Christian Science: Its Reasonableness
The Rev. Andrew J. Graham, 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
In this lecture, I am speaking to you upon the general subject of Christian Science and its reasonableness. Or, to speak more declaratively, Christian Science is the reasonable presentation of the religion taught and demonstrated by Jesus of Nazareth. In saying that this religion is reasonable, I mean that it is reasonable not only in its presentation of truth and its methods of work, but it is reasonable also in conformity with the rules of logic. It meets the intellectual demand for God and satisfies humanity's spiritual aspirations. This Science of being demands and receives from its followers their clearest and most earnest thinking; for Christian Science emanates from the infinite Mind called God. It is essentially a religion of right thinking, leading to right conclusions — to the house, consciousness, built upon the rock. This is in accord with reason, for in a matter so important as religion, that is, one's view concerning man's relation to God and immortality, no thinking person can nor should be content with a perhaps or a maybe, or a possibility or even a probability. He should be content with nothing less than knowing the truth which makes free. The great Edmund Burke, in one of his speeches, said, "Every child is born into this world with a big interrogation point before it." That is, the child wants to know, and it begins, to ask questions with its eyes long before it can do so with its voice. The eminent philosopher Immanuel Kant has written, "The highest reason is the highest law," and the thoughtful person comes to accept this statement at its face value. The Holy Bible thus urgently pleads, "Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you." And Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science and the author of its textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures", has written in that volume (p. 327), "Reason is the most active human faculty." And human reason is true only as it is based upon the true premise that God is the only Mind.
Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Baker Eddy herself was a clear, close thinker and reasoner. She was a close thinker in that she strove to look from inside of a subject out, rather than from outside in. She was not satisfied with scholastic theology's statements about God and man and salvation. She strove to know. In a busy land and a busy age which produce many eminent men and women, Mrs. Eddy unquestionably ranks first in the increasing influence wielded by her discovery, and the lucid, logical, loving expression of the same found in her published writings. Her well-balanced thought places her, historically, in a conspicuous position. She was notable pre-eminently for her equipose of characteristics, for her well-proportioned thinking and living. She was not one-sided mentally or spiritually. She represented the well-rounded, evenly balanced thought about God and about human affairs. For example, Mrs. Eddy was devoted to God, good. She admired beauty in poetry, music, nature, and art. She was exact and meticulously practical in all business and legitimate material affairs. Yet her devotion to God, good, never made her a religious fanatic. She appears to have understood thoroughly what Jesus meant by his saying recorded in the seventeenth chapter of John's Gospel, "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil." That is, the true Christian life consists in saving the world (mankind), not in running away from it. Her admiration for beauty in poetry, music, art, and nature is evident.
One cannot study her published writings and fail to note the touches of harmony, cadence, rhythm, and spiritual beauty permeating the pages. Yet this admiration never led her into becoming an extravagant aesthete, moved by physical thrills instead of by spiritual sense. Her great care about the daily affairs of life and her exact attention to business never made her a disciple of materialism. Though in passing out she left a substantial fortune, a legacy to the world for the dissemination of the healing truth, yet no one can point out where she spent money for selfish, personal ends. In a high sense, she exemplified her own words in Science and Health (p. 254), "Pilgrim on earth, thy home is heaven." She was well-balanced and a remarkable woman. For forty-five years after her discovery Mrs. Eddy was increasingly the most widely known and most frequently spoken of woman in at least the western world.
Mrs. Eddy's Discovery
Now, from such a woman we would naturally expect clear reasoning, and a system of teaching which would be well-balanced. Christian Science is that. In speaking of Mrs. Eddy's discovery and of its reasonableness, we desire as a prefatory statement to call your attention to the period in which, and the people among whom, Christian Science was discovered and received its first acceptance; for these considerations seem to present historic conditions lending themselves to the reasonable acceptance of Mrs. Eddy's discovery. When was Christian Science discovered? It was not discovered in the dark ages when the ignorance and credulity of the times made the majority of men infants in spiritual discrimination. This thing was not done in a corner. Christian Science was discovered in the most active, intellectual, critical century that the world has ever seen. It was discovered at a time when every system of thought presenting itself to men for acceptance was subjected to the most trying tests. This truth was discovered in a century in which the critical faculty was more impartial, sober, and penetrating than that of the thinkers of the Golden Age of Greece and Rome or the Elizabethan Age of England. Into this crucible Christian Science was placed and stood the test. It is not without some significance that Christian Science came to the understanding of men, in that part of the United States of America known as New England, where Mary Baker Eddy herself was born and sojourned for a period of nearly ninety years. The people of this section are chiefly descendants of the first settlers from England whose pioneer hardships developed the virtues of firmness and reliance on God. Careful conservatism is one of the distinguishing marks of New England thought, but the appealing message of Christian Science was accepted not on account of that conservatism but in spite of it.
