The Primary Cause of Disease
Edward A. Kimball
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Christian Science attracts the attention of many people because of its unlimited promise. To the people who cry and complain of the burdens of life, to them that are acquainted with pain and the blight of disease, to them that mourn and are poor or under the thraldom of incorrigible sin, it promises more than does anything else that is known to humanity. It engages the confidence and affections of men because in operative practice it fulfils its own promise by answering the deepest needs of humanity. It would be impossible to overthrow or offset the statement that through its practice or application it is delivering men from every phase of evil that infests the race.
Christian Science not only justifies itself by its reformative work in behalf of humanity, but also by reason of its primary statement and scientific postulates. He who understands the fundamental declarations of Christian Science in its threefold aspect of theology, philosophy, and Science recognizes the fact that thereby reason is irresistibly reconciled to God and that the divine economy provides every essential that is necessary to the redemption of mortals from all evil. Concerning their eternal welfare and felicity, there is no phase of religious or philosophic belief that so thoroughly covers the ground upon which a man may stand and achieve his salvation and discover his immortality.
As a religion which is externalizing itself in the form of a denomination, it comes to announce its place and purpose among the sisterhood of churches and to declare itself as being representative of all that is actual and essential in the name of godliness, Christianity, and morality. In doing this, the duty and privilege of justifying itself before the world and in the esteem and confidence of mankind rests upon it, with it.
For the reason that Christian Science is primarily a religion, it is obviously appropriate to describe all that is primary, ultimate, and intermediate concerning it. Although it is not possible to do this in the brief time devoted to a lecture, I shall present a few of its distinctive features for your consideration, and preface my exposition with the remark that we regard this religion as being orthodox in the extreme.
In order correctly to contemplate the vast scheme or problem of being, it is necessary to begin at the beginning. It cannot rationally be denied that consciousness is, and that it is conscious of the phenomena of being. All of the phenomena of being exist at the standpoint of effect. Some noumenon necessarily has been the cause or inducement of these effects or things. Philosophy has puzzled itself with the irrepressible question, "What is the cause of the universe, including man?" and has made the wretched mistake of concluding that some blind, non-intelligent force is the cause, or that these phenomena have obtained existence by a process whereby nothingness has evolved itself into a state of somethingness. All these theories concerning the omnific or creative energy as resting on a materialistic basis are utterly repudiated by Christian Science.
The fact that man himself is intelligent requires the conclusion that the cause thereof is likewise intelligent, and Christian Science proclaims as its fundamental declaration that one conscious, all-intelligent individual or infinite entity is the sole cause of all actual things and is alone entitled to be called Deity or God; hence its statements that one, supreme, self-existent, spiritual, deific individual or infinitely divine person is the sole creator of all that has real existence.
In parallelism with the familiar statement that God is omniscience, all knowledge, Christian Science amplifies the definition by asserting that this deific creator is Spirit or Mind, and that God can be more readily apprehended by humanity when understood as the infinity of Mind, wisdom, Soul, intelligence or Science, than by any of the limited forms of definition calculated to attract the conception of man toward the supposition that God, who is infinite, is possessed of any finite or personal characteristics.
The declaration that God is good necessarily means that He is the infinity of good, and this excludes all supposition that He is in any way evil or does evil or coöperates with it for any purpose. The teaching of Christian Science at this point is distinctively novel because its entire theology is parallel with this statement concerning the absolute integrity of God, as absolute good. It asks mankind to divest itself wholly of every belief or theory which would involve God, by way of supposition or inference, in any form of evil. The declaration that God is Life is declared in Christian Science to mean that God is the procurator of life only and has not instituted death, nor procured any condition, nor instituted any law, nor provided any power that can bring to pass the sickness or death of man.
Christian Science teaches that the term omnipotence actually means that God as Mind or Spirit is supreme, and that the divine Mind, as Mind, is the one chief or exclusive potentiality of the universe, and that as Mind it is without equal, rival, competitor, or off-set; moreover, that the supreme power of God is not only ever-present, but is ever available to man. It teaches that the divine law is the law of life, health, holiness, completeness, perfection, and immortality to man, and that this law also is ever-present and available, ready for man's perception, adoption, government, and deliverance. Specifically considered, this means that all by way of divine nature, plan, law, and Mind necessary to the recovery of the sick is wherever and whenever the sick may be.
The effect of this definition on any human being excludes any fear of God. The consciousness thus educated includes no foreboding and no lamentation because of the possibility that God may afflict him or that He has ordained any law or routine which may ultimate in the discomfiture of any one. Christian Science seeks to eliminate the universal fear of God, which for ages has been the cause of discord and bodily impairment.
It is generally contended by the Christian sects that the divine nature, plan, power, and law have been interpreted to mankind through Christ Jesus by means of his teaching, and were demonstrated by means of his works. It is certain that there is no other name (way) "given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved," and that the ever-recurring inquiry on the part of a distressed race, "What must I do to be saved?" has for its only answer, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ."
