The Liberating Protests of Truth
John Richard C. Kenyon of London, England
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Awakening to the power of Truth brings freedom from limitation, John Richard C. Kenyon, C.S.B., of London, England, told an audience in Boston Monday evening.
"Human thought needs a radical revolution, a stirring, vigorous awakening," he stated. "This awakening demands effort. But the rewards are great and this awakening will surely come for each one of us."
Mr. Kenyon spoke in The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. He is a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship.
"The Liberating Protests of Truth" was the title of his lecture.
Mrs. Eleanor Chase of Boston introduced the lecturer. Mr. Kenyon spoke substantially
This age has seen much technical progress, much invention, and we're grateful for these. But can anyone maintain that mankind is now entirely free? Isn't it clear he's still subject to many limitations? In the next 50 minutes we shall, I hope, discover that these limitations are the result of false views that once these false views have been rejected, the limitations will begin to vanish.
An ancient tale from the East illustrates some of these false views which are still current today.
There was once a great king who held a feast and then fell asleep. While he slept three young men of the royal guard talked in low voices. Suddenly one of them said: "Why don't we write down what each of us believes to be the strongest power on earth? Then, when the king wakes up, we'll show him what we have written, ask him and his wise men to judge between us and declare one of us the winner." So each one wrote down his idea.
The first one had written "Wine is strongest." It is fairly obvious how he spent his evenings. "The king is strongest," asserted the second, while the third wrote "Women are strongest," then he added, "But truth conquers all." When the king woke he called his court together, took his seat in the council chamber and summoned the young men. "Now," said the king, "give us your reasons for what you have written."
"Wine must be strongest," began the first. "It fuddles the wits of all who drink it, whether they be king or slave; it makes all men fancy themselves rich and talk in millions. On the morrow none can remember what he has said or done. It is obvious wine is the strongest."
The second had written, "The king is undoubtedly the strongest. When he commands men to make war, they obey; they kill or are killed. If he orders them to build, they build; to plant, they plant. Of course the king is strongest."
"Women are strongest," said the third contestant. "Every human being is born of a woman, is raised by her. Why, a man will leave his father and mother to cleave to his wife. Who can deny the strength of women?"
Then he added, "But is anything as strong as truth? In wine there is injustice; there is injustice, too, in kings as well as in women; finally they all perish. But truth abides. Truth lives and rules forever." A shout went up. "Great," said all the people, "great is truth. Truth is indeed the strongest. Give him the prize."
This story is no invention of mine. You can find it recorded with colorful detail in the First Book of Esdras, in the Biblical Apocrypha. The court was in Persia; Darius was the king; Zerubbabel won the prize. But is this tale just a romantic legend? Doesn't it highlight some of the false views which still today imprison many of us? The young man surely provided a key to how these false views can be corrected through the understanding and application of truth. So just what is truth and how is it brought into action?
This question, "What is truth?" has puzzled the ages and still puzzles this age we're living in. It's a question to be approached with marked humility. Which one of us would claim to have more than a glimpse of the answer?
Henry David Thoreau has rightly said: "It takes two to speak the truth one to speak, and another to hear."
So together let's explore some aspects of truth.
The Bible terms God "a God of truth." And in the writing of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Truth used in the highest sense means God.
Truth therefore isn't something passive. It's active power. It operates all the time and acts everywhere.
Because nothing can withstand the power of divine Truth, it may be likened to a mighty river flowing purposefully forward, deep, calm, unobstructed. It sweeps away the lies, misconceptions, untruths which hold mankind in bondage. But because Truth is also Love, it isn't just a rushing torrent that bursts its banks and destroys what's good.
This mighty river of Truth brings salvation and baptism. It purifies human thought, washing away the pollution of sin, the bitterness of disappointment, the dull boredom of selfish living.
Divine Truth comes also as an inner voice in different ways to different people. To the man imprisoned by materiality, the voice may be inaudible until he wakens sufficiently to listen. It's often the storms, pains, frustrations and disappointments of material living that waken him and make him long for something better. Then, through the storms, he may hear the voice of Truth as a voice that is small and still. Gradually he grows more accustomed to hearing the voice and it sounds louder and clearer until finally it's like the roaring of a lion, strong, clear, unmistakable.
This voice of Truth comes as inspiration from God, as divine revelation, divine Mind or intelligence revealing itself. Of this voice Mrs. Eddy writes in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures;" "Truth is affirmative, and confers harmony."
The Bible abounds with Eastern imagery and contains many other symbols for Truth a fortress, a high tower, a strong habitation. As the young man in the tale from the East said: "Truth abides." Perhaps the Biblical symbol that best illustrates the permanent, indestructible quality of Truth is a rock, a firm foundation on which to build. This rock, though the sea may beat against it, stands firm.
