Christian Science: Its Message of Freedom
Louise S. Karpen, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Much of human history is the history of mankind's search for freedom. This desire for freedom has inspired thought with energy and vitality and has been the basis for mankind's continued progress.
One may think of freedom as an outward condition, as something that affects him from without. However, true freedom is an individual condition, an inward mental state, expressing itself in confidence, courage, and spiritual strength. One in such a mental state refuses to submit to any subtle suggestion of evil. He rejects any suggestion of helplessness or hopelessness. He reaches out confidently to the attainment of his ideal of freedom, and leaves the impress of this ideal on the community and nation as well as on his individual experience.
Today, Christian Science is revealing to us, through the Christ ideal, the way to demonstrate true freedom, and is showing us, through spiritual understanding, how to utilize our God-given ability to throw off the mental fetters of materialism and fear, of selfishness and mortality, of sin, disease, and death.
The first of the Ten Commandments affirms (Ex. 20:3), "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." It points to the fact that man's spiritual freedom is established of God, and protected by Him. The study of the Science of the Scriptures as elucidated in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" of which Mary Baker Eddy is the author, awakens human consciousness to perceive the true nature of freedom and how to bring it out in one's own experience.
Freedom from Sin, Disease, and Death
Mankind have believed that freedom from liability to sin, disease, and death is not in the realm of possibility. A number of well-entrenched mortal beliefs have influenced men to put up with their ills. Each of these false beliefs grows in the soil of lack of understanding of the nature of God, and might be classed under these three headings:
First, that mankind are miserable sinners;
Second, that sickness and suffering are the expression of God's will;
Third, that death must come to all of us, and that it is the means of reaching heaven.
Let us examine the first of these beliefs and see how spurious it is. Most people agree that God, Spirit, is the creator of all, and also that God is good, divine, holy, and many refer to God as "our heavenly Father." Yet these same individuals will tell you that perfection, purity, and spirituality are beyond man's reach - in fact, not even natural to him - and that to reach out for a present consciousness of sinlessness and spirituality is asking too much. The first record of creation in the Bible furnishes no basis for the conclusion that man is a miserable sinner. There God's expressed purpose was to create man in His own likeness and to give him dominion. Christian Science teaches that an understanding of God is essential to an understanding of man, our true self.
God has no mortal nature. He is not humanly circumscribed. He is not a mixture of evil and good. Nor is He partial or indifferent. He is not afar off. He is ever at hand. God is divine Love, the Supreme Being, the infinite All, the universal cause. He is immortal Mind, the divine intelligence, the all-comprehending Principle, the source of all harmony and divine government. This Principle is Truth, undeviating, changeless, and indestructible reality, Spirit, Soul, the pure, perfect, and enduring Life, the ever-present and self-sustained Love whom man knows as the one divine Parent, his Father-Mother God.
It is generally conceded that like begets like. Since God is man's Maker, it is inconsistent for us to accept as true that which represents man as imperfect, as sinful, sick, and mortal. We must forsake this false mortal concept of man, on the basis that it does not conform to divine reality, and seek to know ourselves as we are known to God.
That which appears as a mortal man is simply the failure on the part of humanity to perceive man correctly. It is merely the effect of entertaining a material view of God's man, who is the likeness of Spirit, and is individually and collectively constituted of all of the qualities of God.
The Bible tells us (Hab. ) that God is "of purer eyes than to behold evil, and (cannot) look on iniquity." Does not this establish the spiritual fact that evil does not obtain in God, the infinite good, and that God has no knowledge of evil? God knows only His own all-inclusiveness. There is nothing outside or beside Him. He is All-in-all, the sovereign ever-presence. We cannot logically accept the belief that sin, which manifests not a single quality of God, could be part of God's knowledge, or exist with His consent.
In view of this, does it not follow that man, God's image and likeness, cannot know sin or be a sinner? Can the created have a nature or a knowledge not found in the creator? Man's capacities for knowing, being, are derived from God, not from himself; therefore, as God's spiritual reflection, he has the means of knowing good and of being Christ-like.
Soul is one, because God is One, and Soul is God. Therefore a finite soul somewhere in a mortal body, or a sinful soul, or a lost soul, is an impossibility. Soul reveals the existence of good only.
