Christian Science: The Religion of Authority
Judge Samuel W. Greene, C.S.B., of
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
The history of humanity indicates that there are periods of activity and striving in human consciousness as well as stretches of time when there seems to be little or no activity or progress in human thinking. The present age is giving birth to much striving and much activity in various parts of the earth where human beings are reaching out, desiring to possess freedom, happiness, more of good. Right-thinking people are grateful for this activity of thought, because there is good to be had and enjoyed by all; and activity of thought may open the door for more human beings to a vision of the spiritual and perfect. Christian Science affords any man the opportunity, and provides him with the method of thinking, whereby he may rise above the disappointing experiences of material living and enter into the promised land of spiritual attainments and find his freedom and dominion, even "the kingdom of heaven within."
This religious teaching speaks with confidence and with authority because it speaks the message of Christ Jesus and brings the usable and practical knowledge of his ministry to the door of the receptive human consciousness. In all the teaching of the Master there is hope and confidence, with never a note of doubt or fear. The common affairs of men will be on a better basis when more of them, through spiritual attainment and understanding, begin with confidence to claim for themselves health, life, success in business, and happy relations with their fellow beings. That all of this and more may be accomplished through an absolute reliance upon God is the teaching of Christian Science, and the experience of many Christian Scientists.
The Discoverer and Founder
A few years past the middle of the
last century, when much of the thought in
She saw in him the realization and fulfillment of God's promises to His children. She glimpsed the practical possibility of doing and accomplishing all the things that the Master did, even as he had promised, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do." In this exalted consciousness she discerned the power of God and proved it available to lift her out of pain and suffering from a bed of invalidism. She was able through this same thought to lead an active life for more than forty years thereafter, and to accomplish almost unbelievable results in the establishment of a church and an extensive publishing enterprise. Through her unfailing reliance upon God's power, she was able so to impress herself upon the world's thought as to become one of the world's famous women. She succeeded in founding and establishing an activity in the Christian Science movement that has extended its influence over all the earth and has been the means of redemption for unnumbered hosts of men and women during the intervening years.
Christian Science, as discovered and founded by Mrs. Eddy, is not a mere theory, but is a practical and effective elucidation of infinite power that has too long been considered such a mystery as to be beyond the reach of the ordinary thinker and worker. Working out for herself the question of health and the question of supply, Mrs. Eddy used the teaching and example of Jesus of Nazareth and the works and words of the outstanding characters of the Bible. In her own writings she has given full credit to the Bible and to Christ Jesus for her awakening to the discernment and use of ever-present good.
The average churchman or religious worker is well aware of the practical difficulty in promoting the successful conduct of his church. The average businessman is equally well aware of the sincere and earnest effort that is needed to carry on a business activity successfully. The accomplishments in both these directions by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science will doubtless appeal to many persons as proof of the virtue and truth and importance of Christian Science.
Christian Science Textbook
Because of her desire to lead others to the revelation and unfoldment that had come to her concerning God and His available power, Mrs. Eddy saw the need of a permanent statement of her discovery. Accordingly, there appeared, as a result of her labors, the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." This book has brought to its readers and students a practicable and understandable concept of God and of Christ Jesus that is enabling men and women to rise quickly and permanently above the errors and pains of the flesh, and the burdens of poverty and sin.
This message is enabling the followers of Christian Science to perceive the true value of the Holy Scriptures, and is making of them able readers of the Bible. The textbook of Christian Science is a real boon to earnest Christians striving to find in the Bible irrefutable evidence of God, enabling the Bible reader to perceive quickly the spiritual import and intent of the Biblical text. Briefly put, this spiritual interpretation of the Bible reveals always in the Biblical text the goodness, the perfection, the almightiness of God as Love.
The textbook has become a worldwide reputation, and is read and honored by many outside the ranks of Christian Science. Of practical interest is the fact that in the early history of the textbook it was extensively criticized and condemned, whereas in its more abundant circulation and its richer fruitage it is but rarely condemned today in the public press or even in the church pulpits. According to many, many testimonies, this book has been the means of bringing physical healing and regeneration to people throughout the world. The reading of this book will surely bless anyone's effort, whether or not he be interested in Christian Science, for it will undoubtedly arouse his thought to a more earnest consideration of the verities of being.
