Christian Science: Its Practical and Enlightened Way of Freedom
Harry B. MacRae, C.S.B., of Dallas, Texas
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Our purpose here this evening is to gain more light, or spiritual enlightenment, on a very important subject: light, that will make available and practicable to everyone who listens with an open thought the way of freedom from every form and phase of earthly trouble, as the Master, Christ Jesus, taught. The subject is Christian Science, particularly from the standpoint of the practical and enlightened way of freedom which it offers every individual and nation from the bondage and harassment of sickness, sin, hunger, deprivation, sorrow, separation, and death — in a word, from the darkness of materiality and mortality.
Remembering that you have been invited here and, therefore, are surely entitled to the usual courteous treatment accorded guests, let me assure you that Christian Science lectures are not given for the purpose of urging upon you a doctrine contrary or antagonistic to your own convictions. This would not be freedom, but a form of compulsion, and Christian Science is a religion of freedom. It teaches the freedom of which the Apostle Paul spoke to the Galatians (Gal 5:1, 13): "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh."
Therefore, you may feel perfectly at ease and open-minded. Should some of the statements seem opposed to your view of things, you need but remind yourself that you are listening to an authorized discourse on what Christian Scientists accept and demonstrate daily as the correct and provable concept of God, man, and the universe. It is presented here for your thoughtful consideration. And may I add that many well-authenticated healings are taking place at Christian Science lectures.
Such healings are signs of the times such as Christ Jesus referred to when the Pharisees and the Sadducees demanded that he show them a "sign" to prove his Messiahship. What a ridiculous demand this was! His healing ministry up to that time had been one succession of healings, so remarkable to those who beheld them that they have been called miracles. But these spiritually dull dissenters were unable to lift their thoughts high enough to discern the power of God back of these startling events; so they clamored for "signs" that would mean something to them.
How like this is the attitude of many today! Spiritual blindness causes too many sincere religious people to fail to see the evidences of God's ever-presence with men in the uncounted healings which are taking place today in the practice of Christian Science. Now, as then, the veil of materiality seems to be cast over the people to hide from them their ability to utilize the power of God in solving the problems of human experience.
The removal of this "veil" of materiality is freedom. Paul, in reminding the Corinthians of the freedom which was theirs through the Christ, revealed to them by Jesus, made sure that they understood what had taken place. He said (II Cor 3:4,6), "And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God: who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament." His inference was that the new revelation of the Christ, Truth, which had come to them through the teachings and demonstrations of Jesus, had removed the impediments of scholastic theology and had given them the full power of the resultant spiritual understanding of God. Paul's clear spiritual discernment that God, being Spirit, must be and is everywhere, revealed also that in the presence of this Spirit there could be no bondage, but only liberty. Man's presence with or oneness with this divine Spirit not only gives liberty, but is liberty. Science and Health states it thus (p. 481): "Man is tributary to God, Spirit, and to nothing else. God's being is infinity, freedom, harmony, and boundless bliss. 'Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.'"
It would be well were the world today to understand this true, demonstrable concept of freedom which Christian Science reveals, for the threat of dictators and aggressor nations would then be past. Mrs. Eddy in Science and Health (p. 575) saw that the holy city described in the Apocalypse (Rev 21:16) represents the spiritual glory of Christian Science. "Mighty potentates and dynasties," she writes (p. 577), "will lay down their honors within the heavenly city."
The Discoverer and Founder
When Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, is seen or known in the light in which she viewed herself, any mental reservations regarding her and her rightful status will disappear.
She held high her true individuality; she saw herself as God saw her, not as mere human sense beheld her. Her individual expression of God, good, is set forth in her writings. There we may always find her and not in her personality or elsewhere. She writes (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 120), "Those who look for me in person, or elsewhere than in my writings, lose me instead of find me."
Almost a century of inspired, unselfed living identified Mrs. Eddy's earthly course and has left its inerasable mark on the lives of millions in this century. This and future ages will continue to be touched and benefited by the universal nature of her work.
