Christian Science: The Way to Holiness and Health
Sylvia N. Poling, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Christ Jesus lovingly gave to all his followers commandments, which he knew result in holiness and health when they are obeyed. These commandments were not only for his immediate disciples, but for those who love him throughout all time. He taught and proved that obedience to these commands is the way to the kingdom of God, which he said is within us. By his goodness and purity, he lived his love for God; by his forgiveness of those who misunderstood him, he proved his love for his neighbor; and by his compassion in healing the sick and sinning, he demonstrated the ever-presence of God's power to heal.
In the book of Matthew, chapter 22, verses 37 and 38, as found in the King James Version of the Bible, the one used in all Christian Science churches throughout the English-speaking world, we find these words of Jesus: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment." Christian Science impels us to love God because it enables us to begin to "see" God, not with the physical senses, but spiritually, the only way that God can be seen.
God the Source of All Being
We discover in Christian Science that to love God with all our heart and soul and mind means to love Him supremely, above everything else. It means to acknowledge God as all the power there is and as all the presence there is. We do this by seeing God, not as a God made after the image of a human personality that can make mistakes, reverse His judgments, send disaster, punish, or show partiality, but by seeing God as the one perfect, divine, unchanging, loving Principle. Understanding Him as divine Principle, we recognize God to be our divine source or origin, fundamental Truth, and that which governs all. Because Principle means undeviating perfection He governs all in perfect harmony. Human ills are healed as we come to recognize that God is the sender only of good to His creation, and that God governs all from the standpoint of absolute perfection. Admit that God is All-in-all, refuse to honor any other power or presence, and you can begin to demonstrate for yourself and others God's law of healing.
Jesus said, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John ). We understand in this Science that Spirit and Principle are both synonyms for God and can be used interchangeably. With this spiritual concept of Deity we begin to "worship him in spirit and in truth," that is, without any taint of matter or physicality.
To acknowledge God as Spirit and All makes an imperative demand upon us to change our thinking about what appears to us as matter, the material earth, and the mortal body. We can no longer accept matter as real. We cannot say that Spirit is All and that matter exists also, for matter is Spirit's opposite. Since Spirit is always present and fills all space, matter is nothing. This is an important point in the theology of Christian Science, as it is the basis upon which God's law of holiness and health is demonstrated. Jesus worshiped Spirit alone and proved Spirit's absolute dominion over every claim that matter is substance. Matter is seen in Christian Science to exist only to the erroneous consciousness that believes in matter. All that sees or feels matter is the belief that matter is being seen or felt. This belief is named mortal mind to show its temporal and deceptive nature.
Divine Mind the Only Power
The Principle of the universe must be characterized as infinite intelligence. Likewise, in order to be cognizant of everything, as He must to be its source, must not God be all-knowing, all-seeing, and all-wise? In other words, God must be mindful of His universe. What else could He be then except infinite Mind? And Mind is another synonym for God in Christian Science. There is only one way in which divine Mind can express itself, and that is in ideas. Must we not conclude then that Mind's universe must consist of spiritual ideas? At this point I should like to quote from pages 502 and 503 of the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. She writes: "There is but one creator and one creation. This creation consists of the unfolding of spiritual ideas and their identities, which are embraced in the infinite Mind and forever reflected. These ideas range from the infinitesimal to infinity, and the highest ideas are the sons and daughters of God."
Now this conception of a universe
of ideas evolved by infinite Mind is a radical departure from the material
conception of the universe as matter evolved by mindless atomic force. I am
reminded of a statement made by a professor of a class in general science which
I attended while a student at the
Christian Science disproves the theory that man and the universe are evolved from nonintelligent material energy, and sustains by revelation, reason, and demonstration the absolute conclusion that man and the universe can only be evolved by perfect, infinite Mind, or divine Principle, which is Spirit.
That man and the universe are evolved by divine Principle or Spirit and not by material energy is being proved conclusively in the healing of all manner of discord and disease by students of Christian Science. Healing takes place as God is understood and admitted to be All-in-all, that is, to be the only cause and the only power.
