Christian Science: The Good News of Spiritual Healing

 

Lowell F. Kennett, C.S., of Louisville, Kentucky

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

Spiritual healing is divinely natural, completely effective, and available to all, Lowell P. Kennett, C.S., of Louisville said in a public lecture in Boston today.

Application of God's law of healing in human affairs should not be considered a supernatural occurrence, Mr. Kennett maintained.

In this lecture entitled "Christian Science: The Good News of Spiritual Healing,'' he described healings through wholly spiritual means of alcoholism, rheumatism, gangrene, and total paralysis.

A member of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship, Mr. Kennett spoke in John Hancock Hall, under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. He was introduced by Arnold H. Exo, First Reader of The Mother Church.

 

Healed in Christian Science

Mr. Kennett spoke substantially as follows:

The best news I ever heard was in a Christian Science Wednesday evening testimony meeting. It was the good news that "man's extremity is God's opportunity.'' After several years of addiction to the drinking habit, I had become what is termed a chronic alcoholic. My business had failed; I had lost my home; I was unemployed and without funds and my family was on the verge of breaking up. At this point, a friend who was a student of Christian Science, seeing that I was desperate, took me to a Wednesday evening meeting. The Scriptural passages read in the service that evening were illumined by the spiritual interpretation of them read from the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. God was explained as the loving Father-Mother who cares for all His children. I had thought of God as a manlike judge, sending punishment and occasionally forgiving sinners. I had considered myself so unworthy that I had given up all hope of redemption or salvation. Suffering from this delusion about God and considering myself a miserable sinner, I had resigned myself to the acceptance of my misfortune as my destiny.

The following day I borrowed a copy of Science and Health, and on the very first page I read this wonderful news. Just listen to this: "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" (Science and Health, p. 1). I continued my reading and became a regular attendant at the church services. Very quickly I realized that Christian Science is not a philosophy of mere optimistic thinking, but the Science of the Christ demonstrable Christianity. My concept of God was changing. I began to see myself as He sees His children and to realize that I was not a slave to material sense, but that dominion was my God-given birthright. As my understanding of God and of man's relationship to Him became more enlightened, there was improvement in my condition. Then one day when the temptation to drink seemed overwhelming I phoned a Christian Science practitioner for treatment. About a week later I suddenly realized I had not had a drink nor the slightest desire for one, nor have I had since that time in 1932. This was certainly good news to my family.

 

Law of Unlimited Opportunity

With continuing regular study and help from Christian Science practitioners, I learned something of God's law of unlimited opportunity and inexhaustible supply. I found employment; my standing in the community was restored; and in a few years we were able to purchase another home. I hope my experience is good news to some of you, for many healings occur during and following Christian Science lectures. In the words of Paul, "Be renewed in the spirit of your mind" (Eph. 4:23).

When Christ Jesus walked on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, he brought to a world of materiality and religious ritualism the good news of God as Love, as the tender, compassionate, all-providing and all-protecting Father. Mrs. Eddy, in her search for the true nature of God turned to the Scriptures, and as a result of her spiritual perception, she has given to the world the understanding of God as Spirit, in contrast to the generally accepted view of God as an exalted human being, corporeal, and dwelling in some far-off place called heaven. Mrs. Eddy tells us, "God is everywhere, and nothing apart from Him is present or has power" (Science and Health, p. 473). For God to be everywhere, He must be infinite Spirit. For Him to be ever-present, He must be divine Principle, the source of the creating and governing law upon which all existence is based. Principle indicates divine Mind; therefore God is all intelligence, and there can be only one Mind. God, divine Mind, being omnipotent, has the only ability to act, to produce an effect, to know, or to create ideas.

Suppose you were to ask several people who knew nothing about Christian Science to define God, you would probably find their answers quite conflicting. There would seem to be no generally accepted concept of God. The human concepts of God suggest that the heavenly Father is partial, subject to change, knowing or permitting the existence of both good and evil. They make Him responsible for disaster, disease, and death. You may ask, "If God is completely good, as Christian Science maintains, and knows nothing of sin, sickness, or disaster, why does He tolerate them if they are not His will?" He does not tolerate these errors. It is mankind's failure to understand Him which makes discord seem real.

