Christian Science: The Science That Meets the Human Need
John S. Sammons, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Delivered in Ritz Theater,
Friends, welcome to this lecture
on Christian Science, sponsored by First Church of Christ, Scientist,
The healing truth of Christian Science is being experienced by people all over the world. And the purpose of the lecture today is to bring more of this health-giving Truth to us.
Whenever one demonstrates through prayer that God is present to heal and finds himself free, he has proved that an ever-present relationship eternally exists between God and man. And that is the highest proof that we can have.
I have tested the truth of Christian Science and gratefully acknowledge that I have been blessed many times.
Our speaker is a member of the
Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ,
At this time it is my pleasure to
introduce to you John S. Sammons, of
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Mankind is in an inquiring mood. It is tiring of the frustrations of its disbelief and looks for something that will enrich and satisfy. The aspirations may be limited, may be entirely material, but no one will deny that they exist. The innate desire, evident in this seeking and searching by individuals and groups in all walks of life, is the touchstone of progress – the essence of the hope that stirs within the human heart for a better way of life and the assurance of its ultimate attainment. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in the textbook of Christian Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "The necessity for uplifting the race is father to the fact that Mind [God] can do it" (p. 371).
Christ Jesus said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32); in other words, if man's real, spiritual selfhood is brought to light through precept and practice, then all mankind, through the irradiant power of this example, may likewise be brought to that level of spiritual reality in which ignorance, superstition, and fear have no place, and the reign of justice and peace is universally acknowledged.
The study of Christian Science opens wide the door to the Christ-way – the way the Master trod. It offers the practical salvation of healing and regeneration. It quiets fear, resolves doubt, and dispels the illusions of sin and sickness. To accomplish all of this, and more, it is necessary for the student to start at the beginning, which in Christian Science always means God, of whom the prophet Isaiah wrote, "there is none else" (Isa. 45:5).
It would not be possible in the short time at our disposal today to enumerate or attempt to define particularly all the terms to be found in the Bible and the Christian Science textbook used to denote Deity. "We can, however, touch on some of the more salient points covered by these terms and thereby increase our understanding of spiritual ideas and make possible the attainment of those spiritual ideals which are of the very essence of pure Christianity. For example, let us consider God in His aspect of power.
God Is All-Power
Human history is a history of the struggle for material power – the power to command, the power to influence, the power to control or govern. This struggle still persists among men, despite the fact that human history reveals that those who have exercised the greatest power and the widest influence are those who have been the most spiritually-minded, those who have manifested the most love, those who have been mighty because they have been meek.
Matthew records that the Master on one occasion called his twelve disciples together and gave them "power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease" (Matt. 10:1).
Jesus knew that man has no underived power, that God, as infinite Spirit, is the only power, and that man, His humble reflection, is the transparency through which this infinite All-power is expressed. This revelation was the substance and essence of the power that Jesus gave unto his disciples and likewise bequeathed to all who continue in his word and follow him in deed and in truth.
Would anyone deny the absolute dominion exercised by the Master, his complete authority under all circumstances and conditions, the power that was his? Whence came this unparalleled ability to subordinate and transcend the claims of matter? Jesus himself has given us the answer. He said, "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (John ). Jesus demonstrated practically and conclusively that there is no power apart from God, and Christian Science reveals this all-embracing power as a power which man in his true spiritual selfhood reflects and embodies here and now. Mrs. Eddy tells us, "The central fact of the Bible is the superiority of spiritual over physical power" (Science and Health, p. 131).
How valueless, then, is the seeking of temporal power through rank or office, through eminence or dominance! How fleeting the power which appears to derive from human will, ambition, the accumulation of material things, the projection of a material selfhood! Only that which is good expresses the power which is God. Jesus exercised this great power because he lived this great goodness. Mrs. Eddy writes, "The understanding, even in a degree, of the divine All-power destroys fear, and plants the feet in the true path, – the path which leads to the house built without hands 'eternal in the heavens' " (Science and Health, p. 454).
God the Only Presence
Even as infinite Love, or God, is
the only power, so also is this infinite Love the only presence. The Psalmist
sang, "As the mountains are round about
Christian Science joyfully accepts the assurance of the Psalmist that God is omnipresent and ever active in His care and provision for His children. You do not have to go to any place to find that which encompasses and includes all reality, God in His holy office of omnipresence. Did not God say to Moses, "My presence shall go with thee" (Ex. 33:14)? God's immediacy, His ever-presence, is the cardinal fact of Being. That which is everywhere is everywhere available, consequently always where you and I are – in the home, the office, the open field; where man is, God must be, and, conversely, wherever God is, man must be. God and man are forever at one, and Jesus, conscious of this relationship to the Father of us all, said, "He that sent me is with me" (John ).