The Christian Science textbook is so often quoted and referred to by Christian Scientists that the outsider may sometimes wonder whether or not this book takes the place of the Bible in the study and reading of Christian Scientists. Most assuredly it does not, and its chief value to the Christian Scientist is that it interprets the Bible and reveals it in a true spiritual light that makes it understandable and usable in a practical way in everyday life.
To the stranger, the first reading of the textbook may present difficulties. The conclusions therein may upset many cherished beliefs concerning the permanence of matter and material life. There may also be recommended heights in thinking and living which the average person is not ready or willing to embrace. A continued and intelligent reading of the book, however, usually results in awakening of the reader's thought to a pleasurable and desirable contemplation of a higher standard of thinking and living. Reading the book generally has the effect of testing the reader's thought as to whether or not he is willing and ready to espouse a higher standard of living. Whether, therefore, the reader agrees with the textbook or not, at any rate he is benefited by the vision of a higher state of living, regardless of its acceptance or non-acceptance.
God the Creator
Through the unfoldment of Christian Science to Mrs. Eddy, she early discerned God to be creator, and her conclusions and teaching concerning creation have held consistently to this point. The first chapter of Genesis, which may be termed the account of spiritual creation, recites, "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." When to this quotation is added the one from the Gospel of John, "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made," we have a basis for the assumption in Christian Science that all creation is very good. Surely, the world will not quarrel with a teaching that credits God with being the author and creator of a perfect universe. Indeed, ascribing anything less than the perfect to God seems almost blasphemy.
Correct spiritual interpretation of the Bible reveals that God is properly defined and described as Love, Life, Truth, Soul, Mind, Spirit, Principle. Any one of these synonyms, or all of them, studied and pondered, will bring to human consciousness a concept that is flawless, lovable, beautiful, exalting in its satisfaction. Such a concept of God must be had before mankind can be truly obedient to the command to love God. One could scarcely be expected to love and honor a wicked deity, or an unintelligent deity, or an unreliable deity, or an unknown deity.
Devil or Satan
Christian Science stresses the thought of the impossibility of any evil, or imperfection, or discord, as proceeding from God. The result of this teaching is to impress upon Christian Scientists the false and impossible character or being of a so-called Satan or devil. The teaching of an all-powerful and ever-operating devil or evil is one of the theological curses of the ages. The very thought of an evil power in competition with God has brought fear, even terror, almost universally to the human thought, and has been responsible for all the suffering and misery of the human family.
Christian Scientists find great freedom and peace in the teaching of Christ Jesus concerning the nothingness and powerlessness of a so-called devil. The history of nature of Satan as given in the Bible is recognized as a vain effort to bring evil into good, or hate into love, or the unreal into the real. This is an inconsistency of thought which is impossible of accomplishment, and against which one is warned in the first commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." This is not to say that the warnings of the Bible against evil and the unhappy experiences of mankind as victims of evil beliefs are without significance.
We recognize that mankind needs constantly to be aware of the suggestion and temptation to believe and to be influenced by a power opposed to God, opposed to good, and the need to oppose it. Faithful practice of Christian Science shows that one must be alert and awake and intelligent to discern good; and to apprehend the appearance of evil, to resist the appeal thereof and steadfastly to refuse to be influenced or harmed thereby. Christian Science calls upon its followers to be continuously active in holding to the power and presence and reality of good, or the manifestation of God, as well as to be alert and intelligent, and faithful in opposing, denying, and destroying in their thought and their lives the illusion, the appearance, and the suggestion of evil or devil.
Man the Child of God
Allied to the study concerning the nature and character of God is the necessary consequent, the true discernment of man. Indeed, the poet's expression might be helpfully changed to read, "The proper study of mankind is God and man." The effort to understand man properly, as he is spiritually revealed, probably requires a more persistent reversal of human thought than is witnessed in studying concerning God. Until the coming of Christian Science, with the purity and clarity of its concept of man, the human thought has generally indulged in the conclusion that man is both spiritual and material, or is body, with soul in some way connected therewith.
