Christian Science: How God Heals
Dr. Archibald Carey, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
What happens to people as they learn in Christian Science about the power of God and how to respond to it? A mental change takes place, and it affects their whole experience. Sickness is healed, poverty and lack of opportunity give way to abundance and progress, difficult business and home conditions are replaced by cooperation and appreciation. Thousands of people have had such experiences. Should not such a change of thought be of benefit to each one of us?
How do we learn to heal in Christian Science? First of all, we begin with God, and learn to understand the nature of God. We do not try to build up a blind faith in an unknown God. That would be questionable to any intelligent person. But we do try to gain such an understanding of God that faith in God naturally follows, just as faith in the laws of mathematics comes as we learn to understand them.
The Nature of God
So let us see what Christian Science teaches concerning the nature of God. In the Christian Science textbook we read, "To grasp the reality and order of being in its Science, you must begin by reckoning God as the divine Principle of all that really is" (p. 275), and in the same book we find certain synonyms for God which enable us to understand the nature and existence of God. One of these synonyms is Principle. Principle brings out the unchanging nature of God. The word "Principle" as a synonym for God allows us that there is one great Principle governing all the laws of the universe. But someone may question that there is one Principle governing all the laws of the universe. Is it not necessary that there should be a divine Principle of man and the universe? In mathematics, if one law of mathematics were in conflict with another, one law would interfere with the operation of the other, and mathematics would be imperfect. But the principle of mathematics governs all its laws and maintains their harmony, so that the completeness of mathematics is protected. Just so, the laws of the universe cannot be in conflict with each other if we are to have laws upon which we can rely. That there are reliable laws is accepted by scientific investigators; their efforts are devoted to the discovery of such laws. Without reliable laws there could be no science of any kind, and if there are reliable laws there must be one great Principle governing and harmonizing them all. It is essential to the existence of dependable laws that there should be such a Principle. So we see that divine Principle must exist.
Are there facts that we know with certainty about the nature of this Principle? Yes, there are a number of things that must be true. Because divine Principle maintains the harmony and thus the very existence of all the laws of the universe, this Principle is therefore good and beneficent to these laws and their effects. Since all the laws that exist are based upon divine Principle and there can be no others, there is nothing to which this Principle is not good. Therefore, since divine Principle is good to all the laws and facts that exist, and there is nothing to which it is not good, we must recognize this Principle as wholly and completely good.
Inasmuch as divine Principle governs and maintains an intelligible, understandable universe, including intelligent man, and including also under its control the laws of intelligence by which intelligent man is able to comprehend the universe, this Principle could not be less than intelligent. Being intelligent, it must comprehend the laws and facts that are based upon it. Since all the laws and facts that exist are founded upon divine Principle, it must include within the scope of its comprehension everything that exists and can be known. Hence God or Principle must be complete intelligence or perfect Mind.
Being intelligent, God or Principle must recognize and appreciate the goodness and harmony of all that really exists. It is the nature of Love to discern and appreciate goodness. So the attitude of this completely intelligent Principle towards the good, harmonious realities that are based upon it must necessarily be perfect love. The very nature of this Principle must be Love.
Because divine Principle is the foundation of all the phenomena of life, we can think of it as the very essence of life or Life itself. Since everything that is true is based upon this Principle and nothing can be true that is not founded upon it, it can be considered as synonymous with Truth, or Truth itself. Unlimited by space or time, always and everywhere active and powerful, we can speak of divine Principle as Spirit. And since it includes in its eternal oneness and allness everything that exists, establishing and maintaining the identity of each individual, divine Principle can be spoken of as Soul.
These synonyms for God, which we find in the Christian Science textbook, enable us to understand the nature and existence of God, divine Principle, Life, Truth, Love, Soul, Spirit, Mind. We see that there can be no intelligent doubt of the existence of God as He is so described. And we see too that there can be no logical denial that these synonyms accurately set forth the nature of God.
