Christian Science: What It Is, and What It Does
Louise Knight Wheatley Cook, C.S.B. of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Will you let your thought turn back for a moment to something which happened a very long time ago? It seems that once, in a certain village, there lived a man who had never seen the sunshine nor the blue skies, nor his mother's face, for he had been born blind. But one day it happened that there came that way a stranger, whose heart was always reaching out to those who were distressed, and he and his little band of followers stopped before the place where this man was sitting. Upon seeing the afflicted one a member of the group inquired, "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" Doubtless you all recall the incident, as recorded in the Bible, and know that "the stranger" was none other than Jesus, the Christ. And doubtless you recall his reply, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents." The great Metaphysician refused to see before him either a blind man or a sinning man. If he had, he would not have been able to heal him. Jesus beheld ever in consciousness only the perfect man of God's creating, never blind, nor sinning, but every whit whole. The narrative is too long for detail here, but it is interesting to note what happened after the healing was accomplished, and Jesus had gone on his way. For he left behind him a startled little group of people, tense and silent, staring in frightened wonder at the one whom they had always, until that moment, known as blind, but who was now standing quietly among them rapturously drinking in the beauty of a world suddenly turned from darkness into light. "Is not this he that sat and begged?" one ventured to ask. Some replied, "This is he." Others, more skeptical, admitted, "He is like him." But he said, "I am he." Still baffled, they sent for the Pharisees, those supposedly wiser ones, but they in turn were equally mystified. So they questioned the man's parents. Their reply, however, could not be considered very enlightening, for they merely said, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: but by what means he now seeth, we know not. . . . He is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself." So they asked the son, and he did indeed "speak for himself" and in no uncertain terms! Although he evidently did not know who Jesus was, nor how it all happened, he said plainly, "One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see."
Christ Heals Today
If some distressed heart has long been crying out in its despair, "Oh, if Jesus were only here today! Then, I, too, might see the light of day!" let him lift his head and rejoice. Jesus has long since left the earth, but the Christ remains, that impersonal, ever-operative, ever-available, healing Truth, limited to no time, and to no period. A Christian Science treatment may be called the coming of the Christ. It is Truth, entering some discordant consciousness, to recompense fourfold for those dark hours before the daylight came. It is a process of salvation, a distinctly mental process, a prayer, high and holy. It is a spiritual benediction, blessing both him who gives and him who takes. It is a strong, clear, vigorous affirmation of the Allness of God, and of the untouched perfection of man in His image and likeness; a refusal to believe what is not true and God-bestowed; an utter repudiation, as causeless, baseless, and spurious, of any evidence which would try to present man in any way but as God made him – joyous, sinless, stainless, free. It admits the existence of but one power, one presence, one cause, one effect, one law, one Mind, and all these wholly good. It replaces beliefs with spiritual ideas, pure and perfect. It maintains that the supposititious opposite of this real man, calling itself "a mortal" is but a false sense of man, the result of the deep sleep which fell upon Adam in the Scriptural allegory, wherein he saw the creations of his own dreams, and called them by such names as finiteness, limitation, beginning and ending, birth and death, sin, sickness, sorrow, sensuality, pain, poverty, fear, death. A Christian Science treatment proves, or demonstrates, that all this, and much more, are but phases of belief, without any real substance or foundation. It might be termed a process of awakening. And it need not be prolonged or difficult. No matter how long one may have been in a bad dream, the instant he awakes, he is free.
The metaphysical healing of physical disease has come to be accepted by most persons as an accomplished fact, since for nearly seventy years now it has been practiced among us through the understanding which Christian Science furnishes of the unbroken relationship between God and man. Those who have not personally felt its beneficence usually know of someone, or of many, who are standing as living witnesses of that same divine power which Jesus understood and utilized. But history repeats itself. When some remarkable recovery takes place through Christian Science, friends and acquaintances often express the same incredulity which was so apparent in that healing two thousand years ago of the man born blind. While, as in his case, they cannot deny the healing, the comment is sometimes made, "He would probably have gotten well anyway." Or, "The doctor was evidently mistaken in his diagnosis." Or that very familiar one, "Well, he couldn't have been so sick as he thought he was!" With the latter remark we will agree, for a Christian Science treatment always starts from that very basis. Only it goes still farther. It says that the patient not only was "not so sick as he thought he was," but that he was not, in reality, sick at all! It refuses to accept the patient's belief in his own inharmony. Just because one "believes" something to be true, that does not necessarily make it so. When a college professor, mentally unbalanced, once believed himself to be a turnip, that did not make him one. His friends all agreed that he was the victim of hallucination only. And the Christian Science practitioner who was called upon to help him proved their opinion to be true, and restored him to his right mind through an understanding of his true status and identity as a child of God, untouched by human illusions. But if that same college professor had believed himself to be not a turnip, but for instance, a consumptive, would his friends so quickly have agreed that he was the victim of hallucination only? I think not. Yet Christian Science teaches that one belief is no more real than the other, and that both are corrected through the same mental process.
