Christian Science: A Demonstrable Everyday Religion
Ralph Castle, C.S. of Belvedere, California
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
This lecture was given in the edifice of Fourteenth Church of Christ, Scientist, 3690 Motor Ave. last Thursday evening, January 14, 1960. Mr. Castle was introduced by Mrs. Helen Walters, Second Reader, as follows:
"Friends: We are happy to welcome you to this lecture on Christian Science. How comforting it is to know that the same truth which Jesus taught and practiced is here today to heal and to bless. Tonight we shall hear more about these spiritual truths of the Bible and how they meet our daily needs. We are privileged to have as our lecturer Ralph Castle of Belvedere, California. Mr. Castle is a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. The title of the lecture is: 'Christian Science: A Demonstrable Everyday Religion'."
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
"Friends: The Bible and the Christian Science textbook are our only preachers." These words strike a responsive chord in the thought of students of Christian Science, for they are recognized as the opening sentence of what is termed the "Explanatory Note" which is read immediately preceding the Lesson-Sermon at Sunday services in Christian Science churches and societies throughout the world.
Far from being casual or merely ritualistic, these words convey an importance to a newcomer which at first may not be too apparent. Let me quote the first of the six articles of faith which are the Tenets of the Christian Science religion and which will be found on page 497 of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science: "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life." We will discuss the "inspired Word" a little later, but at this point we see that the teachings of Christian Science are in accord with the spiritual truths contained in the Bible. Next let us consider the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." The very title links it unquestionably with the Bible, which is confirmed by many substantiating statements within its pages. For instance, on page 110, referring to her revelation, Mrs. Eddy says, "the Bible was my only textbook. The Scriptures were illumed." On page 126 she states, "The Bible has been my only authority." And on page 406 we read, "The Bible contains the recipe for all healing."
The Christian Science textbook contains thirty-six references to the Bible, as such, with around two hundred passages from fifteen books in the Old Testament and four hundred and fifty quotations from twenty-two of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament. The fact that certain passages are cited several times does not lessen the significance of our textbook's Scriptural authority; rather do we grasp the import of the concluding portion of the Explanatory Note ‒ that our sermons are "undivorced from truth, uncontaminated and unfettered by human hypotheses, and divinely authorized." Thus we perceive our weekly Lesson-Sermons, based on Holy Writ, to consist of impersonal, spiritual instruction and guidance on every aspect of human thought and experience.
From this spiritual standpoint, twenty-six subjects are discussed twice during each calendar year, twenty-six subjects which embrace within themselves every important phase of human thinking. Beginning with the earliest records of mankind, persons and groups of persons in many instances have sought, not only to control human thinking by dogma and superstition, but to force acceptance of personal opinion upon individuals who might wish to think independently. While Christian Science does not enter into controversial discussions, it sets forth clearly and beyond argument the spiritual realities which were revealed to Mrs. Eddy through prayer, inspiration, and consecrated labor in her study of the inspired Word of the Bible. With the unfoldment to us of these spiritual truths, we are enabled mentally to penetrate the fog of materiality with its beliefs of sin, sickness, and death, and to find rest, health, and peace in the blessed assurance of the spiritual power made available to us individually, here and now.
Before publishing her textbook, our Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, proved by demonstration that the truths therein contained reveal and illumine the healing and regenerative power of God. As her followers know, she personally experienced instantaneous physical healing, and through her understanding of God's omnipotence and omnipresence she brought complete freedom to many others from various cases of sickness and disease. Thus she was empowered and, one might say, spiritually obligated to share her discovery and present to the world a religion of healing founded upon a clearer understanding of God and His creation than had been given since the teachings of Christ Jesus, to whom she reverently refers as the Way-shower, and upon whose words and works she established her Church ‒ the Church of Christ, Scientist.
