Christian Science: Herald of Freedom
George Channing, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
If your heart has cried for freedom the answer to that cry has come. It has come in the way of God's appointing, meeting the human need for freedom as divine Love meets all human need. This freedom is not recognized by the material senses, because these so-called senses misconceive freedom in terms of human outlining, thereby exposing themselves as the procurers of enslavement. Nevertheless, freedom is here. It is available to humanity in response to deep desire for it. It is real. It is discerned and understood by the spiritual senses, the real senses of man, and it is demonstrable in all the practical ways in which the human heart seeks freedom.
Strange it is, but not
unprecedented, that men should pray deeply and receive in full measure the
answer to their prayer while yet not recognizing that the answer has come.
Notably in one dark period of human history pagan
Yet, even in monotheistic
Christ Jesus predicted the full freedom of men. Freedom he indicated, was a matter of knowing truth. "Ye shall know the truth," are his often-quoted words, "and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). And he implemented his words by predicting the coming of that which would guide into all truth. "The Comforter," he called this divine manifestation of God which would come in full measure into the affairs of men. "I will pray the Father," were his words, "and he shall give you another Comforter" (John ) . . . and "when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth . . ." (John ) . . . "that he may abide with you for ever" (John ).
As in the case of Christ Jesus' own coming, so in the case of the predicted Comforter, the arrival has been in answer to prayer. Men desired the Comforter. Increasing evidence of the human mind's enslavement of itself and its infliction of limitation upon its own so-called conceptions impelled men earnestly to seek the light, until in 1866 the light came. The Comforter arrived on the human scene. The Comforter whom Christ Jesus had promised came with deliverance in its wake, shedding effulgence never before known in human affairs.
This Comforter came by way of revelation and also by way of discovery. The instrument of its coming was a God-appointed woman, one of the great spiritual leaders of all time, Mary Baker Eddy, who was called by God and found full ready. This truly great and good woman, blessed from childhood with the spiritual intuition to know God aright and also blessed with the desire, ability and understanding to cultivate spiritual sense to the exclusion of material sense, saw the Comforter. What she saw was a discovery. What God gave her, and what she in turn gave to mankind, was a revelation. It was the revelation of Truth to this age.
Truth it was because it brought freedom. It freed Mrs. Eddy herself from a desperate illness. Progressively it liberated her life from limitation and from subjection to the mercilessness of the restrictive and destructive so-called senses of the human mind. It revealed God as the one infinite, divine Mind and this divine Mind as the Mind of man, and man in the likeness of divine and perfect Mind because he is the creation of it.
Mrs. Eddy called her discovery Christian Science. She applied it in behalf of others and it freed them too. And in turn she taught them to free others. Joyously she wrote a textbook of this Science and was inspired to call it "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." In this book she proclaims true freedom. She does indeed acknowledge the nobility of the historic struggle of various groups for their own freedom and for the freedom of others. But she states for the first time in human history the spiritually practical nature of true freedom and the illusory nature of that from which mankind needs to be free.
She writes in her textbook, for instance, of the voice of God as still echoing in the United States of America in behalf of one group of persons needing freedom when, as she puts it, "the voice of the herald of this new crusade sounded the keynote of universal freedom, asking a fuller acknowledgement of the rights of man as a son of God, demanding that the fetters of sin, sickness, and death be stricken from the human mind and that its freedom be won, not through human warfare, not with bayonet and blood, but through Christ's divine Science" (Science and Health, p. 226).
If your heart has cried for freedom, Christian Science, this "herald of this new crusade," sounding "the keynote of universal freedom," is proclaiming the answer to its cry. Be not deaf to that which heralds the coming of what you have craved to receive. Let not the Comforter come unto his own (unto those who desire freedom), and his own receive him not. Liberation has come, not in the ways in which the human senses misconceive liberation, for those ways are binding and enslaving. It has come in ways that are practical and effective, ways that are intelligent and therefore definite and concrete. Let us look for it in those ways, the ways in which spiritual sense understands freedom and makes it a reality in your daily life and mine, and through you and me, yes, through each of us, a reality in the daily life of nations and of the world.