There's nothing more indestructible than Truth. Consider a simple mathematical fact such as nine nines are eighty-one. There just is no way that simple fact can be destroyed because it's true. A hydrogen bomb couldn't even touch it. Contrast this permanence of Truth with any material structure you care to think of and you'll find the material structure can be destroyed. Even a diamond can be cut, a metal alloy melted, an atom split.
And surely we need to understand this permanence of Truth if we're to build our lives on a sure foundation. A home where truth and not deception is practiced is a home that lasts. We can all think of businesses which have stood through harsh economic storms because they were built solidly on honesty and integrity. A government, too, that tells the people the truth has nothing to conceal. It stands firmer because it stands on truth. There can be no freedom without this quality of permanence.
But again God, who is Truth, is also Love. In the Bible the gentleness of divine Love is symbolized by God's outstretched wings. So not only do we stand firmly on the rock of Truth, but we shelter under Love's protecting wings. Every single one of us is safe in Truth's strength and protected by Love's care. Truth is power and permanence and tender, caring Love.
Is what I've been saying just a beautiful theory, remote, impractical? Let me tell you an experience which shows just how practical it is to rely on Truth.
One night I was called to help put out a forest fire in the mountains of Wales. When the fire was out, we drove back in the dark along a narrow mountain road. I was riding in the front of a truck and there were about 10 men in the back. As we rounded a bend the truck hit a rock at the side of the road. The driver wrestled with the wheel for a moment, then lost control and jumped out. The truck plunged off the road and rushed down the mountain.
But the moment we struck the rock this protest of truth flashed vividly and vigorously into my thought: "There are no accidents in Mind." On the face of it this was absurd. We seemed to be right in a desperate accident. What did it mean: "There are no accidents in Mind?"
Christian Science had taught me that God, Truth, Mind, has all power. Therefore, Truth's opposite, error or evil, must be without power. This understanding of what is power and what is not power separates what is true from what is false what divine Mind has created from what divine Mind has not created, and what does not really exist.
Mrs. Eddy discovered that disasters which appear so real, if thoroughly probed by Truth, are neither true nor real. We all know that a dream appears just as true as what happens when we're awake. In the dream obviously we've experiencing what we believe. The dream changes as our thought changes. But suppose what we experience in our waking moments is similar. In other words, is it possible that when awake we're also experiencing what we believe?
This is only partially so. When in our waking moments we observe, for instance, honesty, kindness, and goodness, we're observing something of divine Truth shining through into human experience. But when we observe evil, we're observing the results of believing what isn't true.
So what's the solution? Resolutely to refuse to believe what is not true. To turn thought deliberately and firmly to divine Truth, divine Mind. To refuse to dream. To be awake only to what is really true.
So what did my protest mean: "There are no accidents in Mind?" It meant that what appeared to be a ghastly accident simply could not be true. Why? Because in actual fact we live in a universe created and governed by divine Mind. This intelligent universe is reality. It's true. Accidents can't and don't exist in such an intelligent universe. They're no more than conditions of deceived unawakened thought.
Remember we were to all appearances in a serious accident. We bounded over rocks; we flattened small trees.
A second and a third time I repeated that protest: "There are no accidents in Mind," with all the strength I could muster.
We came to an abrupt halt. Very abrupt. I learned later we had hit the only tree on that mountainside big enough to stop us. We stopped 50 yards from the road and just three yards from a lake with a cheerful notice in red letters; "Danger. Deep Water."
For a few seconds I sat where I was, filled with a great sense of relief, of gratitude to God. Then I heard the men in the back calling for me. Two of the men had been knocked unconscious. Their companions had shaken them, but couldn't rouse them. With the conviction that the whole accident was not true and, like a mesmeric dream, could have no effect, I called both men by name. They sat up instantly, and using the identical words said: "I'm quite all right." No one was injured apart from a few bruises.
Everyone can experience Truth as an active power, like a mighty river. Truth abides, firm as a rock, but it is also gentle because it is Love. And Truth can deliver us from disaster as well as from all other evils.
We can think of Truth as light. To start with it may be as faint as the first coming of a new day. But from the moment it dawns it starts to destroy everything unlike itself. Finally we reach the noon of a full-orbed sun.
What is perhaps the main illusion that imprisons us? Isn't it the picture so generally accepted of a man born into matter, dependent on matter, living in matter, and finally dying out of matter?
So let us take a penetrating look at this question: "What is matter?" In 1875 when Mrs. Eddy first published Science and Health, the physicists of that age believed matter was composed of atoms, solid spheres which could never be split. Of course, with the coming of nuclear physics such a concept has long since been discarded. So that concept of the solidity of matter has been found untrue.
In London there's an interesting museum called the Science Museum. At one time one of its displays illustrated the effects of magnifying matter. In six models, like small shop windows, it showed varying degrees of magnification. In the first window there was a lead pencil magnified to the point where the lead looked like a large granite curbstone. In each successive model the magnification was increased. In the second window the lead looked like something made of wicker-work, with quite large empty spaces between the strands.
