Christian Science: The Revelation of Man's Spiritual Heritage
Sylvia N. Poling, C.S., of Phoenix, Arizona
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Friends, here are some searching questions for you to ask yourselves, questions that will help you to determine how you are going to solve problems that you may have to face now or in the future: What is it that you want more than anything else at this moment? Are you thinking that harmonious family relationships would bring you happiness? Are you sure that a better job or more money would give you security? Are you holding to the conviction that if health was established in your body you would be at peace? Are these the things you want, my friends, or are you seeking an understanding of God? Do we not know of persons who have these material things and still have not found happiness, security, and peace?
Christian Science, resting its evidence on the spiritual interpretation of the Holy Bible, lifts our desires, motives, and ambitions to more spiritual levels and leads us to seek happiness, security, and peace where they may be found, that is, in the understanding of God and man's relationship to God. Christian Science begins with the spiritual view of creation as set forth in the first chapter of Genesis, where it is said that God is the creative Cause; where light is understood to be the light of wisdom; where man is created in the image and likeness of God; and where God saw everything that He had made, and it was very good.
Accepting this first account of creation as the real, Christian Science denies the possibility of a material creation and man as recorded in the second chapter of Genesis, described as having taken place after a mist went up from the earth. We all know that a mist obscures from sight and cannot reveal anything. Therefore, Christian Science has Scriptural authority for its premise and conclusions, which are logical and in perfect accord with the Scriptures from beginning to end when they are interpreted spiritually.
Jesus Proved the Christ, Messiah, or Saviour
Now, who wants to be mortal, material, or ignorant? Obviously, no one. The wonderful part about true being is that no one need be or ever is. That which seems to be physical or corporeal man is not the real man. Christian Science shows us that what seems to be a man living in a matter body with a finite mind of his own is but a fake mental image, a counterfeit of God's idea, man. We learn from the Bible that man is the image and likeness of God. Does God's idea have to be healed and saved from sin? Certainly not. What then is the corporeal man who sins, suffer, and dies? Christian Science shows him to be a dream of life in matter. This dream of mortality never interferes with or touches God and His spiritual creation or God's spiritual, perfect man any more than our night dreams are a part of our day experiences. Neither God nor His image and likeness ever dreams.
If, then, there is in reality no man to be saved, what is salvation? Salvation is the destruction of the dream of mortality through divine Science and the proving of the presence of spiritual reality. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 548): "In this Science, we discover man in the image and likeness of God. We see that man has never lost his spiritual estate and his eternal harmony." Mrs. Eddy tells us that this spiritual awakening is the forever coming of Christ, Truth. Jesus' whole career was one of proving man's sonship with God; thus he could say (John 14:6), "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Jesus' understanding and demonstration of spiritual reality, or the true spiritual idea of man, gave him the title of Christ Jesus, the Messiah and Way-shower.
Christian Science is the Promised Comforter
Jesus promised us a Comforter which he designated as the "Spirit of truth" which would lead us into all truth (John 14:16,17). He said, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever: even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."
In our age the Messiah or Christ is manifested to us as divine Science or Christian Science, that is, Science adapted to the needs of mankind. This Science reveals the complete Truth to us in that it makes plain the allness of Spirit, the nothingness of matter, and gives us the rules for demonstrating spiritual being in healing or destroying the false beliefs of sin, sickness, discord, and death. This teaching reveals the motherhood as well as the fatherhood of God and thus shows man's divine Principle to be Father-Mother, Life and Love.
Jesus could only appear through the thought of one purged sufficiently of the beliefs of the flesh to discern the purity of Spirit. Likewise, Christian Science could only appear to mankind in this age through the thought of one who, through many tribulations, was purified of the human acceptance of life and intelligence in matter. As a result, Mary Baker Eddy was able to deny the evidence of the delusive material senses and to take the side of Spirit.
