Christian Science: The Conquest Over Wrong Thinking (1)
John Randall Dunn, C.S.B., of Boston, Massachusetts
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer was introduced by Walter P. Forrester who said:
Friends: This lecture on Christian Science, which we are about to hear to-night, is given by First Church of Christ, Scientist, of this city. We appreciate your presence, and extend to you our loving welcome.
Those of us who have experienced blessings and healing and comfort through the ministrations of Christian Science, are anxious that others may be apprised of its wonderful benefits of which you shall hear from the lecturer this evening.
In the book of Psalms we find these words of David: "My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him." Let us "wait upon God" with open mind and with joyful expectation of good, and in that proportion shall we receive of the good that is in store for us here to-night.
It is my pleasure to introduce Mr.
John Randall Dunn, of
The subject of the lecture is: Christian Science: The Conquest Over Wrong Thinking.
There never was a moment in the world’s history when thinking was more necessary than today, - deep, prayerful thinking; constructive thinking, and last but not least, thinking along spiritual lines.
The teachings of Christ Jesus appeal to the thinker. Two of his cardinal precepts are, "Know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" and "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." Here is a statement of law - that freedom and eternal life can be experienced as one knows the truth about God and His reflection. Notice that a stronger word than thinking is used here. The Master did not promise deliverance and freedom to the one who merely thought about the truth, but to the one who knew the truth. Here really is the point of distinction between Mary Baker Eddy and the philosophers and thinkers who preceded and followed her. They may have glimpsed the spirit of the metaphysical aspects of being; but she perceived, that is, knew, the truth, and demonstrated that she knew it by solving both for herself and others all manner of human problems. She healed sickness, sin, appetite, lack, unhappiness, and human anguish as they have not been healed since the days of the Master and his apostles. To aver that the healing which Mrs. Eddy taught and practiced is just a form of mental suggestion that she learned from a magnetic doctor and therefore that she is not the genuine author of Christian Science, is as vain as would be the assertion that Columbus was not the discoverer of the West Indies, because, perchance, someone once told him that there must be land beyond the horizon!
From early childhood Mrs. Eddy, in the atmosphere of a Christian home, had been searching for this truth, this spiritual knowing. She writes (Science and Health, p. 359): "From Puritan parents, the discoverer of Christian Science early received her religious education. In childhood, she often listened with joy to these words, falling from the lips of her saintly mother, 'God is able to raise you up from sickness;' and she pondered the meaning of that Scripture she so often quotes: "And these signs shall follow them that believe; . . . they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.' " So when, in later years, she was able to heal the sick, through Christian knowing, she demonstrated beyond cavil that thinking as Christ Jesus thought, solves all manner of human problems, and reinstates primitive Christianity. When one considers that the words "Christian Science" can mean only Christly or spiritual knowing, one sees that Mrs. Eddy could not have found a more felicitous term for her discovery.
Truly was Mrs. Eddy a Christian Scientist, a knower and demonstrator of the Master's teachings. I once asked an acquaintance of Mrs. Eddy’s what his impressions were the first time he saw her. He replied: "I seemed to lose sight of a material personality altogether. In fact, instead of thinking of the woman before me at all I found myself saying over and over again, "I want to be good!' " This Christian woman's thought was such a clear, clean windowpane, such a transparency for spiritual good, that instead of dazzling one with a brilliant human personality and intellect, she awakened a yearning to partake of the Christliness she reflected. Loyalty to Mrs. Eddy's teachings, therefore, means loyalty and obedience to the pure metaphysics of Christ Jesus.
If one could put in one single phrase mankind's greatest need at the moment, such phrase might well be: to have that "mind . . . which was also in Christ Jesus." If we knew what Jesus knew we should be able to solve every human problem. We should be able to heal sickness, manifest abundance, and exercise dominion over every untoward circumstance. Ah, says the materialist, but that's the difficulty! To know what Jesus knew! Was not his understanding supernatural, divine, beyond the reach of mortals today? What says the Master to this? "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me [in other words, he who understands the Principle and law I teach], the works that I do shall he do also." Again, he declared that he did not the mighty works by himself, - to use his words it was "the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works;" and the Apostle Paul evidently believed that it was possible for the same Father, the same power, to dwell with all mankind when he said, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."
