The Way of Manís Deliverance from Evil
Herschel F. Nunn, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
I Will Arise and Go unto My Father
Christ Jesus often taught by parables. In the Gospel according to Luke is found the parable of the prodigal son, which is often referred to as "the pearl of parables."
It is the story of a young man's deliverance from evil, the age-old story of one who believed he could find satisfaction in the pleasures of matter at the expense of the surrender of true, enduring substance - the substance of goodness, loving thoughtfulness of others, respect and regard for parental affection, spiritual care and provision. The younger son has taken his portion of his inheritance, wandered into a far country, "wasted his substance with riotous living," and finally has found himself in poverty, living off the husks thrown to the swine. Through his suffering he is awakened to realize what he has lost. "And when he came to himself, he said: How many hired servants of my fatherís have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son."
"When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him, and said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand; and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found." When the elder son heard of the feast, he was angry, filled with self-righteous indignation that the younger son was so feasted upon his return from riotous living, while no such feast was given him who had remained at home serving his father. Then we hear the father say those immortal words ringing down the ages in their expression of true fatherhood: "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine."
Here is the heart and soul of the "pearl of parables." Christ Jesus is stating, in figurative language, the present fact of manís being: that "now are we the sons of God;" that all, not a portion, of the good our Father has in infinite abundance is ours, now, as His beloved sons.
Who of us has not wasted the substance of his thought, his character, his consciousness of being, in the riotous living of some mortal standard of conduct, only to discover its complete inability to satisfy him? Then have we longed to return to the home of our Father, to the arms of divine Love, to the rest and peace of spiritualized consciousness.
The Prayer of Spiritual Assurance
The Apostle John tells us, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." Each one of us is the son of the loving Father, God. If, in belief, one has wandered into a far country, if he has momentarily forgotten his place in the Father's house as His beloved son, he need never despair, he need never wait longingly for a time to return to his Father's house. He need only to say, in the earnestness of spiritual desire "I will arise and go unto my Father." It is thus that we pray; for is not true prayer a turning away from the allurements, the arguments, the false claims of the material sense of things, and a turning to God, to the spiritual sense of life and being, to the recognition of the divine ever-presence and all-power?
"I will arise and go to my Father." Only as we thus pray, as we so arise, do we find release from the claims of mortality. Only as we are earnestly, eagerly, honestly, unquestionably willing and ready to go to the Father, do we find thought awakening to divine reality. Then and then alone does our oneness with the divine Mind become spiritually tangible to us.†††
Christ Jesus did his mighty works because in his prayer and in his thinking he continually and consistently went unto the Father, divine Mind. Each one of us here today can find healing for himself and bring healing to others as he likewise goes unto the Father. This is because turning to God means a turning to the divine Principle of being, the basic cause of all creation. This Principle, this Cause is infinite good, always expressing good, always effecting good, thus silencing evil and the suggestions of evil.
To know God as good, as divine Principle, and, at the same time, to know Him as infinite divine Mind, the one and only real Mind, the only Mind of man, is to find a new basis for thought and life. It is to give up the belief in a mind apart from God in the recognition of the divine Mind as the source of all true knowing and being. To know God thus is to find the way of man's deliverance from evil, disease, and death.
Steps in Overcoming Evil
Now how shall we arise and go unto the Father? What are the steps involved? The beginner or the inquirer into Christian Science may wonder what stands in the way of one's thus arising.
The first testimony in the May, 1948, issue of The Christian Science Journal reads in part, "One day news was brought to our home of a healing of spinal meningitis and tuberculosis that had taken place in a neighbor's family through Christian Science." The writer then tells of procuring a copy of Science and Health in order to learn how such healings took place. She says: "It was the most difficult book I had ever tried to read, and becoming despondent one day I cried, O God, please give me this light; others are being greatly benefited by reading this book, why cannot I?' Suddenly I was aware of a warm light on the page. I had been given light; . . . the little book had become a companion!"