The infinite, or God, is one, and this One is indivisible; hence the appearance of the least evidence of His nature proves the presence of all that He is. There is never too much or too little in this presence, but always the availability of those spiritual qualities which may be necessary to the continuity and perpetuity of God's plan for His children. And this Truth understood and demonstrated breaks the fetters of false belief – all that circumscribe or limit.
Mrs. Eddy writes, "To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings" (Science and Health, Pref. p. vii). Christian Science reveals God's presence and power and the science and art of relying upon this presence and utilizing this power.
As prophet and apostle of an earlier day so beautifully and conclusively demonstrated, so Christian Science is proving today that wherever there is a human need this sacred presence may be found available and ready to adjust and correct, to heal and to bless.
Mrs. Eddy's Interest in and Love for Mankind
To Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, the welfare of others was always a matter of immediate concern. She was ever inclusive in her thinking and early developed an interest in and love for mankind.
Mrs. Eddy's offering knew no bounds, her sacrifices no end. The Sunday services and Wednesday meetings, the lectures, the quiet sanctuary of the Reading Rooms, bear present witness to her conscious desire to meet the human need and evidence the universal nature of her love. She accepted without reservation and consistently practiced what she taught. She had a childlike trust in God, a great compassion for the sufferer, a graciousness and tenderness towards all, an unqualified acceptance of her mission, and a complete willingness to bear the cross of spiritual leadership – a leadership which continues to illumine the path of her followers.
Reared in the sturdy atmosphere of
Christian Scientists must be constant in their gratitude for the opportunities and privileges that are theirs, and this can best be expressed in their willingness to accept wholeheartedly their Leader's admonitions, to be loyal to the Church she founded and give self-less service in it. They must pray with her (Poems, p. 4),
"Thou Love that guards the nestling's faltering flight!
Keep Thou my child on upward wing to-night."
God the Substance of All Reality
But to return to our discussion of some of the more obvious aspects of God's nature. The matter concept of the universe, which is contrary to the spiritual account of creation given in the first chapter of the book of Genesis, is likewise contrary to the teaching of Christian Science, which accepts the Biblical account wherein light, or divine intelligence, is revealed as the infinite source, and the successive appearing of spiritual ideas, or creation, as an emanation or effect of this light. The spiritual account of creation concludes with the statement that "the heavens and the earth were finished" and "God ended his work" (Gen. 2:1,2).
God being the only creator, and His work being complete and perfect, "finished," to use the Bible term, it should be obvious that there is nothing to be added to this creation – nothing that could be added to it. However, this creation, being the infinite expression of God, its inexhaustible source, is of necessity forever appearing, or unfolding, and will forever continue to do so. This God-created universe, from the least idea to the greatest, from the infinitesimal to the infinite, is characterized by God's nature, His essence or substance, and this substance, which is God, is all that is real or substantial. It is the essential nature of God's being, or spiritual reality, as the term is understood in Christian Science. God's image and likeness, man, reflects this same substance, consisting of spiritual ideas, unerring and immortal, ideas which are entirely removed from and untouched by the elements of the carnal mind, such as the passing of time, the beliefs of deterioration, disintegration, or loss.
The universe appears to material sense as gaseous, liquid, or solid. Christian Science reveals the spiritual fact of whatever the material senses behold, interpreting the universe as permanent and changeless, as constituted of "solid and grand ideas" (Science and Health, p. 511). Therefore, it may be seen that the true universe, including man, is comprised of these perfect and complete ideas which are of the essence or substance of real being.
Mrs. Eddy asks, "Which ought to be substance to us, – the erring, changing, and dying, the mutable and mortal, or the unerring, immutable, and immortal?" (Science and Health, p. 279).
God, Good, Is Omniaction
I am confident that we all will agree that the most obvious aspect of life is activity. If life is represented by any one thing, more than another, it is growth, development, unfoldment, something going on. Physical sense insists upon interpreting this phenomenon as material, despite its enigmatic nature when considered from the material point of view. Christian Science reveals Life as God, as the source of all action, and defines God, or good, as "omniaction." Hence all action or activity is spiritual, and that which appears to be material action could be at most but the type and representative of the underlying reality. The belief in material activity has no relation to the real. A lie has no actual relationship to the truth; the counterfeit is no part of the genuine.
God is omniaction. Hence the action of the divine Mind, or God, is the action of that which reflects or manifests Him, the spiritual universe. When you and I see that we are in truth the individual reflection of this Mind, then we shall see that this wholly spiritual action is the action of our being – your action and my action. This action is represented in the consciousness that is useful, constructive, progressive, in that which is discerning, inspiring, and joyous – invariable, unfailing, and constant.
