The Revelation of Mans Dominion over Evil
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
The following lecture was presented
at the Riverside Theatre in
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
If you were to enter an unlighted room, you would probably feel a bit uncertain about your surroundings. Unable in the darkness to locate objects in the room, you might, in moving about, collide with them. But by turning on a light the uncertainty would disappear, the objects in the room would become plainly visible, and the danger of moving about would be gone.
To mankind as a whole, human experience is much like being in an unlighted room. Unable to see their way clearly in the uncertainty of material sense, men are fearful and believe themselves liable to disappointment and danger, sorrow and pain. But once they learn through the teaching of Mary Baker Eddy how to turn on the light of spiritual understanding, the darkness and uncertainty, the disappointment and danger, the sorrow and pain, begin to fade out of the mental picture; for through this teaching men are learning that human problems are not so much outward conditions to be struggled with, as they are unreal mental concepts to be dispelled by knowing the truth about God and His wholly good, wholly spiritual creation as recorded in the Scriptures.
In other words, students of Christian Science are learning that there is a sure, present, and living way out of human want and woe. This way is the Christ-way, the way exemplified by Christ Jesus, who came to show that obedience to divine law, the law based upon perfect cause and perfect effect, perfect creator and perfect creation, perfect God and perfect man, frees mankind from - gives mortals dominion over the supposed presence and power of evil.
Unity of Love and Law
Because the spirit of our time is peculiarly scientific, you can readily see how the appearing of practical or scientific religion was inevitable. It would come because a practically-minded world was ready to receive it. Many years ago, I heard a speaker say that the world's social, political, and economic unrest would experience no lasting relief until the scientific demand and the spiritual need were satisfied in a religion that is science and a science that is religion. In the light of healings already accomplished most of them healings of conditions supposed to be hopeless there should be little room for doubt that this unity of science and religion is Christian Science, revealing the liberating law of God, infinite good, even that law to which Paul refers in the words, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."
However, there are some persons, religious and otherwise, who object to Christian Science because its teaching and practice are based upon fixed rules. They argue that they highly prize their right to think and act independently of rules of any sort. But, my friends, let us consider, for example, how this line of reasoning would work out with reference to the science of numbers. Would those same persons object to the fixed rule that two times two makes four, instead of five, seven, nine, or whatever else they might find it convenient to believe? Does "two times two makes four" prevent originality of thought, circumscribe one's freedom of action, or make one the automaton of a system? I need not tell you that such reasoning would only lead to confusion and chaos. Similarly, the fear, sickness, and self-indulgence that seem to be so rampant in the present-day world are the result of unspiritual, unscientific thinking instead of thinking that is in accord with undeviating divine Principle.
There are other persons who hesitate about embracing Christian Science because they fear that it would deprive them of things which they would like to have and do. But let me assure you that Christian Science is not a dour, drab, colorless religion. It is not a religion of negations and inhibitions. On the contrary, Christian Science shows one how to grapple with and effectually gain dominion over the wrong thinking or material-mindedness which alone leads to sickness and unhappiness, frustration and failure. To be sure, Christian Science is exacting in much the same way that mathematics is exacting; but who ever heard of obedience to mathematical law depriving one of anything but the discord and confusion due to numerical mistakes? Obedience to spiritual law is not bondage, but liberty a truth which holds good throughout the entire realm of legitimate human endeavor.
Some time ago, for example, a fearful mother attended a lecture on Christian Science. She had left her small child at home on account of an illness that had resisted all efforts to overcome it. She said that the situation had then become desperate. Among other stimulating things, she heard the lecturer say that parents needed to give their loved ones to God that is, they needed to surrender the belief that man, God's idea, is a material person either sick or well, or that he is at war on land, at sea, or up in the air, but that he is in God's likeness always incorporeal, always spiritual, hence always safe in the "secret place of the most High," the awareness of the divine ever-presence, or the kingdom of heaven. Later, the mother said that she had hurried home, only to hurry back to report with joy and gratitude that she had found the child well. Was not this convincing proof that Christian Science is scientific and demonstrable?
Discovery and Discoverer
Now, the Bible (especially the New Testament) teaches Christian Science implicitly but not explicitly, in general but not in particular. Had the reverse been the case the art of Christian healing need not have been lost to the world for so many centuries. However, in accord with prophetic expectation, the full and explicit record of this Science made its appearance in the latter half of the nineteenth century. It came by way of the only person who was spiritually prepared to receive as well as to expound it. That person was Mary Baker Eddy, the beloved Discoverer of Christian Science and author of the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures."
