Manís Sonship with God Revealed Through Christian Science
W. Norman Cooper, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Happier, healthier, more
purposeful living can be gained now through recognition of man's true sonship
with God, said W. Norman Cooper, C.S.B., of
Man's divine birthright of freedom and well-being is already established, but it must be claimed, accepted, and used in daily living, Mr. Cooper declared.
To illustrate what it means to understand man's real selfhood, he described healings of measles, a facial scar, and a very serious chest wound suffered in a hunting accident.
A member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship, Mr. Cooper spoke on the subject, "Man's Sonship with God Revealed Through Christian Science." He was introduced by Arnold H. Exo, C.S.B., First Reader of The Mother Church.
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
There is a general agreement among Christians that Christ Jesus healed all manner of discord and disease, also that he expected and taught others to heal as he did. It is recorded that he sent out first twelve and then seventy disciples to do healing work, and that the results were deeply gratifying to them and to him. Moreover, there is little question among Bible students that he was speaking to his followers in every age when he said, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also" (John 14:12), and again, "These signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; . . . they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover" (Mark 16:17,18).
Christian Science shows that Jesus healed through his scientific knowledge of his sonship with God. It was this knowledge which enabled him to say, "I and my Father are one" (John ). However, he recognized that God was not only his Father, but also the Father of all. He began his prayer, known to us as the Lord's Prayer, with the words, "Our Father" (Matt. 6:9), that is, not only Jesus' Father, but also your Father and my Father - the Father of all. Jesus recognized that God was the source, creator, Father of man; and his healing work was done as proof of this fact. As we begin to understand our spiritual relationship to God, our Father, good flows into our experience. We feel the healing effect of spiritual understanding. We are enabled to have better and happier lives and to help others to have them. We realize that we have found the pearl of great price.
Since the understanding of man's sonship with God is so important to each of us, let us reason together on this subject. The fact that man is the beloved child of God is clearly indicated in the teachings of the Bible. The first chapter of this great book states that "God created man in his own image" (Gen. 1:27), and the beloved disciple, John, wrote in his first epistle (3:2) that "now are we the sons of God." The Bible writer did not say, or imply, that we are to be the sons of God at some future date; but that we, that is, you and I, as well as others, are now the sons of God. Our sonship is already established, but we must claim it, we must accept it, we must express it. Christian Science has come to teach us how to claim, accept, and utilize our birthright - our birthright of freedom and well-being.
Since we are the sons of God, it follows that we must be like the Father, because effect must be like cause. Therefore, if we are to understand our true nature as children of God, we must understand God. What, then, is God? What is His nature? Christian Science shows, in accordance with Scriptural teachings, that He is Supreme Being, the one and only cause and creator, the only lawgiver, the only power. He is Spirit. He is omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence. Since God is omnipotence and is good, the only real power there is, is the power of good. Since God is omniscience, He has perfect understanding. Since God is omnipresence, His goodness is everywhere and everywhere the only real presence.
In the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy gives seven synonymous terms which express the nature of Deity. They are all used or implied in Scriptural references to God, and, as she says, they are "intended to express the nature, essence, and wholeness of Deity" (p. 465). She puts them into this definition: "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love" (ibid., p. 465).
Now, let me illustrate what it means in a practical way to understand that the real selfhood of each one of us is made in the likeness of God. The experience is that of a young Christian Scientist who was found to have a clearly defined case of measles. He turned to the Lesson-Sermon for that week as found in the Christian Science Quarterly and read this passage from Isaiah (45:11): "Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me."
As he read this verse, his consciousness was flooded with the recognition that he was a son of God; he was the work of God's hands. He thought: "As God's son, I have the right to ask God about myself. I have the right to know what God, Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love is providing for me." Then he continued his reasoning: "God is Mind and is giving to me, His son, the understanding to know my original perfection as His image and likeness.† God, Spirit, created me as an idea that is wholly spiritual. God, Soul, creates and maintains my purity, color, and freshness, never permitting me to be blemished in any way. God, Principle, is unfolding spiritual activity for me, maintaining me according to given laws, and these laws are always good, and never include sickness. God is Life, and I reflect this Life; therefore I have perfect existence, which includes health, activity, dominion, freedom, and peace. God is Truth, and He never bestows the lie of sickness upon me. God, Love, is constantly loving me, gently caring for me, permitting nothing to come to me but that which is good, never supplying anything detrimental to me or to others. This one, all-powerful God permits nothing to rob me of my birthright of freedom."
