Christian Science: Practical Religion
George Channing, C.S.B., of San Francisco, California
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
When Christ Jesus was appealed to for help by ten men afflicted with leprosy, he did the practical thing: he healed them of their leprosy. When this same master Christian observed that five thousand men and women had followed him so long that they had grown hungry, while witnessing his healing works and listening to his marvelous teaching, he again did the practical thing: he provided bread and fish for them to eat. When he heard a blind man, in a street of Judea calling to him for mercy, he showed him mercy in a practical way he restored sight to the suppliant. And when he came face to face with a funeral procession in which a woman was mourning the death of her only son, he did what to the woman must have appeared practicality itself: he presented her son to her alive.
Always, as in the instances just mentioned, Christ Jesus did the thing that remedied the situation. He remedied it to the consciousness, or, in other words, in the experience, of the person needing and seeking help. He restored that which seemed to be absent. Observe, please, that Jesus' practical and comforting works were accomplished through the understanding of infinite Spirit, as we shall see in this lecture.
Christ Jesus revealed that the consciousness of good is forever established, forever available to men and always adequate to displace any sense of evil with the truth of being. He awakened thought to the spiritual fact which, when accepted and realized, produces the evidence of its substantiality and practicality in human experience. This supreme practicality characterized the work of Christ Jesus and identified it as the ministry of abundant love. It distinguished the founder of Christianity as a realist and not a theorist. It placed him and his true followers above and beyond comparison with all other benefactors of the human race in the satisfying effectiveness of their understanding of life.
One true follower of Christ Jesus has proved to this age that the immense practicality of Christianity is as available to you and to me, here and now, as ever it was to the founder of Christianity himself. That true follower, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, refused to be deceived by the evidence of centuries that Christianity had become impractical to an incredible degree - impractical, that is, because it had seemed to grow unconvincing in its ability to meet the present, pressing needs of men. Mrs. Eddy knew that Christianity was practical because Christ Jesus had proved it to be so. She knew it because the Bible makes it clear that Christ Jesus taught it that way in word and in deed. She knew it also because her heart and mind were so attuned to God that God, through her prayers, told her so. There was Godlikeness in her consciousness. Therefore she recognized the nature of God. And since her recognition was true, it was in full accord with all that Christ Jesus said and did.
Joyously she set to work to do as he did. Progressively she approximated his healing works. Understandingly she applied herself to the use of the spiritual laws which dawned upon her, until in 1866, the 46th year of her human experience, as time is reckoned, she made her final discovery of the Principle of the master Christian's works, and revealed his method to the world. Her discovery was coincident with her own healing of a physical condition, induced by a fall on the ice, which had been expected to end her earthly life. She applied the Principle, as it had been unfolding to her, and she found that it worked. She lived 44 years afterward to crowd her days with the development of ways and means for making mankind the beneficiary of her discovery. She named her discovery Christian Science.
Christ Jesus, you will remember, did not elucidate the method, or the special rules, which he employed. That was among the things that had to come later. He had many things to tell his followers, according to the record in John's gospel, but they could not bear them then. He consoled them with the prophecy that "He (meaning his Father, God) shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever" (John 14:16). "This Comforter," writes Mrs. Eddy in Science and Health (p. 65), "I understand to be Divine Science."
Well might she regard the discovery of Christian Science as the fulfillment of the Master's prophecy of the coming of the "Comforter," that "Spirit of truth," which guides into all truth. For she, too, had approached God in the light of Christ Jesus' demonstrations and found Him an ever-present help in trouble in the same way that Jesus had. She paralleled the practicality which distinguished Jesus. When she was appealed to by a man with shattered digestion Mrs. Eddy, like Jesus, did the practical thing: she healed the man of his indigestion. When she was called to help a woman with consumption, who choked for breath when the wind was in a certain direction, she again did the practical thing: she restored the woman to health and enabled her to breathe freely no matter what the direction of the wind. When carious bones and ankylosed joints were subjected to her Christianly scientific ministrations, it was the practical thing that was accomplished; the bones anal joints were made whole and normal. When a woman of eighty-five years of age, whom Mrs. Eddy knew, was touched by Christian Science she, too, was benefited in a practical way. When a man, confined to his bed with a decaying bone in his hip, received Mrs. Eddy's ministrations, although the death dew was already on his brow, he became the beneficiary of what must certainly be classified as practical results: the death pallor left him, his suffering disappeared, he arose, dressed, and took a meal with his family, and in about two weeks went back to his work.