At this point permit me to say that any open-minded seeker after religious truth who will carefully study Mrs. Eddy's published writings in connection with the Bible must inevitably arrive at two very important, reasonable deductions. First, he will begin to see that Christian Science teaches and proves through demonstration all discordant thoughts — all thoughts of envy, hatred, jealousy, malice, unkindness, and impurity — carry within themselves the seeds of destruction, and therefore that such thoughts have only a temporary, supposititious existence and influence. He will also learn that Christian Science teaches all harmonious thinking, that is, thoughts of life, truth, love, kindness and gentleness, honesty, purity, and integrity are constructive in their nature and carry within themselves the seeds of permanency and eternality. These two statements are reasonable and one can prove them in his own experience and observation. It is upon these two facts that Christian Science bases its statements with regard to Christian Science healing. The wonderful works of Jesus were the result of his knowing the absolute reality of everything that is like God and the unreality of all that is unlike God. In Christian Science we call the one fact the "allness of God," good, and we call the other the "nothingness of evil." It is upon these two facts that Christian Science rests its teaching that there is no phase of sickness or sin which is not subject to destruction through the understanding and application of these two truths, that good is all and evil is naught. Christian Science has already, during sixty years, demonstrated that these contentions are absolutely reasonable.
Demonstration is Proof
The question may very properly be asked, What evidence is there to substantiate these statements? In reply, there are two kinds of evidence of proof: one is demonstration, the other pure reasoning. The first may be seen, the second discerned. Let us address ourselves to the evidential value of demonstration. Jesus resorted to this sort of evidence in answering John the Baptist's historic question. I speak first of Mrs. Eddy, who during the major part of forty-five years preceding her discovery was an earnest seeker for a fuller understanding of God. After a long period of such thinking and living she discovered Christian Science and through that revealed truth she was healed of a so-called incurable condition and lived nearly forty-five years longer, establishing a movement which is daily witnessing the healing power of the truth she discovered.
Following the chapter named Glossary in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," is a chapter called Fruitage. It is not a part of Mrs. Eddy's revelation but consists of eighty-four testimonials of healing covering one hundred pages. These are some of the earliest testimonies appearing in the Christian Science periodicals, including cases from thirty-five states of the United States, besides Panama, Canada, England, and Ireland. These testimonies of healing, written in the apostolic days of Christian Science, are particularly interesting. Here are eighty-four witnesses testifying that they were healed of more than half a hundred so-called diseases through the power of Christian Science. Let it be understood that such care is exercised in admitting testimonials of healing into the pages of the Christian Science periodicals, that they, the testimonials, have practically the force of affidavits made before a notary.
In 1883, Mary Baker Eddy established the official organ of the Christian Science movement, that is, The Christian Science Journal. In 1898 she established the weekly periodical known as the Christian Science Sentinel. From the date of their establishment to the present time, each issue has presented testimonies of healing from various parts of the world.
Furthermore, on every Wednesday evening in all Christian Science churches throughout the world, men and women testify to current healings from sickness and other discords.
I myself am a witness to the truth of the statements that Christian Science heals on the basis of the allness of good and the nothingness of evil. I will testify that after three and a half years of intense physical and mental suffering and when every so-called human means, applied, had failed to relive me, I was instantly healed through one treatment in Christian Science lasting twenty-five minutes. After this healing, as I began the study of Christian Science, I found the clear answer to all the difficult theological problems which had defied solution during thirty-four years of ministry in an orthodox church. For the past seventeen years I have found that Christian Science heals not only physically but, more important than all, it quickens one's spiritual sense, unfolding the true nature of God and the true nature of man made in His image and likeness. Thus we present to you in brief some evidential proof, by demonstration, of the healing power of Christian Science.
