Christian Science: Its Practice and Proof

 

Florence Middaugh, C.S.

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

Mankind is faced with problems today that need to be solved. Christian Science explains Jesus' method of solving them by recognizing divine Mind as the only intelligence, and that Truth succeeds where error must always fail, and that nothing can bring right results but right motives, spiritual consciousness, and a complete dependence upon God. The world is asking for a way out of its difficulties, and it is asking for something that only the understanding of God, Spirit, can give.

Christian Science is teaching mankind the difference between material development and spiritual growth. It is turning thought from the contemplation of relief in matter to the attainment of harmony in Spirit. The pursuit of material development comes from a false concept of God, conceived by the material senses the five physical senses, that testify to a material personality and mind in matter.

Spiritual growth is not dependent upon material education, vocational training, personal influence, opportunity, prestige, or wealth. It is the unfoldment of spiritual ideas in human consciousness. It is the awakening from material beliefs to an understanding of God. It is a mental process, involving thoughts not things, and can be realized here and now.

In one of the most remarkable books ever written this arresting statement is made, "The time for thinkers has come." Some may wonder why such a statement should be made when the world has always had good thinkers, even spiritually-minded men and women who have grasped something of the fundamentals of spiritual creation, not only as separate from materiality, but essentially the only reality,

 

'The Time for Thinkers Has Come'

When Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, in the beginning of her textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," wrote (Pref. p. vii), "The time for thinkers has come," is there any doubt but that she meant that spiritual thinking is the only real thinking there is?

The aim of universities and colleges is to train men and women to think logically and consistently. Multitudinous and various are the sources and provisions for education, in an effort on the part of mankind to improve conditions through enlightened thinking, but too little attention in education is given to spiritual thinking. On page 195 of "Science and Health" we read "Academics of the right sort are requisite. Observation, invention, study, and original thought are expansive and should promote the growth of mortal mind out of itself, out of all that is mortal." Here is the standard by which one may decide which academics are of the right sort. Do they promote the growth of mortal mind out of itself?

Human logic and reasoning are elements of this mortal mind, this carnal mind, which the Bible tells us is "enmity against God." Spiritual thinking is the manifestation of divine Mind, expressed in true thoughts, or ideas. Since man is the idea of God, all that he knows that is real or true consists of an understanding of God, and the real man can express only true thoughts, or ideas.

The effort of education to endow matter with intelligence and power must be recognized as futile. There is no element of progress in exchanging one false belief for another, and whatever is learned about matter or through material sense must be exchanged for a knowledge of God, the spiritual facts of being in Science.

Because of erroneous conceptions about Christian Science, some may hesitate to accept its teachings. One may have formed a false concept by accepting a prejudiced opinion that would misrepresent the teachings of Christian Science either through ignorance or malice. Then, too, because the name is new, some may believe that its teachings are new, and different from the Christianity presented in the Bible, and taught by Jesus to his disciples. Many of the vital elements of this demonstrable Christianity had been lost to the world, or considered impractical. Among other things, Mrs. Eddy has restored the healing of disease, and has revealed that it was a natural, spiritual law which governed the so-called miracles of Jesus. She proved, and students of Christian Science all over the world are proving, that this divine law, governing every activity of man, is just as potent today, and just as ever-operative as in Jesus' time.

 

Christian Science Proves Allness of God

Christian Science is fundamentally based upon the Biblical declarations in both the Old and the New Testaments, that God is the only creator, and that everything He made is good. It proclaims and proves the allness of God, good, and the nothingness of evi1.

Christian Science teaches that since evil is nothing, claiming to be something, it is destroyed by a recognition of its unreality. This recognition comes with a comprehension that God is the only creator, and that this creation consists only of good. It, likewise, accepts the Biblical teaching that man was created in God's image and likeness, the likeness of Spirit, not matter. Christian Science is best understood by a thorough study of its textbook. It invites you to approach the problems that confront you from an entirely different viewpoint and one from which they can be solved. As one studies this textbook, the unreality of evil should become evident to him, and as the allness of God is unfolded, the revelation of Truth appears. Each one may begin at once to prove this for himself, with its inevitable good results.

