Christian Science: The Authority of Its Healing
Harry B. MacRae, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Harry B. MacRae, C.S.B., lectured on "Christian Science: The Authority of Its Healing Mission" Tuesday evening in the Murat Theatre under the auspices of Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist. Foster Oldshue introduced the speaker.
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Christian Science, or the Science of Christianity, comes today, proving that God-given authority over sin, sickness, and death is ours through a spiritual understanding of the living Christ. In this hour that we are to spend together, we can expect to gain a clearer understanding of this inspired teaching so that it may be applied to meet every possible need with which we may be confronted.
When Christ Jesus had finished his Sermon on the Mount, the greatest sermon ever preached, the people evidently must have been deeply impressed, for the Scripture says they "were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Matt. ,29). It is this authority born of God that has enabled Christianity to stand and to continue to grow throughout the centuries as the most potent moral and healing force of civilization. No temporal or human government could have inspired Jesus with any such authority, for both the political and church governments of his day were defiantly and militantly opposed to his teachings. No, as we are well aware, this authority was from God, divine Principle. Jesus understood and utilized it through the Christ, which he demonstrated.
Not long after he had come down from the mount, Jesus' authority was again recognized by a Roman officer or centurion. This centurion, whose servant was at home sick with the palsy, sought help from Jesus. When Jesus promptly offered to go to the servant and to heal him, the centurion recognized the Master's constituted authority to heal, and, comparing it to his own constituted authority to command his men, said, "Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed" (Matt. 8:8). The Master spoke the word, saying (Matt. ), "Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour."
Multitudes today are recognizing in Christian Science this healing authority of the Christ, are turning to it in their hour of need, and are crying out as did the centurion of old (Matt. 8:8), "Speak the word only, and [we] shall be healed."
In referring to the Master, Christian Scientists generally use the term Christ Jesus. They make a clear distinction, however, between Jesus, the human man, and Christ, the divine idea of God, which Jesus demonstrated in his earthly ministry, but they likewise show their inseparability. Jesus referred to the Christ when he said (John ), "Before Abraham was, I am," and (John 14:6), "I am the way." It was to Jesus he referred when he said (John ), "I can of mine own self do nothing." It is the Christ that reveals God to the human consciousness, and Jesus proved this for us and for all men.
The Apostle Paul discerned this when he said (I Tim. 2:5), "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." Mediator is one who reconciles. "Reconcile" comes from the Latin words meaning "to reunite." Christ Jesus' mission, then, was to prove to us that God and man are not separated, but are one - one in the same sense that Jesus meant by his words (John 10:30), "I and my Father are one." As mediator, Jesus made evident man's oneness with the Father.
Through his spiritual understanding of the Christ, Peter was enabled to speak (Matt. ) "as one having authority" when he healed the lame man at the beautiful gate of the temple. Paul also, and other early Christians for about 300 years after the time of Jesus, continued to heal the sick with the authority of the Christ. Then, for nearly 2,000 years the healing power of the Christ seemed very little in evidence in the Christian world.
The discovery of Christian Science has again brought it to light, and the works of healing and redemption are again being done. Mrs. Eddy, in Science and Health (p. 583), defines "Christ" as "the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error." And she says of Jesus (ibid., p. 26), "Divine Truth, Life, and Love gave Jesus authority over sin, sickness, and death." As one gains the spiritual understanding of the Christ through a study of Christian Science, he will be able to speak with this divinely reflected authority in doing works of healing and redemption.
In order to avail ourselves of God's infinite power as (Psalms 46:1) "a very present help," we must do more than merely know about Him; we must know Him. Christian Science enables us to do this. It reveals God in a most comprehensible and demonstrable manner. It does this by making plain that He is not finite and corporeal, but that He is incorporeal, supreme, infinite, and that His infinite being must be expressed by His spiritual universe, including man. Then we must know God if we are to know our true selfhood as His perfect idea, expression, or reflection. It is stated thus in Science and Health (p. 258), "We know no more of man as the true divine image and likeness, than we know of God."
