Christian Science: The Science of Eternal Life
Harold Molter, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Harold Molter, C.S.B., of Chicago, lectured on "Christian Science: "The Science of Eternal Life" Friday evening in the Church Edifice under the auspices of Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist.
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Jesus advised his followers to search the Scriptures for evidences of God, the source of all life, and for testimony regarding man's true selfhood as the son of God, The Way-shower's devoted follower, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, searched the Scriptures continuously for three years to find the Science of Christianity. This Science of Christianity, which Mrs. Eddy named Christian Science, she presented to mankind in her book entitled "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures."
Let us now take a mental journey into the realm of spiritual things with the Bible as our guide and with Science and Health as the lamp lighting the way to a correct understanding of God and His creation and of eternal Life.
Synonyms for God
Jesus answered the question, "What is God?" many years ago when he said, "The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: . . . God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John , 24). A modern translation renders the same passage as follows: "The time is coming, it has come already, when the real worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in reality; . . . God is Spirit and his worshippers must worship him in Spirit and in reality."
God is Spirit, and Spirit is the opposite of matter. It is, therefore, impossible to worship God truly through material forms, doctrines, or ceremonies. You will recall that the disciples once brought a sick child to Jesus and asked the Master why they had failed to heal the boy. Jesus answered them, "This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" (Matt. ). True worship is true fasting. It is a mental turning away from matter, with its forms and conditions, to the contemplation and recognition of Spirit and its infinite spiritual creation. Through such exalted worship the Master quickly destroyed sin and sickness, fed the multitudes, walked on the waves, and raised the dead.
Jesus' use of the word "Spirit" as a name or synonym for God has nothing in common with the ordinary use of that word to indicate a so-called ghost, or disembodied person. Christian Science has nothing in common with spiritualism or its so-called spirits.
As we examine the use of the word "Spirit" in the Bible and study Mrs. Eddy's interpretation of it, we find that it means God, divine consciousness, or divine Mind, as opposed to the terms human, carnal, or mortal mind. Human consciousness, regardless of its good points, has varying degrees of impurity, imperfection, and mortality, whereas Spirit, or divine Mind, is always pure, perfect, and eternal.
That Spirit, or divine consciousness, is the only Life, is acknowledged by inspired Bible characters. Jesus said, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing" (John 6:63).
Spirit, Mind, and Life are not the only names or synonyms for God which Mrs. Eddy has given us. Every student of the Bible is familiar with quotations which describe God as the one and only creator. In the first chapter of Genesis and the first chapter of John, God is referred to as the cause or creator of everything that exists. If you will look up the definition of the word "principle" in any dictionary, you will find that it includes some or all of the following definitions: beginning, cause, creator, origin, source. Mrs. Eddy uses the word Principle, spelling it with a capital "P," as a name, or synonym, for God, to indicate that He is the one and only self-existent cause, the creator and origin of all existence.
Complete Definition of God
In her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science has given to mankind, in one short sentence of only thirteen words, the most complete definition of God which the world has ever known. It includes seven nouns, or synonyms, for Deity, each representing a particular aspect of God, and four adjectives which apply to each synonym. I quote (p. 465); "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love."
When mankind understands this brief but comprehensive definition of God, with the mind and the heart, men will begin to appreciate and enjoy all of the glories of spiritual creation and eternal Life.
Throughout the Bible there are to
be found other names for God. In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus refers to the creator
as "Our Father." In the Bible the qualities of true motherhood as
well as true fatherhood are ascribed to Deity. The prophet Isaiah records God
as saying, "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and
ye shall be comforted in
The recognition of God as Mother came as a great help to a Christian Scientist who watched at the bedside of her sick child. The boy had been suffering for several days from a severe fever and other complications. On Sunday morning, as she sat by his side, he appeared to be delirious. After turning earnestly to God for guidance, she was led to look up the definition of "Mother," in the chapter entitled "Glossary," in Science and Health. There she found the following (p. 592): "Mother. God; divine and eternal Principle; Life, Truth, and Love." In this definition she saw the great fact that God, as Mother, is the cause of all creation, and that man is governed by Truth, not error; by Love, not fear; by Life, not death. Immediately there came to her a great feeling of peace as she surrendered her mortal sense of motherhood and entrusted the child to his Father-Mother, God. With this realization came relief for both mother and child, and in a short time the boy was out of bed enjoying his usual activities.
