Christian Science: Its Healing Message
Judge Samuel W. Greene, C.S.B., of Chicago, Illinois
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Judge Samuel W. Greene, C. S. B., of Chicago, lectured on "Christian Science: It's Healing Message," Tuesday evening in the church edifice of Third Church Christ, Scientist. The lecturer was introduced by Mrs. Kathryn Martin.
There is a message in Christian Science for every individual. There is not a human need in the consciousness of man, woman, or child, in this company, but it can be met and satisfied through a correct understanding of God as revealed in Christian Science. There is no mystery nor mysticism in Christian Science. It is the clear clarion call to a busy, practical age, inviting mankind to a consideration of the new-old message of the Christ. It is crying in the words of the master Christian, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Its appeal is to the sick, the sorrowing, the unhappy, the dissatisfied. It comes to a world steeped in materialism and in materialistic philosophies, to a people uncertain, confused, unhappy, offering light, hope, consolation, salvation - here, now, and forever. It is marshaling a vast new army of thinkers. The outworn creeds and screeds and platitudes of unsatisfying religions are being replaced by vigorous, vital truths, concerning God and man; and great hosts of men and women everywhere are being blessed and benefited through their acceptance of Christian Science.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, through years of study, prayer, and contemplation, perceived a spiritual law of healing running through the experiences of the prophets, of Jesus, and of his disciples. She saw that the healing work accomplished by those consecrated men was instant and permanent, and without the use of any material means or medicines. Being in need, herself, of healing, she reached out in thought and prayer to God, claiming the presence and the manifestation of God's power just as in Jesus' time. To the great amazement of her family and friends, she was able immediately to rise from a sickbed and manifest a normal sense of health. She was not satisfied with the idea that this was a miraculous or unusual manifestation of God's power for her own benefit, but she believed that she had realized the existence of a definite, certain law of health and healing which was and is available for all who bring their thinking into conformity with that law.
This revelation or discovery changed the whole trend of Mrs. Eddy's life, and her every ability and energy was wholly dedicated from this time forward to the elucidating of a practical, operative plan of procedure to give this truth to mankind. She saw that the world needed a more understandable concept of God, something removed from the realm of fancy and superstition and blind faith. She saw that mankind's concept of God and creation needed changing from the material to the spiritual. She saw the need of spiritualizing the world's view of creation. The ordinary custom of praying, petitioning God to do some specific thing or to forbear doing some other thing, shows how God has been generally considered to be a great superman - one whom personal appeals will, or may, influence to do or not to do something. One may say, such a concept of God is surely not entertained today by thinking people. Perhaps not so generally as it was fifty years ago, but listening to the average prayer, one still hears much of the fervid personal appeal. During the past sixty or seventy years Christian Science has been making its appeal to the world's thought, and it is undoubtedly true that millions, not calling themselves Christian Scientists, have been blessed and enlightened through the spread of Christian Science.
Christian Science teaches that God is above, and far removed from imperfection, impatience, ignorance, disease, pain, and death. It teaches that such material concepts of God and of God's creation must necessarily be false, misleading, and unbelievable, from the very nature of God. The Bible says that God saw, that is, considered, all that He had made and that it was "very good." Is it not fair, then, to ask of every seeming condition of creation or existence: Is this very good? And if it does not measure up to that high standard, may one not be privileged to say, it is not of God's creation and is not true? Such is the position taken by Christian Science. If it is not good then it is not of God and is not true
The Bible says that God made all and that "without him was not anything made that was made." It is not difficult to interpret or understand that statement. It is as simple as "ABC," and yet, until Christian Science brought out the practical import, has the modern world ever heard of such a teaching? And even now when the Christian Scientist tells his friend that such a teaching is practical for everyday consideration he may still be thought odd or ridiculous.
Mrs. Eddy says (Science and Health, p. 481), “Human hypotheses first assume the reality of sickness, sin, and death, and then assume the necessity of these evils because of their admitted actuality.” She then adds, "These human verdicts are the procurers of all discord."
