Christian Science: The Revelation of Scientific Being
Adair Hickman, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
To this age, which is regarded as the most scientific in history, has come the discovery that all true Science or exact knowledge must be comprised in a knowledge of God and is therefore spiritual, divine, not human. This discovery by Mary Baker Eddy has revealed the fact that Christ Jesus was preeminently a Scientist, and that he demonstrated for mankind's example and redemption this holy Principle of divine Science, healing the sick, casting out devils or error, and raising the dead, clearly showing by this divine understanding and proof the indivisibility of Science and Christianity.
The revelation of Truth has freed religion from all mysticism, superstition, and dogmatic beliefs. It has removed science completely from the material and secular and raised it to the altitude of true Science, or "the Spirit of truth" (John ), which the Master promised "will guide you into all truth."
The Discoverer of this Science realized the vital necessity of bringing to humanity the complete understanding of the primal order of the first great cause, divine Principle, thus establishing the true nature of Science as constituting the exact knowledge of God, who is the one infinite cause and creator of all that is real and eternal.
Mrs. Eddy discovered and proved that Science and Christianity are identical in actual fact and demonstration. She saw and declared in her textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 4), "We reach the Science of Christianity through demonstration of the divine nature;" in other words, through demonstration of the spiritual and perfect nature of God and His creation, including man.
In the light of this Science, we see that Moses glimpsed this spiritual fact when he was inspired with the revelation that God is the great I AM or infinite self-existence. It was he who heard in the thunder of Sinai the command (Ex. 20:3), "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," which Christian Science explains as meaning that we shall have no mind apart from God, who is the one all-knowing divine Mind. Centuries later Christ Jesus said, "None is good, save one, that is, God" (Luke ). Equally definite was his declaration that "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John ). This assures us that all truth, or exact knowledge, must consist in a knowledge of God and is therefore spiritual.
Mrs. Eddy reached the conclusion, through revelation, that all Scriptural revealments and records of God's nature proved Him to be divine Principle. This led finally to the unalterable conclusion that spiritual causation is the law governing all that actually exists. She wrote in Science and Health (p. 275): "To grasp the reality and order of being in its Science, you must begin by reckoning God as the divine Principle of all that really is. Spirit, Life, Truth, Love, combine as one, − and are the Scriptural names for God. All substance, intelligence, wisdom, being, immortality, cause, and effect belong to God. These are His attributes, the eternal manifestations of the infinite divine Principle, Love."
Because of false education the word "Spirit," when used by the average individual uninstructed in Christian Science, seems to represent that which he can only vaguely imagine. Consequently, his concept of the word implies a sense of uncertainty or even mysticism. Spirit seems to him to be intangible, impractical, or wholly beyond his present comprehension and availability.
Christian Science, however, reveals exactly the opposite view. It sets forth the true and original meaning of the word by showing Spirit to be synonymous with Truth, Life, and Love, or divine Mind, that Mind which was in Christ Jesus, and therefore to be the only real substance or tangibility.
Now everyone can grasp the fact that the ideas of Spirit or divine Mind express Mind; that Mind is revealed and understood through the ideas which express it. For example, justice, which is of such vital, practical value and importance to us all, has its origin and being in divine Mind. The moment one becomes aware of this, he can individually claim and utilize this idea, the only justice there is. Notwithstanding the fact that the idea cannot be seen or cognized by the material senses, everyone can see the effects of justice in the life of every spiritually enlightened individual. Likewise, to love our neighbor as ourselves is a spiritual idea and is the outcome of the understanding of divine Love; it is an idea of divine Love.
Conversely, injustice is not an idea. It is only a lie about a divine fact and therefore has no cause, reality, or authority. Similarly, hatred is found in the same category. It is a mere negation or lie claiming that divine Love is absent. In like manner health is seen to be a spiritual fact, and disease only a lie about health. Christ Jesus declared Satan, or the carnal mind, the sum total of evil's claim, to be a liar and the father or creator of lies, but of lies only. In this way he destroyed evil. Whether it was manifested as sin, disease, or lack, our Master proved it to be without a cause; hence, impotent in effect. He exposed it as a false statement about God's perfect creation. This lie of evil, Christ Jesus annulled through his complete knowledge of Truth and set free from evil's assumed control those who had been bound by sin, sickness, and sorrow.
