A New Look at Miracles

 

Naomi Price, C.S.B., of London, England

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

The world can look ahead with hope to a new age of miracles when the wonders of early Christianity and even greater works of spiritual healing may be experienced by all who understand the law of God, a Christian Science lecturer told a noontime audience yesterday at John Hancock Hall, Boston.

In a lecture entitled "A New Look at Miracles," Mrs. Naomi Price, C.S.B., of London, said that the miracles recorded in the Bible and healings brought about today through Christian Science result from "the coincidence of the divine and the human - the understanding here and now of the divinely natural."

Mrs. Price pointed out that scientific achievements accepted as natural developments today, such as electronic communications or space travel, would have been considered miraculous and impossible to passengers of the Mayflower - or even to those living a century ago. She went on:

"But what about the miracles of the Bible? Those Bible stories of wonderful things happening - of human character transformed; of health, hope, sanity, and even life itself restored? Did they really happen? If so, were they extraordinary events caused by some   supernatural agency? Or were they, like the wonders of the jet plane and television, the normal, natural consequence of utilizing some law which most people, at the time knew nothing about?"

She spoke of the 35 specific case histories recorded in the Bible of men, women, and children who were cured by Christ Jesus of all kinds of serious physical and mental disorders, and added:

"Jesus said that these healings were not miraculous in the sense that they were unusual or supernatural happenings. He explained that they were examples of what can occur quite naturally to anyone who understands certain spiritual facts and puts them into practice as he did."

Mrs. Price said that Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, experienced what seemed to her a miraculous healing when she was apparently near death.

"She knew that her recovery was accomplished through spiritual means alone - through prayer - and at the time it seemed to her as remarkable as the wonderful healings of Bible days," Mrs. Price said of Mrs. Eddy's experience. "But it wasn't until later she realized the miracle was in perfect scientific accord with divine law - the same divine law which Jesus used when he brought about the phenomena of spiritual healing in his time."

That experience led Mrs. Eddy to study the Bible more deeply, Mrs. Price said, to attain the "exact demonstrable understanding of the truth of being which Jesus utilized and taught his disciples."

During the months following her healing Mrs. Eddy's conviction strengthened to the point of scientific certainty that God, divine Mind, is the only real cause, Mrs. Price said, adding:

"Consequently, when true spiritual being is recognized in its purity and perfection and the divine Mind is acknowledged as supreme, the miracle of healing must always be experienced outwardly as well as within. Corrected thought must always be expressed in corrected physique and corrected conditions."

Mrs. Price recounted several healings brought about through Christian Science, including those of a child born with clubfeet, of a woman whose failing sight was restored to normalcy when she was 84, and of a woman healed of a tumor within a few hours of her first visit with a Christian Science practitioner.

The lecturer, who was introduced by William H. Waite, First Reader of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, spoke substantially as follows:

 

‘Impossible’ achievements cited

I wonder if you realize how often the word "miracle" comes into everyday conversation. We may say about somebody who's had a bad time, "It's a miracle he's so cheerful." Or, if we're up against a difficult problem, "It'll be a miracle if we find the solution."

What do we, really mean by miracle? Perhaps the man in the street might define it much as the dictionary does, as "A marvelous event due to some supernatural agency."

But I'm sure many of you will at once think of a number of marvelous things which we consider quite natural today, which, if they'd happened a century or even a decade ago, might have been considered supernatural. Things like crossing the Atlantic in six hours. This might have seemed miraculous to the passengers on the Mayflower who took 66 days to make the journey. Or seeing and hearing friends in Australia while sitting at home in Boston - on television, of course. Or going to the moon. All these would have been thought impossible a century ago.

Of course, now we know differently. Jet planes fly the Atlantic, radio and television waves encircle the globe all day and every day through the utilization of the laws of aerodynamics and electronics. Men even go to the moon. Today we know these happenings are not miraculous, not supernatural. They come about through the utilization of laws of nature which we've recently discovered and learned to use.

But what about the miracles of the Bible? Did they really happen? If so, were they extraordinary events caused by some supernatural agency? Or were they, like the wonders of the jet plane and television, the normal, natural consequence of utilizing some law which most people, at the time, knew nothing about?

Christian Science maintains they were normal and natural. And it explains that they were brought about through the operation of divine law - law which the ancient prophets, Christ Jesus and his disciples understood and utilized. Consequently since divine law is eternal - it didn't cease to exist between then and now - equally wonderful things can occur today. And they do.

