Christian Science: Its Call to Healing and Redemption
Walter W. Kantack, C.S., of New York, NY
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
One characteristic common to all the recorded teachings of the great prophets and spiritual leaders in the Holy Scriptures is the constant call or appeal to thought. For example, Joshua's counsel, "Choose you this day whom ye will serve" (Josh. 24:15); Joel's admonition, "Rend your heart, and not your garments" (Joel 2:13); Christ Jesus' invitation, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28), and his promise. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32); as well as Paul's advice, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rom. 12:2) — all these are plainly appeals to thought.
Christian Science and the Scriptures
Deriving its basis and authority solely from the Bible, this is naturally the healing and redeeming method of Christian Science. It constantly appeals to thought and, understood, spiritually enlightens it. This enlightenment shows us that we can and should, under God's direction and protection, enjoy freedom of choice as to whom we will serve; that we can and should examine our thinking and correct it; that we can come unto and find rest in Christ, in Truth; that we can know the truth and be free; that we can see our present experience transformed by the renewing of our sense of things and thus learn to know and to prove the "good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." This Science leads away from materialism and its limitations toward spiritual understanding and better health and living.
Christian Science is not a human system of philosophy, but a divine revelation of eternal Truth, of the spiritual meaning of the Old and New Testaments. It is so simple, understandable, and altogether consistent that little children grasp it and give convincing proofs of it. And it is scientific in the highest sense of that term and its requirements, in that it can be demonstrated in the degree that it is spiritually understood and practiced.
In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, makes this arresting statement: "The demands of God appeal to thought only" (p. 182). Mrs. Eddy could make this emphatic statement with authority because it was based upon practical experience, covering a period of years and including a great many instances of healing of apparently hopeless sin and disease.
Christian Science Discovered
In her own case it was after long years of difficult situations during which she constantly studied the Scriptures — while at the same time vainly seeking cure through various material means — that there came, in 1866, a moment of great physical extremity. In that moment inspiration and discovery led her to glimpse the pure spiritual import and present practicality of Christ Jesus' teachings. This revelation raised her from what was thought to be her deathbed.
Prayerful pondering of this experience and further Scriptural study revealed to Mrs. Eddy the altogether mental nature of all experience and existence. In relating these findings in Science and Health she wrote: "When apparently near the confines of mortal existence, standing already within the shadow of the death-valley, I learned these truths in divine Science: that all real being is in God, the divine Mind, and that Life, Truth, and Love are all-powerful and ever-present; that the opposite of Truth, — called error, sin, sickness, disease, death, — is the false testimony of false material sense, of mind in matter; that this false sense evolves, in belief, a subjective state of mortal mind which this same so-called mind names matter, thereby shutting out the true sense of Spirit.
"My discovery, that erring, mortal, misnamed mind produces all the organism and action of the mortal body, set my thoughts to work in new channels, and led up to my demonstration of the proposition that Mind is All and matter is naught as the leading factor in Mind-science" (p. 108).
Compiled and Published
Mrs. Eddy accepted her healing as natural and according to law, rather than as miraculous, and she devoted herself to finding, through study of the Scriptures, the divine Science and laws underlying it and which it evidenced. She says, ". . . I won my way to absolute conclusions through divine revelation, reason, and demonstration" (Science and Health, p. 109).
Mrs. Eddy compiled and published her findings and tested experiences in her book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." This book and the King James Version of the Bible constitute the textbooks of Christian Science. While the entire book is a key to the Scriptures, one section of it is called "Key to the Scriptures." Therein the spiritual import of the inspired Word of the Bible, with particular reference to Genesis and the Revelation of St. John the Divine, is given in chapters entitled "Genesis" and "The Apocalypse." The final chapter of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" is entitled "Fruitage." It contains one hundred pages of verified testimonies of healing and release from the bondage of all manner of sickness and sinful thinking through the reading of the book and without further aid.
"Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" is available for study, purchase, or loan at all Christian Science Reading Rooms. It can be read and borrowed at public libraries and purchased at many bookshops.
Basically the appeals to thought which abound in the Bible are made in order to help mankind overcome belief in the equal reality of opposites — to assist us in determining what is true and what is false. In the opening chapter of Genesis, the first book in the Bible, we are told of the "very good," the altogether good, nature of God's creation and of its completeness. This chapter presents and explains creation as divine self-expression, an ascending unfolding of Spirit's self-manifestation and completeness. Then follows another account of a creation based on the dust of the ground, on material sense. But even here in the allegory of Adam and Eve we are told of the paradise which was to be theirs just so long as they did not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The narrative says they succumbed to the wiles of a serpent, "more subtil than any beast of the field," partook of the forbidden fruit, and thus lost their paradise. In passing we may well note that this was a tree of knowledge, hence bearing mental fruits and not apples.