Answering the question, "What is God?" Mrs. Eddy tells us in the textbook (p.465) that "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love." It will be noted here that the first definitions are Mind and Spirit; Mind, the all-knowing intelligence, and Spirit, omnipresent, omnipotent good. Would any thinking person in the world assert that there is no God if God were understood to be the all-knowing intelligence and ever-present good and Love? Whenever one says "I know," or "I want to be good or do some good," or "I love," he admits that God is, for is he not at that moment expressing intelligence and good and Love? When a Russian communist tells you that he does not believe in God and that he hates God you may know that he is referring only to a false conception of God, for no thinking being can disbelieve in the existence of intelligence and good, of Truth and Love and Principle. Can one look at the wonder of the simplest bud or blossom and fail to see therein a hint of some mighty law of Life or Mind?
Now since there is a mighty Principle, or cause, underlying man and the universe and this great cause is divine Mind, or Spirit, in what way can this power be invoked for the healing of disease or the solving of problems? By learning of the real man's eternal connection with this Mind. The Apostle Paul very definitely indicates that there seems to be to our sense of things two men - one the carnal, fleshly man, or the "old man," which is to be put off, and the other characterized as the "new man," or the real, spiritual man of God's creating, which is to be put on. Clearly does Paul draw the distinction between the two: "To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." Here Christian Science makes to the human family a very revolutionary and startling statement. It tells us that this material sense of things that we see with our eyes is not the real man, not God's man, and that we must gain a new conception of man; in other words, we must first learn that the real man is the image, or expression, of Mind, if we would heal the sick and solve earth's problems on a spiritual basis.
In the first chapter of Genesis, we read, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him." Let us read this verse, substituting for the word God the synonymous Mind and Spirit: So Mind, Spirit, created man in His own image, in the image of Mind, Spirit, created He him. Now to be the image of Mind, or Spirit, the real man must be mental or spiritual; in other words, he must reflect or express the all-knowing intelligence, omniactive good, that Spirit or consciousness which is omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience.
Here someone may say: "If it is true that God's creation is spiritual, how is it that this spiritual sense is so intangible, while materiality seems so real and substantial?" Simply because the carnal mind is befogged in its own erroneous, limited conception. The very first appearance of a material sense of things came in a mist. It will be recalled that there is no record of a material creation in the first chapter of Genesis. There man and creation proceed from Mind, Spirit, and are pronounced very good. But in the second chapter of Genesis, before Adam and Eve, depicting a material creation, appear, we read this significant statement: "But there went up a mist from the earth." A mist arose; and with the coming of a mist came the material, sick, sinning, dying sense of man and creation. And to this day, whenever and wherever the carnal mind asserts itself one sees through a mist of ignorance, or fear, or self-will, and naturally cannot cognize creation as God sees it.
The carnal mind, or the adversary, or Satan, is typified in Isaiah as Lucifer, a so-called intelligence which dares to set itself up against Mind, God. Says the Scripture: "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend unto heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High." A well-known commentator of the Bible, Dr. Scofield, states, in a memorable footnote, "When Lucifer said 'I will,' sin began."
What says the master Christian about Lucifer or Satan? "When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." Thus Christian Science boldly disputes the "I wills" of the carnal mind, such as "I will be sick" or "I will be sensual" or "I will show you that matter is as real and powerful as Spirit!" It denominates the arguments and the objectifications of the carnal mind as frauds, lies, outrageously perpetrated on humanity because of the mist of ignorance; and putting in the place thereof the glorious, serene "I AM THAT I AM" of Mind, and man as the reflection of this "I AM," sickness disappears, sin lessens, and the carnal, fleshly sense of being is put off. Mind does not need to say "I will"; Mind saith "I AM!"
There is no greater need at the moment than that mortals should strive to demonstrate that in truth there are not minds many but one alone; not a thousand million Lucifers selfishly and sensually willing this or that, but the one glorious, harmonious, all-knowing intelligence, governing men and nations, "in the rhythmic round of unfolding bliss" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 83), to use Mrs. Eddy's words. But if one is to contribute measurably in the great demonstration of Mind's control over all, one must certainly begin with Mind's government of his own thinking. Knowing how true is the adage, as you think so you are, Mrs. Eddy has given every Christian Scientist, in the Manual of The Mother Church (p. 41), this beautiful "Daily Prayer" of direction and protection: " 'Thy kingdom come;' let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!" As will be seen, the first step in this prayer deals with one's own thinking. Praying that God's reign be established in consciousness necessarily involves the ruling from thought of self-will, self-love, self-pity; in other words, one's first task is to grapple with the many subtle forms of Lucifer, or the carnal mind, and to know their powerlessness, because they proceed not from the one and only Mind. Then the student is ready to reach out in a prayer for the blessing of the whole human family.
