Christian Science: A Friend of the Student
Geith A. Plimmer, C.S., of London, England
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Christian Science is a friend of the student in every department of his life.
At the outset, its explanation of God as Mind and men as His expression shows the divine Mind to be the true source of man’s intelligence. This truth shows the brilliant student that the way to protect his intellect is to acknowledge his indebtedness to God for it. The same truth encourages the struggling student not to let himself be limited by heredity or intelligence quotients.
Actually, Christian Science shows that the divine Mind gives each of us the intelligence first to obtain and retain, and then to express clearly whatever knowledge we need in our careers. In this respect, a spiritual understanding of God is unquestionably the intellect’s best friend. This understanding keeps the intellect original and enterprising; it also keeps it wise and balanced; even more important, it protects the brain from the pressures of a personal sense of intelligence, and the nervous system from the pressures of animality.
So Christian Science is a valuable friend to the student’s morality, as well as to his intellect. It certainly is; and who does not need a firm friend in this area of his life, these days? Yes, Christian Science shows the student painstakingly just how to substitute spiritual dominion for fleshly impulse. This is no easy task for anyone; but it is made entirely possible in Christian Science, by one’s using the divine truth of man’s native spirituality, to over come the humanly imposed beliefs in his carnality.
But let us get a distinctive feature of Christian Science clear at the outset. Its guardianship of intellect, its preservation of morality, and its healing of disease are all attained by a scientific method. By this I mean that the spiritual perfection of God and man on which Christian Science is based never varies, no matter how varied the human errors with which it has to cope.
But let us make this scientific approach clearer. You who are used to the term “science" in physics and mathematics know that, every mathematical principle is expressed in a formula or proposition of some kind. But principle and proposition alone provide no entitlement to the term "scientific"; certainly not. A third element is essential, namely, proof. In other words, no principle and proposition is judged to be "scientific” until, at the point of its particular application, it proves its power to solve the other wise unsolvable.
In other words, it is only when proof confirms principle and proposition that we know that we have passed from speculative theory to trustworthy science. Thereafter, law is accepted as invariable, and proof is inevitable. Christian Science is a helpful friend to the student of theology, in insisting that this scientific standard should apply to spiritual, as well as to physical, research.
From this standpoint Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, was absolutely correct when she classified as "the most scientific man that ever trod the globe” the great teacher of theology who cured more incurable, corrected more incorrigible, and solved more unsolvable problems than any other man has done in all history. Who was this man? Jesus of Nazareth. And where does this penetrating reference to him appear? In Mrs. Eddy’s famous Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” (p.513). But let me read you her exact words: “Jesus of Nazareth,” she writes “was the most scientific man that ever trod the globe. He plunged beneath the material surface of things, and found the spiritual cause”.
Whence arises a stimulating question: Was “Holy Ghost”, the name that Jesus gave to his astonishing healing or proving power, a mystical, a personal, or a scientific term? Mrs. Eddy’s deep research into the Scriptures, a search which began with and was consistently confirmed by physical healings in her own experience, showed her clearly that “Holy Ghost” is indeed a scientific term - that it denotes the fixed, eternal truth of God, man, and universe by which the master Christian so consistently cured the incurable and corrected the incorrigible. Therefore, she courageously defines “Holy Ghost” as “Divine Science; the development of eternal Life, Truth, and Love”. (p. 588)
This scientific definition immediately changes one’s idea of the Holy Ghost from a vague presence that mystifies to law that heals, a power that proves.
Whence arises an even more stimulating question: Since Jesus used this term “Holy Ghost” to denote the third, the proving element of the science he was practicing, must not “Father” represent its basic Principle, and “Son” its fixed expression or proposition? There is no doubt whatever to those who have been healed by these scientific concepts - that is exactly what they do represent.
In other words, if we who are used to regarding principle, proposition, and proof as three aspects of the lower sciences wish to apprehend the spiritual Science by which Jesus healed, then we need to recognize that each of the terms of the Trinity, the three aspects of the one God, is distinct and scientific in definition and application.
Herein, the term “Father” denotes the changeless ever-active divine Principle of spiritual creation, eternal Life, the one Mind, commonly called God; the term “Son” denotes His full expression, all the outlined ideas or propositions of divine Truth and Love, the changeless Christ full of grace and truth; and the term “Holy Ghost” denotes the divine Science which provides proof of perfect Father and perfect Son by healing everything unlike them in the universe.