Christ Jesus' Ministry
In Christ Jesus' ministry he drew attention to natural phenomena and domestic and rural duties in his endeavor to illustrate and demonstrate the utter separateness and unrelatedness of opposites and the need for recognizing and preserving the good and rejecting and destroying the evil and destructive. He showed that fundamentally the healing and redemptive need was and is to recognize God as Spirit and creation as altogether spiritual. He told his listeners, in effect, that false material beliefs, which he called "tares," would have to be separated from spiritual facts, bound and burned, and the wheat of spiritual truth garnered.
Generally speaking, the aggregate of human thinking and acting is still premised on a firm belief in opposites in connection with every item of thought. Contraries are both accepted as real, and evil and matter even believed to be more powerful than good and Spirit.
Mission of Christian Science
It is into this confused and scientifically impossible sense of things that Christian Science has come in fulfillment of the promised appearing of the Comforter, designated by Christ Jesus as the "Spirit of truth" (John 16:13), and of which he said, "He will guide you into all truth." It is the mission of Christian Science to carry forward the separating of the chaff of false belief from the wheat of divine reality. It does so upon a Christianly scientific basis in the spiritually mental healing of physical ills and all other inharmonies, thus leading to practical and eternal salvation.
Right Understanding of God
As a result of her discovery and experience Mrs. Eddy wrote in Science and Health, "It is our ignorance of God, the divine Principle, which produces apparent discord, and the right understanding of Him restores harmony" (p. 390). Thus a right understanding of God is of first importance to the student of Christian Science.
To the end of furthering a right understanding of God and on Scriptural basis and authority, the answers to the first two questions in the chapter in Science and Health entitled "Recapitulation" are devoted to defining God.
The first question is, "What is God?" And the answer, "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love."
The second question, "Are these terms synonymous?" The answer: "They are. They refer to one absolute God. They are also intended to express the nature, essence, and wholeness of Deity. The attributes of God are justice, mercy, wisdom, goodness, and so on" (p. 465).
In this definition of God, Mrs. Eddy places the synonym Mind (with a capital M) first. How fundamental and how necessarily near is Mind? Without Mind there could be no awareness or being, hence, no experience of any sort. Mind must indeed be first eternally. Right understanding of God as divine Mind, as infinite, eternal good, always restores harmony.
Consider for a moment the synonyms Life and Truth. There could be no evidence of life, no living creature, were not divine Life origin and cause; and there could be no actual being without eternal Truth as its source and substance.
In the experience of students of Christian Science it is quite common at first for one of the scientific synonyms for God to be more readily understood than the others. Prayerfully building upon what is spiritually understood of one synonym inevitably leads to the understanding of another until all seven are comprehended and unfolded in a recognition of the one infinite and eternal Supreme Being.
Man God's Reflection
The Bible informs us that man is made, or exists, in the image and likeness of God. Christian Science shows man, God's image, to be the perfect, eternal, spiritual reflection or expression of God. It shows that this status of reflection requires a recognition of the eternal oneness of God and man which must be spiritually perceived, understood, and progressively demonstrated.
The image and likeness, thus understood, must be and remain one with that of which it bears witness. The relation of a ray of light to its source illustrates the God and man relationship. We all recognize a ray of sunlight to be one with the sun. And an examination of this oneness reveals the sun to be the acting or shining factor. The sunlight is the effect of the sun's shining. Could it speak, would not a sunbeam explain its identity somewhat like this? "The sun and I are one, but it is the sun which is doing the shining. Without the sun I would have neither light, energy, warmth, nor identity. In fact, but for the sun I, a sunbeam, would have no existence, no being." Can't we almost hear the sunbeam saying, "Why, the sun is, and always has been, shining me perfectly and uninterruptedly!"
Is it not likely, in fact is it not because Christ Jesus spiritually understood man's oneness with God to be comparable to that of a ray of light with the sun, that he declared and emphasized, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30)? And again: "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth" (John 5:19,20). A mirrored reflection moves in accord with that which, is reflected. So man, God's image, coexists with and reflects God, the eternal, infinite One. Christian Science attributes all power and all glory to God.
Christian Science Healing
It is on the simple and basic spiritual premise that man is God's image and likeness, or God's expression, and consistent adherence to this spiritual fact, that Christian Science demonstrates its healing and redeeming ministry. Our expectation and our goal is expressed in Paul's summary of spiritual progress, wherein he says, "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). Paul recognized that false belief must be replaced by the understanding of spiritual truth. Christian Science shows us that such replacement acts as a law of healing in human experience, made up, as it is, so largely of material beliefs.
