Christian Science: The Revelation of True Freedom
Richard J. Davis, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Richard J. Davis, C.S.B., of
The subject of Christian Science has for seventy years or more been engaging the attention of an ever-increasing number of thoughtful people, the type of people who are earnestly seeking the answer to their own difficulties as well as the perplexing problems that now seem to be confronting a world in chaos and great fear. At the outset, may I say that Christian Science, or the Science of being, is unlimited in its adaptation and application to the needs of humanity. This being the case, it is, of course, not possible to give, in the short space of time allotted to a lecture, a complete presentation of its teachings. I shall therefore confine myself to a discussion of freedom in some of its various aspects as understood in Christian Science and as related to the immediate need of mankind.
The history of the race presents a continuous effort on the part of mankind to rise, a struggle to cast off limitations and fetters of every kind. Basically, this reveals the instinctive desire that exists in the heart of every man to be free, and it clearly indicates that the true and actual status of man, as created by God, is freedom. From time to time, down through the ages, there have appeared on the horizon, great spiritually-minded characters whose mission seemed to be the awakening of their fellow men from mesmeric bondage to materiality, to show them the right to freedom and how to attain it. Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and Isaiah stand out as true spiritual liberators of human consciousness. Their vision carried mankind onward and upward in the march toward freedom.
The example of the lives and the words of these great men still remain to inspire and encourage us today. Describing the divine mission of the Christ, the prophet Isaiah wrote: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound."
In the fullness of times and in
fulfillment of prophecy, the greatest of all liberators appeared, he whom the
Christian world has named the Messiah, or Saviour, Jesus of
It may be noted here that he did not say that knowing about the truth would make us free, but he indicated and taught that it was absolute knowing, scientific knowing of truth, which freed and healed men physically and spiritually, and that this scientific knowledge of the Christ which he possessed and expressed, could be reflected and demonstrated by every man, in the measure that he understood it.
When he declared, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," the Master surely did not mean that his human personality or his physical body was the way, but rather, that it was his understanding of the one I AM, that same I AM that appeared to Moses. He knew it was the correct understanding of God, which is "the way, the truth, and the life" in all ages. He pointed the way to freedom, a straight and narrow way, but nevertheless certain and sure. His life-purpose, exemplified in all that he thought and did, was to set the captive free, to emancipate humanity, and to lift the heavy yoke which material thinking had placed upon it.
Appearing on a soil and in a
country dedicated to religious freedom, the impersonal Christ, the same Truth
which Jesus taught and lived, was revealed in our day to a spiritually-minded
The lame, the deaf, the dumb, the
blind, the sick, the sensual, the sinner, I wished to save from the slavery of
their own beliefs and from the educational systems of the Pharaohs, who today,
as of yore, hold the children of Israel in bondage. I saw before me the awful
Freedom is mental, a state of consciousness. True freedom must be thought; it must be known and understood; it must express itself in and as one's very being and way of thinking. Therefore may I say to you that in order to actually demonstrate freedom this book, Science and Health, must be studied and pondered. The truth set forth in its pages must be mentally and spiritually digested, and then practically applied. Is freedom from fear, freedom from sin, freedom from poverty and disease, worth the effort involved in a consecrated study of this Science of being? My friends, you alone can determine that for yourselves.
The Great Revelation
In 1866, Mrs. Eddy experienced an immediate and remarkable recovery from an injury, an injury that medicine and surgery had been unable to reach. This healing, she said, was "the falling apple" (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 24), which led her to the discovery and understanding of the scientific law of God, under which she had recovered. It led her to the spiritual perception and revelation that all causation resides in divine Mind. She saw that Mind is one, self-existent and infinite, the basic cause of all true being – that which we in Christian Science reverently understand to be God. She recognized also that if the cause or Principle of being was Mind, so logically the effect of Mind would be mental.
In other words, infinite Mind could be expressed or evidenced only in a universe or infinity of ideas – a thought universe. Hence, she declared in a statement that was nothing short of revolutionary in its import and significance (Science and Health, p. 468), "All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation." Realizing, then, that this basic spiritual cause could originate or produce only a spiritual effect or creation, she perceived that the whole world or universe of matter, with its sin, disease, and death, was not the reality of being but an illusive state of consciousness, which the understanding of Truth would dissipate.
In view of the proclaimed and generally accepted actuality of evil and matter, this was obviously a most radical and absolute stand to take. But Mrs. Eddy did not waver. Declaring the allness of Spirit, God, and the consequent nothingness or unreality of evil, there she stood. And there Christian Science stands today, challenging the honest investigation of any thoughtful person. It is clear that duality, that is, anything that departs from the oneness of being, is a departure from pure monotheism.