To those of you who may be unacquainted with her background, let me say that Mrs. Eddy was born of an illustrious Protestant ancestry. She spent her childhood and youth in a home that was permeated by high moral and spiritual ideals. She grew to womanhood in an atmosphere that pulsated with political independence and freedom of thought. Endowed with keen intellectual ability and impelled by an intense spiritual longing, trained in the school of adversity and purified in the furnace of affliction all of these influences helped to mold the character and direct the career of the coming Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. They helped to prepare her thought for the reception of what she later referred to on page 107 of Science and Health as "this final revelation of the absolute divine Principle of scientific mental healing."
By referring to the closing chapter of Mrs. Eddy's notable book, as well as to the Christian Science Sentinel (weekly) and The Christian Science Journal (monthly), you will find authenticated testimonies by persons from nearly every walk of life who were healed by Christian Science after either material medicine or humanly mental methods, or both, had proved to be inadequate. In view of these and other benefits which have accrued to them through her teaching and example, should anyone wonder why the hearts of Christian Scientists overflow with gratitude to this noble woman? Christian Scientists neither deify nor worship Mrs. Eddy; but they do reverently accord her the honor that is rightfully due her as the Discoverer of Christian Science and Leader of the world-wide benevolent movement which she established. What fair-minded person would have them do otherwise?
Through her rare spiritual insight and love for her fellowmen, Mrs. Eddy has given to mankind the true interpretation of Jesus' teaching. She has defined the nature of God and man as divine Principle and divine idea. She has established the Church of Christ, Scientist, on the demonstration of Love's healing and saving power. With extraordinary wisdom, she has ordained the Bible and the Christian Science textbook as the only pastors of the Christian Science denomination. In this way, she skillfully avoided the pitfalls of conflicting opinion and personal interpretation and has cleared the way for the reign and rule of world-wide, unified Christian endeavor. Writing on page 35 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy says: "Our church is built on the divine Principle, Love. We can unite with this church only as we are new-born of Spirit, as we reach the Life which is Truth and the Truth which is Life by bringing forth the fruits of Love, casting out error and healing the sick."
God Is Good
According to Christian Science, Jesus came to teach mankind that God, the divine Principle of being, is changeless Love; that God's will in behalf of His creation is therefore invariably good; and that the only way to prove this to be true is to free oneself and others from the fears, discords, and other limitations of so-called material sense. Baffled by the seeming prevalence of evil, however, the world, considered as a whole, has sought to explain its helplessness by assuming that evil either proceeds from God, good, or is permitted by Him. This tragic mistake has tended to shut out the hope that salvation includes freedom from bodily suffering, here as well as hereafter. But Jesus not only said that Christians should heal the sick as he did, but he said that the ability to do so would be the measure of their Christian discipleship.
Pointing to the scientific nature
of this healing and saving power, the Master said, "If ye continue in my
word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the
truth shall make you free." According to this statement, there was to be
nothing mysterious nor supernatural about Christian
healing. On the contrary, it was to be the natural and inevitable effect of
understanding the truth about God and man - the truth that existence is
spiritual, harmonious, and changeless. Instead of teaching that the only way to
be thoroughly happy was to be thoroughly dead, Jesus taught his students to
exercise now man's divine right of dominion over the mesmeric belief of
existence apart from God. When he said, "The
If, for example, you had a mine from which you could at will procure precious gold, you would not pray for gold. Instead, you would confidently help yourself to that which is already yours in abundance. Similarly, the Christian Scientist does not petition God for what the infinite good has already bestowed upon the infinite idea, or divine likeness. In words of the parable so graphically employed by Jesus, Christian Science declares that the divine Principle is saying to your true self and mine, whether we are humanly aware of it or not, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine." Therefore, the Christian Scientist's prayer of petition and affirmation is for the humility, wisdom, and love that will enable him to throw off the sense-dream of both pleasure and pain in matter and to rejoice over spiritual man's oneness with God, infinite good. The importance of recognizing the wholly benevolent nature of God and of man in His likeness cannot be overestimated.
