Christian Science: The Voice in the Wilderness
Rev. Andrew J. Graham, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The subjoined lecture is republished
at the request of readers of this paper.
It was delivered by the Rev. Andrew J. Graham, C.S.B., of
The lecture is entitled “Christian Science: The Voice in the Wilderness.”
Mary Baker Eddy, on page 597 of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” gives a common sense and metaphysical definition of the word wilderness. This definition is two-fold, thus conforming to the redemptive experience of man, as he passes from darkness to light, from slavery to freedom, from fear of condemnation to the joy of salvation. Here is the two-fold definition of the word “wilderness”: (1) “Loneliness; doubt; darkness.” This is the mortal mind definition. (2) “Spontaneity of thought and idea; the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence.” This is the Christian Science definition of the word.
In speaking to the subject: “Christian Science: The Voice in the Wilderness”, we are seeking to elucidate the fact that Christian Science through its authorized literature, and treatments, raises a voice of hope and confidence in all periods of mental darkness and depression, and expresses a voice of gratitude and love, when peace and harmony have come into one’s experience.
Perhaps it will be said that all Christian churches make the same claim, the reply to which is, that while other religious bodies promise the solution of problems after death, Christian Science says that these solutions may be found on this plane of existence – here and now. Let this be clearly understood, that Christian Science rests its claim entirely upon present demonstration. It neither asks nor expects any one to accept it on any other basis. It is known and justified by its fruits.
An almost innumerable throng of men and women throughout the world testify that Christian Science fulfills its promises; that in loneliness, doubt, darkness and depression it has given a hope when all other hopes were dead; that its unfolding of …….(bottom half of page missing)
Rom. “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” (It is believed that this quote was in the missing half page)
our body.” The way-side flower perishing for lack of moisture, the helpless bird amid the wintry blasts, the beast of the forest seeking his meat from God, mortal man, sinning and sick, - these all are evidences that the whole creation is reaching out blindly for help. Like Frankenstein, it aspires to satisfaction and finds no way to attain unto it. Now the fundamental panacea for this unrest is to know God. In an early Christian century, the Roman aristocrat, Augustine, after trying all material pleasures, cried out thus to the God of peace: “Thou hast made me for Thyself, O God, and my soul can never find rest until it rests in Thee.”
In the first chapter of Genesis, man is recognized as being at one with God, made in His image and likeness, dwelling in peace and harmony. In the second chapter of Genesis, it is said: “There went up a mist from the earth.” This mist marked the beginning of the groaning creation.
In the early days of Moses and the Hebrew prophets, as preparation was going on for the establishment of the Jewish church, men communed with God as familiarly as man now converses with man. As time went on the mist of disobedience and self-righteousness rose and the Jewish church became a part of the groaning creation. In time began the dawning of a new era. In the days of Jesus and the apostles, while the Christian church was being realized, the presence of God was a reality to men, and peace and power were ever present, and were manifested in destroying sickness and sin. Again there went up a mist from the earth – the mist of human domination and materiality, and then the Christian church joined its groanings with those of its predecessor.
Again we say, the fundamental panacea for unrest is to know God. And now after fifteen hundred years of theological mist, darkening the human mind, comes Christian Science to this age, teaching men how to know God, by dispelling and destroying the veil of evil beliefs which obscure Him.
Christian Science is the realm of definite knowledge. Ecclesiastical theology is the realm of indefinite belief. Now, as we have indicated both in the Jewish and Christian churches, theology gradually came to teach that God is a mysterious Person, remaining unrevealed to a large extent, and incapable of being known clearly by men until after death. The Bible passage which says: “Clouds indeed and darkness are round about Him,” was taken to mean that God wraps Himself in an impenetrable cloak. All these texts in the Bible which seem to indicate that God cannot be clearly known and that He is shrouded in clouds and darkness deserve special attention: for in a sense they are all true, by which it is meant that God is indeed behind a veil; but that curtain of cloud and darkness is not made by God, rather it is the result of mortal-mind ignorance and sinful thought. In other words, the mist that seems to separate man from God……(bottom half of page missing)
ics, and knowing Him, can love Him.
Evil Never Beneficent
The only chance that evil has to succeed is by simulating good. Under this pretense of good for mankind old theology and material medica have been busy, for ages, in making pictures, the main feature of which has been the claim that good can be born out of evil. One of the Christian churches has a hymn beginning: “O! felix culpa.” “O! happy fault;” that is, I am so glad that I have sinned for by repenting of it I have learned how sweet forgiveness is. Out of wretched teaching like this come such apothegms as the following- “a young man must sow his wild oats.” Is that true? Must one be dishonest and hateful before knowing how to be honest and loving? Paul says: “Shall we do evil that good may come?*** God forbid.”
