Christian Science: The Truth Concerning Man
Friedrich Preller, C.S.B., of Berlin, Germany
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
A Christian Science lecturer and his wife were waiting for their train in the railway terminal of a large city. They had found a place on a bench and were enjoying watching a little girl, about two years old, who was jumping and dancing near her mother, graceful, untroubled, happy. Everyone who saw the little girl enjoyed her pure, unburdened, and gay childlikeness. An older gentleman, who had been absorbed in watching the child for a while, said with an expression of inner conviction, "I would give millions if I could be a child like that again!" The arrival of the train ended this short and yet meaningful episode.
Haven't many of us felt like this man when life's burden was too heavy, the prospects of life dark, and the past accusing? The realization of this wish has failed, not because of the lack of the millions, but because this childlike bliss can never be bought with money. This is just as impossible as the repeating of our own physical birth. You can be confident, my friends, that in order to attain this treasure we need neither the millions nor the actual return to a human childhood.
This desirable state of consciousness, as expressed by a child, is attainable here and now. Christian Science reveals this possibility. In it we find the means and the way to this bliss.
The spiritual light with which this religion illumines and permeates everything enables us to see God, man, and the universe on a higher plane. In this light we see the actual connection of cause and effect, or of God and what goes out from Him. We see that most of the dictums which exist generally concerning man are erroneous, yes, they constitute the lie concerning him. This is an old, old lie concerning man. It has existed in the world for centuries, and the mere passing of time can never correct it; but in the light of Christian Science we see suddenly that a material, corporeal organism or temporary appearance never has corresponded to spiritual reality.
In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," the textbook of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, which reinstates primitive Christianity, sets down revolutionary ideas. In this book we read (p. 63): "In Science man is the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute his ancestry. His origin is not, like that of mortals, in brute instinct, nor does he pass through material conditions prior to reaching intelligence. Spirit is his primitive and ultimate source of being; God is his Father, and Life is the law of his being."
This, my friends, is the truth of man. Isn't this a truth in obvious accordance with the inspired record of creation in the first chapter of Genesis, where it is said that God created man in His image, after His likeness? It is no wonder that time-honored religious beliefs, entrenched misconceptions, never satisfy the longing of human hearts for an understanding of God. Mere imaginings and speculations can never satisfy. The human mind has a tendency to fabricate its own picture of things which it cannot see or hear or feel, and so it has built up a picture of an anthropomorphic God, a God after the pattern of man. And, you know, the pictures in old-fashioned Bibles, the illustrations, have added their part to these human conceptions.
As a result of her deeply religious nature, her devout prayer, and her conscientious study, motivated by the desire to help mankind with her divinely inspired revelation, Mrs. Eddy has replaced these fabrications with the spiritual facts, practical and available.
Have you ever tried to visualize Love? Or Truth? Or Life? Or can you actually visualize God as good? You cannot visualize these qualities; but you can think the good and do it. You can understand and experience Life, Truth, and Love. So it is possible for mankind to reflect and express God. Through such an understanding it really is not difficult to realize that God is omnipotence, and omnipresence, to recognize His infinity and eternality. Our great Master, Christ Jesus, said that the knowledge of God is Life eternal (John 17:3): "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." Doesn't this show that the knowledge of man as Jesus revealed him is as important as the knowledge of God?
So now let us consider the truth of man, which, when understood enriches human life unspeakably. Christian Science not only detects the lies concerning man, but at the same time replaces them with incontrovertible spiritual facts, as this lecture will show.
And now let us go back to the child in the railroad station and to the desire of the human heart for childlike qualities. Mrs. Eddy says in the textbook (pp. 323, 324):
"Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea. Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, - this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony." "Willingness . . . to leave the old for the new." Here the question arises, Are we really willing to give up the old? Are we willing to give up the ancient theories, conceptions, assumptions, opinions, conjectures, yes, the countless lies which have been spread with regard to man from way back?
Believe me, there are more lies concerning man than about anything else in the world. These lies start with the human birth and relate to man's character, his health, his abilities, his prospects. These lies deny his actual being at every turn. This is the old which should be given up for the new. Basically the new is the ancient, is the eternal; it is the truth concerning man as revealed in the first report of creation in Genesis. It is the truth which Jesus taught and lived as an example of true manhood, the truth concerning man as it is revealed, explained, and proved to us again today by Christian Science. The truth of man is his immortal beauty, his unlimited ability, his divine origin, his exalted state, his noble character, and his eternal coexistence with God. Believe me, the truth concerning man brings more happiness than anything else in the world.