Love the Enlightener
To illustrate: When I was a child, I learned a lesson that has stayed with me throughout the years. To a town in an adjoining state came a man and wife to make their home. They were strangers to nearly everyone. Soon, local gossip began to weave fantastic tales about them. When either or both of the newcomers passed by, housewives would not uncommonly either tiptoe to their front doorsteps for whispered conversations, or carry on over back yard fences. Children became so frightened by what they heard their elders say that they would move well out of the way whenever the new neighbors approached.
One night, however, disaster vented itself upon that community, and the need for volunteers to help the injured, the sorrowing, and the sick was great. Among the first to respond were the stranger and his wife. With little consideration for their own interests, they provided food and shelter for many of the homeless, and worked day and night to aid and comfort others. All this unselfed service quickly compelled the neighborhood to recognize that they had permitted prejudice and intolerance to separate them from two inoffensive, noble-minded, lovable persons. About a year later, the community honored that man and that woman by acclaiming them publicly as two of the town's most useful and most respected citizens.
Similarly, owing to blinding intolerance born mainly of religious and medical prejudice, mankind has permitted itself to be deprived of the blessings which attend the understanding of God's true nature and purpose. Through the teaching of Christian Science, however, we are beginning to know Him aright. Instead of being controlled by fearful, ignorant, superstitious beliefs about Him, we are learning to know God as "universal, eternal, divine Love, which changeth not and causeth no evil, disease, nor death" (Science and Health, p. 140). As this enlightenment goes on, we are seeing more and more clearly that all that is truly helpful and good is spiritual and real, whereas all that is harmful and destructive is material and unreal. Coincidentally, the supposed hindrances and obstructions in our paths are receding day by day, and thanks to Christian Science they will continue to recede until they finally disappear from our lives.
Unreality of Evil
Now, the Bible tells us that God, infinite good, created man in His own image and likeness, thereby endowing His infinite idea with dominion over all the earth that is, over the entire belief in a material or suppositional sense of existence. But, are you acquainted with anyone who is adequately experiencing this God-given dominion? Instead, do you not find that most persons are still the more or less helpless victims of fear and worry, wrongdoing and sickness, want and woe? Why? Simply because most persons still believe in the reality of the unreal; they still believe that there can be something else, in addition to, or besides the all-presence and all-power of God, good. This belief in the reality of matter or material sense means bondage to an unreal master bondage to that which has no basis save in error's false claim to be mind opposed to God, infinite good.
Scanning recently the headlines of a metropolitan newspaper, I came upon an item which especially arrested my attention. It said that in a particular American city a man became the victim of convulsions while at his place of business. Solicitous friends had him hurried to a local hospital, where he haltingly told attendants that, during the preceding night, he had swallowed while asleep a bridge of artificial teeth. Although the hospital authorities assured him following an X-ray examination that there were no teeth in his stomach, the convulsions continued. An hour or two later, however, the man's wife appeared with the news that she had found the teeth at home where her husband must have left them the night before. This announcement quickly dispelled the man's fear; whereupon the convulsions ceased. Soon, he and his wife were happily on their way home.
Now, I ask you, was that man suffering from anything real or true? Was he the victim of teeth in his stomach? Of course not! The suffering was entirely and erroneously mental. It was due to the fearful belief that something had occurred which had not occurred. Consequently, from the moment he learned that the teeth were in his wife's possession instead of where he had believed them to be, he was free from the convulsions. Again, I ask you, What would have been the use of treating that man, by any method, for teeth in his stomach? Obviously, it was not a physical condition that needed to be healed, but a fearful belief that needed to be dispelled. And it was dispelled by the wife's assuring announcement.