In this connection she has written on page 26 of her textbook: "Our Master taught no mere theory, doctrine, or belief. It was the divine Principle of all real being which he taught and practised. His proof of Christianity was no form or system of religion and worship, but Christian Science, working out the harmony of Life and Love."
The Church of Christ, Scientist, is governed by the Church Manual, written by Mrs. Eddy, on page 15 of which we also find the six articles of faith to which reference was made a moment ago. Let me repeat the first of these tenets, "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life."
The Inspired Word
A natural question which might arise in the thought of the new student is, "What is meant by the inspired Word?"
Broadly speaking, the inspired Word throughout the entire Bible points to a great spiritual fact, namely, the omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience of the one God, whom the greatest of all teachers, Jesus the Christ, said to know aright is life eternal. This inspired Word, the Word of God given to mankind through men, requires spiritualized thought in order to be acquired and utilized. It is the utilization of these spiritual truths which constitutes the practice of Christian Science. And how can thought become more spiritualized, and thereby more capable of discerning spiritual facts, so we may be more able to apply them to everyday experience? By the study of the Bible together with the Key to the Scriptures, the textbook of Christian Science. Why? Because it has been proved thousands of times and publicly acknowledged that the light which Christian Science throws on the Bible has brought physical healing, comfort, and regeneration to countless persons willing to turn to God, or the inspired Word, scientifically understood, for help. You notice I use the word "Scientifically." It is not sufficient to turn to God emotionally or even in blind faith. Christian Science, as its title implies, is a science ‒ the Science of Christianity, the Science which Jesus understood and demonstrated and regarding which he said, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also."
The "me" to which Jesus referred is the Christ, the true idea of God from which he realized he was inseparable and which constituted his true, spiritual nature. In Christian Science this original distinction is emphasized. Jesus, the name of the impersonation, and Christ, the Messiah or the Anointed ‒ the divine title.
Jesus exemplified the Christ more than any other earthly personality. A helpful thought in this connection is expressed by Mrs. Eddy on page 316 of the Christian Science textbook, "Christ illustrates that blending with God, his divine Principle, which gives man dominion over all the earth."
Language of Spirit
It is reasonable to assume there are some persons present who are not very familiar with the teachings of Christian Science. To these people part of the terminology used may not accurately convey the meaning intended. Certain words may be used in a sense that seems at variance with the commonly accepted meaning. Two of these words, the meaning of which needs to be clarified, are "real" and "unreal." A knowledge of Christian Science, or the Science of being, as Mrs. Eddy sometimes refers to it, requires a clear concept of what is real and what is unreal.
After a Christian Science lecture in which I, personally, thought the difference between the two words in question had been pretty clearly set forth, a non-Christian Scientist friend wrote, "I can understand Mrs. Eddy's concept of reality as you expressed it, but I have to make a conscious effort to differentiate between that concept and the commonly accepted one." Possibly without realizing it, this friend has expressed in his statement the fundamental requirement for anyone who is desirous of learning more of Christian Science. To distinguish between the scientific conception of what is real and what is unreal most certainly demands a conscious effort, especially at first.
On the first page of the Preface to the Christian Science textbook, Mrs. Eddy has said (p. vii), "The time for thinkers has come." What is thinking absolutely but consciousness in action? So the conscious effort of our friend really means an effort to think, and to think correctly. But perhaps I am ahead of myself in making such an assertion prior to having established the reason for it.
"Time for thinkers"
The man or woman who thinks about the subject at all will undoubtedly admit that the universe, the heaven and the earth, was created by and consequently must be sustained by some sort of Supreme Being, or governing intelligence. That may be as far as some persons care to go. But it is here that Christian Science makes demands upon its students to think more deeply ‒ to make the conscious effort to determine for themselves what really constitutes creation, who and what they really are, and the extent of their capabilities.