It is the old, the lie concerning man, which would make one dissatisfied, sick and weary, and it is the new, the truth concerning man, which revives, uplifts, and enlightens. The necessity for this process of renewing was emphasized by the Apostle Paul when he wrote (Col. 3:9, 10): "Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds (with all his habits, with his material mindedness and his fleshly portion): and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him."
These scientific recognitions lead to a spiritual rebirth in human consciousness. They help us in taking off the old and putting on the new man. Spiritual rebirth brings the truth of man to light. It alone helps us attain those joyous qualities which we love so much in a little child and which we long to possess for ourselves. How just it is that those jewels of character cannot be achieved with a million dollars, since they would then be available to only a few. The right and the possibility for a spiritual rebirth is there for all: more than that, it is an unconditional necessity for everyone.
Perhaps filled with a longing similar to that of the gentleman in the train terminal, a scholar by the name of Nicodemus came to our great Master, Christ Jesus, one night. Jesus recognized the sincere desire of his heart and gave him and all of us the divine hint (John 3:7). "Ye must be born again." The scholar did not know what to do with those words. So he urged Jesus to give him an explanation, and he responded with these words (John 3:5): "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." "Of water and of the Spirit" - in other words, through purification and spiritualization of thought.
Rebirth is more than insight, more than repentance, more than intention, more than hoping and wishing. It is, according to the Bible, "like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap." Spiritual rebirth opens the gate to a new life. Rebirth is the demonstration of Spirit. Mrs. Eddy says in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 15): "The new birth is not the work of a moment. It begins with moments, and goes on with years: moments of surrender to God, of childlike trust and joyful adoption of good; moments of self-abnegation, self-consecration, heaven-born hope, and spiritual love."
A woman I know very well was told by medical authorities that she had only a short time to live because of a heart condition. She told her trouble to a friend, and from her she found out a few things about Christian Science. She gained confidence and consented to have Christian Science treatment. The practitioner felt a very special joy during his spiritual work, and obviously it was joy which this woman's heart needed, and again it was joy with which she received the truth regarding man that her friend explained to her. It was as though scales fell from her eyes, and she was immediately prepared to give up the old for the new. After just one treatment she felt a considerable transformation, and within a few days she felt as though she had been born anew. She was healed. Her mental and physical well-being corresponded completely to a fully transformed concept of God and man. This healing dates back approximately thirty-five years.
Certain widespread lies about man, generally accepted throughout the world, are that he is unprotected, unprotected in his rights, unprotected wherever he walks and stands, that he is surrounded by danger everywhere and that he can never be sure of his life, that he could be the tool and also the victim of fear and hate. These suggestions are not true! The truth regarding man is that he is inseparable from his creator, God. "God is love," as John explains. From this Love man is inseparable, and this all-embracing, spiritual infinite Love is the ever-present protection of man. To the one who understands this truth, his name, his honor, his rights, his calling, and his belongings are always protected by divine law. Wherever he walks and stands, wherever he moves and breathes, he is surrounded by Love, God, as the Psalmist expresses it (Ps. 139:5), "Thou has beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me "
Mrs. Eddy talks in her textbook of man's relationship to God and calls him "the child of His care." The greater our understanding of divine or spiritual Love, the greater the multitude of the heavenly host which surround and protect us in our daily living. The foolish mortal believes that he can protect himself through human precautions and that he needs divine protection only against the dark underhanded dealings of evil, which escape his limited comprehension. He is like the little boy who liked to pray with his mother each evening; but when one morning the mother wanted to pray with him, he replied, "Oh, no, Mother, during the day I can watch out for myself."
A woman, with whom I am personally acquainted, had the following experience when she was seventeen years old. She had to go on official business to an isolated suburb of a large city, and part of the way led through a forest. It had already turned dark when she noticed that she was being followed by a man. His appearance and behavior indicated that there was nothing good in his intentions. He tried to distract her from her business and to persuade her to go with him. When the girl could not see anyone within shouting distance, fear tried to take hold of her. The next instant she recognized in this situation an opportunity to apply the truth concerning man which she had learned in the Christian Science Sunday School. She saw in this man a picture of Love, the true man, who is able to think only good and to act rightly. The thought was added to this that nothing could stand in the way of carrying out her duties, since her motives were right. So she suddenly felt encouraged to draw this man into a conversation, in the course of which she finally reached her goal. He expressed his amazement at her fearlessness and went his way. Here proof is brought out that the understanding of spiritual Love chokes wrong motives at the outset and guards both parties, the one from doing evil, the other from the effects of evil. This is just one of the innumerable proofs of the protective power which comes into the human experience through Christian Science.
