The Revelation of Godís Everpresence With Man
E. Howard Hooper, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The following lecture was presented
on Tuesday evening, November 10th in the Church Edifice of First Church of
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:††††††††††††††††††
Who, in his present experience, does not earnestly yearn for the actual realization of the glorious promise contained in the opening verse of the ninety-first Psalm, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty"? Who does not yearn for the reward which comes from dwelling in that "secret place," as stated in the tenth verse, "There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling"?
True Knowledge of God Essential
Down through the ages mankind has sought and continues to seek safety and security, health, harmony, and strength through faith in God. Too often this faith has been little more than belief in a Supreme Being existing afar off in a place called heaven, beyond and above the realm in which men dwell. Such a belief, however, is not in accord with enlightened understanding of the Scriptures. Since a true knowledge of God close at hand is essential to our well-being and is humanity's means of salvation, the purpose of this lecture is to help us realize a greater awareness of the power and presence of God, here and now. Christian Science, based on the Bible, makes this practical, so that we can apply it to our present, everyday problems, thus proving that God is not afar off, but is "a very present help in trouble," as stated in the forty-sixth Psalm.
In the book of Jeremiah we read: "Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord'' (Jer, ,24). For centuries men have conceived of God as very far removed from human affairs and unknown to them.
The Apostle Paul realized this
when, on Mars' Hill, he said: "Ye men of
This worshiping of an unknown God is not confined to the early pagans and Christians, but is largely practiced in our present day, as witnessed by the inharmony prevalent in the world. This ignorance of the true nature of God, of the nearness and dearness of divine Love, is the cause of all discord and inharmony. Therefore the remedy for all the sickness, disease, and calamity that besets mortal existence lies in gaining a correct understanding of the all-power and ever-presence of God, of His perfect universe and of man as His perfect image and likeness. Writing in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," its author, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, states (p. 390), "It is our ignorance of God, the divine Principle, which produces apparent discord, and the right understanding of Him restores harmony."
Since the correct understanding of God establishes harmony in the place of discord, health in the place of sickness, peace and plenty in the place of confusion and lack, let us begin our discussion of Christian Science and its revelation of God's ever-presence with man, with you and me - by first considering God in the light of the Holy Scriptures, the Bible, the King James Version, so well known in all English Protestant churches. This book is read in all Christian Science church services throughout the world, in conjunction with the Christian Science textbook, which, as its title implies, is a "Key to the Scriptures."
Through the spiritual interpretation of the Bible we learn that God is not a magnified human, physical person, as has been generally believed, but is, as Christ Jesus declared, "a Spirit," meaning one Spirit, "and they that worship him must worship him in spirit, and in truth"- (John 4:24). God was revealed to Job as Mind, for he declared (Job ), "He is in one mind." The Apostle John wrote (I John ), "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." The Scriptures also imply that God is All-in-all; that is, all-inclusive, boundless, limitless, exhaustless.
In the light of these Scriptural verses concerning the nature and character of God, let us consider the definition of God given on page 465 of Science and Health, in these words: "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love." Mrs. Eddy then asks, "Are these terms synonymous?" and answers: "They are. They refer to one absolute God. They are also intended to express the nature, essence, and wholeness of Deity." Thus we see that these seven synonymous terms for God actually define one another, so that we can say the divine Principle is Love, Love is Life, and so on. Each of the terms conveys to us, and enlarges for us, the meaning associated with the others, and yet all are necessary to gain a broad and comprehensive knowledge of the creative power, a complete understanding of the profound significance of the word "God."
When one accepts this definition as a basis of thought (and this is the real key to the Scriptures which Mrs. Eddy has fitted to the willing hand), then there follows logically and inevitably a correct idea of the universe, including man, as the creation of God - a universe and man expressing here and now the power and might, the beauty and grandeur, of infinite intelligence, which is wholly good, and which has within it no element of harm, injury, discord, or destruction.
It is only by gaining a scientific, demonstrable understanding of God and knowing Him to be wholly good, the only power, cause, and creator, that mankind will be able to free itself from the fears and claims of the carnal mind which enslave it.
Our beloved Leader, Mrs. Eddy, sounded the keynote when she wrote in the Christian Science textbook (p. 170), "Spiritual causation is the one question to be considered, for more than all others spiritual causation relates to human progress."
Spiritual Understanding Heals
As an illustration of how the scientific understanding of God can be practically applied to solve a discordant situation, may I share with you the following experience which came directly under my observation.