All of these healings, and many more, accomplished by the application of Mrs. Eddy's discovery, are recorded in the great textbook of the religion, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which contains the authoritative and complete statement of Christian Science. This book was written by Mrs. Eddy under divine guidance, following her own healing and her years of consecrated verification of the spiritual rules which had been revealed to her. In this book Mrs. Eddy has set forth the whole basis of Christian Science, its mighty implications, and the entire superstructure of laws, rules and procedure which enable the reader, who is spiritually minded enough to understand what he reads, to reproduce the works of Jesus.
There is no other complete statement of Christian Science, and no other correct one, unless it acknowledges this book as its source, and is in complete accord with what the book contains. This is necessarily so, because its contents represent revelation which dawned on the consciousness of the one individual whose spiritual status constituted her the chosen of God to receive it. There is no transcendentalism in the foregoing remark about Mrs. Eddy. It is a practical comment on a practical woman whose practicality was spiritual and Godlike enough to discern reality.
In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy makes it clear that Christianity, or Christian Science, for all its practicality, is no material or physical system concerned with adjusting material or physical conditions. On the contrary, she unmasks and exposes material and physical conditions as the objectification of false states of consciousness. And she shows, quite logically, that the disappearance of a false state of consciousness results in the disappearance of its objectification. How to get rid of a false state of consciousness, then, becomes the all-important inquiry. The answer which Mrs. Eddy gives is essentially that we must establish in us or bring to view the eternally present right state of consciousness which specifically exposes and crowds out its opposite, or false sense. In one place in her textbook, (p. 201) she states this rule thus: "The way to extract error from mortal mind is to pour in truth through flood-tides of Love. Christian perfection is won on no other basis."
But how do we pour in truth? How do we establish the right state of consciousness? Nothing can be clearer than that the right state of consciousness proceeds from and expresses perfect Mind. Perfect Mind is God, who is incapable of mistakes or imperfection. Mrs. Eddy is careful to make this plain in her teaching. Mind that is God is above all error. Mind that is above error is infinite and must be everywhere present, must render impossible the existence of any other mind. Perfect Mind is one and alone and divine. Perfect Mind that is one and alone and divine is infinite Love, incapable of friction or injury.
The divine Mind must have its perfect manifestation. That is a fundamental law of being. "This is the doctrine of Christian Science," declares Mrs. Eddy in her textbook, "that divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object; that joy cannot be turned into sorrow, for sorrow is not the master of joy; that good can never produce evil; that matter can never produce mind nor life result in death." Therein lies the practicality of Christian Science.
The answer to the question, How to pour in truth? is: Be spiritually minded; accept the divine Mind as your Mind. Mind, infinite and divine, enthroned as controller and governor, must be manifest in the right state of consciousness; and the right state of consciousness belongs to man, who is the reflection, the image and likeness of God, divine Mind. To see man and the universe as such is the object of all prayer. The attainment of this object constitutes the evidence that Mind, or God, is enthroned as the source, or Principle, of being. The right state of consciousness is never material. It is consciousness. It may appear to human sense symbolically, and must so appear, as improved experience, but it is always the consciousness of good and always appears as such to the spiritual sense.
Metaphysics is above physics, as the root meaning of the word indicates. And divine metaphysics has no taint of earth. Since the true spiritual consciousness is in God, as previously indicated, and man expresses that consciousness which God bestows, this consciousness of man has no taint of earth or imperfection. It can no more be lost nor destroyed than God, from whom it proceeds.
