of the effects of a severe fall. The town was Swampscott, the year 1866, the woman, Mary Baker Eddy.

From Thursday evening, the day of the accident, until Sunday, Mrs. Eddy lay critically injured. On Sunday she sent from the room those friends who watched by her bedside. She turned in prayer to God, as she had done all her life when in trouble. She took up her dearest possession, the Bible, and opened it. Her glance fell upon the account of Jesus' healing of the palsied man.

As she read, there flooded into her thought the answer to her many years of searching for an understanding of the true cause and nature of existence. This came as a divine revelation, or discovery, of the underlying truth of being. She experienced an immediate healing of the injuries. Later, she wrote in her book "Retrospection and Introspection" (Page 24): "During twenty years prior to my discovery I had been trying to trace all physical effects to a mental cause; and in the latter part of 1866 I gained the scientific certainty that all causation was Mind, and every effect a mental phenomenon."

 

Revelation follows obedience

Mrs. Eddy's readiness and her fitness to receive this revelation were the result of a lifetime of obedience to God, love for God, and an indefatigable search for Truth. The revelation came as a natural event in the life of one whose earliest lessons were of God's goodness and great love for His children - lessons learned from devout parents. She was spiritually prepared to receive this revelation of the deep truths of the Bible. Moreover, she was prepared by her great love for mankind, for the labor of establishing and preserving her discovery for all men. Her love for God, and her willingness to give up all faith in matter, prepared her to be the Discoverer of Christian Science. Her obedience to God and her love for her fellowmen prepared her to be the Founder of Christian Science. Through her published writings, she is the Leader of the Christian Science movement. These three phases of Mrs. Eddy's relation to Christian Science are important to understand, and they are inseparable. She is the Discoverer, Founder, and Leader. She was spiritually prepared to be all three.

After intensive study and proof following her discovery, she wrote "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." This book and the King James Version of the Bible are the textbooks of Christian Science. Science and Health contains the full statement and explanation of Christian Science just as it was revealed to her. The many healings, which have resulted from reading and practicing the truths contained in this book, confirm a fact which it is most important to understand. This book is divine revelation written down, a scientific discovery, and not personal opinion.

 

God's nature

The fundamental point in her discovery concerned the nature of God. In the textbook (Page 587) she describes God as: "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."

These seven terms for God - Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth, Love - are found in the Bible, either directly or by inference. A careful study of these will give a glimpse of the vast, the spiritual, incorporeal, eternal nature of God. There is not time in this short hour to explain the import of all these terms to any degree. However, could you possibly visualize God as a great, glorified person away off somewhere after giving close heed to these synonyms for God? Listen again to what God is: Mind, Soul, Spirit, Principle, Life, Truth, Love.

Let us consider also another fact that was revealed to Mrs. Eddy - the true concept of man. It appeared clearly to her that a limited discordant mortal could not be the man created in the image and likeness of God, as the Bible says man is. Man in God's image and likeness must be Godlike. His existence must be the imaging forth, the reflection, or representation of God.

Here is the definition of man from the textbook (Page 591): "MAN. The compound idea of infinite Spirit; the spiritual image and likeness of God; the full representation of Mind."

Here is incorporeal man - not material, but spiritual. Here is the man of God's creating, created for His glory - that is, to represent God. Here is man created by the one infinite Mind, hence an idea. Here is our true being.

 

Understanding brings healing

These truths of God and man were accompanied in Mrs. Eddy's discovery by the fact that the understanding of them brought healing. She saw that as one understood God's goodness and allness, and man's perfection as His image and likeness, the result was healing - both of sin and sickness. She saw that this was Christ Jesus' way of healing, the Christianly scientific way.

To understand and to practice effectively this divine healing, it is important to comprehend what was revealed to Mrs. Eddy about the nature of Christ Jesus. She saw the Christ as not identical with the material Jesus but as the manifestation of divine power and law which the human Jesus embodied. She wrote in the textbook (Page 26), "This Christ, or divinity of the man Jesus, was his divine nature, the godliness which animated him. Divine Truth, Life, and Love gave Jesus authority over sin, sickness, and death." Jesus referred to the Christ, his divine, eternal selfhood, when he said (Matt. 28:20), ". . . lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world," and (John 8:58), "Before Abraham was, I am."

Mrs. Eddy defines the Christ in the textbook (Page 583) as, "The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error."