As Mrs. Eddy worked and thought over this marvelous concept of God, she saw how poorly mankind had realized man's heritage and high estate as the creature of God, as God's son, as God's image and likeness. As soon as she turned to the Bible she saw that the two accounts of man's creation, as told in the book of Genesis, had been confounded and misunderstood by the average Bible reader. She saw that man, created in God's image and likeness, could never have been material or made of matter; that indeed matter with its defects and imperfections has no reality as a product of God's "very good" creation. Then she saw that the confounding of the accounts of creation had been the cause of much of the erroneous teaching about man's original sin, his fall, and his banishment from God. Christian Science teaches that man is spiritual because God is Spirit, that man is idea because God is Mind, that man can never be sick or die because he is of God, who is Life.
The Apostle Paul surely had something of this concept of man when he wrote, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." How much sickness, sorrow, and sin have resulted from this false teaching and thinking concerning man, only the ages can reveal. What a glorious prospect for one to look upon his heritage of good - that every good and every perfect gift is his, coming "down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." How wonderful for one to know and understand that there is no sickness, no imperfection, and that he is not subject to any false material laws. It is not strange that John the beloved, seeing something of this teaching in the life and words of the blessed Master, could write, "Perfect love casteth out fear."
It is interesting to note in the many testimonies of Christian Scientists that fear is usually the great bugbear to be met, and that when fear is overcome and one is trusting God completely, his healing quickly results. If Christian Science had brought nothing to the world but the very sane teaching concerning the needlessness of fear, it would still have been a great contribution to the world's thought. One really cannot fear when he has any right concept of God. One cannot fear Life, or Love, or Truth, or Principle, or Spirit, or good - and these constitute the nature of God and His creation. Therefore one cannot reasonably fear.
In her efforts to help others to see and understand these newly unfolded truths concerning God and creation, Mrs. Eddy saw the necessity of written statements. Accordingly, she began in a small way to write concerning her discovery. As her understanding increased her writings expanded, until eventually she had produced the volume known as "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," also called "the Christian Science textbook." Naturally, a book propounding such surprising theories of God and His creation as does Science and Health would arouse criticism and opposition. During the more than sixty years of its continued prosperity the book has become one of very wide circulation, which is constantly increasing. It is in no sense a substitute for the Bible, and Christian Scientists do not so regard it or use it. It is designed to throw the light of spiritual interpretation on the Bible. It is also, as its name implies, a textbook on Christian Science, enabling the careful reader and student of its pages to apply successfully the healing power of divine law in solving human ills. It has the unique distinction of being the only book, aside from the Bible, ever written, the reading of which has healed many persons of various types of disease and sickness.
With the growth and spread of Christian Science, the textbook is finding its way into the hands of many physicians and clergymen, and is often quoted by them with apparent approval of its teachings in certain directions. The book, also, is being read by many scholars, authors, and teachers, as is evidenced by numerous references to its teachings in current literature. Thus, this book, upon which Mrs. Eddy spent much time and thought, is still carrying forward the message of education and healing to hosts of men and women throughout the civilized world.
To one becoming interested in Christian Science, or even hearing it favorably mentioned, the inquiry will naturally arise: How can I use it, or what benefit can come to me from this teaching?
This is a practical age, and there are many theories of living being proposed on all sides; so one is justified in asking for a practical viewpoint. Mrs. Eddy has written in the textbook (Science and Health, p 37), "It is possible, - yea, it is the duty and privilege of every child, man, and woman, - to follow in some degree the example of the Master by the demonstration of Truth and Life, of health and holiness."
In the first place, one reading the textbook gains at once something of confidence from its clear, bold statements of God's presence and His availability here and now to bless mankind. One hears perhaps for the first time, in ringing phrases, that there is nothing to fear, for God is the only power and creator. Then, as one reads the Bible under this new, vivid, spiritual interpretation, he begins to feel the presence of the Christ, as manifested in Jesus time and as exemplified in his works. He sees that Jesus' words, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world," have a new meaning; that they constitute a genuine promise on which one may rely with confidence. He finds new hope in Jesus' words, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter that he may abide with you for ever."