Parents who are Christian Scientists are most grateful for this saving Truth, and they are not afraid to trust divine Principle to heal their children's ills, for they have learned by experience that it is the safest and surest means of healing.
I wish to share with you one such
example of confidence in God and healing, as recently related to me by a mother
in a small town in the southwestern part of the
The practitioner asked the mother if she believed in God. She replied that she believed but did not understand Him, even though she had regularly attended Sunday school and church. The practitioner sat in silent prayer for some time, and the little girl fell asleep. Then the practitioner read to the mother from the Bible and Science and Health, and explained to her something of the real nature of God and man. After a short time the child raised up. The mother jumped to help her, but the little daughter said, "No, Mother, I can do it myself."
When the father returned, the child walked to the door, but asked for help to go down the steps. The mother and child remained in town for three or four days. The practitioner came to see them each day to help them gain a better understanding of Christian Science. Although the child was well, she still dragged one foot when she walked and had to be helped up and down steps. The mother continued to study diligently Science and Health and the Bible, and endeavored to cast out all of her old beliefs and misconceptions based on the belief of life and intelligence in matter.
One day about three months later, as the mother was sitting reading, she saw the daughter slowly coming home from her grandmother's house, and the thought came to her that she would have to get up and help her up the steps. Then as she related the experience to me she said: "I realized that I was listening to mortal mind, and I must reverse what it was saying, and try to see God as all-powerful. I do not know how long I read but the next thing I knew my little girl was standing by my side, smiling. I reached out and took her into my lap and thanked God, and continued to read in Science and Health from the chapter, 'Footsteps of Truth.' The truths I read opened my spiritual sense to the truth. My daughter fell asleep, and when she awakened, she walked without dragging her foot. I never knew how she got up the steps; I never cared; she did and that was enough! She was healed."
Atomic Force Discerned to Be Good
Christian Science opposes the belief that true atomic force is material energy. Rather does it declare, that true atomic force must be the intelligent, divine Principle, Mind, or God. So-called material force or energy it names mortal mind, a counterfeit intelligence, commonly accepted as life and intelligence in matter. When we realize the nothingness of the claim of a mind other than the one Mind, God, the objectification of this false claim called matter will also cease to exist to our conscious sense of being. Let me tell you Mrs. Eddy's exact words defining atomic action from "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 190): "Atomic action is Mind, not matter. It is neither the energy of matter, the result of organization, nor the outcome of life infused into matter: it is infinite Spirit, Truth, Life, defiant of error or matter. Divine Science demonstrates Mind as dispelling a false sense and giving the true sense of itself, God, and the universe; wherein the mortal evolves not the immortal, nor does the material ultimate in the spiritual; wherein man is coexistent with Mind, and is the recognized reflection of infinite Life and Love."
Friends, we do not have to fear that atomic force can destroy us or the universe when we recognize the only real force or power as the divine Mind, infinite good. Divine Mind must be recognized to be wholly good, for Mind has absolutely no means by which to accomplish evil, to harm, or to destroy. In order for anything to harm or to be harmed, it would have to be material, and since matter can be explained away on the basis of Spirit or Mind being the only cause, nothing really exists that can suffer or cause suffering. This fact reveals the nature of divine Principle to be Love. Thus Love is seen to be another synonym for God. Through the understanding of God as divine Love, students of Christian Science are healed of ignorance and fear, the source of much of humanity's suffering.