In its endeavor to decide as to what is the way through Christ, Christendom for centuries has posited a large array of conflicting creeds and thereby involved the Christian centuries in confusion, and sometimes in violence. It seems as though an intelligent people ought not to wait much longer before discovering that the many Christian sects with their irreconcilable differences constitute prima facie evidence that the interpreters of Christ have largely missed the way. It scarcely needs an argument to confirm the conclusion that aside from all diversity of opinion on the subject there exists the exact truth about it; there must be, there is the Science of Christianity. Jesus declared, "ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." It seems to be incumbent upon Christians to believe in the essence of this prophecy to expect its fulfilment. If it were perpetually to fail of fulfilment, then Christianity would be in perpetual default.
We claim that the prophecy is being fulfilled, that the actual Science of Christianity has been discovered and is accomplishing that which was promised in its name. Externalized Christianity has segregated itself into numerous sects because of the impossibility of amalgamating their divergent sense of creed and practice. With historic insistency they have maintained a status whose very existence proclaims the failure of Christians to coalesce in Christian unity. In coming before the attention of men to add another to those many sects which do not agree, we recognize the deep responsibility of the act, and admit that it is wholly inexcusable unless it be absolutely justifiable.
Although I recall the fact that Mrs. Eddy has done this far better than I can do it, nevertheless, in my incomplete way I shall seek to justify the Christianity of Christian Science and to justify its practice by answering the paramount question of the Christian era, "What think ye of Christ?"
Inasmuch as the propriety of our claiming to be Christians has been challenged, and owing to the fact that there is no fixed or unified standard of Christian belief, I ask concerning the man who is in trouble, how must he believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved? What constitutes an acceptable belief on the subject? The Christian world has made many answers. If it is necessary to believe them all, then salvation is impossible, because many of the answers are like polar opposites, hopelessly contradictory. One section of the Christian church declares that the historic Jesus and God are identical, and there is no distinction to be observed or admitted. At the other extreme is another section of the church which holds that Jesus was wholly human and usual except for the fact that he was endowed with unusual spiritual perception and power. Midway between these extremes are other sections which present many intermediate phases of belief, the principal one being that Jesus was a divine intermediary whose mission was to manifest God to man. In view of the fact that at least two of these are necessarily wrong, is it irreverent to ask what must a man believe in order to be saved?
The indication that Jesus ever lived at all is found in the historic record which states that he was born of Mary. Inasmuch as God or Deity is infinite self-existence, without beginning or end, and as the existence of God was anterior to that of the Virgin Mary, or of our planet, is there any rational modus by which a person can reconcile reason to the averment that she who was herself a phenomenon of existence, was the mother, the matrix of infinity itself?
Can a man know that infinity, which is immortal, was killed by the Jews? Can he know that infinity was dead for three days and that the universe during that time was without its basis, cause, law, and rule, without the sustaining power and government of God? These things being impossible and unknowable, is it conceivable that he can be saved by believing in an impossibility? If Jesus was not God, wherein then is the divinity of Christ? It has been said that he was begotten of God, sent by or of God, and this ought to mean that Jesus is the offspring, likeness, or manifestation of God. For the reason that God is Spirit, omniscience, Mind, and is neither material nor corporeal, it follows that Christ was the offspring or likeness of omniscience or divine Mind, and that the "mind which was also in Christ" is the divine Mind or God.
How simple then the interpretation of Jesus who said: "my Father is greater than I;" "the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do;" "but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works;" "I (the corporeal Jesus) can of mine own self do nothing," yet with the full understanding of the spiritual unity of God and Christ, also declares: "I and my Father are one." How simple for that which was the manifestation to humanity of the divine purpose and law to declare: "I am the way;" "I am the light of the world." How simple for Paul, the apostle of salvation, to say: "Let this mind be in you." "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
It is the Mind which was in Christ that is divine. This constitutes his divinity, his Messiahship, his eternal, Godlike, spiritual individuality. It was thus that he was endowed with the Spirit without measure. It was this Mind which was "before Abraham." It was this Mind that overcame sin and evil, healed the sick, raised Jesus from the dead, abolished the law of sin and death, and brought to pass the ascension. The man who is to be saved must therefore believe in the divinity of Christ.