As she fed on the husks of materiality, of intellectuality, of mortal, human perception, the book was closed, but when she turned unreservedly to God in prayer for the light of true intelligence, when she thus arose and went to her Father, then her perception opened to understand the message in the pages of the little book.
No greater gift can come to one than to be delivered from the ignorance of mortal mind thinking into the humility of readiness to listen to the voice of the Christ, Truth, uttering the precious verities of spiritual being.
Sometimes it is fear, discouragement, unhappiness, self-pity, selfishness, or self-will that is closing our thought to spiritual perception. Sometimes it is antagonism to the fact that the message of Christian Science came to the world through the illumined thought of a woman, Mary Baker Eddy. Whatever it is, however the obstruction may be classified, it is some phase of the belief of life in matter, some phase of material sense, of the carnal or mortal mind.
Steps in Arising and Going unto the Father
In an article titled "The Way," in her work "Miscellaneous Writings," Mrs. Eddy points out three steps to be taken in finding our way to the Father. The first is self-knowledge, the second, humility, the third, love.
First Step: Self-Knowledge
Under the first step, self-knowledge, she says (p. 355), "To strike out right and left against the mist, never clears the vision; but to lift your head above it, is a sovereign panacea." We cannot hope to reach the Father's house if we cling to burdens of selfishness, materiality, and sin; only when we are willing to cast this baggage of error away can we make progress. "To strike out right and left against the mist" of error as though one were fighting with a definite reality has long been the method of mortals in endeavoring to overcome error and sin. "To lift your head above it," that is, to lift your thought above error and sin, is the way of Christian Science.
The Christian Scientist seeks to know the truth about God and himself. He declares: As my first step in self-knowledge I will arise and go to my Father. I will know what I am - the son of God. How can I return to the Father unless I know that I am God's son? The fact of my sonship is the basic fact of my being, of my identity. The fact of my sonship operates as a law of protection, preservation, supply to my present sense of existence, as a law of deliverance from evil. The fatherhood of the Father includes all this, includes the forever impartation of all the good the Father, God, divine Mind, has - spiritual understanding, inspiration, spiritual joy, spontaneity of thought, spiritual acumen, revelation, dominion. I am the son of God, the offspring of divine intelligence, divine Mind. How impossible then for me to be mentally dull, lacking in spontaneous expression of divine ideas! The Mind of the Father is the only Mind there is, or can be, the Mind I reflect. Self-knowledge is knowledge of my true selfhood, my Christ-consciousness, my spiritual identity as the reflection of Soul. I will arise and go to my Father. I will know myself as the son of God, the child of the Father-Mother, Love.
As I go unto the Father, as I acknowledge my true selfhood as the expression of the infinite Mind, I deeply repent. I turn from any sense of myself which material belief may have presented, and I honestly, steadfastly repudiate anything and everything which false belief may have pictured. Free of mental dullness, unhappiness, discouragement, fear, resentment, selfishness, sensitiveness, personal sense of friends or so-called enemies, free of the longing to understand or to be good, because the son does not long for that which is already his by inheritance, I enter into my heritage, acknowledge my birthright, know even as also I am known. The I AM that is the Father is reflected in the I am that is the son, divine Principle and divine idea at one.
It was when he came to himself that the prodigal said, "I will arise and go to my father." If one is having an unpleasant dream he may dream of trying to wake up, of having quite a struggle to do so, then to his great relief he finds himself awake. The person who was asleep and dreaming was the same person who is now awake. There were not two separate mentalities involved, but only one. When he first awakened, there may have been a period of being only partially awake, or rather sluggish thinking. But finally, with the awakening process continuing, the individual is fully awake and alert.
This illustrates in a way what is going on in the redemption of human consciousness, in the achievement of true self-knowledge. It is an awakening process, a coming to oneself awakening from the dream of life and intelligence in matter to the consciousness of true selfhood. Because of the fact that man has no mind but the divine Mind, no Mind but God, he never was in reality in a dream consciousness, a human consciousness of both good and evil, but always at one with his Father, always at the standpoint of reflection of the one Mind.
