Christian Science: Its Teaching and Its Practice
B. Palmer Lewis, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
B. Palmer Lewis, C.S.B., of
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
In the eleventh chapter of Matthew, Christ Jesus said: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
How welcome is that promise to mankind in these times, for today, in a disordered, war-shocked world, there is sweeping over humanity an irresistible urge for spiritual enlightenment. Confused, distracted peoples, deploring the past and dreading the future, are seeking deliverance from danger, disaster, and blighted hopes.
Man yearns for and longs to know a dependable, lovable God - an affectionate Father, whose tender compassion will comfort and console, and who will banish fear and anxiety, and instill confidence in the hearts of men.
It is only stating a fact to say that there are thousands of people in the world today prepared to testify that this yearning to know God and experience His protective care has been gained through the study and practice of Christian Science, as given to the world by its Discoverer and Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, in her textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." Through its teachings, the promises of Jesus are made as available today as they were at the beginning of the Christian era.
What is Christian Science? Christian Science is the Science of salvation. It teaches divine law. It interprets God to man and sets forth divine rules for the demonstration of universal harmony. There is no mystery to Christian Science - but one must put aside preconceived opinions to understand it.
It is Christian because it is the application of the truths taught by Christ Jesus, the Way-shower; it is Science because it is the truth concerning the nature and character of God and man's relationship to Him, as demonstrated by Christ Jesus centuries ago. It teaches that God is the supreme, infinite Being; that He is Mind, the Life of all living; the primal cause or divine Principle; that He is the Soul of man and the source of all existence. In other words, Christian Science is the law of God applied, proving His presence, perfection, and infinite goodness.
Through false doctrines and the gross materiality of the times, the Science of being as taught by Jesus had been lost to humanity for centuries until it was discovered and again given to the world by Mary Baker Eddy in her textbook.
Christian Science is founded on the teachings of Jesus, his apostles, and the prophets. One of the Tenets of the Christian Science church is: "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life" (Science and Health, p. 497).
From Bible history we learn how, from time to time, men of spiritual vision appeared among the people, teaching of God and urging obedience to His commandments and laws. There were Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; then the great lawgiver, Moses; the kings, David and Solomon. Samuel founded the schools of the prophets from which came Elisha, Elijah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah, whose faith stood fast in an idolatrous, barbaric world. They worshiped the one God and proclaimed the coming of a Messiah.
In fullness of time came Jesus, in Bethlehem of Judea. He appeared fulfilling prophecy, but not in accord with the point of view of the rabbinical hierarchy, who looked for a powerful, temporal king who would restore the worldly prestige of their race.
We call this gentle Galilean the Way-shower, for no man before or since his time has equaled his understanding of God, man, and the universe. He proved what the application and operation of divine law would do for humanity. The life he lived, his teaching of God's love, presence, and power, and the truth of his teaching, changed the history of the entire world for nineteen hundred years. One must have a knowledge of him to understand his mission. He overcame material law and unveiled God to man.
Now, what was it that Jesus taught and proved? He taught that God is good, and that God is Spirit.
To the woman at the well in the
It was the Master's great meekness and compassion that enabled him to do the loving works he performed. Witness his healing of the adulterous woman. You will remember he had been up all night, out in the wilderness, praying - holding fast to the omnipotence and goodness of God. In the early morning he entered the synagogue and was teaching of God's love to those who eagerly gathered round him. The Jewish hierarchy had long sought to destroy this good man, because his goodness was a rebuke to their teaching, and they realized they must try to trap him through taking advantage of his loving-kindness. It they could get him to say aught contrary to the law of Moses then, according to rabbinical law, which was upheld by the Roman governor, they would have him in their power and they could bring him to trial in their own courts.
They, therefore, seized the woman, and, followed by a rabble, brought her into the temple and threw her at Jesus' feet in the midst of the throng; there she cowered in fear and shame. Her accusers declared: "Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned; but what sayest thou?" Jesus was silent, "as though he heard them not," and then followed his wonderful statement: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." He knew the sins they were guilty of, knew that each was acquainted with the hypocrisy of the other. And, knowing this, no one would dare answer him. One by one they departed and he was left alone with the woman. Then he turned to her and gently asked, "Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man. Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."
In the Christian Science textbook, Mary Baker Eddy has placed much importance on love and gratitude as the incentives for healing and teaching, so much so that she starts her wonderful chapter on "Christian Science Practice" with reference to the incident of the anointing of Jesus' feet at the home of Simon the Pharisee.
