God’s Man or Adam’s Man

 

Dorothy Holder Jones, C.S., of Washington D.C.

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

Have you ever had an experience that changed your life overnight? I did. It was a mental and spiritual awakening. There were healings, and life-long questions about God were answered.

I had seen proof of the promise Jesus made when he declared, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33)

But the story behind all of this is why I'm here. You see, I had glimpsed, to some degree, what the Bible and Christian Science are saying about God and man.

When I gave this experience some deep thought, I came to the conclusion that there were three factors involved, and I'll be talking about them throughout the lecture. Now, these factors may not occur in every instance of spiritual awakening, but I've come to see that they're usually present, even though they may not be recognized.

The first factor is what I call a mental readiness for the awakening. Second, I consider to be the influence of the Christ. Third, is an acceptance of the revelation of Truth contained in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. I'll be telling you more about this book and its author, Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science.

Right now, I want to elaborate upon these three factors, relate how they occurred in my own life. This will help to illustrate the subject of the lecture, God's man or Adam's man.

This mental state I mentioned was made up of things I believed and felt before I became a student of Christian Science. Like many people in various Christian denominations, I earnestly wanted to obey God and be a good Christian. But I had a feeling that there was something more to be known about God than I knew. I couldn't label it an intellectual wrestling. You might call it a spiritual yearning.

Also, I had concepts about Christianity that those around me didn't share. For one thing, I thought it was my Christian duty to be healthy. This led me to assume that food was God's medicine. If God had put food here on earth, I reasoned, He must have put the right kind to keep us well. So I spent many hours studying nutrition and preparing vitamin-rich meals.

You can see that this first factor, my mental readiness, included a belief in God, as well as a desire to know more about God. But alongside those thoughts were false concepts which were ready to be influenced by the Christ.

For example, one day when I was chopping some green peppers into a bowl of grated cabbage, I found myself thinking: if God put all this good food here on earth to keep my family well, why does it take so much of my time to prepare it? It seemed to me that God would have preferred me to spend more time thinking about Him, or studying the Bible or something, instead of worrying about things such as green peppers and cabbage. You see, it was dawning on me that there was something more to existence than material bodies that needed to be nourished by certain kinds of matter.

That moment of spiritual reasoning had such an influence on my thought that I stopped depending on food for our well-being. I stopped giving food a power it just didn't have. I began to trust more in God's care for all of us. Now let me clarify this. There's nothing wrong with enjoying wholesome food. But, you can see in my case, I was making a god of it!

There were other experiences, but the incident most related to my story happened one Sunday just before Christmas. I was teaching a Sunday School class of nine-year-old girls. One of them asked me: "Mrs. Jones, why did my grandmother have to die?"

Ordinarily, I might have made some comment about it being God's will. But I couldn't that day. Something had changed my thinking! I couldn't explain what it was, but suddenly I had a very deep conviction that death was no part of God's doing. Of course, I comforted the child. But for days afterward I felt overwhelmed, almost depressed, by what I thought was my ignorance of God.

Then, on New Year's Day, when members of my family were making New Year's resolutions, I found myself saying that my resolution for that year was to find out more about God!

Now we've come to that second factor. It's the Christ. Those mental stirrings, those promptings to reach out beyond a material sense of things to a higher, more spiritual view, were what I came to identify later as the Christ.

You may be thinking: wasn't your mental readiness another way of explaining the activity of the Christ? In a way. The Christ was certainly preparing me mentally. But I'd like to separate the first factor — which included my willingness to yield — from the second factor, the influence of the Christ. But I want to move along and tell you about the third factor: my acceptance of the revelation.

Just a few nights after I'd made that resolution to find out more about God, I was introduced to Christian Science. I had no quarrel with what I was told about Christian Science. I'd always believed God could heal. I had faith in the power of prayer. But something rather dramatic happened. I'd been given a copy of the textbook, Science and Health. I turned to page 465 and read this: "Question: What is God? Answer: God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love."

The impact of that moment is indescribable. All I can recall at this point is that I was certain this was the revelation of some great Truth. And I was certain of something else. It wasn't something Mrs. Eddy had humanly devised. God had revealed it to her!

Within twenty-four hours after I began to read the textbook there were five instantaneous healings in our home: a burn, a nosebleed, a headache, a sore throat, and a sprained knee. Each of these healings came about after I had read other statements in Science and Health and accepted them without resistance or reservation.

Now, I had healings before through prayer, but never as the result of reading a book.

So what made Science and Health so unique? For one thing, it explains the teachings of Christ Jesus. It reveals the spiritual nature of God and His creation. And, as I continued to read, I found an answer to every question I'd ever had about God.

