Christian Science: God's Ever-Present Kingdom Revealed
Wilson M. Riley, C.S.B., of Kansas City, Missouri
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Progress today is exceedingly swift. A recent newspaper dispatch recounting some of the marvelous inventions of our time brought out that during the first fifty years of this century more outstanding inventive progress had been made than in the preceding five thousand years.
But with all the advantages of this advancing age comes the great challenge: Do material inventions of themselves make for more spirituality and higher ethical and moral standards? Do they ever really satisfy the deeper yearnings of mankind? No — only the revelation of God's kingdom can do that and Christian Science meets the challenge. How wonderful to know that human thought can be so enlightened through spiritual understanding as to bring comparable advances in the demonstration of love, peace, universal brotherhood, freedom and purposeful living! This greatly desired possibility for mankind is obtainable through the knowledge of God revealed through Christian Science. The great Master, Jesus of Nazareth, said: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33). The "things added" include health, happiness, more abundant life. How the kingdom of God has been opened to human thought and how the blessings which follow can be gained with absolute certainty is what Christian Science reveals.
The Heavenly Kingdom
Now, just what is the kingdom of God? Where is it? How can you and I enter into this heavenly kingdom?
Jesus said (John 18:36), "My kingdom is not of this world." That is, the kingdom is spiritual, not material, not to be recognized in matter, nor found in matter.
Jesus informed us as to the definite whereabouts of God's kingdom when he said (Luke 17:21): "The kingdom of God is within you." Obviously the kingdom must be mental, a kingdom of Spirit, entirely opposite to a material kingdom. God's kingdom is everlasting, maintained forever in harmony through divine law. Mankind has always considered the direction of the kingdom to be UP. For centuries, when people have thought of heaven, they have looked up, perhaps somewhere up high in the sky, or far away in the physical universe. Of course the kingdom is up — but the height is mental and spiritual. It may be reached only through making the ascent spiritually.
Again very descriptive of where the kingdom of heaven is was Jesus' parable of the sower and the seed as recorded in the eighth chapter of Luke. You will recall that some of the seed fell on unproductive ground. Jesus compared the good ground on which the seed fell and sprang up and bore fruit an hundredfold to those who "in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience" (Luke 8:15). Jesus always describes the kingdom as spiritually mental rather than material, in which are found only the right and good mental qualities, such as love, intelligence, purity, truthfulness, and sinlessness.
Jesus was specific as to who may enter the kingdom of heaven. He said, ''Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21). Full obedience to God, then, is the prime requisite.
Again Jesus said to Nicodemus (John 3:5): "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." As shown by the Master, we shall enter God's kingdom only by purification of our human sense of self and by gaining a spiritual understanding of Him. Christian Science reveals this understanding to the student and the student grows in this understanding through the daily utilization of what he has learned.
The world or kingdom we see around us certainly appears to be made up of matter, either in liquid, solid, or gaseous form. It seems to the human senses that we exist in a world which is conditioned by these material substances or the lack of them, although these so-called substances are of a transitory nature, impermanent, both destructible and destructive. An unchangeable material substance is inconceivable. An atomic or hydrogen explosion might be powerful enough to remove a visible material aggregation, no matter how firmly established. But the same explosion would be utterly incapable of touching the spiritual kingdom of God. Christian Science comes teaching that the material universe is a misconception of the true universe, which is wholly spiritual and harmonious, including the beings that inhabit it.
By what authority can such a sweeping contradiction of all the evidence before us be sustained? Through the Biblical record and through Christianly scientific demonstration today. From earliest Bible times, those who had a deep spiritual sense of God's presence and a spiritual perception of His kingdom at hand, were able to cope successfully with destructive, material force. Moses led the children of Israel through the waters of the Red Sea They were sustained with manna in the wilderness. Elisha said to his servant when they were surrounded by the enemy, "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them" (II Kings 6:16). Fully aware of the underlying truth that God's kingdom is ever-present, Jesus of Nazareth found nothing impossible. The acts of his early followers recorded in the Bible constitute further proof of the great spiritual truths which the Bible declares and which reveal God's kingdom in all its power.
Christian Science continues the declarations, bringing the spiritual understanding which results in healing and harmony. It is squarely in accord with the Bible. Mary Baker Eddy, explaining her discovery, writes in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 107), "In the year 1866, I discovered the Christ Science or divine laws of Life, Truth, and Love, and named my discovery Christian Science." Later she says (p. 110), "In following these leadings of scientific revelation, the Bible was my only textbook."