The great fact that God, or Spirit, is the one and only creator of man, the Father and Mother of the universe, is something which the physical senses cannot understand. It is true that all about us we see in the so-called physical realm evidences of material persons and things, subject to birth, growth, maturity, and decay.
A search of the Bible, in the light of Christian Science, clears away this seeming inconsistency.
The Microscope of Spirit
Since God is the one and only creator, and since the Bible testimony indicates that He is Spirit, therefore all creation must be spiritual and can have in it no element of matter. On the basis of these revealed facts, Mrs. Eddy declares (Science and Health, p. 264): "Spirit and its formations are the only realities of being. Matter disappears under the microscope of Spirit."
"Matter disappears under the microscope of Spirit." When we examine an object under a microscope, it is enlarged to human view, and we see many of the details of its structure which are not evident to the naked eye. For example, a snowflake which ordinarily looks like a shapeless fleck of frozen water, when placed under a microscope presents an object of great beauty, of intricate and symmetrical design. Let us now look through "the microscope of Spirit," through the lens of Christian Science, to gain a clear view of God's creation. This view is presented to us in the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, which are available to the public at all Christian Science Reading Rooms. Beginning on page 475 of Science and Health there is a word picture of creation, depicting man and the universe as formed by Spirit. It states that man is not made up of material organs and elements, but is wholly spiritual; he is the compound idea of God, including every idea which exists in divine consciousness. The picture further presents man as "the conscious identity of being." Let us pause here to consider briefly this description of man as "the conscious identity of being."
The word "identity" means "sameness." God and man are alike in the qualities or characteristics of true being. But man is not God. God is the great and only cause, and creation, which includes man and the universe, is the one and only effect of that cause. God is the parent Mind, and by reflection man is like God in all of his qualities. God is Mind; therefore creation is intelligent, consistent, and forever conscious. God is Spirit; therefore creation is pure, perfect, spiritual, eternal. God is Soul; therefore creation is resourceful, satisfied, immortal. God is Principle; therefore creation is law-abiding, unchanging and unchangeable. God is Life; therefore creation is active, continuing, indestructible. God is Truth; therefore creation is honest, unerring, whole. God is Love; therefore creation is loving, unselfish, harmonious, fearless.
Thus "the microscope of Spirit" reveals the spiritual creation of perfect ideas, or identities, dwelling eternally in divine Mind and conscious of that fact.
Into the divine relationship and activity of Mind and its ideas there can enter no sin, sickness, discord, or death. The spiritual ideas which constitute this perfect creation dwell together in eternal harmony, peace, cooperation, usefulness, and good will. They do not disturb, harm, invade, attack, or kill each other. They cannot do anything but bless each other; for they are constituted only of the qualities of Spirit, and these qualities are the indestructible elements of their being.
Spiritual Causation and Human Progress
Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (p. 170), "Spiritual causation is the one question to be considered, for more than all others spiritual causation relates to human progress." The question arises, How does this view of creation which we derive through Christian Science affect human affairs? Here is a good illustration: In a Christian Science Sunday School, a pupil was disturbed about a situation in the public school which she attended. She said that her teacher was very unkind to the children in the class, and that everyone was unhappy about her. The Sunday School teacher turned the children's attention to the definition of man as an idea of Spirit, and pointed out man's perfection, harmony, goodness, and friendliness. Then she told the pupils that any other view of man was not the truth, and that in reality the schoolteacher couldn't be anything but a perfect idea of God. Spirit was her Father and Mother, and she could never be unlike God.
The following Sunday a most interesting report was brought back to the teacher. The pupil said that she had thought about their discussion in Sunday School, and the following morning, when the schoolteacher entered the classroom, she was smiling and had changed her attitude entirely. The whole atmosphere of the room was changed, and every day at recess the children spoke about the cordial attitude of the teacher. They said it was a miracle. At the end of the week, as the pupils were leaving for their homes, the teacher asked the little Christian Scientist to remain and then said to her, "Do you know that you have the best record in the whole class for scholarship and deportment?" She then accompanied our little friend to her home and continued to do so regularly every afternoon. This made the girl very happy, but more than that, she had learned an important lesson in Christian Science, namely, to see God's creation through "the microscope of Spirit." It was on this very basis that Jesus healed sickness and sin, and all human discords. And it is on this basis that anyone can heal himself and others of human ills.