Now, in this first arising and going to the Father, the first steps in spiritual awakening,
there may seem to be a struggle; there may seem to be difficulties in coming out of the dream. However, the process is shortened, the way made easier, when we constantly keep in mind two vital facts, namely: first the dream consciousness is entirely unreal; second, the only true consciousness of man is the divine understanding, manís reflection of the one infinite Mind. This means not that the so-called human consciousness eventually becomes the divine, but that the human consciousness is replaced by the divine.
The Human and the Divine Coincidence
Mrs. Eddy says in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 100): "Science speaks when the senses are silent, and then the evermore of Truth is triumphant. The spiritual monitor understood is coincidence of the divine with the human, the acme of Christian Science. Pure humanity, friendship, home, the interchange of love, brings to earth a foretaste of heaven."
Every healing, every deliverance from evil, which has ever been accomplished by spiritual means, has been a result of the human and the divine coincidence. When the human consciousness yields to the divine, the false consciousness of matter and spirit, of evil and good, of mortality and immortality, gives way to the divine understanding of God's allness. This understanding sees that good alone is real clearly enough to bring healing to the sick, joy to the sorrowing, and to the disconsolate the peace of spiritual knowing.
Let us see what Webster says about this word "coincidence." One definition is, "The condition of coinciding." And coincide means, "To correspond exactly in nature, character, result." And another definition is, "To occupy the same place in space." It is easy to see how the first of these definitions applies to what Mrs. Eddy says, because "pure humanity, friendship, home, the interchange of love," correspond in nature to divine Love in its provision for man. Every demonstration of the truth of being is coincidence of the divine with the human; but since we know that demonstration in Christian Science is not a human process, but is actually the divine appearing, then what happens in the so-called human must always be a clearer perception of the divine - divine Being better seen.
Now, for the second part of the definition, "To occupy the same place in space." If a man were watching two large rocks roll down a hillside, he would not expect them to coincide, to occupy the same place in space at the bottom of the hill. Coincide would be the wrong word to use. On the other hand, if the man were looking at one of those exquisite yellow roses known as the Ville de Paris through a green glass so that he found himself seeing a green rose instead of a yellow one, he could expect coincidence to take place between the false concept and the exquisite yellow fact merely by removing the green glass from in front of his vision. The mistaken sense or false concept of the rose and the rose itself were brought into coincidence when the mistaken sense vanished before the fact. This is not two realities brought into accord, but fact replacing false conception.
A Remarkable Healing by Mrs. Eddy
We find in "Historical Sketches"
by Judge Clifford P. Smith an account of one of Mrs. Eddy's healings. It
occurred in 1888, when Mrs. Eddy was living at 385 Commonwealth Avenue in
What absolute assurance our Leader must have had of the coincidence of the divine with the human. The divine fact of the perfection of God and man appeared so clearly to her that the human concept had to yield, and what we term demonstration in Christian Science occurred.
At the pool of Bethesda, Christ Jesus, in true self-knowledge, saw so clearly the divine fact of wholeness, activity, freedom of motion, and of man as sinless, perfect, and free, that the human immediately coincided with these facts, to the extent that the man who had had an infirmity thirty and eight years was made whole, took up his bed, and walked. Infirmity was proved noncoincidental with the spiritual fact of the perfection of the divine idea.
When Jesus experienced the crucifixion, he was so conscious of his divine sonship or being that instead of the human coinciding with the beliefs of fear, pain, and death, the human coincided with the divine, spiritual, eternal facts of man's indestructible, spiritual, immortal life in God, and the resurrection occurred. After that came the ascension, when the coincidence of the divine with the human was so complete that the human disappeared, overshadowed and replaced by the divine idea. This illustrated and proved that all that was real or true about the human Jesus at any time was the divine Christ. All that is true about you or me, right now, is our true selfhood, our true, spiritual identity in the likeness of the divine. The wonderful thing that has come to this age is that through Christian Science we may so clearly see the coincidence of the divine with the human that we may find freedom from fear, sorrow, disease, lack, unhappiness. This is demonstrated in Christian Science, which results from true self-knowledge - knowledge of true selfhood.