Mary Baker Eddy was born of spiritually minded parents. From an early age she was taught the Scriptures and obedience to their precepts. Her education far exceeded that which was customary for women of her day. This thorough education prepared her to relate, expound, and state her discovery of Christian Science, the revelation of which came to her in the following manner.
In February, 1866, owing to a fall on the sidewalk, her life was despaired of by the visiting physician. On the third day after the accident she called for her Bible and turned to the account of the healing of the palsied man, as given in the ninth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. The spiritual meaning of this account dawned upon her thought, and she was immediately restored to health and normal activity. This healing led her to a deep study of the Bible. For three years she read little else. The Scriptures came to her with new meaning. They spoke to her in a new tongue. The Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," was written as the revelation of Christian Science became clear to her and proof was followed by proof, as seen in her works of healing and regeneration.
Do Christian Scientists worship Mrs. Eddy? No, such is not the case, because Science teaches us to turn away from human personality to the worship of God, Spirit, as the only cause and creator. Students of this Science regard Mrs. Eddy affectionately, reverently, and gratefully as the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, which has revealed to them their rich and enduring substance, life, and intelligence as wholly spiritual.
Mrs Eddy established the Christian Science organization, composed of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, with its branches, now numbering over three thousand. Periodicals published by The Christian Science Publishing Society include The Christian Science Journal, the Christian Science Sentinel, The Heralds of Christian Science published in nine languages, and The Christian Science Monitor, an international daily newspaper with a world-wide circulation. Another and most important periodical is the Christen Science Quarterly, which gives the references from the Bible and Science and Health which comprise the weekly Lesson-Sermons. These are studied every day by students of this Science and are read as a part of the Sunday church services. Sunday School for children up to the age of twenty years gives young students a knowledge of the Bible and of the practical application of Christian Science in daily living. The public is most welcome to attend the church services and to use the Reading Rooms, where authorized literature is available for purchasing, borrowing, and reading.
Man Inherits All Good from God
What is the inheritance that we discover through Christian Science, and how is it manifested in human experience? The first thing we discover is that we have inherited spiritual understanding, that is, the understanding of God as ever-present Love and what He does for man, and our true nature and being as the offspring of God, Spirit. The spiritual understanding of the true nature of all things as revealed by the Comforter begins immediately to fill our present experience with a sense of joy that we have never known before; it brings to us a feeling of security, an expression of health, a manifestation of supply of everything needful, the experience of harmonious relationships, a greater measure of success, and, most of all, an increasing ability to demonstrate and to prove God's law of life and harmony in healing sin, disease, and death.
The individual who asks God for spiritual understanding and seeks for it in the right way finds it. With spiritual understanding he has no need to ask God to give him riches, health, or life, or to save him from the discords of earthly existence. With spiritual understanding he learns how how to solve the problems arising in experience — how to prove that as God's image and likeness he has what he needs and has it abundantly.
You may say, "Those statements sound very good, but how can I know that they are true?" You can begin to prove in some degree in your present experience the truth of the revelation of Christian Science. How can you do this? First by recognizing the nothingness of the error of so-called material existence and by being willing to listen to and to be obedient to the facts of spiritual existence.
Christian Science arouses us from the illusion of the physical senses, opens our dull eyes through revelation, reason, and demonstration to perceive that what has seemed to us to be ourselves, born humanly, and living in a mortal body in a material universe, is not actually the truth. It shows that instead of the temporal sense of earth and body being substantial and what they seem to be, they only claim to exist in a false state of mind or material consciousness called mortal mind with a small "m." So that actually what seems to be a mortal, living in a corporeal body in a universe of matter, is a mistaken view of man as he really exists in Spirit. Finite existence is in mortal mind, not in Spirit. The whole earthly experience is one of self-deception, a material dream of life in matter. Since none of the things that mortal mind bears witness to are what they seem to be, and since they have no existence in Truth, this makes mortal mind untrue, in other words, a liar. This is what Jesus told the Jews when they could not understand his words. He said (John 8:44): "Ye are of your father the devil. . . . He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."