Man, reflecting Soul, Spirit, manifests holiness, beauty, spiritual radiance, and responsiveness. Soul is the source of the very essence of the divine nature and of spiritual sense. Spiritual sense furnishes no means through which or by which one could sin or suffer, and in reality there are no other senses. Spiritual sense is insensible to evil, but sensible to good. Man, whose senses are spiritual, has no means whereby to express animality, materiality, sensuality, or worldliness. Spiritual sense confers upon man an infinite capacity for true enjoyment, and enables him to discern beauty, goodness, and reality.
Now let us turn our attention to the belief that sickness and suffering are the expression of God's will. This belief causes mankind to react in one of two ways. Either they submit supinely to sickness and suffering, offering no resistance to their difficulties, in the belief that patient submission to their ills is an evidence of their piety; or they turn to matter, to various material remedies, in an attempt to escape what they consider to be God's will. Neither approach commends itself.
If blind submission to disease is in accordance with God's will, why did Christ Jesus in his ministry heal all manner of disease? There is no record anywhere in the Bible that Jesus ever said to anyone seeking healing, "Your sufferings are God's will and you must patiently bear them." Instead, he not only healed all those who came to him for healing, but also prepared his disciples to heal every disorder, for we read in Matthew (10:1), "And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease."
Neither did Jesus resort to material means and methods whereby to heal, because he knew that sickness is not a bodily condition, but a false mental state objectified as sickness. Nothing but the Christ, Truth, can reach and heal a false mental state and thereby free mortals of sickness. The Bible records that Jesus, in speaking to those who sought healing, in some instances said to them (Matt. ), "According to your faith be it unto you," and at other times (John ), "Go, and sin no more." And of Mary Magdalene's healing he said (Luke ), "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much."
Though Christian Science teaches the unreality of sin, it does not excuse sin, but demands the destruction of it, and this is its only forgiveness. Christian Science shows that sin has neither place nor power, and that we cannot be made to serve it. All error is an illusion and delusion of material sense, whether it appears as a moral ill or a bodily ill, and is equally untrue whether it is claiming to be cause or whether it is claiming to be effect. The sin, the fear - any erroneous state - is just as much a false belief as the discord that might seem to stem from it.
Does not all this indicate that disease cannot be reached by dosing the body? For disease is a false belief of the human mind, which can only be corrected by the scientific action of the divine Mind in cleansing mortal thought of its fears and errors. Suffering and sickness are no part of God's will. Rather it is His will that we be freed from disease. The Bible, in Psalms (Ps. 103:3-5), describes God as He "who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; . . . so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's."
If one were laboring under the belief that the earth was flat, this would subject one to limitations and restrictions, but these limitations and restrictions would have no foundation. To free oneself from the limitations and restrictions, the bondage to a flat earth, nothing would have to be done to the earth. All that would be needed would be to correct in one's thought the misconception of the shape of the earth. When this false concept was corrected, and the true concept of the earth as a sphere was accepted in its place, one would be in no danger of returning to his old concept of a flat earth, nor would he be subject to the limitations and restrictions that had accompanied his former concept of the earth. One would not believe that a limiting condition called a flat earth had been removed and that another earth called a sphere had been put in its place. One would understand that there never had been a flat earth, and that the sense of a flat earth had been wholly an illusion; Likewise we learn that disease and all inharmony are false beliefs of mortal mind which disappear when our thought is clarified with the spiritual truths of Christian Science.
Now let us consider the belief that death must come to all of us, and that death is the means of reaching heaven.
Jesus, our great Exemplar, healed the dying and raised the dead, as well as overcoming death and the grave for himself. His ministry was to show us the way out of all evil, including death. The Bible speaks of death as an enemy, not as a friend, for it states (I Cor. ), "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." And Jesus said (John ), "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
God has not sentenced man to die. Therefore we should never consent to death. Rather shall we demonstrate life eternal and heaven here and now, through the consciousness of man's unity with God, with Truth, Life, and Love.
Heaven is not some far-off nebulous place which awaits us after having passed through the experience called death. There is nothing heavenly about death. How, then, can it be the means of reaching heaven? Not death, but the understanding of God which Christian Science gives, enables us to enter heaven. The consciousness of spiritual well-being, the knowledge of man's oneness with divine Love, the awareness of our heavenly Father's ever-present love and care, is heaven.