Another widespread lie regarding man that is accepted throughout the world is that he is a mass-product, one just like many others. From this lie it is deduced that man is at the mercy of all sorts of human influence and general beliefs, such as contagion, hypnotic influence, and heredity. This is not true!
The truth concerning man is that as the expression of God, the one infinite Mind, he expresses and reflects the infinite individuality which is God. Mind is another synonym for God given us by Mary Baker Eddy. Paul fittingly characterizes the nature of God as Mind in his letter to the Romans. He writes (Rom. 11:33), "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" The riches of the divine Mind are expressed in infinite variety. There is no duplication in God's universe; everything is individual and distinct, from a blade of grass to a star.
For this reason, humanly speaking, one man should never be compared with another, because his spiritual individuality is the likeness of God, not the likeness of man. The habit of comparing people with each other leads to one of two extremes - either a feeling of superiority or an inferiority complex. In proportion to our understanding of true individuality we stop comparing people with each other, and so we no longer rob ourselves of the joy of seeing every man in his spiritual stature. The true concept of individuality blesses us in our daily and professional lives also. We are no longer afraid of being crowded out or misunderstood, or of being underestimated or overestimated.
The individuality of man is the reflection of God. The understanding of true individuality enables us to comprehend and deal with our fellow man individually rather than collectively. It guarantees the freedom of the individual and of the nation and guards against slavery.
And here is an example out of everyday life! One day, a Christian Scientist on his way to a Christian Science Wednesday evening meeting suddenly felt all the symptoms of influenza, which was prevalent in that city. He immediately recognized the danger of being influenced by it and was wide enough awake to deny the claim. Long before this he had learned, through Christian Science, to treasure the concept of individuality. Immediately he took refuge in this spiritual idea. Like a flash of lightning the thought came: Man reflects singularity, and this reflection excludes duplication. Another thought was: Man's individuality is immune to all claims of aggressive evil. Ten minutes later when this Christian Scientist reached his church all the symptoms of the disease had completely disappeared.
The truth concerning man was best explained by Christ Jesus whom Christianity refers to as Lord and Master. In him, God, or the divine Mind, was clearly reflected. What a depth of the riches of wisdom and knowledge we find embodied in him!
The individuality of Jesus created an atmosphere in which everyone who entered the radius of his thought, and who acknowledged him, was healed, delivered, or blessed in some way. Jesus was animated by the Christ, and it was his Christly mentality, his spiritual sense, which enabled him to divine what was in the hearts of men. Mrs. Eddy says in her textbook (p. 332), "Jesus demonstrated Christ: he proved that Christ is the divine idea of God - the Holy Ghost, or Comforter, revealing the divine Principle, Love, and leading into all truth."
My friends, the Christ, or the manifestation of God, was no personal possession of Jesus. The Christ was already known to the patriarchs and prophets, and it is present here today as it was in Biblical times. Christian Science reveals this important fact. Today every one of us has the Christ in proportion as he awakes in his spiritual selfhood, and in this proportion he is able to see the deception of the material, personal, corporeal senses and is able to let the Christ, spiritual sense, operate in all his affairs. The spiritual understanding that we gain through Christian Science evidences the Christ, and everyone can awaken to this understanding. Without the Christ, without the spirit of God, the human being is, in the words of the prophet, no more than "a drop of a bucket, and . . counted as the small dust of the balance" (Isa. 40:15). The Christ alone is the essence, the substance of man.
No demonstration can be made without the Christ, or, as Jesus put it (John 14:6), "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me." Through the Christ alone can we be redeemed, individually, instantaneously, and finally. Christ opens the door of the prison, tears away the chains, and dissolves captivity.
My friends, equipped with Christly understanding we are able to know the truth of man and to destroy the lie concerning him. The Christ itself is Truth and is the greatest source of power on earth. With it we can meet effectively all the problems of our times which seem so very real. The truth of man is the truth about the entire universe. This truth works like a leaven, and through its process of fermentation it silences all negative powers and leads the positive powers to success.
A widespread lie with regard to man, generally accepted throughout the world, is that he can be limited, incapable, burdened, stupid, and narrow-minded. This lie also claims that the abilities of man depend on his childhood, his upbringing, his physical constitution, on luck or chance. This is not true! The truth concerning man is that he is divinely enabled, endowed, and gifted, since he is born of God. God alone is the source of all gifts. Among the seven synonyms which Mrs. Eddy has given for the definition of God, we find the word Soul. Mrs. Eddy recognized in God the source of joy, of beauty, of harmony, of inspiration, and of ability, and therefore she designated Soul as a synonym for God. Man expresses Soul; he is fed from his divine source continually; therefore he is always in full possession of joy, beauty, harmony, inspiration, and all ability.