Healing in Business
To illustrate this point let me tell you of the experience of an acquaintance of mine, a businessman and a Christian Scientist. Upon arising one morning he found himself confronted with a critical situation. His own health and strength and the financial resources of his company were at low ebb, the factory practically empty, and prospects very, very slight. In this situation he turned to the Christian Science textbook and began reading from page 96, whereon it says: "This material world is even now becoming the arena for conflicting forces. On one side there will be discord and dismay; on the other side there will be Science and peace. The breaking up of material beliefs may seem to be famine and pestilence, want and woe, sin, sickness, and death, which assume new phases until their nothingness appears." At this point his thought was arrested by the four words, "until their nothingness appears." The question presented itself, "Appears to whom?" and the immediate answer, "Why, to me, of course."
Aroused and encouraged, he proceeded carefully to reread the sentence. "The breaking up of material beliefs may seem to be;" a little light broke through as he noticed the word "seem," "may seem to be famine and pestilence, want and woe, sin, sickness, and death." He took up each of these words in order and tried to find the conditions they described in God. He tried to find "famine" in Truth and could find no slightest trace of famine in Truth. He endeavored to find some "pestilence" in Truth, and again without success. "Want and woe" were not to be found in infinite Love, nor "sin" in divine Mind, "disease" in omnipresent Spirit, nor "death" in eternal Life. He had worked along in this way for the better part of an hour, when suddenly there came the realization that instead of there being no strength, no health, no funds, no opportunity, the present fact was that the allness of unlimited good was ever and everywhere present. His whole sense of things changed in that moment. He went off to business happy, confident, and expectant. He had glimpsed the truth, and it had freed him.
The spiritual fact of the ever-presence of God, infinite good, proved itself in many ways during the next few days. Not long after, he received one of the best contracts his company had ever handled, and the working capital necessary for the manufacture of the goods was gladly supplied by the client. Much gratitude and joy and love entered into the fulfilling of that contract, and naturally this love and joy all showed through in the finished product.
From what has been said, it must be clear that the healing call and method of Christian Science is no system of mental gymnastics. It requires one to prayerfully carry on until he finds the divinely true state of things in the realm of spiritual understanding. Not until then can one actually know the truth and find freedom and peace.
Jesus and the Christ
In speaking of Jesus, Mrs. Eddy says (Science and Health, p. 313): "Jesus of Nazareth was the most scientific man that ever trod the globe. He plunged beneath the material surface of things, and found the spiritual cause."
Christian Science shows that Jesus' divine understanding of the spiritual facts concerning God, man, and the universe — wherein God, Spirit, is the eternal Father, or cause, and man and the universe God's eternal spiritual offspring — constitutes the Christ-aspect of Christ Jesus' career. It was Jesus' understanding and demonstration of divine Truth which constituted the spirituality evidenced in his earthly career and which earned for him the title Jesus the Christ, or more properly, Christ Jesus. Our textbook explains this distinction and unity very clearly when it says, "Jesus demonstrated Christ" (p. 332).
The profound wisdom, as well as the altogether scientific nature of Christ Jesus' ministry, is becoming more and more apparent. Mrs. Eddy's discovery, Christian Science, not only emphasizes the sharp distinction which he drew between Spirit and matter, but also that his teachings and demonstrations reveal that the opposites, which he termed God and mammon, Spirit and flesh, are mental contraries. It shows that the so-called human problem is essentially a conflict between false mentality or material sense and true consciousness or spiritual understanding.
Twilight of Materialism
That spiritual sense and understanding are the most vital need of our time is widely recognized. Among prominent leaders in the academic field who are becoming increasingly aware of this need, Dr. Edmund W. Sinnott, director of Yale University's Sheffield Scientific School, was headlined in the New York Times, as follows, "Merger of Science and Religion Urged" (April 20, 1950). In the reported address Dr. Sinnott called upon Religion and Science, and I quote, "actively to join forces for their common welfare and the saving of the world."
The Editor of The Christian Science Monitor, speaking at Chapel Exercises at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, on "The Twilight of Materialism," included these remarks: "We live, as everybody knows, in one of the most paradoxical moments of human history. . . . I am myself profoundly convinced that we are living in the dark hours which precede the dawn." He went on to say: "Throughout the nineteenth century and part of the twentieth, we lived in an atmosphere of self-confident materialism. . . . One might almost, say that this era of materialism lasted until the day the atomic bomb burst over Hiroshima. But with that event it became manifest that the whole significance of materialism lay not in the power of iron or steel, of steam or electricity, of TNT or of uranium, but in the thinking that motivated the finger to press the button that utilized any of these so-called forces.
