Christian Science: Its Annulment of Unjust Condemnation

 

Earl McCloud, C.S.B., of San Antonio, Texas

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

Earl McCloud, C.S.B., lectured on "Christian Science: Its Annulment of Unjust Condemnation" Tuesday evening in the Murat Theatre under the auspices of all Churches of Christ, Scientist. Frank, M. Ayres introduced the speaker.

The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:

 

One of the many great services rendered to mankind by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, the Founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, the author of its textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," and its forever Leader, is her teaching that salvation is universal, individual as well; that God truly is Love, and that He eternally and impartially bestows His loving-kindness upon all His children.

From early childhood Mrs. Eddy was convinced that she and all others had the right to look to God under all circumstances with complete confidence in His tender care, and she rejected the relentless theological teachings then prevalent as to predestination and the sentence to endless punishment which awaited sinners on a final judgment day.

 

Discovery of the Divine Principle

Mrs. Eddy's childhood tendencies along religious lines were strengthened and developed by her experiences in ensuing years, leading up to her discovery in 1866 of the divine Principle of Christian healing through her own restoration to health following an injury which it was believed would prove fatal.

This experience being so in line with her early impressions of a loving, tender heavenly Father, led her to devote her efforts from then on to the study of Jesus' healing ministry and its annulment of condemnations laid upon mankind by mistaken or false belief. She saw clearly the world's need for the true concept of God, to know that men can and will learn to understand God, to love Him and to rely upon Him at all times. Not a God of vengeance, not a God of war, not a relentless punisher of those guilty of ignorant mistakes.

Mrs. Eddy has made it clear in her teachings that there is but one Mind, God, one Truth and Love. This Mind expresses infinite intelligence as opposed to the limited or mortal sense of thinking. It differentiates between the reality of Spirit and the unreality of matter. It shows the inseparability of God and man as Father and son, as cause and effect, as Mind and its idea. It demonstrates that the understanding, put into practice, of this fundamental teaching of the perfection of God and man annuls all unjust condemnation.

 

Jesus Annulled Condemnations

Jesus, who, according to Luke's Gospel, sought to be about his Father's business at a very early age (Luke 2:49), brought out this thought of God's tender fatherhood and exemplified it in annulling for many of the people of his day disease, poverty, death, sorrow, sin, and afflictions of every kind. Christian Science is offering to the world today a restoration of that early Christianity, minus creeds and dogmas.

Not only is the world turning to this teaching, but the trend in all Christian churches is away from much of the harsh, relentless thought of God which was presented in earlier days. The study of Christian Science has done much to bring about this change.

A Christian Scientist, thinking along these lines and pondering earnestly, was riding along a highway in a far-western state. His attention was attracted - nay, demanded - by a giant sign far ahead which, in immense letters, bore this portion of Paul's statement in the sixth chapter of Romans: "The wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23).

"True enough, 'The wages of sin is death' (the death of the sin), but what uncompromising condemnation of the sinner," he thought. "What a hopeless, joyless outlook for the one brought face to face with this statement as it is usually interpreted.

His thoughts went back to sermons he had heard when singing in church choirs, and under other circumstances, in which condemnation seemed to be the keynote, and anything tending to show God's tender love for His children, His willingness to forgive, to leave a door open for the return of the prodigal, seemed only an afterthought.

"How," he used to think, "am I to love God, when I am told to fear Him? Can one love what or whom he fears? I can't. I am told He is my Father in heaven, but if I feared my father upon earth, I couldn't love him."

 

The Personification of Evil

He was told in those days of the fearful punishment awaiting the sinner who did not repent and ask forgiveness. He was told his Father in heaven not only sanctioned but dictated this punishment; that He maintained a heaven for the rewarding of the obedient and a hell for the punishment of the disobedient. He Himself ruled in heaven, but He turned hell over to the dictates of the devil, a personification of evil whom He either would not or could not control.

This man had, in his boyhood days, heard much more about hell and the devil than he had about heaven and God, the theory seeming to be that the fear of punishment would make him and his fellow pupils good and obedient.

Mrs. Eddy points out this fallacy very clearly in the textbook, where she says (p. 322), "A man who likes to do wrong - finding pleasure in it and refraining from it only through fear of consequences - is neither a temperate man nor a reliable religionist."

Oh, yes - that roadside signboard! When the bus in which this man was riding, and reading as he rode, came closer - in fact, was almost upon it - he saw there were other words, at the bottom, but very small - somewhat like that sermon afterthought of which I spoke earlier.

They read, in quite small, apologetic-looking letters, "but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Yes, "The wages of sin is death" - that was shouted. But the reward for those who are not sinners, or for those who repent and turn from their wrongdoing, was whispered.