Friends, if you are inclined to doubt that consciousness is basic, you will find it enlightening to consider what the natural scientists are discovering about the nature of matter. In a little volume written by Lincoln Barnett, entitled "The Universe and Dr. Einstein," are to be found pertinent statements corroborating the revelation of Christian Science received by Mrs. Eddy over ninety years ago. He discusses the discovery of natural scientists that we are aware of objects by their qualities, and that every object is actually only the sum of its qualities. He further states that qualities exist only in the mind, and concludes with the startling statement that the whole objective universe of matter and energy does not exist except as construction of the consciousness. That, my friends, is the conclusion of the leading natural scientists today.
God, the parent Mind, and His perfect spiritual ideas constitute all the presence there is, all the life there is, all the power there is, and all the action, truth, and wisdom there is. There can be no other cause, power, or presence. In proportion as we realize these facts, here and now, shall we begin to experience the harmony, health, wisdom, abundance, peace, and joy that belong to us as God's children. Good constitutes man's only and true inheritance. None of us has in truth inherited a bad disposition, a sinning sense, or a tendency to some disease from human parents. Understanding divine law and being, man naturally lets this truth operate as a law of annulment to all supposed evil inheritances. This operation of Truth in human consciousness has brought joy, health, and freedom to many students of Christian Science.
A friend's healing illustrates that true inheritance is from God, our Father-Mother. In her growing-up years this girl was in a state of weakness and ill-health. She was unable to join in childhood games or to exert herself in the least. As she developed in her teens, this condition was more pronounced, accompanied by a tubercular cough, pain in the lungs, and general disability. The Christian Science practitioner called on the case based her reasoning, or prayer, on the fact that man had never inherited anything but good. This was done to correct the parents' thought that the friend had inherited tuberculosis of the lungs from her father's family. As in all Christian Science healing, there had to be a new birth — an exchange of erroneous concepts for the perfect man moment by moment.
This student worked conscientiously to relinquish her wrong thoughts about human birth, disease, fear — and resentment of what she felt was unjust treatment on the part of her parents. With this thought-transformation going on, the coughing and the pain ceased; also a better appetite became evident, and a general upbuilding took place. In a matter of months there was a complete healing, and she has presented the picture of health and led an active, joyful life for many years.
Human Concept Must Be Exchanged for the Divine
Christian Science awakens us, as you can see by this friend's healing, to the manner in which we have been deceived. With the mistaken view of man cleared from our vision, we begin to look right through the mirage of materiality to divine Mind, always referred to in this Science as Mind with a capital "M." There we discern the identity of everyone and everything to be forever individual, forever embraced, and forever preserved intact in the true and perfect state. We must put an end to the earthly dream by ceasing to see ourselves as counterfeit concepts in the carnal mind going through all the various phases of material living and, instead, see ourselves as the perfect ideas in divine Mind that we have always been, are, and always shall be.
What constitutes the kingdom of heaven in man? First, it is the perfect spiritual vision or perfect spiritual understanding: it is the knowing and seeing of all things as they are expressed in Mind. It is vision, light, dominion, and power. Next, it is spiritual peace, goodness, joy, and love. This teaching shows us that, as the reflection of divine Mind, we are right now experiencing wholeness, health, harmony, for we are living right in wisdom, we are living in goodness, we are living in Life eternal. All relationships are harmonious because under the control of and expressing the one Mind. We are dwelling in Love, for Mind, God, is Love. Everything in God's universe of Spirit is loved and loving, for all creation reflects God's love as His manifestation. There is no evil of any kind in divine Mind. There is no fear because there is nothing to fear.
How can you and I wish to be or be deceived into continuing the deception of living in mortal mind when we live in God, our real Father-Mother? God's incorporeal idea, man, always remains just what he is, God's representative, expression, manifestation, witness, image, likeness, and reflection. There is never a moment out of eternity when he is anything else or conscious of any other state of being. Man, being a spiritual individuality and identity living in true consciousness, is aware of God and His ideas which constitute perfection, and never for a moment has any sense of a supposed material birth, existence, or ignorance of reality. Man, abiding constantly in the consciousness of health and harmony, is forever expressing them. Man is always a celestial being, his purity and holiness unchanged.