Christian Science accepts Moses' definition of God as "a God of truth and without iniquity;" the Psalmist's definition of Him as Life; Jesus definition of the Father as Spirit; the beloved disciple's definition of God as Love; Paul's concept of Him as Mind; and it reveals God as Soul and Principle. While these seven terms are synonymous, each one adds to our understanding of Deity. For example, Mind imparts intelligence; Spirit is the source of strength, is substance itself; Soul gives us the spiritual sense of everything; Love is the creator, man's Father and Mother; Life ensures immortality; Truth maintains reality; and Principle is the foundation of true law or Christian Science.
These seven synonyms for God, Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth and Love are described in the Christian Science textbook by four adjectives: incorporeal, divine, supreme, and infinite.
So stated, the God whom Christian Science reveals is too near to be physical, too immediate to be material. Each of the seven synonyms which express Him begins with a capital letter indicating that they refer to cause. For God is foundation, base, characterized by infinite self-containment. He is inexhaustible source, limitless origin, as distinguished from the spiritual ideas which proceed from Him and which express Him, because He is Cause and they are effects. These spiritual ideas constitute the true selfhood of each of us.
It is not the purpose of Christian Science, strictly speaking, to heal physical bodies. It is the purpose of Christian Science to regenerate thought, to enthrone God in consciousness as controller and governor. This done, the physical body is healed, because the false state of consciousness which believed itself sick has now been replaced by the spiritual consciousness, which expresses health and holiness. The purpose of Christian Science, let me say it in this way, is to reveal spiritual truth as established reality; the effect of this revelation is to save mankind from the dire results of belief in falsehood.
Christian Science reveals the Christ as "the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (Science and Health, p. 583). This Christ, or divine idea, is ever present to save and to restore. It comes to human consciousness, bringing spiritual illumination - the light which uncovers and dispels the suggestions of discouragement, of loss, of sin, disease, and death. The Saviour is practical. He is the right idea of God and man operating in infinite thought to establish himself there, and thus crowd out and destroy finite thought and its illusions. He comes at the point of despair and defeat and limitation and challenges and overthrows the deceiver who argues by suggestion that man is less than the state of consciousness created by God. The Christ is, and should be, a welcome visitor. Let him be welcome to you, my friend. Can there be anything more practical than the restoration of that which is lost? Can there be anything more practical than the healing of a broken friendship? than dominion over the sense of death? over the claim of disease? over the lack of substance? dominion over the absence of protection? Over the insistence of insecurity? the embarrassment of failure?
All this, and more, the Christ brings to you and to me. He restores our spiritual sense and thus solves our problems because they are, each and every one, merely unspiritual sense, falsely entertained. Where spiritual sense is, unspiritual sense cannot be. Spiritual sense bears witness to reality and thus accepts as true only that which is harmonious.
Jesus was the way-shower because he expressed the Christ-consciousness. Consequently he is known as Jesus the Christ, or Christ Jesus. Jesus was human, although it must be said that, according to the record, he partook of the nature of humanity through one human parent. Endowed with the Christ beyond measure, he was able to exemplify more than all others the perfect man. He acknowledged God, divine Spirit, or Love, as his Father, his true parent. We, too, need to recognize God as the only creator, as the Father-Mother of man. It is precisely this truth which is the saving idea or Christ, which frees men from the so-called laws of inharmonious, human heredity.
The Christ, therefore, was not and is not confined to Jesus. Jesus illustrated the Christ for you and me. You and I can illustrate the Christ, the right idea of God and man, by employing this right idea to heal and save others, as well as ourselves. That is again the practical aspect of Christian Science. It is attested by thousands of Christian Scientists who have accepted and applied this idea with regenerating results and are offering their ministry today in practically every community in the civilized world to heal and bless every suppliant who comes.
Not content with the great achievement of discovering Christian Science and proving, as Leader of the religion, that it is so practical as to be identical with the Christianity Jesus applied, Mrs. Eddy set about assiduously and practically to found Christian Science in the consciousness of men. As a symbol of this founding, she organized The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston Massachusetts, and provided for the establishing of branches of this Church. Such branches now exist numerously in various parts of the world.
