Christian Science: Universal Christianity (1)

 

Carol Norton, C.S.D., of New York, New York

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

An able and interesting lecture on "Christian Science" was delivered in the Wieting yesterday afternoon by Carol Norton, C.S.D., of New York, a member of the Christian Science board of lectureship of The First Church, Christian Scientist, of Boston, whose theme was "Christian Science: Universal Christianity." There were more than 1500 people in the house, and all were deeply interested in the lecture, which was an able effort. Mr. Norton was introduced by the Rev. Arthur R. Vosburgh, C.S.B., of Rochester, also a member of the Christian Science board of lectureship. Mr. Norton spoke in part as follows:

 

In presenting to your consideration the subject of Christian Science I am well aware that I am inviting you to the contemplation of the most widely and earnestly discussed phase of modern religious and scientific philosophy recognized in phases of religious progress, scriptural interpretation, temperance reform, curative science, and in all musical art, and dramatic development.

This audience has assembled here not only to give Christian Science a fair and impartial hearing, but to ascertain the extent to which all thinkers are agreed as to what really constitutes Universal Christianity, Universal Religion.

I have no intention of presenting to your consideration that which is antagonistic to the grand and universal idea of one supreme God, one universal Creation and man, and one divine destiny as the heritage now and ever for all that is noble, pure, lovely and of good report in man and in the universe. As we reason together about the deep things of God, life, the universe of phenomena, Man, the Way-Shower, hell, Heaven and immortality, let our methods of reasoning be sincere and logical, our aim the establishment, through demonstration, of the reign of supreme Good and infinite Love here and forever.

 

Eight Types of Thought

The eight types of thought to which I have already referred are as follows: Protestant evangelical, and liberal Christians, Roman and Greek Catholic Christians, agnostics, idealists, materialists and deists.

Christian Science will be found to be in possession of the substance and divinely demonstrable actuality of the truths that are suggestively shadowed forth in many of the ideas common to the mind of Christendom. Its originality exists in its consistent Monotheism, through which it affirms the reality of Good and unreality of evil, the substantiality of Mind and the nonsubstantial character of matter. Christian Science stands absolutely alone and without peer as the scientific understanding of Universal Christianity, whose basis of demonstration is divine Mind, whose method is Divine Science and whose ultimate is individual immortality for man and the identity of universal creation.

 

Evangelical Protestant Christians

To evangelical Christians Christian Science bears an earnest message. We want you to know the true Evangelism of our system and the genuine Protestantism of its teaching and operation. We believe in One Supreme God, the divine US of Genesis, the infinite Father and Mother God of the Holy Scriptures, the Creator of the male and female of universal creation, the Scriptural designation of God as I AM, Truth, Light, Love, Spirit (Mind), Creator, Good, divine Principle, not humanized person, but pure Spirit. We believe in the Scriptures as the inspired Word of God; above and apart from the material sense of things, the true image and likeness of God in man and the universe abides in glory, perfection, and perpetual dominion.

 

Heaven and Hell

We believe in prayer as the heart's communion with the Over-Soul. To us Love is Synonymous with God, and therefore we recognize that where divine Love abides there exists also the protecting presence of the Most High. We do not believe that creeds, dogmas, or the theories of so-called organic evolution based on physical causation are any part of true religion. We believe that the kingdom of Heaven is within, and that both hell and Heaven are states of mind and include place, phenomena, environment and both physical and mental sensation. We accept the spiritual leadership of Jesus Christ and in him recognize the perspective ideal of our own possible attainment.

We accept him as the Way-Shower, from earth to Heaven, and in him recognize both Son of God and Son of Man.

We affirm the divine naturalness of the method through which he healed the sick, reformed the sinner, and cast out devils, raised the dead, cleansed the lepers, controlled the elements, multiplied so-called material substances, walked on the water, conquered death on the cross, healed himself in the tomb, and demonstrated out of and above material environment and body forty days after his Easter appearance in the event denominated his Ascension. We do not believe that the age of miracles has passed, inasmuch as there was never a time in which God either suspended the eternal order of the universe or allowed it to be interfered with. We believe that the omnipotence and omnipresence of Good, as God, precludes the possibility of real (actual) evil. We therefore affirm that Good being positive, evil is negative the supposititious absence of Good. To us this solves the mystery of evil.