God Is Truth, Life, and Soul
In the reference I quoted on atomic force as Mind, Mrs. Eddy refers to two other synonyms for God – Truth and Life. Since Spirit is the real and actual, since God is our changeless, divine Principle, and since Mind and its ideas constitute the identity and true nature of all things, then God is eternal Truth. Since God is Truth, then nothing beside Him has any claim to life or existence. Thus, God is also seen to be Life itself, and the only Life. This Life never begins nor ends, is never born and never dies, can never be found in matter, is ever present, supreme, and infinite. Nothing can ever overpower divine Life. If we claim this Life as ours, and the only Life we have ever had or can have, we experience a sense of freedom and dominion and the real chain reaction of spiritual power, for we are using true atomic power, the power of unlimited, fetterless Life and Mind. We will grow in our ability to demonstrate the energy, strength, vigor, activity, presence, and power of divine Life, which is never at the mercy of matter, space, or time.
Christian Science gives us another synonym in addition to those I have mentioned – Soul. Soul is the divine substance of all, but Soul can never be in matter or in a physical form. Through knowing Soul as God, we get clearer views of the everlasting beauty and harmony of God, for Soul is expressed in beauty, harmony, and spirituality. Soul's senses of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling are wholly spiritual, can never cause us pain, nor can they be lost or impaired.
Christian Scientists find that their love for God increases in devoutness and purity as they come to know and accept Him as divine Principle, Spirit, Mind, Love, Truth, Life, and Soul. They also learn to feel God's presence with them constantly as a loving Father-Mother, guarding and guiding.
Can you love Life, goodness, perfection, beauty, holiness, health, immortality, and Love itself? Then you can love God as Jesus commanded, "with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind."
When we learn to love God through spiritually understanding Him, we endeavor to keep our consciousness in constant relation with the divine Mind. In this sense of spiritual oneness with God we listen for and receive divine guidance in our human experiences. I am going to tell you of an experience of a young woman in proving the guidance of divine Principle in her everyday affairs. This young woman, a beginner in the study of Christian Science, traveled about four hundred miles to a large city to attend a summer session at the university. She was most desirous of proving her oneness with unerring divine Mind in finding a suitable home in which to room and board. Obtaining a list of homes furnished by the university, she started on her quest. One quotation from Science and Health was uppermost in her thought as she walked along: "Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way" (p. 454). She pondered the meaning of these words, held to them, and trusted in them.
When she looked at the rooms for rent at the first two homes on her list, she found them to be desirable homes in which to live, but after listening for divine guidance, a definite conviction came that she should not take a room in either place. After she arrived at the third home and was shown the room, she found herself impelled to rent it, although from outward appearances the home might not have seemed more desirable than the others.
The owners of this home were most enthusiastic when they found the young woman was a student of Christian Science, for they were becoming interested in it. They had what seemed to them a most distressing problem. Their young daughter about fourteen years of age had developed a mysterious malady several months before, which their physician could neither diagnose nor help, and which had shown no noticeable improvement after several visits to a Christian Science practitioner.
A day or two later, when the girl found out that the new roomer was reading the Christian Science Lesson-Sermon each morning from the Bible and Science and Health, as set forth in the Christian Science Quarterly, she asked if she might read it with her. Every morning there was a tap on the door at , and both enjoyed the truths in the lesson together. There was marked improvement in the young girl's condition from the beginning, and she was completely free before the end of the six weeks. A visit the following summer confirmed that the healing had been permanent.
As I was that young woman attending the university, I learned another lesson in the power of God's love operating to meet the human need when all concerned are seeking spiritual good.
True Nature of Man Revealed
Now let us see how Christian Science requires us to obey the second commandment given by Christ Jesus. This commandment as found in Matthew 22:39 reads, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
As we cannot see God with the physical senses, is it not reasonable to understand that man created in God's likeness cannot be seen with these senses? Christian Science declares that the image and likeness of incorporeal, divine Principle, Spirit, Mind, Love, Truth, Life, and Soul must be incorporeal, spiritual, intelligent, loving, truthful, living, and forever expressing the harmony and beauty of Soul. This teaching also makes plain that man supposed to be made of the dust of the ground, having a material body and a mortal, finite mind of his own, is a falsity, a counterfeit, an illusion, a misstatement as to man. This false sense of man is understood by the student of Christian Science to be only what the illusive material senses are reporting, and to be the exact opposite of the real man, who reflects God in every Godlike quality and condition.