An encouraging and at the same time outstanding example of the fact that this truth concerning man is demonstrable is found in our age in Mary Baker Eddy. Although sorrow, worry, opposition, resistance and misunderstanding accompanied her pioneer work, joy and a selfless love remained the keynote of her actions. Dependable witnesses of her daily life write of her precious sense of humor and wholesome naturalness. No wonder that her discovery, Christian Science, turns out to be a religion of joy. The Bible talks in Psalms of the "beauty of holiness," and this beauty, coupled with gracefulness, loveliness, and vigor was exemplified by this woman throughout her life. All her written works breathe this beauty of holiness, coupled with rhythm and poetry. It was the harmony of Soul that had a healing influence on all who came in contact with her. This harmony, is felt in all the institutions of the Christian Science movement, institutions which she created. It was heavenly inspiration which enabled her to unlock the Scriptures and to supply the seekers of Truth with spiritual understanding. And finally, it was her gifted ability in all fields of life which made mankind take notice of her and her works. Through her lifework she has proven herself as one of the greatest authors and publishers, as a model organizer, as Founder and Discoverer, as an outstanding spiritual Leader and teacher, yes, as a friend of mankind; beyond this, however, she was and is the greatest metaphysician of our day. In loyal conscientiousness, devotion, self-denial, and patience she stepped directly into the footsteps of our Master, Christ Jesus. Mrs. Eddy saw that her chief mission was to proclaim to the world the truth of God and man as it had been revealed to her, the truth by which she herself had escaped death, by which she had been healed and led to a new life.
Today the Christian Science organization founded by Mrs. Eddy is spread throughout the world.
Another lie concerning man, equally widespread, generally accepted throughout the world, is that man is exposed to fate, that he is a toy of circumstances and conditions, and that he is helpless and defenseless against injustices and intrigues. This is not true! The truth regarding man is that God, divine Principle, is reflected in man, and that God expresses Himself through man in lawfulness, order, precision, and dominion. Principle is another synonym for God, which Christian Science reveals.
The Bible says with regard to God (Ps. 33:8-10): "Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought; he maketh the devices of the people of none effect." In the Christian world Bible words such as these are often assumed to mean God's threats of punishment. Mrs. Eddy, on the other hand, has recognized God in such Scriptural selections as omnipotent, governing, unerring Principle. Now, to the degree that man subjects himself to divine Principle and is governed by it, he proves himself the master over difficulties. In solving problems the Christian Scientist relies with absolute confidence on the never-erring, unchanging divine Principle and its operation. It is through prayer that human consciousness is brought into harmony with Principle. The prayer of the Christian Scientist is not just a petition for a mere solution, it is the expression of an honest desire for more spirituality, purity, devotion, for more humility and unselfishness.
Perhaps someone may want to object here: I have many times prayed devoutly and sincerely, and yet was not heard. Yes, millions of prayers in the world remain unanswered. Why? Because prayer without fasting is ineffective! When the disciples of Jesus were unable to heal a certain disease and asked the Master about it, he answered (Matt. 17:21), "This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." Fasting means to abstain from accepting the lie concerning man, the lie which wants to spread itself through material thinking with regard to man. The prophet Isaiah says (Isa 58:6,9,10): "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? . . . If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity: . . . then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day." I assure you, my friends, such fasting causes every prayer to be heard.
I have a friend who overcame a business crisis out of which there was no human escape. Through no fault of his own, he one day found himself in a very critical situation because of a change from wartime to peacetime production. He decided to branch-out into a new type of production for which he needed additional capital. Several former business friends lent him this money. The new product had a fine beginning, but it was halted because of the dishonesty of a representative. My friend lost the greatest part of the money and was confronted by the frightening specter of bankruptcy. The burden of heavy responsibility tried to overwhelm him. One day, through wonderful guidance, he met a wealthy businessman who must have instantly sensed my friend's trustworthiness. He suggested that the firm declare bankruptcy, and that he would then buy the firm out at only 10% of the original value. He would then offer my friend a position which would secure his personal supply.
This suggestion was turned down most emphatically. My friend explained that this could not be the solution of the problem, because even though he himself could find a job and income, his friends would lose their money and his two partners would lose all they had. The financier was sorry to hear this because he believed that he could not help him in any other way.