To nurture and support the continuous unfolding of this founding work she wrote, under divine direction, a remarkable Manual to govern The Mother Church. The authority embodied in the Manual is rendered practical and kept functioning by The Christian Science Board of Directors, created by her to make effective the activities she provided for - activities which attest, each in its own way, the identity of Christian Science with the practicality which distinguished Jesus. "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel," commanded the founder of Christianity. Mrs. Eddy has, by modern means, implemented that command.
Not the least of the ways in which she provided for the preaching of the gospel throughout the world, are the church services in The Mother Church and its branches. At these services a Lesson-Sermon, composed of carefully chosen selections from the Bible and the Christian Science textbook are read, with healing effect upon those who hear through spiritual sense. The subjects for the Lesson-Sermons were also chosen by Mrs. Eddy.
At the Wednesday evening meetings selections from both books are read by one Reader, and the members of the congregation are invited to express individually as they are moved to do so, their gratitude for the practical, healing effects of Christian Science which they have witnessed in their own experience or in the experience of others. The purpose of these testimonies is given in the Church Manual where Mrs. Eddy says (p. 42), "Testimony in regard to the healing of the sick is highly important. More than a mere rehearsal of blessings, it scales the pinnacle of praise and illustrates the demonstration of Christ, 'who healeth all thy diseases' (Psalm 103:3)."
Another practical means provided by Mrs. Eddy for the preaching of the gospel is The Christian Science Board of Lectureship. The members of this Board, appointed by The Christian Science Board of Directors, come to communities where branch churches have invited them to state publicly the nature of Christian Science, its beneficial effects, and the loving and selfless motives of its Discoverer and Founder.
Yet another practical method, which Mrs. Eddy has provided for preaching the gospel, is through the Committees on Publication, one of whom is located in every geographical and political subdivision of the globe, comparable to a state of the United States of America. These Committees, headed by a manager of Committees on Publication in Boston, have the responsibility for correcting false impressions of Christian Science, either by replying publicly to misleading statements that have been uttered publicly, or by publishing original material to correct false impressions before they are publicly disseminated.
Another agency for the practical preaching of the gospel, is The Christian Science Publishing Society which issues the strictly religious periodicals of the movement and the great daily newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, founded by Mrs. Eddy, dedicated to truth in narrating the world's news, and in publishing the advertising of merchants and others. This newspaper is generally acclaimed as a brilliant beacon in the field of journalism. The Publishing Society also publishes, from time to time, books and pamphlets which come within the scope of its functioning and are approved by The Christian Science Board of Directors.
Mrs. Eddy also provided practically for the perpetual availability of all her works and for the enlightened promotion of the sale of them. This she did by creating a Board of Trustees under her will which, through its direction of its Publishers' Agent, discharges the responsibilities involved.
And the most important, the most practical method of preaching the gospel is urged by her as Leader upon every individual Christian Scientist. It is stated or implied in every line, as it were, of her writings. It is so to live the religion in sincerity and fidelity that, to paraphrase the words of Christ Jesus, men may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven,
Christian Science does not differ from other Christian denominations in purpose. It differs only in its concept of the importance of obtaining all the results, which Christ Jesus demanded, and in its understanding of how to achieve them. All Christian denominations are agreed on the necessity for destroying sin and the desirability of reaching what is called the kingdom of heaven. Christian Science teaches us to love all Christian denominations for this agreement and for the unity it seals between all who name the name of Christ. But Christian Science emphasizes that the founder of Christianity demanded the destruction of disease and death as well as of sin, and it is so flawless and spiritually scientific that it is able to destroy all of these errors, even as Jesus destroyed them. Mrs. Eddy makes a challenging observation in her book, Miscellaneous Writings. She writes: "As the ages advance in spirituality, Christian Science will be seen to depart from the trend of other Christian denominations in no wise except by increase of spirituality."
What does she mean "by increase of spirituality"? She means that our thought must be identified with that which emanates from divine Spirit. She means that we must vigorously claim the divine Mind as our Mind until we express it so completely that it will be clear that we are indeed the ideas of divine Love. This claiming of divine Mind as our Mind means that we will resist all suggestion of another mind and of another creator; in short, we will not accept the so-called evidences of sin, disease, and death, and this refusal to accept or believe in them because of the truth we know and express, means their annihilation.