The healing results which follow the acceptance and understanding of this basic teaching of Christian Science vouch for its validity. You will recall that it was this type of authority that Christ Jesus relied on in support of his teaching or doctrine. He said to messengers from John the Baptist asking about his authority (Matt 11:4-6): "Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them." The carefully verified accounts of healing brought about by Christian Science which are found in the Christian Science periodicals and which are related on the Christian Science radio and television programs constitute the same undeniable evidence used by the Master to substantiate his teaching.
The great revelation which came to Mrs. Eddy as she studied the words and the works of the Bible patriarchs, the prophets, the great Master, and his disciples and apostles, is complete and entire in its statement of truth as found in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health.
Those who begin to understand Christian Science in some degree find that it not only heals disease, but most important of all it casts out sin and redeems the sinner. It offers a full salvation from all error by providing true spiritual ideas which replace wrong material thinking in the human consciousness. As a result of this spiritual upliftment, better employment is found, a sense of security obtained, inharmonious human relationships disappear, faltering businesses become sound, grief is overcome, and a spiritual sense of joy pervades our lives. But these are only proofs that we are awakening to the kingdom of heaven, the goal of all our endeavors as Christian Scientists.
God Defined in Science
Now how may one accomplish such things through Christian Science? Through becoming better acquainted with God's kingdom which this Science reveals. We must learn of God's true nature and man's relationship to Him. In her book, "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," Mrs. Eddy writes (p. 238): "God is understandable, knowable, and applicable to every human need." And in Science and Health she defines God as follows (p. 587): "The great I AM; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence." To understand this definition is to demonstrate God's power and presence.
It is very significant that most of the terms used are taken directly from the Bible as will be shown. The very beginning of the definition, "I AM," was a phrase revealed to Moses to describe God. Then what a wealth of comfort and warmth is found in the terms following. Child and adult alike find great blessing in becoming ever more conscious of the "all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal." To realize that these terms refer to the government of our heavenly Father, present here and now, dissipates fear. In the ever-present heavenly kingdom which is a spiritually mental realm, there is no lack of knowing, or seeing, or proper action, that is, no ignorance, no poor vision, no limited action or paralysis. Further there is only love, not hate, and a perfect sense of the continuity of existence for there is eternal Life.
Another illustration that the terms in the definition describing God are Biblical is this reference where Jeremiah records God's words (31:3): "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love." How wonderful to be aware of God's presence no matter where one may be! An ever-present God, divinely near and all-loving, is one that can be called on for help. God is indeed "understandable, knowable, and applicable to every human need." This is proved in the experience of those who sincerely seek Him and gain some understanding of His kingdom.
Having in mind the warmth and tenderness of the idea of God expressed by the words we have considered, one can gain a better understanding of God as "Principle." The word "Principle" is one of the most enlightening synonyms for God. When one begins to gain a little of the meaning conveyed by Science through this word, it becomes a very natural and understandable name for God. It is frequently linked with divine Love and includes the qualities of warmth, reality, and substance. It denotes the source or origin of divine law and rule. The ever-present kingdom of Principle is especially characterized by divinely intelligent order and control. Man, the outcome of divine Principle, created in God's image and likeness, expresses Principle's qualities. He is orderly, loving, obedient. He is wholly subordinate to divine law. He cannot be led into devious paths because he is always under Principle's loving intelligent control.
Kingdom of Mind
Intelligence is, of course, an outstanding quality of the ever-present kingdom of Mind. Isaiah says (40:28), "There is no searching of his understanding." To conceive of the Almighty as infinite intelligence makes it easier for one to understand the Biblical statement that all things are possible to God. There can be no opposition or obstacle to infinite Mind. God, Mind, infinite intelligence, must constitute the potency or all-power of the universe and therefore must be the creator of all, including man. In a universe created by and controlled by infinite intelligence, ignorance can have neither source nor being. As the offspring of the parent Mind, man is forever intelligent, always knowing what he needs to know. He has access to the dominion and power of Mind. Because Mind, being infinite is one, there is no knowledge of a contrary nature outside of or beyond this Mind. Habakkuk says of God (1:13), "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity." Since infinite Mind is not conscious of disease, sin, lack or any inharmony, neither can man be conscious of them.
The real man is truly conscious of and expresses only the God-like qualities. The qualities of purity and sinlessness are native to immortality and abound in the kingdom of Soul. Man, created in the spiritual likeness of Soul, expresses these qualities. One who knows the real man can have no desires which are foreign to Soul. Man's environment partakes only of the atmosphere of Soul. When one's desires come to him only from God, Soul, evil desire cannot adhere to him. Man reflects only good. The unfolding understanding of this spiritual fact enables one to erase completely desire for tobacco, alcoholic drinks, or other enslaving forms of matter, for in Soul there is full satisfaction.