Now let us suppose that one who is a student of Christian Science has just awakened in the morning and his first conscious thought possibly finds him instinctively turning to the "Daily Prayer;" but no sooner is this finished than a troop of fears appears at the door of his mental home, suggestions of fear of lack, fear of disease, fear of failure, etc., etc. How are these to be dealt with? They clamor for admission, for recognition. The Christian Scientist is taught to deal with this mental adversary speedily. Like the sentry who halts all who draw near him and asks for a password, so the Christian Science soldier challenges these intruding suggestions of fear and demands their credentials. Did they originate in God, the Mind which is Love and good? Never! Then they are emissaries of the carnal mind, and Jesus said they were lies. Shall a lie be feared? Has it power? Only that which ignorance might give it. Then may the Christian Science soldier bid it be gone. Nay, he must thank God that it is not happening in His harmonious kingdom. It must be seen that the very corner stone of the teaching of Christian Science is the allness of God, the Mind which is good, and the consequent powerlessness or unreality of its opposite, the carnal mind, designated by Jesus as "a liar, and the father" of all lies.
Now while some of the more aggressive fear-suggestions may be silenced there is one persistent argument that seems to refuse to be downed. It whispers: But you haven't money enough for your needs! You must have money! Here Lucifer has resorted to the use of one of his most subtle and most fear-provoking weapons, and truly does one need to have well buckled on his armor of spiritual understanding, if he would prove this powerless.
From the beginning of time, the human mind has worshiped and feared the mammon of this world - money. Paul designates the love of money as "the root of all evil;" and the Master warned that one could not serve God and mammon at the same time. Now comes the beloved Leader of the Christian Science movement with a statement fraught with tremendous good for mankind. In one brief paragraph, like the shepherd David with his sling, she deals the mammon-Goliath a death-blow. Instead of agreeing with the argument, centuries old, that man's primal and greatest need is for money, she shows that his real need, first and last, is for right, saving ideas. In "Miscellaneous Writings" in an article entitled "Angels" (p.307): she writes: "God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never ask for tomorrow; it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment." And how practically does this work out in human experience! Here let us say, is an individual crying out that he needs money. Very possibly he does. But what is his primal need? It may be that his rightful activity and supply are being kept from sight and experience because he is not absolutely honest - honest with himself and others. It is surprising what "little foxes" of dishonest practice, lack of genuineness, so-called "white lies," and the like can be uncovered in consciousness when the searchlight of Truth is turned inward. Therefore this man may speedily awake to the fact that he needs the idea of honesty, if he would expect bounty from the ever giving Principle; and as he asks God to give him right ideas, and as he in turn begins to reflect and utilize these ideas of honesty and Principle, the most amazing answers may be found for his human problems.
Again, while praying for right, spiritual ideas instead of for money, many have found themselves entertaining what truly proved to be angels; in other words, intelligent thoughts, right intuitions - a right move to make or a wise thing to do. How wealthy can we all feel right now, knowing that there is ever available a great bank account of right, saving ideas! The man or woman daily going to this bank of divine Love is not poor, nor can he or she be out of a job. God is the infinite Giver and Sustainer, and man's business is reflection; so a daily prayer for spiritual ideas, for more love and honesty, for quick obedience and attentiveness to Truth, will surely be externalized in what is called a job, proper activity, and necessary supply.
A Business Man 1700 B. C.
