Christian Science: Business and Religion

 

William D. Kilpatrick, C.S.B., of Detroit, Michigan

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

William D. Kilpatrick, C.S.B., of Detroit, Mich., a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship, delivered a lecture entitled, “Christian Science: Business and Religion” at noon (12:10) today, under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, in Tremont Theater.

The lecturer was introduced by Mrs. Elisabeth F. Norwood, C.S.B., Second Reader in The Mother Church, who said:

Friends:

Whatever one's occupation may be, whatever his environment, his station in life, or his financial status, there is in the affairs of everyone a great common need, - the need of gaining a higher understanding of God.

Centuries ago our great Master, Christ Jesus, turned mankind to the Scriptures to gain this understanding, for we are told that beginning at Moses and the prophets, he expounded the Scriptures and said to those who questioned him "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God" (Matt. 22:29). The teachings of Jesus have been heeded and adhered to, in various degrees during the past centuries, but they have not been sufficiently understood to enable man to do the works of Jesus.

However, in this age has come the revelation of Christian Science which brings to man this higher understanding of God, by giving a spiritual interpretation of the Scriptures and making clear the teachings of Jesus so that we are seeing the fulfillment of his oft repeated and final instruction "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and it they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover" (Mark 16:15,17,18).

You have come here today to hear a lecture on Christian Science, and I have the privilege of introducing to you a member of The Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston Massachusetts, Mr. William D. Kilpatrick of Detroit, Michigan.

 

The Lecture

The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:

It would be a rather difficult matter, I take it, for anyone looking in upon this audience today to hold long to the conviction that religion and the business world have nothing whatever in common. I do not know how many business men and women could be induced to leave the busy marts of trade and traffic in the midst of a working day to listen to any and every discussion of religion in connection with business, but I do know that, whenever a Christian Science midday lecture for business men and women is announced, there is never any evidence of a lack of interest. And, my friends, there must be some reason for this. There must be something in the facts given out in a Christian Science discourse which proves of interest and value and help to the man engaged in business, as well as to others, and it is with the hope that this lecture today, brief as it necessarily will be, will have in it something of comfort and profit for you all, that it is given. And isn't it really, a wonderful thing for men and women to pause in the midst of their business day and give thought, if even for a short time, to things spiritual? If the business world could only be made to understand that even a little time each day devoted to the spiritual side of things would prove one of the greatest benefits to business, as well as to mankind generally, what a blessing business might become! Why, business and religion can no more be separated than can the gospel of healing be separated from the Bible or from Christian Science which Jesus taught and practiced. One of the greatest mistakes of modern times is the belief that religion and business cannot go hand in hand and that business cannot be profitably conducted on a Christianly scientific basis.

The belief that religion, or Christianity, and business do not stand on common ground is the foundation for all the ills with which the business world is confronted today. The uncertainty, the chance, the speculation, the trickery, the dishonesty, the limitations, the destructive competition, and the failures which are found on all sides in business today are due to the fact that mankind has so divorced business from religion that business has been deprived of every vital, protecting, guiding and safeguarding influence which a religious afflatus would throw about it. If humanity could only learn to conduct its business on the lines of pure Christianity laid down by Jesus the Christ a vast majority of our social and economic problems - yes, of our world problems - would be simultaneously solved and much of the world's unrest, its bitter strife, its intrigues and its hatreds would be wiped out. It is the greed, the inequity, the inhumanity, the heartlessness and the gross materialism in so-called business that is much to blame for most of our big economic and social problems - national and international. Is it not a pitiful thing to witness the misery, the want, the woe, the misfortunes, the unhappiness, the grief, and the failures which are the concomitants of a system that will tolerate endless inhumanities to man on the specious plea that because "business is business" it consequently comes outside the realm of Christian ethics? The man who cannot feel that his business can be benefited by true religion is his own worst business enemy. The very fact that mankind in its thinking has divorced business from religion has taken away from business the protection and guidance which God has vouchsafed every one of us and has opened it wide to those man-made limitations and laws which have rendered business one of the most uncertain and speculative of occupations.

 

Gradual Process

Just where the belief originated that business and Christianity would not mingle, I do not know. Not from the Bible, by any means. The separation of business and religion has probably been a gradual mental process, due to the fact that mankind, for many centuries, has failed to grasp the true sense of God and man's relationship to God. But Christian Science, which was discovered and given to the world in the year 1866 by Mary Baker Eddy, is turning humanity's contemplation from a wrong sense of God and man and so directing it to the right and true sense that gradually and certainly humanity is not only learning how to conduct its business on the basis of true Christianity, but it is learning as well that by so doing it is putting its business on a sure and safe foundation, and is relieving it of all those burdens and uncertainties which mortality would fasten to it. Humanity is learning that through the right understanding of God its business may be relieved of the limitations of all man-made conditions, such as lack, economic and social laws, so-called laws of supply and demand, laws which would make business a victim of hard times, election years, financial laws, luck, chance, change, competition, loss, et cetera. Mankind is learning, through Christian Science (at least a part of mankind is learning), that all of the ills of the business world are the results of wrong thinking about God and man, and that all of these ills may be corrected by right thinking about God and man, and thus is Christian Science not only bringing business under the operation and protection of religion, but it is convincing many a man that his business could not be successfully operated without religion, and by religion I mean a demonstrable understanding of God and man which nullifies all the laws opposed to true success.