Christian Science enables us to follow this same method of impersonalizing and disproving all of evil's claims. Evil must be denied all actuality, presence, or power in the face of God's omnipotent goodness. It is of vital importance for us to differentiate between true ideas emanating from the one divine Mind and the false beliefs or suggestions claiming to proceed from so-called mortal mind. Since consciousness, the great I AM or Ego, is the basic fact, we must recognize this consciousness or divine Mind as being fundamental, the All-in-all.
As one realizes the facts of being, these truths begin to operate or manifest themselves as immutable law in human experience. In this way mankind is liberated from all self-imposed woes and limitations.
Could anything be more forbidding, hard, and hopeless than for one to be told as fact that he has an incurable disease, that matter-substance is capable of destroying health and life, and is doing so, and that there is nothing known to medical practice that can permanently remove its cause and prevent its fatal effects? But when one learns through the study of Science and Health that life is wholly spiritual, hence indestructible, that divine Mind's ideas alone are substantial, perfect, and imperishable, governed by Mind and not by material law, that which appeared to be incurable disease disappears, is proved to be unreal. Through the understanding of this Science many an obstacle, obstruction, or agonizing fear has been dissolved and permanently healed.
The following healing of infantile paralysis occurred many years ago and was related to me by the one who was healed and who has since become a Christian Science practitioner.
This attack of polio occurred when she was a small child, badly crippling and incapacitating her. In fact, the condition seemed to become increasingly worse. After a thorough examination of the child, the last physician consulted by her father said: "When they reach this stage, they usually live about three months. If your daughter lives beyond that time, she will be a hopeless cripple physically and, I fear, mentally." The same day, however, an aunt of the child recommended to the parents that they try Christian Science. This they agreed to do.
The following day the little girl was taken to a Christian Science practitioner for treatment. Desiring to cooperate fully with the practitioner, her parents began the study of Christian Science immediately and also attended church services. Nevertheless the afflictive condition persisted without appreciable change for a considerable length of time. One day the practitioner, sensing the great affection the child had for her father, asked, "Do you think that your father wants to see you suffer?" The child was so sure of her father's love that the question seemed preposterous, and she answered with a vigorous "No!" Then with a sense of true tenderness and inspiration the practitioner told her about her heavenly Father, the God who is infinite Love, the Father of us all. She brought to the little girl's realization the fact that because God is Love, He could never create anything to afflict His child, and since He had not created this affliction, the condition was not real or true. She assured the child that she could be as certain of God's love, care, and protection as she was of her human father's devotion.
The child was deeply impressed with what had been told her and pondered the words of the practitioner, particularly the thought of the heavenly Father's love for His child. This spiritual awakening was evidenced several days later when she suddenly arose from her chair and walked across the room to meet her father. The complete healing was accomplished in about a week and has remained permanent.
At the age of sixteen this young girl was a contestant in a tennis tournament when she defeated the daughter of the physician who had pronounced the verdict of incurability. The doctor in greeting her inquired, "How is your little sister?" Whereupon she replied, "I have no little sister." Calling her by name, "But aren't you the daughter of my old friend?" he asked. "Yes," was her reply, "but I have no little sister." Suddenly realizing that here was his former patient, he exclaimed, "Why, this is the child!"
From the Christian Science textbook we learn that such a healing is in no wise supernatural but in reality "divinely natural, . . . a phenomenon of Science" (p. 591).
The Real Man − God's Image
When once it is seen and acknowledged that God is infinite Mind, Spirit, it follows that man, His image and likeness, is wholly representative or the full representation of that Mind; that he is spiritual, not physical. But how, you ask, is this to be realized and made practical in our human experience? A pointed illustration of the application of this truth to a complete denial of truth is shown in the following experience.