How often have those striving for a better understanding of Deity asked the question, "What is God?" In answering this question in Science and Health (p. 465), Mrs. Eddy uses seven descriptive terms for God, which are Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, and Love. It is well to remember that because these synonyms all refer to the supremacy, wholeness, oneness, and infinitude of Deity, our understanding of them will unfold as we grow spiritually. For example, when we know God more clearly as Mind, we shall have a better concept of Him as creator and as supreme intelligence; when we know Him more as Spirit, we shall more clearly see the spiritual nature of true substance and the unreality of matter; when we see Him more clearly as Life, we shall better comprehend the eternality of all things true; when we discern Him more as Truth, we shall gain a higher and more spiritual view of the healing Christ; when we know Him better as Love, we shall express a more impersonal and spiritual sense of compassion, tenderness, and consideration; when we understand Him as divine Principle, we shall see that He is all-presence, all-power, all-wisdom, and that all that exists is established in Him; and when our perception of Him as Soul is clearer, we shall be more aware of our true being, our identity and at-one-ment with God. Through spiritual growth, we gain a clearer sense of our oneness with God and thus with increasing ability can avail ourselves of His power and demonstrate it in healing works.
Is it not the erroneous conception of God as a great, vague, unknowable being, afar off, that seems to separate God from man today?
Christian Science, by revealing God as the one infinite Mind, as impersonal, divine Principle, Love, gives us the correct concept of Him as infinite, supreme, incorporeal, and thus destroys the false concept of Him as personal or corporeal. It shows us, however, that God, divine Mind, must be expressed, that He is known through the ideas which express Him, and that they are inseparable from the Mind that creates them. Mind is the cause, and ideas are the effect. These ideas, we are told in Science and Health (p. 336), are unlimited in their range, extending "from the infinitesimal to the infinite." Man is the highest idea.
Mrs. Eddy in her textbook, Science and Health, defines man and explains his true nature. She writes (p. 475): "Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique. He is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas; . . . [he] reflects spiritually all that belongs to his Maker." Then, as ideas of God we cannot lack anything good - health, happiness, supply - as long as we know that we are one with our Maker. It is the belief of separation - that God and man are separated - that is the difficulty. The erroneous belief that we can lack health, that we cannot have happiness, or that our supply is insufficient is overcome by knowing our oneness with God, the source of all good. It is this oneness of God and man, this unity of God and man, made evident in Christian Science that solves every problem that can ever confront us.
Christian Science is proving daily in the experiences of many that holding to the perfection of man, as the expression of perfect God, heals sickness, destroys sin, and overcomes lack of every sort. Let it be remembered, however, that although we hold to the fact of the spiritual man's perfection and unity with God, we do not overlook or fail to take into consideration the erroneous mortal sense of things as they seem to exist in human experience.
Unreality of Matter and Evil
An Old Testament writer says that God is "of purer eyes than to behold evil," and cannot "look on iniquity" (Hab. ). Christian Science exposes the false claim of error to power; it makes obvious the impersonal nature of evil; it shows evil to be untrue and, therefore, unreal. It further reasons with divine logic that because God, Spirit, is true substance, is good, and is All, His opposites, matter and evil, cannot be known to Him and are, therefore, unreal and untrue. It is in this exposure of the unreality of matter and evil that the doctrine of Christian Science stands alone among religious teachings.
Should the question come to your thought at this point that this stand regarding the unreality of matter and evil is too radical or too absolute to be practical, may I say that the healing results of spiritually understanding this basic fact in the teachings of Christian Science will dispel any apprehension as to its practicality. In Science and Health (p. 454), we read, "That evil or matter has neither intelligence nor power, is the doctrine of absolute Christian Science, and this is the great truth which strips all disguise from error."
As you attain a greater spiritualization
of thought and maintain it, you are progressively able to detect error and to
reject it as unreal. As you spiritually understand that you reflect God, Life,
Truth, and Love, that the kingdom of
The Discoverer and Founder
Referring to this Christ or spiritual idea, Mrs. Eddy, in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 163), declares that it "must needs come in Christian Science, demonstrating the spiritual healing of body and mind." Let us, then, at this point consider for a few minutes the discovery of Christian Science and its Discoverer and Founder.
The remarkable fact that a great Christian religious teaching, which is healing and morally uplifting increasing multitudes, is after 80 years of active growth and progress still identified exclusively with its Discoverer and Founder, may rightly be accepted as a clear indication that it is a divine revelation, that it is not only God-inspired, but God-sustained and God-protected.
It is highly important that the truth concerning Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, ever be kept before the world. Unless there is a correct concept of the Revelator, there cannot be a clear understanding and a right evaluation of the revelation. It is possible here only to touch upon interesting facts of this brilliant and active life. But let it be remembered that none will be deprived of knowing her if they will but understand her words and works.
She was born and reared in a family atmosphere that was highly conducive to spiritual unfoldment and devout living. From childhood, Mrs. Eddy was spiritually-minded. She had a deep and abiding love for God and man. Her education was received from accredited schools of that period and through private tutoring and study. Her brilliance in literary matters was to be of much value to her when she came to present her discovery to the world.