An evidence of divine wisdom being
vouchsafed a spiritually-minded business man of his time is to be found in the
experience of Joseph, as related in the book of Genesis. Joseph, who lived 1700
B. C., as will be remembered, apparently found a definite business early in his
experience. It was the business of expressing good, of blessing and being
blessed; of turning every seeming defeat into an opportunity to prove the
nearness and availability of Love and the sure triumph of divine Principle. He
had enough seemingly disastrous experiences to dishearten and dismay the
sturdiest of men. After shameful treatment at the hands of envious brothers he
was sold into slavery in
Now the extraordinary thing to be
noted throughout the career of this extraordinary business man is the complete
absence of resentment in his thinking. Joseph must have learned early that to
be successful one needs to banish speedily the poisonous, demoralizing
arguments of resentment, revenge, self-pity, and the like. Apparently not a
trace of these was allowed to linger in his consciousness when he found himself
unjustly incarcerated. What did he do? True to his business ethics he proceeded
to be the very best prisoner in the prison, and, with his rare spiritual
intuition, helped all with whom he came in contact. It would be impossible for
such a thought to remain long in prison; in fact, the expression of Love and
good cannot fail to liberate. The king of
But his greatest triumph and
achievement were yet to come. As the result of a famine in their own land,
Joseph's brethren came to
What our business world needs at
this seemingly troublous moment is more right
thinkers, more spiritually-minded thinkers of Joseph's school, who by precept
and example will lead distracted mortals to some measure of sanity and business
according to Principle. Fear, hate, selfishness, and the love of the material
have led men and nations into the present-day wilderness. One right thinking
The mischief wrought by even a grain of the poison of hate working in human consciousness, possibly could not be more forcibly set forth than in the following incident. During the late war, a Christian Science worker was not only permitted but was invited by the doctors and nurses to visit a man in the Naval Hospital in London, a man whose arm had been crushed in an accident at sea, and who was so bitter and morose that he had not spoken to anyone for a month or more. Drain tubes were in the arm, and the doctors were of the opinion that amputation was inevitable. Through her Christian love and rare humanity the Scientist soon won his confidence, and little by little he opened his heart and told her all about himself, how the accident had happened, and how he hated the man whose fault it was. One day the Scientist said to him: "I have something to say to you which you may not like, but it is true nevertheless; and I want you to think about it. You are not really suffering because of the accident but because of your own attitude of hate." Then she told him she wanted him to do something for her, and asked him if he would do it. He said he would do anything for her; so she said, "I will not ask more of you than you can honestly do, and will begin where you can truthfully make a start." She then asked him, whenever he thought of the man whose carelessness had caused the injury to say, “Poor fellow, I know he did not mean to do it." So the boy was faithful to his promise. The next visit he told her he had done as she had asked; so she said, "Now we will go a step farther, and say, 'God loves that man as he loves me.' " This he did. Next he was able to say, "I love him because God loves him." When divine Love truly permeated his thinking and he was able to declare that he loved the man, the doctors found they were able to remove the drain tubes, and the crushed arm quickly healed. He was soon discharged from the hospital well.
Here someone may ask, Does Christian Science maintain that hate or resentment or a bad disposition is responsible for all illness? By no means. Mrs. Eddy writes (Science and Health, p. 411): "The procuring cause and foundation of all sickness is fear, ignorance, or sin. Disease is always induced by a false sense mentally entertained, not destroyed. Disease is an image of thought externalized." But, recurs the question, take the case of a child. Certainly the unformed child-thought has been entertaining no thought of fear. What causes the difficulty there? A universal belief, or fear, which mortals have mistakenly called law. A mother was once heard to remark, "I hope my child will have all the children's diseases soon and get them over with!" That mother unwittingly was opening the door for the universally accepted belief and fear that a child must have this discordant condition or that at a certain age, whereas a vigorous stand with God, clinging to His glorious law and harmonious, painless unfoldment, and knowing that disease or discord is never a part of Love's plan for His children, would have banished the so-called law founded in fear and ignorance. Today, as in Jesus' time, the reflection of God's law says, "Peace, be still" to storms of every name and nature, and today, as of yore, there is a great calm.
Sometimes one hears a person under Christian Science treatment say; "I have been having help for a certain disorder and I have been working myself to the best of my ability and yet the condition has not been healed. Why is this?" Is it not possible that one is striving to heal or change a reality instead of awakening to the glorious fact that God's creation needs no healing? Suppose you enter a room where a person is in the throes of a nightmare. The dreamer calls out: "I am being pursued by a wild animal! Won't somebody help me?" Would you rush to his side and begin searching for the animal? No. Would you say to the dreamer: "Don't be afraid! I shall give the beast a treatment and make him depart!" No. Your whole effort would be to awaken the dreamer, would it not? Again and again you would assure him that all was well, bid him rouse himself, and thank God he had only had a bad dream. Mrs. Eddy writes in the textbook (p.417): "To the Christian Science healer, sickness is a dream from which the patient needs to he awakened. Disease should not appear real to the physician, since it is demonstrable that the way to cure the patient is to make disease unreal to him."