Mrs. Eddy, as I pointed out before, teaches that salvation is universal as well as individual; that man is not a mortal steeped in sin; that despite theological teachings his is not in reality a short span of life, in which he either wins an eternal reward or is sentenced to eternal punishment; that, instead, as spiritual man he has all eternity in which to realize his perfection as already established; that the sinner is punished only so long as he clings to his sin; that God does not punish anybody - the sin punishes the sinner.

 

Cannot Continue Sinning

Do not mistake her teaching where sin is concerned. Her purpose is to show its nothingness, it is true, but also the sinner's need for repentance and reformation ere he can gain his freedom from it, and the resultant punishment for it. He cannot go on sinning.

Hear these words from the Christian Science textbook (p. 339): "A sinner can receive no encouragement from the fact that Science demonstrates the unreality of evil, for the sinner would make a reality of sin, - would make that real which is unreal, and thus heap up 'wrath against the day of wrath.' He is joining in a conspiracy against himself, - against his own awakening to the awful unreality by which he has been deceived. Only those who repent of sin and forsake the unreal, can fully understand the unreality of evil."

In my early reading of the textbook, I derived great encouragement and help from the realization that here is a reasonable and reassuring teaching about the punishment of and for sin; that the sinner is punished so long as he sins, but that God - that God whom Christ Jesus presented to us as a loving Father - does not punish the sinner.

In teaching a Christian Science Sunday School class of young boys, and in seeking to make clear this point, I said: "Suppose some boy you knew had been sentenced to be whipped for something he had done which was wrong. Suppose you knew he was guilty, but, from a sense of stubbornness, you clung to him and brought your body between him and the lash. The punishment would fall on you, would it not?" They acknowledged that it would.

 

Guilty One Is Punished

I continued: "Then suppose you suddenly awakened to the foolishness of what you were doing, separated yourself from him, and got out of the way of the lash. Then it would fall where it should, and you no longer would suffer."

They saw this clearly.

I said: "When you cling to wrongdoing, you share in the whipping intended for it. Completely separating yourself from wrongdoing, the punishment no longer falls upon you; it reaches the real culprit, the wrongdoing itself."

Perhaps another modern parable or illustration could be used at this point to make this matter a bit clearer. Suppose there is a man engaged in a business or a profession who has a twisted sense of mathematics which he has carried into his business or his profession. This is not the fault of the principle of mathematics, which of course knows nothing about his mistaken sense of things. His business gets into a terrible tangle and is approaching failure because of this.

Now would you say that the principle of mathematics is punishing him for failure to follow its rules, or would you say that failure to follow the rules of mathematics is punishing him?

 

 

 

Salvation of Mankind

The salvation of all mankind from sin and its effects was the mission of Christ Jesus, which Mrs. Eddy makes so clear in Science and Health.

Our Leader has shown us that in order to get rid of evil in all its forms we need to gain the true concept of God and Christ and man, and their relationship to each other. She teaches the omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience of God, good, and that man possesses this good by reflection.

Omnipotence! That means all-power, does it not? Omnipresence! That means all-presence! Omniscience! That means all-wisdom!

Then, since all these belong to God - and are reflected by man - what power, presence, and wisdom are left for evil to exercise in defiance of God and against man? The ever-presence of God, good, means the never-presence of evil. The all-power of God, good, means the powerlessness of evil. The all-wisdom of God, good, means the blind ignorance of evil.

Does not this logical process of reasoning reduce evil to its native state of nothingness?

A man with whom I was well acquainted had been endeavoring to quit drinking, but was making very poor headway. He was in a business where many people offered to buy him drinks, and it seemed so difficult to refuse. He had not realized what hold drink had gained on him until he tried to quit it. He also was suffering from nervous indigestion, a hot temper, and a tendency to explosive profanity.

 

Gets Christian Science Textbook

Along about this time, he bought his first copy of the Christian Science textbook and began reading it. He had seen the good effects of Christian Science upon the lives of his friends. He determined to give it a trial. He very soon discovered that he, not Christian Science, was on trial.

He soon began to reap the benefits of taking into his consciousness such statements as that on page 340 of the textbook: "One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations;

constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself;' annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, - whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man; and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed."

He dimly realized that he mistakenly had been making an idol, a false god, of the liquor he drank - attributing to it power it did not and could not possess. He had entertained no delusions as to beer being a temperance drink, a drink of moderation. He knew better - and from experience, he knew it would take more than an act of Congress to make it harmless, because he had been harmed by it.