Christ Jesus, in his ministry as well as in his words, taught the perfection of man, even to claiming his perfect likeness to the Father, God. Jesus' well-known statement, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," is held in Christian Science to be mandatory.
The Master's conclusion leaves no intermediate position, or lesser concept of man than the perfect. There is therefore nothing radical or revolutionary in considering in one's every thought the concept of perfect man. Such a concept is authorized by the familiar words in the first chapter of Genesis, that God created man in His own image and likeness.
This religion adopts with boldness the authoritative manner of Christ Jesus in teaching and claiming the perfect. In harmony, then, with Jesus' words and works, the Christian Science textbook says (Science and Health, p. 475): "Man is spiritual and perfect. . . . Man is idea; . . . he is not physique. He is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas; . . . that which has not a single quality underived from Deity." This concept of man, translated into our daily thought and lives, lifts the human consciousness from the physical to the spiritual, from the discordant to the harmonious, from the fearful to the confident, from the imperfect to the perfect.
Adhering to this perfect concept of man, it is not strange or unbelievable that, holding such a concept of man, the great Master was able to do the healing works that so filled his ministry. With such a foundation one need not marvel that this worker was able to speak as one having authority, and thereby cast out devils or evil beliefs, and bring men to a knowledge of their real nature and being as sons of God. Jesus' mission and purpose was, as evidenced by his works, to bring human consciousness to a realization of what man truly is as the son of God. His work was to arouse, awaken, and to inform man of his own identity. The salvation offered, and taught, and demonstrated by Jesus is, then, man being saved from false beliefs concerning God and God's creation, which is the import of the Master's oft-quoted words, "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."
Work, Treatment, or Prayer
To the beginner in Christian Science, or to one who is sick and has not been able to find his healing in medicine, there comes naturally the inquiry, "How can I use Christian Science for my own healing, or for my own spiritual improvement?" This is a fair question, and, to the earnest person, through a faithful and consistent effort, there will generally come a satisfactory result. One should first realize that work, or treatment, in Christian Science is not physical, but is wholly mental, or spiritual. This effort is not something mysterious or difficult to understand, but is perceiving and claiming the truth of being.
A good beginning is to be found in the first chapter of the Christian Science textbook, and the first sentence (Science and Health, p. 1), "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, - a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love." If the person seeking physical or spiritual regeneration can exercise this faith for a spiritual understanding of God, he will find healing. Naturally, one should approach this activity with confidence that he will be healed. Jesus established this standard of confidence in the saying, "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Christian Scientists find it always helpful to approach every task and every enterprise of their lives with the assured confidence of success, because they have relied upon the power of God. We need to realize in Christian Science work, that there is no intention nor effort to change what is real or true. The real man of God's creation cannot be sick or absent from the Father's knowledge and if we remember the New Testament account of Jesus' healings, we recall that he was ever confident of success in his work. There is no record that he ever used expressions that implied any doubt or fear in his thought, but that he spoke with authority always. Then in our plans and our work in Christian Science we must speak and act as those having authority. We are authorized by the Master to do healing works in his name; and his promise and his word is that as the work is done in his name it will succeed. Healing in Christian Science is not restoring fallen man to high estate, but is recognizing and claiming that man has never been separated from God and can never be separated from the love of God, even as is pointed out in Paul's letter to the Romans (Romans 8:38-39).
How interesting and instructive is the study of the healings performed by Jesus in connection with one's efforts to apply this healing truth in Christian Science.
Healing of the Infirm Woman
The healing of the woman infirm for eighteen years is interesting as illustrating Jesus' method of work or treatment. In this case he said that the woman was bound by Satan. Apparently Jesus did not accord any power to Satan, because he said, simply to the woman, "Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity." Whereupon she was immediately made straight. It is fair and reasonable to assume that in this case, as in all cases where Jesus healed, he saw the nothingness and powerlessness of this evil or sick manifestation, which accords with his statement in the Gospel of John, that Satan "is a liar, and the father of it." Jesus also said in this instance that this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, was entitled to be loosed from her infirmity.