The Christian Science Textbook
Every vain misrepresentation of
the carnal mind, so-called, must go down before the unanswerable argument of
one who, after perhaps a lifetime of helpless servitude to some false god, now
stands among his fellows a free man. No flowery eloquence is needed to convince
anyone of his healing. He has only to say, as did that man of long ago, "I
am he." And he has this advantage over that other – he knows how it was
done. For it is no mystery, no hidden, occult, secret process, revealed only to
a favored few. Gladly and freely did Jesus explain it to any, and to all, who
would listen. I have sometimes wondered if there were
a school, a university of learning, where these truths could again be taught in
all their original purity, would not the whole world be flocking to its doors? If one knew of a place where the deep things of God
would be made so clear, so simple, so logical, so winning that the one
receiving such instruction would not only find his own life made richer and
more abundant, but that he could go forth to bring that same richness and
abundance to others, as did Jesus, would he not be ready to sell all that he
hath if necessary, to enter that university? There is none such, as we know. But there is a book, easily available to all, wherein these same
principles are fully elucidated, our textbook, "Science and Health with Key
to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of
Christian Science, and its only Leader. And one is not required to sell
all that he hath to possess this book, and to receive the benefit of its
instruction. All he needs to "sell," or to "dispose of," is
his prejudice, his pride, his lifelong theories and human opinions, and to give
this book his fair, honest, and unbiased attention. If he is already an earnest
Bible student he may find much within its pages which he has always believed,
since our religion is founded upon the Bible, the only book which Mrs. Eddy
used as a textbook in writing hers. We differ, however, from other religions in
that we maintain that the healing factor must once more be restored to
Christianity. Many signs and wonders are being wrought today by those who are demonstrating,
or proving, the ever-presence of the Christ. I know personally of a young man
whose X-ray photograph showed an internal growth so situated that delay was
deemed dangerous, and he was hurried to a hospital for an operation. He was not
a Christian Scientist, but his brother was, and to this brother in another city
the mother immediately sent word: "He says, pray for him. Do what you
can." The sick man was in the Middle West, the brother in
No Criticism for Others
Christian Science has no criticism
for the splendid men and women of the medical profession who are helping
suffering humanity in the only way they know. We respect them for their
tireless efforts, and I believe that we are all growing closer together in this
holy toil. An instance of this may be seen in some observations which were made
recently before the
Hate! If hate can do that to the human eye, why not to the human ear as well, or the throat, or the lungs, or the heart, or to anything else? If "adjusting herself intelligently to the situation," or in other words, thinking differently about it, could relieve the eye, why could not some other oppressed portion of the body be relieved in exactly the same manner – by thinking differently? If materia medica admits, as in this case, that thought affects some parts of body, why not others? Why not all? Christian Science says that it can – and proves that it does.
All will probably agree that tears
have a wholly mental origin, that they are the direct effect of something which
touches or saddens the thought, in response to which certain muscles relax, and
the tears flow. A blush is the outward expression of some inward emotion, such
as pleasure or embarrassment. Bad news received while one is eating may
occasion a sudden and complete loss of appetite. Extreme fear may deprive one
temporarily of the power of speech, nervousness turn the hands to icy coldness.
All mental, every bit of it! But where, I repeat, is one to draw the line?
