How Christian Science Heals Fear
Richard L. Glendon, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
There is a story in the Holy Scriptures of a man who had attained great wealth, success, and prominence, but one day found himself reduced to a very wretched state of lack and disease. And some of his friends came to console him as he sat grieving in the dust.
This man, Job was his name, was a good man by the usual human standards. He was intelligent and upright, and highly respected. He evidently shared his riches and wisdom generously, and one might well be tempted to ask, as he did, why God, after blessing him with so much of good, should now plague him with misfortune and disease.
His friends argued that he must have committed some great sin against God. Job was unwilling to accept this verdict but seemed convinced that God had, for some other reason, afflicted him. However, without knowing it, he put his finger on one of the most prolific causes of human discord when he said (Job ): "the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me."
Job was AFRAID! In the midst of his great prosperity and supposed material security he was haunted by the fear that it might all be taken away. And his long nourished fear eventually became a reality to him. There is a tremendously important lesson to be learned from this man's experience. This lesson, properly understood, can mean the difference between a happy, peaceful life and a miserable one.
Many years ago Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, wrote in her major work, the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 411): "The procuring cause and foundation of all sickness is fear, ignorance, or sin." Since that time psychologists and physicians have given increasing public recognition to the fact that fear is an underlying, and often the principal cause of disease. They say it is responsible for a multitude of human problems. So, let us consider this tormentor called fear which featured Job's unhappy experience.
The Who, What, and Why of Fear
Let us ask ourselves first, Who is afraid? Well, in some measure everyone who thinks of himself as a mortal is likely to be afraid of something. If you will carefully watch your thinking for fifteen minutes of any average day you may be surprised to discover a number of fears, large or small, obvious or deeply hidden. As these fears are sometimes called anxiety or worry, you may not have recognized them as fear. But that is what they are nevertheless.
Now, what are we afraid of? Has it ever occurred to you that fear is usually about something that one anticipates? You know, most human fears, such as fear of failure, accident, old-age, etc., are fears for the future, fear of the unknown. This indicates a lack of faith in God's intention, or ability, to protect and provide for you. And this in turn reveals a mistaken sense of God's loving nature. "But," you might say, "the Bible repeatedly admonishes us to fear God." However, a careful study of such Bible passages in the light of Christian Science will show that a wholesome respect or love for God is what this really means. A dictionary gives one meaning of the word fear as, "Awe; profound reverence, especially for the Supreme Being."
But why do we fear? Without intending to over-simplify the answer to this question let me say, we fear because we do not understand the true nature of God. Somebody might ask right here, "Well, how shall we learn this true concept of God and get rid of fear?" Dear friends, I am so grateful that I can assure you, in the light of my own experience, and the experience of countless others, that the answer to that question is, Study Christian Science.
The Science That Destroys Fear
If you know nothing about Christian Science, it will be helpful to give you here the definition that Mrs. Eddy gives in her book "Rudimental Divine Science" (p 1). After asking the question, "How would you define Christian Science?" she answers, "As the law of God, the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony."
For over ninety years the students of Christian Science have been successfully applying this "law of good," applying it to their own problems, and those of others. They have been healing sin and sickness, reuniting broken homes, overcoming lack and limitation. In doing this they have proved that this is the same Science that was used by the Master, Christ Jesus, centuries ago; that it is truly "the law of God."
This Science, this "law of God," is the perfect remedy for fear. This fact is revealed through the writings of Mrs. Eddy, and is proved in daily life by the sincere student. In Science and Health, she writes (p. 410): "Christian scientific practice begins with Christ's keynote of harmony, 'Be not afraid!' " And in her autobiography, "Retrospection and Introspection," she says (p. 61), "Science saith to fear, 'You are the cause of all sickness; but you are a self-constituted falsity, − you are darkness, nothingness. . . . You do not exist, and have no right to exist, for "perfect Love casteth out fear." ' "
Certainly this beloved Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science knew what she was writing about. She met and mastered fear throughout her long and fruitful life. Even as a timid child of twelve this mastery was evident. When she was being examined by the pastor for admission to her family's church she refused to accept the doctrine of predestination and stoutly held her ground before the assembled congregation. Her fearless stand so impressed the good clergyman that she was admitted to membership.
It is no wonder this child was free from fear. She felt such a deep love for God and man that she could not accept the teaching that she was predestined to be saved, but her brothers and sisters might be doomed to perpetual banishment from God. Fear could not possibly stand before such unselfish love.