The ranks of Christian Science contain many men and women who owe their business, their positions, their prosperity and freedom from the worries of a business world to the understanding of God they have gained through Christian Science and there is not one here today who cannot experience that same freedom, happiness and prosperity if he will but give up his cherished and preconceived erroneous notions about business, about God and about man.

Any attempt to divorce business from true religion must be made in the face of a most convincing Bible record which proves true success to be possible only in proportion as men become truly religious. Bible history is replete with accounts of the experiences of those who have become successful in business as a result of their understanding of God and man - their religion. But in every account of business success given in the Bible it must be noted that complete devotion to the fundamentals of true religion preceded the evidence of God's abundance and protecting care. True business success does not consist in a constant, unrighteous struggle for things material. Business success is achieved by so clarifying one's own thought as to God and one's relationship to God, that all man-made conditions of lack, limitation, impoverishment, destructive competition, so-called laws of supply and demand, adverse business conditions, failure, environment, luck, chance, or change are completely ruled out of one's experience. When mankind can so clarify his thinking through the right understanding of his true relationship to God that all of these conditions cease to be a part of his experience, then he will cease to look to materiality for any evidence of success, and his success is assured.

 

Right Thinking

When, through right thinking, through the right understanding of God and man, we can master all of these man-made laws which have obstructed business, then will business be on a successful foundation and a man's success will not be measured by the size of his bank account but by his ability, through spiritual understanding, to avoid the pitfalls of failure. Right thinking becomes law to our business and it is a law which nothing of a human or mortal nature can break down or withstand. Isn't that man who knows so much about God and his own relationship to God that he doesn't for one moment think or fear that he or his business can become the victim of failure or disaster, vastly more of a success than the man with an enormous bank account which may be wiped out in an instant of reversal? When the Children of Israel so clarified their thinking that they beheld the true God and their true relationship to Him then were the promises of the Lord fulfilled and they were led into the land of plenty - their business became truly successful. But when they so strayed from their God that they failed to bear constantly in mind these things which make for true success then was their success turned into failure and they lost that which their right thinking had given them. When their gaze rested on things spiritual their temporal success followed as a natural consequence, but when their gaze descended to the material, to the golden calf, to bank accounts, et cetera, then were their efforts attended with failure.

One of the most picturesque lessons in Bible lore is found in the life of Solomon. Solomon's father, David, had been a great ruler in Judah but when he passed on, the mantle of his kingdom fell upon his son, Solomon. Solomon was a humble and God-fearing youth and quite naturally turned to God for guidance in his time of need and it is recorded that God appeared to Solomon in a dream and asked him what He should give him. We read, that in his answer to this question, Solomon did not ask the Lord for material power or possessions, money or influence and the like, but in humility and simplicity he answered: "And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. . . . Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?"

And it is recorded that this humble petition of Solomon's pleased the Lord and that God said unto Solomon: "Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; . . . and I have also given thee that which thou has not asked, both riches, and honour."

Every human problem has its solution in a right understanding of God and man, and the problems which confronted the ancient worthies - the prophets, Jesus, and the Apostles - and which were so successfully solved through the understanding of God, are no different from the problems which confront you and me today. That spiritual law by which those men of the Bible wrought the early wonders has never changed. It is just as much of a law today as ever and is just as applicable to your and my affairs as it was to the affairs of Moses, Joshua, Elisha, or Jesus.

 

Same Problems

The same problems confronted the men of Bible times that confront us here today, and the same law of God is present to meet and master these problems if we but learn how to apply it. It would be a mighty strange God who would provide relief for some of His children and not for all of them, would it not? The law of God that provided food for the Israelites in the wilderness when it seemed humanly impossible to escape death from hunger; that rolled back the waters of the River Jordan so that the Israelites could pass through on dry land to safety; that raised the axe-head to the surface of the river for Elisha; that raised from the dead the son of the Shunammite mother; that fed the multitudes in the wilderness in Jesus' time, and that enabled Jesus to walk the waves, pass through closed doors, heal the sick, and raise the dead has never been annulled. God's power has never grown less, and through the understanding of Christian Science this law of God has again been revealed to mankind, and through its daily application by thousands is bringing freedom, happiness, and prosperity. The only true happiness lies in contentment, and when contentment comes as a result of the understanding of the omnipotence and omnipresence of God's law of infinite supply, God's law of abundance, God's law of right adjustment, protection, guidance, and care, then is true success achieved.

