Christian Science: The Simple Truth About God and Man
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
Through centuries of religious thinking, and especially through the centuries of Christianity, human thought has seemingly been hopelessly divided on a statement, or an acknowledgment, of what God, or Deity, really is. Moreover, during the centuries of the Christian era, thought has been not only confused as to what God is, but radically varying as to what Jesus of Nazareth was and what the Christ is, which involves always the question as to what man is and as to his true relationship toward God.
There is one impulse and purpose in the universe that is well-nigh universal with man, with animals, and even with plant life. All nature called life is endeavoring to perpetuate itself. The great master Christian, Christ Jesus, clearly aware of this universal desire, gave that remarkable statement which could be so potent if utilized by all men. His statement concerning the perpetual nature of life is: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
The Discoverer and Founder
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, with rare discernment of the needs of mankind, has given to the world in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," a scientific revelation and explanation of what God is, of what Jesus the Christ is, and of what man is. This book, as its name indicates, enables the reader and student to lay hold upon the spiritual truths which oft-times seem hidden in the human language of the Scriptures
Like the great Master, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science offers to the world proof of its truth and its power in the works that are done in Christian Science. First came her own healing through adhering to Jesus' practical teaching in the acknowledgment of God's presence and power; then helping and inspiring others to a like adherence and acknowledgment, she found them healed. Thus began, simple and little heralded, the Christian Science movement, which, by the force of its astounding success through the decades, has spread itself effectively throughout the Christian world.
Mrs. Eddy will undoubtedly go down in history as having reestablished the practice of spiritual healing in the church, and as an essential accompaniment of religious activity, such as it was in the church of the early Christian era.
The ranks of the Christian Science movement are filled by those who are in search of healing and those who are attracted by its teaching. Today and for some years, many members of the church have been attracted by its clear and positive teachings so in accord with the early Christian church, even of the Apostolic era.
From the very nature of Christian Science, the government of the movement must be according to divine Principle; and Mrs. Eddy's inspiration along this line provided the laws contained in the Manual of The Mother Church, which has been and will continue to be found sufficient for all the activities in a rapidly expanding organization.
The history and prosperity of the movement prove that in providing for church government her inspiration and revelation were as genuine as in the establishing of the well-nigh lost practice of spiritual healing, so ably propounded in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures."
The confidence, the courage, the consistency of the language of the textbook of Christian Science, indicate something of the inspiration and revelation that came to its author in her pursuit of these great truths concerning God and man. Mrs. Eddy is honored and loved universally by the adherents and followers of Christian Science and is admired and respected by other students, scholars, theologians, and scientific men, because of the scope, sincerity, and substantial character of her work, not only as an author and expounder of spiritual truths, but as a very successful executive and administrator for many years of the Church and the teaching which she founded and gave to mankind.
The Christian Science Textbook
The textbook of Christian Science is not only readable from a literary and intellectual standpoint, but the intelligent reader quickly realizes that it is dealing constantly with questions, subjects, conditions, and prospects in a way that appeals to the thinker as well as to the sincere religionist. There have been times within the memory of many of us when the Christian Science textbook was the subject of vitriolic attacks and oft-times of bitter criticisms and discussions. That such outpourings of hostility have largely ceased is a tribute to the sanity and the sweet reasonableness of all the arguments and pronouncements of the book that may seem to be contrary to the beliefs of the great majority.
Christian Scientists find it difficult to write or speak of the textbook in ordinary or conservative estimates, because the volume is so much more to them than a mere book. Hosts of people have been healed and are daily being healed of all types of disease and difficulty by reading and studying the textbook. This book is not a Christian Science Bible as some critics have said, nor does it in any way take the place of the use and study by them of the Holy Scriptures.
The Bible and the textbook are read and studied together. The Bible is the great book of authority from on high and the textbook is the key to the Scriptures making plain in many instances the lost or hidden spiritual truths of the Bible by its logical insistence that God must be interpreted according to His true nature, and not in accord with material assumptions concerning Deity.