To human sense everything seemed quite dark and completely hopeless. As a genuine Christian Scientist my friend turned to prayer. He fasted from the material sense of things and denied all human negative suggestions and apprehensions and remained loyal to the truth concerning man. He examined his thoughts, motives, and actions as he had learned to do in Christian Science. He trusted unreservedly in the divine Principle. He knew that with God there are only perfect solutions, and that, if he could be absolutely still and trust God, such a solution would appear, as a result of his prayer and fasting.
Three days before the bankruptcy was to be declared, a telephone call came from the financier. He informed him that he was ready to give him the necessary money. My friend merely asked, "On my terms or yours?" The man answered, "On your terms!" So my friend received as much money as he needed and was not even charged interest. None of the people involved lost any money.
God was again expressed as never-failing Principle, Love; and the truth concerning man, namely that he is master over difficulties, was again proved.
Finally, another widespread lie with regard to man, which is generally accepted throughout the world, is that he is the victim of time with its change and tempo, and that depletion, loss, infirmity, decay, and death are inevitable. This is not true! The truth concerning man is that he lives as long as God lives, that all that belongs to God is man's own, that he has no element of destruction in him, and that he has the crown of life.
In spite of all material hypotheses and against the material evidence of the senses the Christian Science textbook brings this exalted message (Science and Health, p. 76): "The sinless joy, - the perfect harmony and immortality of Life, possessing unlimited divine beauty and goodness without a single bodily pleasure or pain, - constitutes the only veritable, indestructible man, whose being is spiritual."
Christian Science reveals an understanding of true life, of spiritual Life, untouched by space or time, by matter or material corporeality, untouched by mortality. This understanding enlightens and spiritualizes the human consciousness, and has a preventive, healing, liberating, and sustaining effect on all the functions, movements, organs and activities of the human body. Spiritualization of thought brings into our experience in every respect a cleansing, uplifting, and progressive element. Sinful inclination gives way to higher desires, pride makes room for humility, and fear is replaced with confidence. A limited material corporeality is not the habitation of man, and his ability to think is not outlined by his brain. Man reflects divine consciousness, infinite Mind. Let us take man out of matter, and we will find mankind beautiful, greater, more capable, and lovelier than we have ever known them to be.
In the midst of Mars Hill in Athens the Apostle Paul made this statement, which is well known throughout the Christian world (Acts 17:28): "In him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said. For we are also his offspring." You know, in German, in the Martin Luther Bible, the word for "move" also means "to weave" or "to work"; so this verse could read: in Him we live, and weave - or work - and have our being. With these few words Paul proclaimed the basic truth concerning man. Here we have the Biblical confirmation that man's existence is in God, and therefore spiritual. God is the only action or movement, and His work, His weaving, is man. Man is the substantial, indestructible, eternal work of his creator, the infinite Mind. This man is flawless, without mistakes, and exists forever. This spiritual creation contains no seed of destruction or dissolution. Such a recognition is not without practical results.
A woman I know found herself in a desperate situation. She suffered from abdominal cancer. The disease had progressed so far that the doctor told her daughter that her mother's days were numbered. This woman had already heard about Christian Science, and now in her extremity she turned to a practitioner of this religion. In an encouraging conversation her fear was lessened, and her confidence in the operating divine Principle strengthened. In his spiritual work for this woman the practitioner recognized the absolute truth concerning man. He saw in man, as reflecting the indestructible substance of Spirit, the indissoluble substance of Life. The result of the truly devoted work of the practitioner, coupled with an unreserved confidence on the part of this woman, brought about a noticeable healing effect immediately, and after two weeks she was able to continue her usual duties. The fact that this healing was permanent was confirmed to the practitioner when he saw this woman again in perfect health after he had lost track of her for twenty years. Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health (p. 402): "The time approaches when mortal mind will forsake its corporeal, structural, and material basis, when immortal Mind and its formations will be apprehended in Science, and material beliefs will not interfere with spiritual facts."
These words show clearly that it is possible to change our thinking from the material to the spiritual, from the human to the divine; and so we are able to perceive through Christian Science the spiritual fact that we are the children of God, of infinite good. All the good that belongs to God is man's divine heritage; it belongs to him as God's reflection. As this reflection we are right now in full possession of our divine authority, our dominion, health, peace, strength, purity, and shadowless joy. So we see that in order to possess this divine sonship we do not need either a material rebirth or the millions the man I mentioned in the beginning of this lecture was willing to give. This heritage is not remote: we do not have to wait for human inventions; it need not be postponed to a future time. In the continuous, uninterrupted here and now we have this precious jewel to accept and to use. Let us open our hearts to humility, selflessness, and the simplicity that is in Christ. Then this heritage will become operative in our daily lives, and the truth of man will be manifested - the truth of every man, of you and me.