To understand God as infinite Life is of the utmost importance. Mankind generally confuses Life with the mortal sense of existence. They are apt to be quite dissatisfied with their present sense of life, and they should be, for it is confused with the mortal and material. Their very dissatisfaction stirs them to seek and to find a truer sense of life in and of God. God gives man eternal life; in fact, man is the very reflection of Life itself - Life without beginning or end. Man, as Life's idea, manifests life uninterruptedly.
Life is not dependent on time, on physical organisms or bodily functions. Life, God, is self-sustained. Life lives; it does not die. It unfolds forever. Life does not know death nor culminate in death. We must accept the fact that man's life is eternal, else we have no basis from which to overrule death. Now is the time to overcome sin and death. Now is the time to begin the demonstration of eternal life, and thereby to experience constant renewal and refreshment. It is not in dying, but in living in accord with our divine Principle, Love, that we experience heaven.
But One Mind
God is Mind, the one intelligence. Man reflects this divine intelligence, and we can draw upon it for all the strength, capacity, or ability we need.
A child at school, learning for the first time the rules of mathematics, can immediately begin to use these rules in solving the mathematical problems given him by the teacher. In the same way the individual who is learning for the first time something of the divine rules of Christian Science can immediately begin to employ the laws of God and their relation to his existence in solving his personal problems, no matter what the nature of these problems may be. Just as the rules of mathematics are always at hand and fully available, so God, the divine Principle, is ever at hand, and His rules and laws are instantly available to every one of us, day and night.
Begin today to prove the spiritual facts of Christian Science that appeal to you as true and logical. For instance, if the spiritual assertion that man is perfect, healthy, harmonious, and intelligent, because he is the image and likeness of the perfect, all-knowing Mind, strikes you as logical and true, begin right now to acknowledge this spiritual fact as law to your being. Accept it. Conform your thinking to it. Stay with it. It will operate with scientific certainty to change your sense of things from imperfection to perfection.
As God's image and likeness you are eternally identified with Mind, with divine Principle. Our thoughts and acts are always in conformity with the will of God.
The Divine Will
To know and do the will of God is to be conscious of our unity with divine power. In "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 347) Mrs. Eddy writes, "Those who know no will but His take His hand, and from the night He leads to light."
As we study Jesus' life we see that his demonstrations of divine Principle were supported by his obedience to the divine will. Again and again he emphasized the fact that it was not his own will that he sought. He said (John ), "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." He acted under this holy mandate, and it supported his undertakings. He made the way very clear. In order to walk in it, we must seek to know and to do the will of God. In that way only can we show forth God's praise. In that way only can we fulfill our destiny of spiritual freedom. In that way only will our demonstrations be practical and satisfying.
Jesus, the great spiritual Teacher, is our Master and Wayshower. He was of virgin birth. His coming to the earthly scene was in fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah (11:1, 2): "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots; and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord."
Jesus demonstrated the divine ideal, or Christ, more fully than any other human being. It enabled him to love so scientifically, so compassionately, that he never failed to heal. We have his example to guide us in the healing of any ill. The Christ, the divine nature of God, has always existed. It is just as present today, just as provable, just as potent as in Bible times. The Christ is the means whereby God speaks to the human consciousness in this age and in every age. It was not Jesus' personal possession; it belongs to us all. It is God's incorporeal idea, restricted to no period, confined to no area. It can be heard and received into consciousness wherever one may be - in an airplane or a submarine, in a valley or on a mountaintop, in an office or in a sickroom.
The Word, the Christ, Truth, is a divine utterance. It anoints the human consciousness which is yearning for the substance of spiritual understanding. It rebukes and destroys all that claims to hold mankind in bondage.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science
Mary Baker Eddy, the youngest of
six children, was born at the Baker homestead in Bow,
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, has stirred the heart of humanity to search the Scriptures and to accept the promises and rules found therein as having practical application to human needs. She loved God and man with such fervor and selflessness that she sought tirelessly to understand God and His laws in their relation to man. She was not discouraged by indifference, ingratitude, or hate. Nothing deterred her. She sought to give her spiritual and divine revelation to the world, and succeeded in doing so. She substantiated her discovery with many well authenticated healings. The last one hundred pages of the Christian Science textbook contain accounts of healings brought about through the reading and study of the textbook.