Mrs. Eddy explains (Science and Health, pp. 572, 301) how materiality is the inverted image of spirituality, that is, how mortal mind presents, an inverted picture of the real and eternal with everything turned upside down. This means the view of things as starting from matter instead of from Spirit. Now, who wants to live upside down and in discord and bondage when his true inheritance is uprightness, harmony, and freedom? Truth will open your eyes to see that trying to live in mortal mind's belief of inverted existence is a farce, and a rather ghastly one at that, seeing that it denies the omnipotence of God and man's spiritual estate as the child of God. Supposedly living in the upside-down view, we find ourselves confronted with all the errors of being instead of its harmonies. These obstacles to our peace, happiness, harmony, and freedom are expressed in sin, sickness, discord, accident, poverty, loss, and failure. To keep God's idea, man, always before our thought, instead of the supposed upside-down image of life in matter, results in the transformation of the human scene, bringing into view more of the beauty, wisdom, and energies of divine Principle. Letting this Truth reign supreme in us, we feel the energies of Spirit bringing us into newness of life born of spiritual understanding.
Practice and Application of Christian Science
In the practice of Christian Science, which is the application of the true facts of existence utilized to correct the false concepts of mortal mind, we see that the first step is to understand that all so-called material things and events are mortal thoughts. Not until we have done this will we understand how sin and all discord can be healed by divine Mind, nor will we have faith in spiritually scientific treatments or prayer. When we can clearly resolve discord into mortal thoughts, then we can exchange them for the real thoughts in divine Mind. If mortals and material things were really substantial, as they seem to be, then we would have to change matter and therefore could not exchange discordant mortal thoughts for the harmonies of Spirit, or ideas as they exist in the divine Mind, God.
Suppose that you had a dream at night and that you were in a ship at sea and there was a severe storm in which the wind and waves threatened to engulf the ship. In your dream you could see, hear, and feel the wind and water. You were vividly aware of the danger to the ship. You could even see the people on board and observe their consternation. Now, as you began to awaken from sleep and your dream, how would you go to work to establish a peaceful mental sense freed of fear and the threat of danger? Would you have to still a storm, right a ship, or save yourself from destruction? Certainly you would waste no time in trying to do any of these things. You would first see the whole experience as a dream and the objects of the dream as false concepts. You would know that you had nothing to do to these false concepts except to exchange them for the facts of your true state of being at that moment. Would you have anything but your thinking to change? Wouldn't you reassure yourself by awakening to the fact that you were safe at home in your bed, where there was no storm, no ship, nor anyone in danger?
Christian Science teaches us how to handle our discordant day experiences in much the same way. First, we resolve them into mortal mind's thoughts and then reassure ourselves with, the reality of spiritual being, spiritual existence in God, where we are eternally safe as His perfect expression, always whole, always well, happy, and harmonious. Christian Science shows us that because God is not experiencing a discordant material condition neither are we.
For many years I suffered with a sense of pain in my body almost constantly day and night. It was not easy to break this dream of suffering for myself in Christian Science, but as I grew in understanding, I could begin to see through the delusion. I saw that although the pain seemed to be located in my body and to have a cause there, this was not the case. I learned that the body as matter had no consciousness or sense, that it could neither feel, experience, nor report pain. I understood that mortal mind suffered the pain. I then resolved what seemed to be painful matter into painful thinking. Then I was in a position to overcome my fear of it, which had helped to perpetuate it, and to cast out this painful thinking with the realization of the presence and allness of divine Mind which is the true consciousness of health and harmony. I further reasoned that since God or good is the only Mind, and since I was in reality His idea or reflection, everything about me was good. I continued to see that because God is good and His work is good, then it was sinful for me to be entertaining painful thoughts which neither honored God nor His work. This scientific reasoning, or prayer, brought me permanent healing from what seemed to be pain in my body. Furthermore, the organs affected began to function normally.