 

Healing is spiritual awakening

By this time you may be thinking: but what does all this have to do with me? I've heard Christian Science can help me with my problems. How does it heal?

Everything I've told you is related to healing. Every human problem, whether it is physical, financial, mental, or social, is basically a theological problem because it concerns one's concept of God and man. And in Christian Science the solution to every problem comes as we yield to a spiritual concept of God and man.

Actually, healing is awakening. It's awakening to what is already real and true about God and His creation. Let me illustrate these points with a healing.

A young mother I know had vivid proof of these statements one afternoon when her twelve-year old son fell from a tree and injured his back.

She'd been studying Christian Science for about a year and was reluctant to force her religious convictions on her son. And, she didn't want to prevent her husband from seeking medical help for the boy if he so desired. So, she offered to take her son to a hospital.

But the boy strongly insisted that she call a Christian Science practitioner to pray for him. He'd learned a lot about God that year in a Christian Science Sunday School. Because God was the only Cause and Creator, and He'd created only good, whatever wasn't good was no part of God's creation and therefore it had no power to harm his man. This was why, the instant he felt the tree branch break under his weight, and realized he was falling, the boy could yell, "It's a lie! It's a lie!"

The mother helped her son home and tried to reach her husband at his office. But the line stayed busy, so she called a practitioner.

She didn't mince words. She blurted right out that her son had fallen about twenty-five feet, landed on his back, and was in terrible pain. In other words, she reported what was visible to the eye. But the mother and practitioner knew the report was a lie about the boy's true being. Because he was God's man, he coexisted with God and could never fall from his high estate. But this wasn't ignoring the severe physical symptoms. Together, practitioner, mother, and child, had to break through the belief that he was mortal and material and separated from God.

These three spent several hours in quiet communion with ever-present divine Love, realizing the truth of man's inviolate perfection. This wasn't a pleading with God to make a mortal whole again, but a joyous acknowledging that man, made in His image, is forever unfallen, upright, and free.

The practitioner assured the mother, "Man can't be pulled earthward. He can only be pulled Godward!"

The young man progressed rapidly. Most of the pain vanished within moments and the soreness gradually subsided. Twenty-four hours later he was back playing catcher on his Little League ball team. And there were no aftereffects.

His healing was so complete that at the end of that season he pitched for his team in the All-Star tournament, and was the only twelve-year-old pitcher who played the entire game without requiring a relief pitcher.

You can see from this experience why Christian Scientists choose spiritual healing over medical help. It's not because we don't believe in doctors, as we often hear. It's because we've learned that the prayer of spiritual understanding is an effective healing prayer.

Healing through prayer has always been a natural ingredient of Christianity. Many churches today are practicing some form of healing. But there's a difference between merely seeking a bodily cure and genuine spiritual healing. Spiritual healing, as we see it, goes beyond the relief of physical distress. It goes right to the heart of the problem to man's relationship with God. And this regenerates!

It should be obvious by now that positive thinking could not have restored that young man. Nor auto-suggestion. What did restore him was the scientific prayer which Christian Scientists are convinced was the healing method of Jesus and his disciples.

Mrs. Eddy describes this prayer in Science and Health: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Savior saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick. Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy." (pp. 476-477)

 

The distinction between God's man and Adam's man

This spiritual understanding I've mentioned, the awakening I told you about earlier, and the healing I just described, are related to the distinction Christian Science makes between God's man and Adam's man.

To clarify this, let's consider the first and second chapters of Genesis in the Bible. The first chapter of Genesis records God's creation, the one He beheld as "very good" (Gen. 1:31). Let me read what this account says about man: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." (Gen. 1:27)

The second chapter of Genesis tells the story of Adam and Eve. It gives the impression of an entirely different creation, one in which the Lord God made man of the dust of the ground. But there's a verse in that second chapter that's significant to this discussion. It's this one: "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept." (Gen. 2:21)

As you may know, there are quite a few theories set forth about those first two chapters in Genesis. But Christian Science takes a radical view of both. In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy explains that the first chapter of Genesis records the one and only creation of the universe, and this is a spiritual creation. What's the basis for this view?

One reason is that Jesus himself defined God as Spirit, adding, "... and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24) So, if God is Spirit, His creation would be a spiritual creation. Certainly the man He created in His own image would be a spiritual kind of man.

This means that the second chapter, the allegory of Adam and Eve, represents a false concept of creation. It describes a sinful mortal living in a matter world, all of which is a misconception of the real man, made in God's image.