With simple dignity Christian Science is generously and certainly helping men and women to pursue with much success their quest of life by giving them an understandable and usable concept of God, of Christ, and of man. That Deity has been thought of or even accepted by multitudes of people in most unlovely conclusions is due to the habits of human thought, based largely upon material assumptions. Christian Science takes the position that God is the source of all creation, power, life, and intelligence. Therefore, the only real intelligence of the universe necessarily proceeds from the infinite Mind. All theories concerning God and creation resulting from a so-called erroneous mortal mind, or human intelligence, are manifestly disappointing and untrue. The statement in the Christian Science textbook (p. 269), "Human philosophy has made God manlike. Christian Science makes man Godlike," is a clear expression depicting the opposites in human experience of what should be unified correct thinking.
When the reader is first made acquainted with the use of seven synonyms for God - Love, Life, Truth, Soul, Mind, Spirit, Principle - it may be startling to his accustomed manner of thought, and he may have to do considerable thinking or reading in the Bible to be able to be reconciled to this forcible statement of what God is. The average student of the Bible, however, will have little or no difficulty upon reflection to adjust his thinking to this modern statement of what God is in the use of the seven synonyms. This scientific interpretation of God clothes Deity at once with all possible good, with all possible intelligence, with all possible life, with all possible perfection, and leads to the adoption of three further terms to describe Deity, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent.
Christian Scientists are generally known to their friends as very happy people, which is largely due to their satisfied thought concerning God, their heavenly Father. There is great assurance, hope, and confidence in the knowledge that God is Love. There is a scientific conclusion in human thought in the realization that God, the source of all creation, is infinite Mind. In this conclusion one sees the justice and the reasonableness of the writer of the first chapter of Genesis in saying, "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." It will be a happy and profitable day in the history of any man when he can understandingly say that all of God's work is very good.
The dark pictures of sickness, sin, suffering, accidents, failure, death, will fail in the universal realization of God's intelligent and perfect work. Mankind will then have taken a long step toward the attainment of health and holiness through the logical deduction stated in the Christian Science textbook (p. 468): "All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all." The fact of God's omnipresence held by human beings will largely lift them out of the realm of fear and uncertainty, for one could scarcely contemplate mishap or misfortune in the presence of Deity. When men more generally come to see, in the light of Christian Science, that God is divine Principle, it will greatly reduce in mankind that too common fault of self-depreciation, or inferiority complex, as man's likeness to God would then bring him into the realm of orderliness and perfection.
If an average group of persons were individually questioned regarding their concept of God, the inquirer would probably be surprised to realize how inadequately and how poorly God is thought of or considered by people generally.
Through the tender years of the Sunday school as well as through all the more mature teaching of Christian Science, there runs continually the simple truth concerning God as He is revealed in the Bible. Thereby Christian Scientists come to understand that their entire lives and well-being depends upon accurate knowledge of what God is.
Men and women generally are well informed about the ordinary objects and affairs around them, but too often they are content to have some mysterious and vague belief of God, instead of earnestly seeking to know Him, whom to know means life eternal. An earnest study of Christian Science is bringing to men and women a vision of Deity that exalts, that inspires, that happifies and satisfies.
The deep and considered judgment of the Master in demanding that God be loved with all man's heart and soul and mind and strength surely implies that man must first know God. This lesson Christian Science is attempting to teach men.
How truly one finds that as he begins to feel something of the majesty, might, and allness of Deity and His manifestation, the finite, temporary, and material beliefs lose much of their significance and God becomes increasingly important to his study and contemplation.
Christian Science brings to human thought a satisfying and clarifying explanation of what Jesus was. First of all, the textbook states (p. 18), "Jesus of Nazareth taught and demonstrated man's oneness with the Father, and for this we owe him endless homage." Also the textbook states (p. 30), "Born of a woman, Jesus' advent in the flesh partook partly of Mary's earthly condition, although he was endowed with the Christ, the divine Spirit, without measure."
In this vision there would seem to be no ground for argument concerning Jesus' true being and his helpful mission in the world. Jesus acknowledged himself to be the son of God, never claiming to be God. He acknowledged that his words and his works were all of the Father and not his own. He claimed no selfhood apart from God, which is shown in his statement to the young man who called him "Good Master." His answer was, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God."