Faith and Understanding
Here is a God upon whom we can rely, in whom we can have faith. But this is not a blind faith that may result in disillusionment and disappointment. This is faith founded on understanding, which is an entirely different thing. You have complete faith in the multiplication table because you understand it and know that it must work. The multiplication table never fails you. Its laws always operate. You have complete faith in it because you understand it, and your faith is justified. As we learn to understand the nature of God, and apply this understanding to the solution of our daily problems, this brings complete faith in God and in the operation of His laws.
How does this accurate scientific understanding of God and the intelligent faith that goes with it enable us to heal? How can we make practical use of it?
I remember when I first learned to drive a car my instructor said to me: "Whenever you go on a trip, get a good road map. Study your map thoroughly each morning before you start out, and it will save you a great deal of trouble on the road." We all know what a help a good road map can be.
In our journey through life do we have a good road map, and do we use it? Many successful and happy people have found that the Bible is a trustworthy guide along the road of life - a guide which enables us to choose the paths that lead to health, peace, and security.
We are all familiar with the Bible, but have we thought of it as a well-prepared guide which is as indispensable to a modern traveler on the road of life as a reliable road map would be to one who is touring an unfamiliar country?
A road map usually has printed in one corner a key which gives you the scale of miles, the correct directions, the meaning of the signs and markings on the map. It makes the information on the map available for your practical use.
The Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," enables us to learn much more from the Bible than we could without the aid of this key. For example, the word "miracle" as used in the Bible is frequently thought of as though it meant something supernatural, possible only to a few and at a particular point in time, usually in the past. In the Christian Science textbook a miracle is referred to as that which is divinely natural, the result of unchanging laws, and available to anyone who understands and obeys these laws.
Idolatry is shown to be not only a belief in the power of some ancient pagan image or statue, but also any blind belief in something that has power apart from God; even the belief that a physical body has power in itself to control man and make him sick, would be classed as idolatry. The Bible denunciations of idolatry thus have a vivid application to the problems of today, and the idolatry that would make a god of money, or social position, or ruthless power, is shown to be as fatal to anyone who accepts it as other forms of idolatry were to the early Bible characters. Many of the Bible terms become more understandable as we search with scientific accuracy for their modern equivalents.
The Christian Science textbook, as it is studied in connection with the Bible, proves to be truly a key to the Scriptures because it unlocks the real meaning of the Bible, which has been obscured by ignorance and mistaken dogmas. For example, Christian Science teaches that there is a distinction between the Christ, defined in Science and Health as (p. 583), "The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error," and Jesus, defined as (p. 589) "The highest human corporeal concept of the divine idea." Because Jesus so fully exemplified the eternal Christ he was known as Christ Jesus. One of the simplest ways to make practical our understanding of the nature of the Christ is to think of the Christ as the perfect way of Life. Both the Bible and Science and Health speak of the Christ as "the Way." As we gain an understanding of the Christ as the way of Life, we are able to bring the Christ into our everyday experience, and our way of living approaches more and more the divine manifestation of God. The salvation that comes through an acceptance of the Christ then becomes part of our daily lives. We are not doubtfully waiting for a questionable future-world salvation, but we recognize that we are saved and healed and guided and provided for by the power of divine Love now. That is true salvation in all its completeness and eternal reality.
The Discovery of Christian Science
The discovery of Christian Science and the establishment of the Christian Science movement is an interesting story. Every science must have its discoverer, the one who first recognizes and appreciates the laws upon which it is based and makes practical use of them. The Discoverer of Christian Science was Mary Baker Eddy. She was a highly intelligent woman. Her writings show that she was familiar with ancient and modern philosophies and religions, as well as with the most advanced scientific thought of her time. She was reared in a Christian home, and from her early years she was deeply religious. As she grew up and began to think for herself she could see no reason for the conflict that seemed to exist between science and religion. If science is based upon an honest search for Truth, if religion deals with the truth concerning God and man, why should there be any conflict between them? If the goal of science is an understanding of facts and laws, and if Christianity is setting forth the facts concerning the laws of God, why should not Science and Christianity be one? And why should not a scientific understanding of the laws of God enable us to make use of these laws as they were used by Jesus and his disciples?