A good example of the application of this law of God came to my attention soon after the World War. You will recall that following the signing of the armistice, business became abnormally inflated; the business world seemed to lose its head, so to speak,

with the immense volume of business which seemed to be at hand. But you will also recall that the bubble soon burst (naturally) and that it wasn't long before our great prosperity had been turned into a condition of depression. At this time a certain large building and contracting concern which had been enjoying its share of the fat times found itself without orders and a very large overhead expense eating into its reserves. The concern maintained several large offices in various parts of the country and did not wish to disorganize its force of efficient assistants. However, conditions got to the point where retrenchment seemed positively imperative. There happened to be a man connected with the concern who knew a little about Christian Science - at least he knew that Christian Science offered relief from all discord - and he placed the problems of the concern before a Christian Science practitioner. The situation was gone into and the practitioner explained to this man just how Christian Science would handle a case of this kind. It was shown to him what God really is and what man in God's image and likeness really is and how God and man are inseparable; how, because of this inseparability, man's business must be God's business, and how, therefore, all business must be good. It was shown how utterly without foundation in Truth are any laws of limitation, fear, depression, reaction, failure, et cetera, and his thoughts were turned into new channels. The practitioner began to work along Christianly scientific lines regarding the business, and in a short time, in the face of the most depressing situation in that particular line of business, orders began to come in. They did not come in large volume at first, but they came and kept coming, with the result that none of the force of assistants was dismissed, and the concern weathered the financial storm in a most beautiful manner, and is doing a thriving business today.

Hear this reassuring promise from the first Psalm: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."

 

Ample Assurance

That promise is for you and me today and is ample assurance that we cannot separate prosperity from goodness; in other words, religion from business.

You will recall that on two distinct occasions Jesus came upon some of his followers who were fishing. Fishing in those days was one of the principal businesses of that section of the world. On both of these occasions the fishing business was proving a failure, so to speak. These fishermen had toiled long and had caught nothing, just as you or I might be toiling in the manufacturing or mercantile business without success. And how did Jesus meet that situation? Did he tell these fishermen to go over to some other place in the lake where there were more fish? Did he tell them to do anything materially? No, on one of the occasions in particular he bade them cast their net on the right side, that is, cease looking to materiality for the solution of their problem, but look to God as the divine Principle of all that exists, and when this was done, when their thoughts were turned from the material to the spiritual, the solution was there - the nets were filled with fish.

My friends, I wish I had the time to go on indefinitely with illustrations from the Bible, from beginning to end, - which not only prove that business and religion cannot be separated but which prove, at the same time, that a man cannot be truly successful in business without religion. Jesus, who was the most practical thinker who ever lived, in his wonderful Sermon on the Mount gave mankind the recipe for conducting business to a successful issue, and just as fast as mankind learns this recipe and applies it, just so fast will mankind's business be successful. In that memorable sermon, Jesus, summing up the whole business problem as it exists right here today with all of us, said: "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" "Behold the fowls of the air," he said; "they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them."

Jesus knew that in those times, as now, mankind conceived business to be the process of getting something - getting something to eat and wear, thus to preserve its sense of life. Jesus saw that back of the mortal sense of business was the sense of fear that men would not have enough to eat or to wear and hence would come under the law of death, and it was to correct not only this false sense of business but at the same time the fears which underlie this false sense of business that he said, "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink." He was turning thought away from a material sense of life, or of life in matter, and directing it to the spiritual sense of life, or to the understanding of Life as God, and through this understanding of God as the Life of man he hoped to bring mankind to think rightly on the question of business and thus to correct its concept of business from one of a process of getting to one of giving, or of service. To answer the human thought of constantly striving to get food and clothing he pointed to "the fowls of the air" which, he said, neither sow nor reap, nor gather into barns, "yet," to use his exact words, "your heavenly Father feedeth them." And then, by way of emphasizing the point, Jesus proceeded: "And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." "Wherefore," he says; "if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?"

 

The True Remedy

And then to sum up the entire treatment and to point the remedy Jesus said: '"Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? . . . But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

Now, my friends, there is a statement of the remedy for every ill which confronts mankind today. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness," and all your material needs will be met, no matter what your business, your calling, or your position may be. Jesus does not say there that we should not expect to be fed and clothed properly; that we should not live comfortably, or that we should not have the good things of life, but he does say that if men will seek first the kingdom of heaven, that is, if men will turn their thoughts from getting material things, and let their gaze rest on the spiritual truths of existence, they will not only have all of these things but that these cannot be taken away from them so long as they think rightly. Business based upon an understanding of God and conducted along the lines laid down in the golden rule and in the Sermon on the Mount will be not only successful but will be at the same time stable and free from all of those baneful influences which mortality has said should govern business. God's law is an omnipotent law, and this law is unerring and unalterable, and when we bring ourselves and our business under the operation and protection of God's law (and this is done through right thinking), then we need take no thought for what we shall eat or what we shall drink or wherewithal we shall be clothed, for all of these will be added unto us as a necessary sequent to a spiritual antecedent. Good thoughts, kind deeds, love, consideration for others, patience, forgiveness, compassion, purity, and honesty bring us into touch with God's law and make our lives successful, no matter what our vocations may be.