The true senses of man being found in Soul, Spirit, are spiritual, and are therefore indestructible. The great Master understood this scientifically. He restored sight to those born blind, and hearing to the deaf. Writing of these great deeds, the author of Science and Health says (p. 210): "Knowing that Soul and its attributes were forever manifested through man, the Master healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, feet to the lame, thus bringing to light the scientific action of the divine Mind on human minds and bodies and giving a better understanding of Soul and salvation."
The practicality of gaining some understanding that the spiritual senses of Soul are indestructible was shown in the experience of my mother. As a young woman, she was healed through Christian Science of poor eyesight. Through her study of passages from the Bible and Science and Health, she achieved a degree of understanding of the spiritual fact that vision, an eternal quality of Spirit and Soul, is God-given, operates and functions independently of material substance or structure, and without diminution. She gained some realization that man, through reflection, has indestructible faculties which exist forever in their entirety through divine Principle; that man's faculties can never lessen or be lost because they exist in Spirit and spiritual understanding. She was enabled to dispense with glasses for a long period of years, read proof daily in her publishing company for long hours for almost thirty years, and even in her eighties, had remarkably good vision.
Jesus taught that God is Spirit, conveying the thought of the omnipresence and incorporeality of Deity, for Spirit is the absolute opposite of matter. Spirit constitutes divine substance as opposed to so-called material substance. Man and all God's creation are composed of the divine substance of Spirit, not matter. Consequently they are wholly removed from discord or deterioration. Through discerning the allness and ever-availability of spiritual substance, and turning away from matter as a source of supply, Jesus was able to feed the multitudes. He thus demonstrated that man in Science is never separated from infinite supply. Through the Science he demonstrated, he revealed the ever-presence of the kingdom of Spirit, God.
Spiritual progress is furthered when one accepts the revelation of Christian Science concerning the kingdom of Life, Truth, and Love. In this kingdom is found renewed energy and vitality as one's understanding of God as Life increases. Man, God's witness, expresses the eternality and indestructibility of Life. When Moses in the book of Deuteronomy (32:4) describes the Father as "a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he," he shows that in the kingdom of Truth, equity, justice, and integrity prevail. Therefore man, God's son, must inherently express these qualities. Man is truthful, just, sinless, and sincere. To the degree one understands this is he enabled to express such noble qualities in his own daily life. Moreover he finds these qualities being evidenced by those with whom he deals.
Think what it means to reside in the kingdom of Love. The Apostle Paul affirms that we do live there: "In him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). What a wealth of meaning the word Love includes: protection, tenderness, constancy, the bounteous Father-Mother! As one grows in understanding that these qualities are forever expressed throughout God's kingdom, throughout all creation, he more clearly perceives thoughtfulness, consideration, kindness, and helpfulness in his fellowmen and finds these qualities better expressed by himself. He finds fellow-workers co-operating, injustices corrected, and family frictions removed.
Man as God's image
The Bible declares that "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him" (Gen. 1:27). Man so created of the substance of God must partake of the nature of God, must manifest His elements, qualities, and ideas. If this Biblical declaration regarding the creation of man is correct, he cannot be material in substance, but must be spiritual. As part of the answer to the question "What is man?" found on page 475 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy says: "Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements. The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter is not that likeness. The likeness of Spirit cannot be so unlike Spirit. Man is spiritual and perfect; and because he is spiritual and perfect, he must be so understood in Christian Science."
The question immediately arises, if God has created man spiritually, and man is now perfect, complete, whole, and harmonious, what about the physical men we see all around us apparently made up of brain, blood, bones, etc? Are there two kinds of man, two creations? Not if there is but one omnipotent, omnipresent God. How then can the spiritual account of creation in the first chapter of Genesis and the scene which seems to be before the physical senses be at all reconciled? They cannot be. Christian Science explains why the first Biblical account of creation is true. The record of the creation of man materially, recounted in the second chapter of Genesis, only serves to emphasize by contrast the absolute Science of the first account. The truth of the first record, that creation is spiritual, not material, was proved when Jesus demonstrated scientifically the supremacy of spiritual truth over material misconceptions. He healed disease considered incurable; he restored withered limbs; he overcame gravity when he walked on the water; he eliminated space when, after he entered a ship which was far out upon the sea, he found the ship immediately at the shore. When he appeared in a house whose doors were shut, he showed the illusive nature of material substance. He proved that Spirit, not matter, is the source of supply when he fed the multitudes. He raised the dead and even overcame the grave itself.