The relative obscurity, from a world standpoint, of her birth and the first forty-five years of her life could not hide from the world the light within. So, inevitably, it found expression. It shone forth in what appeared to those standing by her bedside, and fearing for her life because of the effects of a serious accident, as a remarkable physical healing, almost as a restoration to life.
Nothing even approaching sensationalism or extreme emotionalism attended this remarkable event that was to result in such great benefit to all mankind for all time. Left alone with her Bible on what many considered her deathbed, she read a few verses at the beginning of the ninth chapter of Matthew which tell of the healing of the palsied man by Christ Jesus. Through the spiritual revelation that followed this reading, the healing Truth became so clear to her that she rose from her bed and dressed herself. From this moment on, she enjoyed better health than before.
Her marvelous healing marked the starting point of the great spiritual unfoldment that resulted in her establishment as the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, as the Leader of this great movement, and as the revelator to this and future ages of the Christ, Truth. The world continues daily to find her more and more clearly in her works, in the healing and redemption of multitudes through the spiritual enlightenment gained from the study of her writings. Is it any wonder that it can be said of her that as she studied the Bible she was glimpsing universal salvation?
Today The Mother Church and its branch churches throughout the world are making this great truth of Christian Science so available to all mankind through the Lesson-Sermon in the Christian Science Quarterly, the Reading Rooms, and the church services, that no one interested need be deprived of the help necessary for his progress.
Because it is based entirely upon the Bible, Christian Science teaches not one thing that is in the slightest degree contrary or contradictory to the Bible. More than any other teaching, it shows the Bible to be the true and only guide to spiritual life with its eternal blessings. because it reveals the divine fact that God is Life, the only Life, and that we reflect this Life. "The central fact of the Bible," we are told in Science and Health (p. 131), "is the superiority of spiritual over physical power."
The Bible, loved, revered, and respected by all sincere Christians everywhere, has given us the true way of Life through Christ Jesus. This way unfolds and grows ever clearer and more practical, even in our daily affairs, as our spiritual understanding increases. How clearly the Apostle Paul saw this and how impressively he expressed it in these words in the Holy Scriptures: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Rom. 10:4). Christian Science accepts the Word of God, as revealed in the Bible, as the law of Life.
Soul, which is God, is the only Soul of man; our identity or embodiment is the reflection of Soul, Truth, which is God, is the all-embracing actuality of man, discerned by Christ Jesus as that which makes us free from the opposite beliefs in the reality of matter and evil. God as our Life is the divine fact of our immortality now and always. Divine Principle, God is, therefore, that alone upon which man's eternal and infinite being rests and from which it proceeds. Spirit, God, reflected by man, removes even the slightest possibility of our existence being anything but spiritual.
Thus does Christian Science clearly designate and define as incorporeal, infinite, and eternal God, whose Word the Bible declares.
Christ and Jesus
Because Christian Science is, as its name indicates, the knowledge pertaining to Christ and because Jesus was the clearest exponent and greatest demonstrator of the Christ, it is well that we understand what Christian Science teaches regarding Christ Jesus. It is not too much to say that the healing efficacy of this wonderful system of metaphysics is rightly attributed to the provable understanding it gives of this master Christian and his teachings.
It was because Jesus so clearly heard this "divine message" or Christ that he was ever conscious of his oneness with his Father. It is this "divine message," of which we become increasingly conscious as we grow spiritually through the study and application of Christian Science, that destroys the false mortal sense of separation from God, divine Love, and establishes us more firmly on the Rock, Christ, Truth.
In Science and Health (p 333) we read, "Christ expresses God's spiritual, eternal nature." In other words, God, divine Mind, Truth, reveals Himself, and this revelation constitutes the Christ, which, when understood, liberates humanity from the ills of the flesh. When such liberation or freedom is expressed by some person in happiness, health, and general well-being, it leaves a very definite, although not always consciously perceived, impression on others. They may think it is the personality of the individual which appeals to them; actually, it is the Christ, Truth, being expressed. Perhaps some time later a need will arise, and thought is directed back to the good such a one expressed. Such was the case in the healing incident I am about to relate.