Partaking partly of his mother's earthly condition, Jesus, the man, was able to appreciate the failures, the sufferings, and the erroneous beliefs of mankind. Reaching out wholly to God, the Father, for inspiration, wisdom, power, and direction, Jesus, in the process of unfoldment in human life, discerned the Christ in himself; and with his Christly endowment he could see above human imperfections and discern God's perfect man. In this discernment and realization he saw the nothingness and powerlessness of the errors that were binding mankind, and he was able in many cases to lift the suffering and the unfortunate to a better state of mind that resulted in healing and in happiness.
Understanding that Jesus was the man of Galilee and yet endowed without measure with the Christ, or "divine manifestation of God" (Science and Health, p. 583), it is not so difficult to believe and accept Jesus' statement, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." It is an easy argument that healing of the sick, as Jesus healed them, would be impossible to mere man if one believes Jesus to have been God. On the other hand, it should not be at all difficult to agree with the teaching of Christian Science that the healing of the sick is always possible when one is governed by the same Truth, or Mind, that governed Christ Jesus. The textbook of Christian Science states it (p. 495), "God will heal the sick through man, whenever man is governed by God."
The life and work of Jesus was remarkable in every way, but in nothing more remarkable than his easy and natural assumption of ability and power from God, the Father. This acceptance of infinite power and its constant application in performing good works never tended in his life toward egotism or self-importance. He was to himself, and to the world, always, the messenger and agent of God's goodness and God's love to His children.
Jesus, therefore, was never in doubt, nor was he ever afraid of what the result of his work would be. He knew that God's infinite power that he was interpreting to the world could never fail. He was able accordingly to say with confidence to those who came for help - "Rise and walk" - "Receive thy sight" - "Stretch forth thy hand" - knowing that the condition of perfection was already ordained by God, and needed only to be seen and acknowledged.
Christian Science is teaching, as Jesus taught, that this healing power and practice is possible now as in Jesus' time, for those that believe in him. The same unselfed love that Jesus manifested is possible in our life today. The same natural, impersonal assumption and acceptance of infinite power is possible today, because God's law, God's will, God's nature, remains eternally available to His children.
Notwithstanding the positive statements in the first chapter of Genesis, that God created man in His own image and likeness, the human thought has very generally adhered to the far less satisfying belief that man was materially created, as is recorded in the second chapter of Genesis. Thoroughly grounded in the understanding of what God really is, as taught in Christian Science, it would seem highly inconsistent and erroneous to believe that such intelligence, Love, and omnipotence could or would be the source of anything so imperfect and undesirable as the mortal concept of man.
Surely, one could never believe that infinite Mind, or Principle, could or would be the source of a creation continually suffering, doubting, and dying. Christian Science boldly adopts the view taken by Christ Jesus, that man is really the son of God and expresses in his being the perfection of Deity. Jesus stated his understanding of man clearly and forcibly when he said, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." He made this statement in the course of his Sermon on the Mount, after he had given a number of exalted illustrations concerning our duty and mission in life.
The Christian Science textbook says, among other things concerning man (p. 475): "He is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas; the generic term for all that reflects God's image and likeness; the conscious identity of being as found in Science, in which man is the reflection of God, or Mind, and therefore is eternal; that which has no separate mind from God; that which has not a single quality underived from Deity; that which possesses no life, intelligence, nor creative power of his own, but reflects spiritually all that belongs to his Maker."
Such a statement of the nature of
the real man may seem difficult to understand upon the first reading. Realizing though, as the Christian Scientist
must, that the true interpretation of God and of God's creation is necessarily
spiritual, as Jesus, so wisely pointed out to the woman at the well in
A very interesting and profitable conclusion concerning God's creation may be had by reasoning for oneself with respect to the nature of Mind's creation, or Life's creation, or Spirit's creation, or Love's creation, or Principle's creation. Mind naturally expresses itself in ideas, and Mind's creation is mental. Spirit creates through spiritual expression, and Spirit's creation is spiritual. Love's creation could scarcely be expressed in aught but loveliness. Principle's creation of necessity would be expressed in orderliness, perfection, and continuity. Man, then, becomes the expression, or manifestation, or reflection, or likeness, of Deity, and he must be perfect in that expression.