He reasoned along this line for some time until he felt at peace, and with this sense of peace came the physical healing.
In accordance with the law requiring the reporting of contagious diseases, the young man went to a physician. The physician diagnosed the condition as measles, and also declared it had been completely healed. He approved of the young man's returning immediately to his work.
You may be asking, "Could I heal myself, as this Christian Scientist did?" Through the understanding of Christian Science, you too will be able to heal. You will find that you can "know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John ). However, if you feel that you have not yet enough understanding of your relationship to God, you can turn to a Christian Science practitioner, who will know the truth (that is, pray) for you. These practitioners are listed in The Christian Science Journal. They are consecrated men and women, who have proved the healing power of Christian Science for themselves and others and who are now devoting their entire time to Christian Science healing work.
Some of you who are new to Christian Science may be saying: "I would like to avail myself of the opportunity of knowing more about this divine Love which is able and willing to care for my human needs. How do I go about it?" Study your Bible daily together with the Christian Science textbook. You will find that the textbook is, as its name implies, a "Key to the Scriptures."
You will be helped by attending Christian Science Sunday services and by regular study of the Lesson-Sermons which are read at these services. Instead of personal preachers, Mrs. Eddy ordained the King James Version of the Bible and Science and Health to be the only pastor for the Christian Science denomination. Passages from these two books comprise the sermon read each Sunday in Churches of Christ, Scientist, throughout the world. The lesson is studied daily by Christian Scientists during the week previous to the Sunday service. The Christian Science Quarterly contains references which are compiled under twenty-six different weekly subjects. These subjects, with new references, are repeated twice each year. These subjects were chosen by Mrs. Eddy. You will find these lessons invaluable to you in your self-instruction in Christian Science.
A cordial welcome awaits you at both the Sunday services and Wednesday testimony meetings held in all Christian Science churches. At the Wednesday meetings, you will hear testimonies given by those who have been healed in Christian Science.
Christian Science is proving that when we raise our concept of man - when we see him as spiritual, as God created him - then the body responds to this improved thinking. In the healing of the measles, the Christian Scientist replaced the imperfect concept of man with the perfect concept. He recognized that man, as the son of God, is wholly spiritual, not material. This recognition of truth acted as an alterative in the body, and healing took place. In short, he saw that man is something much more than a physical body. He saw that man is purely spiritual, that he is the perfect expression of the one infinite divine Mind, or God, and this correct view of man brought about his healing.
Mrs. Eddy refers to man as "the compound idea of God, including all right ideas" (Science and Health, p. 475). He expresses the qualities of God, and matter cannot be added to these qualities. We readily see, for example, that matter cannot be added to such a spiritual quality as joy or take anything from it - that this wonderful quality exists independently of matter and is in the very nature of God, and therefore of man. So it is with the qualities of God and the real man, the real selfhood of each one of us. Justice, truthfulness, wisdom, and the like are among these qualities, and we really see that they are not conditioned by matter, but exist by their own nature. Christian Science shows that the same is true of health and strength. These, along with the others, are changeless qualities of God, and also of man as His likeness, and this is the great fact which is proved in Christian Science healing.
Christian Science shows us that spiritual ideas - not the physical body - constitute one's real identity. This Science points out how each of us may look beyond the body and find his perfect individuality as a son of God. Jesus never recognized his body as his true identity. On one occasion, after asking his disciples whom others thought him to be, he addressed himself directly to them, "But whom say ye that I am?" (Matt. 16:15.) Now, it is obvious that he did not want a description of his physical body, its height, weight, et cetera. Peter gave the answer the Master desired when he said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. ). He saw that Jesus' true identity was something much more than his material body. His identity was his individual sonship with God. Peter saw that it was Jesus' spiritual nature, or the Christ, which enabled him to do his mighty works.