Beginning with about the fourth century of the Christian era, the teaching that the only way or method by which man could securely attain to holiness was to withdraw himself from the rest of mankind, became prevalent; that is, he stood in fear of associating with others, and so there gradually appeared those abodes or retreats known as monasteries into which men betook themselves from their fellows, and this contrary to Jesus’ prayer in John XVII: “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” ……… (bottom half of page missing)
tures of this practice, and yet it survived in hymns, poems, sermons and funeral orations of the Reformation period; and these are still accompaniments of a great many services and sermons in modern orthodox churches. What inspiration, for instance, can one find in a hymn beginning on this wise:
Soon as the infant draws its breath,
At once spring up the seeds of death.
There is a time we know not when,
A point we know not where,
That marks the destiny of men
To glory or despair.
One does not care to advertise some modern preachers by mentioning names, but they should cease from making these terrible word pictures and claiming them to be efficacious as means of spiritual growth.
Materia medica has also added its contribution to the element of fear exercised over mankind; but it may be said, and said truthfully, that the pictures drawn by materia medica in the dark ages were neither so numerous nor so fear-inspiring as those traced by theology. This is because the medical men in the middle ages while familiar with the outward form of man, had not yet acquired sufficient accurate knowledge of anatomy and physiology to enable them to paint the horrible pictures of so-called diseased organs of the body, which descriptions are found, too often, in magazines, papers, and charts of modern days.
A medical diagnosis of any so-called disease, given either verbally or in writing, is a mental picture which the frightened human mind, unaided, finds it impossible to cast out. It is little less than a crime against children and even older people to display to them the horrible condition of diseased organs of the body and then after a diagnosis declare that individuals are suffering from such diseases. This is a wilderness of fear from which many fail to emerge. Christian Science is practically the only church which is combating this evil today, and deserves the aid of all fathers and mothers who should know that the medical profession has no more right to frighten their children with pictures of disease than theology has to frighten them with pictures of ghosts. Fear has always preached the eternal damnation of a large part of the human race.
Christian Science teaches with logical and spiritual exactness that it is utterly impossible for anyone to be lost eternally; that nothing but error shall be cast as rubbish to the heap. This salvation has been the universal quest of mankind, and its realization is foreshadowed in the Old Testament where it is written, “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea,” and in the New Testament by such passages as, “the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death,” and, “he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet.”
Human language has endeavored to
picture this state of salvation in many ways, and probably no picture is more
beautiful than that given in the closing chapter of the Revelation of St. John
the Divine, wherein the state of salvation is likened to a beautiful
garden. Now let us for convenience do
what is perfectly legitimate, suppose salvation to be represented by a beautiful
garden, which all men at some time desire to enter, and which all men
eventually will enter. Let us say there are two ways leading to this garden,
one over a corduroy road, the other by a beautiful gravel walk. The corduroy road represents much suffering and
much cleansing by the wayside before one enters the garden; the gravel walk is
a direct and more beautiful way accompanied by less pain and sorrow. The children of
Personality and Individuality
Who has not heard the phrase, striking personality? In the sense it is generally understood, personality is a deadly bane. It leads to hero worship of the baser sort; it is of the earth, earthy. Those who are acknowledged to have striking personalities are the same who dominate over other men and women, either through wealth, position, voice, eye, feature, attire, or some other physical manifestation. Such submission is nothing less than slavery. Sir William Hamilton speaks of it as the “sign of a feeble mind.” I would rather say that it produces a feeble mind, for many otherwise noble men and women have been drawn into this wilderness of drought and serpents through admiring or fearing and following personality. The basic law for the guidance of Christian Scientists in this matter is found on page 40 of the Manual of The Mother Church by Mary Baker Eddy: “Neither animosity nor mere personal attachment should impel the motives or acts of the members of The Mother Church. In Science divine Love alone governs man.” Perhaps Mrs. Eddy has stressed none of her teachings more emphatically than when she warns against following personality. Personality is material and temporal; individuality is spiritual and eternal. Personality vaunteth itself, is puffed up, behaveth itself unseemly, seeketh always its own, is easily provoked, thinketh evil. Individuality “vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.” To admire excessively, personality ends in disaster. To love individuality means life and peace. The reflection of God, good, in men and women constitutes their individuality. Such men and women we love and in loving them we love God. What we Christian Scientists love in Mary Baker Eddy is her individuality, she manifested so much of good. Increasingly she strove to take her personality away from thought. The greatest reformation ever known in the realm of teaching was begun when Mrs. Eddy eliminated the personal preacher, and instituted the Bible and “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” as the only preachers in the Christian Science congregations. Every Christian Scientist knows that Mrs. Eddy’s teaching leads from personality to the Christ, Truth; and that is the reason why we all love her and are safe in so loving.
I am going to discuss here briefly
a phase of error which is the greatest imposter of the whole brood of
evils. It claims to hold all men in a
fatal grip from which there is no escape.