On an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic, a young lady approached a friend of mine who is a Christian Science practitioner in America and asked if she could give her help in Christian Science to relieve her of the extreme suffering she was experiencing with her tooth. She said that the ship's doctor had failed to help her in the slightest during the previous two days and that she was frantic. My friend without question gladly agreed to help her and retired to her cabin to commune silently with God. The next day the young lady reported that she had been quickly and completely relieved of the pain and was deeply grateful. My practitioner friend then asked her if she was a Christian Scientist. She answered, "No."
How then had she been led to ask for help in Christian Science? Her answer was simple and direct. She said that, while attending a university in Europe, years before, she had known a young girl student who was a Christian Scientist. The great sense of freedom and joy always expressed by this young friend had impressed her. Consequently, in this extremity in mid-ocean, her thought went back to this Christian Scientist at the university. This had inspired her to ask for the help in Christian Science that she had now received.
Thus the Christ-light that had shone forth so brightly years before in the life of the young student continued to guide and comfort another who, perhaps, had not been fully aware of the impression that it had made upon her. The freedom that we thus gain from the ills of mortal existence was promised us by the Master in his immortal words (John 8:32), "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." This freedom is true salvation.
Do not all men long for the freedom of salvation? Not only salvation from sin, but from sickness and lack and death? In her Message to The Mother Church for 1901 Mrs. Eddy stated briefly but impressively the only way of salvation. She wrote (p. 10): "Theoretically and practically man's salvation comes through 'the riches of His grace' in Christ Jesus. Divine Love spans the dark passage of sin, disease, and death with Christ's righteousness, — the atonement of Christ, whereby good destroys evil, — and the victory over self, sin, disease, and death, is won after the pattern of the mount."
Salvation, as clearly and correctly seen from the standpoint of Christian Science, is not a state of harmony or a habitation of good to be gained after death and through death. Salvation means freedom from the beliefs that claim to cause death; it is freedom obtained through the spiritual understanding that God is Life, the only Life of man, and, therefore, that the afflictions of mortal sense can no more harm or destroy man than they can harm or destroy God.
There may be some who have come here tonight heavily burdened with some physical, financial, or mental trouble. It may be asked, How does this beautiful view of salvation help me with my trouble? First, let us see what claims to be the root of the trouble. Let us see that, whatever its name or nature, if it is afflictive, it must be bad, not good. Let us, then, acknowledge that God, divine Mind, is good, and is omnipresent. In this ever-presence of good, where can its opposite, evil, be? Obviously, nowhere. Then it may be asked: Why does this condition of pain, or lack, or sickness afflict me? If it is not created by God and does not exist in His presence and He is present everywhere, where does it come from? The answer is that, in reality, it does not come, it does not exist; it is but the result of a false belief that we are separated from God, good. This may prompt another question: Why do I believe such things when I do not consciously desire to do so, and how can I stop making a reality of them? My friends, let me answer this by stating a fact that is being proved true in the lives of thousands of those who are looking to Christian Science for the solution to their problems. It is this: You can stop believing in the reality of these evil things and can be freed from experiencing them by acknowledging, and understanding, spiritually, that you are at one with God, with Life, Truth, and Love, here and now, and that this eternal state of oneness can and will come to light in your present experience through the exercise of your God-given ability to claim it, now. As the Apostle Paul declared (II Cor. 6:2), "Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation!" Now is the day of freedom. For is not salvation freedom from sin, disease, and death?
Next to life itself, the highest good that man can have is freedom. Throughout the ages, the love of freedom has been the greatest motivating influence or power in the experience of mankind. The theme of great literature, the motive inspiring great reforms, the goal of armed and political conflicts, the urge behind great explorations, and the avowed purpose of religious and social reforms have been that of greater freedom for mankind. When the American colonies came to make their Declaration of Independence and to state their rights formally, life was the first right demanded, liberty the second, and the pursuit of happiness the third.