Christian Science does not draw a line at all. It maintains, and proves, as in
the case of the man in the
It is possible that such questions
as these came to Mrs. Eddy also, and caused her to long for "the more
excellent way" which was eventually to be revealed to her. How far she was
even then in advance of her time, the world as yet but faintly comprehends, but
it is coming more and more to understand her, and to
give to her discovery of the allness of Mind and the
nothingness of matter its rightful recognition in the history of human
development. Those who knew her in
Did she then realize the place in
the world which the Christian Science movement was destined to hold, as years
went on? Did she ever envision the church edifice which was to be, one
astonishingly large for that day and age, stately and beautiful, etched in gray
loveliness of outline against the sky in a neighboring city? Yet there it
stands today, her church, The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ,
Salvation Through Prayer
The aspect of physical healing which Christian Science presents has been dwelt upon at some length, yet the impression must not be given that it is the only factor in our religion, for it is not. In fact, our Leader herself has stated that "Healing physical sickness is the smallest part of Christian Science. It is only the bugle-call to thought and action, in the higher range of infinite goodness" (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 2). Some of its outstanding achievements include changes in character and disposition, the correction of bad habits, perhaps indulged for a lifetime; the overcoming of sorrow and fear. It adjusts our business complexities, smoothes out tangled human relationships, affords unerring guidance in important decisions, silences self-pity and self-condemnation, and utterly annihilates that lawless and devastating thing called "human will," which seems responsible for just about nine-tenths of all the ills "that flesh is heir to"! Many an ill-tempered and chronic fault-finder has gained through its teachings an entirely new viewpoint of life, wherein every man's hand is not against him, as he had always supposed, but wherein he begins to discover that, as his own thought changes, this is a world of kindly people, who are his friends. Someone who was just learning to drive a car was told by her instructor: "Don't be afraid of crowds. Remember you are in friendly traffic." What a relief it must be to some lifelong pessimist to find that he has been living in "friendly traffic" all the time, only he didn't know it! But the greatest wonders wrought by Christian Science are those of which the world will never hear. The splendid testimonies given every Wednesday evening in our churches are helpful and encouraging, but no matter how remarkable and unparalleled they may be, we know, and the ones giving them know, that "the half has not been told." It can never be told. For deep down in the heart of every one of us, I think, lies the memory of some demonstration so sacred, so unutterably holy, that it is difficult to put it into words which the world could understand. Although it may transcend anything else which has ever come into our experience, we can, in thinking of it, find expression only by putting the finger on the lip, and thanking God!
One who is earnestly striving to make practical what he already knows of our beautiful religion will do well to remember that Mrs. Eddy has given as the cause of all sickness, either fear, ignorance, or sin. (See Science and Health, p. 411) Fear, as most of us know to our sorrow, is the haunting, dark dream-shadow which seems ever to pursue mortals in their struggle toward the light – fear of poverty, fear of old age, fear of failure, fear of ridicule, fear of losing something, fear of making a mistake. As distressed humanity looks over its long list of fears, it can truly say, as did Isaiah of old, "O Lord our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us." Then, too, ignorance of man's God-given dominion may delay one's advancement into the kingdom of heaven. His lack of comprehension of his right, here and now, to be well and happy. But what of sin? Are we to infer that the greatest sufferer must necessarily be the greatest sinner? That would be cruel and unjust, and Christian Science makes no such sweeping assertion. We all doubtless know of some case of chronic invalidism where the dear sufferer is a marvel of patience and resignation, lovely and lovable, an almost unparalleled example of human goodness. But human goodness is not enough. Beautiful and desirable as it may be, and a human quality for which all should strive, that alone does not heal. What this sad world needs is not "resignation," but a knowledge of God's eternal laws, a realization that they are ageless, changeless, active, dynamic, indestructible, unassailable, unalterable, and universally applicable to everything in the universe, from the flower by the roadside to the last, lone star.
In order to conquer fear, ignorance, or sin, it is essential to get a clear understanding of our Father-Mother God as the one creator of all that really is. Christian Science has many names for Deity. It defines God as Principle, the supreme basic foundation upon which all ensuing conclusions rest; that which eliminates all mistakes, just as does the principle of mathematics. One cannot "forgive" a mistake in mathematics. Neither does the Principle, which is God, "forgive" anything unlike itself. It utterly obliterates it, and when this is done, there is no mistake left to be forgiven. Our textbook defines God as Mind, one and indivisible, whose ever-presence is the complete destruction of the counterclaim of minds many, of a belief in divided interests, of a "thine" and a "mine," of countless personalities working at cross-purposes. Another name for God is Soul, the only real substance, with unlimited resources to bless and comfort, to smooth the friction of human conflict with the "Peace, be still" of its own allness. And God is Spirit, inspiring, uplifting, strengthening, invigorating, giving new wings to impulse and endeavor. And God is Life, supersensible, harmonious, eternal, without beginning and without end. God is Truth, exact, unswerving, inexorable, incapable of change, chance, or deviation, straight as the line and the plummet. And God is Love, shining through every mist of doubt and fear, enfolding man, the beloved son, in a tender surety which only those can understand who have felt its never-failing beneficence.