You can readily see from my experience that the healing of fear was an important part of my release from the pain. We learn in Christian Science that the first step in the healing of sin and sickness, in fact, all disease, is the overcoming of fear. Although fear is often unrecognized by mortals, it expresses itself in the organs and functions of the mortal body, in our relations with others, in our sense of supply, and in our business. Unless scientifically handled and cast out of consciousness, it controls the false concept called mortal man and everything about him. Christian Science gives us the effectual remedy for fear, which is an impostor and not of God. We are healed of fear as we begin to understand God as our loving Father-Mother Mind, unchanging Principle or Truth, our only Life, ever-present Spirit, divine Love, and all-harmonious Soul. Since man is God's idea, we learn of our oneness with God as Mind and idea. Principle and its idea must forever be inseparable in being. Through the spiritual understanding of God and of man as His perfect image and likeness, and the putting of this understanding into practice by the prayer of spiritual thinking, which is Christian Science treatment, we are enabled to exchange fear for God's love: unbelief and doubt and their associates, discouragement and worry, for understanding, faith, joy, and assurance of God's presence, power, allness, and care for His children.
We also learn in this teaching that envy, hatred, resentment, dishonesty, and malice are qualities that make mortal man sick. Can you correct these errors with drugs or remove them by trying to cut out their expression on the body with the surgeon's knife? Obviously not, but through holy, spiritual prayer, mortal man can be delivered from these destroyers of health, peace, and life. How do we put on the qualities which constitute the real man, or spiritual consciousness? Spiritual thinking begets meekness, humility, goodness, holiness; without these, one cannot attain spiritual understanding. Then follows mercy, gentleness, tenderness, compassion, and graciousness. The Psalmist says (Ps. 18:35), "Thy gentleness hath made me great." These spiritual attainments unfold in the individual his further heritage of beauty, love, poise, health, happiness, and gratitude. Then flows into consciousness great peace, such as the Psalmist says (Ps. 119:165) those have who love the law of God. All these spiritual qualities combine in man and enable him to express courage, dominion, and power. Remember the power comes last. If we try to force our way into the kingdom of heaven, we will only meet with failure and disappointment.
Many are the cases of heart trouble that have been helped by this truth through a change of consciousness in learning the nature of Life as God, Spirit, and through the change this produces in human affections. Let me read you what Mrs. Eddy says in "Miscellaneous Writings" (pp. 50, 51) in regard to the healing of heart trouble:
"Do you believe in change of heart?
"We do believe, and understand — which is more — that there must be a change from human affections, desires, and aims, to the divine standard, 'Be ye therefore perfect;' also, that there must be a change from the belief that the heart is matter and sustains life, to the understanding that God is our Life, that we exist in Mind, live thereby, and have being. This change of heart would deliver man from heart-disease, and advance Christianity a hundredfold. The human affections need to be changed from self to benevolence and love for God and men; changed to having but one God and loving Him supremely, and helping our brother man. This change of heart is essential to Christianity, and will have its effect physically as well as spiritually, healing disease."
Here Mrs. Eddy has given the effectual remedy for what is called heart trouble.
Christian Science shows us how to exchange the human fear of lack for the understanding of God's affluence and abundant goodness. In the divine sense of being, it is God who makes the demand and God who is the source of supply for what He is demanding. God is demanding that man and all creation reflect His ideas and goodness. God is also supplying all that is needed for this reflection. Since Principle both makes the demand and supplies it, supply and demand are always equal. One never exists without the other. Real supply and demand is for spiritual ideas, goodness, and Truth.