In the early part of the year 1866 a serious accident left Mrs. Eddy in such a critical state that there was fear for her life. While in this condition, she called for her Bible and opened it to Matthew 9:2, where she read the account of the healing by Jesus of the palsied man. As she read, such a spiritual sense of the ever-presence and nearness of God came to her that she arose, healed, to the astonishment and joy of friends who had been awaiting her passing momentarily.
It was only after she had proved the merits of Christian Science in the healing of others that she began to publish her earliest writings on the subject. In 1875 she published the first edition of Science and Health, the Christian Science textbook, which contained the authoritative exposition of Christian Science. The problems which confronted her in the writing and publishing of this momentous work, and the overcoming of them through her steadfast reliance upon divine Principle, God, for her direction, supply, and protection, make a most enlightening and inspiring chapter in her life history.
In order to maintain and to guard
the purity of her teaching and practice of Mind-healing and to make it more
widely and easily available to hungering humanity, she established The Mother
Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in
Through her great wisdom and spiritual discernment, all the many activities of The Mother Church were established in due course, including the weekly, monthly, and quarterly publications and the international daily newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor.
Thus did this remarkable, God-inspired woman, through her discovery of Christian Science and her founding of the organization with which to carry it on, bring to this age and to coming ages the full revelation of the healing and redeeming Christ, Truth. When we think of the way of its coming, let us remind ourselves of her words in "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 318): ''I do not find my authority for Christian Science in history, but in revelation."
It might be considered presumptuous to attempt to tell this audience or any other audience in this enlightened Christian age just how important the Bible is to the well-being of mankind. The place of reverence, respect, and love, which this Book of books holds in the hearts of all Christians today is ably expressed by Mrs. Eddy in her "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 3J63): "The Bible is the learned man's masterpiece, the ignorant man's dictionary, the wise man's directory." It may be helpful, however, if I speak briefly of the importance of the Bible in the teachings of Christian Science.
The first religious tenet of Christian Science (Science and Health, p. 497) reads: "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life." Let it be noted that it is "the inspired Word of the Bible" to which Christian Scientists look for their "sufficient guide to eternal Life." Much of the Bible is inspired; that is, it came to inspired men through spiritual revelation, and it reveals God as Spirit and His creation as spiritual. It is only that Scripture which is inspired that reveals God and His perfect creation and that is valuable and essential for spiritual instruction.
In relating her discovery in Science and Health (p. 126), Mrs. Eddy writes: "The Bible has been my only authority. I have had no other guide in 'the straight and narrow way' of Truth"; and again (ibid., p. 319), "The divine Science taught in the original language of the Bible came through inspiration, and needs inspiration to be understood."
In 1895 our Leader ordained the Bible and "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" to be the pastor of all Christian Science churches throughout the world. The spiritual discernment of the Bible Lesson Committee of The Mother Church, which prepares the Lesson-Sermons used in our church services, and the spiritual receptivity of those who hear, read, or study them each week bring such clear views of God and man and of their divine relationship that healing, regeneration, and redemption are resulting on an ever-widening scale. Referring to it in the Manual of The Mother Church (Art. III, Sect. 1), Mrs. Eddy speaks of the Christian Science Lesson-Sermon as one "on which the prosperity of Christian Science largely depends."
She did not claim nor desire that her discovery and revelation of the full spiritual import of the Word, as set forth in the Bible, should be only for the favored few. She writes in her book "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany (p. 190): "Jesus gave his disciples (students) power over all manner of diseases; and the Bible was written in order that all peoples, in all ages, should have the same opportunity to become students of the Christ, Truth, and thus become God-endued with power (knowledge of divine law) and with 'signs following.' " Thus did she express her lifelong desire that all men should come to the knowledge of true salvation.
What is salvation? How and when will it be mine? Are not these questions that come often to the thought of most Christians? Perhaps every one of you here has, at some time or other, considered them.
Christian Science makes it obvious that salvation from sin, disease, and death is gained through the spiritual understanding that God, Life, Truth, and Love, is the only presence, Principle, and power; that there is no other; that there is nothing outside or beyond Him, because being infinite, He includes all that exists, and there is no other existence; that sin, sickness, and death, being unlike Him, must be and are unreal and nonexistent. Do not conclude, however, that this means that Christian Science teaches that because sin is unreal it may be indulged freely without penalty. Quite the contrary! If we indulge in sin in any form, believing that it is desirable and that it gives us satisfaction or pleasure, we are thereby making it a reality in mortal thought. It follows that we must and will suffer from this belief in the reality of sin, because we are thereby believing in a power apart from God, good, namely, the power of sin or evil. Since there is no such power, it is not from the power of sin or evil that we suffer, but from our false belief in its reality.