Her great love for God and man was responsible for every forward step of this remarkable woman. It prepared her receptive thought over many years, for the momentous, God-inspired revelation of Christian Science, which came to her in 1866. It made of her one of the greatest spiritual leaders of all time.
It was this fear-destroying love that made it possible for her to weather successfully tremendous waves of resistance and criticism: storms of opposition to her efforts to present this newly discovered Science to the world. No person filled with fear could have survived the poverty and persecution that stalked her from place to place, during the years when she labored to write her textbook. And no leader without dominion over fear could have successfully overcome the many obstacles she met in the work of founding her church and its many activities.
This great woman who reintroduced the Christian healing which had been lost for nineteen centuries says with remarkable simplicity in her book "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 247), "The little that I have accomplished has all been done through love, − self-forgetful, patient, unfaltering tenderness." Certainly Mrs. Eddy's life is an outstanding example of how divine Love destroys fear.
Following the Christ
It should not seem unusual that Christian Scientists hold Mrs. Eddy in such high regard and love. They try to express their gratitude by following her in living the truth she was divinely chosen to reveal; living it, and sharing it. She admonished those who would follow her − this is in her "Message to The Mother Church for 1902" (p. 4): "I again repeat, Follow your Leader, only so far as she follows Christ." No one can study her writings intelligently without noting how completely she adheres to the Christ in her teachings. No one can honestly evaluate her life, as revealed in reliable biographies, without acknowledging that she has gone farther than any contemporary religious leader in emulating the Master's healing work. And this is because it was given to her to understand better his dual personality.
For example, her clear spiritual interpretation of the names Christ, and Jesus, has dispelled, for all who accept it, the mistaken belief that the blessings of the Christ must wait for a second coming to earth of the man Jesus. Let me read from page 332 of Science and Health: "Jesus was the son of a virgin. He was appointed to speak God's word and to appear to mortals in such a form of humanity as they could understand as well as perceive." And on the following page we find this statement: "Christ expresses God's spiritual, eternal nature. The name is synonymous with Messiah, and alludes to the spirituality which is taught, illustrated, and demonstrated in the life of which Christ Jesus was the embodiment."
To the Christian Scientist, then, the Christ, Truth, which the man Jesus came to demonstrate, did not leave mankind when Jesus rose from their sight, but it still remains an ever-present Saviour to anyone who humbly seeks it. So, we study the life and teachings of Jesus, the man, to learn the nature of the ever-present Christ, or Truth. As we gain the true concept of God which is revealed by the Christ, as we alter our daily thinking and living to conform with it in the way Jesus did, we find our dominion over fear.
The Prayer of Love
It is from Christ Jesus' example that Mrs. Eddy learned the scientific, healing method of prayer that she reveals to those who study her textbook. If you have not already discovered this fact, you will learn that Christian Science is a religion of prayer. Christian Science treatment is prayer, and that is how we destroy fear − through practical and intelligent prayer. Now, the Christian Science method of prayer is quite different from the usual method, and this is because we have a different concept of God, and of man's relationship to Him. So long as one believes that physical, mortal man is the image, or creation of God, he is bound to believe that God is like this kind of man, that He is changeable, and sometimes moved by anger and revenge. One will believe that God is capable of sending both good and evil on His creation; that He is responsible for the storm, war, or pestilence which the earth may seem to be afflicted with. It is only natural, then, that his prayer should be a prayer of petition, a pleading with God to change the unhappy conditions He is supposed to have sent upon His children, or permitted − a pleading to change them or remove them or remedy them.
And what is our different concept of God? Well, let me read again from Science and Health (p. 140): "The Christian Science God is universal, eternal, divine Love, which changeth not and causeth no evil, disease, nor death." Now maybe the thought of God as Love seems unrealistic or abstract to you, but that is how the Bible describes Him. In I John () we read: "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." As the result of her inspired and exhaustive study of the Bible, Mrs. Eddy was led to use seven synonymous terms to define God for us. Hear her answer to the question. What is God? She writes (Science and Health, p. 465), "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love." Isn't that a remarkable definition? You will note that she culminates it with the word "Love." "Love is the generic term for God," she says in "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 185).
If you will humbly accept this spiritual concept of God and earnestly study the textbook, you will become convinced of these five provable facts:
1. God, the one and only cause or creator, is infinite Love, Spirit, or Mind.
2. The true creation, including man, is composed exclusively of His spiritual ideas.
3. Man is God's highest idea. He is made in God's own image and reflects dominion.
4. God, being Spirit, all that is real is spiritual; therefore, that which appears to be matter, the opposite of Spirit, is unreal, is illusion.