To the Christian Scientist, sin is any unspiritual thought. In the larger sense, sin is having another God before the one true God, or having another Mind than the divine Mind. Sin is the lying suggestion that there is a state of consciousness not created by divine Mind and over which divine Mind is not controller and governor. Christian Science is metaphysics. It is spiritually mental, not material. The metaphysics of Christian Science resolves all seeming materiality into false mental concepts, and proves the mythical nature of these concepts by replacing them with spiritual ideas. These spiritual ideas are substantial and available in whatever ways are immediately understandable. Christian Science does not recognize sin as conduct apart from thought. Sin is thought - false thought, to be sure, but nevertheless in the realm of the mental. Uttering great and fundamental truth, the Christian Science textbook declares in the scientific statement of being (p. 468): "All is Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all." That which would deny this all-inclusive truth must be, if it could be at all, a mental denial, albeit false. Sin is a denial of that all-inclusive truth. It is not somebody's denial. It is denial presented by lying sense. Sin is the denial; the sinner is lying sense. Neither sin nor sinner is you or I, although sin may seem mesmerically to lodge in our thought and the sinner may seem mesmerically to identity himself as our selfhood. Sin and the sinner need to be destroyed. You and I do not need to be destroyed. You and I need to be seen, in the light of revealed Science, in our true and everlasting selfhood as the sons and daughters of God. You and I can accomplish this exaltation, this unveiling of our true nature, by exposing sin in ourselves and others to the Christ, the right idea of God and man. The right idea is Truth. Truth has power. It annihilates falsehood. It reveals reality. The purpose of the Christian Scientist in challenging sin is to employ the right, or spiritual, idea to destroy sin as unspiritual thought. The effect of this achievement is also to destroy sin as moral fault or wrong conduct. Such destruction of sin attests "increase of spirituality" and encompasses the destruction of finite sense, including sickness and death.
This pathway to the freedom of dwelling in reality is simple and glorious and clear to the spiritual sense within us all; but it is not easy to human sense, which resists the Christ. It is not a pathway recommended by material sense, which seeks gratification in self-indulgence or loves the cushioned illusion of ease. It is, nevertheless, a pathway which leads to sure triumph in the realm of the real where security is actual.
You may at this point ask: "If all you say is true, why have we had to fight wars?" The elimination of war from human experience is as worthy an objective as can be conceived of. But it must be remembered that war on the battlefield, with bombs and guns and tanks and steel, supported by flying fortresses and floating battleships, is but an objectification of a larger warfare in human consciousness. This larger warfare is, in a sense, fundamental and commands first attention.
Human experience is the supposed manifestation of the human or material mind. The human, material, or mortal mind, is warfare itself. Mrs. Eddy says, "matter is mortal error" (Science and Health, p. 468:12). This mortal error, matter, or mortal mind, has warfare within and warfare without, for, in supposition, it is constantly envying, lusting and scheming against the Christ, its opposite. But the law of Christ that stills the waves, commanding, "Peace, be still," is the irresistible truth that stills all warfare, by replacing with spiritual harmony the mortal error which is war itself.
War will end when the material or mortal mind is brought into subjection to the divine Mind. In the degree that this is sincerely desired, it will be accomplished. Mortal mind will yield progressively its mythical existence to the Mind that was in Christ Jesus, and we shall discover that we are making progress in the right direction. Let us speed the process. Knowing the remedy, happy are we if we use it. And if, regrettably, our progress seems so slow that war on the battlefield enters our experience, let us express the qualities, even on the battlefield, that operate to exterminate mortal mind. Let us identify our thoughts with such qualities as steadfastness, guardianship of good, protection of the right to pursue spiritual ideals, fearlessness, confidence in spiritual being, trustworthiness, dependability, loyalty to God and man, which means loyalty to all that we rightly love. The expression of such qualities help to heal discordant conditions in peace and war, because such qualities oppose the human mind to the end and reveal the divine Mind as the only Mind. Christ Jesus is our way-shower in conducting our warfare against all evil. By walking in his footsteps we learn how to invoke for ourselves the spiritual law of safety in the secret place and immunity from evil in the exposed place. War is not something to run away from or to escape. It is a challenge to express our God-given dominion - something to put out of our lives by putting the human mind out of the seat of government and enthroning the divine Mind as governor and controller of consciousness.