Mrs. Eddy has written much about love, not only as God, but as that quality which is the pure and perfect reflection of the divine, and she must have realized that what the world calls "love" sometimes falls far short of that. In fact she says plainly (Miscellaneous Writings p. 250), "No word is more misconstrued; no sentiment less understood." The Love which is God stands alone, untouched by selfish desire, pure, perfect, inviolate, the most stupendous word in all the world. But that human emotion which is sometimes called love may be as far from the reflected quality of the divine as darkness is from daylight. Unlike the divine, human love is susceptible to change. It is erratic, inconstant, inconsistent, sometimes turning with incredible swiftness into hatred and revenge. It is often only selfishness in disguise, accepting someone's devotion as just another flattering tribute to its own vanity. Real love, impersonal, impartial, universal, is in no way connected with that fulsome quality of honeyed sweetness which is so distasteful to the average person. Love is a strong word, a clear word, a clean word, a sturdy word, which can buffet the storm, and come through unspent. It sparkles. It does not cloy. Mrs. Eddy says (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 250): "I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results. Unless these appear, I cast aside the word as a sham and counterfeit, having no ring of the true metal." It was this sort of love which enabled Mrs. Eddy to leave the quiet shelter of her home, and to step into the glare of public life; to face courageously that which has always been the lot of every pioneer of truth, the world's hatred of those whom it does not understand. Let us not confuse love with sickly sentimentality. It was love, and not hate, which caused Jesus to drive the money-changers out of the temple with a whip of small cords, and on another occasion to tell the hypocritical Pharisees that they were a generation of vipers, "whited sepulchres, . . . full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." It is love which inspires the Christian Science practitioner to devote his life to relieving the distresses of his brother man, tempest-tossed upon some sea of adversity.
Help In Business
At this particular moment some of us may, perhaps, be feeling that this sea of adversity seems particularly tempest-tossed when it comes to the question of financial difficulty. It is needless to explain why. We all know the reason, so let us proceed at once to find out how one so believing is to bring his little bark to land through this storm of popular unrest, to ride the waves, safely and surely. What can we, as individuals, do about it? We can do this; we can refuse to give our consent to it. And this comes first of all. Mrs. Eddy has written (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 228): "Floating with the popular current of mortal thought without questioning the reliability of its conclusions, we do what others do, believe what others believe, and say what others say. Common consent is contagious, and it makes disease catching." This does not necessarily refer to physical disease only. The word "disease" means simply a lack of ease, lack of quietness, of confidence, peace, and assurance. Let us refuse to "consent" to world conditions as true. Let us refuse to add our mental quota to the weight of universal mesmerism, which, in the last analysis, is only individual mesmerism multiplied millions of times.
She who used to sit upon Red Rock, and watch the rising and falling of the tides, once wrote (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 384):
"The seasons come and go:
Love, like the sea,
Rolls on with thee,—
But knows no ebb and flow."
"With thee" – not against thee! The Love which is God knows "no ebb and flow," no fluctuations, no changing moods, no variableness nor shadow of turning. In reality, each on-coming wave brings us but a little nearer to the understanding of Mind's infallible laws, which govern the universe as certainly today as they did when our Master, by utilizing them, quelled that other storm of long ago with the well-known "Peace, be still." Our textbook says (p. 60), "Science inevitably lifts one's being higher in the scale of harmony and happiness." "Higher" – and "inevitably" higher. What a glorious thought for some discouraged mortal, who may, perhaps, be feeling that he has failed in his life-purpose, that in spite of his best efforts his general situation is steadily growing worse instead of better. How it will rest him to realize that success is "inevitable" when he once places himself and his affairs unreservedly in the care of God! And why is this sure and "inevitable"? Because by so doing he thereby allies himself with the only power there is, and becomes automatically at one with a spiritual law which will operate in his behalf with more certainty than does the so-called law which brings the sun each morning to a world asleep. At this point, however, someone may be thinking, "But just what does it mean to place oneself and his affairs in the care of God? I should like to do that, but I don't know how." It is a mental process, not complicated, not difficult. It only means that one shall deliberately, sincerely, and consciously bring all the minutiae of his business affairs into absolute accord with Principle. And this includes his personal affairs, and his personal conduct as well, for since one's business is but the outward and visible expression of his thinking, he cannot expect it to succeed if there is still something in his mental home which needs correcting. Principle is exact and imperative. It sometimes may make quite unforeseen and disconcerting demands upon those who would ally themselves with it, who would gladly receive its benefits, and yet who may seem not immediately willing to make what they call the "sacrifices" which will really bring them into accordance with it. But it must be done. Talking the truth is not enough. Words are sometimes but empty platitudes. Jesus once stated, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."