Magnified still further, those solid-looking strands broke up into even wider empty spaces. Nothing solid remained except a few thin hairs. When these in turn had been enlarged, nothing was left in the last model except empty space, with a few small dots to represent the atoms. These in turn broke down into neutrons and protons.
But why stop there? What would be left under the ultimate magnification? Under the clear light of divine Truth would any vestige of matter remain? For the first time I understood this sentence from Science and Health: "Matter disappears under the microscope of Spirit."
Today it's commonplace for physicists to agree matter is very far from what it seems to be. But Christian Science goes further. It declares that matter isn't substance at all.
Yet human beings in general continue to believe they were born into matter, are imprisoned in it through various stages and for a number of years, then finally die out of it.
Consider some of the problems this false view, this belief of birth into matter, brings with it.
First, let's think back to our tale of the East. "Women are strongest," the third young man had said. Why are women strongest? Surely as the mothers of the race their love is usually unselfish, and lasting. But even mother-love sometimes fails to keep pace with a child's growth and holds it back. How can Truth liberate us from the bondage which sometimes fetters us as a result of such human relationships? Liberation comes when these relationships are put on a higher and more permanent basis.
The way to do this is to gain a truer concept of family. Many think of a family as a father and mother and a few children, but here's a wider concept of family from Science and Health: "With one Father, even God, the whole family of man would be brethren; and with one Mind and that God, or good, the brotherhood of man would consist of Love and Truth, and have unity of Principle and spiritual power which constitute divine Science."
We've been talking about the imprisonment which arises from the widespread misconception that matter is solid substance and we're born into it and live in it.
What was needed to save mankind from this bondage? The answer is, the liberating Christ, the divine message from God to human beings. This message had to be voiced through someone who was so at one with divine Truth that he was constantly able to hear the message.
It had to reach us through someone not only sufficiently Christly, but with enough humanity to bring the message to the world. That one was Christ Jesus.
What did he say was needed to "see the kingdom of God" the kingdom of Truth? No less than being born again.
What did this mean? It was a tremendous liberating protest against the notion of man being born of the flesh. It was a rebellion against the long-accepted and still accepted view of man as physical and corporeal; man subject to birth, to growth, to decline, and to death. Jesus challenged totally and utterly these misconceptions. Not only did he challenge them, but he justified his challenge by his proofs of healing.
What was the truth that Jesus proclaimed a revolutionary, liberating truth which destroyed the flimsy fabric of conventional views? It was a truth that outraged the established church of his day; a truth that was so vital to him that he could not but voice it. The voicing of it he knew would bring him into conflict with those who held tenaciously to empty, outworn convention and ritual. The voicing of it would bring him to prison, to trial, to die as a criminal on the cross. But it would also bring him to his final triumph over death.
What was this truth? Jesus declared what he saw and understood, the wonderful, stupendous, indestructible facts of man's true manhood. Man born of God, not of man. Man conceived in the likeness of his Maker, infinite Spirit. Man spiritual, happy, harmonious, fearless, and free. Man at the standpoint of present perfection, not a mortal, sinful man struggling to emerge from suffering, from burdens, from strife and from toil. But man glorified!
In Jesus' words, "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." What a tremendous rejection this was of worldliness. The Christ is God's message of good speaking to each one of us. It was Jesus' living it and teaching it that made him Christ Jesus.
But the true view of man is not all of this Christ, Truth. Spiritual man must have an origin, a creator, a divine supporting Principle, God. Jesus revealed God as a Father who is Truth, a Father not only of this very special Son of God, but a Father of every one of us. A present support and strength. A healing power and presence.
How was this healing power made manifest in Jesus' day? If you were traveling in some remote part of the world and came on a primitive tribe in bondage to ignorant superstitions, beliefs in evil spirits, wouldn't you long to open their eyes? Wouldn't you long to cry out to them in vigorous, liberating protest: "These things are not true. These evil spirits you worship and fear are not real. The suffering these superstitious fears are causing you is not necessary. You are safe and free." If they believed you, their burden of superstitious fears would disappear.
Jesus must have had this feeling when he walked through the multitudes healing all manner of diseases, restoring sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, movement to the paralyzed, and even life to the dead. He cast out the evil spirits which in his day were believed to be the cause of their afflictions, through disbelieving them. In other words, his knowing of what was true caused him to protest against such enslaving notions. He knew they couldn't possibly be true in the intelligent universe which God has made.
How free is civilized mankind today of ignorant superstitions? How much do we bow down and worship, attribute power to that which is utterly untrue, unreal?