The age of miracles is not dead. We can all experience them. In fact, the whole world can look ahead with hope to a new age of miracles. Why? Because Christian Science has revealed this law of God and explained how the wonders of early Christianity may be repeated today. In fact, it promises that even greater works can be performed now than have ever before been imagined possible.

What, then, is a miracle?

Let me give you some examples, both past and present.

 

Jesus healed hundreds

For instance, the marvelous works of Christ Jesus. The Gospels tell of occasions when he healed literally hundreds of people at one time. Actually 35 specific case histories are given - case histories of men, women, and children who were cured of all kinds of serious physical and mental disorders through his prayer - disorders such as congenital deformity, blindness, functional and organic disease, sin, and insanity. These cures have usually been considered to be miracles. But were they really? Well, it all depends what you mean by miracles. In fact Jesus said that these healings were not miraculous in the sense that they were unusual or supernatural happenings. He explained that they were examples of what can occur quite naturally to anyone who understands certain spiritual facts and puts them into practice as he did. He said, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also" (John 14:12).

This is equally true today. Equally wonderful things can and do happen now through spiritual means alone.

For example, I know of a child who was born with clubfeet. This was a part of his medical record. He was perfectly healed through prayer in Christian Science and is now classified by Air Force doctors as 100 percent normal.

Again, a woman in England recently described a miracle that happened to her. For nearly 30 years her sight had deteriorated until she was almost blind. Then, suddenly, as the result of scientific prayer, it was completely restored at the age of 84. She can now see absolutely clearly, both far and near, without the aid of glasses.

 

Ancient events paralleled

Even that "last enemy," death, is being overcome through spiritual means alone. You'll remember how Paul restored Eutychus when he fell from a third-floor window. Quite recently, a United States Navy officer, who is a Christian Scientist, described an incident that took place in his patrol boat. He received a report that one of his crew had been violently thrown out of his bunk during a storm and was dead. When he went below, all the evidence seemed to support this conclusion. There was no sign of breathing and no heartbeat. But he didn't give up hope. He prayed and went on praying. After a few minutes the man regained consciousness. In a few minutes he sat up. Finally he was able to walk ashore unaided.

The member of the crew who had reported the death was amazed. But the Christian Scientist wasn't surprised. He knew that when we understand God's spiritual law and depend upon it, we can expect such things to happen. Like Paul, he might well have said, "Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?" (Acts 26:8).

And it isn't only in the healing of physical difficulties that the miraculous power of God has been experienced through the ages. Modern marvels parallel the ancient miracles in other ways as well.

You remember how Moses turned to God for help when he led the Israelites out of Egypt. The waters of the Red Sea divided so that they crossed on dry ground. Well, something similar happened to an Australian friend of mine not long ago. He has a ranch in the plains of New South Wales. Well, after some exceptionally heavy rainfall 1,500 of his sheep were cut off by flooding. Torrents of flood water poured down from the hills, and it was actually reported to him that all his sheep had been drowned and washed away.

Roads and landing fields were closed; and, as he said, there was absolutely nothing he could do except pray. And so he did. This is what happened. The torrents of water came down into the plain, but instead of flooding the whole area several feet deep, as would be expected, they cut a new channel in an entirely different direction. The result was the raging water completely bypassed the paddock where the sheep were grazing, and every one of them was saved. Not only that - the floods left a huge lake, several miles long; and this has irrigated the property so effectively that since then my friend has been able to keep far more stock there than ever before.

These are all examples of needs being met when there was no material basis for hope. They're typical of what men call miracles.

Now, let's consider this definition of a miracle. It comes from the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science: "miracle. That which is divinely natural, but must be learned humanly; a phenomenon of Science" (p. 591).

And what is "divinely natural"? To know this we need to understand what God is and what kind of universe He has created.

God is the name many people give to the ultimate source, the creator, or divine Principle, of all real being. This is the explanation of God we find in Science and Health: "God is what the Scriptures declare Him to be, - Life, Truth, Love. Spirit is divine Principle, and divine Principle is Love, and Love is Mind, and Mind is not both good and bad, for God is Mind; therefore there is in reality one Mind only, because there is one God" (Science and Health, p. 330).