Christ, Truth, is that which truly enlightens mankind, and Jesus demonstrated the eternal Christ. Christ is the divine message from God to man, and Jesus was the messenger. Jesus showed us how to look beyond material appearances and thereby find that which is true. Christ is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6) - the way of Life - and Jesus taught us that way. Hence we refer to Christ Jesus as the Way-shower. The Master's purpose was to show each of us how to express Christ, Truth, in daily living - how to express wisdom, love, purity, strength, health, all the qualities of God, here and now.
We have considered that God is All, that He is the only creator, and that He is good. Therefore, error, the opposite of good, or Truth, has no real identity. Where, then, does error come from? Before answering that question, let us ask ourselves, where does the error called two and two are five come from? Is it not clear that the error, two and two are five, is nothing more than a mistake about the fact that two and two are four? Any error is a mistake about something that is true. We never need to fear a mistake. We just correct it with the truth. Is it any wonder that Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free"? (John 8:32.) The mistaken concept that man is sick is corrected by the truth that God, Spirit, has created man healthy and whole.
You may be wondering how it can be that God heals error, such as sickness, if He knows nothing about it. Let us illustrate again with mathematics. Mathematics knows nothing about mistakes, and is not involved in them. However, when mathematical law is applied to mistakes, it corrects them. The application of the law that two and two are four corrects the error that two and two are five. So, divine Mind, God, knows nothing about the errors which seem to misrepresent the nature of Himself and His creation, but the true understanding and application of His law rectify any such errors. The fact that God is all and is good corrects the belief that error has any reality.
In her book "Unity of Good" (p. 20) Mrs. Eddy has said that "We undo the statements of error by reversing them," and then she continues: "Through these three statements, or misstatements, evil comes into authority: -
"First: The Lord created it.
Second: The Lord knows it.
Third: I am afraid of it."
Then she adds: "By a reverse process of argument evil must be dethroned: -
"First: God never made evil.
Second; He knows it not.
Third: We therefore need not fear it."
Christian Science brings you the joyful assurance that you never need to fear evil again.
Nearly a century ago, Mrs. Eddy realized that disease has a mental cause, that it is induced by entertaining thoughts of fear, ignorance, or sin. She wrote: "Looking over the newspapers of the day, one naturally reflects that it is dangerous to live, so loaded with disease seems the very air. These descriptions carry fears to many minds, to be depicted in some future time upon the body" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 7). In this passage she indicates the relationship which exists between fear, which is mentally entertained, and disease. Physicians and psychiatrists are becoming increasingly aware of the mental cause of disease, and this is a gratifying development. Experience shows, however, that as long as one looks to the human mind to correct what it has seemed to cause, the results are limited. Mrs. Eddy saw that the cure lies in looking beyond the belief of a so-called mind, resident in the body, and recognizing man's indestructible relationship to the one divine Mind, God, which is in reality the Mind of man.
You may have seen someone's face become flushed as the result of anger or pallid as the result of fear. Now it is obvious that the body does not respond in this way of its own accord. Its changed color is caused by thought. If such types of thinking affect the color of the body, is it strange that health also is affected by thought? Christian Science proves that all disease is caused by erroneous thought, such as fear, anger, hatred, worry, and belief in the reality of matter.
Now, the doctoring of matter will not correct the harmful thoughts which cause disease. To illustrate: if you saw a child in his ignorance writing two and two are five on the blackboard, you would not feel that the trouble was with the blackboard, and you would not be content with trying to correct it there. You would seek rather to correct the child's ignorance. Likewise, Christian Scientists do not diagnose the material body to find the cause of disease. They know that the sick body is merely responding to erroneous thinking. We are all writing on our blackboards or bodies. We are either writing with such thoughts as ignorance, fear, anger, and sickness, or we are writing upon our bodies with thoughts of Truth, harmony, health, and the like, which have their source in the one and only Mind, God.