Second Step: Humility
After the first step in going unto the Father - self-knowledge - comes the second step, humility.
In speaking of Jesus' demonstration of the Christ, a writer in the Christian Science Sentinel of March 27, 1948, says of its accomplishment that it is "the lifting up in consciousness of the spiritual man, or son of God. In order that this may be achieved, the human sense of being must be humbled; the human must retire before the divine." And further in the article the writer states: "The humility of Jesus forsakes limitations and achieves reality. His humility is living acknowledgement of man's eternal divinity, untouched by material personality."
A Christian Scientist, one time spoke of the Christ as "that withinness of consciousness which is free from finite personality." In this spiritual consciousness, this Christ-consciousness, we find our sonship recognized as the human sense of being is humbled, as the human retires before the divine.
The Christ-consciousness of the divine presence does not come to the human sense which is striving for self-aggrandizement, position, human power. Can one imagine the man blind from birth having his sight restored by any potential of human efficiency, by any exuberance of human, personal magnetism? Could anything but this selfless humility, this divinity of sonship, this Christ-consciousness which characterized Jesus, bring about such a healing? These qualities appear in the healing work of Christian Scientists today, as shown by a practitioner whose consecrated work resulted in a convincing healing, recorded in a recent testimony in The Christian Science Journal.
The writer of the testimony tells of her healing when a child of eight from the after-effects of a severe attack of scarlet fever. She was treated by the family physician, who was also their next-door neighbor and family friend. Despite his best efforts, her throat would not heal, and after several weeks, during which she grew steadily weaker, the doctor said she had only a short time to live, as she was unable to swallow solid food, and most of the time lay in a semiconscious state. Her mother had been healed in one treatment of chronic throat trouble and the necessity of wearing a spinal brace, which she had worn for ten years after being thrown from her horse. In spite of her husband's opposition and the doctor's warning that it was unlikely that the child would survive, they turned to Christian Science.
She says: "We arrived in the afternoon and took a taxi straight to the practitioner's office. I can still remember crying in the elevator from pain. The practitioner welcomed us and made me comfortable upon a couch. Since this occurred more than twenty years ago, I remember nothing that was said during the visit, but I shall never forget the radiance of the practitioner's face and the atmosphere of love, joy, and peace. At length, she closed her eyes in silent prayer. And as she prayed, I was instantaneously, completely, and permanently healed. Upon leaving the office, we walked three blocks to a hotel . . . I was feeling so buoyant that I was skipping. That night I ate everything I liked, the first real food for weeks."
Third Step: Love
"The third stage of mental growth," says Mrs. Eddy (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 357), "is manifested in LOVE, the greatest of all stages and states of being; love that is irrespective of self, rank, or following." And she adds (pp. 357, 358): "Divine Love is the substance of Christian Science, the basis of its demonstration, yea, its foundation and superstructure. Love impels good works. Love is greatly needed, and must be had to mark the way in divine Science."
To know God as divine Love is to know Him as infinite good, as eternal perfection, as that self-existent entity who is the source and substance of all blessedness, peace, harmony, and happiness. Perfection could not be described more beautifully than by means of the word "Love," Love used in its highest, holiest sense. Such is our God who is Love that He could have no thinking in His universe contrary to His divine nature, could never conceive anything contrary to this nature. Divine Love has no sense of hatred. It is eternally Love; it is equally Love to every creature in the universe.
Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Baker Eddy's life was one of true self-knowledge, humility and love. She was ever one to arise and go to the Father in finding the answer to every demand of her career. It was always her message she sought to put forth to men, never her personality. She wrote to a minister who desired an interview with her, "Those who look for me in person, or elsewhere than in my writings, lose me instead of find me" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 120).