Mrs. Eddy wrote both these definitions - of miracle and of God - after she had experienced what seemed to be a miraculous physical healing herself. One moment she was apparently near death and the next she was able to get up and walk. She knew that her recovery was accomplished through spiritual means alone - through prayer - and at the time it seemed to her as remarkable as the wonderful healings of Bible days. But it wasn't until later she realized the miracle was in perfect scientific accord with divine law - the same divine law which Jesus used when he brought about the phenomena of spiritual healing in his time.

 

God’s perfection protects all

This experience led her to study the Bible even more deeply than before. And from this she discovered the Science of being, the exact demonstrable understanding of the truth of being which Jesus utilized and taught his disciples.

Of course, the foundation of this Science of true being is the understanding of God, the creator of all.

God, the divine Principle, or creator, is infinite Life, immutable Truth and perfect Love, infinitely intelligent Mind. He's altogether good and includes no weakness, no sin, no evil element to transmit to His creation.

What, then, are God's universe and God's man like? They express the substance of God's nature - Life, Truth, Love, Mind. They're wholly spiritual. They're governed by unfailing divine Principle. They're immortal, eternal, immutable, divine, and completely harmonious. Neither the universe nor man is partly good and partly bad. Nor are they subject to chance, change, discord, death. In this spiritual universe, under God's law of perfection, all is safe from deterioration, deformity, destruction, or lack. This is the truth of real being. This God-created universe and God-created man constitute reality or the divinely natural.

From this basis we reason that there can't really be any power, activity, or presence apart from infinite good. There can be no lack of anything we need, no discord, no disease, no evil in any form. As the result of such reasoning our thought accepts infinite good as divinely natural and a spiritual breakthrough, or miracle, occurs.

A few years ago, some American soldiers were engaged in jungle warfare in the Pacific, and they ran out of water.

Well, things were pretty desperate, and it can be assumed that every one prayed for help in his own way. The Christian Scientist who told this story certainly did. Within a few minutes an artillery shell hit the trail ahead of them and water gushed out of the hole, fresh and clear. No one was hurt and they all had more than enough to drink.

 

Jesus understood relationship

Was this a miracle? In the sense that it was divinely natural, it certainly was. Why should it be thought a thing incredible? The Bible clearly states: "He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings" (Ps. 107:35). Surely it was a case of the divinely natural being experienced humanly.

In fact, this incident is remarkably like the one that took place more than 3,000 years before, when Moses struck the rock in the wilderness, and water gushed out. Isn't it probable that in both cases the same law of God was brought into operation through prayer? Moses had "cried unto the Lord" (Ex. 17:4), and God helped the Israelites in their need. Can't we expect the same spiritual breakthrough to occur today when the divinely natural order of creation is understood?

Now if you're thinking, "Maybe these things did occur as you say, but surely it was just coincidence" - you're right. But it depends on what you mean by coincidence. Healing in Christian Science does come through coincidence, but not by chance. It comes about through the coincidence of the divine and the human, the coincidence of the spiritual idea with human thought - the understanding here and now of the divinely natural.

This accounts for the wonderful signs following Jesus' ministry. He not only understood the divinely natural spiritual idea of God and of man's relationship with Him - the truth which is the Christ - but he lived so closely in accord with it that he earned the title of Jesus the Christ, or Christ Jesus. He presented to mankind the coincidence of the divine with the human, and demonstrated for them the phenomenon of this understanding by healing.

This accounts, too, for the healing experienced by Mrs. Eddy, when suffering serious effects from an accident. At this moment of extremity, she caught a glimpse of the Christ, or true idea of God and His perfect universe including man. This coincidence of divine Truth with her human consciousness resulted in healing - in her body as well as in her thought.

During the next few months her conviction strengthened to the point of scientific certainty that God, divine Mind, is the only real cause. Consequently, since cause is Mind, all true effect must be divinely mental. Moreover, she saw that matter is the subjective state of mortal thought including the physical body and all that it experiences. Consequently, when true spiritual being is recognized in its purity and perfection and the divine Mind is acknowledged as supreme, the miracle of healing must always be experienced outwardly as well as within.

 

Basic enemies identified

Does this surprise you? Well, I'm sure you'll agree that thought affects human experience to a large extent. Fear, worry, hatred, grief - they all take their toll. They have a bad effect on home, business, and social life - health as well. On the other hand, joy, hope, peace, love, happiness are the best tonic anyone can have.

Science and Health goes further. It says: "Christian Science explains all cause and effect as mental, not physical." Then continues: "Science shows that what is termed matter is but the subjective state of what is termed by the author mortal mind" (p. 114).