This clarification about the two accounts of creation was a turning point for me. But I gained further insight when I read Mrs. Eddy's definition of the deep sleep. You see, she refers to the deep sleep that fell upon Adam as the "Adam-dream". This term so fascinated me that I checked it out for myself. I went through those passages in Genesis, and made an interesting discovery: there's no indication that Adam ever woke up!

Things really fell into place then. I saw there had never been two kinds of man — God's man and Adam's man. There was only one: God's man. And the false concept known as the race of Adam was only a belief that man is a mortal. Think about this: the word mortal means death. It comes from the root word "mors". Really, could mortality be what God, divine Life, has bestowed upon His precious children?

So, the only existence Adam's man has is in ignorant mortal thought, or belief. And belief has a hypnotic hold on thought, until thought is enlightened by understanding.

It's interesting that the definition of hypnotism is deep sleep. When we sleep, whatever we dream seems absolutely real, until we wake up. So, we might say, we dream the dream of Adam until the Christ awakens us.

Surely this must be what the Apostle Paul meant when he exclaimed, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." (Eph. 5:14)

This provides an insight into some of the misconceptions the public has about Christian Science. Many of these misconceptions stem from a misunderstanding of what we're saying about those first two chapters in Genesis. But our standpoint remains clear and consistent.

Mrs. Eddy writes: "Anybody, who is able to perceive the incongruity between God's idea and poor humanity, ought to be able to discern the distinction (made by Christian Science) between God's man, made in His image, and the sinning race of Adam." (Science and Health, p. 345)

 

The Christ awakens us from the Adam dream

You've already seen examples of what the Christ does. Now I want to clarify just what the Christ is, according to Christian Science. The Christ is God's redeeming message and healing power. Jesus is our Way-shower. He has shown us all the way of salvation. It's through his life that we see what is meant by the expression "son of God". Though Jesus the man was crucified, rose from the grave, and ascended, the Christ is eternally with us.

Another way of explaining the Christ is that it's the divine influence in human consciousness which shows us our link with God. Whenever we feel the impulse to be kind, to refrain from anger or revenge, this hints at the presence of the Christ. Whenever we yearn to know more about God, to draw closer to Him, the Christ has touched our consciousness.

Sometimes the Christ comes dramatically. Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus is an example of this. But the effect of the Christ can also be gentle and gradual.

Someone may be wondering at this point: if the Christ has never left the earth, why hasn't the world been regenerated by now? Why hasn't mankind awakened from this Adam-dream? That's a good question. The answer, of course, is the deep sleep.

Let me illustrate. Have you ever been sound asleep in a dark room and someone came in and switched on the overhead light? Some of us might not notice the light — we'd just keep on sleeping. Or, we might become conscious of it gradually and after a bit open our eyes. It's quite possible that some of us would be pained by the light and pound the pillows in protest. Then again, someone else might throw a pillow and break the light so it could never again interrupt his sleep!

This analogy indicates the resistance of mortal thought to yielding to spiritual existence. And it gives a clue as to why spiritual healing was lost by the third century A.D. Spiritual healing, as surely as spiritual awakening, depends on how totally we let the Christ break through the dream of material existence.

It's encouraging to know we don't have to have a deep understanding of all these things in order for the Christ to shatter this dream. I had a lovely proof of this early in my experience. One morning as I was helping my little girl get dressed, I noticed an ugly ringworm on her body. I'd seen spots similar to this on neighbors' children. But I refused to be alarmed. Just that morning, I'd read the Christian Science Bible Lesson on the subject, "Adam and Fallen Man," and the inspiration of that study was still with me. Suddenly, this thought came to me: "Are you going to believe this child is a mortal with material flesh that can be diseased? Or will you accept her perfection as God's image?" And I began to see that because God didn't create disease — it certainly wasn't there in the first chapter of Genesis — I didn't have to fear it or honor it. But, I saw something more. I couldn't picture her with a healthy matter body any more than a diseased matter body.

When this clear realization came to me, along with it came a wonderful sense of peace. My daughter called me back shortly. By then I'd forgotten about the ringworm, until I realized I was looking at the very place it had been. There was no longer the slightest trace of it. And, she never had another one.

I had glimpsed just a little of the distinction Christian Science was making between God's man and Adam's man.

I wish I could say that every healing in Christian Science is this simple and clear-cut and quick, but I've come to see that underlying every spiritual healing are the same three factors I brought out in the beginning. There must be a mental readiness for the healing, and a willingness to yield to the influence of the Christ, and an acceptance of the revelation of the truth of God and man.

 

Divine Mind, not the human mind, is the healer

One of the most progressive steps in our awakening from the Adam-dream is to learn what the Apostle Paul meant by "putting on the Mind of Christ".

