The Logical Certainty of Christian Healing
Bruce E. Fitzwater, C.S., of Portland, Oregon
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
In a noontime lecture yesterday,
The lecturer grew up in
Since 1973 Mr. Fitzwater has devoted full time to Christian healing as a Christian Science practitioner, and in 1979 he was appointed to The Christian Science Board of Lectureship.
Mrs. Georgia Pottol, a local member of The Mother Church, introduced the lecturer.
An abridged text of Mr. Fitzwater's lecture follows.
A healing in the mountains
Some years ago after finishing a
teaching assignment in
With all my gear on my back I began walking up the trails in the river valleys. When I reached the uppermost village I made arrangements with an experienced local man for a 10-day trip onto the glaciers. We became good companions, although we didn't share a common language.
On the evening of our second day,
we passed through a narrow gorge and entered the
While we were camping there in a stone and bamboo shelter, I suddenly became very ill. I lay on the dirt floor of the hut in terrible pain, feverish, barely able to move, and losing consciousness. My companion quickly realized my difficulty but abruptly left the hut, disappearing up the hillside, leaving me alone. We were two days' hard walking from the nearest village and four days from anything like a town.
But I can honestly say I didn't feel abandoned. Throughout my life I had always turned to God's love for healing. And even though this part of the earth was remote to me, I knew that God's healing activity was right at home here.
Behind Jesus' healing work
Well, as you can see, I was healed. My experience of being healed through prayer in that mountain hut means a lot to me. I want to explain how my healing took place. But you'll understand this healing better if first I explain the nature of God I've come to trust for understandable and certain healing.
Jesus based his healing on the understanding that God doesn't send disease. The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, in its article on healing, states that "Fundamental to all [Jesus'] healing activity was his conviction that disease was not an established part of the divine order of things" (Vol. 2, p. 547).
The foundation of this conviction is clearly stated throughout the Bible itself. In the Epistle of James it's put this way:
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James ).
God as unchanging good
Here James assures us that God is good always, unchanging good, and that only good comes to us from God. He then explains how God has created each of us:
"Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures" (James ).
James says God has created man in truth - God's truth - to be His firstfruits. First-fruits are the perfect creations. This concept of man as the firstfruit of God's goodness is essential to consistent Christian healing. Spiritual healing begins by acknowledging God's truth as our truth.
This was illustrated when a friend turned to God's truth in the Bible for the healing of her small daughter. A concerned speech therapist identified this first-grader as an incurable "stuttering child." The child was becoming reluctant to enter into a reading circle with other children, because, as she put it, she had too many "ums."
Turning to the Bible
Both mother and daughter were Christian Scientists, so they turned to the Bible to learn more of God's goodness and of man as created by God's "word of truth."
From Exodus, they accepted God's wonderful assurance to Moses, "I will be with thy mouth" (Ex. ), and also God's promise in Psalms, "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it" (Ps. 81:10). Along with James, they understood that God's goodness is unchanging, therefore the eternal truths of God are perpetually active. They felt assured that God was sustaining the little girl, even to every word in her mouth.
The next morning, the child carefully copied a Bible passage in her large first-grade script and took it with her to school. This was her way of wanting to be closer to God's truth. That afternoon she came home shouting, "Mommy, I've got no more 'ums.' " The speech impediment was completely healed, permanently.
Let's take another look at this healing to see more clearly how it took place. Previous to their prayer and Bible study, the mother and daughter weren't accepting God's truth. They believed, unthinkingly, that the child's stuttering was real, that it was present in the order of things. However, when they recognized that God's goodness and loving care are the power behind thought and verbal ability, they knew there could be no stuttering, because it wasn't in God's order. Then the child was freed.
This is only one case. But underlying this healing is certain law. Let me show you something I learned in the study and teaching of logic. It's this: A statement and its contradiction cannot both be introduced into thought as true at the same time. Now, if that's a bit abstract, you can prove for yourself an illustration of this law. If I hold my hand up, we think of it as up. Try to conceive of this same hand as both up and down at the same time. You can't do it. It's logically impossible to hold, simultaneously, two opposite views about the same thing.
Man is the embodiment of idea. So the consequence of this law is that as we recognize ourselves the way God sees us, in His good truth, we cannot be subject to something outside His order.
Let's look again at the illustration of the hand. What happens to the image of the hand as held down when you see the hand is upright? Your recognition of the hand as upright has dispelled it - instantaneously and effortlessly.
The grateful recognition of ourselves as created by God's will, in his truth and sustained as His firstfruits, must by logical necessity eliminate any unthinking notion that we're subject to any but God's conditions.
