Christian Science: Godís Message of Hope and Healing
Robert Stanley Ross, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Robert Stanley Ross, C.S.B., of New York City, a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship, delivered a lecture entitled "Christian Science: God's Message of Hope and Healing," at First Church of Christ, Scientist, Central Ave. and Walnut St., Tuesday evening, March 25, at 8 o'clock. The lecturer was introduced by Hilburn M. Chesterman who said:
"The members of First Church
of Christ, Scientist,
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
An ever-increasing number of persons are searching for a practical religion. They are no longer satisfied with promises regarding a future-world salvation. What they want is a religion that will help them here, on earth, now.
Christian Science is essentially practical. It offers to mankind everything they may have searched for elsewhere, but have failed to find. Like the Christianity of the Master, Christian Science banishes fear, heals sickness, corrects wrongdoing, uproots false appetite, dispels poverty, and reveals the present unity of God and man.
In other words, Christian Science promises to improve the present condition − however hopeless it may seem to be − of every person who sincerely embraces its teaching and yields to its divine influence. It accomplishes this by revealing − on the basis of infinite good − the unreal nature of evil and the method by which the discords that seem to beset human experience can be overcome.
The Discoverer and Her Book
Unwilling to accept the common belief that the marvelous works of Jesus were supernatural occurrences peculiar to him alone, instead of natural law available to all through spiritual understanding, Mary Baker Eddy, through the process of reason, revelation, and proof, won her way to the point where she discovered the divine Principle of Christian healing. After demonstrating, in both her own and other cases, that this perfect Principle heals today as surely as it did in the days of old, she named her discovery Christian Science. That was in the year 1866.
In 1875, following years of selfless giving in return for worldly ingratitude and opposition, Mrs. Eddy published the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." In this unique volume Mrs. Eddy expounded her subject so clearly that all who should study it with the teachableness with which they would study an academical subject, would be able to understand and practice the art of Christian Science healing.
No doubt thousands of books made their appearance during that year (1875), most of which were probably soon forgotten. Not so with Science and Health, however. Instead of passing into oblivion, it soon became a "best seller." Today, Mrs. Eddy's book is probably more widely circulated and more intelligently studied than any other religious textbook, excepting the Bible. Each succeeding year finds it growing in favor and influence. Notwithstanding repeated predictions to the contrary, Christian Science and its textbook are here to stay, and the author of Science and Health rises steadily in public estimation and regard.
Hopeless Cases Healed
If those of you who are unacquainted with this amazing volume will either buy or borrow a copy and turn to the closing chapter entitled "Fruitage," you will find one hundred pages of authenticated testimonies pulsating with the joy and gratitude of persons who were healed by Christian Science after other systems of religion, philanthropy, and medicine had failed to heal them. Outside of Christian Science, most of these cases would be looked upon as hopeless.
More impressive still, perhaps, will be your discovery of the astonishing fact that every case recorded in those one hundred pages was healed solely by reading that book and obeying its precious precepts. Think of it, if you will! A book capable of straightening out warped mentalities, uprooting enslaving habits, dispelling poverty, and overcoming otherwise incurable diseases! Would not the pages of such a book have to be aflame with divine Love, and its author uncommonly close to God?
Through her unselfed life and inspired teaching, Mary Baker Eddy has launched a spiritual ideal that is winning everywhere the hearts and minds of men. Its tender persuasiveness and healing power have established a new religion, a new philosophy of life, a new Science. Mrs. Eddy is making this ideal a living reality to perhaps millions of persons, and this is the most wonderful thing anyone could hope to accomplish.
Like some other critics, Mark Twain was at one time severely unjust in his estimate of Mrs. Eddy and Christian Science. Toward the close of his career, however, his viewpoint changed, and he said of her: "She has organized and made available a healing principle that for two thousand years has never been employed except as the merest kind of guesswork. She is the benefactor of the age." And of her discovery he said, "Christian Science is humanity's boon."
Matter and Mortal Mind Unreal
Prior to Mrs. Eddy's discovery of Christian Science, the visible universe was looked upon generally as real and substantial. In this sensible realm, persons, circumstances, and things − all material phenomena − were supposed to be created materially and governed by material law. So true did all this seem to be that the spiritually unenlightened world looked upon Mrs. Eddy as an enemy instead of a friend when she announced that the universe of sense testimony was nothing more nor less than material belief objectified and that, in the final analysis, material belief itself, viewed in the light of infinite Spirit or Mind, was a mistake.