About ten days after beginning his absorbed reading of the textbook, he found himself walking past saloon doors and not even realizing they were there. When he dropped in one afternoon with some of his associates to get a sandwich from the lunch counter, he found himself, his sandwich, and his glass of buttermilk hemmed in on one side by a big stein of imported beer and on the other by a mixed drink, both of which be had relished in the past.

 

 

 

He Finds Himself Healed

He discovered, to his astonishment, that he not only did not want either one, but was unable to remember what either one tasted like. He found himself healed of the nervous indigestion, the profanity, and the tendency to become intensely angry.

Friends, that was more than thirty-five years ago, and the healings have been permanent.

Did I say I knew this man well? There is nobody in the world I know better.

What had occurred here? Well, his human consciousness had yielded in some measure to the consciousness of the Christ, Truth, which had animated Jesus, but which was available to mankind even before his day, and is available to us now. Mrs. Eddy has defined the "Christ" as "the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (Science and Health, p. 583).

Yes, this understanding of God and Christ and man and their relationships to each other, as it unfolded in his consciousness, had destroyed the error of his flesh - but had not destroyed him.

Thus was illustrated to him the mission of the Christ as defined by Jesus himself, and this definition provides the central text which inspired this lecture. It is: "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:17).

 

Jesus Did Not Condemn

Jesus exemplified on many occasions his attitude regarding salvation as opposed to condemnation.In this connection it is interesting to note that the word translated "sin" in our modern versions of the Scriptures had as one of its meanings in the original language "missing the mark," and so when Jesus forgave sin he could be interpreted as saying, "Your mistakes are forgiven." In the eighth chapter of John, when the scribes and the Pharisees brought to him a woman taken in sin and endeavored to entrap him in the intricacies of their interpretation of the law, Jesus in his gentle way forced each of them to see his own sins of omission and commission, and one by one these men vanished, leaving the woman standing before our Master. He established the fact that no man had condemned her, and then he dismissed her with this loving thought; "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."

In the ninth chapter of Matthew, Jesus said to the man sick of the palsy: "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins [thy mistakes] be forgiven thee." When those about him murmured against Jesus for this, Jesus demonstrated that "the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins" by commanding the man to take up his bed and go to his home, and the man was healed. In these instances of Jesusí healings, he did not condemn; he pointed the way of salvation, proving that God had sent His Son, the Christ, into the world to save the world, but not to condemn it.

 

Figurative Language of the Bible

Since the discovery of Christian Science and its presentation to the world, less and less has been heard about hell and eternal punishment. Literally-minded people of the past, in their reading of the Bible, have apparently overlooked a vital point: that is, that the Bible was written by an Oriental people accustomed to a highly figurative mode of expression who did not expect their metaphoric presentations to be taken literally. The word-pictures of heaven found in the Bible are likewise figurative.

Mrs. Eddy defines heaven in the textbook thus (p. 291): "Heaven is not a locality, but a divine state of Mind in which all the manifestations of Mind are harmonious and immortal, because sin is not there and man is found having no righteousness of his own, but in possession of 'the mind of the Lord' as the Scripture says."

Throughout Science and Health and her other writings, Mrs. Eddy has uniformly used the word "heaven" and its derivatives to designate a harmonious state of consciousness. She has spoken of "home" in the highest metaphysical sense as "heaven."

It might be asked at this point where Mrs. Eddy finds her authority for this interpretation of heaven which, according to the religious teachings of our day and past generations, is supposed to be located somewhere in the regions above us.

 

Jesus Refers to Heaven

Jesus in his preaching to the people of his day said that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4:17). The Scripture refers to Jesus as "preaching the gospel of God" (Mark 1:14). He spoke of the evildoer as being unable to enter into the kingdom of heaven. He advised the people to seek first the kingdom of God.

Jesus said plainly, as recorded in the seventeenth chapter of Luke's Gospel, that heaven is not a locality or place. The twentieth and twenty-first verses of that chapter read: "and when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation; neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." In other words, the kingdom of God (or heaven) is not a locality. You cannot point it out as being either here or there, for the kingdom of God (or heaven) is the manifestation of divine Mind, the reflection of ever-present Love and Truth.

As I stated before, the figurative language of the writers of the Bible has presented a lurid picture of hell which clear thinkers have come to reject. If heaven is not a locality, then neither is hell. It, too, is a state of consciousness, and the individual can come to recognize this through his knowing God as a God of loving-kindness and of justice.

 

Revelation Brings Healing

The revelation of this conception of hell has worked wonders in the case of many persons suffering from severe claims of illness or disease who have come to Christian Science for healing. Christian Science practitioners have found that often these illnesses, which seemingly had arisen mysteriously, had their cause in deep-seated fears implanted in consciousness through early teachings involving the concepts of eternal punishment. Healings have followed the elimination of these fears.