Mankind is too likely to judge progress by material results, and believe that material development is necessary for spiritual growth. It is said that Sir Isaac Newton, in the latter years of his life, compared himself to a little child who had been playing on the beach with pretty shells, making sand castles, when the vast ocean lay before him unexplored.

The earnest inquirer may ask, "How can I begin to distinguish between material knowledge and divine Science?" Mrs. Eddy explains that "the starting-point of divine Science is that God, Spirit, is All-in-all, and that there is no other might nor Mind, that God is Love, and therefore He is divine Principle" (S&H p. 275). Is it not quite evident, then, that the great need of mankind is to know and understand God?

Men depend entirely upon mathematical calculations, from the making of a box to the building of a bridge. When they realize that the law governing numbers points to the invariable and perfect law of God, which governs man and the universe, they will find that they can rely upon this Principle to solve every problem of whatever nature that may confront them, and be just as sure of right results.

 

 

Man Governed by Rules of Perfection

Thus we learn that when we identify ourselves with Principle, we are able to prove that we are governed by fixed rules of perfection, which hold man forever inseparable from divine Principle, God.

When Jesus declared, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," was he not making a positive declaration that man is already as perfect as the Mind that created him? Christian Science makes it clear that perfect God and perfect man is the basis of demonstration and healing, and that one needs to start, continue, and finish with this perfect divine Principle in order to know anything of the true nature of God and man.

Jesus began in early youth to prove and make practical the truths contained in the Bible. As a young boy of twelve he tarried in the temple with the doctors and wise men, asking and answering questions that astounded them. Of his life, from that time until his baptism by John, we know little, except that he "increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." It is recorded that when he came out of the water, he heard a voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," and immediately after he was led into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. He must have recognized then the mission that was his, and he was tried from every angle as to the best way to fulfill this mission. One by one he rejected all material methods and means, and accepted Spirit as the only power and authority. It was then he began his three years' healing ministry.

When we are faced with trials and temptations, let us remember that Jesus met and mastered, through the power of God, every form of evil which mortal mind might promulgate. Do not be deceived into believing that the problem which faces you is just a little different, and more difficult than that which anyone else has to meet. Personal sense would individualize evil, and personify the devil, which gives it all the power it seems to have to harm you or anyone else.

By demonstrating every step of the way out of mortality into immortality, Jesus has given us an irrefutable example for our instruction and guidance, we who accept Christ Jesus as the way-shower, should really make his teachings a guide and example for daily living.

What may we assume that Jesus comprehended when he heard the voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased"? His own teachings would never allow the assumption that he considered the human Jesus the Son of God. Did he not behold the only real man spiritual man, distinct and separate from a material concept as the idea of God? Perhaps it was during these forty days in the wilderness that he realized there could be no compromise, but a complete separation between the so-called material man and spiritual man. When he saw himself as a spiritual idea, at one with God, he never again recognized a material man as a reality, but consistently maintained his divine Sonship, even until he rose above all mortality

One of the definitions of "Wilderness" given in the Glossary of Science and Health (p. 597), reads as follows: "the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence." Thus we find that Jesus proved his unbroken unity with God. He revealed the Christ, as the spiritual manifestation of divine Love. The human Jesus vanished from sight after he ascended, but the Christ is present today, as then, and dwells with man to reveal his God-bestowed heritage of completeness and perfection. Christian Science makes it plain that mortal man is no part of this real, this spiritual man.

 

Mrs. Eddy Found Unfailing Law of God

The belief that Jesus was the only one upon whom this Christ-spirit is bestowed has certainly not been based upon anything that he has said regarding it. During his ministry and teachings he emphatically pointed out that everything he said or did was to enable us to follow his example to prove our divine sonship as he did. "That where I am, there ye may be also" describes in his own words the import of his mission, and the thing he suffered to give to us. Perhaps his greatest sorrow was caused by the thought that mankind might misinterpret his mission.