An incident occurred that brought a practical answer to her questions. She met with an accident that was expected to prove fatal. She took her Bible and studied the account of the healing by Jesus of a palsied man. She caught a glimpse of the fact that this must have been due to the operation of law, and that the same law of God that was present in Jesus' time must be available to her. This realization of the unchanging nature of the law of God made such an impression upon her thought that a remarkable thing took place. She found herself instantly healed. She saw immediately that this was an indication of the method of healing used by Jesus, and she realized how important it would be to mankind if Jesus' method of healing could be discovered. By applying to Christianity the scientific method, which looks for facts and laws instead of emphasizing the supernatural and miraculous, she discovered the laws that Jesus had used and the methods of practically applying them to human needs. This was truly the science of Christianity and she called her discovery Christian Science. After broad practical tests of this scientific way of healing she wrote a textbook on the subject called "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." She founded the Christian Science movement. So Christian Scientists recognize Mary Baker Eddy as the Discoverer of Christian Science, as the Founder of the Christian Science movement and as the Leader whose clear perception of Truth, set forth in her writings, has led them and continues to lead them to health and harmony, success and happiness.
The Christian Science textbook does not take the place of the Bible, but it serves to explain its meaning to the modern world. One of the Tenets in the Christian Science textbook reads (p. 497), "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life." How well the phrase, "inspired Word of the Bible," characterizes Scriptural teachings! Again in the textbook we read (p. 319), "The divine Science taught in the original language of the Bible came through inspiration, and needs inspiration to be understood." The inspired Word of the Bible originated with God, Truth. Otherwise it could not be considered as truly inspired. Also, the desire to understand and express God, which leads us to study the Bible, comes from God, and this is the inspiration which enables us to comprehend and appreciate the Bible teachings. We accept as our sufficient guide the truth which we find expressed throughout the Bible and Science and Health. This combination of inspiration in both the writer who wrote for the purpose of explaining and expressing God, and the inspiration of the reader who reads with the loving, intelligent motive to understand and express God better, allows the word of God with all its power to operate in the experience of those who participate in this inspiration. We learn to make use of the Bible and its instructions effectively and to profit by the example of the Biblical characters who understandingly used the power of God.
Now that we have before us the Bible, or chart of life, with the key and explanations which we find in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," how can we best use them? How can they improve our health and our everyday experience?
Man's Relation to God
With a road map, the first step is to find out just where you are on the map. So let us see just what place man occupies in God's universe, just where each one of us stands in relation to God.
What is man? First of all, man is not a physical body. You hear it said that man is primarily a physical body, and that he derives all his characteristics, his health, and his intelligence, his very identity, from the physical and chemical activities that go on within this body. But is this really true?
They tell us that the physical body is made up of various substances and that the food and liquids that are taken into the body today become the bodily tissues of tomorrow, that after a short time these tissues are replaced by new materials, so that this process of building up and tearing down bodily tissue, which is called metabolism, goes on continuously. According to this, practically the entire physical body is completely replaced in the course of about eleven months; you do not have the same body year after year, but are constantly building a new one and getting rid of the old one. Then your identity, which remains unchanged, cannot be physical, depending on a changing body; it is mental, spiritual. Your body has been replaced, but your identity, not being physical, remains the same. Even the mental pattern of the signature which you have retained throughout the years controls the kind of signature you produce today.
So a physical body is not man, and your physical body is not you. And instead of the body controlling you, on the contrary, the condition of your physical body, like your signature, is controlled by the thoughts which you entertain, the mental patterns which you accept and hold in consciousness. As you control your thoughts with the truth, the perfect patterns which God gives you, you can control and improve the physical body.