It is significant that Christian Science heralds freedom, it does not create it. Freedom is the natural state of man. It does not have to be brought into being. It is a forever fact. The way of discerning fact, or, in other words, of knowing truth, is all that is needed by mankind. The discovery of this way and the scientific statement of it constitutes Mrs. Eddy's tremendous spiritual achievement. She saw with spiritual vision that if truth makes free, it is untruth, or a lie, that enslaves. Truth is a synonym for Mind, God, the eternal substance and creator of the right or righteous idea. The creator, then, is Mind or Truth and its creation is the manifestation of Truth, or the idea which is right, righteous and correct. A lie is outside the realm of reality because outside the realm of Truth. Jesus placed a lie outside the realm of God, or Truth, when he said, "Ye are of your father the devil . . . When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it" (John ). False by definition, a lie is neither correct, right nor righteous, nor is it the offspring of Mind, the source of correctness or truth, despite its claiming to be mental.
God, Author of Freedom
That which is perfect is infinite, and that which is infinite is divine. God, then, is Mind, perfect and divine, and His creation consists of free and untrammeled spiritual ideas. These ideas are unrestricted, unlimited, unfrustrated in their liberty to be themselves and to know themselves in the perfect nature of their divine source. And, these right ideas, individualized, are the sons and daughters of God.
It is important to note that Mrs. Eddy thus established the nature of cause and then proceeded to reason infallibly from cause to effect, knowing the creature to partake completely of the nature of the creator and to partake only of that nature. No other system or method of seeking truth can duplicate this achievement. All attempts of the human mind, however noble, to understand man and the universe, all erudition, all experimental research, proceed in admitted ignorance of "The Great First Cause." This is not to say that academics of the right sort are not requisite, for Mrs. Eddy, in just those words, says that they are. (See Science and Health, p. 195) But it is to say that perfect and intelligent ideas will never be comprehended in their power to reveal freedom here and now for you and me until the cause from which they spring, the one and only creator, the true God of the universe, is first understood.
The Christian Science of Mrs. Eddy and the Christianity of Christ Jesus proceed on no other basis than the understanding of this God, "The Great First Cause," the one and only source of man and the universe. The conclusion reached, the ideas brought to light through deduction from this one and only cause are "true and righteous altogether." They are without error. They are the truth into which the Comforter has led . . . the truth which reveals man free from every untoward circumstance or condition.
Christ Jesus saw God as Father, and on this basis he made his profound demonstrations of man as whole, healthy, satisfied and free. But the Comforter, fulfilling Christ Jesus' prophesy, revealed "all truth," the full nature of cause, and guided Mrs. Eddy to behold this cause as Father-Mother. It made possible the statement of Christian procedure in terms of infallible Science.
God, "The Great First Cause"
To aid mankind in comprehending Mind as "The Great First Cause," Mrs. Eddy made it clear that this Mind must be described and understood as "incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite," thus making impossible any confusion of this Mind with what is called the human mind, or the mind of mortals, from which all falsehood proceeds. She also made it clear that these descriptive adjectives (incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite) must be applied to all other terms used for Deity, six of which she includes with Mind as synonymous for each other in her definition of God (Science and Health p. 466). These seven terms, chosen from terms used in the Bible – names for God, or found acceptable because their meaning coincides with the meaning of Biblical names for Deity, are: Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth and Love. These synonyms are interchangeable, but each sheds light in its own individual way on the Maker of man and the universe.