Material Universe an Illusion
And now let us take a good look at the condition named material existence, that which is called the universe of material persons, places, and things, which we seem to touch, taste, hear, see, and feel all around us. What are they; where do they come from; and what is their relationship to Spirit and its perfect creation? It is so easy to knock on a material object and say, "But this is real;" to feel a pain within the material body and say, "I am sick;" and to look out upon a beautiful sunset and say, "You wouldn't call this unreal, and deprive me of its enjoyment, would you? And what of my family, business associates, and friends? I see them and talk with them. Are they unreal and untrue? Are they non-existent?"
To answer these questions we may well begin with a simple observation. Suppose you are taking a little child on a trip to visit his grandmother who lives in a distant city. It is his first trip by train, and he is expectantly waiting at the railroad station with his hand fast in yours. As the boy looks in the direction toward which the train will go, he is suddenly surprised and alarmed when he sees that the tracks come together somewhere in the distance. How will the train ever reach his grandmother's home? is his first question. And you tell him that the tracks do not come together, but remain equal distances apart all the way to Grandma's. He may accept your statement, but still be unconvinced. To you this is no problem, because your experience and intelligence have corrected the evidence of the material senses. Of course, the tracks do seem to come to a point as you look at them, but you still maintain, and know, that they are parallel to each other. If one thousand or more travelers standing at that point, or at many different localities throughout the world, look along the railroad tracks, they all see the same phenomenon, but they don't accept it as true. They call it an illusion of the material sense of sight, and they are not troubled or disturbed about it.
Everything we know of the so-called material universe is but the testimony of the material senses, and it is just as false as the illusion of the railroad tracks converging, or of the horizon where the sky and the sea seem to meet, but never do.
In all our waking hours, and often
in sleep, we entertain mental pictures, or concepts, of persons, places, and
things, dwelling in time and space. These mental pictures are but the false
testimony of the false material senses. In the Bible this sense testimony is called the carnal mind, and Mrs.
Eddy names it mortal mind. The Apostle Paul exposes the nothingness of this
so-called carnal mind in the eighth chapter of Romans, where he writes,
in part, "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the
flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be
carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace"
The material universe, therefore, is but the false testimony of the so-called carnal or mortal mind, and its objects are the reverse of spiritual ideas. They are illusions or false concepts. Right where the railroad tracks seem to come together, they actually run parallel. Likewise what appear to be material objects and conditions are but lies about spiritual realities ever at hand. The question confronting every one of us today is, "Which do I want to be, an insecure, perishable mortal in an uncertain material world, or a real, substantial, satisfied, perfect, spiritual idea in divine consciousness?" To choose the latter is to find the unlimited resources of Spirit ever at hand. Furthermore, to choose the way of Spirit, and walk in it, is to accept your birthright as a son of God, is to begin immediately to improve your own human welfare and environment. It is to begin to enjoy eternal Life. Christian Scientists throughout the world are testifying to the truth of these facts.
Christ Jesus, more than anyone else, refuted and rejected the evidence of the material senses, and replaced this false evidence with the testimony of Spirit. In Science and Health (p. 589), Mrs. Eddy describes Jesus as follows: "The highest human corporeal concept of the divine idea, rebuking and destroying error and bringing to light man's immortality." Jesus was a human man, divinely inspired. He had to meet and master every claim of the material senses, even as we do. In fulfillment of his divine mission he showed us the way, and thus he became our Way-shower. His is the perfect example. He was absolutely obedient to the will of God. By his words and works he proved that he was the Son of God.
To the listeners in the temple he said, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John ). He was constantly showing forth, in thought and deed, the very nature and qualities of God, thus presenting to human view the true idea of God. This gave him the right to the title of Christ. Mrs. Eddy defines "Christ" in the Glossary of Science and Health (p. 583) as follows: "Christ. The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error." Here "the flesh" refers to the so-called carnal or mortal mind. Thus Christ is not a person, but the divine manifestation or the true idea of God, which by its divine power refutes and replaces in individual human consciousness the belief that there is life, substance, and intelligence in matter.
Salvation, Prayer, and Healing
The door through which the individual enters into the realization of his oneness with God is spiritual prayer. Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (p. 12) that the prayers of Jesus were "deep and conscientious protests of Truth, - . . . of man's unity with Truth and Love." Note the word "protests' in this statement: Jesus' prayers "were deep and conscientious protests of Truth." Jesus was a protestant or pro-testant, in the basic significance of that word, for he bore witness against error, and to truth, or the spiritual facts of every situation which confronted him.