5. Spiritual sense, the capacity to understand God, is necessary to perceive that which is spiritual, real. The five physical senses are unreliable for they can report only that which is material, or unreal.
With these facts firmly established in thought the student is on his way to understanding not only the true concept of God, but of His creation as well, of God whom he can love instead of fear, and His wonderful creation which contains no fearful thing.
When the Christian Scientist prays he bases his prayer on these great facts of being. He is then prepared to consider the current problem or discordant condition and reason scientifically concerning the various mental elements which constitute it. He turns the revealing light of Truth on the evidences of inharmony and sees that they are wholly unlike God and therefore no part of His creation. Then, with this authority and conviction of divine Truth, he denies their reality and dismisses them as nothing but the powerless illusions of error, or mistaken thinking.
As he mentally corrects these misconceptions with the spiritual facts revealed in Christian Science he is praising his God and denouncing evil, like the Hebrew Psalmist. He is praying scientifically. He rejoices in the resulting realization that the good he is seeking is already at hand, and the evil he wishes removed has never really been present. You can see how fear must disappear from thought completely when we reach the understanding that, in reality, everything, everywhere, is already all right. When we reach this fearless elevation of thought, healing is manifested in the physical body of the patient, or in his material environment.
How different this prayer is from the fearful petition that begs God to undo something that He has never done; to remove something that has never really been there; to heal a condition that never really existed. Certainly this Christian Science prayer is the prayer of Love which casts out fear. It is the prayer of Love because it loves God enough to know that, being Love, He gives only good to His children, and because it loves man enough to see him as God's perfect, spiritual likeness, in spite of all mortal testimony to the contrary. The apostle John wrote (I John ): "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." In other words, while fear remains, perfection is not realized. We must understandingly love our way out of fear if we would reach perfection.
Christian Science Is In Accord with the Scriptures
Does this Christian Science method of prayer, the prayer of Love, appeal to you? If you would learn to pray in this effective way, I recommend that you get a copy of our textbook, Science and Health, at your nearest Christian Science Reading Room. You may study, borrow, or buy it there, and the librarian will be happy to help you begin its study.
Sometimes we are asked why we study any book other than the Bible. In fact, it is occasionally said that we have our own special Bible, which, of course, is not true. Christian Science is founded on divine Principle and is in complete accord with the Bible. It was Mrs. Eddy's only textbook. She has set forth the first tenet of our religion in Science and Health in these words (p. 497), "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life." It was inescapable that Science and Health, which elucidates the spiritual meaning of the Holy Scriptures, should include, as it does, the "Key to the Scriptures." Accordingly, the student of Christian Science would not be without it in his daily study of the Bible. The day you begin the study of these books may well be the beginning of the end of fear for you as it has been for so many others.
Christian Scientists are always happy to help those who inquire about their religion and love to share their church services with all who wish to attend. At the Wednesday testimony meetings they voluntarily tell of various healings they have experienced. Many of these healings have been accomplished through the work of Christian Science practitioners, experienced members who give their whole time to the public practice of Christian Science.
So, when we answer the question, "How shall we gain an understanding of the true nature of God," with the words, "Study Christian Science," we are prepared to assist the earnest seeker, wherever he may be, in very practical ways.
Fear and Paralysis Healed
Christian Science is a very practical religion. Let me give you an example of how practical it is.
I knew a boy who was beautifully
healed, completely healed, rescued from a life of invalidism, and possible
death, through Christian Science treatment. This boy lived with his parents on
a large army post in the western
The practitioner undertook to establish firmly in the thought of all three that because God is Love, and because He is the only cause or power there was no real justification for fear. As a result of the practitioner's prayers there was immediate improvement. Thought was lifted above the fearful evidence of the physical senses. The boy's strength came back, and he and his parents took over treatment themselves. In a matter of weeks the crooked feet were made straight, and he was back at school, using his hands and feet freely. Soon after, he not only completely regained his health but his position at the head of his classes. This boy grew up to become one of our country's ace flyers during the second World War. He demonstrated his dominion over fear and protected not only himself but his flying buddies as well.
What healed this boy of a disease that is often considered incurable? It was the truth that was realized in the prayer of Love; the prayer that understood God and man enough, and so loved them enough, to deny the false evidence of the physical senses and insist on man's eternal perfection as perceived by spiritual sense.