It is the freeing of humanity from the false concept of man that constitutes the fundamental work of Christian Science. This liberation consists in the lifting of man from the realm of inferiority and sin, to which religious instruction prior to the discovery of Christian Science has relegated him.
Is it not sin — the sin of believing in a power outside of God and greater than God — that today prevents mankind from expressing the freedom which is theirs by divine decree? Do not peoples in this present age, as those of Jesus' time, believe that their freedom lies in some human heritage? Do they not still believe that freedom, won through the toil, struggles, and sacrifices of their forefathers, is something of such an inviolable nature that it will continue as a way of life? But is it real and permanent freedom that is thus gained? Do we not this very day decry the restrictions, limitations, and even bondage that we believe have been placed upon us by our own government in the very land to which our forefathers fled to find escape? Moreover, has not one of the very things that seemed to help give us the freedom of peace from the recent World War now assumed the terrifying aspect of a potential threat not only to our freedom but to life itself — the atomic bomb?
Why is the desire for freedom so strong in man? It is not only because its presence, even in small degree, usually results in more happiness, peace, and prosperity, although that is important, but because it fulfills the natural and inherent impulse of man to express good as his divine heritage. This he can do only when untrammeled by the heavy sense of bondage to mortal errors of fear, hatred, lack, intolerance, and envy.
When we need surcease from what appear as the continued aggressive attacks of evil, we turn our thought in the direction of divine Love. Mrs. Eddy declares in Science and Health (p. 501): "So-called mystery and miracle, which subserve the end of natural good, are explained by that Love for whose rest the weary ones sigh when needing something more native to their immortal cravings than the history of perpetual evil." How we need this in the business world today!
Business is activity, right activity, but activity in a far different sense than that which is commonly accepted as mere human activity. It is tireless, ceaseless, effortless, limitless, sinless. Such activity cannot be considered apart from God. God is omniaction, and man is His infinite expression.
Christ Jesus understood better than anyone before or since his time what true business is and how it is expressed. It was as impossible for him not to show forth his Father's nature as for the sun to withhold its light. He was about his Father's business, reflecting God, good. The Christ-idea which Jesus so clearly understood and demonstrated was and is forever about the Father's business, making God, the Principle of health, holiness, and immortality, known to humanity. You and I are about our Father's business when we manifest such qualities as wisdom, purity, spiritual understanding, health. And what human or material business will not prosper and succeed when those involved express such qualities? In expressing these qualities we are approximating in expression and demonstration what we are in fact, the image and likeness of our Father-Mother God. This truly is being about our Father's business. It is to express the same Mind that Jesus expressed as he went daily about his Father's business.
Some business man or woman, hearing this, may say to himself: This appears to be very beautiful and very logical, but I am interested in knowing just how it applies practically to the operation of my business. Let us consider this briefly from only one standpoint as an example of how it may be applied more generally to all business.
Is not all business, every profession or calling, dependent largely upon confidence and trust? Would anyone voluntarily enter a business agreement or transaction with another in whom he had absolutely no confidence? Then is it not most important that each of us in his dealings with his fellow man express as much of his true selfhood or Christlikeness as possible? Does not one who consistently manifests his true being in expressing honesty, kindness, love for his fellow man, courage, and other Godlike qualities, inspire confidence in those with whom he deals? Will not one's business respond favorably to such higher thinking, this better reflecting, and consequently evidence more activity greater stability, and better progress? Indeed it will.
A remarkable instance of this occurred in the experience of the business representative of a large manufacturer. Some of the manufacturer's product had been sold to a man in a western state, where under extremely hard usage it began to give trouble. The man complained bitterly and refused to complete his payment for the product purchased. The business representative was sent to straighten out the matter.