 

Liberal Christians

To liberal Christians the message of Christian Science is one of liberal love and inspiring hope. Ours is a liberal plan of salvation from depravity, physical pain, bodily disease, fear, worry, and the shadow of death. Christian Science is therefore real Christian liberalism. We believe in the One God of Israel, the God of the Prophets, of Moses, of the Baptist, and the "Our Father" of Jesus. We believe in the strict unity of the divine Nature, that God is ONE and infinitely perfect in nature. We believe in the divine Omniscience, and therefore cultivate a scientific method of spiritual thinking and action as the true method of demonstrating the government of this divine all-ruling and all-sustaining Omniscience. We believe in the dignity and divinity of man's nature, that he inherits from God only that which is Godlike, and therefore we believe in man as the divine image and likeness of Good, immortal in destiny and perfect in nature.

We believe in the atonement of Christ as his divine demonstration of at-one-ment with God, the Ego of his spiritual nature. We believe in the inspiration of the Bible and that the sole object of the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation is the setting forth of the two central truths of existence, namely, that in God and the spiritual universe (which is the real abiding place here and now of the spiritual man), there is no evil, no pain, limitation, disease or death. Second, that the material sense of life is in itself the fall of man, that Paradise regained is the Eden of existence of man, attainable through the spiritualization of thought and the destruction of the belief in matter and material phenomena as real and actual.

 

Catholic Christians

To Roman and Greek Catholic Christians the message of Christian Science is truly catholic.

We want you to know the sacred sense in which we hold the word worship. Our Faith teaches us the power of true piety, the transcendental glory of chastity and purity. It interprets the spiritual substance resident in the Holy Eucharist when partaken of in a wholly spiritual way without material accompaniments. It gives the true significance of the communion of saints, the real Apostolic Succession, which down through the ages brings as by an unbroken chain the spiritual priesthood of holy men and righteous princes of the Church. We enter into prayerful adoration of the spiritual sense to which Mary bore witness in the Magnificat; holy inspiration told Elizabeth that she had been privileged to give to the world the greatest light that had been born of woman, and to Mary the most favored among women, the spiritual certainty that she was to give to the world its spiritual deliverer, emancipator and Messiah. The virgin Mother whose soul-sense and chastity spoke through creation's primal order gave to us Love's best gift to man our Lord and Savior. His life was her recompense and his victory over death and the grave proved to that sweetest, tenderest of women that her woe and tears shed as a living halo over the burden of his martyrdom were not in vain. Down from the cross upon the upturned, sorrowing face of this Mary his Mother beloved looked earth's most faithful son, and said in the pathos of filial affection, "Woman, behold thy son," and then to John, "Behold thy mother." Mary, to Christian believers the dearest among the names of women, received his last earthly ministration and was last to look up to and into those eyes that untiringly spoke of love, and Mary, most triumphant of names was the first name that he spoke after the Resurrection.

We believe in the immaculate conception of Jesus Christ as being in accordance with the divine and spiritual law of creation. We affirm that it was not miraculous nor did it represent a suspension of the divine law. But in that day and at that hour it represented the spiritually divine sequence and immaterial manifestation of the spiritual thought-ascension that reached its scientific culmination in this event once and forever. We believe in the baptism, temptation, betrayal, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. We believe that by his stripes, by his sufferings out of the flesh, we are healed and led from earth to heaven not through a vicarious Atonement, but through the individual imitation of his life.

 

The One Church

To us the true catholicity is that evangelism and obedience to his teachings which enables us to emulate his career, heal the sick, regenerate the sinner, raise the dead, and establish his heavenly kingdom of brotherhood on earth. We believe that he founded his Church on that type of spirituality which manifested itself through Peter in a moment of spiritual uplifting, and reveals now, as it did in that hour to the discerning disciple, that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God." It shows that the Church of Christ is founded on the rock only as its superstructure and activities are established on the doctrine of the allness of God and the spiritual supremacy of Mind as God.

 

Agnosticism

To the world of agnosticism Christian Science addresses itself with no tone of uncertainty, with no superstitious hope or mere traditionalism. We desire you to know that we respect the courage of the man who says "I do not know". We are well aware of the fact that your agnosticism is in many cases mental deference to the unproven things of life. In others, chronic skepticism, and in perhaps most cases the latent cause of agnosticism is the mental inability to comprehend the perpetual dualistic war of human existence the continued action and reaction of the elements of Good and evil. We honor the mind that is too humane and loving to accept the false notion that God is directly or indirectly the author of the misery, disease, cruel separation and suffering that so universally afflict the human race and all animate and inanimate creation. We believe that such agnosticism is the protest of kindly, just and thinking hearts against the iniquitous, inhuman and cruel idea that we move to "that distant far off divine event" of which Tennyson wrote, over the dead and diseased bodies of suffering humanity. Such theories of evolutionary progress, such pagan conceptions of a good God are the potent causes of whatever infidelity, atheism, skepticism and chronic agnosticism exist in Christendom, Judaism, or in any of the great households of religion throughout the world. Our philosophy teaches that God and His creation are wholly apart from the chaos visible to the physical senses. We believe that "God is to be understood and demonstrated as divine Principle" in a scientific and exact habit of thought as the only way of rational approach to the understanding of the divine Nature and its harmonious government of the universe and man.