The Christian Science textbook, in giving the spiritual interpretation of Abraham, says (p. 579), "Fidelity; faith in the divine Life and in the eternal Principle of being." By this reasoning, every child of faith in the divine Principle of being and every child of fidelity should be loosed from his infirmity. Everyone who comes, then, to Christian Science with the hope of being healed of his infirmity should come as one of the faithful, as having faith in the perfection of God and of God's creation, man in His image and likeness. This state of mind casts out fear, and thereby the beliefs of disease or imperfection lose their hold, and the seeker is free to claim his health and wholeness.
In the ministry of Christian Science one frequently hears that the patient should deny the pain or the suffering and should affirm his health, his strength, and his perfection. This is undoubtedly a real discernment of mental activity that will aid the patient in realizing his true status as a child of God. Naturally, the repeating of words as a formula or as a memorized expression of prayer is not potent except as it aids in producing in the thought of the patient a change regarding his real being. Contrary to the accustomed forms of prayer, it will be found in a study of the chapter on Prayer in the Christian Science textbook that emphasis is not laid on the use of words after any particular fashion, but the quiet, certain dependence upon God is the important consideration.
Healing of Demoniac Boy
The main point to be considered in Christian Science treatment or work is always that the healing is accomplished, not by the personal effort of anyone, but by the power of God, understood and relied upon. An interesting case in point is to be found in the account given in Mark's Gospel of the healing of the boy with a dumb spirit. Considering the symptoms as related in the Gospel, this might have been a case of modern epilepsy. At any rate, the father of the child was greatly concerned about his condition, and apparently he had brought the child to the disciples for healing and they had not been successful.
In this case, obviously because of the mental condition of the child, Jesus' work was with the father, to whom the Master said, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." Whereupon the father said, "Lord, I believe." Jesus then apparently addressed the evil or error which had disabled the child, and rebuked the infirmity and commanded it to be gone, which may be reasonably interpreted as a denial of its existence and power, and an assertion of the child's normal state of well-being.
This instance and other instances of healing in Jesus' ministry are indicative of the requirements for healing in Christian Science - faith and trust in God.
It is desirable that those coming to Christian Science for help should come always without any thought of mystery or strangeness in the operation of God's power. If we concede, or assume, that this is God's universe, created and governed by Him, then surely there should be no strangeness in the expectancy of the power and naturalness of good, of health, of life and its harmonious manifestation. On the other hand, it is unnatural to believe that God sends disease, accidents, poverty, or death. When one comes seeking health, and supply, and happiness, he should come in the thought that he is seeking only that which is his natural heritage as a child of God.
Claiming One's Heritage
Paul, in his letter to the Romans, speaks of our being the children of God and the heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. Surely there is something to be considered and worked out in this direction. In our human affairs, when one is named as an heir in last will and testament, he does not sit idly and permit his rights to be neglected or repudiated. He proceeds actively to assert and defend his rights, and to claim his privileges and his inheritance under the will. In some cases of sharp contest, he often has the help of a lawyer or advocate, and it is sometimes necessary under those conditions to refute and dispute false assertions and false statements made against his rights under the will. Generally, it is obligatory to produce affirmative proof as to his identity and his relationship that he may certainly establish his legal rights to the inheritance. When his rights are established and the false testimony against him is destroyed, his inheritance is accorded him.
In somewhat the same way is man's natural right under God's will maintained and established. He may need to assert vigorously and understandingly his identity or his relationship to the heavenly Father. He may need constantly to be rehearsed in the thought that he is God's child and thereby has undeniable and perfect rights in the kingdom of heaven. He may need vigorously and persistently to deny, dispute, and thereby destroy, the false claims or suggestions that he is weak or sick, or is unworthy or unable to claim health, life, supply, happiness.