A man, whom I knew intimately, had suffered for several years from what had been diagnosed by his physician as inflammatory rheumatism. He had received medical treatment without appreciable benefit and turned to Christian Science for help. After procuring a copy of Science and Health and studying it for a few days, he decided to seek the aid of a Christian Science practitioner. He explained to the worker what he thought was the cause of the difficulty. He added, however, that following his brief perusal of the textbook, it appeared to him that Christian Science taught the unreality of evil and disease from the standpoint of God's allness. Frankly, he said, he could not accept this premise, since disease and suffering seemed more real to him than anything else. The practitioner explained that Christian Science reveals God, good, as infinite; hence the only cause or creator and that "God . . . could not create an atom or an element the opposite of Himself," as Science and Health declares (p. 583).
Christian Science makes plain that what appears to be affliction is only the false evidence of material sense and is therefore unreal from the standpoint of absolute Truth. The patient was also told that his spiritual individuality would assert itself in order to silence the false claims of the physical senses and change their so-called afflictive evidence. The patient countered that it seemed dishonest for him to say that he was well when he appeared to be so ill. The practitioner assured him that he was well in Science, and that from the standpoint of spiritual reality it was dishonest for him to deny his God-given birthright of freedom and dominion and to permit himself to be identified with the afflictive suggestions of mortal mind. Moreover it was pointed out that at the time the patient had sought medical aid, it was with the hope that the doctor would make the disease unreal, in other words, would heal it. Finally, the patient began to glimpse the difference between man made in God's likeness, the full representation of divine Mind, governed by His unchanging law of health and harmony, and the mortal misconception of man, expressing the fears and limiting suggestions of false mortal belief.
After the Christian Science treatment was given, the patient said he felt better but wished to come again the following day. The next morning when he arrived, it was evident that he had realized a greater sense of freedom, but he was still struggling with the thought of two creations, the spiritual and material. The argument persisted that it was not honest for him to declare that he was God's perfect reflection, when he appeared to express so much that was unlike good. Turning to Mrs. Eddy's Prose Works, the practitioner read to him the following sentence from "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 242): "Unless you fully perceive that you are the child of God, hence perfect, you have no Principle to demonstrate and no rule for its demonstration." As a result of this, the patient discerned something of man's coexistence with God, his true spiritual relationship, and from that moment his recovery was rapid. While this healing brought complete liberation from the belief of disease and suffering, far more significant was the spiritual awakening and regeneration which followed.
From the foregoing experience we see how mortal thought is slow to leave its negative standpoint of doubt and skepticism. It is opposed to advancement along any new line, and most of all to the advancement into the understanding of man's true spiritual being.
As one recognizes his spiritual individuality as his only true selfhood, the false mortal concept or misrepresentation of man recedes, and it will finally vanish from human consciousness. In this way we learn that any belief of existence apart from God is wholly mythological and deceptive. It is only as man appears in God's likeness, embodying Godlike qualities - love, mercy, justice, wisdom, unvarying rectitude, and the like − that the health, wholeness, or complete harmony of his being is made manifest.
When the ancient prophet asked, "Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?" (Mal. ), it is evident that he perceived something of man's true spiritual nature, that selfhood which is different from the imperfect, humanly begotten selfhood of physical sense. Christian Science shows man's real existence to be spiritually mental, and the understanding of this fact is true self-knowledge. Until this fundamental truth is perceived in Science, it is not possible for one to realize his real, indestructible identity.
For generations there has been a continuous effort to reconcile the Adam or mortal concept of man with the son of God or the man of God's creating. This mistaken tendency has hindered the redemption or salvation of man. This salvation is made possible only by realizing ever more clearly that the Christ ideal, as demonstrated by Jesus, reveals the real man of God's creating.
Evil Without Origin
The age-old question recurs, If God is infinite good, where did evil come from, in other words, where did sin, sickness, fear, hate, jealousy, envy, malice, greed, revenge, and poverty originate? Christian Science answers this question fully by proving evil's unreal nature by healing all the ills that flesh is heir to and in overcoming every so-called law of limitation and deprivation. In this way Christian Science shows that what appear to human sense as discordant or afflictive conditions are only phases of the mist, or Adam-dream of existence. This Science makes plain that because God, good, is infinite, evil can have no cause or evidence. All of evil's suppositional activities can be nothing but illusion.