Dear friends, I am wondering if at this point you are waiting to hear some deep metaphysical statement, which you believe will instantly clarify your entire business situation. If so, you may be disappointed, for it is from this precious book, Science and Health, that you should get your metaphysics, and not from me. The best that I might say has already been said a thousand tunes better by Mrs. Eddy. My exact phraseology might be forgotten by the time you reach the front door, but in her book you have everything you need, in all its crystal clearness, to read over and over, to study, to ponder. So what I am going to do is this: I am going to tell you in the simplest words at my command what has always helped me most in times of stress. I am going to give you an idea, one idea, for you to put into your own words after you get home. For by so doing you will prove that you have really made it your own; that you have mentally assimilated its true substance, and that it is unfolding and developing in each individual consciousness, not as a matter of rhetoric, but of realization. I am doing this because I know that the same God that helped me will help you also, and make your release "inevitable." And it is this: Trust God more. That sounds very simple, but it is not always as easy as it sounds! However, it is the world's great need at the present time, when everything seems to be going wrong. For I tell you truly, and in all earnestness, that in my past experiences as a Christian Scientist I have always found, sooner or later, that whenever my demonstration seemed very long in coming, it was invariably because of my failure to do this very thing – to trust God more. I would find that I trusted Him a little, but not enough; that I trusted Him some of the way, but not all of the way; that I wanted His will to be done most of the time, but not all of the time – especially when it interfered with mine! I could not always seem to get a big enough sense of the ever-presence, the "inevitableness" of God, filling all space, and leaving not a pin point of matter in the whole universe.
Once, I remember, after an unusually difficult day, I stood at my window looking out at the stars – millions and millions of them; and beyond those, millions and millions more, discernible only by telescopic vision; and beyond those, again, that incredible, humanly incomprehensible thing called "stellar space." And yet, in all that immensity, from beyond the last speck of star-dust to the very place where I was standing was only God. And I saw that, as individual man, I was included in this vast, limitless abundance of good; upheld, guarded, forever secure and immune from harm by reason of my identification with this infinitude of good. I saw that I was surrounded by it, encompassed by it on every side, enfolded in it as tenderly as some little child is enfolded in its mother's arms.
As I pondered this, alone in the darkness, peace like a river descended upon my troubled soul, and I rested for the first time in many days. It was as if I stood among the snowy vastnesses of some great mountain, remote and still, utterly aloof from the earth-noises in the valley below, the turmoil and conflict of poor struggling humanity, crowding, pushing, loving, hating, working, playing, treading each other down in the fierce demand to know "who shall be greatest?" The echoes of it, the memory of it, the sordidness of it, began to fade, and fade, and for a few holy moments I seemed to see, as from some mount of transfiguration, all mists of error disappear in the white light of His eternal presence. I seemed suddenly to understand that nothing was real and true but the right. And I saw how utterly futile were any efforts which did not have Principle back of them, to give them life and substance. I saw that to succeed I must be willing to say, from my very heart of hearts: "Dear Father, I am so tired of my way, so tired and weary trying to make it work. And it never does. Show me the better way, dear Lord, Thy way. I am ready now to follow wherever it may lead."
In her book "Unity of Good" Mrs. Eddy has written (p. 64), "Mortals may climb the smooth glaciers, leap the dark fissures, scale the treacherous ice, and stand on the summit of Mont Blanc; but they can never turn back what Deity knoweth, nor escape from identification with what dwelleth in the eternal Mind." What Deity knoweth can be only good, for Deity knoweth naught else, only good for His children, and this good, with which man is ever identified, is available, here and now. Man cannot "escape" identification with it, by right of his unbroken relationship with the one Mind, wherein joy is spiritual so cannot be turned into sorrow, where success is normal and natural, where there are no failures, no disappointments, no disillusionments, no partings, no pain, but all is well. As we return to our homes, shall we not quietly ponder these things, and tomorrow approach our problem, whatever it may seem to be, with renewed courage to master it, instead of letting it master us? Shall we not trust God more, knowing that His holy purposes are even now unfolding in behalf of those who do this, like the petals of some lovely flower? We may not, at the moment, always see these purposes fully, but we can always ask, in all humility, that He will show us plainly all that we need to know, in order to do all that we need to do, to complete our demonstration. Perhaps a prayer like that, given in all sincerity, may bring to light many things not yet realized as obstacles in the way. Perhaps we may find, in some cases, that what is keeping back the answer for which we long, is just our own lack of moral courage. Perhaps something needs to be done which we are afraid to do, something which ever looms before us like some impenetrable wall, blocking all progress. If so, let us try looking out upon a night full of stars, and watch our fears melt away before the boundless immensity of that Love which is the only power, and with which man is eternally and inevitably identified. Afraid? When this is here, and is ours?