As an illustration of the evil effects of the teachings regarding predestination and punishment as an integral part of religion we might point to one of Mrs. Eddy's own experiences as a young child. In her father's earnest and sincere desire to impress upon his gentle little daughter the theology in which he believed so conscientiously, he made such an impression on her that she became very ill with a fever. Her father thought that she was dying. Mrs. Eddy has said of what followed: "My mother, as she bathed my burning temples, bade me lean on God's love, which would give me rest, if I went to Him in prayer, as I was wont to do, seeking His guidance. I prayed; and a soft glow of ineffable joy came over me. The fever was gone, and I rose and dressed myself, in a normal condition of health. Mother saw this, and was glad. The physician marvelled; and the 'horrible decree' of predestination - as John Calvin rightly called his own tenet -forever lost its power over me" (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 13).

Mrs. Eddy, in her comparatively infrequent references to hell in her writings, makes it plain that the good person makes his own heaven by doing right, and the sinner his own hell by doing evil. She says on page 266 of Science and Health: "Perfect and infinite Mind enthroned is heaven. The evil beliefs which originate in mortals are hell." In further substantiation of her vision on this subject, which has proved so revolutionary in its effects upon religious teachings, she says: "Sin makes its own hell, and goodness its own heaven" (Science and Health, p. 186).

 

Punishment Is Self-inflicted

In her Message to The Mother Church for 1901 (p. 17), Mrs. Eddy amplifies a phrase in her definition of hell in the Glossary of the textbook - "self-imposed agony" - by giving to the world this view: "The present self-inflicted sufferings of mortals from sin, disease, and death should suffice so to awaken the sufferer from the mortal sense of sin and mind in matter as to cause him to return to the Father's house penitent and saved; yea, quickly to return to divine Love, the author and finisher of our faith, who so loved even the repentant prodigal - departed from his better self and struggling to return - as to meet the sad sinner on his way and to welcome him home."

Mrs. Eddy has made it very plain that an all-good God could not do to His children that for which a human parent would be justly punished for inflicting upon his offspring. She asks in the textbook this very pertinent question (p 386): "Does divine Love commit a fraud on humanity by making man inclined to sin, and then punishing him for it?" At the top of the very next page she answers this question in such a way as to leave no doubt as to her convictions on the subject. She says, "In common justice, we must admit that God will not punish man for doing what He created man capable of doing, and knew from the outset that man would do."

Another terrifying teaching of earlier days, which Christian Science is helping the world to see in a different and better light, was that concerning "the end of the world" or "judgment day." Many have been the predictions by self-ordained prophets who have set the year, the day, and sometimes the hour or the moment of such an end, but the world has gone right along about its affairs nevertheless. The material universe is a false concept of God's spiritual universe, including man, the only universe there is. In the degree we understand this truth, the false concept disappears.

 

End of World Pictured

The generally accepted picture of the end of the world was one luridly lit up with flames. A group of small boys was playing in a pasture at the edge of a little town in western Ohio a number of years ago, as the shades of night were falling. One of these boys straightened up from some activity that had interested him and looked off into the north. He called to the others in great excitement to look, and they saw along the horizon flames of many colors, predominantly red, which seemed to wave and flicker in the breeze. They were greatly alarmed, and their alarm was not lessened by recollections of a fairly recent sermon and subsequent talks on the subject of "judgment day." They were pretty certain that this event was about to come upon them, and so they took out full tilt for home, to crawl under mother's bed, a child's idea of the safest place in the world.

These youngsters did not pause to admire the beauty of this manifestation of the aurora, or "northern lights," as they came to know this phenomenon later on.No, they were robbed of this because of their great terror. This is a true story. I know, because I was one of those small boys and probably crawled the farthest back under my mother's bed because of the scare I had received. Mrs. Eddy has made it plain that we need fear no such experience as a calamitous end of the world. She has shown us that every time a temptation or any other phase of error or evil comes up in our experience that is judgment day for that error. We have our opportunity to reject this temptation and make it "the end of the world" for it.

 

No Final Judgment Day

Mrs. Eddy's very clear statement about this appears in the textbook where she says (p. 291): "No final judgment awaits mortals, for the judgment-day of wisdom comes hourly and continually, even the judgment by which mortal mind is divested of all material error. As for spiritual error there is none."