If any evil or erroneous thing were God's will or His method of correction or punishment, we would be completely helpless, for if disease and death were God-sent, it would be sacrilegious to attempt to resist them. Sickness and other misfortunes would have to be borne patiently, and neither material medicine nor Christian Science could heal in opposition to such a divine decree. Had it been God's will that anyone should die, then the Master would have raised the dead in direct opposition to the divine will.

Christian Science brings the good news of God as eternal Life. It teaches that man's origin is God and that man is the expression of this Life, never born into matter or dying out of it. Christian Science explains God as entirely good and loving on the authority of the teachings of Christ Jesus, the Way-shower, as recorded in the King James Version of the Holy Bible, used in many Protestant churches in English-speaking countries.

 

Jesus Saw Evil as Unreal

Jesus taught one God and one creation, entirely good and not partly evil; and he recognized evil as unreal without cause and existence. If Spirit, the only cause, included evil, error of all sorts would be natural, and we could not do anything about it. Christian Science reveals and proves that God did not create disease or any material substance to manifest it.

Mrs. Eddy has given to the world a complete and understandable definition of God as Father-Mother, signifying completeness. In the Glossary of Science and Health (p. 587) she defines God in part as, "The great I am; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal." Christian Science is a religion of joy and freedom, for it reveals to us a God whom we can intelligently worship, thus freeing us from superstitious fears about Him. Isn't this in itself good news? Just as it is essential to have the correct understanding of God, we must have the right concept of man, for God and man are inseparable.

"Man" is defined in the Glossary of Science and Health (p 591) as, "The compound idea of infinite Spirit; the spiritual image and likeness of God; the full representation of Mind." This man as understood in Christian Science is not the Adam-man of physiology and orthodox theology; he is not the man of dust and water as described in the Bible in the second chapter of Genesis. Man's true selfhood is in the image of Spirit. It is not composed of flesh, blood, and bones. God's man expresses the qualities of his perfect creator. Man is image, idea, the reflection of divine Principle; he is not physique. He is the perfect, eternal, spiritual idea, expressing the nature of God, the sinlessness of Soul and its indestructible faculties. This good news about man is neither rumor nor theory, but derived from the inspired Word of the Bible. It is dependable because it is demonstrable, and any of you can prove it.

In the Glossary of Science and Health Mrs. Eddy defines "Christ" as, "The divine manifestation of God which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (p. 583). Isaiah foresaw the coming of the Christ, for he said, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace" (Isa. 52:7). Christ Jesus, an inspired and understanding teacher of a new yet simple doctrine, came with the good news of the universal, loving fatherhood of God, the spiritual brotherhood of man, and the coming of the kingdom of heaven on earth. In his prayer which we know as the Lord's Prayer, Jesus prayed: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." What does this mean to you? To Mrs. Eddy it meant, "Thy kingdom is come: Thou art ever-present," also "Enable us to know, as in heaven, so on earth, God is omnipotent, supreme." These statements she gives in her spiritual interpretation of the Lord's Prayer in Science and Health (pp. 16,17).

God manifests Himself to men through the Christ. The Christ was more than the human Jesus. Christ was the divine idea which animated Jesus. Jesus was born of Mary. Jesus was an obedient child, an alert student at the age of twelve, and a good carpenter as a man. He demonstrated the Christ, the enlightening, redeeming, and healing power of God. The understanding of Truth which heals is the Christ. The Christ constituted the consciousness of Jesus to the degree that he destroyed the claims of error with complete authority. The Master taught that God is not to be bargained with, and that there were no chosen few for the kingdom of heaven. He made the ability to perform the works he did, at least in some measure, the test of his followers' claim to be Christians. John, the beloved disciple, recorded Jesus' proclamation in these words, familiar to Bible students: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father" (John 14:12). Note that he said, "I go unto my Father." Jesus never considered himself God, but the Son of God. The Master's intent was quite plainly that all his followers, in all generations, were expected to use his teachings to heal the sick through spiritual means alone as he did.