We are all familiar with the opening words in the book of Genesis, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." None will deny, I am sure, that God is Spirit. Since God is self-conscious Being, Mrs. Eddy designates God as divine Mind, the source of all intelligence. It follows, therefore, that the origin of heaven and earth was spiritual, that heaven and earth were spiritual concepts, creations of the divine Mind, or intelligence.
In the twenty-sixth verse of this chapter in Genesis we read, "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." We might paraphrase this to read, "Spirit, or divine intelligence, said, Let us make man to reflect, or express, intelligence." As the physical or material senses cannot be cognizant of Spirit or intelligence, it is logical to conclude that the physical or material senses cannot be cognizant of the reflection, or expression of intelligence, designated in the first chapter of Genesis as man, man capable only of spiritually expressing, or reflecting, the qualities of his creator. And this leads us to all-important questions: Is the creator real or unreal? also, Is man, spiritually perceived as reflecting the attributes and qualities of the creator, real or unreal? Upon our answers depends our grasp of true creation and true being. False education down the centuries is responsible for mankind's misconception of reality. To realize the spiritual fact in the face of false material arguments most certainly demands conscious effort. In other words, it demands alertness to think consistently and accurately.
The Spiritual Creation
We cannot think of true creation without thinking in terms of life. So a spiritual creation must include spiritual life. Man, reflecting intelligence, reflects Life ‒ spiritually, of course. He reflects the Life which is God, man's only Life. Herein lies another important factor in Christian Science, especially from the aspect of healing. Under a subheading or marginal note in the Christian Science textbook entitled "Spiritualized consciousness" are these words (p. 14): "Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual, ‒ neither in nor of matter, ‒ and the body will then utter no complaints. If suffering from a belief in sickness, you will find yourself suddenly well." I have quoted from page 14, and these encouraging statements follow an enlightening discussion of St. Paul's aim and hope as expressed in his second epistle to the Corinthians, to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. By scientific or correct reasoning we arrive at the conclusion that absence from the body and presence with the Lord is a spiritually mental possibility here and now. This does not mean the attempted desertion of this material body in what mankind calls death. On the contrary, as the citation from Science and Health states, the body ceases to complain, or to be painful, because the individual consciousness cannot be cognizant of ease and pain, relief and suffering, at one and the same time. Hence we see that a spiritual perception of what it means to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord is requisite to Christian Science treatment, whether the treatment be in one's own behalf or in behalf of another.
The word "treatment," when used in connection with Christian Science, is synonymous with "prayer." It means invoking the law of God; its basis is a spiritual understanding of perfect God and perfect man. It is prayer of affirmation and realization rather than prayer of petition.
Let me tell you about a physical healing.
A young man was working his way through Medical School by playing the organ in moving-picture houses at night. Combined work and study appeared to be too much for him, and he came down under a severe attack of pneumonia which, according to his physician, was the result of overwork. Although he nearly passed on, he recovered eventually to the extent that he was able to resume his activities in a restricted degree but was continuously under the care of a doctor. The time arrived when he was informed that he must resign himself to being a chronic invalid. This verdict was delivered after an X-ray examination revealed what was termed a malignant growth which was considered inoperable. With funds depleted to practically nothing, he said he was in a desperate situation.
A friend, hearing of the young man's distress, wrote to him to be of good cheer, and he quoted the words of Jesus, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Later, this friend asked if he would be willing to permit a telegram to be sent to a Christian Science practitioner in a city several hundred miles away asking help for him in Christian Science. The reply was that he would try anything once, so the telegram was sent.
About three weeks later he had an appointment with the doctor for a routine check-up. His health had so improved during this time under Christian Science treatment that he walked a distance of ten blocks to the doctor's office, a thing he had previously found impossible. The doctor was quite alarmed and said he should not have done such a thing as it would tax his strength too much. He then made the customary examination, but at the conclusion announced that he was not satisfied, so he made a second check and took several X-ray photographs, asking the patient to return the following day. The patient, of course, complied, and after a much more thorough examination and reference to the X-ray pictures, the doctor finally exclaimed, "You're 100% well, and I won't have to see you again ‒ it's a miracle."