The Bible was Mrs. Eddy's only textbook and guide in following the leadings of the divine revelation that had come to her. She demonstrated her discovery and its Science in healing herself of the effects of a fall on the ice which the attending physician had designated as fatal. Through spiritual reason, logic, and revelation, the Science of the Holy Scriptures became clear to her. She discovered the path leading to the understanding of true freedom, and then set about to give her discovery to the world.
Christian Scientists do not deify Mrs. Eddy, and she sought no adulation; but they love and revere her as their Leader. Every sincere student of Christian Science knows that he has been greatly blessed, and that his being has been transformed through the spiritual understanding of the Bible message and the inspiration which has come to him through the study of the Christian Science textbook, which is a key to the Scriptures.
Right Thinking Essential
All right thought has its origin in divine Mind, God. Then does it not follow that the only mentality we can express, or that can be expressed to us, is that mentality which is comprised of thoughts which originate in the divine Mind?
We learn through Christian Science to discriminate between what is and what is not true thought. Right or spiritual thinking builds up; it never tears down. It is supportive and protective. It begets freedom. It is expressed in conscious dominion. In Jeremiah we read (Jer. 29:11), "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." And what is this expected end but the complete and speedy triumph of Truth over all phases of human bondage?
When we learn that all true thought originates in God, we are able to discern quickly the spurious nature of that which masquerades as thought, but is merely aggressive mental suggestion. We learn to examine what appears as thought to discern its quality and origin, and to challenge it in this manner: "Can this be found in the Mind that is God? Will it heal? Will it bless?" If not, it is unworthy of the name of thought. Prayer is right or spiritual knowing. To pray aright, we must silence material sense and in quiet communion with God open our affections to the government of divine Mind.
Prayer is a hungering and thirsting after righteousness and it is the means of acquainting oneself intelligently with God, whereby we dwell in the secret place of the most high" (Ps. 91:1). Prayer cannot change God, but it liberates our consciousness to perceive more of Him, to know Him better. It lifts us above belief in and fear of evil.
Prayer is not the ventilation of self-righteous sentiments. It is not for the purpose of impressing our fellowmen, nor is it for the purpose of imploring God for greater benefactions. He already has bestowed upon us the all of good.
Prayer awakens us to a greater awareness of Love's blessing. It is the joyful acknowledgment of God's allness and love and the denial of the material sense evidence. The more fully we understand the nature of God, the more confident and enlightened will be our prayer. Prayer originates in humility and leads to gratitude.
Children should early be taught to pray, and how to pray, for thereby they make new and Christianly scientific discoveries of God's love, of its presence and power. Children should possess a knowledge of God's law and its presence, and let that knowledge possess them and their experience. We should encourage them to demonstrate these truths for themselves, showing them that these truths are the very power of God.
We hear much about difficulties with young people these days. May not the difficulty be with us, rather than with them? May we not have been mesmerized into trying to meet human will with human will? Are we permitting ourselves to lose sight of the will of God? His will is done, and it is wholly and entirely good. It is ever-present and always operates as law to our being. The youngster's true origin is the same as our own. Nothing divides us, since in reality we are children of the same Father-Mother God. We are all baptized in the same nature. Are we accepting these facts? Then we shall claim the youngster's true identity in the likeness of his Maker as earnestly as we claim our own. We shall demand of ourselves the self-discipline and patient love which the situation requires. We must not condemn the child, but instead nullify and correct the error as an impersonal phase of mortal belief. Mrs. Eddy writes in "No and Yes" (p. 30), "It is Truth's knowledge of its own infinitude which forbids the genuine existence of even a claim to error."
The consciousness of God as Love comes through grace. Grace is the ability, the power, to be Christlike, to love and live the Christ nature.
One who understands and reflects divine Principle, Love, demonstrates freedom from jealousy, envy, and selfish fear. He is unafraid to recognize worth in his associates, whether they be employer or employee, competitor or customer, relative or neighbor. His knowledge of his true selfhood as the idea of divine Principle assures to him his standing in his community, business, and church. It is natural that one who reflects divine Principle should command respect from those among whom he lives and works, for the divine Principle operates to uncover and reveal innate worth to himself and to others. It is natural that we should give and receive appreciation, true evaluation, and cooperation.
What we love determines our experience. If we love and serve the mortal and material, we shall experience the slavery and bondage which these include. If we love God and serve Him, we shall know strength and freedom. In the Bible we read (Rom. 6:16), ''Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?"