A young man whom I know well found himself faced with what seemed to him to be a very unhappy and also an insurmountable situation. He was employed in a business where his duties finally became to him most unpleasant and depressing. He seemed to be at a standstill. He felt he could not continue in the firm's employ, and yet he was afraid to resign because he doubted his ability to fulfill the duties of another position if he did succeed in locating one. This young man was experiencing what might be generally termed an inferiority complex. Material pleasures, too, which had seemed important, were no longer satisfying. So it is not surprising that he found himself deep in discouragement, fear, and mental gloom. He was, in the language of Scripture, "without Christ, . . . having no hope, and without God in the world" (Eph. ). He knew something of Christian Science; so in an effort to find a way out of this hopeless, depressed state, he sought the aid of a Christian Science practitioner.
With an earnest, compassionate desire to awaken the young man to the realization and acceptance of his God-given freedom, dominion, and ability to express the qualities of courage, joy and successful accomplishment with which God has endowed man without measure, the practitioner directed the young man's attention to this definition of God in the Christian Science textbook, which has been quoted. He was encouraged to study it each day and to think of the attributes or characteristics of God as indicated by the seven synonyms given in this definition. He was further advised to express these divine qualities in his daily duties; to see in whatever he was called upon to do each day an opportunity to express the necessary quality which God had given him to accomplish successfully the work to be done.
He was assured that as he endeavored to do this, replacing the erroneous suggestions of fear, discouragement, and inability with Godlike thoughts of assurance of God's love, power, and presence right at hand to bless, other qualities belonging to man as the son of God which were latent and dormant in thought would find expression in his affairs. He then began his study of Christian Science earnestly and systematically, starting each day with the study of the weekly Lesson-Sermon found in the Christian Science Quarterly. He followed this with a period of silent prayer, in which he gratefully communed with God, thanking Him for His goodness and ever-presence, and for having given man the ability and daily opportunity to manifest, by reflection, all that expresses the nature of God, even though he did not yet see it manifested.
It was not long before the young
man began to experience a sense of joy, buoyancy, and genuine interest in his
work. The arguments of depression, fear, and incapacity were steadily losing
foothold in his thought. He steadfastly held to and accepted the truth contained
in the words of
Bible Reveals God's Law
In the book of Job (5:8) we read, "I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause." To "seek unto God" is to seek the only true way to health, happiness, peace and the only possible defense against aggression or the elements of destruction. Thus we may readily understand the importance of beginning each day in communion with God, realizing our eternal oneness with Him and being obedient to the Scriptural injunction given in Proverbs (3:5,6) in these words: "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." Thus we see that the understanding of what constitutes the true nature of God as the one supreme power, cause, creator, ever-present and infinite good, develops the ability to think and act in accordance therewith.
The Bible, which is read and
studied by all Christian Scientists, is not just one book, but many - a record
of the thoughts and outpouring of the hearts and minds of a people become great
through their search for God. In spite of their imperfect sense of spiritual
perception and their wanderings in the maze of mortality and material belief
the children of
Centuries later, therefore, in fulfillment of Scriptural prophecy, came Christ Jesus to teach and demonstrate as no one else had done the unchanging, compassionate, forgiving, loving nature of God. His marvelous works and Soul-inspiring words were not fully accepted by many of the scribes and Pharisees, the religious leaders of his time, but the so-called "common" people eagerly listened to and followed him wherever he went. How tender and understanding must have been his love for all! As they gave heed to the truths Jesus taught, and turned to him for help, they were healed of their sicknesses and infirmities. Christians of all ages have found comfort and inspiration in the accounts of Jesus' healings, as recorded in the New Testament, even though they did not know how to apply the truth he taught. This truth which Jesus expounded, lived, and demonstrated for himself and others manifested his divine or Christly nature. By the meekness and might of his transcendent life, Jesus earned and won the unique distinction or title of "Jesus the Christ" or "Christ Jesus" - "the God-crowned or the divinely royal man," as Mrs. Eddy puts it in Science and Health (p. 313).
Jesus' disciples and followers, obeying his teaching and example, continued preaching and healing in his name for about three hundred years after the crucifixion. Then this truth was lost sight of - hidden by false doctrine and the materiality of the age. It was necessary that the world be again redeemed and saved, for the light of Truth could not be forever hidden. Thus again, in fulfillment of Scriptural prophecy and the promise of Jesus that he would send another Comforter, came the revelation of Christian Science through Mary Baker Eddy.