But these scientific definitions of the Trinity are not only a treat to the reasoning mind; they are also a treatment to the aching and discomforted body, as any student can prove.
But it required the spiritual vision of woman to discern all this. Spiritual truths are discoverable only by spirituality. Clearly unless Mrs. Eddy had been numbered among the pure in heart who see God, she never could have discovered the divine Science of our Lord’s works, which is now restoring to humanity the wonderful healing method of the Master.
But, Jesus, you remember, gave his teaching no name. He referred to it as truth. Again and again, he proved its law to be Science, and its gospel Love; but still he gave it no name.
So time and history gave his teaching a name instead. They called it “Christianity”, but then identified this name with love and charity rather than law and science. Why? That is easy to answer: because humanity responds to love long before law. So, “Christianity”, the world’s name for Jesus’ teachings, actually hid half their working-power at the outset. That is why their capacity to heal was so soon lost. However, Jesus had himself already said: “Howbeit when he, the spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
But what does “all truth” do when it comes, if not complete, a half-truth? So Christian Science shows that the so-called “second coming” is not the reappearance of Jesus, but the restoration of the second half of the power that originally actuated his healings, namely their divine or spiritual Science. This, Jesus did not himself specifically elucidate, because the people could not then bear it. They were ready for an example of divine Love, yes; but not for an explication of its spiritual Science. So the divine Science that all along underlay our Lord’s works of love had to be discovered later - it had to have a second coming, that is.
This is what emphasizes the immense and historic significance of Mary Baker Eddy’s epoch making statement in Science and Health (p. 107) “In the year 1866, I discovered the Christ Science or divine laws of Life, Truth, and Love, and named my discovery Christian Science.”
In explanation of the deep Biblical research that lay behind momentous discovery, she said, “I knew the Principle of all harmonious Mind-action to be God, and that cures were produced in primitive Christian healing by holy, uplifting faith; but I must know the Science of this healing, and I won my way to absolute conclusions through divine revelation, reason, and demonstration.” (p. 109)
This illuminating passage shows clearly that though Mrs. Eddy’s application of the word “Science” to the Master’s teaching has its parallel in the physical sciences, nevertheless her discovery of this Science was from Biblical sources alone - from “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (I Cor. 2:13), as Paul puts it.
Nine years after her discovery, namely in 1875, Mrs. Eddy published the famous textbook that explains it, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” This book shows in its very composition the concepts of God it expounds. For example, its basic structure is an expression of God as Principle; its balance of phrase, cadence, and poetry an expression of God as Soul; its uncompromising honesty an expression of God as Truth; its comforting power to heal, an expression of God as Love.
However, so far as my own personal appreciation of the Discoverer of Christian Science is concerned, though I value the intrepid faith that led to her discovery in 1866 and the transparent intelligence that enabled her to elucidate it in print nine years later, yet I value most the infinite patience of the following thirty-five years, during which she nurtured and cherished the Church that she founded, the Church of Christ, Scientist. Certainly, if her spiritual discovery confirms God to be Spirit, and her elucidation of it confirms Him to be Mind, those thirty-five years of patient, nourishing care undoubtedly confirm her teaching that God is Mother as well as Father.
I am always glad that she named her Church The Mother Church, because the influence now flowing through this Church to restore Christian healing to the world is quite definitely an expression of the motherhood of God.
Now throughout the first half of my college life, I had the benefit of what I may call the first coming of Christianity to me - that is, the benefit of the forms of worship, the methods of prayer, and the religious idealism taught me by the churches I knew. In other words, I used the personal life of Jesus as best I could to solve my problems; but, I never succeeded. I can see now that I was like one trying to build a building by imitating the personal life of a master builder, but with no understanding of the science or working principle which was in the master builder’s mind. Actually, one literally in this plight would obviously need a second view, a second coming, of the master builder to set him right. This could take place one way only, namely by the coming to his mind of the laws by which the great master builder had worked. This was exactly my need in the sphere of Christianity: a need for a second coming, as it were, on and beyond the personality of the master Christian, a coming of what Paul so aptly called “the mind of the Lord, . . . the mind of Christ” (I Cor. 2:16).