Now if a thing is unreal it is untrue, nonexistent, not happening or taking place. "But," may interpose someone, forcibly, "can a person in his right mind aver that this tumor which he sees or this rheumatism which he feels is nonexistent or not taking place?" The answer is, yes, if he truly is in his right Mind, the divine Mind, he can do naught else but deny the pictures of the carnal mind and thank God that they are too bad to be true. A man seemingly quite crippled by rheumatism once asked a young student of Christian Science to give him some metaphysical help. The student replied that he hardly felt advanced enough in his study to undertake the work, but finally said, "Let me give you this thought to ponder: 'If it is true that you have rheumatism, then there is no such thing as a good God.' " The other departed in mild dismay. If rheumatism is true, he said, there is no good God. But there must be a good God. Then there is no rheumatism. But I know I have rheumatism. Then there is no good God. Yet each time he would find himself ending the mental argument, "But I know there is a good God; so there cannot be any rheumatism." Within a short space of time he reported to the Scientist that the waking-dream calling itself rheumatism had completely vanished.
Let the man or woman or child who has been laboriously treating disease, or striving to overcome and banish a stubborn discordant condition, begin thanking God that the disease or pain is only part and parcel of the Adam-dream, the material sense of existence, and that it is not happening in God's beautiful kingdom; and that man, God's man, is awake and whole and free now, governed by the law of harmonious, spiritual being. A persistent rejoicing in this truth, a courageous witness-bearing to the facts of being, wherein God has created a good creation, will usher in a sense of peace and harmony hitherto unknown.
A mighty work is before the right thinkers of the day; in fact, Jesus indicated this when, according to the Gospel of Matthew, in describing the terrific overturning which the truth would bring to the carnal mind, he said, "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." Who are the elect, but those who elect to think rightly - to reflect God, Love, Principle, and good? The right thinkers, those who elect and strive to be spiritually-minded, to put off the old man, and put on the new, are therefore the hope of the race. It is their task to protect their countries from graft, greed, and selfish material domination. The power of Truth can uncover and nullify the secret efforts of mental suggestion to befuddle and control thought. Are we exercising this power? Are we declaring daily that "the Lord God omnipotent reigneth" - that Mind, infinite good and Principle, is governing men and nations? Are we thanking God for the lessening of the sense of great material prosperity and the learning of the much needed lesson of looking to the things of Spirit for true happiness and supply? Are we doing our bit in overcoming the world's fear about lack and limitation? If so, we are about our Father's business, and that business is eternal good.
The conquest over wrong thinking is going forward in human consciousness as the individual is daily meeting and dealing with the arguments of the material senses; as he is learning to separate the gold from the dross, the genuine from the counterfeit, the God-given from suggestions and pictures of the carnal mind. When he refuses to give power or reality to fear, or pain, or discord, or appetite, because they belong not to God's good creation, and when he strives to bear witness to the presence and operation of being that is harmonious, joyous, and free, that which is called healing takes place. Probably never in recorded history was there a more wonderful moment in which to be living. If perchance you sigh for the still stagnant waters of a generation ago when there had been no aftermath of a world war nor the tremendous problems resulting therefrom; when there was reasonable material prosperity and nothing to interrupt the serenity of the average fireside or nation, - contrast the privilege of living and working in these stirring times with the somnolent sense of yesteryears! Ours is the privilege of enlistment in a great army - that ever increasing host of right thinkers who are destined to carry the battle to the very gates of hell itself. Individual problems will be solved the more surely and speedily as we remove the eye-blinders and dark glasses which have kept our gaze riveted on our own personal discords. Can one think only of himself when all mankind is crying out for deliverance and healing? Let us not forget that the Bible states that Job's problems were solved when he began to pray for his friends. Says a familiar hymn (Hymnal, No. 360):
"Is thy burden hard and heavy?
Do thy steps drag wearily?
Help to bear thy brother's burden,
God will bear both it and thee."
A Christian Scientist once felt the need of calling her husband on the long distance telephone for a word of comforting and strengthening at a moment when the way seemed difficult. She said that the cloud lifted speedily when she heard him say, firmly and cheerily, "Why, dear, you know that you are on the King's highway and the lights are all green!" When, therefore, our progress seems to be halted by error's stop-signals, when discouragement or fear or condemnation would argue that we have chosen the wrong road, if we lift our thought to the healing Christ, Truth, we may hear this heartening, comforting message: You are on the King's highway and the lights are all green! Go forward!