The claimant will perceive that in this trial is involved an issue that needs to be actively met and decided in his own consciousness. Unlike the accustomed method of prayer with which the world is familiar, in Christian Science work or prayer there is no necessity for the effort to persuade God or convince God, for it is recognized that God's wisdom and God's provision for man are already perfect and just. The human thought, in cases of disease and discord, needs to be persuaded, corrected, made conscious and confident of the eternal perfection and harmony of man in the image and likeness of God. Such is the activity of Christian Science work or prayer. When one's own consciousness is thoroughly persuaded, convinced, and understands man's inheritance, then the healing result is accomplished. This is in accord with the Master's common comment on healing, "According to your faith be it unto you." Healing, then, is the result of spiritual understanding, or an intelligent concept of God and His creation.
Such a consummation is not brought about by the persuasion of the human mind, nor by any control of one human mind over another, but is effected by the activity or operation of the divine Mind lifting the human mind, or regenerating the human mind, that it may see and acknowledge God's perfect work in man's harmonious life, and health, and strength. When the seeker, through his own prayer, study, and effort, is unable to heal himself, he may always call upon the Christian Science healer or practitioner for aid, and generally this refreshed confidence and support will effect the healing. Healing is verification of the Old Testament writer's thought concerning man, "As he thinketh in his heart, so is he." This regeneration is likewise confirmation and demonstration of the New Testament writer's thought, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
Healing by the Disciples
Frequently inquirers may say that healing was accomplished in Jesus' life and experience, but his understanding and power were exceptional, and this is true. However, his promise to those that believed on him, that is, understood him, is that they can do all the things that he did. In this connection, there is an interesting healing by Peter and John of the cripple who had never walked, and who lay at the temple gate asking alms. As Peter and John, about to go into the temple, observed this man, they said, "Look on us." The record says that the man "gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them." This was a proper state of mind in which to receive his healing. Every seeker of healing might well come in such a thought, "expecting to receive something." Peter and John, recognizing this expectancy in the man's thought, were quick to offer him the most profitable blessing possible.
With prayerful understanding and faith they lifted his thought to claim his divine inheritance through the name or nature of Christ Jesus. With this assurance, "In the name [or nature] of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk," the man was immediately lifted up, and the record says, "His feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked," and praised God. Reasonable minds will recognize in this incident the naturalness and the omnipotence of God's power as claimed and applied by those two faithful disciples, and as claimed and accepted by the lame man in his humble and intelligent state of expectancy. How sensible and how satisfactory, if all who trust in God would come with expectancy and thereby receive the rich blessing promised to all in the words of the Master, "If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it."
Peter and Paul, among the healers after Jesus' ascension, were notably successful in meeting difficult situations for the sick and distressed, even restoring the dead to life. Remembering this, humanity may well rejoice and be grateful; and be encouraged in their struggle against the "last enemy."
In every issue of the Christian Science Sentinel and The Christian Science Journal there appear attested and verified instances of healing, in our own towns and among our own people throughout the Christian world. With a little search, one can probably find in any community someone personally known to him who rejoices in healing that has come through the ministry of Christian Science. Thus, in the activity of Christian Science throughout the world, the promises of the Master are being fulfilled before our very eyes.
Application to Business
In considering the application of Christian Science to the solving of business problems, we need to know first of all what business is. Christ Jesus said, "I must be about my Father's business," and his activity was in an effort to teach, heal, and bless men. From Bible references we believe that in the accomplishment of this task Jesus worked at the carpenter trade for some years, and later, especially the last three years of his life, gave his entire time to a public ministry. It would indeed be an unhappy and unsatisfactory state of mind for one to believe that so important a portion, or time, of his life, as that of providing for his family was something outside the realm of the divine activity.
In the Christian Science textbook (p. 494) occurs this comforting statement: "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need." We shall surely dignify and bless our concept of so-called business when we can see it as under the protection and supply of divine Love. Under such an influence and inspiration there would be no question about seeking an unfair advantage over someone else in business, but every effort would be with the thought of aiding and blessing everyone connected with the transaction. There would be no hostility between employer and employee, for each would be concerned and interested in promoting the prosperity and welfare of the other. Strikes, lockouts, boycotts, and unfair competition would be wholly memories of the past.
