The Religion of Common Sense
Edward A. Kimball
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
I am not here to seek for converts. I shall not entreat you to become Christian Scientists, nor ply you with importunity. It is for me to stand witness, to tell you something of what Christian Science is and does, and then to leave the whole matter with you, for you to do with it just as you please.
Justification of Christian Science lectures is to be found in the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are testifying to the healing of disease, the reformation of sinners, the reclamation of drunkards, and the alleviation of countless woes which have beset humanity. Christian Scientists are people from the ordinary walks of life, who have the same God, the same religion, politics, and education that other people have had, but they are distinguished from all others in that most of them have been lifted out of abysmal depths of misery by means of Christian Science practice. We boast of nothing except that we are gaining a knowledge and a power which are enabling us to cope more successfully with disease and sin. Appearing to a race and generation that is hard pressed by the tumult and vicissitudes of its existence, Christian Science comes like a dove of peace, bearing upon its wings a ministry of healing and of deliverance for suffering humanity in this hour of its pitiful need.
All men differ and always have differed as to what Deity is. It is not my purpose to compare or comment on these wide and confusing differences, but to give you some idea of what we mean by God as the healer of the sick and the Principle of such healing.
In doing this I shall refer to some of the fundamental differences between Christian Science and all the other systems of religious belief. It is probable that a consensus of religious creeds would declare that there is one infinite, supreme, self-existent, all-inclusive, individual God, one conscious being, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. It would also declare that God is the only creator, the only lawmaker and government. Also that God is Life, Truth, Love, good.
Christian Scientists subscribe to all this without reserve, but we differ from others because we maintain that God is good in all ways, has done all things well, and has done no evil and will do no evil.
He is not only Life, but hath ordained eternal life and is the law of life and health to man. He is omnipresent, not as a corporeal being or personality, but is present as truth, intelligence, good, and the law of harmony and life, and all this is available to man, not by way of miraculous intervention, but because of the ever presence of every thing and every power necessary to his permanent welfare. The God we worship is good and he is able, willing, and ready to redeem mortals from the evils imposed upon them by an utterly perverted sense of existence. They will never emerge from the area of disease until they comprehend the scientific fact that all that means God — all that means the natural law of God — all that means basis, source, and cause — law, government, and power, is contrary to the inception and continuity of sickness. At this point is seen one of the chief differences between Christian Science and all other schools of religious belief. We believe that all evil is finite, unlawful, and unnecessary, and that it has no immortality or inherent power of continuance. We believe that through a knowledge of the truth which Jesus said would make us free, we may in time dominate and abolish every form of evil in accordance with his command and example.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are trying to do what he said his followers and disciples must do and could do. He came to do the will of his Father; to fulfil law; to seek and save that which was lost; to destroy the works of the devil and to effect the salvation of a suffering race. In accomplishing this supreme mission he preached a gospel that reformed the sinner and healed the sick. He told his followers to do likewise, and ushered Christianity into the world by means of such teaching and practice.
The people have been taught by subsequent teachers quite to the contrary. They have been induced to regard Jesus' work as being mysterious and miraculous, meaning thereby that it was unnatural and in contravention of law, whereas Christian Science, as taught by Mrs. Eddy, explains that Jesus' work was natural, practical, and scientific, and in demonstration of the God-ordained law of Life and of the fundamental fact that God, working through primal law, is the natural healer of the sick. According to Christian Science, sickness and many other forms of bodily infirmity and degradation are unnatural and unnecessary, and are no essential part of human existence, per se.
We repudiate every assumption that God has ordained or procured disease or that disease is a natural and indispensable concomitant of human existence. We believe that God has ordained no law for the discomfiture or damnation of mankind. We believe that sin and sickness are the paraphernalia of what the Bible calls the "carnal mind," or a depraved, sinful, ignorant, perverted sense of being.
We believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures, and as stated in our tenets, we accept the Scriptures "as our sufficient guide to eternal Life." ("Science and Health," page 497.) We accept the Messiahship of the divine Christ. As Christians, we strive to live in imitation of his words and works. Christian Science removes this mission from the realm of mystery and brings it within the range of order, naturalness, law, and scientific modus operandi.
We hold that this mission was an exhibition of some natural, divine power to save mortals from every ill, and that that power is immanent, universal, and ever available; a manifestation of God and His laws, which change not. When Jesus, doing the will of God, healed the multitude of all manner of diseases he proved that something could do it. In doing thus, did he destroy the work of God or the works of the devil? Was his work natural or was it unlawful? In healing the sick, did he do an evil or a good thing? If it was a good thing for God to heal the sick then, is it good now? If not, why not? The infinity of God would collapse if it could be shown that He was changeable and capricious.
We believe that the way through Christ is the only way to salvation, but we know that that way was and is the way that heals the sick man as well as the sinner.
We come to plead for the recognition of a Christian salvation which is ample enough to meet and answer all the needs of a sinful and crying race.
We believe in prayer without ceasing, in the highest moral and ethical standard of living, and in the extermination of all sin.
Christian Science encourages us to live according to the Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, and to be loving, charitable, merciful, meek, and pure. The entire mission of our cause is to accomplish the moral and physical reformation of the race. The fact that there are hundreds of different religious sects, and particularly that there are over one hundred different Christian sects which have been in violent antagonism towards each other, is prima facie evidence that men do not understand God or Christianity aright. Christian Science, which purports to be the Science of Christianity, promises to bring to pass a universal and demonstrably true understanding of God, which will tranquilize the awful sectarian strife which has disfigured the ages.
In reference to the application of this Science to the cure of disease, the speaker said that, although the practice was in its infancy, and although there was no pretense that complete mastery of disease had been gained, it is nevertheless true that practically every disease has been healed by its means, including the long list which medical practitioners consider incurable or fatal.
We have no quarrel with anyone who exercises his right to worship God according to his own light, nor are we at enmity with any sick man who tries to get well according to his own choice; nevertheless, we believe that the drug system is extremely defective, inadequate, and unscientific, and that it will be so acknowledged and abandoned.
After referring to the many beliefs of the world concerning religion, philosophy, and science, the speaker said:
Now, if what I have said be true, it follows that nearly the entire philosophy of life which has governed men for ages is false and destructive. Certain it is that people regard sickness as natural and according to law, and are submitting to it and living and dying in accord with a philosophy of death, which Christian Science declares to be absolutely wrong. A discussion of this subject of healing hinges on the question: "What are the primary causes of disease?" Physiology, which takes no cognizance of the mental, moral and spiritual nature of man, answers this question by declaring that sickness and death are caused by matter and its laws, and the prevalent human belief is that matter includes in its nature and law the power and disposition to make a man sick and finally to assert a fatal mastery over his existence.
There are two books in the world which are filled with the entreaty that men learn that the law of God is on the side of the sick man, and that disease is the work of the devil which Jesus came to destroy.
These books are the Bible and the textbook of Christian Science, "Science and Health," by Mrs. Eddy. There are people who would have it believed that this textbook is dangerous. I wish to say concerning this: First, the teaching of this book leads us to love friend and enemy and to do no evil; second, it does what all the sermons, books, and commentaries on earth have never done, namely, it teaches its student how to heal malignant cancers and all other so-called incurable diseases without drugs or other material means; third, it reveals the Bible as a guide instead of a mystery, and reconciles reason to God. We are no longer afraid of God.
Mr. Kimball dwelt at considerable length on the fundamental differences between the theory and practice of healing according to Christian Science and those which are maintained by other schools and systems of medical practice, and summed up his remarks by saying that all other systems hold that disease is natural and inevitable, and that drugs and material remedies cannot heal a so-called incurable disease; whereas Christian Science holds disease to be unnatural, illegitimate, and destructible, and is proving this postulate by healing all manner of disease.
Nearly all the criticism of Christian Science is based on a misunderstanding of what it is and what is taught in its name. We never knew of an adverse criticism that did not proceed from ignorance of the subject.