A Christian Scientist whom I knew for many years wrote of our Leader as follows: "I knew Mrs. Eddy slightly, and yet I deem it a great privilege to have known her at all, and upon one occasion I had an interview lasting some time, which was the means of my becoming more personally acquainted with her than had been my privilege prior to that time. I have sometimes been asked to describe her, and I couldn't do it. Not but that that wonderful personality was well worth describing, but because of something else, something that is greater than all personality however attractive - because of thought, of† Mind, of Truth itself, of the majesty and grandeur and power of it, for when Mrs. Eddy began to speak of the naturalness of divine Love, of the availableness of it, of the law of it, of the ever-presence of it, and you saw how it operates to heal the sick invariably, no matter how sick they may be, how it overcomes sin and sorrow and prevents people from dying, and must eventually raise the dead and has done so many times - when she spoke of these things in that unique and unapproachable eloquence of hers, one's whole attention was engrossed with the great things of being, and personality, even her own, delightful and charming as it was, was entirely forgotten; and I am sure that this was as she would have it, because she gave us the Science of Mind, the Science of the Christ, and she herself saw that the thought of personality tends to hide that Science. She saw that thought must be above personality and gradually then what is called person is blessed and healed, and his human condition greatly improved by the remedy which is always in the realm of thought that really sets aside any thought of personality, of one's self or anyone else; and that Mrs. Eddy gave to the world."
World in Need of Deliverance
The world is sadly in need of deliverance from the evils of fear, uncertainty, materiality, and limitation which are besetting it. The chaotic condition of world thinking today shows clearly that men must came to the position of saying, "I will arise and go unto my Father." Every individual must seek the Science of Christianity, Christian Science, for it reveals what God is and what man really is.
Three Steps Illustrated by Jesus' Temptation in the Wilderness
Jesus' temptation in the wilderness can be used as an illustration of the three steps given in "The Way." If we look at what happened there from a subjective rather than from an objective point of view, we can understand it better. Satan, of course, did not come to Jesus as a personality dressed in scarlet, with a long forked tail, but entirely as false suggestion. "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." Here the temptation to Jesus was to see his sonship as false suggestion would present it - as a personal thing, a supremely good personality. Satan's point of view of the Son of God would have been anything but the spiritual idea of sonship evidenced in Christ Jesus. Satan would have personalized good, would have seen a very good person, the same sense as that entertained by the rich young man whom Jesus rebuked with the query, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God."
Why would it have been wrong for Jesus to make the stones bread? Why any different than turning the water into wine? Was it not that in the one case it was suggestion and in the other it was meeting a definite human need? Well, one might ask, was there not a human need for bread on Jesus' part? There might have been, but Christ Jesus possessed enough self-knowledge to discern the difference between demonstration and suggestion. Mrs. Eddy speaks of this as the anatomy of Christian Science, mental self-knowledge, the ability to dissect thought, to determine which thought is human, which thought divine. That Jesus rightly divided between the two is proved by the temptations which followed - to cast himself down from the pinnacle, to gain the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; there was no righteousness in either one of those.
The Humility of Christ Jesus
Here the second step, humility comes in. In all humility he saw that to throw himself down in order to prove his ability to demonstrate God's protection was to exalt the human, exalt self, instead of a clear spiritual recognition of his divinity untouched by suggestion or the result of suggestion.
Here was a humility so pure, so untainted by personal sense, as to be wholly unconscious of selfhood as a human person called upon to prove the truth of being. It was a humility expressing the divinity of true manhood, oneness with God, showing forth the individuality of the perfect man, God's spiritual idea, so radiantly, so completely, as to be of itself all the proof of God's presence that could or should be required.
True humility is a prerequisite to healing. It is a complete going unto the Father and that it is a complete self-surrender. It is not self-condemnation, but self-renunciation - false selfhood renounced, true selfhood recognized. It is a glorious dominion of meekness which says, in the words of Christ Jesus, "I and my Father are one," but at the same time says, "The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself; but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10).
