Christian Science: The Power of an Active Faith
John D. Pickett, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
A free lecture on Christian Science, "Christian Science: The Power of an Active Faith" was given in the church edifice of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, corner of Grand Central and Cedar Avenues, Tampa, Florida, by John D. Pickett, C.S., of Chicago, III., Monday evening, April 9, at 8:00 o'clock.
He was introduced by Harry Manca, First Reader of the Church, who said:
"Friends, First Church of Christ, Scientist, Tampa, welcomes you to this free lecture entitled, "Christian Science: The Power of an Active Faith," by John D. Pickett, of Chicago, Illinois, who is a member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. Our lecturer brings us a message of the faith that responds to divine healing. Mr. Pickett."
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, was once asked the cardinal point where Christian Science differs from all other metaphysical systems. She answered, "This: that by knowing the unreality of disease, sin, and death, you demonstrate the allness of God" (Unity of Good, pp. 9, 10). The significance of Christian Science healing is that when our faith is freed from false material beliefs and advanced to spiritual understanding, we are enabled to prove the unreality of disease.
Two unforgettable incidents in the life of our Master, Christ Jesus, reveal the power of faith understandingly aligned with God. A great windstorm arose as Jesus and his disciples were crossing a certain lake. The raging of the storm filled the boat with water, and filled his disciples with fear. Jesus rebuked the wind, and the sea became calm. Then turning to his disciples, he said, "Where is your faith?" (Luke 8:25.) Again; two blind men came to Jesus to be healed. Jesus asked them, "Believe ye that I am able to do this?" They said, "Yea, Lord." And Jesus restored their sight. The Bible records him as saying, "According to your faith be it unto you" (Matt. -29).
In these healings Jesus brings out the two points that are the basis of healing in Christian Science. First, Jesus points to the lack of faith of the disciples and the blind men when they were accepting the fears and doubts of mortal belief. Second, through healing their fear and blindness he demonstrated the healing power of righteous faith when God is understood. Faith in matter is just as impotent, just as powerless today as it was in Jesus' time. Thinkers in the field of military science, politics, diplomacy, materia medica, and physics are today seeking something beyond ordinary material means to solve the world's problems. The age seems ready to lift its faith in matter to faith in the power and supremacy of Spirit.
The Understanding of God the Goal of True Faith
God, the divine Mind, is acknowledged by Christian Scientists to be the source of all true activity, power, and progress. We learn in Christian Science to know God as All-in-all.
The realization of God's allness brings to us the assurance that He is the only God, the only Mind, the only power, the only presence. We know God as Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, and Love. In the understanding of God's true nature, our faith, rising to a higher sense of Spirit, unfolds naturally into spiritual understanding. God becomes very near to us through Christian Science. We learn to know God not only as our Father, divine Principle, but as our Mother, infinite Life and Love. Our faith unfolds naturally into the spiritual understanding of God, who is so near, so real to us, so abundant in His blessings, so healing in His love.
It would seem, because of the blessings it brings, that it would be a simple thing to maintain our faith in God, good. And so it would be, were it not that the power of our faith is constantly being sought by forces both good and evil. Faith in material beliefs is barren. Faith in Spirit is a two-way channel of activity. If lifted to God our faith unfolds into spiritual understanding. Then we reflect the power of God. The healing power of God always accompanies a true understanding of Him.
Bible Points to Both the Roots and Fruitage of Faith
Faith advanced to spiritual understanding is always accompanied by proof. Paul pointed to the evidence of true faith when he said, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). You learn in Christian Science to advance your faith to the substance of Spirit and prove the power of spiritual understanding.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, knew and proved by her inspired life the power of faith when it unfolds into a spiritual understanding of God. On page 1of the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," she writes, "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, – a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love." James writes (1:4-6): "Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally. . . . But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering."
To have a practical, usable understanding of the power of God is the need of mankind. Christian Science shows humanity how to break the fetters of its faith in material beliefs and to advance faith in spiritual consciousness radiant with the power of divine Mind. Christian Science is the Science of Mind-healing, but it demonstrates that the Mind that heals is the Mind which is God. We acknowledge God, the divine Mind, to be the only Mind. Some not understanding the spiritual source of Christian Science mistake it for what is popularly termed faith-cure. The mission of Christian Science is to lift faith to spiritual understanding. Some unacquainted with its divine Principle believe it to be the power of mind over matter. On the contrary, we learn in Christian Science the unreality of both mortal mind and matter. We learn to prove the power of the divine Mind, God, over all the ills peculiar to humanity.
The Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, states (p. 297): "Faith is higher and more spiritual than belief. It is a chrysalis state of human thought, in which spiritual evidence, contradicting the testimony of material sense, begins to appear, and Truth, the ever-present, is becoming understood." Human consciousness enlightened by spiritual understanding is able to uncover and destroy the false testimony of material sense. Consciousness then rises naturally into an effective, demonstrable understanding of Spirit, God.
All that is true, all that is real, is included in God's infinite nature. Therefore through the spiritual understanding of Truth we grow into the knowledge of God. Christian Science teaches that anything apart from God is without life, without reality. Sin, sickness, and death are without the realm of God's perfect nature. Therefore these ungodlike traits are without basis or reality. Christian Science proves that the claims to reality of sin, disease, and death disappear in our experience as we come into the spiritual understanding of Truth. This conforms with the Bible's statement of God's will for man (I Tim. 2:4), "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
The two great needs of mankind are to discard false physical sense testimony and to acknowledge the power of spiritual understanding. The Scriptures record Jeremiah's words: "For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jer. 2:13). We are enabled by Christian Science to correct these two evils: to reject the false beliefs of mortal mind; to prove the power of the divine Mind, God.
It is sometimes said by opponents of Christian Science that it dishonors God by looking to the human mind for healing. On the contrary, Christian Science reveals to its students that God is All-in-all. It enables one to use the same Mind that Christ Jesus used in healing the sick; to prove the divine Mind, God, is an ever-present help in all mortal difficulties and the only help we need.
The true knowledge of God enables us to know Him spiritually, to communicate with Him understandingly, to express the power of His love in healing and serving our fellow man.
Healing Power of Spiritual Understanding
It is sometimes mistakenly said of Christian Science that it attempts to heal with Spirit a material body which it says is unreal. What Christian Science heals is the false belief that the insubstantial material body is man's true individuality. Christian Science heals by freeing human consciousness from the belief that it is imprisoned in matter.
A Bible incident illustrates this
point. A crippled man lay for thirty-eight years at the pool of
In healing the crippled man, Jesus gave three rules for turning from an inactive faith in matter to the power of consciousness understandingly aligned with Spirit. These rules point to three steps in Christian Science healing. First, Jesus told the man to "Rise." That is, relinquish your faith in material remedies and let your faith rise into the realization of God's perfection and love, into the understanding of your sonship with God. Second: "Take up thy bed." That is, lift your faith from ineffectual materiality to the spiritual understanding of God, the perfect creator. Third: "Walk." Walk in the Spirit. Go forth in the understanding that now, today, you live in Spirit. Rejoice in the divine fact that you express the perfection of Spirit. The understanding and practice of these three rules will enable you to prove that faith uplifted to the spiritual understanding of God heals sin and sickness, and brings salvation to mankind now.
Matter is constantly making bids for our faith. Being temporal and unreal, matter is powerless to substantiate its false claims to reality. When through Christian Science our faith is lifted into spiritual understanding, the discords and limitations of matter disappear and the reality and beauty of Spirit appear. Matter seems real to the five physical senses. The challenge is to relinquish our faith in the false testimony of the physical senses and to strengthen our trust in Spirit, God, the only real substance. The Christian Science textbook states (p. 426), "The relinquishment of all faith in death and also of the fear of its sting would raise the standard of health and morals far beyond its present elevation, and would enable us to hold the banner of Christianity aloft with unflinching faith in God, in Life eternal." "Faith in death" is a startling statement, is it not? However, we have only to look about us to see that faith in matter leads to faith in death. Faith in matter's temporal nature is shown by such earthly phenomena as decrepitude, disease, and death. Paul gives us rules for the fulfillment of our faith. He says, "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:1,2). If we are obedient to this command of the Bible, consciousness soars to final freedom, and faith finds rest from distracting inventions, speculative learning, and mortal woe.
Only the things of Spirit are substantial, real, and eternal. God, the divine Mind, is the source of all beauty, health, perfection, joy, and love. Should it not be natural for the faith of each one of us to turn understandingly to God? The flower turns naturally to the sun. As our faith is advanced to the spiritual understanding of God we increasingly express the desirable qualities that constitute God's nature. These divine qualities, such as intelligence, joy, peace, health, constitute the real nature of man. They do not clamor for recognition as do evil traits, but are always quietly available, waiting to heal and bless, to bring to us comfort, peace, and joy.