What a debt of gratitude the world owes Mrs. Eddy for her clear perception of the complete goodness of God and His deep and enduring love for all His children. His love is manifested in unerring justice and truth. Mrs. Eddy has made clear to us that we must reverse the claims of error. In her work "Unity of Good" she has a short article headed "Rectifications" wherein she makes plain how evil through three misstatements seems to come into authority (p. 20): "First: The Lord created it. Second: The Lord knows it. Third: I am afraid of it." Then she shows how to rectify these misstatements by reversal and so dethrone error; "First: God never made evil. Second: He knows it not. Third: We therefore need not fear it."

 

Evil's Nothingness Revealed

There are so many unjust condemnations laid upon man which Christian Science is enabling us to annul. Through Mrs. Eddy's teachings the world is being healed of these things and brought into a happier and more harmonious sense of Life and its manifestations.

Illustrating the activity of Christian Science in annulling unjust and false condemnations, there is the case of a friend of mine who quite a number of years ago was suffering from tuberculosis. She was told by kindly physicians that she must no longer live in the city which had been her home for many years, because of the climate, it being alternately hot and dry, cold and wet. The condemnation of heredity also had been laid upon her because her father had passed on from the same disease. She was told that her strength was gone and that she would not be able to hold a position demanding much of her. And so she went to the far southwestern section of the country because the physician said that she would live longer there.

She knew nothing about Christian Science and had nothing with which to combat the fears and the worries and the anxieties which now were her almost constant companions. She took a room in a cottage sanatorium conducted by a registered trained nurse, who had another patient at the other end of the house who was under the same condemnation. After a time she noted that this other woman was sitting up, then taking automobile rides, and then going out for walks, and she wanted to know what it was all about.She learned that this person had turned to Christian Science for healing.

 

Treatment (or Prayer) Applied

My friend obtained the name and address of the practitioner on the case and telegraphed for help. The practitioner at once began realizing that all that existed in this case was perfect God and perfect man - that man who, as Paul says (Acts 17:28), lives, moves, and has his being in God, who gives him life, and breath, and all things (Acts 17:25). The lies of climate, place, heredity, infection, contagion, and all of the other beliefs inherent in this thought of disease were denied vigorously.

Just about the time the telegram reached this practitioner, my friend got out of bed and demanded food. The nurse put her back to bed and brought her beef tea. She wanted beefsteak and insisted upon having it. But she found the only way she could get the solid food her changed condition of mind and body demanded was to leave that place and go where she would be free to do as she felt best herself. And so she left the little sanatorium. A few days later the physician, who had occasionally dropped in to see her, came and asked permission to give her a physical examination. X-ray photographs had indicated a serious condition which he said he wanted to check up on. To his astonishment he found no such condition. It had been absolutely annulled through Christian Science treatment, and had disappeared. My friend wrote the practitioner to say that she had been told that if she went back to the climate of her home town she would return to the Southwest in very short order in much worse condition than when she had left home. The practitioner wrote back: "Climate did not make you sick. Climate has not made you well. Climate cannot make you sick again. As the image and likeness of God, you express perfect health and strength and harmony. These always have been yours, and forever will be. It is this realization which has healed you completely and finally."

 

The Very Picture of Health

She soon returned to her home and not long thereafter accepted a very responsible position as secretary of an oil company, and never missed one day's work in twelve years time. Now here was an instantaneous healing of what is generally considered an incurable disease. This friend of mine is now, many years after this healing, the very picture of health, expressing strength and harmony and happiness, the last person on earth one would think had ever been afflicted with any such claim of disease. She is a busy, successful Christian Science practitioner in one of our western cities, and I have her permission to tell of her healing because of the good we both feel it will do.

This book, the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, which I have picked up often during this lecture and to which I have referred many times, contains the full revelation of Christian Science to this age. It is available in public libraries, in bookstores, or in Christian Science Reading Rooms. This book is invaluable to mankind, for it teaches men how to pray understandingly, and thus how to dissolve their problems. It teaches mankind the prayer of confidence - the prayer of confident affirmation - as well as the prayer of supplication. It has taught the world that they have a right to turn to God with the fullest confidence in the availability and power of His law and His willingness to help in time of need.

 

Truly the Key to the Scriptures

That this textbook is truly the key to the Scriptures is discovered by those who turn to it daily in their study of the Christian Science Bible Lessons issued each quarter of the year. Passages from this textbook and the King James Version of the Scriptures are studied earnestly and are found to be correlated and explanatory of each other. The one-time often-repeated assertion that Christian Scientists are a Bibleless people has been proved false. They are indeed earnest Bible students. They are proving in ever larger measure God's loving-kindness and mercy through their study and application of the truths learned thereby.

 

[Published in The Marion County Mail of Indianapolis, Indiana, in February, 1948.]

 

 

HOME PAGE††††††††††††††† INDEX OF LECTURES