No doubt you are familiar with the story set forth in the seventh chapter of Luke's Gospel, where Jesus was a guest at the house of Simon the Pharisee. During the course of the dinner Mary Magdalene, whom the Master had healed of what in those days were called "many devils," came in bearing a jar of ointment, and to show her love and gratitude, she anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
Jesus did not rebuke the woman, but Simon (as possibly did other guests) questioned in his heart the fitness and wisdom of Jesus in allowing such an incident to take place. Knowing their thoughts, Jesus brought out the parable of two debtors, the one owing much and the other little, and when they had nothing with which to pay their debts, how the creditor forgave them both. Jesus then said to Simon, "Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?" And Simon answered, "I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most." And Jesus said, "Thou hast rightly judged." Then, speaking of this woman, he said, "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little." And to the woman he said, "Thy sins are forgiven."
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science points out plainly that the healing carried on by the Master, namely, that which today is known as Christian Science practice, must have as its basis unselfish love for God and man.
Early in his ministry, Jesus was called upon to raise a young girl from the dead, the daughter of Jairus. Then, later on, as the Master was come to the gate of one of the cities, he encountered a widow accompanying the body of her son, which was being taken outside the city gates for burial. His heart went out in love and tenderness when he saw the grief of this mother. It was bad enough to be a woman in those days; to be a widow was a calamity, but for a widow to lose her only son was a catastrophe. That left the mother almost without hope in the world. The Master stopped the procession, came to the litter upon which the body lay, and raised this young man from the dead. Surely this love was God made manifest.
You ask what the Master taught? Why, the Master taught the Science of existence; how to apply spiritual law for the overcoming of human ills. Having accomplished his mission, he left his words and example for the enlightenment of mankind. That which was true nineteen hundred years ago is true today. Science never changes. It was because his teaching was scientific that Jesus made his statement; "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do." Those who understood the Master's teachings in the first, second, and third centuries were able to demonstrate the spiritual law that he had revealed.
Paul, who had not been one of the Master's disciples, healed a cripple and the father of Publius of a fever. He raised a young man named Eutychus from the dead.
History records that the early Christians raised the dead for over two hundred years after the Master's crucifixion. For nearly three hundred years they continued the ministry of healing. Then the Emperor Constantine was converted. The despised and persecuted Christian sect had grown and prospered until the time came when it became the fashion to be known as a Christian. Their love of materiality drew to the Christians untold thousands who sought only for place, power, and material riches. You "cannot serve God and mammon."
So spiritual understanding was smothered by clouds of materiality and for fourteen hundred years the true import of Christ Jesus' mission was lost. The ecclesiastics and theologians declared the age of miracles was past. There was no authority for that statement and the falsity of it has been proved for all time, for in 1866 came one who was to prove that the demonstrable truth taught in the first century of the Christian era was still available in the nineteenth century.
It was inevitable that the light
of truth should break through the clouds where the density of ignorance was
least present to obscure the revelation. It would have to be in an enlightened,
free nation, whose laws at least would give this Christ, Truth, protection to
grow and spread and win its way. The mists of bigotry, hate, and intolerance
had, in a marked degree, disappeared from the State of
It remained for Mrs. Eddy, the
daughter of a
How did her discovery come about? Falling on the ice and sustaining a serious injury, Mrs. Eddy was carried to the home of a neighbor and her condition pronounced hopeless by the physician in charge. On the third day after the accident the minister called to bid her farewell. He left. She then sent away the friends who had gathered by her bedside. Asking for her Bible, she opened it to the healing by Jesus of the palsied man. As she read, she immediately recovered, and ever after that she was in better health than she had before enjoyed.
She then realized that it was her faith in God and the revelation of His goodness that had healed her. In her textbook she writes: "When apparently near the confines of mortal existence, standing already within the shadow of the death-valley, I learned these truths in divine Science: that all real being is in God, the divine Mind, and that Life, Truth, and Love are all-powerful and ever-present; that the opposite of Truth, - called error, sin, sickness, disease, death, - is the false testimony of false material sense, of mind in matter; that this false sense evolves, in belief, a subjective state of mortal mind which this same so-called mind names matter, thereby shutting out the true sense of Spirit" (p. 108).
For years this devoted woman struggled to teach this truth to humanity. She had discovered the spiritual laws taught and practiced by Jesus. Think of it! In all the world Mrs. Eddy stood alone in her refusal to admit that God, the beneficent creator, being all-powerful and having all responsibility, would send evil to punish and sear His children. Said she, "It would be contrary to our highest ideas of God to suppose Him capable of first arranging law and causation so as to bring about certain evil results, and then punishing the helpless victims of His volition for doing what they could not avoid doing" (Science and Health, p. 230).