The young man then decided that he should find out for himself about Christian Science, for he realized that he had been healed by this absent treatment. As a medical student he had ridiculed the idea of healing through prayer, but honesty and gratitude for his own healing prompted his search for the truth. It was not long before he realized what it meant to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. Incidentally, his father was so antagonistic to what he thought was Christian Science that our friend used to hide his copy of the textbook to avoid unpleasantness in the family. However, he persisted in his study of Christian Science, and today he is an earnest worker in a branch Church of Christ, Scientist, in which he has held many offices. I might add that he gave up his medical studies and confined his professional activities to music.
As previously quoted from Science and Health, "The time for thinkers has come." From the tenor of Mrs. Eddy's writings there can be only one construction placed on the word "thinkers," namely, intelligent thinkers. Reviewing world conditions today, while we find ample reason to be grateful for progress made in various phases of human activity we must admit there is room for vast improvement in others. We are still confronted with serious problems in domestic, national and international relationships where conditions appear to be the result, not of intelligent reasoning, but of false thinking. In other words, they are largely the outcome of emotions governed by fear, greed, revenge, and domination. Yet the application of the rules of Christian Science to human affairs by individuals offers a definite step toward the solution of difficulties which, seemingly, become more complex with the passing of time.
Christianity is acknowledged to be the remedy for the ills of the world by spiritually-minded persons all through the course of history, yet the tide of national differences has not been stemmed, and wars, with other forms of violence, have been recurring factors.
It is at this point that Christian Science, the Science of Christianity, comes to humanity's aid. Christian Science not only insists on moral elements of Christianity, it sets forth in clear and unmistakable terms its Science ‒ the rules of which, as I have said before, when applied correctly to any given set of circumstances, will demonstrate scientifically the solution.
In a letter to a New York newspaper in 1899, Mrs. Eddy wrote: "Christian Science is the new-old Christianity, that which was and is the revelation of divine Love. The present flux in religious faith may be found to be a healthy fermentation, by which the lees of religion will be lost, dogma and creed will pass off in scum, leaving a solid Christianity at the bottom ‒ a foundation for the builders" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 301).
Old Systems Worn Out
For the purposes of our discussion, let us say the human race has been engaged in a business enterprise for, call it, five or six thousand years according to our measurement of time. By referring to Biblical records and records of more recent history, we can obtain a fairly clear picture of human relationships over that period. The business in which humanity has been and still is engaged is getting along harmoniously with one another; it is busy with the search for wealth and for health, and in making the world a happier place in which to live. As this business is a going concern, let us look at the balance sheet. What do the books reveal? What does the profit and loss account show for the period? You will agree, I am sure, that the balance sheet is somewhat a disgrace to the management. Despite "red figures" we see that methods adopted thousands of years ago have been adhered to through the centuries, although farsighted individuals at different times in history have openly and vehemently declared such methods are out of date and, if pursued, would bring disaster to the corporation.
If methods were followed in our own private business enterprises which, year after year, kept us in the red, would we not take drastic steps to see that such methods were discarded and in their place institute a system which holds promise of successful operation? We might know it would take some time to get the wheels in motion to the point where the new system would be reflected on the books by a profit, yet we would be willing to adopt it
Material Sense Illusion
In this discussion we have already seen that evidence presented by material sense is not real in the Christianly scientific sense of that word. So it must be illusion. On page 495 of Science and Health we find what our Leader tells us we should do with such evidence. "When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you," she says, "cling steadfastly to God and His idea. Allow nothing but His likeness to abide in your thought." A little later on the same page she writes, "Let Christian Science, instead of corporeal sense, support your understanding of being, and this understanding will supplant error with Truth, replace mortality with immortality, and silence discord with harmony." When we allow nothing but God's likeness to abide in our thought, we cannot become mesmerized by what human beings may seem to be expressing. Rather will we accept into our individual consciousness only that which spiritual sense compels us to recognize as God's ideas ‒ the sons and daughters of God, expressing or reflecting God in His attributes and qualities.