The obviously sensible plan for every businessman would be, if possible, to turn away from the harassments, strifes, and uncertainties of present business methods. Surely, every man would welcome honesty, justice, even love and unselfishness, in everyday business life. Perhaps such a condition is not beyond the realm of possibilities and a new business era of Christianized methods can be realized. The experience of many families during the last few years has been to get along happily and satisfactorily with much less of material things than formerly.
The great Master said, "Seek
ye first the
First of all, being conscious of his true identity as the child of God, one would be at once confident of God's goodness, of God's directing intelligence, and of God's all-providing love. With this consciousness he would naturally go out into the world without fear and with perfect confidence, and with inspiration that his task is at hand, and one that can be successfully and happily accomplished.
Study of the Bible assures us that we are not expecting too much of God to believe that provision is already made for man, and that he needs only to open his eyes to see the way, and to open his ears that he may hear a voice saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn. to the left." Surely, every Christian believes with all his heart that God's plan for the universe is a perfect plan, and in this perfect plan there must be a safe and satisfactory place for every one of God's children.
Not one of us can feel that he is excluded from God's plan or God's knowledge or God's provision. Business, then, should be for each one of us, just entering happily and confidently into the place already prepared by the hand of God. One of the Old Testament writers certainly had such a vision when he said, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." The average man may find it difficult to see the spiritual possibilities in the so-called business world, but his vision in this will improve as he is active in trusting God in all his ways, and in acknowledging his God-given ability and direction.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science has written (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 307), "God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies." Truly, every thinking person must be conscious of God-given intelligence, reason, fidelity, love, strength, and right desire. Our task, then, is to use these gifts. If men have used in business principally selfishness, greed, dishonesty, and unrighteousness, it is not strange that business may seem unscientific and unsatisfactory. We can and must change our methods and introduce in our business lives and activities these God-given ideas, and the world will quickly note an improvement and gradually conform thereto.
A common experience in Christian Science is to hear the testimonials of those who have endeavored to give in their business of their intelligence, experience, unselfishness, and character, solely with the thought of being a blessing, and they in turn have been abundantly rewarded with opportunities and compensation, which is entirely in accord with the Master's statement, "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 shall it be measured to you again."
God in Government
In this era of changing governments, and in the midst of fears and doubts concerning the outcome of these changes, it would seem wise to consider what is stable in government, and what can be done to assure the public mind. Christian Science is teaching individuals that they are under the immediate and perfect government of God, or good, and this is likewise true of nations.
If man individually is loved of God, then men and nations are as truly the objects of His love, and we may well rejoice with the inspired word of the prophet of old, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder." Undoubtedly, the greatest blessing and boon that can come to modern government would be an effort on the part of all to put the government on the shoulder of Christ, Truth. In the activity of elections and in the responsibility of voting, we need to have in thought the selection and elevation in the government of the most Christlike.
We need to rise above passion, partisanship, and personalities, and to seek to put those in authority who will be desirous of putting the government on "his shoulder." Christian Science is helping us to see that in proportion as we exalt the office rather than the official, and ascribe to the office honesty, justice, unselfishness, purity, wholesomeness, we shall, by our thinking, attract to the office those men and women who will be worthy exponents of righteous government. Christian Science is urging upon its followers obedience and adherence to the ways and words of Jesus of Nazareth, who gave to the world in a model prayer this sentiment, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Right-thinking, Christian-minded people are ready for the practical application of this prayer in their daily lives. Christian Science is urging its adoption in all our thoughts concerning the government.
Forgiveness and Salvation
Unlike many sermons in the ordinary Protestant church, the Lesson-Sermon, as read on Sunday at the Christian Science service, is not filled with an appeal to the so-called sinner to confess his sins and thereby be saved. The plan of salvation, as understood and taught in Christian Science, embraces the thought of the destruction of sin and thereby its cessation in the life of the individual.
We recognize, of course, that for sinful thoughts and sinful lives men must inevitably suffer, because sin results in suffering. The Christian Science gospel of salvation is that man is now, and forever has been, the perfect child of God, and a recognition of this fact and an adherence thereto in our constant thinking, will lift us above the beliefs of power and pleasure in thoughts or ways that are in opposition to the perfection of God and His plan.