In order rightly to believe, one must believe that Christ's coming or appearing was in order to do the will of God, to do according to the divine nature, and that everything he did was in accord with and actually in attestation of His changeless plan and rule. He must believe that in coming to fulfil law he came to demonstrate and enforce the law of life and health and holiness; that it was done lawfully and not in contravention of any law of God; that it involved no mystery or abnormity; that it was divinely rational, practical, and natural; that it was done because of a universal impulsion that cannot change and whose eternal application cannot lapse, or be spasmodic, or intermittent. He must understand that Christ, the voice of God to humanity, possessed accurate, exact knowledge of God and of the Science of being, and knew more than all other men combined; also that everything was done by him in the best and only right way, and furthermore, that the only right way to be saved from evil conditions through Christ at that time is the only right way in which to be saved now; that because it was right to save the sinner and the sick man through the application of eternal law then, it is right to save the same man according to the same law now. Indeed it must be perceived that, in part, the deep significance of Jesus' work lies in the indestructible fact that he proved the power and law of God to be available to a sick man and to be an ever-present help in his time of trouble; moreover, that this divine immanence is competent to abolish every evil that afflicts humanity.
Christ who came to save that which was lost overcame sin and sickness and did it according to the will of God. It follows necessarily that these things which he overcame had neither procurement nor sanction in God. He did not destroy anything that had a legitimate right to exist or to continue to overwhelm a man. The mere fact that he opposed and overthrew them carries with it the indispensable conclusion that they had no basis in truth but were fabulous and abnormal. It is also essential to know that when he abolished or annulled the law of sin and disease, he cancelled a spurious pretense of law which is not law and has no legitimate power of enforcement. Jesus knew that disease is abnormal and curable, and he demonstrated the verity of his knowledge. Concerning the sick woman he said that Satan had bound her. This surely does not mean that God or Truth or matter had bound her.
Christian Science practice has scientifically proved the correctness of the disclosure that the primary cause of bodily impairment is to be found in the mental realm and that fear and sin are chief among the influences that procure the sickness of humanity. Jesus understood this, and he knew that such influences could be abolished. His frequent entreaty to them that would be saved was: "Go, and sin no more;" "fear not;" "be not afraid."
Jesus knew that the divine volition and power which he manifested were universal and interminable. He not only understood the efficacy thereof, but knew also of its applicability to every human being according to a divinely ordained dominion over evil. This is indicated by many utterances like the following: "Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world;" "He that believeth on me the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do; "If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you;" "For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith;" "The kingdom of God is within you." Paul also understood when he said, "work out your own salvation;" "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
Hence, the conclusion that one must believe concerning Christ Jesus that his teaching and proof mean that every one has a right to dominion over every foe and over his body, his conditions, environment, his business, health, and prosperity. To understand his way aright is to know that the Mind which was in Christ will enable us to be masters of sin and disease, to be perfect even as God is perfect, having no other mind than the one which is adequate and competent to save. To believe aright we must know that he understood the entire subject of cause and effect; that he knew that disease is an effect of some cause, and that to cure or to abolish the effect one must cancel the cause. He healed the sick by eliminating evil, abnormal conditions; by casting out evil causes.
It must be believed that he healed the sick; that sickness is the work of evil, not the work of God; and that in doing this he not only pursued a wise way, but had recourse to the only right way, the only scientific way. Certainly it was an irresistibly successful way, for he healed the multitude of all manner of disease without a failure, and did it instantaneously. No one can conceive of a more spontaneous impartation, a more instant application of power or enforcement of law. No one can depict a more immediate and complete consequence of any modus operandi than that which followed when the Mind which was in Christ ministered to the sick. How did he do it? What was the power; by what means were ten lepers healed and the dead raised in the only right way? Was the way through matter or through Mind, through the presumed power of drugs, or the supreme all power of the mighty creator? Did he use drugs; did drugs ever cure a case of leprosy? Did God or Christ, which manifested the supreme all-power, dilute this power by irrational recourse to that which never healed the disease?
Jesus recognized fear, sin, disease, superstition, and death as being incidental to a humanized and perverted sense of existence; but he never admitted their right to exist, or that they were to be counted as natural, actual, real, or permanent. Like Paul he understood these things to be but the paraphernalia of the "carnal mind," which is no mind at all but is, so far as mortals are concerned, a lie about the truth, an aberrated condition of human consciousness. Instead of respecting evil as though it were substantially something, he cast it out as though it were nothing. It is therefore necessary to believe that while he understood that sin and kindred forms of abnormity are to be exterminated from human experience and consciousness, he also knew that evil is but a negation. He understood the unreality of evil. He could not exterminate anything that God made or sanctioned. He could not abolish any real, eternal thing. The hope of a suffering race lies in this assurance.
The mediatorial service of Christ was not to reconcile God to a mortal who is simply a representative of sin, fear, and disease. God surely is of too pure eyes to be reconciled to evil, or to be changed in any other way. The best service of Christ in behalf of a wicked and perverse generation is to enlighten the people, to educate them. They are, through ignorance, self-alienated from God. They need to be born again, to be transformed through Mind, to be corrected. They are to demonstrate that to be spiritually minded is life and peace; they need to show forth the verity that "to know aright is Life eternal." (Science and Health, pref. vii:19) "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."