But there is another kind of evidence which proves the reasonableness of Christian Science and its power to heal. Quiet thinking from premise to conclusion results in such evidence. It may prove helpful to those who are seeking the peace of logic as well as of love, to study carefully the following passage from page 195 of the textbook of Christian Science: "Whatever furnishes the semblance of an idea governed by its Principle, furnishes food for thought. Through astronomy, natural history, chemistry, music, mathematics, thought passes naturally from effect back to cause. Academics of the right sort are requisite. Observation, invention, study, and original thought are expansive and should promote the growth of mortal mind out of itself, out of all that is mortal." If one who is puzzled or confused in his thinking about the being and nature of God can find a foundational thought or premise which he sees and knows to be true, and to which he will return again and again, as to a base of supplies, for invigoration and correction, and will then follow where his honest thinking leads him, he will be guided to a haven of intellectual rest. Can one find such a premise? On page 207 of Science and Health one reads, "There is but one primal cause." That is the foundational thought or premise. Call it what you please — God, power, force, substance or Mind. Can you accept that statement as something eternally true? Yes, and here is the reason why you can do so. It is evident that inasmuch as you are in the midst of a universe of effects that there must have been a cause, as the very definition of an effect is that which proceeds from cause. Is this cause one or manifold? It can be but one. If there were two or more primal causes and they were just alike, then there would be but one. If there were two or more primal causes unlike, then according to the law which never fails, namely, "If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand," the so-called causes would mutually destroy each other, and you would be left with a universe of effects without any cause, which is a reductio ad absurdum, or impossibility. Furthermore, if there is but one primal cause, then that cause must be at peace with itself, that is, it must be harmonious or good and consequently there can be no real effects in the universe which are not good. This inevitable conclusion is in keeping with the two deductions already drawn, the "allness of good" and the "nothingness of evil." Let God be true and every mortal man a liar. Now let us call to mind the entire passage on page 207 of the textbook from which the fundamental thought is taken: "There is but one primal cause. Therefore there can be no effect from any other cause, and there can be no reality in aught which does not proceed from this great and only cause. Sin, sickness, disease, and death belong not to the Science of being. They are the errors, which presuppose the absence of Truth, Life, or Love." It would be difficult to find in any language a sequence of thought so concise, compact, and convincing, concerning the origin of all things, as this classical passage from Science and Health. Its frequent and earnest consideration is a panacea for the devastating effects on spiritual peace which otherwise would follow those intellectual, speculative excursions in which the inquiring mind so often indulges. In the reasonable teaching of Christian Science one finds an anchor sure and steadfast.
God — Good
In Science and Health, pages 109 and 110, we find the following foundational statement: "The three great verities of Spirit, omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, — Spirit possessing all power, filling all space, constituting all Science, — contradict forever the belief that matter can be actual. These eternal verities reveal primeval existence as the radiant reality of God's creation, in which all that He has made is pronounced by His wisdom good. Thus it was that I beheld, as never before, the awful unreality called evil. The equipollence of God brought to light another glorious proposition, — man's perfectibility and the establishment of the kingdom of heaven on earth. In following these leadings of scientific revelation, the Bible was my only textbook. The Scriptures were illumined; reason and revelation were reconciled." Outside of Christian Science reasoning always starts from a material standpoint; in Science it begins with spiritual existence — eternal harmony — God — good. Mrs. Eddy possessed the wonderful gift of taking a universal truth and reducing it to human comprehension — the absolute to the concrete. In her writings we often find the word "good" used as an attributive synonym for God. Over and over again she writes "God, good;" and in the chapter of the textbook called Glossary, in defining the word "good", the first definition she gives is "God." Now think of that carefully. If you can use the words "God" and "good" in attributive apposition, that is, as being inseparably linked together, and you are justified in so doing, God will at once become to you understandable. Good is God's manifestation of Himself. All the good in the universe flows out from God. Good, in word and deed, manifested by spiritual man, has its origin in God. If one sees a man performing an unselfish act, he is seeing God's activity through spiritual man, for no mortal man ever could do a good act of himself. If one understands good, he is understanding God. If one loves good as manifested by man, he is loving God. One knows God if he knows good. All this accords with the highest reason.
As a consequence of accurate knowledge of God, Mrs. Eddy writes on page vii of the Preface to the textbook, "The time for thinkers has come," and the context shows that she means thinkers about God and His spiritual creation. Christian Science is the only system of religion which teaches that there is only one Mind in the universe, and that man, the real man, is the reflection of that Mind. Now that one Mind called God never argues, is never in doubt, is perfectly lucid, knows all truth and nothing but truth, and the real man is the reflection of that Mind. It follows that in proportion as mankind realizes that God is the only Mind and that man is the reflection of that Mind, their thinking becomes clearer and their judgment saner, needing neither revision nor reversion.