Now let's follow this reasoning another step. If healing comes from accepting even one or two thoughts from God, why not accept more? What healing would take place if our every thought was of God? One man lived this way. He was the master Christian healer, Jesus of Nazareth.
Even with all our modern technology, there has never been a more certain healer than Jesus. Today we can go right to Jesus' word in the Bible for his explanation of his healing power.
In John he explained his healing power this way: "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (John ). Jesus says that of his own self he can do nothing. Doesn't this mean Jesus recognized that his healings were accomplished not through personal power, but through actually living God-given qualities and thoughts?
The Way-shower for all of us
If we had to go to our neighbor's home this evening and explain simply the relationship between Jesus and God, what would you say? I'd explain that God, for Jesus, is the source of his ideas, thoughts, and perceptions. In a word God is his very Mind. Jesus listened for God's truth. Then he faithfully lived out God's truth. "God is the source of my being, and from him I come . . . ," he explains in the words of The New English Bible (John ). Jesus' consistent healing power came from his living man's true relationship to God - that is being God's firstfruits. He was the Way-shower, the Ensample, for all of us. We can turn and find God's truth as the basis of reliable healing power. When a Christian Scientist reads the Bible counsel to put on the Mind of Christ, he feels he's being asked to follow Christ Jesus in living as he did, by turning only to God for the source of thought and action. Real prayer is turning to God's truth, but I realize there are other notions about prayer around.
When I was a college freshman, an upperclassman who knew I relied on prayer for healing told me very pointedly he could no longer pray. He said that when he prayed he became angry. "Why do you become angry?" I asked. "Well," he said, "when I think that God is sitting up there and knows just what I need, but won't give it to me unless I ask him over and over again, I stop because I get so frustrated."
My friend's sense of prayer and its frustration betrays a common misconception about God - as a Being, or power, who has to be begged into action. But to see God as divine Mind is not to picture Him as a big Mind surrounded by lots of pleading little minds. If we're to understand God as divine Mind, then how do we pray?
As the realization dawns that God is man's true Father, Mind, then we begin to see that Mind is already closer to each of us than any human parent is to his child. The Bible says that man lives, moves, and has his being within God, divine Mind.
Man at one with his infinite source
How then is man, God's firstfruits, characterized? Consider this: The offspring of a mind is an idea. What God, Mind, creates to express Himself is not little minds, but Godlike ideas. As man is the offspring of the divine Mind, then man is idea which comes forth expressing what God is. Yet ideas never leave their habitat of Mind and become minds themselves. They remain one with the infinite source. They are always just as the creative Mind conceives them.
Effective prayer is not, then, a little mind apart from God asking for things. Prayer dwells with God's goodness and constant love. And this dwelling consequently denies that disease, lack, sin, accidents, whatever, are any part of the true order of things. In prayer man listens to God and is obedient to what he hears.
My dad had an experience that illustrates the simple listening involved in prayer. It occurred while he was still quite a new Christian Scientist.
He was sent to a plywood mill in
Shortly after arriving at the mill he became so ill that he had to be taken to the manager's home. Lying there in bed, he was told that there was electrical feedback in the circuit, making it inoperable.
With these two problems, the electrical one and his illness, my dad recognized he had no human recourse. Then he turned to God through prayer. He correctly reasoned that God is all-knowing Mind and that since he was Mind's offspring. God must be telling him everything he needed to comprehend. He quieted his fear and listened to God. Soon it came to him where the fault in the design of the circuit was.
With continued trust and listening, the thought came that a five-way relay switch in a certain place would solve the problem. But could a rare five-way relay be provided quickly at this remote mill? He anxiously wanted to phone immediately and have the relay sent express. But he realized that as God was able to tell him what was needed, God would certainly be able to tell him how to find it. The idea came to go and see the millwright, the man responsible for the mill's mechanical equipment.
He found he could do this himself now. His reliance on God was not only solving a mechanical problem, it was restoring his health as well.
He found the millwright in a basement workshop and asked him if he had the unusual five-way relay. Without taking a step, the millwright reached up over his head toward a dusty box. It was the relay. And the mill and my dad were both operational again.
The practical good brought out through God's goodness is unlimited. Every legitimate task demanded of us can be carried out with God's help. Why? We live at a marvelous point of equilibrium between God's demands on us to express His goodness and His supply of intelligence, strength, and love needed to carry out these demands.
Healing the falsity
Now, you may be wondering this: If what you say is true, that God is so good and man always expresses this goodness, then what in the world do Christian Scientists see as being in need of healing? What needs healing certainly isn't the man created in God's truth.