But, it is said, Jesus was the Son of God, different from all the rest. He was different, it is true, because of his unique birth. But Jesus did not claim that he alone could do such works. On the contrary he said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father" (John 14:12). Later, many of Jesus' healing works were approximated by his disciples and the apostles as recounted in the book of Acts. After this, spiritual healing continued, but it was gradually lost sight of and disappeared about 300 years later. Further authority that God's creation of the universe including man is entirely spiritual and not material is found in Christian Science healing, which results when spiritual sense, acting in human thought, removes its false concepts by revealing the ever-present harmony of God's kingdom.
Through the great revelation which came to her concerning the total spirituality of the universe, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science was able to emulate many of the Christly works of healing. Furthermore, her teachings on this subject enable her followers to demonstrate the superiority of the power of Spirit in healing the sick and overcoming sin.
Spiritual Light Through Study
The divine rules of Christian Science include absolute obedience to the Ten Commandments and the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount. They demand complete reliance on the power of God, Spirit, to heal the sick. These rules include the necessity for some realization of God's allness and the spiritual perfection of His creation, and the consequent nothingness of anything contrary. Each individual may prove for himself that reliance on the rules brings blessing. When one is able to heal himself and others by this means, he then has found absolute proof of the truths he declares. The revelation of Christian Science, presented to the world through Science and Health, offers the opportunity for all to demonstrate that the wonderful kingdom of God is revealed, is actually present, that it is here now with gates wide open ready to receive the honest, earnest, and sincere.
The improvement and blessing that come are not limited to individual experience. World conditions will improve as the kingdom comes to human consciousness. The child who is taught the spiritual meaning of the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount at home and in the Sunday School becomes more obedient. He learns in a measure that his acts are directed by the loving law of Principle, and that blessing follows obedience to that Principle. As his spiritual understanding of the kingdom of Principle increases, his desire to think and act rightly increases, forming a protective armor against temptation which might lead to delinquency. Here we have the remedy for the world-wide problem of juvenile delinquency — to teach the children the law of Principle, the law of the heavenly kingdom as revealed in Christian Science and how to enter into this kingdom through obedience.
Mrs. Eddy's Contribution
Mrs. Eddy's spiritual endowment enabled her to reveal the truth of God and man. Her parents, Mark and Abigail Baker, were devoutly religious, and even when very young, Mary, their youngest child, showed a deep interest in all things religious. She was early concerned with moral and spiritual values and with the mental nature of existence.
On one occasion in a school classroom, the teacher inquired of the children what would be left of an orange if the peeling, the seeds, the juice, and the remaining pulp were all discarded. The children each replied there would be nothing left until the question came to Mary. She said, "There will still be the thought of the orange." Here already were indications of her ultimate discovery, that true substance is mental, relating to the divine Mind and therefore it is indestructible.
The beginning of her great discovery came when she was faced with a serious physical crisis. It was natural for her to turn to her Bible for help when she had been injured by a fall. In doing so, she received such a spiritual awakening that she was instantaneously healed of a condition considered to be fatal.
From that time, she was always in better health than ever before. Her experience established her deep conviction that God, Mind, is the only power and the healer of every discordant condition.
And so Mrs. Eddy established her Church on a spiritual foundation of Christ-healing, the spirit of Truth, the rock on which The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, and its branches stand. As a result of Mrs. Eddy's teachings, Science has reached to the four corners of the earth. The blessing of Christian healing is widely available for humanity today through the consecrated efforts of thousands of men and women who devote their whole time to the practice of Christian Science. They are listed in The Christian Science Journal.
Mental Nature of Disease
Science and Health makes plain that fear, ignorance, and sin are the major causes of disease. In other words, the human mind, through its errors, causes its own diseases. The divine Mind, acting on the human consciousness, removes fear, ignorance, and sin. It shows the actual nothingness of disease and this brings healing. Christian Science does not attempt to heal people simply by talking them out of their fears, or false beliefs, nor does it endeavor to remove the false beliefs by suggestion or hypnotism. Rather it reveals the spiritual truths regarding the perfection of the ever-present kingdom of God, Spirit, and all His creation. The realization of this truth brings about the healing result.
Fear begins to disappear when the individual gains a glimpse of the spiritual fact that God, the only creator, has never made anything for man to fear; that divine Love is actually near, guarding and guiding. A sinner can repent and turn from his sin, no matter what particular form it may take, when he realizes that true desires come to one from omnipotent Mind, good, not from a false material sense or seeming love of matter. The one who is in dire need of supply becomes less and less fearful of lacking anything after he understands that an all-loving, all-powerful omnipresent Father is already at hand, providing an abundance of good.