This opposition of error to everything that threatens to expose its nothingness and thereby uncover human experiences as illusions of the carnal mind has characterized material sense from the beginning. Its antagonism to Truth can be illustrated by the resentment of a sleeper toward a friend trying to arouse him from pleasing dreams because the friend knows the sleeper should arise, dress himself, and be about his daily duties.
Obviously, therefore, human experiences − whether claiming to be good or bad − can seem to be true only to the extent that one permits oneself to remain in this material supposition or dream. In other words, by indulging the supposed reality of material sense − whether as pleasure, pain, or power − one admits the reality of the unreal and suffers the unhappy consequences; whereas the prayerful cultivation of spiritual sense, or sense of Spirit, progressively awakens one from the material dream and sets one free mentally, morally, and physically.
Reality Is Spiritual and Harmonious
It is noteworthy that the spiritual teachings of the Bible accord no reality, presence, or power to evil, matter, or mortal mind. Why should they, in view of matter's admitted unreality or nothingness? Jesus said, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing." How presumptuous it would be, therefore, to test the truth or falsity of spiritual or Christian Science from the view point of geology, physics, and anthropology! Christian Science practice is not based upon material premises nor upon a supposed mixture of matter and spirit. Christian Science is spiritual teaching based solely and wholly on Spirit, spiritual creation, and spiritual man. Could reality be other than spiritual and perfect if Spirit or Mind is the only cause, creator, or Principle?
In her "scientific statement of being," which will be found on page 468 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy writes: "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual."
Amazed at such a sweeping declaration of matter's unreality, the inquirer should be pardoned for asking: If it be true that the divine Mind and its ideas, God and His thoughts, constitute reality, how are we to account for material phenomena and their accompanying discords so evident on every hand? Does Christian Science insist flatly that the things I see, the sounds I hear, and the forces I feel are nothing? Or does it, on the other hand, offer a reasonable, satisfying explanation of that nothingness and the way in which scientifically to prove it?
Opposite Points of View
These are questions which are answered satisfactorily by another passage in Science and Health (p. 573). There Mrs. Eddy tells us that "the heavens and earth to one human consciousness, that consciousness which God bestows, are spiritual, while to another, the unillumined human mind, the vision is material. This shows that what the human mind terms matter and spirit indicates states and stages of consciousness."
It then becomes evident that a person untaught in Christian Science sees about him only a finite, limited, discordant sense of the real or spiritual universe and that he calls this misconception material persons, circumstances, and things; whereas to inspired thought the vision is spiritual, a universe peopled by divine ideas, under the government of divine Principle, Love. The author of the book of Hebrews puts it in these words: "Through faith [spiritual sense] we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."
Obviously, then, a material point of view − because it is untrue − is always a more or less discordant point of view; hence, the discord attending it can be dispelled only by one's attaining a right or spiritual point of view; by becoming a spiritual seer or discerner of the spiritual and real. Although he, like others, dwelt in what seemed to be a material sense of existence − that sense in which other mortals believe matter to be real and substantial − Jesus' more spiritual origin and perception enabled him to displace a sense of discord with a sense of peace and harmony, not by changing matter, however, but by supplanting human beliefs with the ideas of divine Mind, God.
To illustrate: A Christian Scientist was one day endeavoring to accomplish an important work in the midst of a medley of disturbing noises emanating from the open windows of a business enterprise located on the floors below. The student was on his way to complain to the superintendent of the building when he stopped abruptly and asked himself whether, in case of bodily discord, he would resort to material treatment for relief. Of course he would not; he would work out the problem mentally and spiritually in accordance with the perfect standard of Christian Science practice, the standard of infinite, ever-present good.
Returning forthwith to his office, he opened the Bible to one of his favorite passages (Isaiah 32:17,18) and read: "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places." Aided by a concordance, he then turned to the following correlated passage in Science and Health (p. 306) and read, "Undisturbed amid the jarring testimony of the material senses, Science, still enthroned, is unfolding to mortals the immutable, harmonious, divine Principle, − is unfolding Life and the universe, ever present and eternal."
Prompted by these inspiring assurances, the Scientist prayerfully gave thanks for the truth that man is now and always in the peaceable habitation, the sure dwelling, and the quiet resting place of Love's ever-presence and that in this presence there is no discord. The prayer was effectual; for from that moment the noises ceased to have any disturbing effect upon him. With a heart overflowing with gratitude, he thanked God for enabling him to prove that, notwithstanding the misleading array of sense testimony to the contrary, it was possible through Christian Science for one to be undisturbed and happy in the very midst of what seemed to be discord and confusion. With conviction based on proof he could say with Habakkuk, "The Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him."