The teaching of Christian Science rests on the oneness of being – one Mind, one Life, one Truth, one Spirit, one infinite Love – and never leaves it. Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health (p. 267): "God is one. The allness of Deity is His oneness." Only on the basis of this oneness and allness of God can men or nations free themselves from belief in and the fear of evil. So, it is obvious that the way to freedom lies in our positive and continuous rejection of duality and our intelligent realization and maintenance of the allness of good.
The Real Man
Since Mind is self-existent and primal cause, Christian Science declares that man is the spiritual idea or effect of that great and only cause, the compound idea, or complete representation, of Mind. Man is the expression, the full reflection, or exact likeness, of Spirit, Soul, and Life. In Science and Health (p. 268) Mrs. Eddy states: "Man is more than a material form with a mind inside, which must escape from its environments in order to be immortal. Man reflects infinity, and this reflection is the true idea of God."
Infinite Mind is naturally expressed in freedom. Its spiritual conception and unfoldment of ideas is unconfined and unrestricted. There is, therefore, a definite connection between divine Mind and man's ability to know and reflect ideas. We are able to arrive at the understanding of being, or existence, only because you and I have an unhampered ability to reason. Christian Science reveals the fact that the real man, the only man there truly is, is the free, unlimited, unrestricted reflection or expression of God. It declares that man, as the image, or embodiment of Mind, spontaneously and freely reflects, or unfolds, infinite intelligence and wisdom.
Christ Jesus revealed and explained his eternal, conscious identity as the infinite idea when he said. "Before Abraham was, I am," and "I and my Father are one." Referring to this in her textbook, Mrs. Eddy says in explanation (p. 333), "By these sayings Jesus meant, not that the human Jesus was or is eternal, but that the divine idea or Christ was and is so and therefore antedated Abraham."
Your eternal identity and mine, as God's unfolding idea, existed before any human sense of Abraham; and the understanding and maintenance of that spiritual fact is necessary, if there is to be any healing or redemption. It is an essential step in the practical application of spiritually scientific thinking. In one of the Messages to her Church, Mrs. Eddy has written: "God enables us to know that evil is not the medium of good, and that good . . . obliterates the lost image that mortals are content to call man, and demands man's unfallen spiritual perfectibility" (Christian Science versus Pantheism, p. 11).
We see, then, that man has always existed as the perfect, unfallen idea of God, and one of the first steps in the practical demonstration of our individual freedom is taken when we perceive and hold to the present perfection of man and all that constitutes his true being. Then we shall be free from the imprisoning beliefs of evil, free physically, morally, and financially. The understanding of the present perfection of all true being is an absolute essential, and there you must stand if you wish to demonstrate that fact. You must see that you are free and well right now, because that is the only true status of man and of all being. In this way only can you demonstrate and express your "well being."
In her book, "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," Mrs. Eddy gives us a clear and definite statement on this very point. She says (p. 242): "You can never demonstrate spirituality until you declare yourself to be immortal and understand that you are so. 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."
Freedom From Disease
In the Gospel of Luke, it is related that one Sabbath in the temple, as Jesus was teaching, there was a poor woman, bound and deformed with disease, an infirmity that she had had for eighteen years. When Jesus saw her, he called her to him and said, "Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity." Immediately she was healed, "was made straight, and glorified God," expressing gratitude for her deliverance. That healing was, of course, an exhibition of divine power, but it was something more than that. It was the result of scientific knowing on the part of the Master. It was not a sporadic infraction of natural law. On the contrary, it was his realization of the eternal perfection and freedom of man which brought that woman and her thinking into conformity with divine law, and her human body had to evidence normal freedom and harmonious action.
Christ Jesus broke the bondage of medical belief which said she must be forever a cripple. He did not think, Here is a poor cripple and perhaps a sinner, and I will heal her. Not at all. That would have been a recognition of the reality of disease. Instead, he immediately knew and held to the eternal and present perfection of man. He spiritually saw the unsullied, unblemished character of God's idea. He knew that every true function and faculty of being is indestructible and harmonious; and that scientific knowledge operated as law, setting aside the belief of medical law and the fear that for eighteen years had held that woman in bondage. Evil and fear have their basis in duality, belief in the reality of both good and evil. No matter how ill one might seem to be, the omnipotence and omnipresence of God means that man can and should manifest the power and presence of divine being, without limit or restriction. It means that he may right now experience and express all the freedom that ever was his, and Jesus demonstrated that fact. Someone may say, "Oh, but that was a miracle!" No, it was not. It was simply the evidence of freedom physically manifested that may be demonstrated by anyone, through an understanding of spiritual law.