Though I knew it not at the time, this deeply needed second coming began for me when a friend (whose wife had been healed by Christian Science) put into my hands the textbook which does this very thing - elucidate the Mind of Christ, Mrs. Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. This book gradually showed me that I had never had the corrective benefits of the Holy Ghost in my problems, for the very simple reason that I had never understood the scientific truth of the Father and Son, on the basis of which divine Science, the Holy Comforter, produces its proofs.
Here then began a revolution in my concept of Father and Son. I had always believed the Father, the Principle of life, to be part Spirit and part matter, and myself, consequently, to be a mind in matter with a predisposition to error and fear.
Revelation always produces re-valuation. In this case, I gradually began to see man as the spiritual outcome of God, therefore never condemned by him but approved, His very image, endowed with dominion over all the earth.
At this point, a contagious eye disease threatened to keep me from classes for ten days’ quarantine. I asked a Christian Science practitioner to help me. She evidently quickly recognized through the Holy Ghost, divine Science, that as a son of the Father, an idea in divine Mind, man is not subject to the false beliefs of mortal existence. This truth completely destroyed the disease in two hours, so I merely lost one class instead of ten days of classes.
Through the same practitioner’s understanding, I passed, one night, immediately from a vicious attack of poison and delirium into peaceful sleep and complete healing.
Incidentally, in the first year of my study of the Christian Science textbook, I was healed of smoking and drinking. Though I was teaching nineteen periods a week at this time, and studying every available minute for an honors degree, I was never tempted by strain or desire for popularity to smoke or drink again; but the most convincing proof, in my college days, concerned the teaching of Christian Science that matter is simply an image in mortal mind.
One day, in an accident, I cut the sole of my foot. As I felt the pain jabbing up my leg with each footstep, I remembered Mrs. Eddy’s statement in Science and Health (p. 424), “Accidents are unknown to God, or immortal Mind, and we must leave the mortal basis of belief and unite with the one Mind, in order to change the notion of chance to the proper sense of God’s unerring direction and thus bring out harmony.” So I saw that accidents must be unknown to God, He being perfect Love and controlling Principle. I suddenly realized then that this pain up my leg was propaganda for a lie. So I began to address its sensations as such, as lies, telling them to get off my body, to stop trying to use my body to advertise something untrue about God. This was vigorous work. As the result of it, both pain and cut went clean out of my thought, although I was walking on the foot on a hard pavement in a temperature above 100. At 11:30 that night, I suddenly remembered the cut and looked - the sole of my foot was as smooth as the palm of my hand. I could hardly believe it; but gradually the meaning of the proof dawned on me, namely that all bodily conditions are states of mind, not conditions of matter, and when the mental belief in an inharmonious condition of body has been banished from the mind, none of its effects can remain on the body. This is basically why Christian Scientists study the divine Mind instead of physical disease. Had I examined the cut, I would have increased my belief in accident. Contrariwise, by turning away from the cut and examining the Mind of Christ, I lost the belief in accident. That the cut was merely a physical manifestation of this belief is clear from the fact that, as soon as spiritual truth cast out the accident belief, all evidence of the cut disappeared from the body.
This was, of course, the method used by Jesus. To him, disease was not a condition of matter needing physical aid, but a state of mind needing the most Christly compassion and spirituality.
Now I was studying hard at Anglo-Saxon and the textual criticism of Shakespeare when these first proofs of the healing power of Christian Science broke in upon me; but despite them, my intellectual studies were sometimes disturbed by questions about the origin of evil.
I have already shown that the lower sciences serve as a link to the greater Science of Christ. They certainly do. So here I suddenly saw that a mathematician does not bully his pupils about where mistakes come from, once they are discovered. No; he simply relates the pupils to the mathematical truths concerning which the mistake has been made. Then he watches till the applied truth removes the error. There is no need then to ponder its origin, obviously, for the place thereof now knows it no more as cause or effect. Christian Science proved a valuable friend to my intellectual peace when it showed me this. You see, by puzzling over the supposed origin of evil we keep it alive as a belief, whereas correcting it summarily with spiritual truth supplants it step by step until all belief in evil shall finally be destroyed.
So Christian Science shows that evil is a false mental proposal concerning truth, and nothing more. It never alters truth, therefore, nor provides a genuine alternative to it; it merely hides it temporarily by claiming to be more true. Reject it summarily, as I did in the case of that cut foot, and there is truth alone, without an opposite, and exhibiting nothing from which to recover.