Do you say, "That's all very well, but my thinking along such lines does not change the material situation"? Doesn't it? That is where lies a big mistake. Right there is the mesmerism that material sense is real and more powerful than good. We should remember that whatever the evidence of the senses tries to tell us is a lie from the beginning. An individual holding mentally to what he knows to be the truth of being in the face of all odds will find that what he calls the material situation is indeed changed, and that with the betterment of his own conditions he is assisting in putting into effect a new system of operation in this world business of ours.
What if it does take time from the human standpoint? Mrs. Eddy foresaw that inevitability. She says on page 233 of the textbook, "The ages must slowly work up to perfection." So let us not feel discouraged if we do not immediately see the demonstration made over the evidence of the material senses nationally or internationally. Demonstrating the truth of being is an individual experience. As the number of individuals who are making this demonstration increases, so the prospect of happier times for all becomes more apparent. As I said just now, the old system has been tried for thousands of years. Let us now work as individuals scientifically to bring joy, peace, and health to mankind. Scientifically, it must start with you and with me and with others, in individual human consciousness.
A newcomer may ask, "What do you mean that we should work as individuals scientifically to bring joy, peace, and health to mankind?" Let us look at it this way. Too many individuals have been content to go with the tide of the prevailing belief in the power of evil. They may have grumbled or even protested, but until national and international difficulties by scientific prayer have been reduced to the point where they have been met and mastered in individual consciousness a harmonious outlook and peace of mind will not be attained. There is nothing selfish in this attitude. On the contrary, as was just said, it is a practical contribution to the peace and happiness of all mankind. But let me add, such a mental approach does not mean that, as individuals, we would shirk our duty as citizens of our country. We stand ready to fulfill our part, whatever that part may be. We obey the laws of the State in every respect and we endeavor to keep our thinking in obedience to God. We do not accept as real the inharmonies which confront us.
One thing is certain, namely, that as we approach world problems in this way, they become less real and discouraging to us, and our individual mental dwelling, or human consciousness, is much happier. Also, it is defended against what the Psalmist called "the terror by night" and "the pestilence that walketh in darkness." Mrs. Eddy saw the far-reaching effect of one's mental attitude upon outward conditions. On page 160 of her book, "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" she says, "To live so as to keep human consciousness in constant relation with the divine, the spiritual, and the eternal, is to individualize infinite power; and this is Christian Science."
Suppose one should find himself in an environment where sharp practices, greed, anger, and fear seem rampant. If such a one is an employee, the temptation to resign might arise, despite all doubts as to the prospect of re-employment. May I repeat that in Christian Science any inharmonious condition can be met and mastered. Withdrawal from the outward evidence of inharmony prior to obtaining individual spiritual mastery and freedom is not the true solution. At best it is but a temporary expedient. Sooner or later, the issue must be faced and healed by the scientific understanding of the nothingness of the error and the allness of God. To accomplish this end, mere repetition of memorized statements from the Bible and from the works of Mary Baker Eddy is not, in itself, sufficient, although study of the word is indispensable and promotes spiritual understanding. The correct answer to any question can be obtained only by realization of Truth, accompanied by correct application of the rules of Christian Science. Our approach toward the solution of a business difficulty is heartened by the words of our Leader, "It [Christian Science] encourages and empowers the business man and secures the success of honesty" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 252).