Imprisoning Beliefs Overcome
Many years ago the English poet, Richard Lovelace, wrote:
"Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage."
We are all aware that quite apart from those within the walls of penal institutions there are millions of human beings in mental prisons. In fact, the poet glimpsed the truth that it is not really material walls that bind and restrict, but our false and incorrect concepts of life and being – what Mrs. Eddy has exactly termed "false belief."
Where may we not find those who are prisoners of hate or envy, chained to a deep hurt or resentment? Where may we not find the prisoners of fear or worry, those who are the helpless captives of false appetite, sin, or disease, or even fettered by discouragement or the belief of failure? Mrs. Eddy says on page 521 of Science and Health, "Inharmonious beliefs . . . imprison themselves in what they create." There is not one of us but realizes that he is, in some form or other, restricted or held by imprisoning thought, and today it is the purpose of the compassionate Christ, as revealed in Christian Science, to break the shackles of false belief and permit man to rise into his true consciousness of free and spontaneous being.
Christian Science shows us that it is one's false beliefs, habitually and sometimes stubbornly held to, that imprison one. It is the unwillingness to give up some cherished material ambition or desire. Perhaps it is the reluctance or refusal to cast the net on the right side of thought, instead of arguing in favor of the very conditions that enslave. These are some of the beliefs or wrong mental attitudes which, if entertained, prevent freedom and the evidence of healing.
There are thousands of people – we meet them everywhere – who say that they cannot express themselves; they say or declare that they are limited and hampered in their speech and ability to express ideas. Like Moses, they say, "I am not eloquent, . . . I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue." They are the friends we know, who at a gathering sit in the corner, chained by fear – worthy people who really have something to say and contribute, and yet who lack the freedom to utter the fine and helpful ideas they possess.
They are tormented by suggestions that they are not interesting, that they are not entertaining, or even wanted. We learn in Christian Science that freedom to express ideas is the inherited right of man. Indeed we understand that man, in his true and only being, is expression – the infinite expression of infinite Mind. Perception of this divine fact immediately operates humanly to break the fetters of bashfulness, reticence, and timidity, the limiting beliefs and fears expressed in what is called today an inferiority complex.
A salesman who has permitted himself to believe or fear that he cannot sell and intelligently present his product or business proposition learns in Christian Science that, as the expression of divine Mind he reflects infinite intelligence and the unfettered ability to capably discuss and carry on his business. Fear, timidity, and apprehension are replaced by confidence, assurance, and a courage based on spiritual understanding. Like the Master, he learns to say, "The Son can do nothing of himself but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise."
Freedom Must Be Understood
Freedom and slavery are two words
that are becoming increasingly important in the thought of everyone today. The pressure of world events is forcing us to
consider and appraise the heritage or
freedom that we
In the Christian Science textbook, Mrs. Eddy has written (p. 226): "The history of our country like all history, illustrates the might of Mind, and shows human power to be proportionate to its embodiment of right thinking " Right thinking founded this nation, and only right thinking will perpetuate it. Paul said in his second epistle to the Corinthians. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" – plainly indicating that the source and fount of freedom is spiritual.
Whether we have been aware of this or not, spiritual ideals were basic in the founding of this country and were responsible for its rapid rise and prosperity. If today these ideals are lost or set aside in the worship of the gods of materiality – success, money, and ease in matter – would it not be true that we have turned away from that which alone can give us freedom? A nation's greatness, as well as its freedom, lies in the spiritual consciousness of its citizens.
True Basis of Government
Man as idea exists at the standpoint of divine Mind, and is, therefore, forever one with Mind. For that reason, one who understands the truth about God and man's relationship to Him is in the truest and best sense a free thinker. Fundamentally, no one else can actually tell him what he must think or do. True knowledge is unfettered knowledge. It appears through reason and revelation, unfolding in the heart or consciousness, of man.
It is never imposed by some external authority. Mrs. Eddy saw that, because government is mental, it has its origin in the divine Mind, and is therefore subjective, appearing not as something apart from man – not as something imposed upon him by external authority – but included in his consciousness, as the reflection of God. A nation or government is, therefore, no better and no worse than the thinking of its citizens. We can be a free nation because of our thinking, or we can become slaves.