True business must be recognized to be the unfoldment of God's perfect ideas. This true business is reflected by His entire creation. In this business there is never any cessation, depression, failure, lack, rivalry, or dishonesty. In the recognition that all things exist as the perfect ideas of immortal Truth, there is satisfaction, peace, and calmness. No one is excited, worried, or afraid in his real and eternal consciousness. No one has too much to do, for Mind has already done all. What can we add to infinite, ever-present Mind? Nothing. We can only reflect it.
Mortal sense, regarding substance as material, is constantly faced with the result of its own delusion, or evidence of lack of substance. It supposes supply to be material; therefore, it believes it can be taken away. It thinks of health as material; consequently, it is convinced it can be lost. In the same way it concludes that work, companionship, and happiness are dependent on material conditions and may therefore be lacking in one's experience.
Material sense, faced with its own evidence of its conviction of lack, says, "I need, I want," and it asks God in vain to change its own picture of impoverishment for ones of material supply, material harmony, and of a well material body. Spiritual sense says (Ps. 23:1), "The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want." Recognizing health, substance, supply, all good, to be spiritual and to be in Mind, God, spiritual existence becomes at once our present experience. We are fed with the bread of Life, and human needs are satisfied. Does one pray to sell a house, to find a material home, to obtain a job, or money to pay his bills, or more business, or to have a well material body? No, he works to spiritualize his sense of being, substance, health, business, work, and supply. He knows that his only work, as God's reflection, is to express the divine qualities of being. He endeavors to know his unity with God and all spiritual good. He expresses gratitude, for God's grace and for God's tender care and love for him. He recognizes God's provision for all his needs and never gives way to complaint which comes from accepting the false evidence of the material senses. Man as God's representative or witness always has enough love, mercy, kindness, understanding, purity, honesty, health, and holiness. Recognizing this to be man's heritage, he finds all human needs are bountifully supplied, as Jesus proved on several occasions.
Christian Science Fulfills Its World Mission
A glance at the headlines of any newspaper today convinces one that a great need of mankind is to learn to live and work together harmoniously. Certainly this is one of the essential teachings of the Bible, but mankind is finding it to be its most difficult achievement because it does not know where or how to begin. We find nations divided against nations, races against races, classes against classes, labor against management, and even those of the same household at variance with one another. We are dismayed by the different political views. We are appalled at the pictures of hatred, malice, lust for material power, and crime. However, there is much cause for hope and encouragement in the awakening of mankind in this age to take helpful measures to bring about harmony in human relationships. Certainly the United Nations and various civic organizations are working to unite the aims of all these groups in a common purpose, and this is most commendable.
That is where Christian Science is actively felt in its healing mission, because it unifies all mankind in a common purpose — that of glorifying God, proving one Mind, the Mind which is never at war with itself, or divided against itself, and all creation as the reflection of intelligence, and this intelligence governing all in harmony.
By lifting mankind's thought to the spiritual and real, Christian Science shows us that one man's interests can be no different from those of another if these interests are born of spiritual desires, for they all have but one interest — to express God.
Truth shows us that the peace of the world must begin with the individual. It teaches us that not until you and I have made our peace with God, ourselves, and every man, can we hope for world peace. We do this through spiritual understanding and employment of righteous prayer in purifying our consciousness of the errors of mortal belief.
Contemplate a world in which all mankind is being controlled by the spiritual qualities of being instead of by the passions of the carnal mind, and you will have a world where strife, war, competition, rivalry, hate, and crime are unknown.
Friends, the "Spirit of truth" which Jesus promised has come to this age as Christian Science. It reveals that you and I have a right and enduring spiritual inheritance of eternal life, abundance, goodness, invariable health, satisfying peace, perfect love, and infinite wisdom as Mind's image and likeness. Mrs. Eddy says in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 307), "What a glorious inheritance is given to us through the understanding of omnipresent Love! More we cannot ask: more we do not want: more we cannot have. This sweet assurance is the 'Peace, be still' to all human fears, to suffering of every sort."
Let us rejoice in the spiritual inheritance bestowed upon us by God, "who giveth us richly all things to enjoy" (I Tim. 6:17).