So man, instead of being a physical body, is mental, a spiritual idea. He is the image and likeness of God, and, like God, he is incorporeal. His identity is not dependent upon a physical body, but, on the contrary, the body is controlled by thought. In the final analysis, a physical body is merely a mental concept. As we allow God to govern our thought, this brings healing.
Physicists today tell us that there is in reality no such thing as matter, for matter must be considered as made up entirely of energy. If that is true, the slow processes of metabolism, which are constantly changing and replacing the material in the human body, should not cause any delay in the change from sickness to health as the mental process or pattern is corrected.
Today we hear a great deal about the effect of various forms of subatomic energy and types of radiation and currents applied to the human body in order to heal disease. When we see that the body is controlled by thought or mental patterns, does it not seem more logical and effective to apply the infinite energies of Spirit, the power of Truth, to correct and replace erroneous mental pictures and patterns with spiritual ideas, which serve to remove fear of a belief in sickness?
Healing by Correction of Thought
Christian Science shows us that all disease and deformity are the result of mistaken, erroneous thought. This mistaken thought is expressed by the body in sickness and ill health. As we correct erroneous thought, the body is healed.
How do we correct erroneous thought? With the power that Truth exercises over error. We are all accustomed to using the power of truth over error in mathematics. We know just what to do with a mathematical mistake. All that is needed is to apply the specific fact that is required to correct that particular mistake, and that fact will completely dispose of the mistake. It would be impossible to imagine a mistake in mathematics that was not a mistake about a specific fact. There is always a fact to correct any mistake. The mistake has no power over that fact. But the fact exercises an irresistible power over the mistake. This symbolizes the power of Truth over error, and this power not only removes the mistake, it also corrects the false consciousness that temporarily seemed to accept and believe the mistake. When you have corrected a simple mistake in addition, as you look back it seems difficult to imagine, for instance, how anyone could have thought of five and two as making nine. The false belief that temporarily seemed to accept the mistake has disappeared with the mistake. In Christian Science we speak of the false consciousness that temporarily seems to accept and believe what is not true as "mortal man." In the Bible it is spoken of as "the old man" to be put off. As we use the power of Truth over error, it not only removes the mistake, but it also corrects the false consciousness that temporarily seems to accept and experience that mistake, that testifies to its existence.
We find in Christian Science that this power of Truth over error has a much broader application than just in mathematics. We find that whenever we are dealing with a condition or situation that appears to be real and true but is not based upon this great good Principle, Truth, that as we apply the appropriate spiritual counter facts these facts will correct and destroy the discords that appeared to be real and powerful.
The utilization of the power of Truth over error to heal sickness, to solve human problems, is spoken of as Christian Science treatment. It always consists of the use of the power of divine Truth over error, of spiritual facts over mistakes.
The reason that Christian Science is so much more effective than psychotherapy or psychosomatic medicine or any form of suggestive therapeutics is that in Christian Science we use only the power of God, divine Truth and Love, over error. There is no effort to superimpose one set of human opinions upon another.
Here is a method of healing which is entirely different from any system that is based on the assumption that the body controls man. Both surgery and medication are founded upon the belief that the body controls health and therefore the way to get rid of disease is by doing something to the body.
How much more logical it is to work with the power of Truth to correct thought and allow the perfect models of thought which come to us from divine Mind to bring out permanent healing and give freedom and perfection! God's way of healing, used by Jesus and the disciples, and today used in Christian Science, proves itself to be better, quicker, and more effective than efforts to heal that are founded on the mistaken theory that the body governs man and that healing must come through drugs, surgery, or inoculations.