A number of years ago, in our own time, a little girl enjoyed the close companionship of her grandmother, who was a spiritually-minded woman. One day her grandmother was telling her about the early American settlers, who desired freedom of religion. "What is religion?" Mary Baker asked, and little did she know that one day she would give to the world the final revelation of the Scriptures, by which the Bible, in the light of this spiritual illumination, "healeth all thy diseases"!

During her girlhood she glimpsed some of the truths of the Bible, of which she was an absorbed student, and experienced the healing power of God, proving His loving care and protection. For instance, once, when she suffered from a fever, she was encouraged by her mother to ask God to make her well. She asked, believing, and was healed. So she, too, early began her search for spiritual truths, and to learn more about God. It was her persistence in this guest that led to her discovery of Christian Science, and the ever-present healing power of God, as taught and demonstrated by Jesus. She spent many years as an invalid, but was restored to health through the realization of the power of Mind, and was able to refute the fatality of a serious accident, which neither surgery nor materia medica could reach. At first she could not explain what had happened, but she was determined to share this discovery with all mankind with all who were willing and ready to receive it. She knew that she had found the truth, the law of Life, the unfailing law of God, that is ever present and operative for all, which governs the universe and man in perfect harmony.

 

Fruits of Christian Science Everywhere

One may ask, "How can I know that I have found the truth in Christian Science?" Obviously, by its fruits. One has but to look about him today to see the results of Christian Science. One cannot fail to see the fruits if he is willing to look, and wants to see. Thousands of testimonies, both verbal and printed, every day, pour forth from grateful hearts, for there is no part of the Christianized world today where the light of this truth does not shine. The Bible has been illumined, and has become the textbook it rightly should be. It has been brought into active use in thousands of homes. Mrs. Eddy declares (Mis. p. 363) that "the Bible is the learned man's masterpiece, the ignorant man's dictionary, the wise man's directory." No one can honestly say today that the Bible is a closed book to him, for we have been given the "Key" which opens its treasures to all who may choose to look for them.

One of the familiar stories of the Old Testament is the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem by Nehemiah. In order to complete the wall of defense which he and his helpers had undertaken to rebuild, it was necessary for them to maintain courage, perseverance, steadfastness to purpose, and a determination that the work would go forward in spite of any obstacle that might present itself. Had they listened for one moment to the suggestions of failure, or yielded to its influence they, and the wall too, would have been destroyed. We may safely imply that Nehemiah felt that obedience to God's law was even more important than the accuracy of the construction of the material wall of protection. It is true that what one builds of a material structure is of little account unless character is being built at the same time.

At a period when the average person seriously considers retirement from business activity Mary Baker Eddy began her remarkable work of rebuilding the wall of Christianity, which had been impaired by the storms of the ages. Under divine guidance and inspiration she wrote the textbook of Christian Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which was given to her through spiritual revelation, step by step, during three years of consecrated devotion to this purpose, to the exclusion of all else. Still turning to God to direct her every activity, she founded the church that would bring this truth within reach of all mankind; established a Publishing Society for the printing and distribution of a weekly, and a monthly magazine; taught metaphysical classes; and, at a time when most people lose all interest in activity of any kind, and focus their expectation on a future reward, she was led to establish an international daily newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor. This gives you some idea of what kind of thinker she was, and to what kind of thinking she referred when she said, "The time for thinkers has come."

 

Jesus Used Parables to Teach Lessons

The same suggestions of evil tried to stop the work she was doing that tried to make Nehemiah cease building the wall of Jerusalem, and come down. She carried the needed weapons for protection in one hand and built with the other, even as the workers did then. She knew that her "weapons" were not "carnal," but the word of God, which is "quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword." We can be grateful for these examples of steadfastness to purpose that have been given us.