Fearless View of Body
Now, you may be wondering: How can paralyzed muscles and limbs possibly be restored without physical applications of any sort? In other words, how did the prayer reach the physical body and heal it? Well, when a case like this is presented to the practitioner, he knows that the first thing to be destroyed is fear. And it is not difficult to see that the fear centers around the commonly accepted but wholly mistaken belief that the patient lives within a fleshly body. So he sets out to correct through prayer this false, fear-inspiring belief with the scientifically true idea of body. He turns to the textbook and finds that his Leader defines body as identity. What, then, is the identity or body of the real spiritual man? This is Mrs. Eddy's answer to this question (Science and Health, p. 477): "Identity is the reflection of Spirit, the reflection in multifarious forms of the living Principle, Love."
You will agree that the forms which reflect Spirit, Principle, Love, could not be matter, or anything physically outlined. Spirit is reflected in spiritual qualities such as courage, integrity, wisdom, health, joy. So what identifies the real man is his individual reflection of the qualities of Spirit. When this is understood we see that no supposed material law, disease, or mishap can possibly cripple or paralyze man's individual embodiment of spiritual qualities. Thus his identity remains eternally perfect.
What a wonderful transition of thought takes place as this scientific reasoning unfolds, − this prayer of Love. Then we see that the real man has never been born into matter; has never been imprisoned within a limited fleshly body or attached to one. We see that he has never been in bondage to mortal laws of disease capable of paralyzing normal action, and robbing him of his God-given dominion over his body; and that he is not condemned to live in fear of his body. Is it any wonder that all sense of fear disappears in the light of such a realization of Truth? The ugly and fearful picture painted by mortal sense is completely discredited. It is relegated to the realm of dreams and unreality, − and this brings us back to the question we mentioned a few moments ago, "how did the prayer reach, and heal, the physical body?"
Mrs. Eddy guides us to the answer in this statement in Science and Health (p. 188): "Mortal existence is a dream of pain and pleasure in matter, a dream of sin, sickness, and death; and it is like the dream we have in sleep, in which every one recognizes his condition to be wholly a state of mind. In both the waking and the sleeping dream, the dreamer thinks that his body is material and the suffering is in that body."
You see, the patient's body − or what he has believed to be his body − has never been anything but a mistaken mental picture, or dream. So when the all-powerful prayer of Love wakes him up to his real identity, spiritual and perfect forever, the dream picture of a diseased, material body disappears from thought. It vanishes just as the night dream vanishes when he awakens from sleep. This is what occurred in the experience of our young friend who was healed of paralysis. Christian Science, through its revelation of the true nature of God, Love, destroyed the false basis of fear, and the result was a full realization of health and freedom.
Yes, dear friends, we say with the writer of the book of Revelation (): "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." Christian Science has come to this age offering a full salvation from every form of discord and limitation, salvation from the fear-infested thinking caused by an ignorance of the true nature of God. As we come to understand and demonstrate divine Truth, Life, and Love as our almighty God, then fear, the chief weapon of material sense − the accuser − is cast down with its author. Then we enjoy a full salvation from sin, disease, and death.
Example of Fearless Progress
A full salvation! This means salvation from every form of fear. You know, making decisions seems to be a fearful experience for many mortals − even minor decisions. However, when we are guided by the understanding of God as Love, we are freed from fear, and are then able to make our decisions intelligently, and with confidence.
Some years ago, two young people I knew − they were newly married − made their first home with another person who was much older than they were. They were all satisfied that this would be a mutually beneficial arrangement, and for several years they tried to maintain a happy home. However, it became increasingly evident that, although they were all striving for the same goal, they were not at all agreed on the right means for reaching it. This maladjustment finally resulted in such constant discord that they realized − the young couple did − that they must make their home elsewhere.
Here was a real decision to be made. They were fearful, as they had very little money, and, because of the nature of their profession, they could hardly expect to earn a living right away if they moved to a new community. There was also the fear of misunderstanding and condemnation by mutual friends because the discordant home situation was not generally known. For almost a year the couple was tossed to and fro between the need for making a decision and the fear of making a mistake. Finally, after they had resorted earnestly to the prayer of Love, they were led to see how to face the problem in the light of Christian Science. With this wonderful enlightenment came instant release from fear, and their decision was promptly made. Then they gathered up their few personal possessions and moved to a distant city.