Reflection is a word used to describe man in Christian Science; for surely, if man is God's image, he is just like God, and being just like God, must be the exact reflection of God. A reflection only reflects. It is evident then that man, the reflection of infinite Mind, infinite wisdom, Truth, and good, must be entirely free from physicality, forever nonmaterial, non-structural, and nonorganic.
When we discern man through
spiritual sense, we cannot see anything ugly, mean, hateful, sick, deformed, or
dying. This is the way Jesus loved, and it explains why he could regard the
sinning and the sick with such great compassion. Writing of Jesus' spiritual
seeing of the real man, Mrs. Eddy says on pages 476 and 477 of Science and
Health: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him
where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour
saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick. Thus
Jesus taught that the
We must see with spiritual understanding the man that proceeds from Principle, the man who is intelligent, good, and perfect, and who lives in Spirit instead of in matter.
Working in this manner to change our thinking about man is praying aright, and this prayer heals discordant relations in the home, the neighborhood, the office, and the world. The debt we owe to God, to ourselves, and to all mankind is to love as Jesus loved, by seeing man as spiritual and perfect.
Mrs. Eddy and Her Work
Jesus told his disciples in verse 8, chapter 10, of the Gospel of Matthew, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils." Now let us reason from the standpoint that if the disciples could heal the sick as Christ Jesus did, they must have done so as the result of obedience to an ever-existing, ever-present power or law. Jesus did not say that only his immediate disciples should heal the sick, but he also said, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also" (John ).
The divine law or power of healing, demonstrated by Christ Jesus was discovered by Mary Baker Eddy following her own restoration to health. In "A Child's Life of Mary Baker Eddy" (p. 64), Ella H. Hay writes that because Mrs. Eddy was so earnest in her study of the Bible, neighbors thought of her as having spiritual power, and sometimes asked her to pray for them. One time a mother brought her blind babe to Mrs. Eddy and laying it in her lap asked her to pray for it. Referring to the incident, Mrs. Hay writes: "As she looked at the little one, Mary's heart filled with love and pity. She remembered the words of Jesus, 'Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not.'
" 'Who,' she asked herself, 'has forbidden this little one, who is leading it into the way of blindness?'
"Then she lifted her thought to God in prayer. When the mother again looked at her child, the eyes were healed."
At the age of twelve years, Mrs. Eddy had been healed of a fever through prayer, showing that from childhood she had faith in God's healing power. She believed her mother's words, "God is able to raise you up from sickness." When she was grown, she pondered the Scriptural passage (Mark ,18), "And these signs shall follow them that believe; . . . they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." Early Christians had healed the sick for several hundred years after Christ Jesus and his disciples had proved the Principle of healing, and Mrs. Eddy searched for the answer as to why Christians of today did not heal. Her thoughts in this direction and many experiences prepared her for the discovery of Christian Science, which elucidates the Christ method of healing.
It was natural for this loving, devout woman, when she had been pronounced fatally injured from an accident, to turn to God for help. She called for her Bible, and as she pondered Matthew's account of the healing of the palsied man, her thought was so spiritually illumined that she was immediately healed.
Writing of this experience, these are Mrs. Eddy's words from her work entitled, "Retrospection and Introspection" (p. 24): "My immediate recovery from the effects of an injury caused by an accident, an injury that neither medicine nor surgery could reach, was the falling apple that led me to the discovery how to be well myself, and how to make others so."
Mrs. Eddy is the sole author of
the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the
Scriptures." For over forty years after her discovery she worked
unceasingly to found this Truth on a sure foundation that it would never again
be lost to the world. She wrote the Church Manual, which governs The Mother
Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in
Each church maintains a Reading Room where authorized Christian Science literature may be purchased, borrowed, and read. The public is cordially invited to attend church services and to use the Reading Rooms. Each church has a Sunday School for children up to the age of twenty years.