Jesus did not administer drugs or recommend their use, yet he healed organic diseases as readily as functional. Many believe that Jesus was able to do his wonderful works because he was divine, and therefore that it is impossible for others to do these works. His disciples and the early Christians utilized the power which he revealed to them. It is significant that Jesus never sent out his disciples to preach without telling them to heal the sick in proof of the gospel. Luke writes, "And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick" (Luke 9:2). Christian Scientists are striving to obey this command, with the result that Christian Science is now recognized as an established and proven system of spiritual healing.

More than ninety years ago, a cultured and spiritually-minded Christian woman reinstated the Christian healing of Jesus' day. In 1866 Mrs. Eddy met with a severe accident, and her physician pronounced her case hopeless. The pastor of her church, hearing the physician's verdict, came to bid her goodbye the following Sunday morning as there seemed little probability that she would survive the day. Mrs. Eddy then called for her Bible, and while reading, the Scriptures were suddenly illumined. Then she asked the friends who were with her to leave the room, which they did very reluctantly. They thought she was delirious. In a few moments, to their bewilderment and fright she walked into the room where they were. Her conviction of the availability and effectiveness of divine healing dated from that hour. She felt at the time that the divine Spirit had wrought a miracle. She later realized that her healing was in perfect accord with the science of divine law.

 

Mrs. Eddy Proved Her Discovery

The following three years she devoted to almost constant study of the Scriptures. During this time the Science of Christianity unfolded to her as exact and demonstrable law the law of God. Then she went to work to prove her discovery by healing numerous cases of disease, some of them of the so-called incurable type. This proving of the Science of the Christ, or Christian Science, as she later named it, went on, and in 1875, nine years after her discovery, she published the first edition of her textbook under the title of Science and Health, which is truly the key to the Scriptures. Have you ever heard of any discoverer or inventor putting his discovery or invention to exhaustive tests for nine years without putting it on the market? Mrs. Eddy knew what she was doing. She followed divine guidance. She had learned and proved the Science underlying Jesus' works and was confident that the Christian churches would welcome her discovery. In this she was disappointed. So she founded her own church, the Church of Christ, Scientist.

Her book, Science and Health, points to the prophecy of St. John in the tenth chapter of Revelation, in which he refers to "a little book open" in the angel's hand. Jesus referred to the final revelation of Truth, as given in Christian Science, in these words: "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever" (John 14:16).

Christian Science is the promised Comforter. Judaism is still expecting the Messiah;

Christians are still looking for the reappearance of Jesus; but the Comforter, revealing the ever-present Christ, came to Mrs. Eddy through the inspiration of illumined thought.

If Christians of all faiths accepted and utilized the Christian Science explanation of prayer, there would be more harmony and better health generally. Such prayer is paramount in the practice of Christian Science. The Master's prayer at the tomb of Lazarus was an inspired declaration of the expectancy of good and indicated no doubt whatever as to its efficacy. When Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, sent for Jesus to come and heal their brother, the Master said to his disciples, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby" (John 11:4). Jesus was fully aware that Lazarus had never lived in a material body, therefore had not died out of it. He knew that the life of man is God, eternal, indestructible, and permanent. This understanding of man as spiritual enabled him to awaken Lazarus from the dream of death. Jesus said of Lazarus, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep" (John 11:11). Demonstrations of divine law, through effective prayer, are going on all the time in the experience of Christian Scientists. I would like to tell you of one.

 

Man Is the Expression of God

I know a man who, following a surgical operation on the spine, had become unconscious and totally paralyzed. After he had been three months in this condition the physician told the wife that he had done all that was humanly possible, and that her husband would soon pass on. The surgeon tried to console her by telling her this would be best, for should her husband live he would be in a wheel chair the rest of his days and would probably be a mental case. The wife, who was a student of Christian Science and a former registered medical nurse, called a Christian Science practitioner. To mortal sense it was too late. Then the account of Jesus' raising of Lazarus came as an angel thought to the practitioner, and he prayed that this sickness was not unto death but for the glory of God. The practitioner realized that God is the Life of man and that Life is real and eternal and that death is an illusion or dream from which the patient needed to be awakened.

The treatment continued with the understanding that man is the expression of God and reflects consciousness, activity, freedom, alertness, and intelligence. It was seen that man had never been touched by a mortal belief of malformation, nor had he ever been operated upon. Since God is All-in-all, nothing unlike Him could enter into man's experience. It was realized that the so-called case had no starting point, no law to sustain it, and therefore no history; consequently there was nothing to recover from. But the beliefs of the material senses had to be denied. As Mrs. Eddy writes: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick" (Science and Health, pp. 476, 477).