The acceptance of the afflictive evidence of material sense as real or true would make God the author of all mortal discord. This would imply that God was cognizant of evil, even sending affliction as a means of mankind's final redemption. Indeed, this is the generally accepted theory believed and taught by some religious denominations today. With so erroneous a premise the human race could never arrive at the truth of being. Mankind could never grasp life's real nature and the governing law of good nor find liberation from sin, disease, and death. If God knows and sends evils, how can mortals expect to be healed of them? Jesus continually healed disease in defiance of all supposed material law as he went about his Father's business. He pronounced death an enemy to be overcome and not yielded to; and did he not give full proof of this in raising the dead and in his own unparalleled resurrection from the grave?
Today this divinely scientific Christianity, Christian Science, is lifting a great burden of fear and hopelessness from human hearts. It is giving practical proof of God's goodness and allness and is bringing to mankind a saving sense of the divine presence and of man's coexistence with God. Mrs. Eddy has written (Pulpit and Press, p. 4), "You have simply to preserve a scientific, positive sense of unity with your divine source, and daily demonstrate this." Paul stated this vital fact when he wrote to the Christians in Corinth, "We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Cor. 3:18). This is the realism which Christian Science is bringing ever more clearly to view in human experience.
In this way we learn that the actual realm in which we live, move, and have our being is infinite Mind which is expressed in ideas which make manifest the nature of the one Mind, the all-creative primal cause, Spirit. Governed by this Mind and not by material belief, that which appeared as affliction, sin, or lack is proved to be false, an illusion, and when it is seen as such it disappears from human experience. In like manner, fear, discouragement, and utter hopelessness are being destroyed in human consciousness.
In the practice of this Science we soon learn that demonstration means establishing in human consciousness that which already exists in spiritual perfection. Demonstration is the Science or truth of infinite Mind brought to human apprehension.
Mrs. Eddy and Her Discovery
Paul's words written to the Corinthians centuries ago pointed them to the prime requirement of Christianity. "Wherefore," he wrote, "henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more" (II Cor. ). To know no man after the flesh but to recognize and bring forth to human apprehension man's true spiritual individuality in the "stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. ), this Mrs. Eddy perceived to be divine Science, leading into all truth, and the only certain way of individual and universal salvation. She grasped the full significance of Paul's message when she discovered Christian Science, which she gave to the world, first through her demonstration of it in healing all manner of affliction, and subsequently through her textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures."
In order clearly to understand this Science one must also recognize and appreciate the place of its Revelator and rightly appraise her great achievement in discovering Christian Science and establishing the Cause. Deep spirituality, together with self-renunciation and love for God and man, alone enabled her to receive and present this Science which has reinstated primitive Christianity with its spiritual healing. Her great unselfed love supplied Mrs. Eddy with the incentive, wisdom, and courage required to give this truth to the world steeped in materialism and dogma.
On every hand evidence is increasing that since the discovery of this Science, the aggressive, groundless claims of materialism, or what Paul terms the flesh, must be denied and superseded by the realities of Spirit or Truth. It is spiritual understanding unfolded through the teachings of this Science which awakens us from the dream of materialism to the recognition of man as an idea or reflection of God.
This Science of Christianity is the Comforter pointing the way of deliverance to all mankind, for in the light of Christ, Truth, man sees and knows himself as God's idea, or as the son of God. This is the Christianity which our Master practiced in healing. Through the revelation of Christian Science we learn to interpret life aright as wholly good, therefore substantial, imperishable, because inseparable from the eternal power and boundless creation of Mind, God.
Mrs. Eddy founded her church upon the rock of Christ, Truth. She dwelt constantly on the importance of spiritual understanding superseding mere blind faith. The strength of the Church of Christ, Scientist, lies in the understanding that in following the teachings of this Science, its adherents are following the Christ ideal and not personality. Indeed, its Discoverer admonished her followers to follow her only so far as she followed Christ.