If the thought qualities of freedom, tolerance, equality, and brotherhood are operating, they will express themselves in a liberal and democratic form of government. On the other hand, if apathy, civic indifference, corruption, and human will are the dominating qualities in the thought of the citizens of a nation, they can not fail to be expressed in corrupt and arbitrary forms of government. Through suffering and hard experiences, because they apparently do not know how to come any other way, nations are educated or led out of bondage into freer and better forms of government.
The Perfect Law of
Paul declared, "I was free born." And Christian Science teaches that, because man exists forever as an unfettered idea of Mind, he cannot legitimately be the slave of any form of mental or physical despotism; but it also teaches that every man must understand and demonstrate this fact for himself. On page 106 of the Christian Science textbook, Mrs. Eddy writes, "Man is properly self-governed only when he is guided rightly and governed by his Maker, divine Truth and Love."
So the key to freedom lies in an understanding of the fact that the real man as God's reflection is subordinate alone to God's government. Self-government is free government, because it is based on the unity of God and man. It means that there is nothing standing between God and man. It means the oneness of Mind and idea; it means that, because of that oneness, one is free to think rightly, is free to make correct decisions – is free to do right but never wrong.
The Apostle James saw something of
the meaning of true freedom when he wrote, "Whoso looketh
into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth
therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man
shall be blessed in his deed." Christian Science demands that we look into
and truly understand this law of liberty which is expressed in right thinking
and acting, and therefore inevitably involves consideration for the rights and
welfare of others.
Self-discipline and self-control
are important factors in the expression of a true democracy and a well-ordered
government, and no man may be said to have attained a right concept of freedom
until he has learned how to discipline his own thought and acts. For example,
when a man, as a good citizen, is thinking rightly, he will not toss rubbish
out of his car to litter the road. A free right thinker will not leave papers
and other left-overs strewn through a park, after a
We learn in Christian Science that there is no liberty without conformity to divine law. We discover too that Principle, and its law, is really not imposed upon man, upon you or me; it is not external to us. In his true being, man expresses and manifests the control and harmony of divine law. He is the embodiment, or reflection, of Principle, and the understanding of this inevitably brings a freedom of action, which is always right. Divine Principle does not change; it always remains Principle. The basis of a human being's difficulties, then, lies not with Principle but with his failure to live in accord with divine law, which expresses Principle. An unprincipled man is a man who by his actions has separated himself from law and order. Neither an unprincipled man nor an unprincipled government is free, because neither expresses nor reflects the government of God.
The proper application of the Golden Rule and the conception of the brotherhood of man, must lead to a right social state. The basic facts of metaphysics, as taught in Christian Science, are in line with this, because they declare that in the infinity of Mind there is equality of opportunity, infinite progress and substance for all of Mind's ideas.
It should be noted too that there are certain metaphysical facts that will not coincide with some of the current philosophies of government. In the first place, Christian Science teaches true individualism. It declares that every idea of Mind has its own eternal identity, and while ideas are co-operative and co-active, they do not lose their right to individual expression and initiative. This fact logically is opposed to any concept of collectivism, where individuality is lost in the mass. Consciousness being primal, the state does not include man, but man includes the state, and this spiritual fact is contrary to any belief that the state is supreme and the rights of the individual of no consequence.
Maintaining, as it does, the eternal nature of individuality, Christian Science also teaches that progress and unfoldment are individual. It declares that the possibilities of unfoldment and accomplishment belong to everyone. In Science, no one is denied the privilege and freedom of individual effort and enterprise.
This is true, both in a spiritual and a human sense, and no one is denied the reward or the return that comes as the result of honest and earnest labor. Any effort to destroy freedom of individual enterprise is contrary to the law of God, contrary to the scientific fact that man, as idea, must ever progress. Curbing or destruction of individual enterprise by governmental legislation would deprive man of the incentive to work, to create, and to develop. Any arbitrary limitation placed upon individual man's ability to grow and achieve legitimate success is purely an expression of mortal mind's limitation and is directly opposed to the Science of true being, in which man exists as an ever-unfolding idea of divine Mind.
The Discoverer of Christian Science also says in her textbook (p. 13), "Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals." It is true that infinite Love has provided equality of opportunity for all, but individual compensation can only appear in proportion as we embrace and utilize those opportunities and divine bestowals. While Christ Jesus taught and demonstrated the law of Love, that must ultimately be expressed in a social state, where every man has equality of substance and opportunity, there is every evidence that he recognized the justice of individual compensation and the necessity and rightness of individual effort.
His parable of the talents teaches this very point. Those who utilized their talents gained more. Those who buried their talents, through fear and laziness, received no reward. Jesus plainly indicated here that there could and should be no downward leveling process, no equality of distribution except on the basis of justice and individual effort. The man who was alert and industrious received according to his deserving. The man who was mentally and physically lazy failed of a reward, because he had yet to learn the lesson that only honest labor and individual initiative should be compensated.