I think Jesus' favorite method of painting a picture, and pointing a lesson, must have been the parable, for he used it so often. Probably one of the most familiar of his parables is "The Good Samaritan." Neighborliness is a part of that universal language of Love which is understood and appreciated wherever and by whomever it may be expressed. I think we are justified in considering this parable the most complete and comprehensive story ever written on the subject, and one which the world very much needs to think about today.

Jesus clearly and distinctly rebukes the false standard of class and caste, preaching without precept, creeds and rituals, and recommends impartial Love, universal kindness, and consideration for the welfare of others. He implies that it is not always the question, "who is my neighbor?" but, "To whom can I show myself a neighbor?"

To love one's neighbor as oneself means to see him as God sees him, and think of him only in terms of good. It means looking beyond the evidences of the material senses, discarding the counterfeit for the real. Christian Science teaches that we may minister to everyone upon whom our thoughts rest by lifting our thought about them away from the mortal concept to the perfect idea of God.

It is not difficult to imagine what the world would be today if each individual held a scientific, hence a loving attitude towards his neighbor. There would be no more war, unfair competition, or mismanagement of business or government. There would be one common interest, and the kingdom of righteousness would reign on earth, as it does in heaven.

While men have worked individually and collectively through the ages for the cause of peace on earth, yet the majority have consistently looked upon the kingdom of heaven as something to be reached or attained in some future state of existence.

Men of ideals and humanitarian motives look with apprehension upon the chaotic world conditions today. They deplore the ignorance, lawlessness, and hatred that impel the cruelty, and merciless destruction of human rights and lives. Yet a close analysis reveals that the world condition is but the aggregate manifestation of these evil traits indulged in individual thinking.

When one earnestly and honestly seeks to know what is his part in helping to improve national and international affairs, he must realize that first and last, just as in his own business, his work lies in his own right thinking. His part is to start and continue with scientific right thinking within his own consciousness.

Proportionately as he ejects erroneous conclusions from his own thinking his immediate affairs improve. His business, his family, and other human relationships are benefited, and his scientific right thinking becomes an active factor for the betterment of his community, the nation of which he is a citizen and, in its measure, inevitably a healing influence in world affairs.

No one can rightfully feel that his part is too small or unimportant, for we each have not only our part, but a duty to ourselves and all mankind. One may say that his business and world conditions give him a sense of uncertainty, unrest, fear, and worry, while actually it is his sense of uncertainty, unrest, fear, and worry that is contributing to the undesirable conditions in the world today.

The Apostle James, out of the richness of his own experience, declared with conviction, "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you." We are drawing nigh to God when we seek a better understanding of Him.

In the Christian Science textbook, Prayer is the first chapter. Thus we may reasonably assume that Mrs. Eddy recognized that one needs first to draw nigh to God through prayer, in a desire to know and understand Him. Among other things in this chapter we are reminded that the struggle to be good is prayer. This is somewhat different from the ordinary concept of petition or a rehearsal of human needs, we learn also that if our prayers are sincere, we labor for what we ask. This, then, is the need of mankind to learn to practice prayer. Our work is not finished with the offering of prayers; we must follow by putting them into practice, if we really want them to be answered. It is inconsistent and ineffectual to ask for one thing, and practice another.

A man and his wife, students of Christian Science, decided that their business and financial success justified their moving into a larger and better home. Shortly after they had moved, the husband's salary was cut, and they concluded they had made a mistake, and began to retrace the steps they had taken, which, at the time, had seemed to them to be progress. But conditions only grew worse, and their supply was cut off in other directions. Now these earnest people began to see that there needed to be some adjustment in their thinking about supply.

As they worked over the problem they recognized that curtailment, although sometimes humanly necessary, was an element of lack while praying for a right understanding of abundance. When they had reversed this false reasoning, the husband's salary was restored, with the deductions refunded. And when they were again established in the new home, an additional and unexpected source of income opened up.