A man had been rejected for life insurance because the medical examination showed that he had incurable heart disease. He then had Christian Science treatment. As he learned to realize God was his Life, his fear began to subside. He could see that his body did not govern him through unintelligent chemical or physical reaction, but, on the contrary, his body was controlled by the mental concepts he accepted and held in thought. Minute by minute he watched his own thought to be sure he was not accepting mistaken unGodlike thought but was gratefully responding to the intelligent thoughts that constantly come to man from infinite Mind, God.
He lost all fear of the disease, and one day decided to apply to the same company for life insurance. After a thorough physical examination, he was accepted. God's way of healing had proved its power.
A woman who was partially paralyzed was given no hope of recovery by physicians who examined her. Then as she studied Christian Science she began to realize that the activity of God, Life, is ever present, that there is no place in God's universe where this activity is not fully expressed. She saw that as a child of God this activity of Life belonged to her and that nothing could prevent its operation in every department of her life. She recognized that God lovingly supplies His children with opportunities for helpful activity and that He also gives them the power and freedom to accept these opportunities and to actively express God. She saw the unreality of the false concept that man could have a body that could be inert, inactive, unresponsive to the impulses that come from God, Love.
Before long the sense of incapacity to act and inability to control the body disappeared like a bad dream. She was as free as she had been before, and the bodily functions were more orderly and harmonious than they had been before the experience.
I wish there were time to tell you of some of the other remarkable things that are constantly occurring as a result of Christian Science treatment, but you can find testimonies of healing in The Christian Science Journal and Sentinel. You can hear them any Wednesday evening in a Christian Science church. You will find healing in your own experience as you make use of the simple rules of Christian Science.
What is the effect of Christian Science on the public health? Every citizen of this country should be interested in the public health, as well as his own health and that of his family. One of the greatest contributions an individual can make to public health is to keep himself well. If every individual could be taught to develop and maintain his own individual immunity to disease, the public health problem would be solved. Christian Science teaches us how to do this.
Jesus had complete immunity to disease. In his time leprosy was deemed so dangerously communicable that it was thought unsafe to even touch a leper. But Jesus, through his understanding of the power of God, had such complete immunity that frequently he touched lepers as he healed them. There was no danger of leprosy being communicated to him. On the contrary, the power of God, the power of Truth and Love, so animated him that his faith in God, based on understanding, brought healing.
Think what a contribution to public health Jesus made, not only by maintaining his complete immunity to disease, but also by enabling his disciples to acquire this same immunity and to share it with others. He contributed to public health by healing hundreds of cases of disease that were considered incurable. Today Christian Science is making a similar contribution to public health. Many people first become interested in Christian Science because they are healed of some malady which medical science has designated as incurable. As they study Christian Science they develop more and more immunity to disease. Such things as common colds, digestive upsets, and the minor diseases that are considered perhaps not dangerous but uncomfortable and inconvenient, and also economically wasteful, become less and less and, if they do appear, are of shorter duration. It is part of a Christian Scientist's religion to heal sickness and to avoid disease. He works at it conscientiously, healing disease for himself and others, and developing and maintaining immunity to disease. He obeys the Golden Rule and the laws of the land in reporting specified diseases to the health authorities and obeying quarantine. He is conscientious in protecting public health. Christian Scientists are deeply interested in public health as well as in individual health, and are making an outstanding contribution to both.
But healing in Christian Science is not alone getting rid of sickness and disease, important as that is. It also includes the healing of poverty and lack of all kinds, whether lack of money, lack of opportunity, or lack of friends and companionship. It is not God's purpose that any one of His loved children should suffer from lack of any kind. God's abundance of right ideas, understood and accepted and used, will lift the veil that keeps us from perceiving the opportunities that are before us.
Mrs. Eddy tells us in her "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 307), "God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn they give you daily supplies."
The complete healing which Christian Science brings includes also the healing of discord, hatred or lack of love. As this healing takes place, the unhappiness of discord and misunderstandings gives place to the peace and joyous cooperation that are characteristic of God's children. Between individuals, and among groups and nations, peace and mutual helpfulness bring greater freedom and broader opportunities to all, as we realize that we are all children of God, reflecting and expressing divine Love.