A new and wonderful courage is born as one finds that these and other promises of the Bible are for us today; that they are practical and are realizable in one's everyday experience. With this impetus, one usually presses on in his study and investigation with renewed interest and eagerness.
At first one is inclined to search in Christian Science for some specific form of prayer or treatment. He wants a rule or formula by which to pray. Mrs. Eddy undoubtedly foresaw this weakness in human reasoning, and provided in the Manual, or laws of the church, that there are no formulas for treatment or teaching in Christian Science. Thus she provided against the error of the ages, which Jesus condemned in his rebukings of the scribes and Pharisees of his time.
In Christian Science, one does not pray as a supplicant, imploring alms, but rather as an heir-at-law, endeavoring to possess that which is his by right of inheritance. An heir-at-law does not beg for his portion - he fulfills the conditions demanded by establishing his identity and his relationship to the testator. He resists and repels whatever is antagonistic to his claim. He denounces and exposes the false claimant, and thus achieves his rightful ownership. In Christian Science one often hears the expression "doing one's work" meaning this process of establishing a clear realization of one's identity and relationship as a child of God.
In accord with the word of the Bible, one affirms and declares that he is God's child; that he is God's image and likeness. He declares and claims that his heritage as God's child is good, and is only good. If aught presents itself to his consciousness that is not good, be it sin or sickness, he denies its existence, because God made all that is good and He made only good, and there is no other creator.
Let us consider, then, the process of reasoning, or treatment, in the case of disease. We shall take Jesus' work as a model, when he was called to see and heal Peter's mother-in-law, who was ill with a great fever. It is not recorded that he felt her pulse, or her fevered brow, to detect the intensity of her sickness. The record says that he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Of course this does not mean that he talked to the fever as to a person, but he challenged the claim of fever. He denied its reality; he rebuked the belief of fever entertained by the woman and those around her. Then please observe what happened - immediately "she arose, and ministered unto them," thus indicating clearly that she no longer feared the disease; that she no longer believed that it had any power over her, and that she was free.
As soon, then, as her consciousness was freed from the false beliefs of disease and weakness, she was well. There was no period of convalescence, but she immediately was up and about her regular duties. This proves the point that is made in Christian Science, that man is never really sick. One suffers because of his fears and his false beliefs, and as soon as they are destroyed he is well. Is not this exactly what Jesus brought out when he said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free"?
Of course, the statement that man is never really sick is not meant to dispute that human beings do become ill and do require loving attention and healing administrations. When Christian Science declares that man is never really sick, it refers to the perfect, spiritual man of God's creation - the man whose creation is spoken of in the first chapter of Genesis. The false sense of man, or the "mortal man" as he is sometimes called in Christian Science, is that which must be corrected and healed; and to that end, effort is being directed in Christian Science. This is clearly the point made by the Apostle Paul when he counsels the early Christians to "put off . . . the old man, which is corrupt;" and to "put on the new man, . . . created in righteousness and true holiness."
Through proper study and understanding of God's perfect creation as recorded in the Bible, and spiritually interpreted in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Christian Scientists do believe that the ills and discords of this human existence can be largely overcome. This is surely in accord with the promises and experiences of Jesus of Nazareth and his disciples. The vigor of the Christian Science movement, and the many instances of physical healing under its practice, bear eloquent testimony that Christian Science is founded upon the "spiritual Rock," that is, Christ, spoken of by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians.