Treatment or Healing
With a knowledge of what God is, and of what man is, and of the scientific procedure of Jesus' ministry, Christian Science treatment or healing follows with logical consistency. The textbook of Christian Science says (pp. 476, 477): Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning, mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick."
One of the common inquiries from the seeker may well be: If man is perfect, why then the necessity for treatment or healing? The answer to that inquiry is to be found in the generally accepted erroneous beliefs of the human or mortal mind or, as Paul calls it, the "carnal mind," which does not accept the Biblical teaching of man's perfection. Obviously then, the healing will occur through a change of thought concerning what man is and what he expresses.
If man were really capable of being sick, it must be by the will of God, and, therefore any effort to heal man's sickness would be contrary to God's will, and, therefore, a sin and a mistake. Nothing is plainer in Jesus' teaching than the necessity for man to be obedient to God's will. The argument, then, that man is sick by God's will, direction, or permission,, and that he is to be healed by the doctor's skill, or intelligence, contrary to the recognized will of God, would be a fearful conclusion for the Christian thinker.
A study of Christ Jesus' words and works leads us to the natural reasoning that is called work or treatment in Christian Science. Take for an example the case of a blind man coming for healing. According to the goodness and perfection of God's work and God's plan, we should never expect God's likeness to have any defect such as blindness. Very naturally then, the patient would be told that blindness could not be real or true, and must be denied, and the perfection of creation must be claimed, expected, and acknowledged.
This method of reasoning demands faith in God on the patient's part, and when patient and healer do agree on man's perfection in accord with God's creation, then healing occurs. This result could be in accord with Jesus' promise as given in Matthew 18:19, "That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven."
Many serious thinkers have probably accepted after a fashion the fact of Jesus' healings and yet have been disinclined to believe other men than Jesus could have performed the same work, or that man of today could be successful in the healing ministry. We could scarcely find anyone who showed in his life more of the human traits than Peter, one of Jesus' disciples, and yet the record is rich with some remarkable healings accomplished through Peter's work. The healing of the lame man at the temple gate is typical and illustrative of what is taught in Christian Science. Peter and John approaching the temple observed the cripple, who had never walked, and they obviously discerned something in the man's thought that caused them to stop and talk with him. As they talked they must have seen mental response to their words, for Peter said boldly to him, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." Peter, without any doubt that the man was healed, took him by the hand and lifted him up, and immediately there was the appearance of health and right activity manifested by the man's leaping and walking. There is perhaps significance in the statement that the man was "praising God," showing that he did not ascribe his healing to any mysterious or supernatural power of Peter and John, but that it was the result of God's love and goodness toward him.
A little while later there is a record of Peter coming to another disabled man, Aeneas by name, who had been ill for a number of years. Again Peter used something of the language recorded in the healing of the man at the temple gate. On this occasion he said, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed." It is recorded that the man was immediately well.
We may well and wisely give thought to this expression of Peter's, ascribing the power to Jesus Christ. Jesus had said that those who believed on him would be able to do the things that he did. Peter was undoubtedly endeavoring to bring to the consciousness of these persons seeking healing a confidence in the method and nature of Jesus' healing work, rather than in merely the name "Christ Jesus." In our own present efforts to heal the sick, we are as certainly endeavoring to be obedient to the name, or nature, or character of Christ Jesus. Inasmuch as Jesus understood, acknowledged, and claimed for man his God-given perfection, so must the modern healer, or Christian Scientist, understand, acknowledge, and claim man's God-given perfection.
Of necessity, then, sickness or other disability needs to be denied, and rejected, and refused admission into consciousness.
The person desiring healing, as well as the assisting healer, needs also to confidently, and continually, assert, and affirm, and acknowledge the healing, or the desired result, being assured in his own consciousness that it is in accord with God's will.
Viewed in its true effects, Jesus' entire ministry was a healing effort. He not only healed sickness of all kinds, but he ministered to human thought, educating men and lifting men to right planes of thinking where fear, doubt, worry, poverty, and sin were to be overcome. Always this result was accomplished by bringing the true status of God and man to human realization.