Salvation Through Spiritual Understanding
In the suppositional warfare between Truth and error, Christian Science is a two-edged sword, simple to use and effective in operation. Obstructing mortal beliefs are destroyed, and this Science reveals to us the power of spiritual understanding. Sin, sickness, and death lose their claim to reality as our faith in them is relinquished.
Consciousness lifted to the spiritual understanding of Life and Love brings a true sense of reality into our experience. A demonstrable understanding of God is the true way of salvation. Salvation is defined in the Christian Science textbook as follows: "Life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; sin, sickness, and death destroyed" (Science and Health, p. 593). This is all the salvation we need. This is the only salvation there is. Mortal mind presents many material ways of salvation. We learn in Christian Science that it is only when our faith in material things is relinquished and consciousness is lifted to Spirit, God, that we are assured of salvation from the errors of mortal sense. Humanity's great need is for a way out of the problems of the mortal sense of life.
The Christ way of salvation is assured. It is always at hand. It is as close as your own consciousness, as certain as God's unfailing love.
Christian Science teaches that salvation is not to be obtained in a future existence after death, but that today, right now, is the time to work out our salvation. The Bible reveals the present possibility of salvation – reveals it so forcibly, tells it so clearly that mankind's faith in death as a way of salvation is fast disappearing. Let me read what the King James Version of the Bible, the Bible used by many Protestant churches, has to say of salvation: "For now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day" (Rom. -13). The Bible brings Christ Jesus close to us when it says, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). Christian Scientists accept this command of the Bible. In this true way of salvation lies our faith. The sixth tenet of Christian Science reads, "And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure" (Science and Health, p. 497).
The Discoverer and Founder
Mary Baker Eddy's life was an
example of the power of God understood. When a child, Mrs. Eddy lived a
sheltered life as a member of a God-loving
Humanity is forever indebted to
men such as Wycliffe, Huss, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and others who struggled
for spiritual freedom. The work of these reformers in bringing the spiritual
truths of the Bible to human consciousness helped to make it possible for
She established a Church that is encircling the globe and is teaching thousands to heal as Jesus healed. Mrs. Eddy also provided periodicals that are bringing the healing truth of God's love to mankind and established a daily newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, that is outstandingly serving the world's need today for enlightened understanding. By her works, Mrs. Eddy proved the healing power of thought understandingly aligned with God.
Spirit the Foundation of Christian Science Demonstration
To demonstrate Christian Science effectively we must protect our faith from the suggestions of material beliefs, and seek the reality of Spirit. Is there an inharmonious condition that seems to be resisting your work in Christian Science? Then go over your work, review your prayers. See if you have severed faith in illusory matter and are spiritually realizing the present perfection of Spirit and Spirit's creation. Make sure that you are not holding the belief that it is discordant or painful matter that is to be made into well matter. Sick matter and well matter are both illusions of the carnal mind. Be certain and true in your awareness that the sickness is not a reality but an illusion, a false belief that Truth needs to correct.
It you find yourself working to heal matter, your faith still rests in matter and needs to be lifted to the understanding of Spirit. Let me illustrate. A student of Christian Science had worked for some time to heal a condition of the eye caused by a foreign particle. The student decided to call a Christian Science practitioner for help. Within an hour the eye was freed from the particle and normal vision restored. When expressing gratitude for the healing this student asked the practitioner, "Why was it that I worked at length without complete results, but with the help of a practitioner the healing was immediate?" After thinking a moment, the practitioner said: "You and I would resist the temptation to use a material remedy for healing. It is even more important that we know there is no material object to be healed. It is an illusion of mortal sense that needs to be corrected. Mortal illusion vanishes in the light of spiritual Truth. If matter enters into your consciousness as a reality in any way, the healing is proportionally retarded." From that time on there was definite progress in the student's ability to heal in Christian Science.
Christ Jesus the Way-shower
The Bible refers to Christ Jesus as "the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). Through his spiritual ascension after his resurrection from the grave, Jesus proved that the Christ reflected is man's true selfhood. He showed the way of eternal Life for each of us. Christian Science distinguishes between the human Jesus and his eternal, spiritual individuality, the Christ. Jesus was the human man. The Christ was Jesus' divine nature. Christian Science reveals that the Christ was also the divine nature of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and the prophets. What is the Christ? The Christian Science textbook states
(p. 583); Christ. The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error." That is, to destroy fear, envy, sin, disease, and death. These false conditions obstruct human progress and hide our true individuality.