Similarly, Christian Science has come to show, on the one hand, that all mortals are the victims in one form or another of the world-wide belief claiming the status of reality that God's idea is a material person, living in a material world, and subject to material law. It has come to show that, owing to this deep-rooted, traditional, and heretofore unchallenged belief, men have involved themselves more and more in a finite, personal, bodily sense of existence. This involvement has progressively disinherited them of that dominion over material sense which the divine Principle, God, bestows upon His beloved son, the spiritual idea, or divine likeness. It has come to show, on the other hand, that this compound, completely satisfied, perfect idea (the basic truth about which there seem to be innumerable finite concepts called persons) is already immortal, at one with infinite Mind, and subject only to divine law. Hence, it is the understanding of man's true existence as the incorporeal, inorganic, spiritual idea forever at one with God which, Jesus implied, would give us dominion over not only the fearful belief calling itself wrongdoing and failure, but over the fearful belief calling itself sickness and suffering,
Divine Law Always Available
No doubt many of you can recall trials, disappointments, and failures which seemed to be utterly beyond your ability to control. But, was that because those experiences were in accord with divine law? Was it because they were inevitable? No; it was due in part to human ignorance of the fictitious nature of all material experience, whether classified as materially bad or materially good. It was due in part also to human ignorance of the Science which would have enabled you to cope successfully with those humanly mental pictures mistakenly called material conditions by invoking the law of harmony or ever-present good. This law of infinite substance, omnipresent Spirit, or all-pervading Love, is universal in its scope and application. Although not yet generally understood, it has always been available to everyone, at all times, and under all circumstances.
Several years ago, for example, a friend of mine decided to build a weekend house at a wooded spot several miles from his home and business. During the building process, he made frequent trips to the site in order to see that the work was being done according to plan. One of these trips occurred later than usual, after the workmen had quit for the day. The owner therefore found himself alone in the unfinished house. While walking about in the semi-darkness, the end of a loose plank gave way and let him down into a large open central-heating furnace pipe the opening of which the plank was supposed to be safely covering. In every way, the predicament seemed so desperate that my friend became very much afraid. But the more he feared, the more firmly his body became fixed against the pipe. Soon, he was unable to move.
After several minutes of this self-mesmerism of fear and helplessness, my friend concluded that it was high time for him to put into practice what he had learned in Christian Science about divine law. Accordingly, in the very midst of all this, he began to assure himself of the spiritual fact that as God's likeness he was not in the least afraid; that in the infinity of good there was no fear, nothing to be afraid of, and no one susceptible to fear nor any other frailty; that no circumstance, however threatening, could becloud his thinking or prevent him from invoking in his own behalf the law of infinite Spirit or omnipresent good. Again and again, he prayerfully acknowledged that, although to personal sense he was in the wrong place, in fact and in truth he was in his right place that is, in the presence of and at one with God, ever-present good. Quickly the fear subsided, his body relaxed, and he was able inch by inch to work his way back to safety on the floor above. Like Paul, he had learned that supposed physical conditions could be changed by the renewing of the mind, or spiritual understanding.
To appearance, of course, the material universe includes innumerable persons, places, and things, all of which are supposed to exist quite apart from one's own mentality or consciousness. However, the teaching of Christian Science is making it clear that without human mentality or consciousness there would be to one no material universe, no personal sense of existence, no problems. This teaching declares that whoever and whatever plays a part in one's life is one's own exclusive mental experience. Accordingly, it is only in the realm of belief, mentality, or consciousness that one's problems need be solved. We need to keep this clearly in view when considering the nature of Christian Science practice; for how, otherwise, could we reasonably expect a spiritually mental treatment to change anything? Does spiritual understanding launch forth into space and come to grips with material persons, circumstances, and things? No; spiritual understanding dispels false concepts and reveals the true view of the spiritual universe, including man.
We know, for example, that a moving picture could not be changed by doing something to what we see on the screen. Why? Because what we see on the screen is not cause but effect. To be sure, the picture could be changed, but only by going to the cause, which would be the film itself. Similarly, what seem to be material conditions, whether they be what we call the material body or what we call the material world, are actually concepts of suppositional mortal mind, and finite concepts are changed only through the recognition and acceptance of the one Mind and its universal reflection.
To illustrate: Only recently, a successful saleswoman who was working on a commission basis found her receipts steadily falling off. Upon prayerful investigation she learned that others in her department had become resentful because so many more patrons had turned to her than to them. The outcome was that they were enviously leagued against her.
Now, this particular saleswoman was a wide-awake Christian Scientist. She therefore methodically analyzed the situation and came to the conclusion that only through thought or mentality could she be aware of this or any other circumstance. She saw also that the only way a humanly mental problem could be solved was by spiritually mental means that is, by invoking divine law, the law based upon perfect God and perfect man, upon perfect Principle and perfect idea.
Accordingly, instead of going to her fellow workers in person to change their attitude towards her, she began to change her mental attitude towards them by declaring to herself the spiritual fact that there was one infinite Mind and its infinite idea or expression, and that this infinite, hence compound, complete, and fully satisfied idea was the truth about individual man, instead of the suggestion calling itself warring minds and persons many.