Today, descriptions and statistics published during health campaigns often create fears concerning disease. Believing in the reality of the disease they are endeavoring to cure, these campaigns "carry fears to many minds, to be depicted in some future time upon the body," thereby frequently inducing the very disease which the campaigns are designed to cure. Christian Science brings to light the cure for all disease, for it shows that since God, divine Mind, is all, thoughts unlike this Mind - such as fear, ignorance, or sin - have no real existence. Our religion reveals that since God, divine Mind, is all, and man reflects this divine Mind, man is ever at the standpoint of perfect health. The acceptance and realization of these facts heal the sick.
Another fear that today plagues mortals is the fear of atomic destruction. Here, too, Christian Science provides the means for destroying fear; for through this Science we recognize that divine Mind has created an indestructible, spiritual universe, including man. Atomic force implies a force of matter. However, Christian Science is proving that since all real power is in Mind, atomic force is actually powerless, and all its claims to power can be controlled and overcome by the true intelligence or divine Mind. This is the heartening message of Christian Science on this subject. Mrs. Eddy saw the great need of understanding the inherent power of Mind. In 1898 she included among our Lesson-Sermons one entitled, "Is the Universe, Including Man, Evolved by Atomic Force?" Since the universe, including man, is evolved by God Himself, it is spiritual; therefore it cannot be destroyed by a material power, called atomic force.
Protection Provided by Prayer
A well-known authority on atomic force, former United States Representative W. Sterling Cole, when Chairman of the Congressional Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, said, "The power of prayer is stronger, far stronger, than any weapon which will ever be devised by man" (The Christian Science Monitor, October 13, 1953).
The Bible is full of accounts of protection brought about through understanding of the power of God. Through divine inspiration, Noah built an ark, and it is recorded that "the Lord shut him in" (Gen. 7:16). This ark was his recognition and acceptance of the fact that God and man are coexistent and eternal. We can also enter into this mental ark and thereby find safety. We enter our ark of safety through prayer.
As viewed in Christian Science, prayer is the active mental acknowledgment of our perfection as the beloved sons of God. Prayer is the realization of God's allness and the consequent nothingness of all conditions unlike Him. It is the recognition that God is available in every detail of our experience. Prayer, if it is the exercise of enlightened faith, is nurtured in spiritual understanding, and brought to fruition by selfless love.
All that God has created is good: therefore, our prayers do not have to change anything that God has created. Prayer is not reminding God of what He should be doing. Being infinite wisdom, He knows what He should be doing, and is doing it. Prayer is becoming conscious of this fact.
Jesus never prayed to a far-off God. He knew that he was ever at one with his Father; thus, he was always certain his prayers were heard. At the tomb of Lazarus he prayed (John , 42), "Father, I thank thee that thou has heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always," and Lazarus was raised from the dead.
Christian Science heals by showing us how to look beyond an imperfect mortal and see the perfect immortal man. Mrs. Eddy states (The First Church of Christ, Scientist and†† Miscellany, p.† 242) "Christian Science is absolute; it is neither behind the point of perfection nor advancing towards it; it is at this point and must be practiced therefrom. Unless you fully perceive that you are the child of God, hence perfect, you have no Principle to demonstrate and no rule for its demonstration." This passage indicates that we heal by perceiving the perfection of man as the child of God. The master Christian employed spiritual perception in all his healing work.
In the textbook, our Leader writes (pp. 476, 477); "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick." His enlightened understanding enabled him to see, behold, and view the perfect man, and this spiritual perception was sufficient to heal the sick. His redemptive work was not dependent upon the manipulation of the body. Again, how did Jesus heal? He saw, he beheld, he viewed perfection. This seeing, beholding, viewing is prayer.