Although we may be inclined to think of salvation through Christ as mediation, intercession, atonement, remission, we must surely understand that Christ is the way; that Jesus is the Way-shower, who by his works interpreted the way to mortals, and gave proof of its utility and availability and requires that we shall work out our own salvation. In order to be saved we must accept Christ's moral standard. The Sermon on the Mount is a code of ethics that must not be ignored or evaded.
What think ye of Christ? What think ye of the Christianity of Christian Science? Does it acknowledge too much perfection in God? Does it set forth a divine plan and purpose that is better than God or more benevolent than infinite Love? Does it ascribe too much supremacy to omnipotent Spirit? Is the scope of salvation for the man who needs salvation too ample; does it promise to save him too soon or from too much? Is it a mistake to hold that the assurance of salvation lies in the triumph of Christ rather than in the crucifixion and the crown of thorns? Will a lesser scope and efficacy fulfil the promise or redeem mortals from the unification of evil which includes sin and disease as cause and effect? Is there any other way given under heaven whereby we must be saved? No. Herein is the promise of Christian Science; herein the reign of Christ on earth under which the world will at last find peace. This alone will break earth's tragedy, dry the tears, subdue the passions and violence of men and nations so that even a little child shall lead them.
It would be obviously improper after making this incomplete statement for me to say, "This is Mrs. Eddy's interpretation of Christianity." All that I know about Christianity I have learned through her teaching, but she is responsible only for what she herself has published in her textbook, "Science and Health;" nevertheless I might say that all that is distinctive in Christian Science is because of her discovery and proof.
For nearly half a century she has been pleading for the recognition of God's allness as being good; for absolute reliance on His supremacy as power, action, law; for the discovery that the divine and eternal substance is in Spirit or Mind and not in matter. She disclosed by means of scientific analysis the illegitimacy of disease and sin, the abnormity of the so-called law of disease and death, and the curable nature of sickness as well as vice. She insisted that the Mind which was in Christ is also capable of expelling the mischief of the mind that Paul called carnal, and she insisted that the drugging system was unscientific and can never cope with disease. She insisted that the power that was equal to the creation of a universe is equal to the elimination of disease according to a law which is of universal applicability.
With consummate patience and with conviction that rested on proof she waited until the verity of her discovery penetrated the consciousness of humanity. Day after day the philosophers and students and men of science are conceding nearly all for which she contended. Mental causation is being admitted as the inducement of disease. Dentists declare that mental obsessions cause diseases of the teeth. Professors of medicine now declare that of the 1,500 drugs listed in the pharmacopoeia not more than thirty have any curative efficacy, and that many of the thirty are doubtful; one professor says that only two of them are curative, and nearly all physicians are invoking some kind of activity of the human will in the guise of hypnotism which changes the belief of the patient instead of expelling the cause of disease.
Ministers are gradually admitting the genuineness and rationality of her recourse to divinity for the rule and fruition of existence, and people in every walk of life are awakening to the fact that the author of the universe is of some consequence and consolation to men.
Considering the fact that millions of instances of sickness, sin, and vice have been healed and that probably a million instances of so-called fatal disease have been cured, is it possible for any one to recall a more majestic transaction since the day of Christ, than Mrs. Eddy's discovery that Christian salvation is the actual master of disease and sin, according to Principle and rule? Concerning the limitless import of this discovery, the universality of its application, the splendor of its promise, and the indispensable ultimate of its purpose and of Mrs. Eddy's mission, is it not easy to understand how grandly she has dignified that mission by silence in the midst of every evil assault upon her? Would any other course have been possible than for her to wait until it should transpire that her daily living and teaching and labor for humanity justified her before God and men and innocently compelled the esteem and applause of mankind?
The most practical question of humanity is, "What shall I do to be saved?" The question must go down in despair unless there be a practical answer. An answer that is veiled in mystery or mysticism — one that taxes the credulity of a man to the utmost limit by asking him to have faith in that which he cannot understand, or which demands that he submit to the climax of evil in sickness and death before he can be saved, is not practical. The consciousness of humanity is involved in every kind and degree of evil experience and oppression. Humanity needs to be saved from all of it, from everything that mars, wounds, or obstructs. Can it be saved? Can it be saved from all of the miserable wretchedness? Can it be saved now? The answer in Christian Science is, "Yes," "My grace is sufficient for thee." "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ."
In the rough and parched soil of each human experience has been planted a flower of new hope and boundless promise, and as this flower, watered by the very touch of God, grows on to its fruitage; as the burdens drop off, the pang ceases, and the tension of fear is broken, each one knows that he has come into his own. He realizes the compensation of faith and joins in the conviction, "I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness."
[Delivered in the Ancient Concert Rooms, Dublin, Ireland, May 10, 1908. This is the last of 18 lectures featured in the book Lectures and Articles on Christian Science by Edward A. Kimball.]