Mary Baker Eddy
In order to obtain a correct, demonstrable
understanding of Christian Science and its mission in the world, one must have
a clear, unbiased appreciation of its Discoverer and Founder and have some acquaintance
with the facts concerning her life. Mrs. Eddy was born in
In pondering this healing, it no longer appeared to her as a miracle or something supernatural but as a natural manifestation of the unchanging power and presence of God. So assured of this was she that her physical difficulty was instantaneously healed. She arose from her bed and went into the parlor, where her clergyman and a few friends had gathered. She realized through her healing that a great spiritual truth had been revealed to her, and she was impelled to seek the Science by which her healing had been brought about. She says of this in her textbook (p. 109): "The search was sweet, calm, and buoyant with hope, not selfish nor depressing. I knew the Principle of all harmonious Mind-action to be God, and that cures were produced in primitive Christian healing by holy, uplifting faith; but I must know the Science of this healing, and I won my way to absolute conclusions through divine revelation, reason, and demonstration."
Because she confidently accepted without reservation the divine promises of Scripture and followed faithfully in the footsteps of the Master, this God-inspired Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science proved for herself and others the truth of the Bible promises and of Jesus' statement (John 14:12), "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also." She felt it was her divine mission to find the Science underlying her healing and to share it with all mankind. As the result of her fidelity, courage, love, and unselfishness, in completing her discovery and putting it into words in Science and Health, humanity today can learn how to make practical the teachings of Christ Jesus and to avail itself here and now of God's goodness, power, and presence.
Christian Science teaches that the universe of God's creating is not material but spiritual; that it does not embrace discord, disease, sin, and death but is eternally perfect and harmonious. The material sense of the universe and man, with all its discordant conditions, is not real, though seeming to be. It does not express the nature of God as recorded in the first chapter of Genesis, wherein is stated that God saw everything He had made and "behold, it was very good." It is, rather, a continuation of the Adam-dream recorded in the material account of creation given in the second chapter of Genesis.
Christian Science, in accordance with the Scriptures, declares that there is but one creator, God, Spirit, who is wholly good, and that man is the image and likeness of God. Thus man and the universe, being created of God, Spirit, must be spiritual, existing now and forever at the standpoint of perfection. Matter, therefore, is no part of God's creation and so cannot really be manifested by man and the universe. Because man is as free of corporeality as his creator, he is not enclosed in a physical body. He is a spiritual idea and so has not fallen from a state of perfection. He is not, therefore, trying to regain perfection, as orthodox theology would have us believe.
The supposition that man is not spiritual, that he has a material, physical body which needs to be dosed and doctored, is a generally accepted opinion of mankind. Christian Science rejects this opinion and declares "that Life is God, good, and not evil; that Soul is sinless, not to be found in the body; that Spirit is not, and cannot be, materialized; that Life is not subject to death; that the spiritual real man has no birth, no material life, and no death" - to quote from Science and Health (p. 288).
Jesus and the Christ
Christian Science makes a distinction
between the terms Christ and Jesus, although these terms are frequently
erroneously considered as being synonymous. Jesus was human, being the son of a
virgin. Mrs. Eddy defines Jesus as "the
highest human corporeal concept of the divine idea, rebuking and
destroying error and bringing to light man's immortality" (Science' and
Health, p. 589). Christ, she says, is "the divine manifestation of God,
which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (Science and Health,
p. 583). It should be clear that while there is a distinction between Jesus and
the Christ, they are also inseparable. It is the incorporeal Christ which
expresses the true nature of God and is His perfect manifestation. It may be
said that Christ is the saving aspect of God which comes to human consciousness
here and now to redeem it from the claims of the carnal mind - that element of
A little girl, upon hearing her mother read this verse from the Bible, exclaimed, "Mother, that means joy is the dipper." How true it is that only as one expresses joy and gratitude can he "draw water out of the wells of salvation" - liberate himself from the bondage and results of sin, sickness, disease, fear, lack, and limitation. Christian Science is truly a religion of joy, a joy that is not dependent upon doctrine or creed, nor upon the accumulation of material things, but on the understanding of God's ever-presence with man.
Christian Science teaches that joy is a quality of God. The prophet Joel wrote (l:12), "The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men." Here it is seen that lack of joy results in the lack of the daily necessities, although mortals are accustomed to believe that an abundance of material things must first be possessed before joy can be experienced.