In a day or so the patient wiggled a toe as the first sign of activity. Shortly thereafter he regained full consciousness, but there was as yet little activity. In about three weeks his wife took him home, where he was cared for by Christian Science nurses. Approximately three months later he returned to his work, which requires considerable physical agility. This healing occurred over eight years ago, and the man is now an active member of a Christian Science branch church and is in the best of health. Isn't this wonderful news?

Prayer in Christian Science is the affirmation of divine law. This law is not limited to any period in history, nor is it available to a select few, for the healing Christ or Truth is for all mankind and for all time. This prayer includes the intelligent denial of everything unlike God. Christian Science has elevated men's concept of prayer from blind faith without works to spiritual understanding with "signs following."

 

How Prayer Overcomes Disease

Christian Science treatment is the prayer of realizing that man cannot be afflicted by fear; that he cannot be the victim or target of false beliefs or fears about him. Prayer is the intelligent recognition that God's creation, including man, is entirely good; therefore there is in reality no disease; consequently there is no diseased action, inaction, or overaction. The prayer of spiritual understanding recognizes that man has no vulnerable organ to be diseased and no vital organ to be injured, that man is not susceptible to error. Since disease and matter are no part of God's creation, there is no harmful seed or germ to propagate it; no soil in which it can thrive or grow, no Principle to sustain it; no law to enforce it; and therefore it has no duration. Man's substance is never limited by age, disease, dislocation, deterioration, or depiction. There is no growth in matter, hence no abnormal growth; for there is no deficiency of good, hence no surplus of evil or matter. In prayer we maintain that disease is nothing but a false belief claiming to have presence and power in man's experience. This mental process, or prayer, is Christian Science treatment, fully affirming the perfection of what God has made in His own likeness, and denying evil, which He did not make. This scientific prayer proves that man is unfallen, upright, free, pure, and immortal and results in the demonstration of Christian healing.

Christian Science treatment is the practice of our understanding of God, or the practice of good. It covers every human need. The Old Testament contains numerous instances which show that when the Israelites prayed aright they prospered. One man, Moses, demonstrated his understanding of God and blessed an entire nation, proving that "one with God is a majority" (Wendell Phillips, quoted by Mrs. Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings, p. 245). Moses, following divine guidance, led the enslaved tribes of Israel out of bondage through the Red Sea, fed them in the wilderness, provided water in the desert, in the face of opposition and ingratitude from those he was rescuing. Luke was a physician who abandoned medicine and followed Jesus' teachings. Today, there are former physicians and surgeons among the more than ten thousand Christian Science practitioners listed in The Christian Science Journal. They have given up the practice of material medicine for the practice of Christian Science.

 

Divine Healing Perfectly Normal

In our day the demand is for practical things, labor-saving devices, transportation which has overcome time and space. Only a few years ago the possibility of transmitting pictures and sound through space was considered impossible or miraculous, yet today television is accepted as a normal thing. Spiritual healing is not miraculous either, but is a perfectly normal activity to those who understand its Principle. Throughout all history men have had the desire for practical religion, and Mary Baker Eddy brought this desire to fulfillment. As the understanding of this religion increases and its healing works are seen, it too will have universal acceptance.

After four thousand years of material medicine, disease has not been eradicated. In fact there are more diseases listed now than there were in past centuries. Some diseases have greatly increased. It is most interesting that Webster's first definition of the word "malignant" is, "Rebellious against God or against a government; malcontent." This definition denotes a mental condition manifested in human thought as resentment, criticism, hatred, malicious intent, or resistance to authority or lawful procedure. The textbook tells us "Much yet remains to be said and done before all mankind is saved and all the mental microbes of sin and all diseased thought-germs are exterminated" (Science and Health, p. 164). Disease therefore is error or evil in collective and individual mortal thought. The most dreaded diseases of our day undoubtedly owe their spread to the vast publicity they are receiving through every medium of advertising. No commercial product has ever received so much publicity, and advertising spreads an idea and creates a demand.