Then, queried the world: How do you account for sin, sickness, death, poverty, and the like? You see it all around you, do you not? Mrs. Eddy answers this on page 101 of "Miscellaneous Writings." She says; "If God is All, and God is good, it follows that all must be good; and no other power, law, or intelligence can exist. On this proof rest premise and conclusion in Science, and the facts that disprove the evidence of the senses."
"The scientific statement of being," as given on page 468 of Science and Health, is the most profound and revolutionary statement of provable truth that has been made since Jesus of Nazareth gave to his disciples what we know as the Lord's Prayer. It is the true statement of existence. Let me read it to you: "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual."
The pulpit and the press reviled Mrs. Eddy; the physicists laughed scornfully at this lone woman who dared to say that matter was neither substantial nor real. However, she held her ground. Her teaching was founded upon that of Jesus of Nazareth. He defined matter as nothing when he said, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing." He demonstrated this by his works. Mary Baker Eddy did likewise. She healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, feet to the lame, enabled the deaf to hear, and reformed the sinner; all these things were accomplished. How? By mental means, on the basis that, as she writes in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 101), "If God is All, and God is good, it follows that all must be good; and no other power, law, or intelligence can exist."
Paul had advised, or admonished, the followers of the Nazarene to "let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." Mrs. Eddy defines Mind as God, stating on page 472 of Science and Health: "All reality is in God and His creation, harmonious and eternal. That which He creates is good, and He makes all that is made." She pointed out that existence is consciousness and wholly mental. Slowly, but surely, during the past seventy years the pulpit has gradually given ground, so has the press, and the physicists have, in a measure, surrendered to "the scientific statement of being," the true statement of existence.
Some individuals are opposed to what they believe Christian Science to be, but this should not offend us, for if Christian Science was what they think it is, we certainly would not be Christian Scientists.
I have never known anyone who understood the multiplication table and who could demonstrate its science to argue about it or to oppose it. Likewise I have never known anyone who understood and could demonstrate Christian Science to question its truth, practicality, beneficence, or its science. How can one expect to successfully solve the problems of existence without understanding the Science of Life?
Christians of other denominations
now acknowledge the efficacy of Christian Science to heal the sick and
regenerate the sinner. The press has discovered that Christian Scientists are
upright, law-abiding, prosperous, healthy, patriotic citizens. And the
physicists? Well, they have discovered that matter is composed of energy or
force and that a world without God is an impossibility. Let me quote the
following statement by Professor J. S. Haldane of
"Religion is the recognition in practice as well as in theory of our oneness with God as the ultimate reality . . . in our oneness with God, but not in the fleeting and unreal appearances of our individual selves, we find immortality and freedom. . . . It concerns me, as a representative of natural science, to point out that the doctrines of materialism are no part of natural science."
Hear Dr. Robert Andrews Millikan's
statement (Dr. Millikan is a great physicist, a profound thinker; he is
President of California Institute of Technology at
"All the thinking of the late nineteenth century has had to be revised. This revision of thought has been made necessary in a large measure by the discovery that matter is not indestructible and hence, not eternal."
Do you ask just what it is that Christian Science teaches? It teaches that there is a primal cause of the universe; this cause is all-powerful. That it is of necessity good, and, therefore, known to us as God. This all-powerful God, the source of all that exists, must be the source of all life and intelligence; that man, the image and likeness of this God, is sinless, pure, and expressing a joyous existence, since his Life is the one Life and that one Life is God, good.
Christian Science starts from the premise that God is omnipotent good, and follows this statement to its logical conclusion. Through reason and revelation we learn that evil, sickness, death, are all the results of fear, ignorance, or sin. We learn that sin is readily healed by Christian Science, for when the ignorant beliefs which cause one to sin are overcome, the sin disappears. Even our courts acknowledge the mental nature of sin, for if, with malice aforethought, an individual commits what is known as a crime, he is punished accordingly.
Why, my friends, all the evil in the world is caused by ignorance, and ignorance is destroyed by knowledge! The Master promised, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Truth cannot free you from reality. It frees one from ignorant belief of a power apart from God.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science writes in Science and Health (p. 411): "The procuring cause and foundation of all sickness is fear, ignorance, or sin. Disease is always induced by a false sense mentally entertained, not destroyed. Disease is an image of thought externalized. The mental state is called a material state. Whatever is cherished in mortal mind as the physical condition is imaged forth on the body”.