The Christ unveils in human consciousness the life-giving graces of Spirit such as joy, health, spiritual understanding, peace. The Christian Science textbook states (p. 333), "Christ expresses God's spiritual, eternal nature." Jesus taught that the Christ nature is the true nature of all men. The Bible states, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world" (Titus 2:11-12). Five divine characteristics of the Christ are revealed by this statement. It is the "grace of God." It "bringeth salvation." It "hath appeared to all men." It denies "ungodliness." Its power is available "in this present world." This eternal Christ is your divine nature. Our Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, knew the Christ was her divine nature. She knew that in the understanding of the Christ lay the power of her faith. She writes, "Obey strictly the laws that be, and follow your Leader only so far as she follows Christ" (Message to The Mother Church for 1901, p. 34). Let your faith advance to spiritual understanding. As you do, glorious glimpses of the Christ will come to you and baptize you in the divine nature, the essence of Love. You will thus be able to demonstrate the power of the Christ in healing and serving your fellow man.
Righteous Prayer Lifts Faith to Spiritual Power
You may ask. How can I keep my faith uplifted into a demonstrable understanding of Spirit, God? The answer: through prayer. Prayer lifts faith into spiritual understanding. Then God's blessings come to us.
Our roots, our faith, our thoughts, our prayers, must ever be planted deep in the understanding of divine Love. Then the beauty, health, holiness of Love's divine nature will blossom in us and be expressed through us in healing, which is the result of our love for God and man. Mrs. Eddy states (Miscellaneous Writings, pp. 196, 197), "The Scriptures require more than a simple admission and feeble acceptance of the truths they present; they require a living faith, that so incorporates their lessons into our lives that these truths become the motive-power of every act."
The Redemptive Power of Our Faith
Most of us know the story of the prodigal son. Let me tell you the story of the prodigal daughter. This woman was loved by our heavenly Father, who loves all His children. It seemed as if the claims of evil turned her faith away from divine Love to faith in material possessions, clothes, glamorous physicality. To be the object of the attentions and praise of the world seemed desirable to this woman. But there evidently came a time when she realized that happiness was not to be found in these ways. She found herself barred from society. Her tears tell on the hollow emptiness of her life. She was a "strange woman." She no doubt felt a stranger to the good, the real, the true joy of life. She had no place to go. Then Mary Magdalene (as she has since been called) learned of Jesus. Here was one who recognized her true nature. He knew her true spiritual self that she so longed to be. She brought to Jesus, as he dined with friends, her most costly possession – fragrant oil. With this oil she anointed his feet, having first bathed them with her own tears. Did he repel her adoration? No. He regarded her compassionately. Jesus knew the critical thoughts directed towards her by those present. So did the woman. Here were men who scorned and condemned her. How variable is mortal mind. How quickly is our faith betrayed by its empty promises. How often in place of its praise do we find ourselves the object of its accusations. Jesus' faith in Mary Magdalene was spiritual. He said, "Thy sins are forgiven" (Luke ). And the "strange woman," the prodigal daughter, then realized the reality of her true selfhood. Through him was revealed to her the unfailing security of God's love and the power of the Christ. Mary Magdalene never betrayed her Master. She was last at the cross and first at the sepulcher – first to see the risen Christ.
Our Leader's deep spiritual insight discerned humanity's true nature. Mrs. Eddy has placed the story of Mary Magdalene at the beginning of the chapter of her textbook called "Christian Science Practice." So that our faith in our ability to practice Christian Science healing can never be shaken, Mrs. Eddy has written, "If the Scientist has enough Christly affection to win his own pardon, and such commendation as the Magdalen gained from Jesus, then he is Christian enough to practise scientifically and deal with his patients compassionately; and the result will correspond with the spiritual intent" (Science and Health, p. 365).
Mankind's Search for Demonstrative Faith
Through the years mankind has never ceased searching for the power of an active faith. It has never been found in matter or in mortal consciousness. "Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty," said David (I Chron. 29:11). A hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal reads (No. 205):
"O for a faith that will not shrink,
Though pressed by every foe;
That will not tremble on the brink
Of any earthly woe."