Mortal mind names this imposter death, and while men flee from it and
seek to avoid it, and yet they are apt admit and declare that finally they must
submit and that death becomes the master of Life and the master of man. This is the supreme lie; because it is the
greatest pretension that evil ever made.
For after all death is nothing but a shadow. The Psalmist calls it the shadow of death. That is the shadow, the shade, the
supposition, that is called death. That
it is only a shadow is proved by the words of Christ Jesus: “He that believeth
in me though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and
believeth in me shall never die” – shall never see death. When man awakens one hundred per cent to
spiritual truth he can no more pass through the experience called dying than
could God. To this wonderful fact
Who shall say how much of the death thought was destroyed by the Founder of Christian Science before she passed on? The testimony of those who long were closely associated with her show to what remarkable degree in the case of Mrs. Eddy Mind dominated, destroyed matter, so that with her, as in the case of St. Stephen, Spirit broke through the veil of flesh, proving the nothingness of death and the allness of Life.
The Impelling Cause
I would feel that I had neglected
a privilege and a duty were I to close this lecture without some allusion to my
own physical healing and to my mental release from the old theology, that is,
the beginning of my release from the mortal mind wilderness. In 1872 I became a member of an orthodox
church. The six years following were
passed preparing for the ministry.
Beginning in 1877 and for thirty-four years thereafter I preached and
ministered in that church, standing sincerely and loyally by its doctrine,
discipline and worship. As a clergyman I
was bitterly and unreasonably opposed to Christian Science and frequently
denounced both Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy, publicly and
privately. During the three years prior
to 1911 I suffered increasingly from indigestion, liver trouble and as
diagnosed by one physician, chronic appendicitis. A so-called nervous breakdown ensued and a
horrible never absent fear came on which filled my thought with distressing
pictures day and night. At that time,
Then I said to myself: “Do you love God as much as in other days?” Answer: “There is no comparison.” Question: “Do you love mankind as much as of yore?” Answer: “I did not seem to know universal love for mankind until my healing in Christian Science.” With that the spectre vanished forever. Other trying problems have arisen but they have been uniformly destroyed through the spiritual law of Christian Science. For this beginning of the destruction of death and the little understanding of life that has come to me, I am ever grateful to our Leader. Mary Baker Eddy is not the savior of mankind, but she is leading us out of the wilderness of confusion back to that Savior.
The World-Wide Problem
No religious teacher can consistently remain silent concerning the universal social and business unrest prevailing throughout the world today. During the last fifty years distance and time have been destroyed to such an extent by inventions and discoveries, that the peoples of the earth are now one family for weal or for woe. A discordant nation in any quarter of the globe becomes a problem which all other nations must help to heal, or suffer inevitable consequences. The whole world at the present time is in just this condition. The great homicidal war in which the peoples of the earth, recently, have been engaged has thrown into view this illuminating fact that the nations of the earth can no longer dwell apart as separate entities. God is the one Father and all His children are included in His family. The loving recognition of this fundamental fact is the only solution for the world’s problem.
Some one people must be first in
setting an unselfish example rising above the greed of territory and coin,
patiently and irresistibly drawing to its own ideals the other nations of the
I will listen for Thy voice,
Lest my footstep stray;
I will follow and rejoice
All the rugged way.
(Mary Baker Eddy, Poems, page 14.)
Why Halt Ye?
The regnant thought of those who
are suffering is not, “How can I learn more of God?” but “where can I find a
path out of this wilderness of trouble?”
Jesus did not condemn such desires: he was compassionate; so also is
Christian Science; it begins by relieving men and women of their sense of human
suffering. This initial help through
Christian Science should be gratefully received and acknowledged. He that is faithful over a few things shall
be made ruler over many things. There
are multitudes of people who in times of great need have turned to Christian
Science and found relief; then, either afraid or ashamed to acknowledge the
Truth openly, they continue to drift along under the influence of old theology
and material medica and find themselves making no progress with perhaps
discordant conditions recurring. Why
halt ye in the valley of decision? In
Blackstone is a saying that “Mistress Common Law brooketh no bedfellow.” It is equally true of Christian Science. One cannot advance in Science and still hold
to the old theology and material medicine.
Christian Science is the truth about God and man. It is equal to the solution of every problem. As we study it and are obedient to it our capacity
for receiving and understanding increases, and the confusion of thought and infirmity
of body which have held us in the wilderness of loneliness, doubt, and
darkness, gradually disappear and “spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of
existence.” (Science and Health, page 597.)
To the Christian Science thought God is a reality everywhere all the
time. No incident is too small to reveal
His presence. Permit me to give an
illustration. Late one afternoon as I
was leaving my hotel to keep a lecture engagement in a
This is the beginning of
Healing. Be not disobedient to the
heavenly vision; follow it. It will
prove to be the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, leading
[Published in The Chicago Leader, Feb. 5, 1937. A fuller version of this lecture may be read here.]