The Christ then is ever-present in daily experience. The human mind is the seeming meeting ground where the divine Christ, Truth, or law of God, meets and destroys mortal, lying beliefs. There is actually no mixture or mingling of good and evil or of the real and unreal. These opposites never combine, though to human sense they appear side by side. The Christ reveals to human consciousness the true view of God and His reflection, man. This true view destroys, in human consciousness, the belief of mortal existence, evil, and disease, by uncovering their falsity. Christian Science presents to everyone the scientific, divine understanding of the Christ as the law of God, which dispels the lies of mortal existence with its evil, discord, and death.

 

Prayer is not pleading

But here it might well be asked, "How can I prove the operation of this divine law in my daily experience? By what means can I accomplish this, and be healed?" The answer is prayer. If we were to attempt to state very briefly what constitutes Christian, scientific prayer, we might say that it is the practical acknowledgment of the Christ, the goodness, ever-presence, and all-power of God. I say practical because to be effective this acknowledgment must go beyond mere words, beyond even thoughts, and into action. We can't just say "Almighty God, good," and expect results. God is good and we are God's reflection, but to really prove this fact, we must be good. We must desire and strive to be Godlike. Scientific prayer is not pleading with God. It is not informing God of what is wrong. We don't say, "God, this is what should be done and this is how it should be done."

Prayer in Christian Science is humble obedience to God's law; it is a practical acknowledgment of the spiritual, scientific fact of God and His reflection, man - of divine Principle governing its idea through spiritual laws. The proof that it is scientific is that it brings results, even as it did in Jesus' time.

The Bible speaks of God as "a very present help in trouble" (Ps. 46:1). My friends, take advantage of this fact. Be instant in obedience to divine Principle, no matter what appears to need healing, your body, your career; your business, your disposition - whatever it is. And don't be any less eager to have your character and disposition healed than you are to have the other things healed.

 

Intelligence in action

It is indeed often the expression of better qualities of character and disposition that bears most directly upon the healing of business and career problems. It can be readily seen that our relations with others apply directly to matters of business. The invaluable God-derived qualities of honesty, courage, self-reliance, reliability, spontaneity, capacity, kindness, patience, are all expressed as the practical evidence and result of prayer.

It is important to remember that business is not just the comings and goings of people, nor the interplay of mortal opinions, prejudices, or materially conceived notions. Business is the intelligent association and activity of constructive thoughts. It is the operation and evidence of intelligence. May I ask those of you who operate or are employed in a business, how great a part of that business is simply the evidence of intelligence in action?

You might say, "I guess all of it is except the buildings and equipment." But let's see. What would the building be without the quality of intelligence? The answer might be, "It would just be an accumulation of bricks, mortar, lumber, steel, and other materials scattered about in a number of different warehouses."

Well, let's take one of these materials, say the lumber. What would that be without the evidence of intelligence? You might say, "Well, it would be just a tree somewhere." Now at this point you can see that there is still plenty of room for further delving, for the germination and growth of a tree presents an amazing fulfillment of intelligent purpose and usefulness.

 

Man has spiritual business

Can we not say that a building, in its useful sense, is a mental phenomenon, characterized by the indication and operation of intelligence? Then what of all the other physical equipment of a business? The same thing. Now few would contend that the actual activity of the business in its true, constructive sense is anything but the intelligent association and activity of thoughts. We can also see that what may appear as discordant, hampering, or destructive is really extraneous to business - is not business at all, does not belong to it.

The way to have prosperity and harmony expressed in the human sense of business is to behold the true concept of what constitutes man's real, spiritual business. The real business or purpose of man is to be the manifestation of God, of divine Life. Man really has no other business, and the understanding of this, together with unselfed obedience to divine Principle and law, will give to any endeavor the qualities which bring success. The textbook says this (Page 128): "The term Science, properly understood, refers only to the laws of God and to His government of the universe, inclusive of man. From this it follows that business men and cultured scholars have found that Christian Science enhances their endurance and mental powers, enlarges their perception of character, gives them acuteness and comprehensiveness and an ability to exceed their ordinary capacity." The Bible says (Prov. 3:6), "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." What a wonderful prospect for anyone engaged in a business, a profession, or in scientific research!

Earlier, I spoke of the importance of being healed of wrong traits of character. This points to the basic purpose of Christian Science - to redeem humanity. While there is always joy in being healed physically, there is a greater joy in the spiritual progress or regeneration which must accompany healing. The joy of redemption is greater than the joy of being physically healed. Freedom from sin is a greater liberation than freedom from bodily ills. We are more in need of the healing of wrong thinking than of what appears as disease. Sometimes healing may be delayed because we are not aware of what really needs healing. It is always mortal mind that needs healing, because it is mortal mind or false thinking which constitutes disease.