Just as Christ Jesus found deliverance from evil's temptations and found his true individuality in his Christ-consciousness, so do you and I find our true selfhood or true individuality in our Christ-consciousness. Jesus was the human man, Christ the divine idea. The Christ-consciousness of the man Jesus was his divine nature which he demonstrated in his daily living so completely that in his human experience he became the Way-shower, pointing the way of salvation for all mankind.
The Satisfying Sense of Knowing God
Truly to come unto the Father is to come into that conscious oneness with God which rejoices in a spiritual sense so satisfying that the individual is never satisfied with anything less. Christian Science points out to us that God is Soul, Spirit, Love, Truth, Principle, Life, Mind. When satisfaction is found in Soul; when spiritual sense supplies us with the happiness which is born only of the Spirit; when the radiance of divine Love's provision of good showers its blessing infinite; when the certainty and stability of Truth assures us of its substance, its permanent value; when the invariableness of Principle strengthens and deepens our assurance of God's presence and power; when the continuance, the eternality, the infinity of Life divine is seen as our only sense of life, the reality of our being; when it is seen that divine Mind expresses its infinite ideas as its own image and likeness, man; then, and not until then, shall we truly know a repentance which is never to be repented of, a decisive turning from the husks of materiality to God, infinite Spirit. This is because we have reached the position where, to quote our Leader (Science and Health, p. 520): "Unfathomable Mind is expressed. The depth, breadth, height, might, majesty, and glory of infinite Love fill all space. That is enough!" This is the Christ-consciousness of unselfed thinking, of true self-knowledge, the true humility which has risen to meet the Father. It is also the consciousness which, in the awareness of Love's reflection of Love, hears the Father say, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine."
Christ Jesus' Reflection of Love
The third step, love. Love for God and love for mankind saved Jesus from the last temptation. He was far more interested in saving mortals from their fears, their ignorance, their diseases of mind and body, than he was to gain dominion over the whole world. Love will save us too, save us from a consuming desire for place and power, in our home, in our church, in our business or profession.
"Self-knowledge, humility, and love are divine strength."
Says our Leader in "The Way" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 358), "Human pride is human weakness. Self-knowledge, humility, and love are divine strength. Christ's vestures are put on only when mortals are 'washed in the blood of the Lamb,' we must walk in the way which Jesus marked out, if we would reach the heaven-crowned summit of Christian Science." "Washed in the blood of the Lamb" - is not this the thought which is washed of human ways and means? Is it not the thought which lovingly humbly lays aside human will, human outlining, human pride of opinion, which willingly arises and goes unto the Father ready to walk the way - the way of Truth, of Love, of Principle, of divine Mind's directing.
Is not this the thought which when faced with decision, with a problem to solve, with a temptation of evil to believe in life in matter, deeply questions, Am I ready to go unto the Father? Christian Science teaches us how to declare in true self-knowledge and to prove that I am the son of the Father, the Father's Mind is my Mind, my thinking is this one Mind knowing its own being. God, the only self-existent, the I AM THAT I AM, is the only presence, the only intelligence I can know. In the humility of true selflessness, ready to lay aside any cherished practice of false selfhood, of human will or human desire, I walk as man having dominion over all the earth because I do not mine own will but the will of Him that sent me.
In love that includes all in a spiritual affection, which silences the smallness of mere personal attachment, stills the pettiness of human striving for advantage, casts out the gnawing desire for personal attention, I rest in the satisfaction of Soul-sense, the assurance of Truth's certainty, the clarity of divine Mind's knowing. In this position I move forward confidently, serenely, rejoicingly, knowing that my path is well defined before me, for my Leader tells me, "Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way" (Science and Health, p. 454).
Self-knowledge which knows oneself as the son of God, humility which wisely waits for the divine Christ to go first and then follows after, love which seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness - this is the demonstrated life; this is man's oneness with the Father made practical as the present reality of being; this is true sonship acknowledged; this is the way of deliverance from evil; this is indeed arising and going unto the Father. In Revelation we read (21:7), "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son."
[Published in The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, Sept. 27, 1956.]