Salvation Through Understanding Prayer
Christian Science shows us how human consciousness is lifted into the realm of the real, the realm of God, in proportion as it gains the true, understanding of God and man, expresses true spiritual qualities, and puts off the false material and evil beliefs which constitute so-called material existence.
This process of putting off the false for the true, the process by which human consciousness is spiritualized, is defined as salvation in Christian Science. We are told that Christ Jesus came to show us the way of salvation, that is, he was a perfect example for us in healing sin, sickness, and death, and in proving the reality of goodness, health, and life. In Christian Science a distinction is made between Jesus and Christ. Christ is defined in the Christian Science textbook (p. 583) as "the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error." God's revelation of Himself and of His wholly good kingdom is His divine message to us and is the Christ. Because this message of Truth had to come to mortals in such a form as they could see and understand, Jesus was born of Mary, and thus fulfilled Scriptural prophecy in being the son of a virgin.
Because of his divine origin, Jesus was divinely qualified to present the Christ, the true spiritual idea, better than any other man. Jesus' understanding and demonstration of the Christ, Truth, won for him the divine title of Christ Jesus. He became the way, the truth, and the life, showing mankind the kingdom of heaven and the way to attain it. In other words, he became the way of salvation to all who accept his teaching and follow his example.
We are taught in Christian Science that desire is prayer. As we progress in Christian Science, our desires become purified through spiritually understanding God and man and through knowing the nothingness of matter. To ask God for anything material is asking for the impossible, and this explains why many prayers are never answered. To seek to understand God better, to realize His nearness, His allness, His love, and His goodness, and man's at-one-ment with Him, lifts us out of the realm of darkness, unbelief, and fear of matter and evil into the consciousness of good and harmony. This is the answered prayer, for when we pray for spiritual ideas and spiritual good, we find that God has already answered our prayer. He already knows what we need, and has supplied it. God, being all good, is continually supplying His creation, His reflection, with all good. True goodness is always at hand, waiting for us to accept and demonstrate its presence. It is through right prayer that we enter the kingdom of heaven, eternal harmony. Through the prayer of spiritual understanding we put off error or false beliefs and demonstrate holiness and health.
Many people have wondered how to obey the Biblical injunction to pray without ceasing. In Christian Science, where prayer is seen to be spiritual thinking, we find we can pray constantly in proportion as we learn to think rightly about everything and everyone. We are always thinking something. We need to watch that what we are thinking is true and good, instead of false and evil. True prayer requires that we discipline our thinking to bring weary thought into obedience with Christ. When we do this, we receive the blessing of Truth.
Christian Science shows us how to work out our salvation here and now through right prayer, the means by which we demonstrate Life, Truth and Love, and destroy all error, belief in matter, evil, sickness, and death.
Healing Power Available Now
In the quotation which I gave you from Science and Health a short time ago was the statement, "In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick." What healed the sick? The correct view of man healed the sick in Jesus' time, and it heals the sick today. This is being attested by the many testimonies of healing through Christian Science, appearing weekly and monthly in the periodicals published by The Christian Science Publishing Society.
When we accept the view of man as created by Spirit, constituted of spiritual qualities, and controlled by Spirit, we are forced to deny and reject the mortal mind concept of man as material and discordant. Man made in God's image and likeness cannot be touched by irritation, inflammation, decomposition, deformity, overaction or inaction, age, or accident. The condition resulting from invoking the divine law of healing is one of complete change of viewpoint or of the basis of consciousness from matter to Spirit. Healing in Christian Science is not blind faith. It is not the result of hypnotism, of suggestion, or of one mortal mind controlling another; but it is the result of the operation of immortal Truth or the Christ, a divine manifestation ever present in human consciousness. The healing power of the Christ, Truth, was proved by the prophets hundreds of years before the time of Christ Jesus, and it is being proved today by Christian Science healing.