 

How We May Practice Prayer

We can begin right where we are to practice prayer by refusing to voice error or claim for ourselves the things we do not wish to manifest. What a cheerful round of conversation this old world would enjoy if this were universally observed! Just check up on yourself for one day, and see how many declarations concerning your body, your business, your home, and so on, you make that you are really desirous of eliminating, rather than manifesting in your experience. And then see how many times you can resist the temptation to voice evil, and deny its false suggestions by declaring good.

Asking God for material things could come under the classification given in the Bible as "vain repetition," for there is nothing in Spirit out of which matter could be made. If one longs for abundance, more love, more joy, he may humanly plan how he thinks he can obtain them perhaps by more financial security, better health, congenial companions, interesting work, and so on. But so long as he believes that love, joy, happiness, health, and supply are to be found in material conditions he will never really find them. As soon as he realizes that they are spiritual qualities, which he has a present ability to express, he will begin to claim them as his rightful heritage, and as he does this they are inevitably brought into his human experience. When he learns that man expresses these qualities, independent of matter, he will know that no condition of matter can give them to him or take them away from him. We may improve material conditions by spiritual thinking, but spiritual thinking is not gained through improved material conditions.

Every discord or inharmony, be it physical, mental, or financial, can be classified as some form of limitation. If, at first, this sounds like too drastic a statement, let us analyze it. Webster defines "infinite" as "without limits of any kind." Is it not plain that physical inharmony claims to limit the activity of the body? Every phase of wrong reasoning would limit the accomplishment of good in some direction, based mostly upon the assumption that each one has a limited amount of health, happiness, activity, or supply portioned out to him, and when he has used it up, it is depleted. One may believe that he has used his share and he should not expect to have any more. It is through the infinitude of divine Mind that limits are denied and broken. The antidote for the fear of, and the belief in, limitation, obviously is the understanding that God is infinite, limitless, and that the inexhaustible good which He continuously supplies for His children can never be diminished, used up, or overdrawn.

 

God Places No Limitation on Man

I know a young boy who, a number of years ago, was seized with what is called infantile paralysis, and was faced with the argument that his physical activities could be greatly limited. A large portion of his body became immovable, and distorted. This little boy had been a student in the Christian Science Sunday School for two years, and had learned some of the truths of divine Mind taught there that refuted such false arguments. A practitioner was called, and the mother clung to the statement of truth in the Bible that came to her, "The Lord . . . maketh the devices of the people of none effect." When, after a few days, there was great improvement, the child insisted that whatever degree of activity he was able to express, would be without any assistance. As he put it, "I want to use what I have." He maintained that God wanted him to move, and that mortal mind could not keep him from moving. Within a week he was healed and normally active, and today is a robust, healthy boy.

God never places limitations of any kind upon His idea, man. In proving this spiritual fact, the only change that takes place is in human consciousness. A false belief is exchanged for a true concept; material knowledge is exchanged for spiritual understanding. In breaking down limitations, let us remember we are dealing with thoughts, beliefs, and that when the wrong reasoning has been exchanged for right thinking, the results are manifested in our outward experiences. In working to overcome lack of health, contentment, supply, and so on, let us turn from the contemplation of the different phases of these conditions, and think more about the allness of God, and man's oneness with Him. Let us learn more about the real man, in order to detect the counterfeit and protect ourselves from it.

Why does it seem so difficult to detect the fraudulent nature of that which we call a mortal? Is it not because we have not learned to recognize the real man? I recently read an interesting article explaining the method of counterfeiting money, and how it might be detected. The author said that he had proved that the average citizen has only a very slight knowledge of genuine money, and when asked to describe it, for instance, as to distinguishing marks for different denominations, will fail nine times out of ten. That is why, he explains, one is so easily deceived by a counterfeit. "If you want to protect yourself against bad money, study good money," he advises. Thus the best way to protect oneself from the deception of the counterfeit man is to learn more about the real man.