War does not cause tragedy; it is tragedy that causes war - the tragedy of permitting ourselves to be deceived into accepting material mindedness as a necessary source of some, or all, of our thinking. To paraphrase Patrick Henry, gentlemen may cry peace, but there is no peace as long as the human mind, with its double standards, remains unchallenged and therefore unreformed.
Progress is being made. The magnificent expression of qualities which partake of the divine, to which so many have committed and are recommitting themselves, must necessarily be objectified in substantial steps toward decreasing war on the battlefield in the experience of men and nations. For, the expressing of divine qualities is the only effective method of warring against war. It has an exalting effect. The Discoverer of Christian Science has said that "the warfare with one's self is grand" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 118). May this warfare never cease until the Mind of Christ in us has compelled unconditional surrender of all that opposes him.
In view of the practical purpose and power of Christian Science, it is highly pertinent to speak of reconstruction after war. Never has mankind needed restoration of cherished ideals and trustworthy objectives more than now. It would be both unchristian and unworthy to say or think that satisfying restoration cannot be made. The function of Christianity, rightly practiced, is to restore. In the Gospel according to Matthew (17:11) Jesus declared: "Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things." And in the Christian Science textbook Mrs. Eddy defines "Elias" as "Prophecy; spiritual evidence opposed to material sense; Christian Science, with which can be discerned the spiritual fact of whatever the material senses behold; the basis of immortality." Elias, or Christian Science, the restorer, reverses the claims of war's destruction, as seen by the material senses, and discerns the spiritual facts which wipe out and destroy these claims. The more abject and desolate the outlook of the material senses, the more brilliant and substantial the spiritual fact which, by reversal, appears. In other words, as Mrs. Eddy states it in another place in Science and Health (p 368); "The greatest wrong is but a supposititious opposite of the highest right."
Out of the wreckage of war will come, for those with spiritual eyes to see, a clearer sense of Spirit's indestructible substance. For, trust in materiality will have been more clearly exposed for the folly it is. The only thing that can ever be destroyed is material sense and its objectification, matter, or materiality. Material sense, by the law of God, destroys itself. It suffers to its own destruction. Mortals will seem to be the sufferers in the degree that mortal sense is permitted to stand unblotted out by spiritual understanding. Spiritual understanding having been employed only too little, war, in its bitter ways, has done its part to strip mortal mind of its falsely apparent trustworthiness and compel recourse to Spirit, which blots out mortal mind. We can improve this lesson, if we will. We can build a better world. It we but seize upon and make real to our consciousness the spiritual fact of whatever the material senses behold of carnage and the results of carnage. The spiritual fact opposing destruction is construction. The spiritual fact opposing loss is gain - gain in perception of true being. The spiritual fact opposing ugliness is beauty. The spiritual fact opposing confusion is order. The spiritual fact opposing folly is wisdom. The spiritual fact opposing hate is love. The spiritual fact opposing death is life. And this construction, this gain, this beauty, this order, this wisdom, this love, this life, must become apparent through evidence understandable even to what is called, human sense. For Mind, the omnipotent source of all spiritual reality, must (not should, nor can, but must) have its manifestation.
See how Mrs. Eddy puts the rule of reconstruction, or restoration, in Miscellaneous Writings (page 60) where she says: "Every material belief hints the existence of spiritual reality; and if mortals are instructed in spiritual things, it will be seen that material belief, in all its manifestations, reversed, will be found the type and representative of verities priceless, eternal, and just at hand."
May we understand and practice with increasing power the spiritual rule of reversal of material belief in all its manifestations. Let us hold ourselves to the high point of practicing the wisdom of Mind, the intelligence of Spirit, the beauty of Soul, the initiative of Principle, the substance of Life, the reality of Truth, and the power of Love, and thus prove ourselves to be the image and likeness of God. For Mind must have its manifestation. This is the law of divine Principle, ever available and always practical.