When he arrived at the western city the local representative lost no time in telling him what a vicious and even dangerous character the purchaser was and what a bad reputation he had. On the way out on the train, the business representative had worked metaphysically as he had been taught to do in Christian Science. He declared that there is only one man, the man of God's creating. This man existed because God exists. He saw that man had no existence apart from God and must, therefore, in reality be the expression of God. He must reflect honesty, wisdom, justice, mercy, and love, qualities of God. What a man believes himself to be or what others believe they see in him of a dangerous or vicious nature does not belong to him as the son of God.
The interview took place. It seemed to the local representative that a complete change had taken place in the man. The confidence inspired by the Godlike thought of the business representative caused the purchaser to express the greatest sense of co-operation. After the interview was terminated satisfactorily, the local representative was so astonished that he exclaimed: "Why, he did not threaten or storm about things at all! He didn't even swear — an unheard-of thing for him." The purchaser had been freed to some extent of the traits that had never been his by the impersonal work of the business representative, and he was able to transact the business on what had at first seemed an impossible basis.
True business is right activity. Right activity can only be the expression of divine Mind, omniaction. There cannot be too much of right activity, then, because there cannot be too much of God. This truth makes it possible to carry on in all right activity without fatigue, worry, rush, or fear. Their real profits measured in joy, peace of mind, inner satisfaction as well as so-called financial gain will be the result.
In one place in Science and Health (p. 52) Mrs. Eddy makes Mind-healing synonymous with Christian Science, and what could better describe it? The word "Mind" is synonymous with God, and God is All and created all in His image and likeness. All healing, then, must be and is the healing that results from the understanding of the omnipotence of divine Mind, God.
Since Christian Science healing is Mind-healing or God-healing, it is obvious that a clear, correct understanding of God is fundamental to the right understanding of Christian Science and the demonstration thereof.
In what is referred to as the "platform of Christian Science" in Science and Health, the second "plank" or foundational statement consists of deific definitions. It reads (p. 330): "God is what the Scriptures declare Him to be, — Life, Truth, Love. Spirit is divine Principle, and divine Principle is Love, and Love is Mind, and Mind is not both good and bad, for God is Mind; therefore there is in reality one Mind only, because there is one God," Any one or all of these defining terms understood, reveals God as infinite, eternal, all-good, all-loving, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise. When we remind ourselves that the little word "all" is so completely inclusive of everything that there is nothing outside its limits, we begin to glimpse the glorious fact that God is All-in-all. While it is true that material terms are inadequate to express metaphysical statements accurately and correctly, they, nevertheless, serve to open thought to the reasonableness of all that emanates from God and to the unreasonableness of everything unlike Him. Then spiritual sense reveals the mighty actuality of God. Finally, demonstration in the healing of sickness, the destruction of sin, and the abundant supplying of needs follows through the coming of Christ, Truth, to human consciousness. When such proofs appear in our so-called human experience as the result of clearer and ever clearer views of God gained through the Christ, terms, words, and expressions appear illumined by this spiritual light. Mrs. Eddy knew that such would be the experience of sincere students of Christian Science, that God would become to them what He always has been, the living, active, ever-present, infinite power of good. She expresses this beautifully in these words in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 34): "If Christ, Truth, has come to us in demonstration, no other commemoration is requisite, for demonstration is Immanuel or God with us."
The resurrection of Jesus, the demonstration that God was his Life, is all-important to the growth and spiritual progress of all Christians. This was clearly evidenced in the experience of our Master's disciples. After the resurrection, their thought became more spiritual. Because of this momentous event, they more clearly recognized the true nature of God as Life and man's oneness with Him. Thereafter, they did greater works in healing the sick, redeeming the sinner, and raising the dead as the textbook says (p. 34): "His resurrection was also their resurrection. It helped them to raise themselves and others from spiritual dulness and blind belief in God into the perception of infinite possibilities." In the ratio of our growth in the spiritual understanding that God is our Life, does Jesus' resurrection become our resurrection.