"The stern challenge is to apply the new-old imperative of spiritual idealism to human affairs."
How these words recall to mind those of the prophet Isaiah, "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? . . . Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live and I will make an everlasting covenant with you. . . . For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord" (Isa. 55:2,3,8).
Always it is the motivating thought which outward conditions manifest, whether in the experience of the individual, the nation, or the world. In order to change conditions, to change them adequately, thought must be changed. Human material sense must be replaced by divine spiritual understanding. This change of thought is made practically possible by Mrs. Eddy's discovery that all real being is in God, the divine Mind. The clear understanding that things are thoughts and that, as our textbook tells us, "eternal things (verities) are God's thoughts as they exist in the spiritual realm of the real" (p. 337) must underlie our sense of "spiritual idealism" if we expect to apply it effectively in human affairs.
God Is Our Refuge
That the instability of the physical sense of things is not a new disclosure to the thought of men is evidenced throughout the Scriptures. In the bright spiritual light of Christian Science a deep healing certainty and spiritual conviction can be found in and built upon long-familiar Bible passages; for instance, lines from the forty-sixth Psalm (1,2,4): "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. . . . There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High."
Are we not seeing more clearly that all of the so-called materiality, its diseases and its dangers, can only claim existence in so-called human consciousness? And are we not seeing more clearly that the "river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High," is the stream of spiritual truths progressively appearing to and purging human consciousness?
It is because Science has revealed and explained the God of Abraham and of Moses and of Jacob and of Christ Jesus in such a clear, spiritually understandable way that thousands upon thousands have proved and are proving the nearness and protection of God under most threatening circumstances.
Among the By-Laws in our Church Manual, of which Mrs. Eddy is also the inspired author, is one, in Article VIII, which reads as follows: "'Daily Prayer Sect. 4. It shall be the duty of every member of this Church to pray each day: 'Thy kingdom come;' let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin: and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!" As the student of Christian Science fulfills this duty and ponders daily the spiritual meaning and scope of this prayer, he finds his understanding of God steadily clarifying and expanding. Each day he finds new and deeper meanings and importance in the words, "the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love," and in their relation to present-day experience.
Divine Truth is reigning in spite of all apparent testimony to the contrary. Divine Life is reigning, here and now, and divine Love's ever-present and everlasting reign of good and peace, awakened to, meets every human need and the deepest desires of every sincere and loving heart. Spiritually understanding this spiritual fact rules out all false sense and constantly enriches the affections of and for all mankind.
Prayer is an endless and a limitless subject in Christian Science, constantly unfolding truth and leading to the possibility and the achievement of all good.
With regard to physical healing in Christian Science and summarizing its means and effectiveness, Mrs. Eddy explains (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." A simple and graphic illustration of this statement of which I have direct knowledge is the instance of a boy struggling with a severe chest congestion. He said he was in much pain, and it was apparent that breathing was very difficult. It all seemed quite alarming until, as we prayerfully sought for light and guidance, it was recalled that breathing, humanly considered, is a process of inspiration and expiration. Then it was seen that, in reality, inspiration has to do altogether with Spirit and not at all with matter; that the only actual inspiration there is, is Spirit's imparting of itself to man; that the corporeal sense of man is a false sense of man. As this thought unfolded, it became clear that we were being tempted by arguments presented to thought by physical sense. There could be no such situation as appeared. Life is spiritual and harmonious, not material and discordant, as material sight, hearing, and feeling would have us believe.
The darkness of false belief immediately gave place to the light of spiritual truth and understanding. In a matter of minutes the boy was quite comfortable, and he returned to school the following morning. As Mrs. Eddy points out, disease had lost its reality in human consciousness and disappeared.
In the light of spiritual intelligence, and understanding it becomes apparent that only perfect effect can be the expression of perfect cause, and this recognition heals and redeems.
Mary Baker Eddy
"The one who wrote that must have lived close to God!" These were the words of a clergyman after reading a short passage in Science and Health, a clergyman who had spent over a quarter of a century denouncing Mrs. Eddy and Christian Science from his pulpit. It was after a long period of illness, during which his parishioners sent him to England in search of physicians who might be able to cure him, that, following a stiff battle with pride and resistance, he finally called a Christian Science practitioner. Most reluctantly he allowed her to leave a copy of Science and Health on his bedside table, vowing within himself not to look at it. Later that evening he decided to take just a peek within its covers.