Christian Science teaches a whole salvation; that is, salvation from poverty, from pain, and from suffering, as well as from temporary and eternal unhappiness in sin. We understand that mankind is healed and saved through the ministry of Christ Jesus, by adhering to his words, and by striving to live as he lived. In other words, our teaching is that salvation, now and eternally, comes through the life, and not through the death, of Jesus. We make no campaign of fear or terror in an effort to frighten men to seek the kingdom of heaven. We rely rather upon the appeal of the gentle Master, offering to the sinful and the burden-bearing, peace, and rest, and healing by bringing their lives into accord with the name and nature of Jesus the Christ.
Christian Scientists rejoice in the consciousness that their salvation, their kingdom of heaven, does not need to wait for some mythical so-called eternity, but they see in the words of the Master, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand," the possibility of realizing here and now health, life, and happiness. We rejoice with Paul in the sentiment expressed in his letter to the Romans, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."
Repentance, forgiveness, and regeneration, as taught in Christian Science, are not tinged with the mystery of absolution or vicarious atonement, but depend upon the effort of the individual and the redeeming perfection of divine Love, as is indicated in the statement from the Christian Science textbook (p. 174), "Nothing save divine power is capable of doing so much for man as he can do for himself."
Jesus the Christ
The stranger may have sometime believed that Christian Science underrated the importance of the life, and person, and ministry of the man Jesus, but such is not the fact. Christian Science honors Jesus of Nazareth, and ascribes to him a perfect life and an inspired life-work. We acclaim him to be the Son of God, of the Virgin birth, and acknowledge his resurrection from the grave and his ascension above the plane of material thinking and living. We understand that the life and words of this remarkable man should be studied and patterned in our human efforts to live righteously and obediently.
Christian Scientists believe that it is possible, even as the Master said, to do all the things that he did, and to live as he lived. We believe that much more of good is to be accomplished in the lives of individuals by assuming the practical possibility of conforming our lives to his pattern than by a mysterious reliance upon his sacrifices.
Surely, the world recognizes that the leaven of Jesus' life and teaching is reaching and influencing, at least to some extent, all the nations of the world. Even the unbeliever must be able to see how his teaching has influenced men and nations throughout the centuries. His teaching may have been misunderstood, misrepresented, and poorly obeyed, but still its influence succeeds and must endure, because it is just and right.
Christian Science, more insistently than any other teaching, is appealing to its followers for absolute and perfect loyalty to the ministry of Jesus.
The Perfect Life
Encouraged by his example, we assume that every word of the Master can be obeyed. We teach that the idealism and perfection of Jesus' teaching is practical and possible, or it would never have been advocated by him. We do not shrink from the high and holy purpose of life, as taught by the Master.
This religion of authority calls upon men to love one another and to love God above all else, and to love and honor good in all human activity. As men strive constantly in their living to love and honor God and the Godlike, they will delight in more opportunities for loving and serving their fellowmen, and their lives will thereby express more unselfish and more exalted purposes. Uninfluenced by greed, avarice, hatred, passion, and material beliefs in general, men will express more of the Christlike qualities that will bring peace and prosperity to all men and to nations.
Medical authorities, and many thinking people, understand that physical disease is the result generally of discordant and erroneous thinking; therefore it is not too much to trust that the reign of true Christlike thinking and striving for the divine perfection will bring to men a universal sense of health and life. Surely, all right-minded men can believe, and do believe, that justice and righteousness universally governing in the thoughts and lives of businessmen will promote prosperity and sufficiency for all, lest God's abundance would be thereby limited.
Christian Science is offering a new chapter in the practical everyday living of humanity with an absolute faith that men can here and now be obedient to the all-time command of the Master, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
Compliance with this injunction will bring to men new vistas of thought and accomplishment and a new earth of health, happiness, and contentment, even as is voiced in the words of the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science (Science and Health, p. 276), "When we learn in Science how to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect, thought is turned into new and healthy channels, - towards the contemplation of things immortal and away from materiality to the Principle of the universe, including harmonious man."
[Published in The Marion County Mail of Indianapolis, Indiana, Dec. 12, 1941.]