This universal healing effort constituted Jesus, the Saviour of men; and this teaching is adopted in its entirety in Christian Science.
The average stranger may think of Christian Science as appealing only to diseased persons - those whom medicine cannot heal - but it is vastly more than that. The ministry of Christian Science does offer hope and healing to those sick of body and the ills of the flesh. Just as in Jesus' ministry also, Christian Science brings to human consciousness the full assurance that the truth about God and man understood and adopted in daily life brings surcease from every human woe.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science saw the universal possibilities for good in Jesus' work when rightly used by us. In this connection she wrote in the textbook: (p. 494): "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need. It is not well to imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number or for a limited period of time, since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good."
Thus Christian Science accepts the role of interpreter to this and subsequent ages of the universal and available healing truth of God's presence and God's power as taught by Jesus of Nazareth.
Multitudes today recognize that Christian Science, or divine Science, is the "Comforter" promised by Jesus, that would teach men all things and bring to remembrance all that he had said and taught.
Christian Science adopts as its foundation stones the promises and the works of the great Master. All the good that he promised is available to men today and always. Truly, as he said, the fields "are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal.''
Christian Science and its healing truth is available to every man among us. The pains, discords, and disappointments of this generally accepted human experience are not of God's creation or choosing, and relief there from can be had by every man who will turn in a practical way to this new-old teaching of the Saviour, propounded in Christian Science.
Prayer as taught in Christian Science is a part of the healing treatment. In considering the subject of prayer we need to remember always the confidence expressed by Christ Jesus in his prayer and in his ministry. At the tomb of Lazarus, before the call on the dead man to come forth, Jesus' prayer was one of gratitude to the Father and one of confidence that he had already been heard. At the conclusion of this prayer Jesus called upon Lazarus to come forth from the tomb, and he appeared and lived.
We need the same confidence in approaching the understanding and acknowledgment of God's will, and God's power, in the affairs of men. Jesus stated, "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Surely, we of this and all ages need to pray with this positive assurance that the will or work of God which we are attempting to see made manifest is already the fact according to God's omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence; and it is our privilege to see this perfection apparent in our lives and experiences.
In The Christian Science Journal, Sentinel and Heralds are printed testimonies of healings that are occurring, among many others. These manifestations of health and harmony which are coming into the experience of many sufferers are signs and indications that Christian Science is the same healing truth that Jesus exemplified in his ministry, and they are signposts, turning the earnest searcher toward a practical discernment and understanding of the simple truth of God and man that is taught in the Christian Science textbook.
The method of praying in Christian Science is somewhat different from the ordinarily accepted prayer of the churches. We take the attitude given by Jesus that the heavenly Father already knows our needs and supplies them without any request on our part. In praying we do not attempt to inform Deity of our wants, but rather do we claim and acknowledge that already - even now - the right desire of man is fulfilled in God's perfect creation and manifestation. Unless man may assume this, then the other assumption would be that God's plan and God's work are incomplete, unfinished, and something is required of God to complete man's harmony and perfection, which would be a violent and untenable belief.
How gratefully, confidently, and satisfactorily the man with faith in God's presence and power can turn to prayer, and joyfully rehearse for his own inspiration and change of thought the beauty of holiness: the perfection of divine creation, including man. This form of prayer is visualized in the textbook (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, - toward the contemplation of things immortal and away from materiality to the Principle of the universe, including harmonious man."
Paul may have had some such concept of prayer when he wrote: "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks." Jesus likewise taught "that men ought always to pray, and not to faint." In the textbook is commended this style of prayer (p.261): "Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts."
Prayer may be summed up briefly in Christian Science as the process of accepting all good from God, instead of seeking merely material blessings.
All too many people have been content to leave the thought of God and infinite power out of what they call their business activities. Jesus, in his first recorded public utterance at the age of twelve, remarked something of his being about his Father's business. If we are to emulate him in our lives, and endeavor to do the things that he did and as he did, we may well take a lesson from his being about his Father's business, and so attempt to conduct our own secular or business activities as though they were God's business.
Many so-called business people concede without shame that (The remainder of this lecture was not available.)
[Published in The Marion County Mail of Indianapolis, Indiana, May 19, 1944.]