Again, let us consider the case of Jairus' daughter, who was raised from the dead. When the father first sought Jesus' help, he stated that she was quite ill, but while they were coming to the house we read that she died, and upon arrival Jesus was met with the statement that she was dead. His only comment was to the father, to whom he said, "Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole." Then Jesus went into the house, and rebuked the belief of death, saying to the mourners, "The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth." He went then into the room where the child lay, and taking her by the hand, called, "Maid, arise," whereupon she arose straightway and walked. Here again is the process of denial and affirmation. Jesus denied the claim of death. He said, She is not dead. In effect it was saying, There is no death. It should not be difficult for one to believe that death is unreal and untrue. Surely if God is Life, then He never causes death, and since God is the only cause, the only power, there is no cause of death; therefore no death. What a burden of fear and depression will be lifted from the world's thought when we no longer believe in death. What a breath of joy, of strength, of courage, and of endurance will come to us when we really believe that life is eternal.
Now let us consider a case of absent treatment found in Jesus experience, the case of the centurion's servant. Here the request came to Jesus to heal the servant, and Jesus, in response, started for the home of the centurion; but the centurion, being a man of faith protested, and told Jesus it would be sufficient for Jesus to speak the word and the servant would be healed. In that case the centurion did not need to be convinced by argument of the nothingness of disease; he already recognized Jesus spiritual authority, and asked him to speak the word, having full confidence in the healing result. Jesus approved of the centurion's faith, and said to him, "As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee," and his servant was healed in the same hour. Here again was the denial of the claim or belief of sickness, not in word but in thought, and then the realization that the servant was well, and it was so.
In like manner can one take the other healings mentioned in the Bible, and always will be found in effect the denial of the claim of sickness or death, and the affirmation or declaration of health and life. Likewise, in Christian Science, one always denies the reality of the discordant sense, whatever it may appear to be. Then one always declares the fact of perfect creation or being. It is not in any sense the exercise of imagination or will power to correct the discordant sense. It is the calm, clear reasoning and reasonable interpretation of the Bible account of creation, wherein all of God's creation, including man, is declared to be "very good."
Christian Science takes the position that God, being infinite good, is the author of good in every direction, or, as Mrs. Eddy expresses it in another way, "Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals" (Science and Health, p. 13).
Through the application of this reasoning, many men and women are working out harmoniously the so-called business problems of life. Let us consider this briefly, by taking the case of one out of employment, seeking a position. In accord with this Science, one might first declare and know that all of God's creation is designed to present a harmonious and perfect manifestation. In other words, all of God's ideas being "very good" must cooperate harmoniously. Then one might reason: I want to do something useful and helpful, and there must be something useful and helpful for me to do. In such cases one must reason unselfishly, even lovingly, as well as sensibly. Perhaps here, too, the element of fear enters prominently. One may be afraid that there is no opening for him; that, his income being stopped, his family will accordingly suffer. A very little reasoning, however, should dissipate the fear. My heavenly Father cares for me. I live, move, and have my being in Him, and there is nothing to fear. Having overcome the fear, one can then decide what he has to give, and then his task, instead of being to get a position, becomes a search for an opportunity to give something.
I heard recently a man of mature years being in search of a position. At every place to which he applied he was told he was too old. Then someone showed him how he was seeking to get, instead of to give, and at the next place he talked differently. He did not ask for a job, but began to tell the man in charge what he had to give, and how willing he was to give, and how valuable his services would be. He soon interested the employer and was given a trial. He then applied himself intelligently to give some of the qualities he had mentioned - promptness, intelligence, loyalty, honesty, patience, industry, and such like, until his employer soon saw that he had made himself so valuable that he had, in effect, created a permanent place for himself in the business activity, and he was permitted to organize a department where he carried on satisfactorily to himself and to his employer. Along this line I have heard a number of interesting instances of how different ones were apparently failing in their business experience, until they realized through scientific thinking that one's job and one's business is to give and not to get.