It is likely that most of the people whom I am addressing were trained and reared in the same religious atmosphere that I was trained and reared in. I imbibed from my religious teachers the belief that God was a very large sort of a man, nearly always good but occasionally angry and often causing people to be sick and sometimes causing them to die. If they were ever disobedient or wicked it was said that God would cause them to be sick or to die, and I particularly had one incident impressed upon thought in my early days when a dear boy friend, on a very hot day in the summer, disobeyed his parents and ran off to a swimming pool to get a refreshing moment in the river; and he was drowned. I well remember that the whole countryside rose up and declared that it was the act of God; that He was angry on account of the boy's disobedience and earnest desire to be somewhat materially refreshed on that day. That is the kind of God that I was taught to believe in. Furthermore, there was the teaching that God occupied a space somewhere a long way off and one never could understand how he could reach that God or communicate with Him, for even a boy could see clearly that if there is a vast space between individuals it is impossible for them to communicate with one another unless they have some medium of communication, such as a railway, steamboat, telephone, telegraph, or wireless, and all these ways of transmitting messages themselves have a material medium through which to operate; even the wireless has the atmosphere and material instruments. One never could see how he could communicate with someone at a distance unless he had a medium of communication. Well, the religious teachers said the medium of communication with God was prayer, but that left one without any means of conveying the message called prayer to God.
Christian Science solves this problem completely. It destroys the suppositious space between God and man. It teaches logically and demonstrates that God is infinite Mind, filling all space. God is everywhere and individual man is somewhere, therefore man lives, moves, and has his being in divine Mind, and there is no space to bridge over between man and God. In Christian Science prayer is not bridging over a space. It is speaking to an ever-present God.
Christian Science offers to mankind a God whose nature does not do violence to intellectual, logical thinking. Christian Science reveals to mankind an understanding of the Christ which is perfectly logical, that the Christ is impersonal and is the manifestation or revelation of God. Christian Science offers to one an understanding of Jesus, who reflected the perfect man because he always listened to and followed the voice of good. Christian Science presents to the world the definition of the man made in God's image and likeness and declares logically and demonstratively that that man has never sinned and has never been sick. Christian Science presents to mankind in its teachings the thought that personal sense or mortal mind or the bundle of contradictions known as mortal man is that "old man" of Scripture which is to go to nothingness, while the real man is eternal. Christian Science presents to the world no dogmatic teaching. It does not impose upon people any unlovable definition of God. Through its Sunday services, its Wednesday evening meetings, through its weekly, monthly, and daily periodicals, Christian Science is presenting week by week the indisputable evidence of the reasonableness of this Christ-Truth. It is the reasonable presentation of the religion by which Jesus lived and taught and through which he healed the sick and raised the dead.
It may give added encouragement to those striving for victory if we give here what seems to us the large and loving meaning of Mrs. Eddy's words on page vii of the Preface to Science and Health: "The wakeful shepherd beholds the first faint morning beams, ere cometh the full radiance of a risen day. So shone the pale star to the prophet-shepherds; yet it traversed the night, and came where, in cradled obscurity, lay the Bethlehem babe, the human herald of Christ, Truth, who would make plain to benighted understanding the way of salvation through Christ Jesus, till across a night of error should dawn the morning beams and shine the guiding star of being."
This seems to be an individual history of your experience and mine from the day we began to awaken to the Christ-Truth down to the present moment. Let us meditate. All are shepherds and our thoughts are our flocks. Now, the wakeful shepherd, whether at Bethlehem or on the plains of Montana, is the only one who sees the first color mantling the eastern sky, and he knows that as faint as it is, it is the pledge that soon the glorious sun of nature will thrust its full self above the rim of earth. Spiritually speaking, the alert Christian Scientist, he who is looking for and expecting, is the only one who catches the first promise of dawn, the faintest approach of the healing Christ, and he it is who knows that that promise, if he keeps his gaze unswervingly to it, is a pledge of the full blessing to come. "So shone the pale star to the prophet-shepherds," but it led them on, pale as it was. Perhaps sometime the star of our hope that beckons to good seems so pale that it almost vanishes, but if one's gaze toward it is constant it will shine, brighter and brighter, traversing the night, that is, the periods of loneliness, doubt, darkness, till it leads to where the "young child was." The Bethlehem babe symbolizes to us the infant Christ in consciousness. Mrs. Eddy speaks of the Bethlehem babe in "cradled obscurity." Even so the infant Christ in consciousness is in "cradled obscurity." Not obscure to us who know it and adore it, but obscure to the enemies which would destroy it. Only by one's own permission can the enemy enter where the treasure is. You may recall the symbolic painting by Holman Hunt, entitled "The Light of the World." It symbolizes the Christ under human form, standing at the door of one's heart and knocking. It is very remarkable that the artist, probably altogether ignorant of Christian Science, nevertheless shows a profound understanding of the Gospels. The door to the human heart is represented as, having no knob on the outside. Only through the activity of the man himself can the door into consciousness be opened and entrance given to the enemy. Therefore, traveler, look up and lift up your heart; be unafraid; your journey is safe; your way is protected; your manna is abundant; your conversation — citizenship — is in heaven — harmony. The enemy may seek to disturb but can never enter the secret place where you are abiding.