In praise of infinite good, the Psalmist sang: "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." Are not these words intended to convey the thought that God, the divine Principle of being, the idea of ever-present Love, is available through righteous prayer at all times and under all circumstances?
Some time ago, for example, the teacher of a Christian Science Sunday School class was discussing with her pupils the subject of God's ever-presence. The teacher had pointed out that there was no place where God is not; whereupon one of the pupils asked, "Is God in the hospitals, asylums, and prisons?" The teacher waited for an answer. Presently, a little fellow replied with conviction, "Of course He is, but they don't know it." Verily, God's protecting, healing, and saving love is available everywhere; but in order to prove it, one must admit and fearlessly claim it, even as one must tune in with his receiving set if one would enjoy the broadcasting of a particular radio program.
But, considering the question in a broader sense, are the inmates of hospitals, asylums, and prisons the only ones who seem to be unaware of God's ever-presence? Are not all mankind in bondage more or less to the same spiritual ignorance? Could anyone be tempted to do wrong, to be unhappy, ill, unemployed, or in want, save by accepting as real a sense of separation from the divine all-power? Human discord of every sort is evidence of material-mindedness, of disbelief in God's nearness; hence, all mankind needs to be saved, not from evil as an entity, but from belief in and fear of the absence of God, who is ever-present good.
No Real Separation
To illustrate: A few weeks ago, the quietude of a large public waiting room was broken suddenly by the frantic cries of a little boy who believed that he had become separated from his parents and was lost. Several persons in the sympathetic group that quickly surrounded him tried unavailingly to comfort the lad with the assurance that he would soon be restored to his loved ones. A moment later, the gathering made way for a young couple whom the boy joyfully recognized as his parents; whereupon the weeping ceased, the tears were dried, and all was well again.
Interestingly enough, the parents had not left the child alone. They said they were sitting but a short distance away all the time. To them there had been no lost child. Not for a moment had he been out of their careful sight. The supposed separation was entirely in the child's mistaken point of view. His tears and anguish were groundless; they were the result of false belief. As soon as he learned the truth about himself and his parents, he was free and happy.
Now, dear friends, are not mankind as a whole in much the same predicament as that little boy seemed to be? Are they not believing fearfully that man is separated from the† ever-present Father-Mother God, and that, as the result thereof, they are at the mercy of sin and sickness, unemployment and want, discouragement and failure, disaster and death? But, thanks to Mary Baker Eddy, we are learning through Christian Science that it is all a mistake. We are learning that even when we seem to be in the very midst of trials and tribulation, God's ever-present love is available to help and heal and save.
To ever-present Love there are no lost children. Not for an instant has Love's watchful eye lost sight of you and me as the precious objects of its care. Our seeming troubles are wholly the result of false belief. In God's sight they are no part of your true self nor mine. Changeless Love has nothing but blessings to bestow upon you and me and all. Our only need is to be awake spiritually, recognize this fact, and fearlessly claim it. Referring to God's invariable goodness, the apostle wrote, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
Reality Intact; Man Unfallen
It cannot be denied, of course, that the world has been taught to believe that, although God created the universe to be spiritual and perfect, it has since become material and imperfect, and that, although God created man to be spiritual, and perfect also, man has subsequently become material and imperfect − fallen, as false theology puts it. But, dear friends, if you were to stand before a mirror, could your reflection change unless you were to change first? How, therefore, can man − God's image and likeness − be changeable, if God changes not, but is "the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever"?
Accordingly, Christian Science declares it to be as scientifically impossible for us to have a material, imperfect universe and fallen man as it is for us to have a material, imperfect, and fallen God. It declares that God's universe and man are still as spiritual, harmonious, and perfect as they were when the "stars sang together," and all was primeval harmony. It declares that in this wholly good universe everything is now and forever in perfect accord with divine Principle, Love. It declares, that whatever seems to be otherwise is no part of God's universe; hence the unreality of matter and discord, whatever its particular manifestation may be.
Freedom Through Obedience
Nevertheless, have not many of us seen apparently inoffensive, industrious, law-abiding acquaintances, neighbors, and friends become the victims of fear and discouragement, sickness and disaster, unemployment and want? And have we not asked ourselves again and again how, if God is ever-present good, such situations could come to pass?