The occasion of Jesus' anointing the eyes of the blind man with clay and his spittle (John 9:6, 7) has been used as an argument in support of material remedies, but the Son of God had no need of matter; He healed spiritually. It was an Oriental custom to show contempt by spitting in the presence of another, so Jesus apparently did what the thought around him could understand. He showed contempt for materiality, when mixing the spittle and the clay. Then, when he sent the blind man to wash off the clay at a distant pool, he may have been testing the blind man's faith and expectancy, for on other occasions he had said, "According to your faith be it unto you." Even the disciples asked Jesus, "Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" and Jesus answered, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" (John 9:2,3). Jesus had completely nullified the medical beliefs as to heredity, or the punishment of the children for the sins of the parents' false beliefs, generally accepted at that time and to a large extent in our time.

All discord and disease result from fearful, ignorant, or sinful thoughts or unlovely traits of character. This is illustrated in the experience of a woman who had suffered from a crippling form of rheumatism for about fifteen years, and who then turned to Christian Science for healing. She had previously been healed of a physical condition which a physician said required surgery. This healing came after only four days of absent treatment from a Christian Science practitioner at a time when the patient knew nothing about Christian Science. She had since become an active worker in a Christian Science church, but in this experience the healing was very slow. There was improvement but not complete healing. Through the practitioner's help, the error was self-seen by the patient as pride, selfishness, ill temper, and impatience. She had to demonstrate a willingness to overcome these unlovely traits of character. She had to replace pride with humility; selfishness with unselfishness, ill temper with temperance, impatience with patience. Temperament often shows itself in one's countenance and bearing. An ill tempered, exacting, tense attitude often shows in restricted steps, drawn features, and obstructed activity. Spiritual poise and humility are manifested in better health and a more elastic step. Practitioner and patient worked with this verse from Psalms (19:14): "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer." With the realization of these truths, the poison of temper was eliminated, and there was no more rheumatism. This healing occurred many years ago, and the woman is now an active Christian Science practitioner.

Healing comes in Christian Science when the patient is willing to place himself in God's hands, with no concession to material beliefs such as medical diagnosis, drugs, and psychoanalysis, which are the tragic playthings of mortal mind. Science and Health tells us (p. 167), "Only through radical reliance on Truth can scientific healing power be realized."

I would like to illustrate these statements with a healing which a friend of mine experienced when a comparatively new church member. A condition presented itself in one of his feet, which grew more frightening each day. When the condition began to show the symptoms of what is termed gangrene, he phoned a Christian Science practitioner, who lovingly took up daily treatment. For about three weeks he grew worse and more frightened. The suggestion kept coming that it might be wise to see a physician before it was too late. A mental picture of fear which he had not been alert to had been taken into his consciousness. One Wednesday afternoon the practitioner came to see him and with great firmness told him to go to the meeting in his church that night. This seemed ridiculous, but he called a cab and was assisted into the back door of the church. The lesson that night was on radical reliance. From the Bible was the story of King Asa as recorded in II Chronicles (16:12,13): "And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign." During the testimony period of the meeting my friend pondered this Scripture. He realized that he had to learn the truth sometime, either here or hereafter, and for the first time took his stand to rely radically on divine law. There was no further thought of any concession to material methods. The following morning there was evidence of great improvement the very first there had been and within a few days the healing was complete. Isn't this wonderful news?

 

Love Breaks Grasp of Mesmerism

I hope that any of you who came to this lecture burdened with a fear of God, or a conviction that He loves others but does not love you, may have dropped your burden, at least to some extent, through the realization of God's love and care for all. When Love lifts the burden, then the mesmerism breaks, and you are free. Christian Science has spread over the world its redeeming and healing message, alike to high and low, rich and poor, the learned and the ignorant.

The Comforter, which the Master promised that the Father would send in his name, and which would abide with the children of God forever (John 14:16), has been revealed as ever present through this religion of Love. This Comforter is universally available and impartial in its blessings. It is the coming of the Christ to individual human consciousness, to heal, to bless, and to save.

In conclusion I would like to extend to you all Mary Baker Eddy's loving invitation from her textbook: "Citizens of the world, accept the 'glorious liberty of the children of God,' and be free! This is your divine right" (p. 227).

 

[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Oct. 28, 1958.]

 

 

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