From early girlhood, Mrs. Eddy turned to God in prayer. In fact, her greatness lies in her love for, and dependence upon, God. For about twenty years prior to her discovery of Christian Science, she had been endeavoring to ascertain the relationship which exists between mortal thought and disease. In 1866, Mrs. Eddy met with an accident which was expected to prove fatal. As she had done on so many previous occasions, she turned to the Bible. She read the story of Jesus' healing of the palsied man. Her consciousness was illumined with the realization of the law that enabled Jesus to heal, and as a result she was completely healed. However, what is even more important to the world is the fact that she had discovered the Christianly scientific method of healing. Her great love for God and man prompted her to retire from society for several years in order to give her full attention to the development and testing of her discovery. After this testing period, her findings were given to the world in 1875 in the book known today as the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures."
It is important to note that Mrs. Eddy was in every sense a discoverer. She did not "invent" a new philosophy of healing based upon her own human intellect. Through spiritual devotion and perception, she discovered and restored to mankind the actual laws which Jesus and the other Bible characters employed in their healing work.
Jesus pointed out the way to freedom from inherited diseases or troublesome traits of character when he said, "Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven" (Matt. 23:9). God is man's Father, and He is also his Mother. The motherhood is indicated in the Bible. Isaiah points to it when he represents God as saying, "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you" (66:13). However, it remained for Mrs. Eddy to bring into full light the motherhood of God; hence, in Christian Science, we refer to God as Father-Mother. Man is the son of the Father-Mother God, and each of us individually reflects all the qualities of God. We express the strength, fearlessness, and stability - all the qualities which may be thought of as belonging to God as Father. Also we express the purity, tenderness, and love - all the qualities which may be thought of as belonging to God as Mother. The man of God's creating never inherits diseases, human weaknesses, or unlovely characteristics and traits; he inherits only good from his loving Father-Mother God. An altogether good God must of necessity create a good, healthy, and complete child. Our Leader declares: "In Science man is the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute his ancestry" (Science and Health, p. 63).
Since God is Spirit, beauty is not dependent upon matter. True beauty dwells eternally in divine Mind and cannot fade.† God's man, your true identity, is eternally beautiful. Mrs. Eddy writes, "Beauty is a thing of life, which dwells forever in the eternal Mind and reflects the charms of His goodness in expression, form, outline, and color" (Science and Health, p. 247). The understanding of the continuity of beauty can be of practical help in meeting physical problems, as was proved in the experience of one Christian Scientist in the Army. In the line of duty, he met with an accident and was rushed to the Army doctor. The accident had caused a severe cut just below the right eye. The physician informed the soldier that he would be badly scarred for life. The Christian Scientist had learned through experience that the reverse of error is true, so when he heard the words, "scarred for life," he said to himself, "No, beauty for life." Although in considerable pain, he reached out for further inspiration. Part of the sentence previously quoted came to his thought, and he declared, "Beauty is a thing of life." For the first time, he saw that beauty was one of the qualities of infinite Spirit which he reflected, and therefore was not in matter. He reasoned: "Beauty cannot be impaired by an accident, because it is as eternal as divine Life, God. It must also be as continuous as divine
Life." He informed the doctor that he was a Christian Scientist and requested permission to handle the problem according to the teachings of his religion. Even though the doctor felt that the wound should be stitched, stitches were not taken and medication was not used. The wound was merely bandaged. The soldier continued his prayers. The condition was completely healed, and there was no scar left. He had proved that "beauty is a thing of life."
What a destructive and ugly thing hate is. The beloved disciple goes so far as to liken it to death. He writes, "He that loveth not his brother abideth in death" (I John ). Hatred manifests itself in poverty, in sickness, yes, even in death. But Christian Science has the solution for hatred. Mrs. Eddy writes, "Love alone is Life'' (Poems, p. 7). Only as we love do we really live, do we express health, freedom, joy, abundance. If we would live more abundantly, we must master hate. Hate is poverty thinking; love is abundant thinking. We stop hating only as we see everyone as the child of divine Love, hence as the perfect reflection of God Himself. We love man's true identity. We behold the perfect man and find in this perfect man nothing to hate.