Jesus said, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). He did not mean this as a call to material perfection. It was a call to moral and spiritual regeneration. "Ye must be born again" (John 3:7), he said. In Christian Science it is understood that the time for redemption is now. God's goodness, perfection, and power are ever present, and in obedience to divine law, you and I are the expression of goodness, perfection, and power.

Our real being is here right now. Why then should not the spiritual progress which lays aside mortal trappings begin right now? What do we need to wait for, in order to be better? Waiting will never make us better. Waiting will never bring us into accord with the law of harmony. Did Jesus say to the man who had lain impotent at the pool for thirty-eight years, "You will have to stay like this a few years more before anything can be done"? No, he said, "take up thy bed, and walk" (John 5:8), and the man arose and walked.

 

Willingness required

You remember Jesus, when he first saw the man, asked, "Wilt thou be made whole?" Later, after the healing, Jesus said to him, "Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee" (John 5:14). Is it not clear that the first question, "Wilt thou be made whole?" implied "Are you ready to be freed from sinful thinking?" The admonition "sin no more" showed that the "wholeness" referred to purity of thought rather than physical healing. The healing came as a result of regeneration.

The law of Christ-healing makes the healing of sin and the healing of sickness inseparable. If you or I admit that either the evil called sin or the evil called sickness has power over us, we are recognizing a law other than God, or good. To be healed, we must stop breaking the First Commandment which says, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:3). Obedience to this demand is spiritual progress, regeneration, redemption, salvation, being born again. It is putting off the old man with his deeds, and putting on the new man, as the Apostle Paul says we must do.

To some, the meaning of the term "spiritual progress," which implies the same thing as the Christian term "salvation," may seem a little elusive. Spiritual progress sounds like something agreeable and worthy. No one could possibly deny that it would be a good thing to experience. But what does it involve?

Let me refer again to the textbook (Page 311), "Through false estimates of soul as dwelling in sense and of mind as dwelling in matter, belief strays into a sense of temporary loss or absence of soul, spiritual truth. This state of error is the mortal dream of life and substance as existent in matter, and is directly opposite to the immortal reality of being." How do we escape from, or progress out of, a dream? By awakening. Does the awakening change anything? No, awakening changes nothing. It just reveals what was there all the time. That is what spiritual progress or salvation means. It is the awakening from the dream of life in matter. It discloses reality, spiritual reality.

 

Progress is awakening

The word progress in Science refers not to the idea of going anywhere, but to progressive, step by step awakening. To human sense we awaken by degrees or steps. These steps are clearer glimpses of God and of ourselves as we really are. For instance, if we love more, we are awakening to the reality of divine Love, God. If we see ourselves and others more clearly as the reflection of God, we are awakening to the fact that God is the Soul of man. If we see more clearly that being is incorporeal, then we are awakening to the understanding of God as Spirit. These are steps of spiritual progress and they bring salvation, for they free us progressively from the dream of limiting, suffering mortality, through the law of God, or Christian Science. More and more we sing with the Psalmist (Ps. 119: 97), "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day."

Now I want to say something about the application of Christian Science amid present world conditions. Present-day thinking is largely characterized by a fascination with material things and great material accomplishments. Physical scientists confine their observation to apparent physical phenomena. They seek to discover and employ physical laws. They do not venture beyond this into the question of first cause or ultimate truth. Yet all true law proceeds from divine Principle, God, the great First Cause.

 

Inventions serve mankind

In Mrs. Eddy's spiritual interpretation of the Lord's Prayer, the verse "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" is interpreted thus: "Enable us to know, - as in heaven, so on earth, - God is omnipotent, supreme" (ibid. Page 17). As the practical import of these words is more widely understood, it will be proved that the achievements of natural science may serve but not subjugate mankind.

The great scientific developments we are seeing do not have to be accompanied by an increasing belief in and fear of material things, nor an increasing reliance upon or trust in material things. Mankind can enjoy the fruits of modern development, and still progress spiritually, it they put divine law first - if they acknowledge that "as in heaven, so on earth, - God is omnipotent, supreme." No matter how impressive are so-called material wonders, remember that the origin of all real law and intelligence is Spirit, never matter.