The effect of this scientific, right knowing was impressive; for soon thereafter receipts from her own sales began to pick up, the other sales folk became busier than heretofore, and the atmosphere of the entire department changed from discord to harmony. This saleswoman had demonstrated in human experience that God's ideas are not competitive, but co-operative.
Material conditions being basically mental, subjective instead of objective, Christian Science shows that material conditions can be changed to the extent that one's finite concept or mental outlook changes from matter to Spirit, from belief in minds and beings many to understanding of the oneness of infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation or universe of spiritual ideas. Although unrecognized generally, this illuminating, healing, liberating truth is as applicable to one's sense of community, country, and world as it is to one's sense of body, home, and occupation.
Plainly, therefore, the solving of human problems, whether separate or collective, is not accomplished outwardly, but inwardly in the secret place of consciousness through individual communion with God, infinite Mind, to whom there are no minds, persons, nor problems many, but only God and His infinite creation or spiritual manifestation. Evidently Jesus meant this, when he said that the kingdom of heaven is not a locality, but an individual, spiritual state of consciousness. And evidently Mrs. Eddy means this in her Message to The Mother Church for 1901, where she writes (p. 20), "The Christian Scientist is alone with his own being and with the reality of things."
Limiting Beliefs Dispelled
Had supposed material conditions been other than mental, Jesus could not have exercised his dominion over them by spiritual means. But because all such conditions, including war, are primarily mental, the scientific spiritualization of one's thought will eliminate them and their effects from one's consciousness and, therefore, from one's experience, irrespective of what others may continue to believe and experience. In other words, man's dominion over the belief in discord and limitation, whatever its particular manifestation may be, is a spiritual fact which each one is privileged to demonstrate by invoking the law of infinite Spirit and its infinite spiritual manifestation.
To illustrate: Several years ago, a friend of mine decided to provide a rectangular play yard for his dog. The play yard was to be surrounded by heavy woven-wire fencing supported at intervals by wedgelike iron posts driven deep into the ground. Because the fencing had to be both joined up at the meeting place and bound to the several posts, the builder unthinkingly went inside the enclosure and, with the aid of pliers and binding-wire, made everything fast. Having now completed his work, the builder looked about and, much to his own embarrassment, found that he had made no provision for getting out of the enclosure. He found that he had imprisoned himself in his own creation. The outcome was that he had to call for a stepladder in order to get out of his self-imposed predicament.
Later on, this incident enabled a student of Christian Science to understand clearly how material belief first accepts and then inevitably finds itself the victim of the very discords and limitations which it unwittingly imposes upon itself. Referring to this self-imposition, Mrs. Eddy says on page 251 of Science and Health, "Inharmonious beliefs, which rob Mind, calling it matter, and deify their own notions, imprison themselves in what they create." The student saw also that in order to be free from its self-imposed limitations, the human mind must call for a stepladder; it must appeal to the divine source outside itself for help.
The Apostle Paul writes, "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law." Obviously, the apostle is here referring to anyone who believes himself to be one of many persons living in a material world and subject to the fear, discord, and other limitations inseparable from that belief. But Christian Science comes to show that we are under no such law, but under grace, which is the law of God, infinite good. It comes to show that infinite Mind expresses itself as infinite idea and that this infinite idea is the truth about you and me and all. To recognize, claim, and live this immeasurable idea as your true, spiritual, individual self means the utilization of divine law. It means freedom from bondage to material sense. It means the demonstration of man's dominion over evil.
And so, notwithstanding the array of imprisoning beliefs or mental pictures parading before thought and calling themselves time and space, latitude and longitude, heat and cold, war and bloodshed, disaster and death, there truly abides only the atmosphere of Love, the realm of infinite good, the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, in order to have peace and unity within and without, at home and abroad, we need only spiritual enlightenment; we need only to invoke the liberating law of measureless Mind; yea, we need only to remind ourselves frequently that the mesmerism of finite sense cannot hide from us the eternal fact that God is omnipresent and that only limitless Love is occurring anywhere at any time. Writing on page 14 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy says, "Entirely separate from the belief and dream of material living, is the Life divine, revealing spiritual understanding and the consciousness of man's dominion over the whole earth."
[Published in The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, July 1, 1954.]