The Bible assures us that we are given dominion over every condition. If we appear to lose that dominion, it is because we think of ourselves as other than the sons of God. It is recorded that the tempter, the lying suggestion of a power opposed to God, tried to make the Master doubt that he was the Son of God. The tempter prefaced its suggestion with the word "if" - "If thou be the Son of God" (Matt. 4:3). Jesus knew that divine Spirit, his heavenly Father, was All and that he owed obedience to God alone. This knowledge gave him courage and enabled him to resist the various temptations presented. We, too, must be alert to resist the suggestions that come trying to make us doubt our sonship. These suggestions often enter thought through the little word "if." For instance, we may be tempted with the suggestions: If you are the son of God, why are you ill? Why are you afraid? Why are you in want? How alert we must be that we do not allow the suggestions of "if" to rob us of our sonship. We need to know that we are the sons of God and there are no "if's" about it!
Almost everyone loves an adventure; and yet what greater adventure could there be than that of replacing hatred with love! In reality, all of God's sons live in the spiritual realm of "Love's divine adventure." Mrs. Eddy uses the word "adventure" but once in her published writings. She writes, "We live in an age of Love's divine adventure to be All-in-all" (Miscellany, p. 158). The worldly sense of adventure too often includes the human fear of failure, but to our Leader's clear insight the allness of divine Love excluded any possibility of failure.
On one occasion, a Christian Scientist was telephoned for help by the relative of a fourteen year old boy. While the lad was hunting with a companion, a gun accidentally discharged, the bullet entering the boy's back, going through his lung, and coming out through his chest.† Those around him expected him to die any moment. As the Christian Scientist listened to the story, a great fear overtook him for a moment, and he was tempted by the suggestion which argued, "You have been able to heal small problems; but this is a big problem; you may fail." As he reached out to the allness of Love, he realized that all God's ideas dwell in "Love's divine adventure" which is "All-in-all." In this divine adventure there are no fears. Love maintains its universe in perfect harmony and order, and therefore there can be no accident or effects of an accident. Then came the realization that in the allness of Love there can be no big problems, no little problems - there are just no problems - and with this the fear departed.
With his consciousness filled with the allness of perfection, the Christian Scientist accepted the case, enthusiastically assured of success, success derived from divine Love, God, alone. From the beginning the work was effective. In a remarkably short time the boy was completely healed and was back in school. It had been proved that there are no gradations of problems. Indeed, what had claimed to be a problem proved to be an opportunity to demonstrate that the works of God are ever manifested in perfection, health, and harmony.
The Christian Scientist had proved, as we all may prove, the truth of Mrs. Eddy's statement in the textbook (p. 494), "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need." It is interesting to note her use of the words "always" and "every," for they imply that there is no exception. Mrs. Eddy does not say that divine Love sometimes has met and sometimes will meet some of our human needs; she employs the words "always" and "every." Again, her words are, "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need."
Jesus' consciousness of his
sonship enabled him to have a correct understanding regarding the kingdom of
heaven. This kingdom is not some faroff, remote,
material place which can be gained only by death. The Master declared (Luke ,21),
"The kingdom of
God's son has never really been away from the kingdom of heaven, his eternal home. The prodigal in Jesus' parable thought he could leave his father's house. However, since God is omnipresence, man can never really be away from the Father's love. He cannot wander aimlessly in "a far-off land" of materiality. He must always dwell at one with the Father. Like the prodigal, if we temporarily believe that we are away from the Father's house, all we need to do is what he did; that is, come to ourselves - see ourselves as the beloved sons of God -and then in deepest humility each of us can declare, as the prodigal declared, "I will arise and go to my father" (Luke 15:18). Coming to ourselves, arising and going to the Father, and accepting our oneness with Him is true salvation. When the prodigal found himself at home with the father, it is recorded that "they began to be merry" (Luke ). Real salvation is not a somber affair; it is always joyous. It is becoming aware of our sonship with God. Thus we are enabled to find that God, omnipresent good, is always present and always ready to bestow all good upon us.
God does not give us a portion of good: He gives us all good. The son can never reach the end of the abundant good that God has for him. Accept your sonship with God. Remember, "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke ). Our loving Father-Mother God is ever saying to each of us, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine."