Christian Science: Its Promise and Fulfillment
Florence Middaugh, C.S.B., of Los Angeles, California
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
All over the civilized world today men and women are turning to Christian Science because they find it answers their questions and solves problems that have baffled and restricted mankind for centuries. The solution to these problems and the correct answer to these questions have always been available, but men have failed to find them because they have not approached them from the correct standpoint.
Each of you has come to this lecture with a purpose. Some are seeking healing, some freedom from fear, worry, lack, and some come with a genuine desire to know and understand God.
This very willingness to approach these problems from a correct standpoint makes us all more receptive to Truth. It is not difficult to understand that whatever benefit we receive must come through our thinking. Christian Science is teaching mankind to think correctly.
Those who approach the problems confronting them with an honest desire to solve them by spiritual means will find comfort in the fact that there is always a right solution to every problem. Christian Science teaches us that the most satisfactory results are
obtained when one approaches a problem with a consciousness so free of human will and outlining that nothing can prevent the will of God becoming quickly manifested in human experience.
There is no problem facing mankind today that is not possible of solution, but in Christian Science problems are solved from the standpoint of Spirit, not matter. We can now see where our work lies. It is the spiritual attitude that counts, and we must eliminate from our consciousness all that is unlike God. This may seem a big task, but proceeding step by step we begin to recognize reality and to replace the beliefs of the flesh with the facts of Spirit. Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven is the gift of God. He said, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). Although the kingdom of heaven is the gift of God, it is necessary for us to utilize the gift, for the gift of God cannot be merely received; it must be actively practiced.
Today it is conceded by many thinking men and women that mankind's greatest need is a demonstrable religion, a guide to a satisfactory way of life. Such a religion is in our midst, and it is applicable to every human need. This guide is made available through the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and his healing ministry, revealed and elucidated in Christian Science, which has been given to the world by Mary Baker Eddy.
Students of Christian Science are devoutly grateful to Mrs. Eddy for her love and obedience to God that enabled her to become the revelator of Truth to this age. She discovered Truth, which reveals the Science of the healing and purifying power seen in the teachings of Jesus. Since we are here to gain a fuller understanding of Christian Science, let us turn our attention to what it really is. Mrs. Eddy defines it as "the law of God, the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony" (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 1).
What Is God?
To understand Christian Science as "the law of God, the law of good," we must know what God is; then we can more readily interpret and demonstrate "the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony."
Christian Science teaches us that God is omnipresent and omnipotent Love and that God and Love are one. The assurance that divine Love is ever present and all-powerful gives great comfort to each of us, for it quiets fear, dispels doubt, heals sickness, sin, discord, and sorrow. Mrs. Eddy says, "To understand God strengthens hope, enthrones faith in Truth, and verifies Jesus' word: 'Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world' " (Science and Health, p. 446).
For centuries men have tried to follow the teachings of Jesus, but have failed more often than they have succeeded because of their false concepts of God. The Scriptures declare that God is Life, Truth, and Love, and that He is All-in-all. Yet it was not until the Science of Christianity was discovered in Christian Science that men really understood God.
Christian Science reveals to mankind that its need, its very great need, is to define the gospel of life by living the Life which is God. One cannot do this unless he understands God and His spiritual universe, including man.
If we are to have an adequate pattern for daily living, we must love God and be aware of our relationship to Him. In Christian Science we understand God to be omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omniactive. Mrs. Eddy reveals Him as Life, Truth, Love, Spirit, Soul, Mind, Principle.
In gaining an understanding of God as the only cause and creator, the All-in-all, there is one word that is of great importance. Mrs. Eddy uses it but once in her Writings, but when understood in its full significance it brings a realization of perfection, harmony, and continued well-being to one who grasps its import. Even a slight understanding of its significance brings healing, supply, and guidance. The word is equipollence. In speaking of God's allness and the eternal verities that reveal "primeval existence as the radiant reality of God's creation," Mrs. Eddy says, "The equipollence of God brought to light another glorious proposition, - man's perfectibility and the establishment of the kingdom of heaven on earth" (Science and Health, p. 110).
The word equipollence is derived from two Latin words; "aequus'' meaning equal, and "pollens," meaning strength, signifying equality of power at all points. The material meaning of the word does not particularly concern us, but when the searchlight of Truth is turned upon it, one sees its profound significance. In Christian Science we understand the word to refer exclusively to God and to mean His omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, and omniaction, the Ego-God, including His allness and completeness as Life, Truth, Love, Spirit, Soul, Mind, Principle. It reveals that only God and His reflection, man, including the universe, are good and that He is available at all times, everywhere, to all His ideas.
A close study of the teachings of Jesus reveals one central theme which he emphasized in his Sermon on the Mount. From this unfolds in logical order a coordinated whole.
What is this theme? One simple, direct, and compelling: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). This is a prominent theme of the New Testament. What depth, dignity, joy, and action are put into our endeavors when we seek the perfection of God and man! Christian Science assures us that ". . . perfection is normal, - not miraculous" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 104). It also reminds us that "the perfection of man is intact" (ibid. p. 173).
In teaching us how to do our own work, putting God first and identifying ourselves with Him, Jesus gave the recipe for doing all things well. Christian Science shows us that Christ Jesus broke all physical and mental barriers by recognizing and demonstrating the supremacy of Spirit.
Does the thought of perfection seem too idealistic to us now? Does it seem far removed from our human experience? Jesus was a wise teacher. He gradually unfolded a type of life so beautiful, pure, and satisfying that when he came to the climax he added simply, "Be ye . . . perfect."
Are you troubled by a sense of inequality in your home, church, business? God being the only cause, then every effect of this cause must be perfect. Christian Science reveals that the perfection of man is brought to light by the equipollence of God. This state of perfection, never more nor less at anytime, constitutes the only real substance. This can be discerned by those who understand God.
Our duty when faced with what appears to be a personal, national, or international problem involving injustice, inequality, impurity, or hatred, is to understand the omnipotence of God. In this way one can see the nothingness of the false claim, operating not against men and nations but against the character of God, whose ways are equal and eternal.
Because God is omnipresent, the truths He reveals to man as His image must be forever present and constantly discerned and proved. Could man ever lose any of the qualities of his true selfhood - joy, harmony, health, happiness, serenity? These qualities are inherent in the real man, for they are attributes of God, always present and available.
It is imperative to practice our religion without adulteration. Having a clearer understanding of perfect God and perfect man, one can begin at once to adjust his life in accordance with the pattern shown on the Mount. Mrs. Eddy tells us, "Jesus required neither cycles of time nor thought in order to mature fitness for perfection" (Unity of Good, p. 11). The wonderful results of our Master's life were brought about by his unswerving love for and obedience to God. He lived his religion. Can we do the same? Indeed we can. Step by step one can follow God's will absolutely, consistently, and understandingly. We can learn to acknowledge God's goodness and His ever-presence and to understand the Christ.
The Christ is the perfect idea of God made manifest in man. It is the manifestation of all good, intelligence, substance, the very nature of God.
Is it possible here and now to gain an understanding of the Christ? Yes indeed. How? The activity and office of the Christ are seen in every act of spiritual healing, in every act of casting out error with Truth. Christ is ever at hand. It is the activity of God, good, made manifest in our daily experience. It is that which purifies and spiritualizes thought, making us pure, loving, and meek. We see Christ manifested in the perfect character of man, for man's real nature is Christlike.
Jesus demonstrated the Christ and proved its healing efficacy. He taught that the Christ reveals God and leads into all truth.
The Christian world is quite familiar with the record of Jesus' words and works; yet it is the divine Science back of his words, which he proved by his works, that has endured and which our great Leader, Mrs. Eddy, has revealed to us.
A necessary prerequisite to the study of Christian Science is to understand the standpoint from which its statements are made. Christian Science is founded upon the inspired Word of the Scriptures, and it elucidates the Christianity which Jesus lived and demonstrated, enabling any sincere seeker for spiritual truths to make his teachings practical in this age.
The character of the man Jesus has always been a source of great inspiration to seekers for Truth. He taught men to remodel their own lives to follow him. He portrayed the ideal character. He had a constant sense of the presence of God, and he lived in habitual, prayerful awareness of God's great goodness. He manifested a deep reverence for God, for His Word, His law, His name. Jesus' food and drink were his fulfillment of the will of God. To him God meant everything.
Early in his ministry Christ Jesus employed three ways to carry out his divine purpose: first, he taught the nature, wholeness, and completeness of God; second, he exemplified this healing presence and revealed God's image and likeness, man; and third, he taught men to manifest the Christlike character and to continue his work. Christian Science has made alive the teachings of Jesus. It does not ask anyone to accept or believe anything he cannot practice and prove.
Since God created man in His own image, He necessarily endowed him with infinite capacities and intelligence, for it is logical to assume that the son of God must know and experience the quality of his real selfhood. Man cannot help but move in the unbroken rhythm of infinite harmony, for he coexists with divine Principle, with Truth and Love.
Christian Science teaches us that because of man's spiritual status as a child of God, he is not destined to know the disappointments, woes, and sorrows of finite self and sense. Man being spiritual is immune from the negative arguments of materiality. He is not a helpless victim of ill-health, because health is an attribute of God, and man's health is coexistent with divine Love and inseparable from it.
All men can demonstrate the omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence of God. This encourages the beginner in Christian Science. In the realm of infinite Mind there is no ignorance, fear, hatred, nor their penalties. As the idea of God, man possesses the divine intelligence with which he can discern and reflect the infinitude of good. Mrs. Eddy reminds us that "Mind alone possesses all faculties, perception, and comprehension" (Science and Health, p. 488).
If one would comprehend Christian Science and demonstrate its teachings, it is necessary for him to understand its Discoverer and Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, and recognize her mission. Mrs. Eddy was a seer of the highest order, and her revelation is as demonstrable now as when it was first revealed. There is no separation between true revelation and its fulfillment. Mrs. Eddy's work as the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science is finished, but as the Leader and revelator it will forever unfold. As a scribe under orders Mrs. Eddy manifested three great qualities that were paramount in Jesus' character: courage, patience, and the ability to listen; courage to stand, patience to wait, and spiritual receptivity to understand and obey the voice of God.
Students of Christian Science love and respect Mrs. Eddy for her great and noble qualities and recognize her as a divinely inspired woman; yet they knew that if they would understand her and her mission, they must give active proof of their understanding of the Science she has so marvelously revealed for the lasting benefit of mankind.
One of the best ways to do this is to protect their thinking that they are not unwittingly made to deprive Mrs. Eddy of her rightful place as the revelator of the great and universal truths taught by Jesus and the prophets.
It is logical to assume that in studying any subject intelligently one needs a textbook. The textbook of Christian Science is unique. It "maintains primitive Christianity, shows how to demonstrate it, and throughout is logical in premise and in conclusion" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 111).
Anyone who possesses a correct knowledge of Christian Science and can demonstrate it, gained it from the textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy.
One cannot demonstrate this Science satisfactorily unless he understands and practices it in its purity. Science and Health contains the full revelation of Truth, and there is no secret to its healing power. It is essential, however, that the student gain a spiritual understanding of its contents and cling steadfastly to the truths it reveals in order to heal himself or others. The Bible says, "The tree is known by his fruit" (Matt. 12:33). Every genuine student of Christian Science knows that his life is purer and better because of his faithful and comprehensive study and application of the truths set forth in Science and Health. When one realizes the value of this textbook with its "Key to the Scriptures," revealing the Science which dispels the darkness, ignorance, and fear of the ages, he will be ready and willing to delve beneath the surface, study the book reverently, and consistently demonstrate its truths.
The Christian Scientist is in no danger of losing his way if he clings steadfastly to God and His law as taught in Science and Health, refusing to be drawn into the whirlpool of human thinking. Do not admit for one moment that anything or anybody has jurisdiction over you. God holds that control, and you have divine authority to annul any attempt of mortal mind to control you. It is our duty to protect ourselves from the intrusion of evil of every kind.
It is not necessary to seek outside the covers of Science and Health for the full revelation of Truth. Do we sometimes search for further truths before we have proved the simple ones at hand? The Christ is speaking to each one of us, and our ability to obey largely determines our harmony, health, and happiness.
One may question, "This is logical and reassuring, but how does one begin to make this teaching practical?" Christian Science teaches us that "to begin rightly is to end rightly" (Science and Health, p. 262).
We cannot work equally with Spirit and matter. If we start from the standpoint of conflicting mortal mind, with its mixture of good and evil, we cannot expect to know God as Spirit and solve our problems according to divine law.
Mankind have always sought healing from discord of every nature, yet they condemn the cure of the sick and the sinning if that cure is based upon any but a material and doctrinal theory.
Christian Science bases its teaching upon the completeness and oneness of God and man, as revealed in the Bible. Its healing power rests upon the divine metaphysics that Jesus made practical in his ministry and which Mrs. Eddy has elucidated so clearly in her writings. Christian Science heals on a purely scientific, spiritual basis.
Mrs. Eddy has beautifully paralleled the wisdom of Jesus in her teaching. How simply and logically she has taught us to mold character, purify thought, and put thought into action, allowing our lives to exemplify her teaching. In Science and Health (p. 248) she says, "We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives."
Mrs. Eddy has so clearly elucidated the teachings of Jesus that we can begin at once to make them practical. We can realize in increasing degree man's superiority to sin, sickness, and death, and demonstrate it more fully. How clearly Christian Science teaches us to cease trying to perfect that which can never be perfect and to realize more and more present spiritual perfection, and prove it in our lives.
Since we know that God is the only cause and creator, it is logical that we should turn to Him to interpret and unfold His universe to man. He is the divine Principle of all that reflects Him. From this basis the student of Christian Science learns how to think and reconstruct his life. His real education begins with God and continues with Him. The entire motive of true education in Christian Science is to make one know the truth by living it.
The world's concept of education is largely limited to book knowledge, theories, and words rather than deeds. True education, as we learn in Christian Science, is the normal unfoldment of Life, Truth, and Love in each individual consciousness. This education prevents exploitation and misuse of power and turns thought to the realm of Soul.
In placing before his followers the perfection of God and man, and giving them an example of that perfection in his own life, Jesus held up a mirror so that men could see reasons why they do not reach the goal of perfection more readily. These reasons may be summed up in one basic reason, namely, double-mindedness, which Christian Science declares to be false. We read in Luke's Gospel, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation" (Luke 11:17). Christian Science makes plain that the carnal mind is the divided kingdom.
How perfectly Jesus taught! First he gave the requirements and rewards of the true standard of living, as revealed in the Beatitudes; then he vividly presented in his Sermon on the Mount each phase of human experience to be dealt with and pointed out the proper procedure under all conditions and circumstances.
If one is failing to make real progress in realizing the goal of perfection, let him carefully check his own thinking and find the particular error of thought attempting to hinder him. Sometimes when a problem seems slow in yielding, one may be tempted to seek material aid. Materia medica offers no remedy for duality of thought, for it knows none, because its basis is the human mind. The Galilean Prophet has given us the remedy, for in his calm assurance he embodied that inner unity with God that we so deeply desire and can attain.
Let us examine two or three phases of duality that seem to be obstacles to spiritual growth. Jesus said in substance, You pray with two motives, to be heard of God and to be heard of men; you try to serve God and mammon, and you judge your fellowman harshly and yourself lightly.
One of the most essential qualities of thought preparatory to true prayer is the willingness to rise above corporeal sense and commune with God.
Many sorrows and perplexities of human existence arise from a false sense of relationship. Mrs. Eddy reminds us that "goodness attains the demonstration of Truth" (Science and Health, p. 2). This goodness includes self-forgetfulness, purity, and affection. Can one find a more wonderful example of effective prayer than the one our Master gave in response to his disciples' request, and which is known as the Lord's Prayer?
Jesus said, "Our Father which art in heaven," thus establishing at once a spiritual sense of true relationship - Fatherhood, brotherhood, and sonship. Our Leader enlarged the meaning of this endearing term "Father" with her interpretation, "Father-Mother God," thus indicating the completeness of the Godhead.
Prayer in Christian Science demands the purification of thought by which one becomes aware of the ever-presence of God and His Christ. One of the most beautiful experiences of a Christian Scientist is silent prayer. The unceasing prayer of Christian Science is the rhythm at the outflow and overflow of a spiritual thinker.
Can we pray without duality? Christian Science assures us that we can. The prayer that permits interruption is never pure. For instance, when one prays, mortal mind is always clamoring for recognition. Let us silence the carnal mind and keep the perfect model in thought, honoring God without interruption.
Let us not be afraid to look into the mirror that Jesus held up. Christian Science shows us how to live as Jesus instructed and how to pray as he did, and so replace the illusion of a mortal with the truth concerning man, who is immortal.
Material things may sometimes be useful servants, but when they master us, we must break with them or suffer the penalty. If we trust in matter, it will crumble and return to dust, but spiritual riches endure. Christian Science teaches us that the human thought must free itself from self-imposed materiality.
Let us beware lest the material pursuits that gain our attention, energy, and activity enslave us. Unless we rightly direct our decisions, they will master us.
Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters" (Matt. 6:24). We serve either one or the other. Do we not sometimes attempt to serve both in our efforts to bring about a healing? If one yields to materia mediea, it claims far more than he knows. Pause and consider why a demonstration is not made, why a healing has not been manifested.
We cannot operate from two bases. The nature of mortal mind is to deceive, and one may unwittingly accept its verdicts as his own thinking. The man of God's creating is satisfied when he trusts wholly in Spirit and gains spiritual riches.
Christian Science reproves rash judgment, for our Master said, "Judge not, that ye be not judged" (Matt. 7:1). His words are a simple statement against censorious criticism. To assume the function of a censor of other people's conduct, especially when one's own life is not blameless, has a demoralizing effect on character. It submerges two essential qualities, humility and self-examination, and brings egotism and arrogance to the front.
Christian Science teaches us that before we can rightly judge anyone we must bring our thoughts into line with divine Principle and know we are in the presence of God. Then the desire to judge is healed.
The only effective criticism of others is the demonstration of its opposite in our own moral life. Let us remember that the attitude of personal judgment, or destructive criticism, signifies a lack of spirituality. Let us also remember, however, that constructive criticism may be helpful, for the ability to judge righteously comes from God.
Perhaps we little know how many healings of sickness, disease, and discord of every nature would be made if we uprooted and destroyed the human desire to judge others. The continual criticism of others is an abandonment of Christ-like qualities.
If men and nations knew how to solve their problems through the Christ, Truth, their difficulties, estrangements, and separations would melt away. However, today, throughout the world, there is evidence in many ways, which brings wonder and deep gratitude to human hearts, that mankind is learning there is a faith that robs evil of its seeming power, a faith which, advanced to spiritual understanding, replaces the arguments of change and chance, of fear and suffering, with the affirmative truths that are the fulfillment of God's promises.
Never think for one moment that character will not be tested. That is the glorious privilege of a Christian Scientist - to test his ability to reflect God. Are you prepared for the test that Jesus said would come to the true character? The kingdom of heaven is within. Did Jesus not insist upon inner stability at all times? He wisely taught us how to ask for aid. He said, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Matt. 7:7).
Here are three definite things to be done: ask, seek, and knock. This is very simple if one asks, seeks, and knocks at God's door. To ask requires great humility, to seek demands discernment, and to knock calls for perseverance. What is the motive back of each? It is to be a witness for God. Then the motive is deep enough and good enough to persist and gain an entrance into the kingdom of heaven. What is the promise to those who ask, seek, and knock? "It shall be given," "ye shall find," and "it shall be opened unto you."