Let us remember, however, that just as we do not expect the principle of mathematics to work out our mathematical problems without any effort on our part, so we should not expect the law of divine Principle to solve the problems of human experience without making some effort ourselves. We must utilize God's law.
Actually and in truth, man, the image and likeness of God, does not have to be saved; he is already in the state of complete salvation, at the standpoint of perfection, expressing only Godlike qualities. He is not a mortal trying to become an immortal; he is immortal now. In "The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany" (p. 242), we read: "You can never demonstrate spirituality until you declare yourself to be immortal and understand that you are so."
In our human experience this eternal fact becomes apparent to us as we gain through spiritual ascendancy of thought ever clearer views of perfect God, perfect man, and perfect universe. God and His universe, including man, remain forever perfect. We have but to rise above the mist of error to behold and demonstrate this fact through the power of Christ.
Similarly, in gaining our salvation from the errors of sin and sickness that seem to hold us, or from the physical, business, or personal problems that sometimes come rolling over our mental horizon, we need to lift our thoughts above the clouds of sense and emerge in the ever-present sunlight of Truth. All the power of Truth is present to enable us to accomplish this. We need do nothing to the clouds, the errors of sense, for to attempt to do something to them would be to try to make that real which is unreal. We must mentally soar above and beyond them into the harmonious realm of spiritual reality, where we find our liberation, our true salvation. In "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 355) we read: "To strike out right and left against the mist, never clears the vision; but to lift your head above it, is a sovereign panacea."
The saving and healing value of such right effort was demonstrated in the healing of one who for many years had been suffering intensely from a trouble with his spine that made walking difficult. He was instantaneously relieved and healed when it was made plain to him that the malady was but a false sense, a belief that he was a suffering mortal, and that he could rise above it by lifting his thought through the power of Truth to behold the real man, created in God's image and likeness, perfect and whole. Does not such a spiritual healing prove that this way of salvation bears the seal of divine authority?
Prayer and Healing
It is in praying for themselves and for others that Christian Scientists practice their teachings. Thus they bring abiding health, sinlessness, and joy into the experiences of others as well as into their own.
The chapter on Prayer in Science and Health (pp. 1-17) gives in the spirit that the Master used it the most comprehensive and demonstrable description and analysis of prayer ever given. Among the many attitudes of thought that may be considered types of prayer in Christian Science, seven which Mrs. Eddy mentions are included in two brief statements in this wonderful chapter. They are to be found on page 4 and page 15 of the textbook and read: "What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds," and, "Self-forgetfulness, purity, and affection are constant prayers." In expressing these qualities in our daily living we are truly praying, as we may see by a brief explanation of each in accordance with the teachings of Christian Science.
What are you expressing when you are truly patient in the highest sense of that word? Is it not quiet confidence in the presence or attainability of good? Stop and think; is there not usually something of fear being expressed when we are impatient - fear that we may not obtain the good we desire, or fear that we shall not obtain it in time to suit our purpose? Patience is the well-poised mental attitude that is confident that all is well, that good is ours. This is recognizing the ever-presence of God, good. Then is not the achievement of patience the result of prayer?
Meekness is humility. Humility, as understood in Christian Science, is rendering all good to God. It was expressed by the Master in his words, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God" (Matt. ). When we express meekness, we are not exalting in our thinking our own personal ability or good, but are depending upon the infinite ability and power of God. In Science and Health (p. 270) we read, "Meekness and charity have divine authority." Then is not the attainment of meekness the result of prayer?
The spiritual interpretation of "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" (Matt. ) is given in the Christian Science textbook (p. 17) as. "And Love is reflected in love." Let our human expression of love for our fellow man be the reflection of Love which is God. Then is not that Love achieved through prayer?
In Science and Health (p. 147) we read, "A pure affection takes form in goodness, but Science alone reveals the divine Principle of goodness and demonstrates its rules." And good deeds - are they not the manifestation of good thoughts? In Christian Science, healing the sick is a good deed. It is the result of knowing that God does not create sickness; He knows it not; therefore, His manifestation or expression, man, cannot be sick. Are not good deeds, then, the result of prayer?
And what about self-forgetfulness? We must forget or cast out of thought the belief that we can have a self apart from God. When we do this, we are, in effect, knowing our oneness with the one Ego, God; so we express fewer of the beliefs of a mortal self with all its errors and more of our true selfhood as the idea, the full expression of divine Love, God. Then is not self-forgetfulness achieved through prayer?