What are some of the wrong thoughts that need to be exchanged for true ideas? Christian Science teaches that "the procuring cause and foundation of all sickness is fear, ignorance, or sin" (Science and Health, p. 411). Most of us know well the harmful results of sinful habits of thinking and we know too that ignorance must be replaced by understanding, but we may yet need to eliminate fear before a healing is accomplished. Over and over again, Mrs. Eddy reminds us that when fear is banished the case is healed, and that Love, divine Love, is the supreme and lasting remedy for all fear and its discordant effects. And so again, in order to recognize the fraudulent nature and powerlessness of fear we need learn more about Love, its all power and presence.

Sometimes the convenient excuse that one's understanding is too small to make these truths practical is only a postponement of that which one must eventually prove. The smallest grain of truth has more power than all the arguments of evil put together for all time. We can do our part, and leave the increase to God. It is our willingness to use what we do understand that makes us receptive to larger unfoldment.

Let us learn to accept the testing times as opportunities to rise above error. I am reminded of a story of a man who was traveling in the Himalayas. He was watching a spectacular storm, and spied an eagle just as the fury of the tempest reached it. He expected him to be dashed about and thrown downward by the tumult, but, instead, he was amazed to see the eagle spread his wings, set himself, and use the force of the wind to carry him up and above it. He literally used the storm to rise higher.

Would you postpone, or turn aside, an opportunity to gain freedom and dominion over the claims of mortal sense? Would you be tossed about, in discouragement, fear, despair; or will you use the storm, as did the eagle, to carry you higher and higher into the atmosphere of peace and harmony? We can be grateful for the trials that come, if we have the wisdom to use them for this purpose. The more severe the trial is, the higher it can carry you, and the greater will be the overcoming.

When the storms of human experience approach, let us not try to plunge through them in an attempt to dispel them by material knowledge or development, but use them to lift us higher into the atmosphere of Spirit. If the fury of the tempest forces us to abandon material methods and seek divine guidance, then we can be grateful for these opportunities to rise higher.

 

Christian Science Is Demonstrable Religion

When one comprehends a truth in Christian Science, the opportunity to prove it often immediately follows; and this coincidence may be misunderstood, and not recognized as a blessing.

The understanding of Truth carries with it the responsibility for proving it, and the ability to make it our own; and this means progress. Behind each command of Truth is divine authority, and carries with it an attending blessing, when obeyed. Christian Science is a demonstrable religion, and unless one is willing to prove it, he will have little part in its practicability.

There often arises the argument that one is handicapped by past mistakes, environment, or training, what you think now is all that counts. What you know of Truth, and prove now, is the only important or necessary consideration. The history of error is as false today as it will be tomorrow, or was yesterday, and cannot touch the real man, who lives in eternity.

When you find something helpful in the Bible, or Mrs. Eddy's writings, or in the periodicals, or in a lecture, do you say, "why, that was just written for me; that just exactly is my case," and make yourself believe that this is enough? To have found the remedy is only the first step. To apply it, use it, means to receive the benefits and blessings promised therein. You must make it your own.

When Jesus had concluded the parable of "The Good Samaritan," he had answered the lawyer's question regarding his neighbor satisfactorily; even the lawyer must have recognized it as such. But Jesus added an individual responsibility to this recognition of truth. He reminded him to go and do likewise. But what of the first question the lawyer asked, the one which is in the thoughts of practically everyone today, as then: "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus gave him his answer in the first two commandments; "Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength; and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself;" but to this also he added another responsibility in order to really find the answer to his question; "This do, and thou shall live."

He who has read these two commandments and passed them by as impractical or too idealistic will find the very windows of heaven open to him if he takes them into his daily life and lets them solve his problems for him. The effort to understand, the struggle to prove, and the courage to maintain are so little to give when the reward is so rich and the blessings so great that await the desire and willingness to obey them: "This do, and thou shall live."

 

[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, May 24, 1946.]

 

 

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