 

Idealism

Glad tidings of Good, Christian Science brings to that class of life's Realists called Idealists. To you our message is of especial comfort and sacred value. Christian Science shows that Idealism is genuine realism, that the Ideal is the actual and not the phantom. It sanctifies the relationships of daily life by purifying the mind and purging the affections of earthly dross. From the grand idealism of Christian Science, the natural Divinity of all that is real is brought to light, art receives a new and holy name, as type and prophecy of the eternal glory. Literature is lifted to levels of honest Soul-life aflame with the heavenly heart-tints of courage, constancy and pure love. Music takes on new harmonies which speak of supersensual joy and exaltation. The drama enters a new world of worth and possibility by depicting the realism of that which is noble, chaste and truly interesting. Nature, through Christian Science, receives new grandeur and glory. In tune with its order and its exquisite moods of peace, glory, diversity and full life, man's nature bursts its shell of sense and mounts as on the wings of eagles to commune with the Ancient of Days, the infinite Ideal that we call God.

 

The Sublime Vision

We desire all who are longing and waiting for the coming of the New Heavens and the New Earth with their men of kingly nature and their women of selfless love, the new era that will be conspicuous in the annals of history because it will know no such thing as physical pain, sorrow, weeping or death, to realize that these grand new days are at our very doors. The heavenly symphony of the love that is above and apart from passion already sounds over earth's barren places and makes peace and gladness in the hearts that are chastened and white. The Ideal though unseen is still here, inviting the recognition of the pure in heart, awaiting the resurrection of its own. Emerson discerningly says, "The Sublime Vision comes to the pure and simple soul in a clean and chaste body." Thus Christian Science gives to love its true meaning, to human affection new constancy and poise; to family and married life fresh beauty and safeguards of unselfishness, health and ministering tenderness. Friendship it clothes with garments of praise, chastity, loving kindness, fidelity and individual loveliness. Above all else it gives to it that affectionate reciprocity which is in itself the only real obedience to Christ's command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Therefore to all Idealists we would say, you have full authority from reason, intuition and from Nature for your Utopian hopes. Remember that the Master Idealist set the example, led the way and commanded his followers in all ages as follows: "Be ye perfect (ideal) even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect (Ideal)."

 

Materialism

To all calling themselves materialists let Christian Science speak the "Peace be still" of regenerative Love. As was of old, the message of Jesus, know that it is compassionate, forgiving, and filled to overflowing with the love that is merciful, with the mercy that is just. Oh, you who in our midst think that you find real pleasure in materialism, genuine happiness in depravity, drunkenness, dissipation and sensual gratification, we would have you know the operation of the eternal law of Cause and effect that "whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap". We would have you count the cost levied by this law upon yourselves and upon your offspring, a cost whose payment you should most soberly consider. The Christian Science healer and reformer who labors night and day prayerfully, lovingly and unselfishly by the bed of suffering breaking the bread of hope and courage to the thousands who have suffered "many things of many physicians, and who have been nothing benefited," laboring perhaps for months to turn a sinner from the error of his way, reforming the drunkard, delivering the drug user from the serfdom of his habit, comforting the sorrowing, emancipating the crippled child from its deformity, knows the real need of every nature that thinks it finds pleasure in materialism. We believe that many careers surrender themselves to materialistic pleasure in order to drown the horrors of a cruel world and the terrors of that one which is to come. We say to you with all the affection and compassion of Christ's followers, taste and know the pleasure, the bliss, the satisfaction and infinite meaning of righteousness, moral integrity, purity, love and the joys of Soul. Remember that eternal suffering means that as surrender is made to the lower nature, disease, pain and inharmony result. This is the case in this world, or plane of consciousness, and the same law will obtain in the next. Not the death of corporeality, but the death of false sources of pleasure and gratification will usher men into glorified being and immortal freedom. Well do the Christian Scientists know the large heartedness and compassion of that nature which is so peculiar to earth's Magdalens and Prodigals. Upon this very element the Master built the superstructure of the new life of the sorrowful, repentant woman of Palestine. Remember his tender words, "she loveth most to whom most is forgiven." So to all who look in wrong directions for the pleasure that seems to satisfy or for a time apparently drowns the misery of human existence, let Christian Science say with the emphasis of divine Love, "Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more." Let this infinite, long-suffering, merciful, forgiving love lead all who now love sin to the feet of the impersonal Saviour, Divine Science, which "taketh away the sins of the world," and christens with the new name of innocence and righteousness earth's wanderers and sin-lovers.