In the early period of the establishment of the Christian Science movement, Mrs. Eddy's teachings were assailed by some religionists and natural scientists because she exposed the fallacy of the dual belief of mind and matter and took her stand for the oneness and allness of Spirit, God. Thus she taught the same pure monotheism that had been taught and demonstrated by Christ Jesus centuries ago. This teaching is gradually bringing about great changes in human experience. The entire material theory of man and the universe has been shaken since the advent of this Science. The trend of thought among many eminent physicists has been towards the conclusion reached by the Discoverer of this Science when she wrote her profound "scientific statement of being," which reads in part, "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all" (Science and Health, p. 468).
A Christianly Scientific Healing
At this point I should like to tell you of the healing of a young woman whose background had been darkened by discord, injustice, and fear which had resulted in a long and difficult struggle. Her acceptance of these discords as real culminated in the appearance of physical symptoms which she believed indicated an incurable disease. Owing to her medical training she consulted an able physician who, after a thorough examination including the taking of X-ray pictures, confirmed in his diagnosis her fear of cancer and stated that the disease was in the process of development, but he felt that the condition could probably be overcome by a surgical operation.
However, just prior to the examination, this young woman had begun the study of Christian Science and had reached the conclusion that in this Science she had found the truth of being, indeed the "pearl of great price." Her primary desire was to prove her fidelity to the law of God which had been revealed to her. She was also hopeful that by faithful application of this law she would be released from the affliction. Then and there she decided to rely wholly upon God as He is revealed in Christian Science. This necessitated not only steadfast adherence to divine Principle, but also firm rejection and denial of the disease and the so-called medical law of incurability. The time came when she was faced with a critical test of her fidelity to Science, but she remained steadfast in Truth and won her victory on the side of divine reality in the realization of complete freedom.
Later, at the urgent solicitation of her family and friends, who were not Christian Scientists, she agreed to comply with their request for another examination by the doctor. After the physician had taken the second X-ray pictures, he was engaged for an unusually long time in developing and studying them. When he returned to the patient he was very mystified. "There must have been a mistake in the diagnosis," he said, "because there is no trace of the disease to be found."
Breaking Up of Material Beliefs
Mrs. Eddy has written in Science and Health (p. 82), "In a world of sin and sensuality hastening to a greater development of power, it is wise earnestly to consider whether it is the human mind or the divine Mind which is influencing one."
Jesus showed through his teaching and example that the Christ-way of thinking and demonstrating was the right and only way. The Master did not cognize as true anything contrary to spiritual reality which includes the highest welfare of man. This true way of thinking was and is the demonstration of divine Science. Mortals have failed to find the right way because they have not understood and accepted the practical, scientific import of Jesus' teaching based upon the one Mind, God.
Freedom from the erroneous influence of the so-called carnal mind which claims to dominate and subjugate mankind can be realized only through unswerving adherence to Truth, divine Principle, because such adherence forestalls the drifting of thought into the vain philosophies and wide ranging of the human will.
The severity of the present conflict of ideologies in human experience and its cause were clearly foreseen and foretold by Mrs. Eddy over half a century ago. In her textbook may be found this arresting admonition, accompanied by the one constructive way to meet the test: "Already the shadow of His right hand rests upon the hour. Ye who can discern the face of the sky, − the sign material, − how much more should ye discern the sign mental, and compass the destruction of sin and sickness by overcoming the thoughts which produce them, and by understanding the spiritual idea which corrects and destroys them" (p. 233).
Today it becomes increasingly necessary for us to recognize this claim of erroneous influence. Our individual experience will prove progressive and profitable in proportion as it is governed by the divine Mind, or futile in the degree that it is influenced by the human will.
The claim of a selfhood apart from God, a mind capable of knowing evil as well as good, is the error from which proceed all the afflictions of mankind. How important then for us to recognize this basic error of many minds and to identify ourselves with the one Mind, one God, in order to express our true indestructible individuality!