These are some of the questions Mrs. Eddy must surely have asked herself in the years when she was discovering Christian Science. As the answers unfolded to her, she wrote:
"I saw before me the sick, wearing out years of servitude to an unreal master in the belief that the body governed them, rather than Mind."
A century ago Mrs. Eddy was searching for the key to the healing method of Christ Jesus. Then it must have dawned on her. You just can't reconcile the view of God as a loving all-governing Father and the view of mankind as suffering. If God is true, the view of suffering mankind must be false.
Later she was to write: "Healing has gone on continually; yet healing, as I teach it, has not been practiced since the days of Christ. What is the cardinal point of the difference in my metaphysical system? This: that by knowing the unreality of disease, sin, and death, you demonstrate the allness of God."
This is a tremendous, liberating protest. It pleads vigorously and logically for an awakening from the dream fantasies of sickness, sin and ultimately even of death itself.
The truth of her discovery was tested and confirmed over and over again in the healing results that followed.
In a biography called "Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy'' Irving Tomlinson has recorded several of the healings Mrs. Eddy brought about. For instance, one day an escaped maniac rushed into the room where she was sitting. She spoke to him gently and. then turned to God in prayer. Very soon he looked up with astonishment and declared: "That terrible weight has gone off the top of my head." When he left he was in his right mind. Later he paid her another visit to thank her for his healing.
Her heart burned with love for mankind. As a human being, she stood alone. But inspired by divine Truth, she proclaimed the unreality of matter and its enslaving beliefs.
It was a rousing call to freedom that she sounded. She dedicated her life to liberating human beings from the impositions of false thinking. Her great desire was to bring to all who would accept it an understanding of how the protests of truth could liberate them from material bondage, could bring them their God-given right to freedom.
As we understand even a little of the way in which the active power of Truth liberates, it becomes natural to use this understanding. We start to use it perhaps in small ways, but in an emergency we grab hold of it with both hands. There is often no alternative. You'll recall how it helped me in the runaway truck incident, and now let's see how it did the same in another emergency.
Late one night a young man phoned me. Gradually he revealed that he was in the act of committing suicide. He had already taken a whole bottle of sleeping tablets. He had also turned on the gas to make quite sure he did not wake up in the morning. Here, obviously was an emergency. His thought must be roused at once. To do this I insisted that the young man must phone again in the morning. On the face of it this was ridiculous; the young man didn't expect to be alive in the morning.
As I put the phone down, I realized I must make the most vigorous mental protest to free the man from the belief that the drug could kill him. In a moment of stress a thought will sometimes come with startling simplicity. The thought that came at that moment was: "Those drugs have no more power to harm him than if he had eaten a banana." This was followed by a phrase from Science and Health: "... matter is inert, mindless." The full statement is: "Matter can make no opposition to right endeavors against sin or sickness, for matter is inert, mindless." This made it plain that the drug of itself could not harm him.
But it was still necessary to destroy the beliefs about that drug. This could be done through vigorous protests and denial of the beliefs - through Christianly scientific prayer, or treatment.
Christian Science treatment does not depend on any power of the human mind. It depends on the power of God, of infinite Truth, alone. Through prayer the human consciousness awakens to the power and activity of Truth. In this way fear is allayed; the discords of erroneous thinking are destroyed. Since the work is done through prayer by the power of infinite omnipresent Truth, it operates everywhere; it can reach a patient at a distance as easily as one close at hand. Jesus proved this in many of his healings.
In praying about a problem in Christian Science it is usually necessary both to reject the erroneous false picture and to replace it with the positive truth.
The false picture is rejected and destroyed by denial and by disbelief. As we were saying earlier, it is necessary to recognize the dream-like nature of matter and of evil. This clears the decks. The awakening from the dream opens our eyes to take in the truth.
What specific truth was needed to save this young man? It came at once through inspiration, vividly and clearly: God is the Life of this child of God. This Life is out of reach of matter and cannot be destroyed or even touched by matter. Indeed the understanding that God is omnipotent Spirit, the opposite of matter, destroys matter's imaginary power.
When I reached the young man about half an hour later the drugs had had no effect. They had not even sent him to sleep. The liberating effect of the Christ, Truth the true idea of God and man had nullified the claim that they had any power to harm him. Today that young man is enjoying a happy and successful career.
Every one of us needs to be freed from something from some false beliefs. There is not one of us that does not carry around some unnecessary burdens. Burdens of misunderstandings that arise in personal relationships. Until we can emulate the wonderful works that were accomplished by Jesus, we have much to learn.
A humble awareness of this need to learn is the key to progress. Progress comes through a willingness to change. Human thought needs a radical revolution, a stirring, vigorous awakening. This awakening demands effort. But the rewards are great and this awakening will surely come for each one of us.
It will come as the light of the Christ dawns more and more in our consciousness. This divine Truth awakens and liberates us. It confers a freedom and happiness to be found in no other way.