Joy, being a quality of God, is productive, eternal, forever present. No adverse circumstance, condition, person, place, or thing can deprive one of the joy which comes from spiritually understanding God's ever-presence with man. Jesus declared, "Your joy no man taketh from you" (John ). It is in this understanding of the joyous nature of man as the reflection of God that one finds joyous salvation, which Mrs. Eddy defines in Science and Health (p: 593) as "Life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; sin, sickness, and death destroyed."
Joy and Salvation
This saving aspect of God comes to each and every one of us with healing and redemption in the proportion that we deny sin and turn away from the mortal, material
sense of intelligence in matter and reach out in humble prayer to God. This is illustrated in the experience of a man who was having frequent attacks of strangulation. He was not a Christian Scientist; so he sought the aid of a medical doctor whenever these attacks occurred. The physician was unable to do more than give temporary relief and predicted that since each attack was more severe than the previous one, the next might prove fatal. Shortly thereafter the symptoms of another attack appeared. The man, fearful of the results and the fact that materia medica knew neither the cause of the ailment nor its cure, asked his mother, who was studying Christian Science, to telephone a practitioner and request treatment in Christian Science for him.
This she did, and the practitioner gave immediate help; that is, he turned in prayer to God, realizing the divine fact that this man in his real selfhood being the son of God, was now and forever in the Father's omnipotent and loving care. The practitioner was led to turn to this statement by Mrs. Eddy in her book "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 81): "In the desolation of human understanding, divine Love hears and answers the human call for help; and the voice of Truth utters the divine verities of being which deliver mortals out of the depths of ignorance and vice. This is the Father's benediction." The spiritual truths in this statement were confidently applied to the patient with the conviction that man, being the son of God, is ever in God's loving care and that no power exists to torment man and to deprive him of his God-given harmony, freedom, and dominion. Within a half-hour the report came to the practitioner that all was well, that the patient was completely free and had joined the family at supper.
Efficacy of Prayer
Herein is seen the efficacy of prayer and the fact that nothing can ever separate man from God, "from the sweet sense and presence of Life and Truth," to quote from Science and Health (p. 304). Thus prayer or treatment in Christian Science is not a pleading with God. It is not the influence of one human mind upon another, nor is it related, in any way to what is ordinarily referred to as "faith cure." While Jesus often asked those who came to him for healing if they had faith to be healed - and Christian Science teaches that faith is a desirable quality - yet something more than the exercise of what is termed "blind faith" is involved in Christian Science treatment. It is the spiritual understanding or absolute acknowledgment of the power of God, good, and of the ever-presence of infinite perfection.
Jesus declared with authority, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John ). What is this truth we are to know - the truth concerning what? The truth concerning God, concerning Cause, concerning reality, and the truth concerning man and the universe. From what will this truth free us? The answer to this question must necessarily be that the truth concerning the nature and character of God as divine Principle, Love, Soul, Spirit, Mind, Life, and Truth frees one from all that is unlike God, for this truth is a law of annihilation and elimination to everything unlike itself.
All that can be the matter with anyone is his failure to grasp God's power and presence because of the seeming power and presence of His opposite. Christian Science shows us how to annul this seeming and to realize the allness and ever-presence of God. This spiritual fact, continuously held in consciousness, will prove to be our savior, because it is destruction to the belief in evil, disease, and death.
Importance of Right Attitude
In the Bible we read that Jesus told his disciples to cast their nets on the right side of the ship and they would find. So we, too, must cease arguing on the side of matter and put the full weight of our thought on the side of Spirit, God. Our Father works with us to accomplish this, and He never deserts us when we do our part. Divine Love is the nearest thing to us at all times, and because we are ever in the presence of Love, no pain or discord of any kind can really exist. Our part is to know this so constantly that the false belief cannot obtain or be accepted in thought and so cannot be pictured or projected on the body in sickness and disease. We are always safe and secure in God's love, shielded and protected from all belief in the reality and power of evil. We cannot be separated from God, good. St. Paul clearly understood this divine fact, as indicated in his letter to the Romans (Rom. 8:38, 39) wherein he states, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord," He also said, "For in him, we live, and move, and have our being." How comforting and reassuring it is to know that we live, not in matter or physicality; that we live in Mind, in Life, in Truth, in Love, in Soul, in Spirit, in Principle, that is to say, in God. The understanding of man's unity with God, which Jesus taught and demonstrated and which Christian Science reveals as being true, practical, and demonstrable in our present day, enables us, through the prayer of spiritual understanding, to overcome every discordant condition that may present itself.