Christian Scientists the world over are daily proving in some measure that, as Science and Health states (p. 131), "The central fact of the Bible is the superiority of spiritual over physical power." The superiority of spiritual over material means in dealing with a physical disorder was shown in the experience of a young man who applied the healing prayer of Christian Science to help him in his difficulty. He had suffered several days from a painful internal inflammation. A doctor friend who saw him on a Saturday said that if the condition had not yielded by Monday, he should undergo surgery to relieve a stoppage. However, the young man decided not to consider an operation but to rely wholly on the spiritually scientific prayer of Christian Science.
A Christian Science practitioner was called. The practitioner gave loving assurance that he would be healed as it became clear to him that man, created spiritually, is never separated for an instant from the all-acting Principle which maintained his perpetually harmonious being. After the call, which was from a distant city, was concluded, the practitioner at once began treatment in Christian Science, that is, to pray scientifically. He endeavored to realize clearly the truth concerning man's relationship to God, that man can never be placed in any condition or situation which removes him from the absolute harmony of God's perfect and orderly government. He realized there could never be any disorderly effect stemming from divine Principle or from any supposed cause. Also, he recognized the fact stated in Science and Health (p. 414), "Inflammation is fear, an excited state of mortals which is not normal."
The practitioner worked to realize that neither the fear nor the seeming effect of the fear appearing as inflammation and stoppage of action could actually touch the man of God's creation. He saw that right action was taking place according to law, without interference, even in belief. He dwelt in thought on the word "all-acting" as used by Mrs. Eddy in the definition of "God" referred to before. He held a firm position as Christian Science teaches, that neither the flesh nor any of the beliefs concerning the flesh can possibly affect in the slightest degree the true spiritual man who is forever embraced and enfolded within the loving protection of the Father.
This way of praying, based on man's perfection as opposed to the seeming materiality of creation was pursued until the practitioner felt a sense of peace about the situation. The call for help was received on Sunday. On Tuesday a most welcome report reached the practitioner by mail. It stated that instead of being in a hospital on Monday the young man was out in the autumn sunshine raking leaves in his yard. He reported that within an hour of his call to the practitioner he was completely healed. Such healings show the great blessing available for mankind here and now through prayerful understanding of the ever-presence of God's kingdom and the healing Christ.
Jesus and the Christ
Jesus said of himself (John 8:58), "Before Abraham was, I am." Jesus thus indicated the eternality of the Messiah or Christ-idea. Christian Science teaches that the Christ is always present as the true nature of every individual, that the Christ is the divine ideal which everyone may express. The Christ as the divine nature refers especially to the saving and healing aspect of God and it brings a full salvation from the mortal sense of life. Mrs. Eddy gives this definition of Christ in Science and Health (p. 583): "The divine manifestation of God which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error." Always accompanying the Christ is the divine power to heal. To the degree, therefore, one's daily life is Christlike, and his thought purified, will he demonstrate this healing power. Evil, error, in its wholly illusive nature, cannot limit one's development of the Christ qualities.
Christian Science differentiates between the human man, Jesus, and the Christ, the spirit of Truth, which is the promised Comforter. Jesus as an individual expressed the Christ qualities fully and this completed his mission which was to reveal the Christ to humanity. So it is seen that Christian Scientists neither deny the Christ nor fail properly to evaluate the great life work of the Master. He is the Way-shower, the great Exemplar. He fully showed forth the power which always accompanies the Christ, Truth, bringing healing to the sick and the sinning and raising the dead. No impurity or other error can abide in the pure presence of the Christ, Truth, which destroys it. The remedy for overcoming the gross materialism in the world today will be found in the coming of the Christ to the human consciousness, revealing the harmony and goodness of God's ever-present kingdom.
The Open Door
Through her great revelation Mrs. Eddy has opened the door to the kingdom. It is now possible for each individual to prove for himself at least in part that God's kingdom is not away off somewhere or held in abeyance, obscured from view until some dim future time, but is here now in its entire perfection and harmony. God's kingdom is not hidden; it is at hand. It includes nothing detrimental and no inharmonies. Ultimately it will be understood that this kingdom contains no illness, no sin, no lack, no parting, no death. Mankind is not cut off from this kingdom. Job said (19:26): "In my flesh shall I see God." Jesus gave living proof of that statement, and now Christian Science enables even the beginner to prove with scientific certainty that he can work out each daily problem with God's help. Jesus said (Luke 12:32): "Fear not, little flock; for it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." With the same loving assurance, Mrs. Eddy affirmed (Science and Health p 254). "Pilgrim on earth, thy home is heaven; stranger, thou art the guest of God."
[Published in The Marcellus (New York) Observer, April 27, 1961.]