Complete healing or wholeness, the fullness of happiness, comes only through love. Without love, complete happiness would be impossible. God is Love, and we read in the Bible (I John 4:8), "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." When Jesus was questioned as to the first or most important commandment, he gave two, and each one begins, "Thou shalt love." Love for God and man is the very foundation of complete healing. Do we love as God loves, loving each one of His children, loving all the beauty and harmony of His universe? As we do, we are accepting the healing and happiness which God provides for each one of His children.
How do we accept this way of Life that brings healing? By making use of the means God has given us. We can study the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, the key to the Scriptures. But studying alone is not enough. We do not learn to drive a car merely by reading an instruction book. We must use what we learn.
The most important factor in healing is prayer. But the healing prayer of Christian Science is not merely asking God for something desirable. It is listening to God to receive the right ideas which He always has ready for us. It is gratitude that recognizes God as the source of all good and gratefully affirms, "Thine is . . . the glory"!
Listening to God and responding to the right ideas which He gives us is highly important. There is nothing mysterious or supernatural about listening to God. Whenever we are receiving right ideas from infinite Mind we are listening to God. As we develop our ability to listen to God, we receive from His infinite wisdom and love the right ideas that enable us to recognize and accept the opportunities that are always waiting to bring us the complete healing and happiness which He designs for His children.
I know there are some here who are just looking into Christian Science, perhaps wondering what steps they can take to make its power available to them. You can get a copy of the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, at any Christian Science Reading Room. You can buy it or borrow it. Read the first chapter, the chapter on Prayer, and see how much of it you already agree with. Then read the whole book from the first page of the Preface right through to the end.
If you come to a sentence that seems obscure or difficult to understand, or perhaps with which you do not agree, just leave that sentence for the time being and go on reading. As you become more familiar with the use of the words in Christian Science, you will find that when you come back and read that passage again, the meaning will stand out much more clearly.
You will find it helpful to study the Bible in the light of Christian Science. You can attend Christian Science church services not only on Sundays but also on Wednesday evenings, when the meetings include testimonies of healing. If there is a need, you can call upon a Christian Science practitioner for help. These practitioners are experienced Christian Scientists who have shown their gratitude by adopting this profession of helping others.
Whether you are just beginning to study Christian Science or whether you have been studying it for some time, it is important to your progress that you should set aside a certain time each day, preferably at the beginning of the day, for consecrated study of the Bible and Science and Health together with an adequate time for earnest, grateful prayer and communion with God in the light of Christian Science. More and more the joy and freedom of Christian Science will permeate every hour of the day, but nothing can take the place of this time devoted solely and conscientiously to prayer and the study of Christian Science.
You will find that even the short time we have just spent in consideration of these simple but profound truths of Christian Science will have a definite effect upon your experience. These truths never leave us. They will continue to operate in our consciousness, bringing out a clearer sense of the presence and power of God as Truth, Life, and Love, controlling and transforming our human experience.
God's way of healing, Christian Science, is ready to help each one of us. Let us allow God's wisdom and power to help us. We can go forward step by step under the protection and guidance of divine Love.
We can say in the words of the Christian Science Hymnal (No. 139):
"I walk with Love along the way,
And O, it is a holy day;
No more I suffer cruel fear,
I feel God's presence with me here;
The joy that none can take away
Is mine; I walk with Love today.
"Who walks with Love along the way,
Shall talk with Love and Love obey;
God's healing truth is free to all,
Our Father answers every call;
‘Tis He dispels the clouds of grey
That all may walk with Love today.
"Come walk with Love along the way,
Let childlike trust be yours today;
Uplift your thought, with courage go,
Give of your heart's rich overflow,
And peace shall crown your joy-filled day.
Come, walk with Love along the way."
[Published in The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, Jan. 5, 1956.]