Purity is a quality that I can best describe to you by quoting a part of a letter written to one of her students by Mrs. Eddy and found in her biography by Lyman P. Powell. She wrote: "Pray daily, never miss praying, no matter how often: 'Lead me not into temptation,' - scientifically rendered, - Lead me not to lose sight of strict purity, clean pure thoughts; let all my thoughts and aims be high, unselfish, charitable, meek, - spiritually minded. With this altitude of thought your mind is losing materiality and gaining spirituality and this is the state of mind that heals the sick" (Mary Baker Eddy: A Life Size Portrait, by Lyman P. Powell, p. 322). Then is not purity realized through prayer?
Christian Science does not disapprove the right expression of clean human affections as the evidence, humanly expressed, of the ever-presence of divine Love, God. The manner in which they endeavor to express these affections is given in the Daily Prayer in the Manual of The Mother Church (Art. VIII. Sect. 4) which Christian Scientists dutifully and gratefully pray each day. It reads in part: "May Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!" Then is not a pure affection gained through prayer?
It is through prayer that all healing in Christian Science is accomplished; it is often referred to as treatment. This prayer is a fervent desire, governed and guided by spiritual understanding, to know God as All-in-all. It is more than a prayer of faith; it is one that reveals to us the perfection of God and man, His image and likeness, and proves it in healing the sick, bringing redemption to the sinner, comfort to the sorrowing, and supply to the needy ones.
This was impressively demonstrated in a beautiful healing of which I would like to tell you.
Victims, apparently, of the unsettled economic and living conditions prevalent immediately following World War II, a well-educated, capable, refined middle-aged husband and wife of comfortable means found themselves physically sick, mentally distraught, and without a place they could call home. Having exhausted all human means of solving their problems, they turned to Christian Science, although they knew very little about it, and appealed to a Christian Science practitioner in a distant city for help.
The practitioner, answering the wife's long distance telephone call, silently prayed for the realization of man's perfection as the idea of God; he worked to know that because there is but one Mind, God, the false claim of a mind apart from God, called mortal mind, could not and did not hold this couple in bondage and that in the omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience of God; there could be no evil presence, power, or knowing. Also, he assured the suffering one audibly that she and her husband were God's children and that all the Father's love was present right where they were to heal and to provide for them.
The practitioner was obedient to the healing rule in Science and Health (p. 395) which reads: "Like the great Exemplar, the healer should speak to disease as one having authority over it, leaving Soul to master the false evidences of the corporeal senses and to assert its claims over mortality and disease." He spoke with the authority of the healing and redeeming Christ, Truth, which he knew was ever present. He concluded his treatment with these words: "God's law and God's power cover everything."
These words were spoken with such assurance, conviction, and spiritual authority that at the end of a 10-day period a letter came from the wife saying that a healing had occurred, which filled them with awe, for, as she wrote, it was like a miracle. A goiter with which she had been afflicted had completely disappeared, leaving no trace. At the same time, constipation of 30 years standing had been healed. Other results of this 10 days of prayer or treatment were the restoration of the husband's health, which had failed during their struggles, and the regaining of his courage and his ambition to go forward. Moreover, the daily study of the Lesson-Sermon, undertaken during this period, became a regular practice. Within a few months a new business was undertaken, a comfortable home was established, and a great sense of contentment and security was gained.
Thus was the prayer of Christian Science that acknowledged the authority of the law and the power of the one Mind, God, answered in the realization of the goodness of God, manifested in better health, greater security, and more happiness.
"Popular theology," Mrs. Eddy declares in Science and Health (p. 557), "takes up the history of man as if he began materially right, but immediately fell into mental sin; whereas revealed religion proclaims the Science of Mind and its formations as being in accordance with the first chapter of the Old Testament, when God, Mind, spake and it was done."
Here, my friends, is God's loving, healing voice of authority, which established good as infinite and eternal. It is the voice with which Christ Jesus spoke in his healing works, when he declared (John ), "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." By reflection you can speak with the voice of authority. "Entirely separate from the belief and dream of material living," writes Mrs. Eddy in Science and Health (p. 14), "is the Life divine, revealing spiritual understanding and the consciousness of man's dominion over the whole earth. This understanding casts out error and heals the sick, and with it you can speak 'as one having authority.' "
How beautifully this verse of a hymn, with which I shall close, tells us of this voice of authority (Christian Science Hymnal No. 5):
"A voice from heaven we have heard,
The call to rise from earth;
Put armor on, the sword now gird,
And for the fight go forth."
[Published in The Marion County Mail of Indianapolis, Indiana, Dec. 12, 1947.]