In order to answer this question satisfactorily, let us suppose, by way of simple illustration, that a person were to disregard certain necessary steps in solving a numerical problem and were to suffer the usual discord and confusion as the result thereof. Surely, he would not become resigned to the error and its effects, on the ground that mathematics was against him! Rather would he recognize, first of all, that he had failed to conform to the requirements of mathematical law, after which he would see the need of retracing his steps to the point of divergence and correcting the error. Mathematically speaking, this process would set him free.
Obviously, discord and limitation are always the result of unspiritual thinking. They are indications that one is out of harmony with the truth of being. They are warnings that one is participating in the popular belief that man is the victim of circumstances instead of their master. It is as reasonable to believe that obedience to divine law can cause the loss of health, happiness, home, friends, employment, money, and so on, as it is to believe that obedience to mathematical law can cause one to make numerical mistakes. The refining process does not harm the gold; it removes the dross.
If, therefore, apparently well-intending persons seem to experience afflictions, it is not because God is against them, but because they − like all mortals − are admitting either ignorantly or willfully that matter and evil are real and powerful and capable of causing them and others to be unloving, unhappy, sick, in want, and possibly wrong thinkers and doers in other ways. The remedy, of course, lies in learning − through spiritual understanding, which always accompanies obedience to divine law − how to get rid of the dross or belief of an existence apart from God, ever-present good.
Man Is Idea, Not a Mortal
The Bible tells us that no person has seen God at any time. Obviously, this means that infinite Spirit cannot be cognized by finite sense; for the infinite is incorporeal − that is, humanly bodiless. Accordingly, it can be said with equal truth that no person has seen man, God's image and likeness, at any time; for the real man, like God, must be incorporeal, inorganic, spiritual, also. Consequently, man is no more subject to human discord and limitation than is God. This spiritual perfection and unity of God and man, divine Principle and idea, is demonstrable truth and is the basis of Christian Science practice.
Now, my friends, we need to understand clearly that fear and worry, wrongdoing and sickness, unemployment and want, disaster and death − all evil − are associated, not with your real, spiritual, and only self, but with a material, corporeal, organic sense of existence claiming to be you, which sense must be unreal if, as the Bible tells us, God (infinite Spirit) is true, and material sense, or sense of matter, a liar. Accordingly, our fundamental need is never the getting of material health, happiness, home, friends, employment, money, and so on, but the giving up of the belief that man is either sick or well, poor or prosperous, alive or dead in matter or a material body.
Plainly, then, the human body expresses a material or mortal belief; hence, the only way to deprive this universal, mesmeric belief − commonly referred to as material law − of a subject, object, or victim, is progressively to dematerialize, spiritualize, or purify so-called human consciousness. It must have been this process that preserved unharmed the Hebrew boys in the flames of the Babylonian furnace, protected Daniel in the den of lions, took Jesus unseen through the midst of the mob, and liberated Paul and Silas from prison.
During the late World War, for example, an American airplane got out of control and dashed several hundred feet to the ground. The plane was reduced to wreckage; but the pilot, who was a practical student of Christian Science, was unharmed. At a Wednesday evening testimonial meeting he said that if he had believed himself (his real self) to be material, he might not have come through. But instead of so believing, he said that he stuck prayerfully to the truth that he was not material, nor even mortally mental, but spiritual idea, forever safe in the indestructible substance of infinite Mind, God. This prayer of spiritual awareness was his life preserver.
True Basis of Health
Touching upon this ideal method of treatment, Mrs. Eddy writes on page 120 of Science and Health: "Health is not a condition of matter, but of Mind; nor can the material senses bear reliable testimony on the subject of health. The Science of Mind-healing shows it to be impossible for aught but Mind to testify truly or to exhibit the real status of man. Therefore the divine Principle of Science, reversing the testimony of the physical senses, reveals man as harmoniously existent in Truth, which is the only basis of health."
To illustrate: Some months ago, a person who believed himself to be desperately ill at sea appealed by radio to a Christian Scientist friend for help. The friend, who was not a practitioner, but an earnest beginner, responded to the best of his ability by giving a treatment to a supposedly sick man at sea. An hour or more later, the man sent a second radiogram saying that the situation was unchanged and that his friend should continue to help him. His friend then gave another treatment to a supposedly sick man at sea. Experiencing no relief, the sick man sent a third radiogram saying that the situation was still unchanged.