Whatever claims to have life or existence in our human experience must be fed in order to maintain that existence. This is true in the case of what is known as human, animal, or plant life. Therefore if error claims to have existence in our daily affairs, it is because it is feeding on erroneous suggestions, such as fear, envy, malice, resentment, disappointment, discouragement, or some other argument of the carnal mind. Certainly error cannot exist in the consciousness that is filled with Godlike thoughts, for only divine ideas can dwell there, and truth and error cannot exist together. How then are we to dispose of error when it seems to present itself in our human experience? By searching consciousness to determine what we are harboring in thought that is unlike the divine nature and then casting it out. In other words, we must starve the error by rejecting the arguments and suggestions upon which it feeds, and then there will be nothing whereby it can sustain itself.
Healing Power Ever Available
In the spiritual, scientific understanding of the absolute perfection of God and His creation, including man, one becomes aware of the fact that the healing power of divine Truth and Love demonstrated by Jesus and his apostles is still present and available to those who earnestly seek it.
This was proved in the experience of a young woman. Shortly after birth and when she was but a few months old there appeared a manifestation of physical deformity. She was not growing nor developing from her waist to her feet, neither could she move or straighten her legs, and there was evidence that she suffered extreme pain. No medical diagnosis or treatment was employed, since the parents of the child were earnest, sincere students of Christian Science.
They had proved its healing efficacy on many occasions, and realizing that this distressing condition of their daughter was abnormal and needed immediate attention, they again turned in understanding prayer to God, confident that the situation could and would be healed through the ministrations of Christian Science. A Christian Science practitioner was engaged and treatment given. The parents were encouraged to look away from the material sense testimony and to strive to see and know the child as God's perfect, spiritual idea, complete, harmonious, free now and always.
While the healing was not immediate, there was continued improvement from the time treatment was begun. Within the year all evidence of the erroneous condition had disappeared, and the child could move about in a natural, harmonious manner. Although she did not walk until the age of two years, when she did walk, she was erect, strong, and healthy, with no evidence of ever having had any illness or deformity. She has grown to be an active young woman, having completed a college education and participating vigorously in various sports and athletics. She is an earnest joyous student of Christian Science, grateful for this and many other healings she has experienced, I am happy to say that I can vouch for this healing, for I personally witnessed it.
Mrs. Eddy states, in the Preface to Science and Health, the spiritual method whereby Christian Science heals in these words (Pref., p. xi): "The physical healing of Christian Science results now, as in Jesus' time, from the operation of divine Principle, before which sin and disease lose their reality in human consciousness and disappear, as naturally and as necessarily as darkness gives place to light and sin to reformation. Now, as then, these mighty works are not supernatural, but supremely natural. They are the sign of Immanuel, or 'God with us,' - a divine influence ever present in human consciousness and repeating itself, coming now as was promised aforetime,
To preach deliverance to the captives [of sense],
And recovering of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty them that are bruised."
From this it is seen that the practice of Christian Science is not merely another method of physical healing, but a spiritual ministry of the very highest type.
Thus as one is led by this inspired practice to abandon troubled beliefs of existence for spiritual understanding of the universe and the man of God's creating, human thought is lifted above the limited, finite sense of physicality. One's thought becomes spiritualized as the human sense yields to divine consciousness and becomes at one with God. Unforeseen opportunities for progress unfold and undreamed-of views of Life appear. Then evilís waning sense of reality and power, manifested in sin, disease, death, and destruction, loses its hold upon humanity. To the degree that finite human thought yields to the divine and eternal, the infinity of God and His kingdom of heaven appears as it really is and always has been, the All-in-all. In proportion as one recognizes and accepts these divine facts, he is enabled to overcome with divine wisdom the false presentations of an evil power.
Christian Science is today raising up thousands from beds of pain and from the depths of despair, failure, sin, sorrow, and all the harassing claims of the carnal mind. It is doing this through an intelligent, practical understanding of the power and availability of God. It enables the individual to know and to prove God to be Love, Life, Truth, all-pervading Spirit, and man to be the perfect reflection of God.
In closing, may I leave with you this Soul-inspiring statement of Mrs. Eddy's from her book "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. "196): "The sweet, sacred sense and permanence of man's unity with his Maker, in Science, illumines our present existence with the ever-presence and power of God, good."
[Published in The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, Dec. 3, 1953.]