They had supposed they should have to settle in a poor section, possibly in a cheap boarding house, until they could make a better demonstration. However, during the long motor trip they had plenty of time for study and prayer, and as they reviewed their situation, now that the fear was gone, their thought changed. They realized that, as Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health (p. 74): "In Christian Science there is never a retrograde step, never a return to positions outgrown." They had lived and worked in lovely surroundings before; so, in the light of this unfoldment, they abandoned the thought of starting their new life in a boarding house. Instead they humbly accepted the possibility of an attractive, new environment comparable to the one they had left or even better. When they arrived at their destination it developed that a friend had been looking for a couple to share a home with her in a very attractive section of the city, and she would be delighted to have them join her in this venture. Another fearless decision was made and the offer was gratefully accepted. This proved to be the right move for after they were settled their work began to prosper and they went forward, step by step, to a very happy and useful life. A life made possible when fear was overcome.
This experience perfectly illustrates the wrong way and the right way to make a decision.
Decisions without Fear
Now, you may be interested to learn what Christian Science teaches about making fearless decisions. Mrs. Eddy writes in her book "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 288), "Wisdom in human action begins with what is nearest right under the circumstances, and thence achieves the absolute." The first step in making a decision, then, is to study the situation honestly. Study it to determine which course enables you best to serve God at the moment. And the approach must be completely unselfish. Once having decided which course is right you are ready to act, and you must act promptly, without yielding to the temptation to waver. This demonstrates your faith in God.
In the same book Mrs. Eddy describes a similar situation (p. 347): "Two individuals, with all the goodness of generous natures, advise me. One says. Go this way; the other says, Take the opposite direction! Between the two I stand still; or, accepting the premonition of one of them, I follow his counsel, take a few steps, then halt. A true sense not unfamiliar has been awakened. I see the way now."
Here she definitely shows why you need never fear to make a decision in Christian Science. When you make your decision on the basis of what at the present appears to serve God best and demonstrate your faith in God's guidance by acting promptly on this decision, you cannot go astray. Even if your present highest sense of right mistakenly leads you to take the wrong path, the ever-operative divine Principle, Love, upon whom you have tried to base your decision and in whose hands you have placed yourself by going forward in full faith, will certainly set you right. By one means or another, you will be moved from the mistaken path to the right one without the slightest loss of good, − just as the course of the young couple we talked about was changed from the boarding house to a lovely home. So, Mrs. Eddy wrote, "I see the way now." She then concludes her illustration with this further assurance (ibid., p. 347): "The guardians of His presence go before me. I enter the path. It may be smooth, or it may be rugged; but it is always straight and narrow; and if it be uphill all the way, the ascent is easy and the summit can be gained."
Yes, men fear to make decisions for the same reason that they fear their bodies, or any other thing. They fear because they do not understand the true nature of God; do not know that He is ever present and ever ready to guide them rightly; because they do not know that God is Love and that He loves each of His children with a love greater even than the human mother feels for her child. And man has only to gain this true idea of God to find his way out of all fear. Christ Jesus repeatedly urged his listeners to "Be not afraid," and Mrs. Eddy teaches us how to destroy fear throughout her writings. Like the Master, she sets the example in her own life and through her deathless writings, patiently instructs and guides her followers when they seek her help.
I am sure we all recall the story in the Bible (Matt. -31), in which Jesus walked on the sea to join his disciples in their little storm-tossed ship. You remember they were filled with fear at the sight of their Master walking on the water until he reassured them with his loving, "It is I; be not afraid." Had they really seen the Christ, Truth, then, as we are privileged to see it now, they could not have feared this remarkable evidence of Jesus' dominion, but would have understood it and rejoiced. Peter's unsuccessful effort at that time to walk over the waves illustrates well the need for keeping thought centered on the Christ. When the winds and waves of material sense challenged him, he looked away and was overwhelmed by fear.
Let us remember when the daily news reports paint ugly pictures of evil men and nations, shout dire threats of war and disaster, spread sinister suggestions of mass contagion, and magnify the offensive odors of moral disintegration on earth, let us remember to keep our eyes on the Christ, on the scientifically true idea of God. As we do this, we shall walk over the waves of fear in peace and safety, and shall not incur the Master's rebuke to Peter, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"
Christian Science, the revelation of Christ, Truth, to this age, has revealed the perfect Love that casts out fear, has given to mankind the sure means for removing from the face of the earth the curse of fear. It is your privilege and mine, dear friends, to avail ourselves of this God-given opportunity. And let us do it without doubting, for as the apostle Paul reminds us (II Tim. 1:7), "God hath not given us the spirit of fear: but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
[Dec. 23, 1960.]