But if evil is actually unreal in Truth, what is the extraordinary influence that seems to operate like a magnet to attract people to materiality - to attract them to forget that in reality they are spiritual and complete, and to make them feel instead a magnetic affinity for the weaknesses and woes of Adam and Eve?
This seductive attraction toward the mythological and unreal is scientifically diagnosed in Christian Science as the action of mortal mind. It is called "animal magnetism - that is, a supposititious magnetic attraction toward the animal, toward the false belief that matter has mind or life in it.
Christian Science adheres to the logic that Spirit being infinite and All, there is in reality no matter for God to breathe mind into. Therefore, it teaches that every claim of mind in matter is untruth or animal magnetism. Actually, man in the image of God has never been infected by belief in Adam or Eve or sin. But let me illustrate this.
A man was once owed money by his brother, but he complained bitterly, "My brother pays other debts, but won’t pay me, because I’m his brother. 'Brothers can always wait’, he says.”
This belief was, of course, sheer animal magnetism - a belief of minds in matter. One day a Christian Scientist said to the complaining brother, "If your brother is actually the image of God, who are really his brothers?" He finally elicited the answer that the brothers of an idea of God must be other ideas expressing qualities of God, such as generosity and integrity - qualities that do the will of the Father which is in heaven, to quote Jesus' phrase. This truth took the belief of mind in matter clean out of the situation, obviously for both brothers.
Then the Christian Scientist said, "Can’t you see? If your brother is in reality an idea of God, then surely he must love fulfilling his obligations to his fellow ideas by reflecting toward them such qualities as diligence, promptness, and integrity."
The querulous brother saw the point, and decided to think gratefully of his so-called brother in the spiritual terms of the first chapter of Genesis. Three days later, the brother settled the long-owed debt without solicitation. Why? Because Truth’s concept of man as an idea of Spirit or child of Principle had supplanted the magnetic animal belief of man as a stuck, a sticky, or a sticking mind in matter. You will notice that this clean and wholesome truth healed the reluctant brother as readily as it did the querulous one.
Christian Science is revolutionizing relationships and bringing out their true harmony by putting them all on a basis of Spirit not matter, Truth not error.
In fact, in no other single thing is Christian Science friendlier to the student than in the way it copes with the attractions, estrangements, fears, and failures that go with a personal or material sense of life.
A Christian Science practitioner was once called to a young woman in a high fever, restless and suffering. She had obviously accepted the Adam and Eve concept of life, because she was ill, anxious, and fearful. The practitioner talked to her quietly about God as her Father, and herself as His spiritual child or idea. Then he showed her that as God Himself is Love, He could naturally be relied upon to provide her with all the love she needed. He also showed her that, as God is Father, she could naturally trust Him to represent in her life, in His own wise way and time, any supporting strength she might ever need to complete her happiness.
As he voiced these truths, the practitioner felt deep love for God that they were really true, and deep compassion for this trouble-tossed young woman that they applied to her, as His daughter. Actually in the restlessness of her fever, she seemed not, to be listening; but evidently her spiritual senses amplified these spiritual truths to her consciousness, for soon afterwards she fell into a deep and natural sleep. It was as fever-free, that sleep, as the sleep of a peaceful child. For over twelve hours she slept. When she woke, she was absolutely free of her afflictions.
This was a touching proof that when a woman looks to her heavenly Father, the divine Principle of all happiness, for His help and support, this begins to free her from the awful anguish of the Adam and Eve misconception of life.
Not long afterwards, this young lady married. That was over twenty years ago, since then she and her husband and two children have had great happiness together.
So we see that the choice as to whether we spend our lives here grumbling in gloom or exulting in Spirit is dependent entirely on our choice of thought. Here the Christian Science textbook is a marvelous friend, for in answer to the question, "How are veritable ideas to be distinguished from illusions?” this book replies decisively, "By learning the origin of each.'' Then it continues authoritatively, "Ideas are emanations from the divine Mind. Thoughts, proceeding from the brain or from matter, are off-shoots of mortal mind; they are mortal material beliefs. Ideas are spiritual, harmonious, and eternal." (p. 88)
In this respect, Jesus was the clearest thinker the world has ever known. As you watch him in Scripture, you can actually see him clearing the Father, the divine Principle of life and creation, from implied responsibility for disease and disaster; you can also see him defending the Son, the Christ, the perfect manifestation of infinite Mind, from implied complicity with heredity and disease; finally you can see him consciously guarding the Holy Ghost, Spirit's idea of comfort, from implied dependence on material ways and means.