Our Attitude Toward World Affairs
There are grave problems facing mankind at this time, and many questions that must be satisfactorily answered. We can best solve world problems by beginning with ourselves. What shall be our attitude toward world affairs today? It must of necessity be quite different from the attitude of those who are materially-minded. Those uninstructed by Christian Science may look upon world conditions with consternation and dread, allowing their thoughts to become confused and fearful. The student of Christian Science has need for gratitude that he understands, in a measure at least, that evil is not real, that it has no creator, no power, no history, no reality.
Our attitude toward world affairs depends largely upon how we are obeying and demonstrating the rules of our religion. In answer to the question, "What are the demands of the Science of Soul?" Mrs. Eddy points to the two great commandments: to love God supremely and "thy neighbor as thyself" (Science and Health, p. 467). The keynote to this achievement lies in the understanding that all men have one God, one Father.
Christian Science teaches us that one's world is his consciousness. It is subjective, not objective, within rather than without. Let us clearly understand that if problems of the world were objective instead of subjective, that is, if they existed apart from consciousness, it would be impossible to correct or eliminate them through spiritual thinking.
It is quite evident that today the world holds two viewpoints: one, peace and quiet assurance; the other, disturbed and fearful apprehension. Which shall we choose? Each one must decide for himself. If one sides with Science and peace, he has definite work to do. First of all, he must cast fear out of his own consciousness. Let each one ask himself: Am I helping the world to find lasting peace by allowing my thoughts to become filled with fear and hate, accepting the suggestions of mortal mind? Can I not better help by overcoming these evil tendencies in my thinking, refusing to entertain them for one moment?
We read in the Bible, "Be not afraid of sudden fear" (Prov. 3:25). To begin with God, as Christian Science teaches, and to know oneself as a son of God gives a different approach to God and man. It teaches one to face the workaday life with affirmative, joyous, productive thinking. This spiritual consciousness, which reflects and expresses the one infinite, creative Mind, so changes thought that conditions and circumstances around one are greatly improved.
In thinking of present-day conditions we have the blessed privilege of dematerializing and impersonalizing every situation, refusing in our own thinking to allow evil to attach itself to men and nations. God's law can heal all that needs to be healed. Our work is to abide by that law and demonstrate it. We may conquer every fear by a greater faith and understanding of God's allness, destroy hate through a clearer concept of God as Love, and depend upon divine intelligence to govern and guide us.
More than ever before we need periods of withdrawal from the turmoil of human events to refresh our thoughts by communion with God. Let us never neglect this great and sacred duty. We cannot spend just a little time with God these days if we do our part to meet the world's need. The demand of the times is ceaseless prayer and a constant awareness of God's presence.
The time is past to demonstrate Christian Science just for ourselves, our home, our community. The whole world is at our door, and it is absolutely necessary for us to broaden our horizon, enlarge our concepts, and think in terms of universality. Let us not be asleep to the trend of human affairs. Let us not be content to use Christian Science to demonstrate harmony in our own lives alone, but let us broaden our outlook and assume the responsibility which Christian Science has placed upon each of its followers. To gain a true sense of man we must surrender all false concepts of self and the material universe. Christian Science promotes universal peace, and its fulfillment is here and now. Peace is not the prerogative of an individual or a nation. It is the gift of God to all.
Only as God is All-in-all to us can we receive of His allness. Then let us allow God to be what He really is, the equipollent Father-Mother. What does God require of us? The fullest expression of love, purity, holiness, and perfection. Christian Science teaches us that God is absolutely and unconditionally All, and you and I in our true selfhood are the evidence of this Being.
Never has there been a more imperative need to serve God with fervent devotion and to consecrate our lives to the great cause of Christianity as revealed in Christian Science. We have the opportunity to devote our lives to the establishment of the truth as Jesus taught it and to demonstrate the Science which our Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, revealed for the redemption and salvation of all mankind from sin, sickness, and death.
Let us be aware of the ever-presence of God, and know His presence and respond to the healing Christ. Then we can be sure that our work will be effective and far-reaching and our lives reveal the promise and fulfillment of the Word of God.
[The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, Jan. 13, 1955.]