So, if matter - the body and, in fact, all physical experience - is the subjective state of mortal mind, wouldn't you agree our salvation from human troubles must lie in dealing with the thoughts which produce them?

In this age of scientific and technical achievements and human ingenuity, there's a tendency to discount the need for God in time of trouble. Men are inclined to assume that all the answers are within the human mind or brain.

But this isn't true. No material or mortally mental means - drugs, surgery, human reasoning and argument, nor even human love and sympathy - however well meant, can wholly remove fear, expel hate, heal a broken heart, or conquer sin. These basic enemies to our well-being can only be successfully and permanently healed by the same means Christ Jesus used. We need to recognize that which is divinely natural - that which is created by God, divine Mind. Then we need to maintain this vision in thought - deeply, wholeheartedly, conscientiously. This recognition, this vision, brings one into harmony with God; the divinely natural is learned humanly; and the miracle of healing appears, first inwardly in thought, then outwardly in experience. This is true coincidence, coincidence of human experience and divine good, of the human and divine.

How can we reach the same heights of spiritual vision that enabled Christ Jesus and his disciples as well as the ancient prophets to perform miracles?

We've been talking about that which is divinely natural, that which is God-created, spiritually real, inevitably good, whole, and forever harmonious. This concept of perfect creation is glorious to contemplate. But mere contemplation of spiritual reality isn't enough. Until the divinely natural is thoroughly understood, assimilated into thought, lived and demonstrated, it's theoretical.

So, how can we learn humanly that which is divinely natural? Well, in all those healing incidents that I told you about, and in the many others I could relate, there's a common factor - scientific PRAYER. All these people prayed.

And what is scientific prayer? It turns thought to God and to His perfect, spiritual universe and law. Through this prayer we recognize God, the divine Principle, Love, as the creator, or Father, of the real universe and man. We acknowledge Him as the only power in heaven and earth. We admit that His will is undeniable law. And we gratefully accept that He unfailingly provides for all created things, supplies each one with daily "bread" - every spiritual quality and idea needed to care for every human situation. In fact, scientific prayer is an acknowledgment of the "divinely natural."

Science and Health makes an important point in this connection: "Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it" (p. 2).

When we pray, we realize that God is infinite good, the creator of all that really exists – all - that really exists. This leads us to another important fact - that evil, anything discordant, disruptive, or sinister has no power in this infinitude of good. Yes! Evil doesn't really exist.

It's spiritually correct, isn't it, to affirm that God, infinite good, eternal Life, Truth, and Love, could not and did not create evil? Surely, then, it's equally scientific and correct to deduce that destructive conditions - famine and floods, disease and deformity, fear, hatred, war, loneliness, and sorrow aren't part of His creation. These conditions from which men seem to suffer are far from "divinely natural." They aren't any part of God's nature nor of His creation. God's spiritual universe necessarily reflects Him. So we can know that the miseries of mortal existence, however solid and substantial they may seem, are not solid and substantial at all; they're actually not "real."

 

Practitioner explained perfection

But there's more to scientific prayer than the acknowledgement of the perfection of God and His universe, and the denial of reality to evil influences and phenomena. It includes the wholehearted realization of the presence of God here and now, and the bringing of every thought and action into line with God's law. Not only words but dedicated thought is needed - the humble, selfless realization of God's presence and the perfection of His universe including man. Such purified thought completely transforms consciousness and brings it into harmony with the "divinely natural."

When these facts are understood - learned humanly - and wholeheartedly acknowledged, discord begins to disappear from human experience; health and harmony are established in their place.

The experience of a woman who introduced me at a lecture I gave recently illustrates what I mean.

Some years ago she was in an apparently hopeless physical condition. She had a large tumor and suffered severe pain. In addition, she had become totally paralyzed and blind as a consequence of the growth.

When medicine and surgery could offer no more hope, she consulted a Christian Science practitioner. The practitioner told her a little about God and her relationship with Him. She explained that only perfection is real, that imperfection and evil are unreal. Under the circumstances this seemed pretty hard for the patient to accept, but she listened carefully and humbly and promised to cooperate as best she could.

All day she really tried to do this. When a spasm of pain seized her body, she was tempted to believe that this was an evil power; but she rejected the thought and insisted instead that God is the only power. Then she wanted to look at something but she couldn't see because she was blind. “Surely,” the argument came, “blindness is power.” “No,” she said to herself, “God is the only power.” Then she wanted to move and she couldn't. Again the suggestion came, “Surely paralysis is power.” But she quickly denied it. “No. God is the only power.” And she stayed resolutely with this fact.