True Christian Scientists do not work to demonstrate materiality, material things, money, automobiles, houses, lands, et cetera. Their work is devoted to seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these other things follow as a necessary consequence. In the consideration of the question of supply, position, place, et cetera, a real Christian Scientist never works to a material end. The material is not his goal. He handles in his own thought the argument of fear and lack and limitation and impoverishment and misplacement and displacement with which the material sense of things is hedged about, and he knows that when these false arguments are corrected in his own thought, the manifestation of abundance and freedom and right adjustment will come in the way of God's directing.

A Christian Scientist never presumes to outline how God shall manifest himself. His work is directed at destroying in his own thinking the wrong sense of things, so that God’s abundance and protecting care may appear in the way of God's appointing.

Jesus did not work for money or mere things. His remedy lay in his understanding of God, and that is where your and my remedy lies. It is not right to be impoverished, to have a poor business, a sick business, or a losing business, or to be out of work or place or position, or to be hampered in any way whatever by the humanly devitalizing so-called laws of business, and just as fast as men can withdraw their gaze from the material and can focus it completely on the spiritual; that is, just as fast as men can take no thought for their lives, what they shall eat or what they shall drink or how they are going to obtain clothes to wear, and instead seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, just so fast will they cease to struggle with the specter of lack, want, limitation, failure, loss, and misfortune.

 

An Illustration

One of the plainest and simplest present-day illustrations of much that I have related was furnished at one of our Wednesday evening Christian Science services. Every Wednesday evening Christian Science churches and societies throughout the world hold meetings which are devoted to reading from the Bible and from the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, and to the giving of testimonies of healing by the congregation. At this particular meeting a meek, modest little lady rose and said that she wished to express her gratitude for many physical healings she had received in Christian Science, among which was a healing of a supposedly incurable disease. But she said that she wished especially that evening to express her gratitude for a healing which had occurred the week previous. She said that for many years she had been a sufferer from lameness and that this lameness had developed to the extent that it was fast becoming very difficult for her to get about at all; that the condition was one of long standing and one for which no material remedy had ever been found. She also said that she had been blessed with but little of the world's goods and that at that time she was quite without funds because of her contributions to the need of friends.

On a recent Sunday morning she said she had attended the church services and on that particular Sunday it was announced that the collection would be devoted to the purpose of church building. She said that she had received so much good through her understanding of God given her in Christian Science that she wanted to express her gratitude that morning in a gift of money for the purpose of church building, but that when she looked to see how much she could give she found she had just sixteen cents with her, and that that was all she had in the world. She said she pondered some time as to what she could do. She lived three miles from the church and could hardly think of walking even a small part of that distance on account of her lameness. She prayed, and as the contribution plate came to her she dropped in her widow's mite - her sixteen cents - all she had in the world. She was happy then, she said, and thanked God that she could do it and trust. She left the church in joy and walked three miles to her home, and when she arrived home she discovered that she had been completely healed of the lameness of years' standing, and as she approached her door a special delivery letter was handed her by a postman, which contained a very substantial check from sources unthought of. What had she done? Had she given thought to what she should eat, or drink, or wear? No, she had so forgotten those things that her pure consciousness had been filled with the sunlight of God's love and she had thus brought into operation that law of God which not only healed her physical infirmity but which met her financial needs as well.

The pure simplicity of Jesus' life, his loving-kindness, his tender compassion and forgiveness furnish us the foundation upon which to build our own superstructure of spirituality, health, happiness, and prosperity. In learning to love, to forgive and to forget, as did Jesus, lies the secret of success. There is not a single inharmonious condition, physical, moral, or financial, that has not its immediate remedy in the teachings of the Master and a right and happy solution of all our difficulties is ever knocking at our door. The humility, the meekness, and the unselfed love of the mighty Jesus - this man who overcame every material law known to mankind; this man who held the wind in his grasp and the waves in the palm of his hand; this man who could have escaped the part he played in the tragedy on Calvary; this man whose power of spiritual understanding could roll away the stone of materialism from the door of the tomb of mortality - should put to shame the arrogance and the egotism of him who thinks to succeed without the Christ.

In the loving words of Isaiah, Christian Science says to all humanity? "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."

 

[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, May 15, 1930.]

 

 

HOME PAGE                INDEX OF LECTURES