If mankind were governed by intelligence, they would know that goodness, kindness, unselfishness, friendliness, and charitableness pave the way for great happiness, joy, abundance, and peace. Then war and dissension would be things of the past. Rivalry would vanish and destructive competition be no more.
Christian Science teaches that our altogether good, just, loving God is present at all times, and His love and power are available to those who honestly and wholeheartedly seek His aid. God's help comes through spiritual law and is available to all who obey it. Think of it. You may turn at any instant, anywhere, to infinite wisdom for guidance!
Christian Science teaches one how to pray. In the chapter on Prayer in Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy writes (p. 1): "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, - a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love. . . . Prayer, watching, and working, combined with self-immolation, are God's gracious means for accomplishing whatever has been successfully done for the Christianization and health of mankind."
Christian Scientists are a prayerful people. They have the Lord's Prayer and the Daily Prayer from the Manual of The Mother Church. Their unceasing prayer is constant affirmation of the power and presence of a just God, and living in accordance with that affirmation.
As to Christian Science practice: The practice of Christian Science is right thinking in contradistinction to wrong thinking. As wrong thinking causes sickness and disease, so right thinking heals. Christian Science is not what is known as a faith-cure. Christian Science practice is bringing to bear in human consciousness the operation of spiritual law, whereby the practitioner, through right thinking, that is, prayerful thinking, in accord with the divine Truth, in spite of the false evidence of the material senses, holds fast to the facts of being.
Mrs. Eddy has written in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 261): "Look away from the body into Truth and Love, the Principle of all happiness, harmony, and immortality. Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts."
Christian Science practice is a realization of the truth about God, man, and the universe; a clear spiritual sense of God's presence and perfection. It is most essential that the individual understands and realizes the difference between what is known as mortal man, which is but the seeming, and the real man, the son of God, who is one's real identity and individuality.
Let us consider immortal man - the real man.
Individual man is individual consciousness, individual awareness. His universe consists of what he is conscious or aware of, and because all that he can be aware of must come from Mind, God, and thus be the effect of an all-wise, all-powerful, good creator, man's existence consists of being aware or being conscious of ideas, the ideas of infinite wisdom. These ideas come to man, not through the physical senses, for there are no physical senses - how can there be, when Mind, God, is All? Man's senses are spiritual senses, which are the avenues along which divine Love blesses consciousness. You are this individual consciousness, individual man, now. To the extent that one understands and applies divine law and loves the Lawmaker, God, good, to that extent does he become aware or conscious of the immutable, perfect, eternal, flawless universe of the Father's creation, of his own identity and individuality. Mrs. Eddy writes: "For man to know Life as it is, namely God, the eternal good, gives him not merely a sense of existence, but an accompanying consciousness of spiritual power that subordinates matter and destroys sin, disease, and death" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 189). This is what Paul referred to in Ephesians (): "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
Now let us consider the counterfeit supposition - or mortal man - the false sense of man from which Truth frees one.
The mother conceives and brings forth a child. The child has no consciousness of itself, or of its surroundings. As time passes, it becomes aware of those about it and later aware of itself. Later the child is informed that it is an individual being with a mind of its own, a life of its own, and a will of its own; and that it is an individual being separate from all the rest. The child is informed that it has a consciousness or soul locked up in the dark, inside the physical human body.
The growing child is further told that for it to continue to live or exist, that individual consciousness must continue to be conscious or aware of what is taking place outside the physical body. It believes that the physical body, or in other words, the five physical senses, are the media through which it continues to be aware of what is going on in what is known as the world outside. Fear comes to the child's consciousness because it is taught that if the physical body should be destroyed, consciousness would cease to be aware of the world, because its five physical senses, dependent solely upon matter, could no longer operate, and it would become unconscious consciousness. How, thinks the individual, can I see without material eyes? I could no longer feel without matter sense. With no material head I would cease to hear, taste, or smell. Therefore, I would cease to exist.
This, my friends, is "the old man" that must be put off, that you "be renewed in the spirit of your mind" (Eph. ).
As one spiritualizes his sense of man, there is unfolded to him a clearer perception of a perfect man and a faultless universe, the new heaven and new earth of which John speaks in the twenty-first chapter of Revelation: "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. . . . And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Rev. 21:1, 4).