Let us consider a particular type of business for an illustration, such as the transportation business, or railroading. Mrs. Eddy says (Science and Health, p. 123), "Divine Science, rising above physical theories, excludes matter, resolves things into thoughts, and replaces the objects of material sense with spiritual ideas." How can railroading be resolved into thought? What does it represent in thought? One might easily observe that it means freedom, safety, comfort, progress, activity, beauty, joy, education, peace, and many other satisfactory states of mind. As human thinking has improved, note how methods of transportation have changed - going from ox cart to horse-drawn vehicles, then to steam-propelled carriages on water and on land, then to the very common motor vehicles, and now to airplanes.
I recall some years ago when I was planning my first ocean travel, I heard someone say of a certain steamship line, “There motto is ‘Never a life lost.’ ” You may not be surprised to hear that I immediately began to consider my passage on one of those ships. If one were planning a journey by rail and there were several lines to be considered, one would naturally favor the line whose reputation for safety, comfort, beauty, accommodation, et cetera, was most favorably reported. Thus, the management's first thought is to give something to the public. Naturally, then, the giving attracts patronage, and that, in turn, makes dividends for stockholders, which proves that the most successful business will be the one that gives most.
As a traveler, I have more or less interest in hotels and their handling of business, and have at times compared the efforts in different hotels. I remember observing in one hotel among the instructions to employees this pertinent clause, "The guest is always right." You may be sure that it was in a hotel which was popular with the public.
These specific instances are significant not in themselves, but in their indication of the trend of thought among successful business men, and toward that which is really scientific and in accord with God's law. Note Jesus' words on the subject, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."
To those uninstructed in Christian Science it has sometimes seemed that nothing is done in Christian Science toward the healing of sin, but the fact is, that the whole course of Christian Science is an effort to destroy sin and the effects of sinful beliefs. As comprehended in Christian Science, sin embraces not only the well recognized instances of departure from the universally established codes of honesty, morality, justice, et cetera, but any belief in the power of aught that is not of God. Indeed, Christian Science adopts as its standard for man's conduct the standard raised by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. It does teach that in reality there is no sin, even as there is no disease, but mortal man, who believes in the pleasure and pain of the senses, needs to be healed of these false beliefs, and when they are destroyed for him through understanding, he ceases to indulge them, and then the sin ceases - is destroyed; and Christian Science teaches that the destruction of sin is the forgiveness thereof. Christian Science does not teach that sin is without punishment. Inevitably what a man sows, that will he also reap and "he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption."
Along with the discussion of salvation comes the consideration of the mission of Jesus of Nazareth. Christian Science does not teach that man is saved from anything simply because of the sacrifice that Jesus made. It teaches that Jesus of Nazareth was all that is claimed for him in the Bible. He was the Son of God; he was born of a virgin; he did rise from the tomb, and he did ascend in spiritual consciousness until he was no longer visible to human eyes. It accepts Jesus as the Way-shower, as the example of a perfect life, and teaches that men should so pattern their lives and thought that they may be able to do all the works that he did, even as he promised they might, who believed on him.
Christian Science, however, teaches that there is a distinction between Jesus the man, of Nazareth, and the Christ. In the textbook of Christian Science is a full and clarifying discussion of this distinction. The human Jesus manifested the Christ and expressed more of the Christ than has any other human being, but the Christ, or Truth, as understood in Christian Science, is the expression of the spiritual nature of God, and may be expressed and reflected by each one as thought rises in spiritual purity and perception.
In his teaching Jesus made it very plain that all needs are to be met through understanding and applying God's power. He invited all who had troubles and burdens to come to him for healing; and a careful study of his teaching shows that he touched on all the human problems. Christian Science also offers, in its universal application, relief from every human discord.