At this time when the material foundations of the world are being utterly shaken, when all that is believed to be secure and substantive is found to be wholly transient and insecure, even by the so-called materialists themselves, Christian Science enables us to perceive and hold steadfastly to the divine realities of being. These realities are based on the unshakable foundation of Spirit, Mind, and its ever-present ideas. The Scriptures point clearly to this present-day overturning, where in Hebrews 12:27, the writer speaks of the removing of those things which are shaken, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
The poet Tennyson once saw a pine tree growing beside a cataract or waterfall. Its shadow fell across the tumbling water, and the poet observed that "the pine tree stood firm" but "the cataract shook the shadow." And so today, the turbulent currents of passing events are shaking only the shadows or semblances of false material belief in order "that those things which cannot be shaken may remain." Whatever is grounded on the everlasting certainty of spiritual foundation or Truth can never be shaken or destroyed. Christian Science reverses the evidence of the material senses as the Master did, thus revealing true spiritual existence intact and unassailable.
What a profound and far-reaching discovery Mrs. Eddy made when she showed scientifically that the entire material theory of man and the universe is false and unreal, the Adam-dream, just an illusion or shadow which has in no way touched God's perfect spiritual creation! Christ Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matt. 24:35). It is the material concept of heaven and earth which must be exchanged for the true or spiritual concept, in accordance with Jesus' words. The Master's words were and are the truth of Spirit. They express the verity of Mind's ideas, the forever reality of God's reflection. Because of this they are immortal. They will never pass away.
True Versus False Government
We see evident at this time a menacing form of the carnal will, expressing itself nationally and racially, leading to strife, division, and destructiveness instead of to regeneration, unity, and peace which the world so greatly needs, and for which it seems blindly to grope. We must be strong in our resolve and steadfast in our effort to resist this mental aggressor.
From the viewpoint of scientific Christianity, what is called totalitarianism today is but a counterfeit of the all-ruling Mind, God.
How atheistic is the belief in a one-man ruler compelling the worship of a god known as the state. The demands of this despotic rule require complete subjection of the individual in which his freedom, initiative, and individuality are submerged. The materialists' outcry of doubt, skepticism, and utter denial of the supremacy of spiritual power continues without abatement. This tenacious trust in the human will, matter-substance, and material law, rises today in adamantine resistance to the appearing of the spiritual idea of God's omnipotence and government by the divine Mind.
All will agree that the issue becomes clearer each hour: Shall God rule or shall the carnal will and mammon govern mankind? Science and Health tells us that in "reflecting God's government, man is self-governed" (p. 125). It is upon this fundamental rule that the democratic ideal of government is founded.
An understanding of this scientific fact of God's all-power gives a new significance to Paul's words to the Corinthians (II Cor. 10:5) where he alludes to "casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." This means the casting down of the imagination of materialism as power. This is the claim of the carnal will that would exalt itself above spiritual perfection or reality. It is materialism which falsely claims realism in imperfection and finiteness. Do not these words of Paul also imply that every thought of science, theology, and medicine is designed to be brought ultimately into obedience to the recognition and conscious government of the spiritual idea, or the Christ, thus fulfilling the Psalmist's prophetic vision, "All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: . . . for the kingdom is the Lord's: and he is the governor among the nations?" (Ps. 22:27,28.)
Science and Health devotes an entire chapter to the subject of prayer, explaining its true nature and power and how it is to be most effectually used in Christian Science. It tells us that prayer "cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it" (p. 2). Many humble seekers after Truth have learned through studying this remarkable chapter that righteous prayer means right thinking, and thus they learn to pray the prayer which is heard of God and availeth much.
In Christian Science, prayer is a ceaseless acknowledgment of God's allness and of man's unity with God, good. Through such prayer one learns to accept and utilize the good that is already his by divine reflection.
As we become conscious of the spiritual ideas that reveal God and acknowledge our true selfhood to be His image and likeness, we express more and more of those qualities which give outward evidence of man's God-given nature.
The paramount purpose of prayer is to establish in human consciousness our true spiritual God-governed identity. It is to claim our rightful estate of spiritual dominion intact and unassailable. This has always been the mission of the Christ and such is its mission today in Christian Science − to bring to the world the realization of that divine Science through which God has revealed Himself as infinite and eternal Love.