Upon reading the first sentence in its opening chapter, entitled "Prayer," which sentence reads, "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, — a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love" (p. 1), he found himself saying, "The one who wrote that must have lived close to God." After reading in the book several hours that evening, he fell asleep, and awakened the next morning, well!
Much has been written concerning Mrs. Eddy's graciousness, kindness, moral and spiritual strength; her book "Retrospection and Introspection" and her several authorized biographies tell of the developing of her career from childhood on through womanhood, her discovering and founding of Christian Science and many interesting and helpful incidents connected therewith. However, the most vital and the most beneficial point to us all is that she "lived close to God." It was because she "lived close to God" that she was able to hear His voice, to perceive and understand His divine Science, and to record it for all men and nations. Because she continued to live close to God. in spite of understandable resistance and calumny of those who would not accept her teachings, many thousands of invalids have been healed and placed on the path which leads ever outward and upward to unselfed service and more spiritual living.
The clergyman we have quoted recognized this, and after his healing from the severe illness — so evidently the result of blind, misunderstanding hatred of that which he obviously knew nothing about — became a Christian Science practitioner, teacher, and lecturer, devoting many years to this healing work.
How clearly and encouragingly Christ Jesus' parable (Luke 15:11-22) of the prodigal's journey into the far country of material sense and its delusions typifies erring human thought. And how revealing is this parable when considered as depicting mortal or human sense, rather than merely the wastrel son of a certain man who had two sons. This material, false, counterfeit sense of man and things has, in belief, been off on its own, believing itself capable of making its own way in total disregard of creative Principle, divine Mind. Jesus' parable says the condition of this "younger son" grew steadily worse until "he came to himself" and said, "I will arise and go to my father."
The parable then points out that just as soon as he put into effect his resolve to go to his father, "when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." Jesus was thus indicating the spiritual fact that genuine recognition of the fatherhood of God, of Spirit, and earnest endeavor to achieve spiritual identity, immediately bring evidences of God's love, protection, and presence, here and now.
In his parable Jesus illustrated the first reward of right identification by "the best robe" — surely the garment of righteousness or the spiritual understanding of true being. With this understanding comes the recognition of man's oneness with God, typified in the parable by a "ring," and then the protection afforded by this understanding and its step-by-step unfoldment typified by "shoes on his feet."
In its enlightening, healing, and redemptive call, Christian Science makes clear that only as consciousness comes to itself, awakens to spiritual identity and divine sonship, is individual salvation attainable.
While material sense seems to have beguiled and deceived humankind into believing that they exist in and of matter, the Christ-idea, the "lo, I am with you alway" (Matt. 28:20), breaks this mesmerism and thus heals all our diseases and redeems us from all false sense and sin — and that, progressively, here and now, however desperate our present situation.
As to our individual part in this, our textbook explains that "to divest thought of false trusts and material evidences in order that the spiritual facts of being may appear, — this is the great attainment by means of which we shall sweep away the false and give place to the true" (p. 423).
What has been said applies also to individual experience in connection with world affairs. Christian Scientists seek to support every effort of righteous government in the development of world events and their orderly adjustment. They recognize the essentially mental nature of the apparent warfare; and their righteous prayer and realization of the omnipotence of divine Mind, forever reigning in and as divine Truth, Life, and Love, enable them to contribute toward the solution of the world's difficulties. Christian Science is the God-ordained and God-sustained agency for the accomplishing of the healing and redemption of the nations through the Christ, Truth.
A poem written by Mrs. Eddy, because of whose living "close to God" we have been privileged to spend this hour together, epitomizes the far-reaching, healing, and redemptive call of Christian Science.
It is to be found in the Christian Science Hymnal and is entitled "Communion Hymn." It reads as follows:
Saw ye my Saviour? Heard ye the glad sound?
Felt ye the power of the Word?
'Twas the Truth that made us free,
And was found by you and me
In the life and the love of our Lord.
Mourner, it calls you, — "Come to my bosom,
Love wipes your tears all away,
And will lift the shade of gloom,
And for you make radiant room
Midst the glories of one endless day."
Sinner, it calls you, — "Come to this fountain,
Cleanse the foul senses within;
'Tis the Spirit that makes pure,
That exalts thee, and will cure
All thy sorrow and sickness and sin."
Strongest deliverer, friend of the friendless,
Life of all being divine:
Thou the Christ, and not the creed;
Thou the Truth in thought and deed;
Thou the water, the bread, and the wine.
[Published in The Marcellus (New York) Observer, Dec. 14, 1951.]