No one can be said to have achieved complete freedom and control over his thinking until he perceives and understands that, because man has no mind of his own apart from God, he cannot, therefore, be influenced through so-called mental manipulation or aggressive suggestion. Explaining this, Mrs. Eddy has written in her book, "Pulpit and Press" (p. 3), "Know, then, that you possess sovereign power to think and act rightly, and that nothing can dispossess you of this heritage and trespass on Love."
In these days the supposititious opposite of the one Mind, the so-called carnal or mortal mind, is showing itself in its true colors, as the enslaver and manipulator of the human race. It is coming out from under cover and openly proclaiming that it can control the thinking of human beings, through propaganda and various forms of hypnotic suggestion. It is using every known device to terrify, intimidate, and frighten. It speaks through the press and radio. It expresses itself through government representatives, and many otherwise worthy people lend themselves as tools, to further its evil designs. We are living in a period when human beings who have learned something of the nature of so-called mortal mind are attempting to use it as a mental weapon; but, as Paul states, "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."
Christian Science points out the paramount necessity today of establishing every man's oneness with divine Mind, and the knowledge of this truth enables us to prove that we cannot be put to sleep or made apathetic by hypnotic suggestion, that judgment and intelligence cannot be perverted or darkened. Referring to this, Mrs. Eddy says in the textbook (p. 106): "God has endowed man with inalienable rights, among which are self-government, reason, and conscience. . . . Man's rights are invaded when the divine order is interfered with, and the mental trespasser incurs the divine penalty due this crime."
Freedom from the false claims of evil mind is imperative, but it will not be achieved if we continue to think of ourselves as fearful human beings combating them. It is your perception of your present divine identity, that you are now one with God and, therefore, really a divine being, that equips you to fearlessly prove the unreality and powerlessness of evil.
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God." What does that mean? Does it mean that you and I have got to postpone the demonstration of that fact? Does it mean that the understanding of man's true being must wait? No! "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation," and that day, or unfoldment, appears as you and I recognize the truth of our present divine selfhood, and stand by it without fear.
Freedom Through Prayer
Today, as never before, the unprecedented upheaval that is taking place in human consciousness is compelling humanity to turn for help to something outside itself. Mankind is being forced to turn to Spirit, God, as the only answer to its difficulties, and this turning is, in a certain sense, a prayer – a prayer that will not go unanswered.
In Christian Science, however, we see that the prayer which will truly save and free us is not merely a blind faith in or an appeal to a remote or distant God, but the deep and positive understanding and affirmation of God's allness, His omnipresence, omni-action, and omnipotence. The prayer that is freeing all mankind today is the spiritual realization and maintenance of the divine fact of being, and of man's inseparable oneness with God, with Life, with Love. The understanding of that unbroken oneness demonstrates and establishes the fact that man, as God's child, is now free from the belief in and fear of disease, free from the bondage of false appetites, free from every fear of lack and limitation.
The Christian Scientist prays, not merely for his own redemption and welfare, but his understanding of the brotherhood of man, and his desire to demonstrate it, impels him to include all mankind in his prayer for freedom.
Freedom and Democracy
Freedom is a divine idea, an expression of infinite Truth. It is an indestructible and immutable idea of God. Fear, terrorism, hypnotism, and all the repressive efforts of organized evil, cannot, therefore, get at it, nor can it be eradicated by material means. It stands forever as an integral expression of eternal Life. All of this is, of course, encouraging when the overwhelming suggestions of fear would try to make us wonder whether freedom can stand.
The torch of liberty must be held aloft and its oil be faithfully and constantly replenished, if we would not have its light burn low or be extinguished. Our understanding of freedom, of the eternal and indestructible nature, enables us, at this important hour in the history of the race, to establish and maintain this fact, that not only we ourselves are free, but all mankind. It is our privilege, indeed it is our duty, to know that every man is free, because that is his true estate as a son of God. Be assured of this divine fact: if you know and understand freedom, you will be able to demonstrate it; and what you really know, you are forever.
In closing may I again quote the words of the revered Discoverer of Christian Science, in Science and Health (p. 227): "Discerning the rights of man, we cannot fail to foresee the doom of all oppression. Slavery is not the legitimate state of man. God made man free. . . . 'Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.' . . . Citizens of the world, accept the 'glorious liberty of the children of God,' and be free!"
[Published in The Marion County Mail of Indianapolis, Indiana, Oct. 22, 1943.]