All of the foregoing terms, let me repeat, refer to cause, the essence of all Being, without which there would be nothing, and with which there is everything. As Mind and Truth have been explained, so each synonym for God can be explained, and the understanding of all the synonyms for Deity is necessary to encompass the full meaning of creator. Spirit is the source of ideas spiritual by nature and therefore real. Soul is the source of all consciousness of good, all awareness of and sensitivity to "the beauty of holiness." Principle is origin itself from which springs the universe of unerring ideas, the sons and daughters of God. Life is the creator of uninterrupted activity. Love is the origin of protective and blissful spiritual attraction, holding all in the unity of good, free from the disaster of separateness or separation.
Prayer Brings Freedom
To this God, this cause of all being, all true prayer, all right desire is directed. "Desire," Mrs. Eddy says, "is prayer," (Science and Health p. 1), and the implication is that it is answered prayer. The desire to know your cause, your divine Father-Mother, unfolds the ability to comprehend your cause as infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth and Love. This, in turn reveals your true self in the nature of your cause, you not the cause but the effect of it, and therefore one with it – you comprised of the undying, incorruptible qualities of divine Mind, individualized, your pure self unhampered by any restriction of sickness, sin, poverty, lack, ignorance or limitation. This is your freedom and mine, the freedom which Christian Science heralds. It is here and now the heritage of man. It needs only to be realized, to be permitted entrance and rule in our consciousness, as the reality it is.
"Desire" is an important subject. It is not so difficult to teach men to desire to pray as it is to teach them to desire to pray aright. It is not so difficult to teach men to pray as it is to teach them how to pray. Why should it be that men should desire to pray and yet not give effort to praying aright? Why should it be that men should instinctively pray when threatened by the terrors of mortal mind and yet not care about knowing how to pray? The answer lies in the inherent perversity of mortal mind, in the proclivity of the so-called mind of mortals to frustrate itself, indeed the necessity for frustrating itself because it is a contradiction within itself, non-existence claiming to exist.
This so-called mind of mortals, being the author of untruth, as already explained, is not actual because not factual, and consequently that which it produces in supposition is also not actual. Like produces like; there is no escape from this law. Yet this so-called mind of mortals, illusion though it be, asserts to itself that it is mind and claims to itself to be in the place where man's mind is. Being an illusion of mind, it is whimsical in its manifestations, that is, without law or substance, and is obsessed with the fear of vanishing like the dream of mind that it is. Its so-called operations, its aping of true Mind's conceiving and controlling and unfolding, are purely mesmeric and hypnotic, unblessed by reality, unhallowed by intelligence, and therefore subject to puncturing, deflation and erasure by the light of truth.
Set by its own dream within the limitations of time and material sensation, mortal mind objectifies itself as constricted in matter and outlined in mortality. Purely by suggestion it claims to be the mind of men, and then suggests to itself various contradictory methods of escape from its own inherent dissatisfaction. It suggests, for instance, that men had better pray themselves out of bitter and inharmonious mortality into sweet and peaceful mortality. Or, it argues that men had better plead against the painful awareness of life by adopting the asceticism of joyless so-called life, thus accepting death. Or, quite contrarily, it asserts that men had better "live" to the full the short-lived sensuousness of touch-happy matter rather than have no life at all. Meaningless and impotent each and all of these suggestions, and he who understands and declares them to be such, on the basis of the reality of truth which God reveals, finds freedom.
Perhaps you know someone who has yielded to some of the suggestions mentioned? Perhaps you don't have to look any further than I do to find that someone. But I hope the one you know, as surely as the one I know, ultimately discovered, by the grace of God, how fraudulent these suggestions are.
The person to whom I refer was not inclined to deny God, but he was inclined to pray to God for material security. He pleaded for improvement of what appeared to be difficult physical conditions. He begged for readjustment of material circumstances. But relief did not come. Obstructions did not vanish. They accumulated. There was no answer to the prayer that inharmonious matter be replaced by harmonious matter. Desperate and without the light which Christian Science throws in such a situation, he accepted another spurious suggestion. "Life" the tempter whispered, "is at best a cheat. Why not get all the momentary material fun you can? If it destroys you, you will at least have tasted of all that life has to offer." Persuaded, he sank deeper and deeper into the mire of material indulgence. Every step downward seemed to close the door more securely against any steps upward. His destruction seemed sure. His health was being undermined. A physician prescribed, but the prescription did not check the disintegration. Then suddenly "the love of God, which passeth all (human) understanding" penetrated his consciousness. It was sweet and promising. It was the first, faint hint of Christian Science. Progressively it exposed the fact that his mentality had been submitting to enslavement. The evidence that he was not being himself astounded him. The hint of Christian Science which was coming to him revealed not only his ability to be himself but his desire to use that ability. Almost immediately his liberation came. The suicidal nature of material indulgence began to appear to him. This exposure destroyed the deceptive attractiveness of material indulgence. And the threat of sickness and the accumulating evidence of physical disintegration disappeared, and health was manifest. Inspired by this release from bondage, he applied himself to the purpose of being satisfyingly useful, confident of finding his right activity. Ultimately, as we shall see, he learned to pray the prayer of realization. He learned to challenge as non-existent all that would seem to dispute his present status as the son of God. He learned the futility of praying for good matter in the place of bad matter. He learned to pray the answered prayer of displacing the false, material concept with the spiritual idea made real in consciousness, and he saw fulfilled in his experience the promise of Christ Jesus that "all these things will be added unto you."
All bondage, let me repeat, is illusion. Mortal mind enslaves itself. Within its nightmare of limitation, and the fears included in it, lie sickness, fatigue, unemployment, indifference, despair and death. Within this awful unreality is all that appears to fetter free limbs, to blind seeing eyes, to obstruct full action of active selfhood, to darken the unfolding of perfect intelligence, to superimpose birth, decline and decay upon the bright noonday of man's eternal existence.
Christ Dispels Illusion
From this bondage Christian Science sets free, not by changing an enslaved man into a free man, but by dispelling the illusion of enslavement and revealing the true man, revealing perfect freedom, the forever state in which man lives. This revelation, Christian Science teaches, is accomplished by the Christ, the right idea of God and man, which Mrs. Eddy described as "the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (Science and Health p. 583).
This Christ idea forever challenges all misconception. It works in your consciousness and mine to expose the falsehood that there is in man any belief that life is in matter or expressed in matter. Thus it causes to vanish into its native nothingness the supposititious point at which mortal sense would, if it could, by animal magnetism, establish contact with our thinking and build up the illusion of its oneness with us and thereby persuade us wrongly.
This Christ, in its redemptive and saving mission, detects and destroys all specific falsehood related to "the great transgression," the belief that there is a mind other than God, a mind which unfolds material concepts that are real. It exposes anger or self-depreciation, for instance, as a phase of the false belief that God can make something which deserves to be hurt or destroyed. It exposes grief, for instance, as a phase of the false belief that man depends upon something other than God and now has lost that something. It exposes ignorance and insanity as a phase of the false belief that man can be separated from his Mind, the divine Mind, God. It exposes suffering and sickness as a phase of the false belief that man can be separated from the affectionate protection of divine Love, his Maker. It exposes jealousy as a phase of the false belief that what God gives to man can be usurped by an intruder. The exposure of such false beliefs by the Christ and its revelation of the truth brings freedom and healing to mankind.
Realization of the absolute spiritual truth of freedom, operates as a law of freedom to human sense. Thus this truth reaches and liberates men in their economic, social and political relationships. In the words of Mrs. Eddy: "One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfills the Scripture, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself;' annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, – whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed" (Science and Health p. 340).
All physical enslavement, so-called, is the objectification of some false concept of mortal mind entertained in consciousness. Hence physical enslavement should be first resolved into its mental counterpart and then blotted out by the establishment in consciousness of the opposite right idea, in the presence of which the lie cannot even seem to exist. Then the manifestation of the lie disappears as the manifestation of truth appears. Therein is Christ's salvation.
Jesus Proved Freedom
Jesus employed this Christ, this right idea derived from divine Mind, to heal and save. This is what characterized him as Christ Jesus. His perfect utilization of this redemptive power made him the model for us. He is our perfect example. He illustrated the perfect man. He showed us the way of overcoming all claims of blighted humanhood with the facts of true humanhood. He illustrated the coincidence of the human with the divine and its resultant freedom.
Although individual regeneration is wholly mental, it is not the result of human psychology. It is not the influence of human thought upon human thought. Bondage is not broken by any hypnotic controlling of thought to accept a sense of good instead of a sense of evil. Bondage is broken by the freeing of thought from all hypnotic influence. Regeneration is not accomplished by the so-called power of mind over matter. It is accomplished by the power of divine Mind over a false belief of mind, the power of Truth over falsehood. Enslavement is not broken by the human will focusing its so-called attention and power upon the changing of material conditions. Enslavement is abolished by spiritual right ideas excluding from human consciousness wrong concepts or notions, until there is nothing appearing in consciousness which can have a counterpart or objectification, even suppositionally, in restrictive material conditions.
What is a right idea, do you ask? A right idea is a conception of divine Mind, the natural and only offspring of it. God, the origin of man, is Mind and Spirit, therefore man is mental and spiritual – that is a statement of a right idea. God is infinite Love, therefore man, the outcome of God, is individualized consciousness, endowed only with the capacity to love, not to hate – that is a statement of a right idea. God, the creator, is Principle, therefore all creation unfolds in accord with the law of Principle, of right adjustment, never haphazardly, never by chance, never whimsically – that is a statement of a right idea. God is Mind, intelligence, making ignorance and incompetence impossible, therefore man is "wise unto salvation," never at the mercy of evil – that is a statement of a right idea. Such ideas, realized, are witnessed in experience here and now.
Do you know someone who has challenged a false concept with a spiritual idea and won? I do. Remember that man of whom we spoke a few moments ago – the man who found freedom from destructive material indulgence? Well, he also found freedom from wrong adjustment, unhappy activity. He had been plodding along in jobs that seemed not to fit him. He was afraid if he did otherwise, he would be without income and he fretted continually.
He knew that Christian Science, which had previously delivered him, would help him again. But he sought a more profound grasp of Christian Science before attempting to use it here. He was mistakenly believing that his simple sense of it was inadequate to cope with a problem such as this.
But when his sense of maladjustment became almost unbearable he resolved to use at once what Christian Science he understood. Accordingly, one day when he was alone, he sat bolt upright in his chair and declared himself to be the son of God, endowed with capacity to be satisfyingly active. He declared that his Father, God, was fully aware of this and was constantly using him for good, despite mortal claims to the contrary. He challenged whatever it might be that was apparently opposing his spiritual selfhood and obscuring his true individuality. "Who are you," he spoke out loud to this opponent, "but a mesmeric sense producing in a bad dream the evidence that I can only find work which does not fit me? You are nothing," he asserted. "You are not here at all because my Father, God, did not make you. I have a spiritual sense of right adjustments, right activity, happy usefulness under God, and this spiritual sense does away with you. I know myself as expressing the qualities of divine Mind. I am in my right place. God knows this, and I know it."
In the face of this man's conviction that these declarations were true, fear disappeared and a new sense of unfolding freedom became manifest. In an incredibly short time that man was called upon to accept happy work which fitted him as a man's work should. And he became remarkably aware of the fact that the lessons learned during the period of his seeming maladjustment were indispensable in making a success of the new and happy work. Thus did God, in the language of the Bible, "make the wrath of man to praise Him." This man's activity continued thereafter to expand into larger and larger usefulness in accord with Mrs. Eddy's statement that ". . . progress is the law of Life."
Church and Freedom
Since right ideas come from God,
the utilization of them and the understanding of their source are within the
realm of true religion. This fact led Mrs. Eddy ultimately to establish her
Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in
Mortal mind does not understand this bulwark against its machinations, this tower of protection for the freedom of men. And mortal mind cannot love a right idea, for it has no capacity to know it. But mortal mind has nothing to express it. It has no man, no person. It can only seem mesmerically and tragically to induce you or me to permit its notions to appear as our thought, thus inducing us to expose ourselves to the sense of injury.
Question the thoughts that come to you, my friend. See if they are yours. You desire freedom, not bondage. It is your privilege and duty to think your own thoughts, the thoughts of the divine Mind of man. You are free to do that. You are free to know yourself and to be yourself and to enjoy here and now the manifestation of that knowledge. You are free to assert and demonstrate your status as a son of God. "Shall the inhabitant say, I am sick?" asks the Scripture (Isaiah 33:24). Why should he say it when neither the thought nor the words come from the divine Mind, which is the only Mind of man? Why should he say: I am confused, I am discouraged, I am useless, I am defeated, and a host of other spurious "I ams," which are not the expression of that from which his selfhood is derived? There is no real power to make you think or speak a lie, that is, to make you think or speak against your true self.
Fight on God's Side
"Take the side you wish to carry," admonishes the Christian Science textbook. Speak the thoughts that are your own. The freedom of humanity depends upon the exercise of the individual right and privilege to be uninfluenced by evil. Progressively each one of us can consciously strive to exercise this privilege.
Do not say, my friend, that men are today plunging headlong into war and desolation and nothing seems able to stop us from the suicide we would avert if we could. Say rather in your heart, in the secret place of the Most High: "I am not plunging into war. I, under God, recognize how false is the influence of the carnal mind claiming to hold humanity in its grip and to make war inevitable. I direct my efforts against the carnal mind, not against humanity or any part or group of it. I accept only right ideas in my consciousness. I know man as God made him, and this gives me the wisdom to outmaneuver evil, to be strong in God and undeceived."
This spiritual freedom of which we speak is being proved daily by those who progressively apply what they understand of it. Once more let me refer to that "someone" I know – a man who once felt restricted by a sense of insufficient love in his life. To remedy this he set about gaining the right sense of God as his Father. He sought to realize that his divine Father is always speaking affectionately to the spiritual sense in him which he desired to cultivate. As he made even slight headway in his efforts, his life grew rich in love, and in release from unjust restrictions.
This same man once felt himself too often frustrated by a sense of indecision and confusion. He set about making headway in establishing in his consciousness the fact that true Mind is God and that that Mind is unfolding to him and guiding him always. That man grew more and more able to choose his course correctly and to recognize more and more freedom in doing so.
This same man once felt restricted by the threat of sickness and impairment, believing sickness and impairment must inevitably come and that therefore he should curtail his energy lest he deplete his recuperative powers. He learned in Christian Science, however, that right activity expresses God and therefore strengthens instead of weakens the individual. He has now been delivered from that restrictive fear and regularly acts unhesitatingly upon the knowledge that "Whatever it is your duty to do, you can do without harm to yourself" (Science and Health, p. 385).
This same man once feared that that which he loves dearly and unselfishly, that which is truly precious to him can be removed from his life by the scheming of ignorance and evil. But he overcame this fear by recognizing that that which he loves dearly and unselfishly is God and that the only really precious thing is God's love, and the evidence of that love can never be removed. Today that man has seen restored to him in rich measure all the evidence he needs of God's love and he is unafraid of evil's asserted power to deplete him.
Yes, this is my experience. I am that man. Small progress, perhaps, I grant that this may be, but it is enough to give me a reason for the hope that is in me. It is enough to make certain and unassailable the evidence, even in its present form, that the Principle is true and the ultimate demonstration is assured. It is enough to give me courage in this hour to say to you, my friend, in deep humility and in the words of the beloved Leader of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy: "Citizens of the world, accept the 'glorious liberty of the children of God,' and be free!" (Science and Health, p. 227)