You see, the belief in a material body includes the belief of a material brain. Most people assume that brain is their source of thought. But this is a limited sense of what true intelligence is, a false belief about omniscience, which is God, divine Mind.

But the belief that man has a personal mind deludes a lot of people into thinking the human mind can cure. Such mental methods as mind control, psychic healing, witchcraft, are all, more or less, projections of human willpower, springing from the human mind. There's nothing new about methods that rely on mental manipulation. Only the names for them change.

Some people who're familiar with the mental methods I just named, but who're not familiar with the spiritual nature of Christian Science healing, sometimes confuse it with one of these methods. Even hypnotism.

For example, I've been asked to explain on several occasions how Christian Scientists knew for sure they weren't using hypnotism when they prayed for themselves and others. Perhaps we were merely hypnotizing people into believing they were well. I pointed out that people hypnotize themselves into believing they're sick. And the truth about the spiritual perfection of God and His man, dehypnotizes them. It wakes them up from the dream that existence is material.

This false concept of a mortal personality with a personal mind isn't easy to give up. It was just one reason so many resisted the Master's teachings. They were convinced that Adam's man was really the image of God. And this caused them to overlook the Christ right in their midst.

At one point, Jesus' healings were labeled the works of Beelzebub. That was a popular name in those days for the devil. But the Master's response to this accusation clearly separates the human mind's attempt to heal from the spiritual method of the Christ.

Let me read this from Matthew: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: and if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? ... But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you." (Matt. 12:25,26,28)

So you see, Adam's man has no power to regenerate himself. Only the Christ can save mankind from its deep sleep, with its sins of the flesh.

 

Spiritual sense enables us to understand the spiritual

This is why awakening from the Adam-dream is not a one-time event. It's an on-going process. Mrs. Eddy says, "A grain of Christian Science does wonders for mortals, so omnipotent is Truth, but more of Christian Science must be gained in order to continue in well doing." (Science and Health, p. 449)

But awakening is not just a matter of reading the Bible and Science and Health. It isn't just a matter of saying we're God's man. Awakening is something you become. It's letting your nature, your character, your very being, yield to the Mind of the Christ.

Sooner or later, for instance, we'll understand that God's man doesn't live in matter. Of all the teachings of Christian Science this seems the hardest to accept. And it's no wonder because we seem to live in a matter body in a matter world.

However, a basic tenet of Christian Science is the nothingness of matter. On the surface this sounds abstract, unrealistic. But a casual glance at Christian Science often leads to superficial conclusions.

For instance: some time ago I spoke to an interdenominational prayer group. One of the women present at that meeting had been confused for sometime about this point. Her minister had explained that when Christian Science says, there is no matter, it wipes out the entire universe: the sun, stars, trees, grass and says, it just isn't there! Now that's a casual glance.

A serious look reveals that Christian Science denies the substance and intelligence of matter because these beliefs deny the omnipotence and omnipresence of Spirit. This isn't overlooking what the five physical senses are saying. It's actually breaking through the dream and revealing the true nature of the universe, unseen by the senses.

The Bible teaches that God is infinite. So, if God is Spirit, as Jesus declared, and He fills all space, then his universe must be spiritual, not material.

The Bible also indicates that God is Mind. A mind can't contain solid objects, but it can and does contain the concepts, or ideas, of these objects.

This gives you a peek at what Christian Science means when it insists that Mind's, God's, universe is composed of spiritual ideas, not material things. And each spiritual idea is perfect, indestructible, eternal. The sun, stars, trees, grass, are beautiful, to our physical sense of them. I like to think that in their true nature, they're even more beautiful, because they are spiritual ideas, manifestations of divine Mind.

Where does God's man fit into all of this? "Man" is the term the Bible and Christian Science uses for the male and female of God's creating. It's also the family name for the sons and daughters of God. This man, as described in the first chapter of Genesis, is a spiritual idea of divine Mind, the highest idea in all His universe. Man is, in fact, God's masterpiece.

How can we understand that existence really is spiritual and not material? God has given each one of us the capacity to understand spiritual things, and we call it spiritual sense. There's a lovely description of this in the book of Job, where Elihu says to Job: "There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding." (Job 32:8)

No doubt the Master's spiritual sense helped him prove that matter was not the solid substance it appeared to be. Look at the conquest he made over the world's conviction that matter has power and intelligence. He walked on the water, he passed through the walls of a room, and he quieted a raging storm. It's clear that Jesus knew something wonderful, and powerful, about God and man.

 

The revelation that came to Mrs. Eddy helps humanity

The three factors I mentioned, that are usually present whenever there's a spiritual awakening, were certainly evident in the life of Mary Baker Eddy.