Healing, or demonstration, in Christian Science inevitably results from the acceptance of the spiritual facts of being in receptive individual consciousness. It is always a spiritual idea which heals, and not a person. We need not hesitate or fear to look at error in order to recognize it for what it is, namely, an illusion of material sense. We must be careful not to try to avoid it, or to push it aside by human will, or to fight it as though it were something real. Evil, in whatever form it appears, whether as sin or disease, as physical or mental, is always a lie, and a lie can always be destroyed through a spiritual fact, a Christ-idea, entertained in consciousness.
Any illusion of material sense disappears before the truth, as certainly as darkness flees before light. When we go into a dark room to find a small article, we do not become disturbed because of the darkness. We do not try to put it out of the window, or put it into a closet, or manipulate it in some other way. We simply turn on the light, and the brighter the light, the more thoroughly the shadows are dispelled.
So it is in prayer. In order to get rid of sin, sickness, discord, or death, we reach for, and let in, the light of spiritual facts regarding God and His creation. As human consciousness becomes enlightened by these facts the darkness of discord disappears, and this is an illustration of salvation, which Mrs. Eddy defines in Science and Health (p. 593) as follows: "Salvation. Life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; "sin, sickness, and death destroyed."
In the practice of Christian Science there is no place for the use of material remedies or manipulation of any kind. True prayer unites the individual with God, who heals all our diseases and dispels all human discords. A student at one of our colleges sustained an injury to her knee while taking part in a basketball game. This was followed by an evident dislocation of her spine, which made it difficult for her to walk. She and the members of her family were Christian Scientists, and they prayed earnestly to reject the lie and to accept the facts of her true being, as an idea of God. The teachers at the college noticed her evident discomfort as she went to her classes. They were fond of her, and urged her to have medical aid. When she refused, they persuaded the college authorities to tell her that she could not attend classes until she was healed. In this way they thought to force her to have medical attention. Thus she and her family were confronted with the necessity of making an important decision. Should they depend wholly on Christian Science to correct the human discord, or should they satisfy the opposition and seek material aid? Instantly and unanimously came the resolution to stand firmly on the side of Spirit. Almost immediately after the decision was made, the physical disorder was corrected, and harmony restored.
Jesus promised all of his followers that they would do the mighty works which he did, if they understood him and his mission; and for some time after his resurrection his disciples carried on healing activities.
However, when Christianity became a state religion, men's thoughts were shackled and perverted by man-made creeds and doctrines. Then the pronouncements and promises of Jesus were no longer generally accepted in their entirety. His many mighty works were considered to be miracles, impossible of repetition.
Such was the general religious belief about the middle of the nineteenth century, when Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, discovered anew the healing and regenerating power of God, as ever available to everyone who becomes willingly receptive to its impartial ministrations. Mrs. Eddy had sustained an injury to her spine as the result of a fall on the ice, and was not expected to live. Alone, in the silence of her room, she opened the Bible to the ninth chapter of Matthew (verses 2-8). There she read the account of the healing by Jesus of the man who was suffering from paralysis. As she read, a great sense of spiritual enlightenment and refreshment flooded her consciousness. She felt God's presence and power right there with her, and she was healed. Immediately she arose, dressed herself, and walked into an adjoining room, to the surprise of her friends, who were awaiting her death.
The first edition of her history-making volume, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," appeared in 1875. It stirred the philosophical and religious thought of the nation as few books ever had. It called forth high praise from those receptive thinkers who honestly read its life-giving pages; and censure and persecution from the spiritually blind, the malicious and the unbelieving.
Mrs. Eddy's work, Science and Health, passed through several revisions by its author for the purpose of clarifying its statements, but not one of the spiritual truths contained in the first edition has ever been changed. The volume stands as a recognized masterpiece of literary workmanship and spiritually inspired wisdom.
Mrs. Eddy named her discovery Christian Science, because it is the Science or underlying law or rule of true Christian being and acting. Science and Health contains a complete statement of the primitive Christianity taught and practiced by Jesus and his followers, and it contains the final revelation of the truth about God and His creation. It is indeed a spiritual interpretation of the inspired Bible writings, and a veritable "Key to the Scriptures."
Thousands of Christians of many races, creeds, and nationalities, who have been blessed by Christian Science, are increasingly grateful to Mrs. Eddy for her willingness to endure untold hardships and indignities that mankind might enjoy this spiritual pearl of great price - pure Christianity. In a letter to The Christian Science Board of Lectureship she writes, "Millions may know that I am the Founder of Christian Science. I alone know what that means" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 249).