One of the commonest complaints among men is of lack - lack of friends, lack of family, lack of supply, lack of work, lack of home. The whole of lack is comprised in one lack; that is, lack of understanding of God. If God is all good - is Mind, Love, Soul, Spirit, Life - and if a man reflects God, with all that God is, he certainly can never entertain a sense of lack. A sense of lack indicates that mortal man is failing, or refusing to recognize God's omnipresence, and his remedy is to open his eyes - open his consciousness to a recognition of God. In the Old Testament it is related that Elisha, the man of God, was once the object of some king's wrath, and the king sent an army and surrounded the city in which the prophet dwelt. When the prophet's servant went forth in the morning, and saw this hostile force, he was greatly frightened, and wanted to know what could be done. Elisha told him to fear not; that they had God, and their protection was assured. Then he prayed that the young man's eyes might be opened. Then something happened to the young man. He was no longer afraid. He beheld the angelic host, and instead of being made a prisoner the prophet took all the invaders prisoners.
So in what is called the practice or use of Christian Science one frequently, by reason of improved understanding, sees joy and harmony come out of a situation that appears to be fraught with loss and destruction. I knew a Christian Scientist some years ago who was holding an elective position. Having been so placed for years, he gradually, according to the human tendency, looked upon the position as his source of supply. However, in a recurring election he was defeated. Then his friends began to sympathize with him, and bemoan his untimely loss, as friends sometimes do; but he, instead of accepting the situation as defeat, began truly to consider his relationship to God. Using his knowledge of Christian Science in a practical way, he saw that God had not changed; that God had not taken anything from him, and that it was his privilege and opportunity to prove that he understood something of God's provision for His creatures. He cheerily and happily applied himself to the work that seemed available at the moment, declaring that his heavenly Father would make proper provision for him as he opened his eyes and was able to see God's plan. Within less than a year there came to him an opening in an entirely different activity, from a source that he had never humanly considered, where he has been abundantly blessed during the intervening years.
If one believes that he can be without God's care, then he may easily fall into the error of belief in lack: but, on the other hand, suppose one is firmly and understandingly convinced that God is always caring for him; he will never even think in terms of lack. If one position seems no longer to be for him, he will not fear that he is out of work He will rather reason that he has another position looking for him and needing him and he must be alert and active to meet that need. Or, if one source of supply seems closed to him, he will not be fearful, but assume that God is awakening him to larger things and he must be alert to see what is calling him. Or, if some particular companionship seems to be lacking, one will not stop to grieve, but know that in the infinite heart of divine Love are countless manifestations of helpful companionship, and he will heed the call to see what Love would have him do.
So, one may run the gamut of human experiences, and always find in his consciousness of God's ever-present goodness an opportunity for blessing, rather than for unhappiness, proving Paul's statement, "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
But some may complain of the prospect and program of Christian Science and say, Such results and such conditions as you speak of are ideal. Certainly they are ideal; they are the ideal pictured by prophets, and made practical and effective in Jesus' ministry; and he promised that we could do not only what he did, but greater works than his. His call to mankind was to be perfect. Shall all enlist under his banner? Shall all really be Christians? Or shall we be content with something less than the perfect, something that is not of God?
Nearly two thousand years ago the great Master and Teacher sent forth his little band of faithful followers to preach the good news, to heal the sick, to raise the dead; and to them he gave this marvelous promise which is our heritage: “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”
Shall we be afraid to attempt to go forth and conquer in his name? But some may say, "The world is not ready for the ideal, the perfect." Has the world ever been ready for any great movement, or for any great leader? Human consciousness is always saying, "Wait, go slowly." But Truth cannot wait. Its demands are imperative, and they who hear its call must be obedient or they shall be deemed unworthy.
It is related that one came to Jesus saying, "Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house." Then Jesus said to him, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." There can be no halfway service of God. It is the teaching of the Master, again, that we have to remember: "No man can serve two masters. . . . Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Christian Science is calling for the highest and best that is in men – is calling for progress and unfoldment. As the individual is aroused to better thinking, better living, better health, better morals, he gradually sees more of God's presence and power and expects a more practical manifestation of this power, until he can indeed realize something of Mrs. Eddy’s vision when she says (Science and Health, p. 557), "Divine Science rolls back the clouds of error with the light of Truth, and lifts the curtain on man as never born and as never dying, but as coexistent with his creator."