Friends, if any of you are seeking release from the bondage of disease, from a physical infirmity of some kind, from hatred, resentment, or envy, or from a false appetite for liquor or tobacco, Christian Science offers you divine Love's way of freedom. The reason you have been deceived into accepting any of these lies about your true selfhood is that material thinking has falsely talked about you something like this: You are evolved by matter, material energy, instead of Spirit, God; you have a material body which is part of yourself, and you live in that body; this so-called material body has intelligence to act and convey sensations to you without your permission; and you have been separated from your divine source by conditions of matter, time, and space. These are the fundamental lies that must be unmasked. God, who is Love, is the creator, and He did not make disease or evil. Matter or the body, being devoid of consciousness, cannot voice sickness or evil to you; and neither disease nor evil is a self-existent or self-created entity. All these false arguments are based on the assumption of more than one Mind, when God is Mind and one God, and there is no other cause and power. Therefore, in reality, you can neither be diseased, infirm, nor a victim of false appetite. These are only misconceptions which hold you in bondage because you accept them. They are the result of false education and of ignorance of the facts of your true being.
To free yourself, you must refute the fundamental errors with true spiritual thinking. Insist that God, Spirit, is the source of your being, instead of material energy. See yourself as an individual expression of the divine consciousness, or Mind, instead of as physicality. Refute the false sense that says you have a material body which is part of you, and that you live in it. Deny the illusion that matter can act of itself or be intelligent for good or evil. Refuse to claim an animal nature as yours: you are, in truth, the offspring of Spirit, intelligence, the good, the pure, the holy, the one altogether lovely.
A Personal Healing
I am happy and grateful to have the opportunity of telling you something of what Christian Science reveals as to the nature and freedom of your true being, for these explanations freed me from the illusion of ill-health after twenty years of needless suffering. Because I was healed, I know that anyone who accepts and practices the teachings of Christian Science can be healed of whatever difficulty he may seem to have. Although I studied Christian Science for some time without being healed of this particular difficulty, I experienced many healings of other physical discords and transformation of character, which encouraged me and proved to me that Christian Science is the law of God. Finally, when I awakened to see how to correctly apply the rule of healing to this condition, my healing and freedom soon followed. I had to learn to acknowledge and trust God completely as the only source and controller of my being and health, and to deny that there was substance matter that could either give me health or take it away.
The complete healing was proof that no matter how long discord or disease has persisted, it must go down before the supremacy of Truth. Through this experience, I learned the necessary lesson that Christian Science must be demonstrated according to a fixed rule, and that he who obeys the rule receives the blessing of Truth. Time was not necessary for my healing; the only requirement was obedience to Truth.
Christian Science Is Practical
Friends, is it not the great need of mankind that religion be made practical? In order to experience the practicality of religion its rules must be obeyed and demonstrated. Christian Science gives us an understanding of the truth of being which is necessary to intelligently obey or to do God's will.
Because Christian Science recognizes and explains how God, Mind, is the only source and real condition of our being, it enables us to express Him and His perfection and harmony in some measure in every phase of our lives. The businessman finds that divine Mind is ever available to guide him in making right decisions, and that it is an exhaustless source of right ideas with which to support his business and to master the suggestions of evil which argue against success.
Likewise does the employee, the student, the teacher, and the homemaker find that this religion offers practical help in bringing good into one's entire experience.
We need to give much attention to prayer and meditation on the truths of God and man if we would obey Jesus' commands to love God supremely, love our neighbor as ourselves, and prove God's dominion over sin and disease. This is the way to the kingdom of heaven, spiritual understanding, peace, health, and holiness. It is a spiritually mental journey to the realm of perfect and unerring Mind.
Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (p. 241): "The substance of all devotion is the reflection and demonstration of divine Love, healing sickness and destroying sin. Our Master said, 'If ye love me, keep my commandments.' " We exemplify this love through obedience to another precept Mrs. Eddy gives on the same page: "One's aim, a point beyond faith, should be to find the footsteps of Truth, the way to health and holiness."
[April 25, 1957.]