At this point, the friend began to wonder why the treatments he had given were ineffectual. After consulting an experienced practitioner, however, who referred him to the "scientific statement of being," he realized that he had been trying to heal a sick man at sea, whereas he needed to recognize the truth that man is neither sick nor well materially; that he is not a mortal at sea, nor on land, nor somewhere up in the air, but a spiritual being; an individual consciousness; an idea of divine Mind, God. This absolutely right point of view was both spiritually illuminating and immediately effectual; for, very soon thereafter, the man who had been calling for help sent his friend a fourth message thanking him and saying that all was well.
Our Need Is Spiritual Always
In view of all that has been said, it should be evident to us that prayer, as understood in Christian Science, could never be employed successfully for any narrow, selfish purpose. True prayer is spiritual; that is, its function is solely to bring human consciousness into accord with divine Principle, Love. If, in the process of establishing a clear sense of man's unity with God, one's temporal needs are supplied, adequately or abundantly, one is not apt to mistake effect for cause and be misled by the suggestion that God or Spirit gives us matter or things; for such a belief would be apt to hinder instead of help the solution of a problem.
When, for example, Solomon placed spiritual-mindedness above all other considerations, and prayed only for a wise and understanding heart, he received not only the blessing for which he prayed, but those for which he had not prayed; namely, riches and honor and length of days. Why? Because what seem to be things are thoughts or mental concepts, and the effect of spiritual ideas upon so-called human consciousness is to change a belief of lack of things − whatever its outward manifestation may be − to an awareness of plenty.
Centuries after Solomon's day,
Jesus said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of
Giving Precedes Getting
For more than two years, for example, a certain man had been out of employment. During that period, he had been going from place to place daily, trying to get a job. One day, however, he met a Christian Scientist friend whom he had not seen for a long time. After hearing the man's story, this friend asked him whether he had ever tried giving instead of getting in order to solve his problems.
Astonished by the question, the man asked wonderingly how he could give with his savings gone, his home about to be taken from him, and his wife and children in want. How could one give without first getting? His friend assured him that, notwithstanding the seeming lack of material things, he was still, in the true sense, a wealthy man; for did he not have an inexhaustible supply of loving-kindness from which to draw? Could he not give an understanding smile, a comforting word, and a helping hand to the unhappy, the discouraged, and the heavy-laden? Surely, the world was more in need of loving encouragement than of material things! Could he not begin without delay to give, and learn thereby the secret of the Master's saying, "Give, and it shall be given unto you"?
The idea deeply impressed the man. He saw how he had habitually been trying to get instead of to give. He would now reverse the process; he would go out of the getting business and go into the giving business. Accordingly he went home and surprised his wife by joyfully giving her a bit of long overdue but merited praise and encouragement, thanking her tenderly for the years of unselfish loyalty and devotion to him and their children. Although the change in her husband's attitude caused a momentary shock, its general effect upon the wife's depressed outlook was like that of cool water upon a wilting plant; it helped her to lift her thinking above the sense of fear and limitation and to be expectant of better days. The whole atmosphere of the home immediately became more hopeful, and needed supply began to appear.
Love Is Power
This man had been what the world would look upon as a confirmed end-seater; but now, instead of tenaciously holding on to an end seat wherever and to whatever he went, he would seat himself so as to inconvenience others as little as possible. Critically inclined, he had found fault with nearly everything and everyone; but now he would endeavor to see only spiritual qualities, and give everyone credit for being truly the image and likeness of God instead of a sick or unhappy or discordant person. Impressed by the man's outstandingly cheerful, willing, and unselfish demeanor, an observing business man gave him employment and paid him well from the outset.
Now, we ask, was that man's primary need employment, money, food, clothing, and so on? By no means! His primary need was to serve rather than to be served; to dispense kindness rather than to accumulate matter; to be more interested in the outgo of love than in the income of things. The moment he began to look for opportunities to give instead of to get he was astonished at the way the world softened toward him. Helpfulness came out to meet him, and opportunities for usefulness appeared on every hand.
When one of the disciples asked Jesus to show them the Father, source, or basis of his mighty power to help and heal mankind, Jesus replied, "He that hath seen me [invariable, undeviating, impartial, unselfishness and love] hath seen the Father [Love]." And so, on page 192 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy writes, "Whatever holds human thought in line with unselfed love, receives directly the divine power."
Christian Science shows us how progressively to conform our lives to the law of infinite Love. In the proportion that we are consistently loving, we brighten and bless our own pathway as well as the pathway of others. This radiation of divine Love in human experience is invincible and proves that Christian Science is truly God's message of hope and healing.
[Published in The Alameda (California) Times-Star, March 26, 1952.]