Why all this spiritual care? Because Jesus realized that as divine Mind is the only medicine, he must always keep his thought of God unadulterated. His theology was always his pharmacy; hence, he healed the body of its ills by first relieving the mind of its fears and false beliefs. This is the method of Christian Science healing, wherein perfect Love casts out fear.
Drugs are often used to put people asleep to the apparent reality of disease, whereas divine Truth awakens them to the unreality of disease in Science, and so heals them. That was why Jesus dealt with disease and the dread of death through divinity, not through drugs. Christian Science does the same. So today, it is research into holiness that the world needs for the healing of its ills, not research into illness.
Yes, humanity owes Mary Baker Eddy a debt it can never possibly repay for her discovery of the divine law by which the prophets, Jesus, and the apostles healed sin, disease and death. The chain reaction of her revelation that the Holy Trinity is constituted of three aspects of the divine ever-presence, three expressions of the divine omnipotence, rather than three persons in one, is destined eventually to enable mankind to rid itself of all its misery, limitation, ill health, and sin.
Her key to the Scriptures is not an imposition on the Bible, but the interpretation of its spiritual meaning; her teaching, not a deviation from Christianity, but the elucidation of the Science of its healing power; her church not a substitute for the Christian Church, but the substantiation, through healing, of its original gospel message.
For my own humble part, I had no better friend as a college student than the Bible and Mrs. Eddy’s works, which I studied daily. The Science of Christianity therein revealed kept my intellect in balance, my morality responsible, my health good, and my life happy and industrious all my college days, and I am deeply grateful for this.
But as it happened, in my graduation year, the great depression came down on the world like a ghastly pall. There were over three million unemployed in Britain; yet it was to Britain that I went from Australia immediately after graduation - not on a wild impulse, but through a clear idea from the Bible, perceived by an understanding faith. I didn’t know a soul in England, and had only eighty pounds to take with me.
For six weeks on the ship, I thought deeply and diligently over Jesus’ statement, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me” (John 11:41). From it, I saw that as all right ideas of employment are included in man’s reflection of God, I could indeed thank Him in advance that my spiritual qualities were already working the works of the divine Mind that sent me; but when I reached London in the middle of a desolate winter, and came face to face with the terrifying economic condition then prevailing, I saw that I must either apply Christian Science or go clean under.
Mrs. Eddy says, ''Thought is borrowed from a higher source than matter, and by reversal, errors serve as waymarks to the one Mind, in which all error disappears in celestial Truth" (Science and Health, p. 267). From this passage, I saw that if I could but reverse all the appalling false beliefs that blocked the way, each would serve as a waymark to the one Mind. Counsel from the Bible was no less specific: Put on "the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” it said (lsa. 61:3). Enormous courage, patience, and persistence were required to challenge all the errors that tried to dishearten me. I wrote letters but had no replies, knocked at doors but none opened. Meanwhile, I was reduced to a mere handful of bank notes; but, in my spiritual sense, I could feel divine Truth gradually outweighing false beliefs in favor of spiritual ideas. There is no competition in Truth, no undefined purpose for man, nor any unemployed idea, nor can economic law ever deprive Truth’s child of the natural provision of divine Love for him.
In this instance, suddenly, the balance of mental impressions changed completely over in terms of the supremacy of Spirit over all the false arguments of animal magnetism. This absolutely freed me from their spell. What seemed an iron door then opened, through divine power, and there lay work, home, supply, friends, and spiritual enterprise that more than compensated for all that had been surrendered by faith, thirteen thousand miles away.
I can say that throughout that severe test, Christian Science was a loyal and generous friend in caring for my transition from college to career, from academics to life work. It brought every single idea that my career needed safely into birth, at just the right time, in the face of universal unbelief.
I learned once and for all in this unsparing but inspiring test that Christian Science is not Mrs. Eddy’s human opinion about God, but is God’s revelation, through her, of the divine Science that is basic to the universe of God. No proof is impossible to it.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5,6).