What needed healing in the little girl's case? When the falsity that she was a stuttering child was believed, the falsity was what needed healing. It needed to be dispelled.
What we call Christian healing is God's truth dispelling a limiting lie about man, and thus revealing the health and harmony that are already present in God's order.
Do you remember how Jesus spoke of evil? He called it a liar. What does a liar try to do? He wants you to believe that something is real that isn't real at all.
Abraham Lincoln was a man who
didn't like to be deceived by the way things merely appeared. One day he was
having a hard time making a point to a friend. So he asked, "How many legs
has a cow?" "Four, of course," was the
quick reply. "That's right," said Lincoln. "Now suppose we call
the cow's tail a leg, how many legs would the cow have then?" "Why
five, of course," the man replied. "That's where you make an
Mary Baker Eddy a pioneer
The point for Christian healing here is that evil's merely calling itself real, and even our believing for a time that it is, don't make it real. A Christian Scientist knows that healing can come simply from accepting only God's order of things as real.
I've been a student of the Bible
throughout my life, but I wouldn't have been able to understand the Bible
deeply enough to always turn to it for healing and direction without studying
the works of Mary Baker Eddy. She was the Founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist.
Her work pioneered for our day scientific, Christian healing. Do you realize that today over 100 Christian denominations have
acknowledged the efficacy of prayer for healing? A
Mrs. Eddy wrote the textbook of Christian Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." It's an extraordinary book that's both straightforward, yet deep. It's equally well suited for inquiry into Christian Science and for dedicated study.
Mrs. Eddy's discovery has had extensive impact on health and social thought in our time. A recent review of a scholarly biography of Mrs. Eddy in the New York Times noted:
"Her central belief in the
power of spiritual healing must also be counted as an important, likewise
unattributed, factor in present attitudes toward health care" (the New
York Times Book Review, reprinted in the Christian Science Sentinal,
The Times reviewer went on to note:
"As confidence in medical science has declined, there has been rising interest in the causes of disease outside the realms of physiology."
What Christian Science isn't
I often run into the concept that any system that doesn't rely on physiology must be like Christian Science. But theories that rely on positive thinking, human mind or will over matter, or autosuggestion and self-hypnotism aren't at all like Christian Science. When a Christian Scientist turns completely to Mind for healing, he's turning to the one God of the Bible and using the term "Mind" as a synonym of God.
A Christian Scientist is aware, though, that because all experience is essentially and profoundly mental, a person's thoughts do affect his health. But Mrs. Eddy's thinking went much deeper.
From her deep Christian roots, Mrs. Eddy was very familiar with Bible accounts of healing, and as a young girl experienced healing through prayer several times. But chronically ill and unable to gain enduring health through the prayers of her parents' faith, she turned to conventional medical systems. After she found them unsatisfactory, she began to investigate the alternative healing methods of the day.
Mortal systems rejected
She investigated homeopathy. That system administered highly diluted doses of a medicine that would produce actual symptoms of disease in a well person. Mrs. Eddy concluded that the method derived its effects, not from the highly diluted medicine, but from faith - the faith the homeopathist and the patient had in the elaborate system.
She then investigated a system that tried, through mental suggestion, to influence a patient's beliefs. We'd probably call it a personal form of hypnotism today. Mrs. Eddy observed that a persistent problem with this treatment was that once the patient was no longer under the influence of the hypnotist, the symptoms often reappeared She also observed that moral and spiritual degeneration could result when a person put himself under the suggestive power of a magnetic personality.
But most important, she found that human and mortal thinking was operating from the wrong basis. Salvation for human life lies neither in greater faith in medicines nor in manipulation by strong personalities. The human mind has only to yield to God, divine Mind, for the harmony and health it seeks.
In Mrs. Eddy's discovery of Christian Science, the Bible was her source and guide, and through her new understanding of it she not only gained better health but the foundation and essence of an understandable and certain healing method.
Divine Mind the difference
The mistaken identification of Christian Science with positive thinking, autosuggestion, or any of the mind-over-matter theories can be cleared up simply by noting the vast difference between relying on the human mind and brain and on the infinite divine Mind that is God.
Let me read you a few lines from Science and Health which put this point succinctly:
"If a sense of disease produces suffering and a sense of ease antidotes suffering, disease is mental, not material. Hence the fact that the human mind alone suffers, is sick, and that the divine Mind alone heals" (p. 270).
Her discovery enabled Mrs. Eddy to
practice reliable Christian healing. In the summer of 1883, she was teaching
Christian Science in a gray stone building on
A simple explanation
Later, when her students asked
Mrs. Eddy how she had prayed, her answer was simple. She said she turned away
from the ugliness of the cancer and "knew in the most positive way that
God knew nothing of such a thing" (Robert Peel: "Mary Baker Eddy: The
Years of Trial."