In her book, "The First Church of Christ Scientist and Miscellany," Mrs. Eddy says of the pursuit of modern inventions (Page 345), "Oh, we cannot oppose them. They all tend to newer, finer, more etherealized ways of living. They seek the finer essences. They light the way to the Church of Christ. We use them, we make them our figures of speech. They are preparing the way for us." Natural science is capable of contributing much to the task of freeing mankind from ignorance, privation, and apathy. But its ultimate success requires the acknowledgment of a higher law than the supposed laws of physics, biology, and psychology. The Science of Christianity brings this harmonizing spiritual law to human experience.

 

Law is spiritual

To the natural scientist, striving honestly and unselfishly to discover that which will benefit mankind, Christian Science opens the way to fulfillment. It opens the way to the spiritual progress which will ensure the right use of inventions. The natural scientist will discover, through Christian Science, that basic law is spiritual, not to be found in physical or psychological phenomena. He will find that an understanding of God as ever operative divine Principle opens the door to unlimited achievement. He will find that the fulfillment of his highest hopes is not to be found in materiality or intellectualism, but in obedience to spiritual law. The Science of Christianity presents the law of Christ which destroys lying, mortal belief and its perversion of mankind's noble efforts.

This healing law of the Christ operates in individual thought. All of us here have an opportunity and duty to bring our lives into obedience to the law of Christ. We must "pray without ceasing" (I Thess. 5:17). To pray without ceasing means to watch our thinking and to keep it in line with divine purpose and goodness; Ask yourself, "What am I serving? To what am I giving value? Am I serving matter? Am I struggling to accumulate more things? Am I striving for material position?"

Matter and its accompaniments are illusions of mortal mindedness. Don't be fooled into thinking that matter is intelligent. Don't be fooled by constant propaganda that there is any remedial agent other than the power of divine law. Don't be fooled into believing that government is anywhere but upon His shoulder. Employ today's wonders, but don't let them employ you.

 

Identity sought

Each one must be ever alert to the Christian duty of praying for mankind - of expressing universal Love. We must understand that divine Love and intelligence govern us and all mankind. We must first prove that we can rule hate, envy, fear, pride out of our own thinking, and then rule them out of our thought of the universe. Man and the universe are evolved by divine Principle and they never leave Principle and its government. This fact, understood, acts as a scientific law of government and peace to the world. The fact of a perfect God and a perfect universe must be seen as the law of being, and the seeming world of material things and discordant, suffering mortals as a contradiction of law.

Millions of people all over the world are hungering for freedom from bondage to lack and limitation. They long to establish their own identity and place in world affairs and progress. Those who would use this desire for freedom only to bring heavier burdens to the oppressed are teaching the falsehood that freedom can be won only through violence. The textbook uncovers this lie and gives the true answer to those who long for freedom. We read (page 225), "The history of our country, like all history, illustrates the might of Mind, and shows human power to be proportionate to its embodiment of right thinking. A few immortal sentences, breathing the omnipotence of divine justice, have been potent to break despotic fetters and abolish the whipping-post and slave market; but oppression neither went down in blood, nor did the breath of freedom come from the cannon's mouth. Love is the liberator."

 

Love destroys hate

This omnipresent divine Love, God, is evidenced in human experience by the qualities of affection, kindness, peace of mind, courage, dominion, joy, and freedom from fear and limitation. Divine Love expressed in daily living destroys fear, hate, and tyranny. The lying mortal sense of love can be envious, jealous, enslaving, hateful, full of weakness. The Science of Christianity on the other hand, shows Love to be God, all-powerful good, and the basic law of being to be the law of divine Love. The effect of divine Love in human experience causes each one to be rightly self-governed. So we see that obedience to the law of Love governs mankind by governing individual thinking. In the textbook, Mrs. Eddy says (Page 467), "It should be thoroughly understood that all men have one Mind, one God and Father, one Life, Truth, and Love. Mankind will become perfect in proportion as this fact becomes apparent, war will cease and the true brotherhood of man will be established." Let us love enough to do this. The love we express daily in thought and deed will meet our need, whatever it be, and will help to lead all mankind into the joyful acknowledgment of God's universal law of good.

To a world hungering for peace and spiritual enlightenment, Christian Science, the Science of Christianity, offers this concept of scientific, effective prayer. It is from Mrs. Eddy's book "No and Yes" (Page 39), "True prayer is not asking God for love; it is learning to love, and to include all mankind in one affection."

 

[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 21, 1966, under the headline "Christianity Plays Vital Role in Scientific Age".]

 

 

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