Reading biographies of Mrs. Eddy puts a lot of things into perspective. When you read about various events in her experience, the struggles she had to establish her church, you can trace her awakening from the Adam-dream.

Mrs. Eddy's mental readiness for the revelation of Truth, and her willingness to yield to the influence of the Christ, are obvious to anyone who studies her writings.

Mrs. Eddy was spiritually-minded even as a child. She was brought up in a religious home with a deep love of the Bible. She once told a friend that while other children were out playing, she sometimes preferred to read the Scriptures.

So, it was natural for her to turn to God after the tragic loss of loved ones. And it was natural for her, during a lifetime of physical suffering, to question why Christians weren't doing the healing works of Jesus and his disciples. And it was just as natural for her to devote her life in search of the answer.

This revelation of Truth didn't come to Mrs. Eddy all at once, in one great burst of light. It's true that she had a severe experience that changed the entire course of her life. She saw something about God and man she'd never seen before. But, compared to what was revealed to her later, over the ensuing years, that initial discovery turned out to be just a glimpse.

Here's how she explains it: "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. The revelation of Truth in the understanding came to me gradually and apparently through divine power." (Science and Health, p. 109)

When those who are unfamiliar with Christian Science awaken to this revelation of Truth, they'll understand why Christian Scientists hold Mrs. Eddy in such high regard. Right now, there are many who think Mrs. Eddy's followers worship her. It may be that some Christian Scientists have given this impression, without meaning to.

But such personal sense, clinging to personality, was not encouraged by Mrs. Eddy. In fact, her teachings turn thought away from personality — and from Mrs. Eddy — to God, man's divine source.

But adulation of those whom we admire is a human weakness that many of us have. It's sort of a stage we pass through on our road to spiritual maturity. Still, there's quite a difference between adulation and a genuine appreciation of the good someone's life represents. Appreciation is a form of gratitude. And gratitude is a Christly quality because it flows from divine Love.

I can remember a fine healing of severe colds my two children had in one day, when I spent that day joyously thanking God for the lifework of all who had advanced Christianity. I went back as far as Moses!

You see, prayer in Christian Science is based on the two great commandments of Jesus. We can't really love God without loving His children. We can't think of ourselves as God's man and see our neighbor as a sinful mortal.

Knowing this, we can pray more effectively for mankind. We can see, for instance, that the immorality and sensuality that seems so rampant today, are lies about God's pure and holy man. And God's universal family can't be broken up by separation or divorce. Every member of God's family is nourished and cherished by divine Love's constant outpouring of goodness. God's man has never gone to war, nor caused a war.

You can see that the spiritual understanding of God and man Christian Science teaches helps contribute to the healing of humanity's problems. And it helps each one of us remain at peace in the midst of what Adam's man believes is a turbulent world.

Now let's review briefly what we've learned from our discussion today. I've shown you that three factors are usually present in spiritual awakening: a mental readiness, the influence of the Christ, and an acceptance of the revelation of Truth. You may have also observed that the same three factors are often present in spiritual healing. Certainly both awakening and healing require spiritual enlightenment — fresh glimpses of the Truth about God and His creation, including His man.

We've seen the distinction Christian Science makes between God's man and the false concept about man which we've called in this lecture "Adam's man".

We've considered the role of the Christ and how it awakens mankind collectively, and each one of us individually, to the spiritual nature of God and His universe.

We've seen the importance of putting on the Mind of Christ, and we've reminded ourselves that God has given us the spiritual sense to understand all these things. And the wonderful part of it all is that we don't have to wait for some future state to enjoy this heritage as God's man. It's ours now.

Now, I'd like to share this with you. Remember back when I told you about that word "mortal?" Had you thought about this? Every time you deny that you are a mortal, and declare and affirm and joyously acknowledge that you are, in fact, the spiritual image and likeness of God, you are raising yourself from the dead. And every time you deny that someone else is a mortal, and declare and affirm and joyously acknowledge that that one is, in fact, the spiritual image and likeness of God, you're helping to raise that one from the dead. This is something very precious to think about.

The Apostle John beautifully perceived the difference between God's man and Adam's kind of man. It shines all through his writings. One of my favorite passages is found in the first epistle of John, third chapter — and this is from the King James Version. It goes like this:

"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God …" (I John 3:1,2)

An interesting modern translation puts it this way:

"Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called 'children of God' — and that is not just what we are called, but what we are. ... [This] explains why the world will no more recognise us than it recognised Christ. Here and now," my dear friends, "we are God’s children."  (J.B. Phillips New Testament)

 

[circa 1980]

 

 

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