Fear, which is the very opposite of love, is the cause of most of our difficulties, including sickness. It has its roots in the belief in a power apart from God and in a substance other than Spirit. Fear of evil does not help us to keep the Ten Commandments, whereas love of good enables us to live in obedience to them. The overcoming of fear is the key to spiritual healing. We need not submit to the suggestions of fear, nor can we be overwhelmed by them, for we are embraced in the omniscience of our omnipotent, omnipresent, omniactive divine Parent. Our safety is in His knowledge of us as His likeness and in our love for Him.
Christian Science Treatment
The Science of Soul offers mankind a full salvation - salvation from sin, disease, and death - and offers it in the now. If salvation is only to be attained by first passing through the experience called death, why did Jesus raise the dead? Would he not have been postponing salvation for those whom he rescued from death? Salvation is the saving grace of God, and is available and effective now. It is the forever appearing of the Christ to human consciousness, destroying sin, disease, and death, and establishing the consciousness of strength, holiness, and freedom.
Christian Science treatment brings to the patient the threefold redemption of Soul. No other healing method is so effective, so all-inclusive in the handling of ills. Mrs. Eddy describes the results of Christian Science treatment in the textbook as follows (p. 375):
"The genuine Christian Scientist is adding to his patient's mental and moral power, and is increasing his patient's spirituality while restoring him physically through divine Love."
Many who seek help through Christian Science treatment do so because the medical profession has given up their case. I should like to tell you of one such instance.
One evening about nine o'clock the telephone rang in a Christian Science practitioner's office, and a woman, a stranger to the practitioner, said that two doctors had just left her home, having told her that her husband, who had been in a coma for several days, had only about two hours to live, and that there was nothing further they could do for him. She said her husband's difficulty had been diagnosed some time before as a stone in the kidney, and that later pneumonia had set in. She explained that she knew very little of Christian Science, but that about ten years before, she had been healed of severe stomach trouble in a single visit to a Christian Science practitioner. This earlier experience had led her in this extremity to seek help for her husband in Christian Science.
The practitioner, turning to the chapter, "Christian Science Practice," in the textbook by Mrs. Eddy, found on page 378 the following: "Disease is not an intelligence to dispute the empire of Mind or to dethrone Mind and take the government into its own hands. Sickness is not a God-given, nor a self-constituted material power, which copes astutely with Mind and finally conquers it. God never endowed matter with power to disable Life or to chill harmony with a long and cold night of discord. Such a power without the divine permission is inconceivable; and if such a power could be divinely directed, it would manifest less wisdom than we usually find displayed in human government."
The spiritual truths of this paragraph occupied the practitioner's thought and were the basis for his spiritual prayers for the patient. He continued his prayers through the night, with occasional reports from the patient's wife. At in the morning the woman called to say that her husband had come out of the coma and, sitting up in bed, had declared that he felt like a new man; whereupon he lay down and went comfortably to sleep.
The next day she reported that when her husband awakened that morning he rose, dressed himself, and went downstairs for breakfast. The following day he took a walk in the garden, to the astonishment of the neighbors, who had been expecting to hear that he had died.
The man's son, though rejoicing in his father's recovery from pneumonia, felt sure that the stone in the kidney must still be present, and would give his father further trouble. He insisted upon having an X-ray picture taken, and was greatly relieved upon learning that the X-ray showed no evidence of a stone, and that the kidneys were in perfect condition.
Instantaneous healing is possible in Christian Science because in healing sickness we are not dealing with a bodily or material condition, although it may appear as such, any more than when dealing with sin. We are dealing with a mortally mental state alone, which is susceptible of dissolution and correction through effectual righteous prayer.
Never consent to death for yourself or anyone. Never agree that death is a benefit in any way. Jesus taught that death is to be overcome, not submitted to. The Bible proclaims (Isa. 38:19), "The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day."
Christian Science enables us to live in conscious spiritual freedom. It enables us to live meekly, richly, fully, abundantly, in the knowledge that sin, disease, and death have no divine authority and no actual existence, and that health, holiness, and immortality are the eternal realities of man's being. It enables us to prove that freedom from all error is a present possibility.
We have seen in this lecture somewhat of the nature of freedom. We have seen that it is a spiritual and mental condition, and is not dependent upon or effected by anything less than God.
Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (p. 227): "Citizens of the world, accept the 'glorious liberty of the children of God,' and be free! This is your divine right."
[Published in The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, June 6, 1957.]