It is not uncommon to hear inharmony in business attributed to certain personal faults. Unreasonableness, bad temper, even differences of opinion in politics and religion are held responsible for discord and distress. Christian Science makes it plain that such contentions are not true; that such fables of mortal mind are no part of real consciousness. In this connection let me cite two short statements from our textbook. On page 129 Mrs. Eddy has written, "If you wish to know the spiritual fact, you can discover it by reversing the material fable, be the fable pro or con ‒ be it in accord with your preconceptions or utterly contrary to them." And on page 71 are these words: "Evil has no reality. It is neither person, place, nor thing, but is simply a belief, an illusion of material sense." When Jesus asked the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda if he would be made whole, self-pity and self-justification answered. Others were blamed for his inability to reach the pool at the proper time. Although the Master had compassion on the man and healed him, he later admonished him, saying, "Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." When confronted with seeming discord, it is not Christianly scientific to hold others responsible for our acceptance of error as real. Watchful care needs to be exercised to arrest such thoughts, "lest a worse thing come," and we believe ourselves victims of circumstances or targets for error.
Omnipotence of God
The remedy for mental confusion or inharmony lies in the glorious realization that there is no place or condition where one can be deprived of the presence of God and of His Christ. The Psalmist said, "If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou [God] art there." Self-pity and self-justification may argue that we have made our bed in hell, but refusing to remain there is entirely within the scope of our demonstration. We find the spiritual fact as we reverse the material fable.
We probably would not hesitate to declare of our true self, "I am God's perfect child," and yet the truth of such a declaration is denied when we contend that someone else is lacking in the spiritual qualities we claim for ourselves. Our own demonstration of harmony requires our steadfast recognition that God's law governs our fellow being as well as ourselves.
Let us take a minute to compare conditions as they seem today with those recorded in the past. All through history we read of occasions which were regarded with the utmost gravity and as catastrophic by the people and even their leaders. It is sometimes rather interesting to read speeches and statements made pertaining to a nation's affairs years ago and to see how closely they resemble those of today.
Somewhere around 600 B.C. the condition of the world must have appeared to its inhabitants very much the same as our world looks to us today. Military might acquired by one nation could spell aggression and cruelty to another. And a vicious circle might be the outcome. Unable to solve the perplexing difficulties in national affairs in any other way, the prophet Habakkuk turned his thought directly to God, and he mentally climbed his tower of faith that he might obtain a better view of his God and receive from the Almighty inspiration and hope for his people. I refer you to the book of Habakkuk, chapter two. Incidentally, this story is another good example of what we might term the "inspired Word of the Bible." One thing was quite clear to Habakkuk, the need for patience and an unwavering faith in the ultimate defeat of evil and the triumph of good. He was so sure this condition ultimately would prevail that he assures, "Though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come." And in verse 14 we read these stirring words: "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." Habakkuk, from his mount of vision, saw the inhabitants of the whole earth acknowledging the one God, the one Mind, the conqueror of the world. And a world empire that is not Babylonian or Russian, Greek or American, but divine ‒ the kingdom of God.
Reign of God
The glorious fact is that the kingdom of God is not circumscribed by boundaries, and its existence does not depend upon the accomplishments of armies, statesmen, or politicians. And talking about the kingdom of God, you remember that when Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God should come, he answered, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20-21).
In her definition of "New Jerusalem" on page 592 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy speaks of "the kingdom of heaven, or reign of harmony," and on page 478 she says, "When speaking of God's children, not the children of men, Jesus said, 'The kingdom of God is within you;' that is, Truth and Love reign in the real man." It is necessary, when considering the kingdom of God, to know that heaven, God's reign, is within us. It is divine Principle, Love, exercising a controlling influence. As a matter of fact, this line of thinking is so important to our individual spiritual progress and to our contribution to peace in the world that Mrs. Eddy gave us a prayer which she included in her Manual of The Mother Church and required that it be used daily by every member of her church. It is known as the "Daily Prayer." In a few words it epitomizes the Christian's desire for spirituality and the inward longing of mankind for peace on earth. It reads as follows (Art. VIII, Sect. 4): " 'Thy kingdom come;' let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!"
[Published in The Evening Star News of Culver City, California, Jan. 15, 1960.]