We are taught to have but one God, who is by nature, design, intention, and law supremely and infinitely good, and our worship and allegiance are to this good God, who does not and need not involve himself in evil. We are learning to trust this God to the uttermost and to rely on His willingness and readiness to deliver from all forms of evil. We believe that a Christian cannot trust God too much, nor expect too much from infinite love.
We are taught to rely on the supremacy of Spirit or the Mind, which was also in Christ, and we believe that no other reliance or lack of reliance is acceptable to God or of avail to mortals.
We are taught that vice, superstition, sin, and disease all belong in the same kinship, and are the offspring of the carnal mind, and are not procured of God. We are taught that the mission of the divine Christ is in demonstration of a practical, unmysterious salvation from these and all other ills which beset humanity. We, therefore, expect more and gain more through Christ than those who minimize the scope and efficacy of Christian salvation. Christian Science teaches that although sin, and, indeed, all the defects and depravity of the human family are deplorable and must be exterminated, nevertheless they all belong to the realm of the abnormal and illegitimate. They are without basis in principle or entity and without inherent or acquired power of continuance. They all can be destroyed and will be destroyed through Christ and his gospel.
We are taught to obey every specific mandate of God and Christ, even to the extent of reforming the sinner, preaching the gospel, and healing the sick, and I ask if it is because we are too obedient or too explicit in our obedience that we are being stoned by those who are at enmity against us?
For a third of a century Mrs. Eddy has been pleading with mankind for the recognition of its right to life, health, and holiness according to the will of God. She has insisted that God is the natural healer of the sick and that disease is contrary to God and His will. She has discovered and made known the Science of Christian healing, and has set forth the rule whereby humanity is to obtain mastery over disease.
On every one who has ever healed the sick through and by means of divine power in attestation of the supremacy of spiritual law the world has bestowed the antagonism and hatred which materialism ever exhibits toward the spiritually minded. Indeed there has scarcely been a reformer since the day of Abel who has not been hated, reviled, stoned or crucified; a martyr to his own ministry and mission.
In view of this historic and inveterate propensity of the human mind to persecute the prophets and to resist its own moral and spiritual welfare, it is not strange that with consistent industry it has given itself up to misrepresentation and defamation of Christian Science and its works and of the Leader of this cause.
It seems futile to repine or demur because of this ruthless habit and it is useless for us to protest or contend against the baseless disposition to do us and our Leader injury. Mrs. Eddy has specifically denied all the inventions of evil and perverted statements of fact, and there is but one sufficient, adequate course for her and us to pursue. Her life, past and present — the actual facts and activities of her daily existence — constitutes an imperishably righteous answer and one that will stand as answer forever.
There is no other way for this dignified woman, who is entrenched in the rectitude of her own pure living, to do but to depend for justification and vindication on the ultimate recognition by the world of the great value of her work, the lofty character of her deeds and impulses, and the long continued sacrifices which she has endured in order that her mission might live.
It has been my good fortune to know a splendid womanhood. I am fully persuaded that a good woman constitutes a fit minister of God to those who sin and mourn and suffer. I never knew one who was more just, loving and humble than Mrs. Eddy. I never knew one who seemed more intent on knowing the will of God or more glad and satisfied to do that will. I never knew one who was more honest, more charitable, more wise, or more kind. Her many years of consecrated Christian experience have ripened into Godly reverence and devotion for the life which is in imitation of Christ. Her chief ambition seems to be to battle against sin and disease and to continue without reproach before God and man. Some day the world will know all this and render tardy justice, and meanwhile the tender, loving woman knoweth that more than a million people, many of them once dying, who have been rescued from unspeakable depths, are giving thanks because she has been faithful.
[Delivered at Chase's Theatre, Baltimore, Maryland, and published in The Baltimore American, November 16, 1903. This is the seventh of 18 lectures featured in the book Lectures and Articles on Christian Science by Edward A. Kimball.]