Let me tell you of a healing with which I am personally familiar, that shows how Christian Science protects faith from false material beliefs and reveals the healing power of spiritual understanding.
A man fell on the icy steps of the building where he was employed. His kneecap was shattered. He called a Christian Science practitioner for help. Man's perfection as God's expression was realized by both the practitioner and his friend. It was seen that such an incident could not have occurred in the reality of God's spiritual creation. The pain ceased and the swelling disappeared. The next morning the man was healed. He went to work as usual. Several days later the medical examiner of the company insuring the employees of the firm he worked for insisted on an examination. The medical examiner told him the X-ray showed his kneecap had been shattered in fragments but had been perfectly brought together in a manner humanly impossible. The doctor told the Christian Scientist these cases were slow and difficult to heal and advised him to have his leg put in a cast and immobilized for at least two months. He replied that Christian Science had healed his knee and he would continue to rely on God's power to sustain him.
But our friend's faith was still to be tested. He was told that the insurance company would pay his hospitalization and all other expenses and arrange a financial settlement greater than the salary he was receiving from his business. Again he refused. He rejected the belief that true gain or profit of any kind could come to him by turning from the healing love of God to material methods of healing.
Finally, he was tempted in another way. He was told by well-meaning associates that he needed a rest. They told him he could have a long vacation from business with all expenses paid if he would go to the hospital as the doctor advised. He held to what he had learned in Christian Science, that life is not ease in matter or getting something without returning value received. He held to what Christian Science had revealed to him, that Life is God and to live is to express God actively, joyously, in serving Him and one's fellow man. He stood firm in the truth that nothing was to be gained but much to be lost by turning from God to matter for supply, health, and life. He continued his usual business activities. He had no trouble with his kneecap. This experience strengthened his faith by giving him a clearer understanding of the power of God's unfailing love.
Spiritual Understanding Assures Good Business
Businessmen and businesswomen are immeasurably helped by Christian Science. It brings to them the power of thought understandingly aligned with God. My business experience started at a very early age. Although I was considered a successful young businessman, I had little confidence in myself alone. To do my best I often worked as though the owner of the business were at my side. Later as a student of Christian Science this trait, which I thought was an inferiority complex, proved to be my greatest asset. I learned that I needed someone always at my side. Through Christian Science I learned to know that God was always with me, always willing to heal and guide. My faith, which wavered when I turned to a human sense of self, became unwavering and dependable when, through Christian Science, it was understandingly aligned with God. Many trials came to me in business, but God's presence always guided my activities into green and fruitful pastures. Spiritual blessings never fail to accompany the true understanding of God.
When working for success in business, I learned to lay aside all thoughts of human business, either good or bad. My thoughts were lifted to God. I tried to realize that the only true business is God's business. I tried to know that God's business is the only business going on – that it is a business invisible to material sense, but nevertheless going on harmoniously, eternally, and uninterruptedly in the universe of Spirit. In God's business there is no inactivity, no unjust competition, no pressure, no failure. There is no obstruction in God's business. All is divine activity. When our faith rests in the spiritual understanding of God's business, we become refreshed, inspired, joyous, and loving. We are then equipped by our spiritual understanding of God to go out and meet and solve successfully the problems which accompany human business.
Our Blessings Come Through Enlightened Faith in God
"According to your faith be it unto you," said Jesus (Matt. ). Someone may ask, "Please tell me plainly how can I disengage my faith from matter and lift it to the spiritual understanding of God that heals?" Jesus answered this question, and his answer has never been surpassed either in beauty or in directness. It is given in his summary of his Sermon on the Mount called the Beatitudes. It is found in the fifth chapter of Matthew. Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their's is the kingdom of heaven."
Jesus promises that as we take up the cross of error's resistance to Truth, we find our faith winged with love in its upward way. When through Christian Science our faith unfolds into spiritual understanding of God's power, we receive the benediction our Master gave in his Sermon on the Mount when he said, "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock" (Matt. 7:24,25).
Christian Science reveals that it is the material sense of life that is the house built on sand. The spiritual understanding of God and man is the rock on which we are, in truth, established. Founded on this rock we can face and solve earthly problems. And you will know that you cannot fall because, as promised by Christ Jesus, through Christian Science your faith is secure. You will be safe in the spiritual understanding of God's ever-present power. You will have proved the Bible promise (II Tim. 1:7), "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
[Published in The Largo (Florida) Sentinel, April 12, 1956.]