This healing shows how the deep acceptance of a spiritual truth naturally and logically excludes the presence of evil. When God's truth filled her consciousness, the disease disappeared.
The healing illustrates the effectiveness of Christian healing, even when symptoms appear frightfully real. We are still able to understand clearly that God didn't make them, even though they are evident.
To me, it's like looking at the symbolic international traffic signs. No words appear on these signs. Their entire message is conveyed through the use of symbols. For example, the "no left turn" sign has two symbols: an arrow symbolizing a left turn, and, set up over it in red, a circle and a slash symbolizing negation. "Don't believe this; this is prohibited."
It may seem odd that the sign includes the symbol for the activity exactly opposite from the sign's message. When you look at the "no left turn" sign, you're looking directly at the left-turn arrow, but when that symbol is covered by the large red circle and slash you aren't influenced to turn left. You get just one clear message from the sign: "Left turns are out."
Here's the point: If, as we perceive an activity, we realize it's prohibited or is a falsity, we're not influenced by the activity itself.
Now let's apply this logical point to the symptoms of evil, sin, and disease. As we accept God's truth, we're not afraid of them. In fact, when we mentally reverse them, they're understood as a falsity; what we're actually impressed with is their opposite - the reality of goodness, purity and health.
Firm negation of evil needed
We can carry the analogy further. Whenever we see the symbols of evil in a person or a situation, the picture must be incomplete. To accurately complete our picture, what's needed is a firm negation a negation so thorough that we are no more tempted to accept the evil symptoms as real than we would be to turn left at that prohibiting sign. As we persistently and consistently realize that God's truth negates evil's symbol, we live, not in fear of evil symptoms, but in assurance of their unreality.
But being undisturbed in the face of apparent evil doesn't mean the Christian Scientist is ignoring it. He seeks to redeem with God's truth every aspect of human life.
Now that we've laid a basis to
understand Christian healing, let's get back to that situation in the
My response was to turn my thought trustingly to God for healing. I prayed at first in the spirit Jesus instructed in the Lord's Prayer, "Thy kingdom come." My desire was to feel, to live right there in God's kingdom - in His harmony and wholeness - the goodness James spoke of that comes of the Father. Then my prayer went further, acknowledging that because God is omnipresent, the presence of His harmony is already here. Because God is omnipotent, his power must be the only action of my being.
Soon my companion returned. He held a small bulb just dug from the hillside. It looked something like a cluster of garlic. He gestured that he wanted me to rub it, roots and all, across my forehead. This was undoubtedly a remedy the local people had faith in. I was touched by his well-intentioned concern, but his idea of a remedy brought a smile.
In declining his offer, I was reminded even more clearly that both sin and disease are outside God's order of things. What is needed to dispel them isn't a piece of garlic, but the acceptance of my having been created and sustained by the "word of God." I reasoned that in God's kingdom, in divine Mind, I hadn't been subjected to conditions of altitude, sickness, fatigue, contamination, or infection. My prayer expressed my earnest desire to be in God's kingdom and affirmed that because of His presence and power, illness was no part of my life.
That extra joy of gratitude
These spiritual truths gave me some peace. But then disturbing thoughts arose. They first argued that even though God's truth was powerful, I was unworthy to receive God's care because I was a sinner. I realized there were mistakes about my character that needed correcting, but how could I correct them now, when I was weak and barely conscious?
The other disturbing thought was similar. It argued that being healed by God's power required a great mental effort of faith on my part, and that, again, in my semiconscious condition I was too weak to struggle.
However, I didn't accept either of these arguments. Growing in my heart was the wonderful realization that nothing could prevent the rest and healing that come of God's loving grace that we receive. God, Mind, has always been our only real source of thoughts, health, and strength. It wasn't I, as a mortal, who personally had to shove sin and disease out of thought and life.
In reality I had no Mind but God. I accepted this truth. God's outlook on me, and this truth itself, did the healing. It dispelled the condition unlike God's goodness. I fell asleep, to awaken shortly in fine health. More important, I felt a deep and natural desire to live a more Godlike life.
The rest of the trip went well. There was that extra joy of gratitude that there was a logical Science of Christian healing.
I hope this afternoon each of us has felt we've come to understand better why Christian Scientists believe there is a Science to Christian healing. I hope we've learned from Jesus' example a little more of what it's like to accept divine Mind and man as God's expression. Perhaps each of us can now respond more intelligently to Paul's exhortation: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5).
[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 3, 1980.]