 

Deism

Christian Science addresses to that great class of minds known as Deists words of fraternal greeting. Deism is defined as acknowledgment of the existence of God. This affirmative statement opens the way for a final scientific unity in premise, demonstration and conclusion.

We believe so radically and practically in the All-Power of One Supreme Mind that we wholly disbelieve in any other so-called force, energy or element. Therefore we believe that the allness of God means the absolute supremacy of Mind, or Spirit, in the so-called physical realm as well as in the moral and mental. Hence the divine Mind-healing of disease that forms such an important part of Christian Science. This healing is the exact opposite of hypnotism, mind-cure, faith and prayer cure, suggestion, incantation and animal magnetism. Its method is scientific, exact, simple. Its rules are those of true Nature (Mind), and its demonstration successful in the ratio that the Principle (God) is understood by the healer and obeyed in right living and pure thinking.

 

Mary Baker Eddy

In the unfolding history of divine progress the eternal I AM, the infinite US, individualizes Himself and Herself through a representative. In the ascending order of creation set forth in the first chapter of the book of Genesis woman is presented as the highest type of creation and is therefore named last in the creative plan.

The Fatherhood of God, which has been in the past so largely interpreted and represented by the masculine mind, is now as in Genesis giving place to the elevation of the thought of the divine Motherhood of the creative US, as foreshadowed in the immaculate conception of Jesus, interpreted throughout his career in his own compassionate love, and through to its fuller revelation by the Science of Christianity, now given to the world through the spiritually illumined mind of an inspired woman, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. Think it not strange that this revered spiritual leader is beloved, when over a million grateful hearts turn to her in gratitude and thanksgiving as the instrument through which God has recorded the spiritual truths of Christian Science by which their diseases and sins have been taken from them.

As a friend she is unchanging, as a Reformer courageous, humble and unswerving in her adherence to the principles of right, justice and love.

As a mother in Israel she is forgiving, compassionate, and merciful. As the Leader of a world-wide movement and a great denomination, the ramifications of whose ideas enter into the very minutiae of human affairs, she manifests remarkable foresight, judgment and executive ability. But at no time and under no circumstances does her spiritual leadership ever suffer an eclipse from the elements that have made shipwreck of the careers of many great leaders in past history.

 

Conclusion

Christendom will be reunited. The hope of the ages will be realized. The Apostolic Catholic Church, whose seed was sown in the soil of the Master's life, and whose growth has been protected and nurtured by the holy lives of Christian history, will be re-established. The time for the reappearance of the religion of Jesus is now. The understanding of what constitutes universal Christianity will make Christian unity possible and practical. Christian Science, or scientific Christianity, can alone fulfill the prophecies and promises of Christ, and prove with signs following to every honest heart the beauty and worth of Christ's promise.

He formed no ecclesiastical institutions, nor did he establish a creedal system of religion. He appealed to the hearts of men and taught that the heavenly kingdom was within the purified consciousness of man and of woman. His journey through pastoral Palestine was a continued succession of spiritual triumphs. On certain days he healed thousands afflicted with disease. On other occasions the dead were raised, processions of mourning were turned into marches of triumph and rejoicing, and the tombs which gave up their dead at his command were transformed into monuments of immortality instead of death.

Sin he denominated moral error. He cured all evil by the application of the laws of Good. Sickness, pain and death he termed physical errors, and to them he applied the same law, the eternal Principle of the universe, as the Healer of disease as well as sin; and to his followers in all ages said: "The works that I do shall ye do also, and greater works than these shall ye do." Christian Science, as the Comforter, has come in the fulfillment of the promise of Christ to bring to this needy world, and to this particular period of human history, the great truth that the age of miracles has not passed, but that the compassionate, tender, healing and saving love of the eternal Christ abideth in our midst to-day

 

To preach deliverance to the captives [of sense],

And recovering of sight to the blind,

To set at liberty them that are bruised.

 

[Delivered Nov. 18, 1900, at the Wieting Opera House of Syracuse, New York, and published in The Evening Telegram of Syracuse, Nov. 19, 1900.]

 

 

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