Jesus of Nazareth, or Christ Jesus, as he was known, was called the Christ because of the consistency with which he expressed God's spiritual, eternal nature. It used to puzzle me to know what the difference was between the man Christ Jesus and what is known as Christ. I ultimately learned, through the study of Christian Science, that the Christ is the truth about God and His creation, the expression of His divine nature and character, which operates to destroy all the evil and disease which seem to beset mankind. Jesus lived in obedience to spiritual law, and through his wisdom, purity, and love manifested the very presence and power of God.
I have spoken to you of the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. It is difficult for me to put into words my reverence for this great woman. What she has given to humanity by her discovery of the Science of existence, known as Christian Science, the world does not yet fully appreciate, but those who have come out of great tribulation cry out in gratitude and thanksgiving to her for the light of truth which led them out of darkness.
Let me tell you of a man who is among those grateful ones. At birth and during his early years he had every advantage that family, wealth, and health could give him. Through blind human will, the blessings which God had so generously bestowed on him were cast aside and, like the prodigal son in the fifteenth chapter of Luke's Gospel, he "went into a far country and there wasted his substance with riotous living."
There came a time, however, when, friendless, penniless, and in the last stages of disease, Christian Science was brought to him by his loving wife who, for herself, had proved God's love, presence, and power. He was persuaded to attend a Wednesday evening meeting in The Mother Church. At that meeting he heard testimonies of healing through Christian Science, and one testimony in particular deeply interested him.
It was a statement by a minister of the gospel of what Christian Science had done for him. He further stated that he was convinced by his own healing that there was hope for anyone who turned to Christian Science for help.
At this meeting the man also learned something of a God he had never known, for, instead of a God of wrath and vengeance, he heard of a God whom Mrs. Eddy defines as "Incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love" (Science and Health, p. 465). All hope of material aid having vanished, this man turned wholeheartedly to Christian Science, sought treatment from a practitioner, and in three days he was healed of all desire for alcohol. In two weeks' time his business affairs had straightened out. To him it seemed a miracle. Then came his long struggle for physical healing. Time and again it seemed to him that Christian Science was for everyone else but not for him. He continued to have Christian Science treatment, however, for there was nothing else to turn to, and little by little progress was made. You see, this individual had to be transformed by the renewing of his mind. Like some of those healed by the Master, many different kinds of devils had to be cast out. At length, after a two-year struggle, his healing was complete. Like Saul of Tarsus, the Christ, Truth, had dawned in his consciousness. He went forth into the world completely transformed. In his heart was love for mankind and enthusiasm for the Science that had meant his salvation, and gratitude to Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
Since that time this man has led a useful life; has been of some benefit to society, and is still striving each day for a greater knowledge of his relationship to God, and hoping to be more loving to his fellow man.
I know this to be true, my friends, because this was my own experience. What Christian Science has done for me, it will do for any sincere seeker. The prodigal son can never go so far as to be beyond the love of the father.
You ask just how does one go about the study of Christian Science? Visit a practitioner; follow the practitioner's directions; obtain a copy of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," the textbook of Christian Science. Start at the beginning. When you wish to put the book down, mark where you leave off and begin there the next time you take the book up. As you read, put into practice what you may understand. Learn to live one day at a time. Have no fear of the future, for you are now reaching out for the hand of the loving Father, and each day brings added opportunity to bear witness to His loving care. Attend the church services, testimony meetings, and lectures. Read the Christian Science Sentinel, Journal, Monitor. Why? Because the healing you are seeking must be brought about by the renewing of your mind, and as spiritual truth is poured into your consciousness, the way will grow brighter and the burdens of mortal experiences will fall away.
It is important that you learn of God and His laws, that you understand Christian Science. It is the Science of real existence. It is important not only to you but to those with whom you may come in contact.
Our troops are coming back from abroad. They are not going to be satisfied with old-time theological answers about God afar off and a heaven of the future. They will want a Science of Life that promises mankind peace, happiness, security, and joy, here and now - and Christian Science is that Science.
Promises will not satisfy, but demonstration will. The Master said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you tree." It you understand Christian Science, you know the laws of God and how to apply them, and knowing this Truth you can not only be free yourself, but bless and free your fellow man who is looking for salvation.
Absolute Christian Science
Oh, what a responsibility rests upon the shoulders of Christian Scientists! They possess the pearl of great price, the truth that frees, that which, when lived and applied, will lift the sackcloth from humanity's brow. The world needs "practical, operative Christian Science" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 207). With it, one may say to the weary and heavy-laden, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Rev. 21:3,4).
[Published in The Marion County Mail of Indianapolis, Indiana, May 23, 1947.]