Eternal Life a Present Possibility
From early childhood Mrs. Eddy read, studied, and treasured the Bible. The King James Version of the Scriptures is the one she loved, and it is the English version used in Christian Science churches and Sunday Schools. During her early years the Bible was the center of her home. Around it the family gathered each day to hear it read and expounded by her father, or frequently by learned and pious guests who were always welcomed into the family circle.
In view of these facts it is not surprising to find that the first of the six tenets or important points of Christian Science reads as follows: "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life" (Science and Health, p. 497).
Eternal Life! Immortality, which expresses eternal Life or God, is the state of existence which most of the human race earnestly seeks and greatly desires - life eternal, free from all of the discords, disappointments, and calamities of mortal existence. It is the general opinion of mankind that eternal Life can only be achieved after the change called death. However, Christ Jesus, who knew more about Life than anyone else, rejected that belief centuries ago. Listen to these words of truth from the lips of the great master Christian: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments;" and again, "He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (Matt. , and John ).
Consider now one more statement made by Jesus in his glorious prayer just before his betrayal and crucifixion, when he said, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent" (John 17:3). In these pronouncements on the subject of Life, we find no authority for the necessity of an experience called death. Life eternal, says Jesus, is a present possibility. It has nothing to do with physical forms, conditions, or changes. Life eternal is a state of consciousness, for it consists in knowing God and His Christ aright. In Science and Health (p. 426) Mrs. Eddy writes, "Sin brought death, and death will disappear with the disappearance of sin." Here is a clear statement of how eternal life may be and must be achieved. Simply cease sinning, cease regarding creation as material, cease disobeying the First Commandment. Accept the great fact of man's true being, his eternal perfection and identity, as an indestructible idea, and you will begin to glimpse and enjoy in a measure your oneness with God, and the blessings of eternal life.
To begin to rise from sense to Soul, from darkness to light, we must watch our thinking and pluck from consciousness all the weeds of error's sowing, through maintaining the facts of being. Declare frequently and systematically that you are coeternal and coexistent with God. Listen for the Father's voice, speaking to you always, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. ), and, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine" (Luke ). Know daily that in reality the only experience, association, relationship that you have ever had or can ever have is with God and His perfect ideas.
Our Leader writes in her book, "Unity of Good" (p. 38), "It is unchristian to believe in the transition called material death, since matter has no life, and such misbelief must enthrone another power, an imaginary life, above the living and true God."
These are strong words: "It is unchristian to believe in the transition called material death." My friends, are any of you believing that you can or will actually die, or that any of your loved ones can really die, or have actually died? Are you enthroning another power, an imaginary life, above the living and true God? Do you not see how unfair and unchristian it is to maintain a personal and material sense of anyone who has passed on beyond the belief of death? Why hold imprisoned in your thought a material concept of personality, and enslave yourselves with self-pity and self-mesmerism, when the loved one has already given up many of the material beliefs which you hold in thought regarding him or her? Remember the words of the angel to the women who came to the tomb where Jesus' body had lain: "He is not here: for he is risen" (Matt. 28:6). Then raise your thoughts from the limited sense of material personality to the contemplation of your loved ones as radiant ideas of God's being.
Let us here remember an important point which Christian Science teaches and which should comfort and reassure all of us. In reality each of us is a spiritual idea, having the qualities of divine Mind, which is the only Life. This being the fact, man can never be separated for a moment from Life, from God, his Father-Mother, or from any of God's spiritual ideas. Can we therefore benefit those who are no longer in our midst? Our Leader answers this question in the following statement, "When thought dwells in God, - and it should not, to our consciousness, dwell elsewhere, - one must benefit those who hold a place in one's memory, whether it, be friend or foe, and each share the benefit of that radiation" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 290).
Several years ago a young student of Christian Science was stricken with a severe case of influenza. Those who entered the room where she lay looked lovingly upon her, thinking that she had yielded to death. But as she lay there motionless, a sudden flash of light illuminated her consciousness with the thought, "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord." With this angel message came release and restoration to health. Pondering the words which came to her in her hour of restoration, she wondered where they were to be found. The following day she sat down to read, and reaching for her Bible, opened it at random. There, with joy, she looked at the seventeenth verse of the 118th Psalm and read: "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord."
Jesus said to Mary, when he was called to raise her brother Lazarus from death, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" (John ,26).
Friends, I urgently recommend to you that you continue this journey into the realm of spiritual realities, and as you look through "the microscope of Spirit" you hold fast to that which you see, for it is true, and real, and substantial; it is indeed eternal Life. And this Life is the Life of every one of you.
[Published in The Marion County Mail of Indianapolis, Indiana, June 20, 1947.]