 

Hatred and resentment vanish

After only a few hours the miracle occurred. There was a final spasm of pain. The tumor passed from her body. The paralysis and blindness vanished. She could move and see perfectly normally again. She had aligned herself wholly with the demands of God's law and was healed.

This isn't an isolated event which a doubting Thomas might shrug off as hearsay or imagination. It's just one more in an immense accumulation of evidence showing that through scientific prayer "the divinely natural" can be "learned humanly."

There's nothing chancy, then, about this method of healing. Nor are its results mysterious or supernatural phenomena. It's the scientific method of primitive Christianity as practiced by Jesus. Anyone may practice it. And it can be practiced anywhere - at home, in business, on the battlefield, and in the sickroom.

A friend of mine, a Christian Scientist, proved this when he was a prisoner of war. He had suffered for quite a time from sinusitis and couldn't seem to get relief. Finally, he prayed with deep sincerity - deeper than he ever had before. And this is what came to him. He realized he was harboring a bitter hatred for his country's foes and a rebellious resentment at being a prisoner.

He realized that this unhealthy state of thought was being manifested in the sinus condition. And he immediately set about letting God, the divine Mind, heal him, this time not primarily of the physical problem, but of the hatred and resentment which were causing it.

Each day he read and pondered Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, letting the spiritual light which shines through these wonderful words permeate his thought. Before long, his thinking was transformed. Hatred and resentment vanished, and he found he could pray sincerely for everyone around him, including the so-called enemies. A little later he found he was no longer suffering from sinusitis. He was healed!

Supernatural? No! This healing wasn't a supernatural miracle. In fact, it's divinely natural. It's what Mrs. Eddy calls "a phenomenon of Science." And thousands have demonstrated how effective Christian Science is to bring forth this perfectly natural phenomenon of healing in other ways as well.

It's effective in reforming the sinner as well as comforting the sorrowing. It will provide the natural, scientific solution to problems of supply, companionship, discipline, employment, home, and family. It will replace fear and doubt with confidence and assurance. It will bring love to the human heart instead of hatred; life instead of stagnation and disintegration; truth instead of the error of belief in a power and presence apart from God, or good.

 

All things possible to God

This scientific prayer is unlimited and impartial - unlimited in its application and impartial in its availability. It can be applied to national and international problems.

Every scientific phenomenon is supported by evidence. And in the case of this phenomenon, which we call a miracle, the undeniable evidence is healing - healing as undeniable as when Jesus healed a young man of blindness. The man had been born blind, and Jesus restored his sight. Apparently there was a good deal of questioning of the incident at the time, but the young man held firmly to one fact. He said: "One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see" (John 9:25).

Today there are thousands all over the world who testify to the healing power of Truth. In their individual ways they're following this young man's example, saying such things as, "Whereas I was paralyzed, now I can walk." "Whereas I was afraid and miserable, now I'm happy and unafraid." "Whereas I was a slave to tobacco and alcohol, now I'm free." And so on and on.

These miracles of healing and regeneration may seem wonderful and sometimes awe-inspiring, but they're entirely natural. They're the phenomena of divine Science. This very day we can expect such miracles to follow our efforts to help not only ourselves but others as well. Yes, we can expect to say - and, indeed, there are many who already say with deepest gratitude and joy - "Whereas I was a helpless bystander when others suffered, now I can really help."

So the evidence continues to mount up. Jesus said, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also" (John 14:12). Present-day happenings, the miracles, or natural phenomena of Science, are showing that this prophecy is timeless.

Mrs. Eddy demonstrated this. She was successful in utilizing divine law to overcome evil in many different forms.

It was from her own experience that she was able to write in Science and Health: "The power of Christian Science and divine Love is omnipotent. It is indeed adequate to unclasp the hold and to destroy disease, sin, and death" (p. 412).

All things are possible to God. No human situation, however dark and dangerous it may appear to us, is beyond the range of His healing power.

The age of miracles lives on. Miracles aren't a question of chance or of the intervention of supernatural power in human affairs. They fulfill God's law. They are the natural signs following scientific Christianity.

 

© 1969 Naomi Price

All rights reserved

 

[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, March 18, 1970, under the headline "The divine law that guided Biblical miracles is still valid".]

 

 

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