God appeared in this demonstration as Life to man, and Christian Science shows Him also to be Truth, the Truth which makes free. It shows Him to be Love, the divine Love which meets every human need. It shows Him to be Principle, the fundamental, basic, underlying, unchanging, loving, eternally established power that forever upholds man as its perfect idea. It shows Him to be Spirit, Spirit that is the true substance and supply of all good infinitely available. It shows Him to be Mind, that Mind which was also in Christ Jesus, and that is the supreme intelligence which we reflect without limit. And it shows Him to be Soul, Soul which is reflected by man and which constitutes his true identity.
When we look for God, we find His perfect expression or idea, man, including the universe. So it is that the more spiritually-minded we become, the higher we rise above the unrealities of so-called material existence, the more clearly we discern our true selfhood, the better we know God and the more perfectly and effectively we prove our oneness with Him in healing works. "Reasoning from cause to effect in the Science of Mind," Mrs Eddy tells us in Science and Health (p. 467), "we begin with Mind, which must be understood through the idea which expresses it and cannot be learned from its opposite, matter."
When a man begins to think above the mere human sense of things and to look to a good source, outside himself for good, he is praying in the broad sense of that word. You will probably agree that the most prevalent view of prayer is petition to a distant God to bestow upon us more good in some specific way in which we believe we need it. Christian Science enables us to see that true prayer, effective prayer, is something above mere petition to God; it is communion with God, in which we recognize our inseparability from God, that we are eternally at one with Him. This requires clear spiritual thinking.
Christian Scientists are learning and proving, through their study of Christian Science, that as they hold to the eternal fact that sickness is unreal, because not God-created, they are able to do the works that the master Christian said they would do who believed on him and accepted his understanding of man's perfection and oneness with his Father-Mother God. "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick," the Christian Science textbook (p. 1) tells us, "is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, — a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love." And further Mrs. Eddy adds that "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 "
A striking instance of this was the healing of a man whose case was given up as hopeless by doctors. Their examination showed a malignant condition in the digestive system. At this point the man asked for help in Christian Science. Improvement soon became apparent. Within a few months he felt so well that he applied for a position in a war industry. He was required to submit to a thorough physical examination before being employed. Six doctors at different times examined him, and each one found him to be physically fit and normal in every way. This healing occurred about ten years ago and has proved complete and permanent.
No words can adequately define prayer or express it. It is a spiritual inner sense that desires good only, that acknowledges God's allness and man's oneness with Truth and Love, that constantly and conscientiously holds to man's likeness with God. Prayer is better known by what it does than by what it is. It is putting into practice in our daily experience the Love which is God. As we pray aright, as we gain a clearer spiritual understanding of God, more of His presence, goodness, and power are discerned by us and become operative in our human experience. As we gain a higher spiritual vision of Him we are better able to know our true selfhood as His perfect idea and to express it in greater freedom, the freedom that appears as good health, as high morals, and as abundant supply. When we pray, we acknowledge our birthright as ideas of God.
There is no recorded failure in the healing ministry of Jesus. An understanding of the truth of this teaching, of the Christ Science, shows why there could be none. A profound yet simple statement in the textbook gives to those who spiritually understand it the satisfying reason for this infallibility. It is this (p. 52): "The 'man of sorrows' best understood the nothingness of material life and intelligence and the mighty actuality of all-inclusive God, good."
In her enlightening comment on these two fundamental truths, which the Master's deeds proved he understood, Mrs. Eddy continues: "These were the two cardinal points of Mind-healing, or Christian Science, which armed him with Love." Here, then, must be "the two cardinal points of Mind-healing" for everyone who would truly follow in his steps: first, to know that there is no reality in material life and intelligence, and second, to know that God's actuality, His goodness, and His all-inclusiveness, are reflected in man and the universe.
"Christian Science," says the textbook (p. 227), "raises the standard of liberty and cries: 'Follow me! Escape from the bondage of sickness, sin, and death!' Jesus marked out the way. Citizens of the world, accept the 'glorious liberty of the children of God,' and be free! This is your divine right."
[Delivered at First Church of Christ, Scientist, Syracuse, New York, on Friday evening, Sept. 30, 1949. This lecture has been transcribed from a newspaper clipping; the publication and the date of publication are not known.]