Neither the action of Life nor that of its manifestation, man, is subject to fatigue or wear. No fruitless endeavor, no sense of monotony, no weariness of routine, can condition the unlabored motion of the Life which is God nor dull its natural buoyancy and freedom. For does not our textbook tell us, "God rests in action"? (Science and Health, p. 519)
Activity, when interpreted from a spiritual standpoint, reflects an established order with an intelligent purpose – a purpose which does not permit of any lost motion or wasted effort. It is the unfoldment of divine reality without bounds or limits – not of objects in space, but ideas in Mind, not the conflict of many interests, but the unity which stems from a common origin. The action of true being can be known only as God, its infinite source, is understood and demonstrated, as He is proved to be the impelling and sustaining action of our daily living.
In human experience a mortal may accept an impression or entertain a notion as to the appearance, shape, or form of the action of a particular object or situation, may even have a solid conviction as to what he believes he witnessed or heard, and yet be entirely in error in his deduction or conclusion.
In the understanding and demonstration of this omniaction, which is God, we may well bring heaven down to earth and witness here and now the fulfillment of the promises and prophecies of the Scriptures which Peter called "exceeding great and precious" (II Pet. 1:4).
God Is the Lawmaker
We read in Mrs. Eddy's work "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 211), "He risks nothing who obeys the law of God." Obedience to God's law is the very essence of Christian Science teaching and living – the assurance of the protection and support of this law. Some may be under the impression that the law punishes, but Christian Science reveals that it is the violation that includes the penalty. Moving in accord with God's law, we are under its direction, sustained by its irresistible power, and enjoy the provision of its bounty. Moving contrary to this law through ignorance or willfulness, we find the way becomes increasingly difficult until, through experience, we become ready to accept the good which has always been available through the inspiration of divine Science.
Moses is known as the Hebrew lawgiver because it was his discernment of God's nature that gave to mankind those imperishable rules for human conduct known as the Ten Commandments. The human sense of law can at its best but pattern the spiritual capacity for distinguishing between right and wrong. When one is honest, the law of right-knowing precludes the possibility of wrong-doing. To know God is to know that which is right, to become conscious of divine law – that spiritual equipollence in which mercy and justice abide and all creation moves in complete harmony.
"God is the lawmaker, but He is not the author of barbarous codes," our textbook reminds us (Science and Health, p. 381). The only true source of law is the lawmaker, God, who is wholly good. True law embodies the invariability of divine Principle, the beneficence of Love, the universality of Spirit. But this true law is not material, variable, harsh, unjust, or evil in any of its manifestations. Therefore, anything harsh, unjust or evil is not supported by law and in reality does not govern even for a fleeting moment. Hence there is no law of disease, no law of age, no law of impairment. Disease, not being the manifestation of law, has no law of inception, growth, or development. Since God's law is good, the universal law, which is everywhere available and operative, there could be no place in which a belief in disease could have a natural or lawful existence, no time in which disease could occur, and certainly there is no law to sustain it as symptom, appearance, or sensation. God's law is a law of health and soundness, a law of well-being, a law of immortality, a law of love, for God is Love – that Love which satisfies its own demands, that is, fulfills the provisions of its own law. This is the law that comprehends and defines all law. Abiding in this law, governed by this law, man, the effect or embodiment of this law, moves uninterruptedly, progressively, in line with its infinite purpose, meeting the demands of each moment with that perfect understanding, intelligence, and obedience which God's law compels.
Jesus is the perfect example of obedience to divine law. In his Sermon on the Mount he gave voice to the timeless nature of this law and its practical value. This Sermon on the Mount is the essence of the Science Jesus taught, a transcendent code bequeathed to his followers – a code which has stood two thousand years, as both promise and fulfillment, a code that will continue to stand throughout eternity, as timeless as its infinite source. For did not the Master say, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away"? (Matt. 24:35). God expressed by law gives to our life the cohesive force that holds it intact, inviolable, that sustains it in harmony and order. This law is not an inscription on stone or parchment, but, in the words of Jeremiah, it is the law which God has placed in our inward parts and written in our hearts (Jer. 31:33).
The Real Man Immortal
Students of Christian Science must, sooner or later, through experience or revelation, learn to distinguish between the real and the unreal, the true and the false. The most important distinction to be made is between the real man, the man of God's creating, His image and likeness – to use the Bible term – and the material or physical sense of man. Mrs. Eddy says that anatomy and theology call that man "which is not the counterpart, but the counterfeit, of God's man" (Science and Health, p. 148). No one of intelligence and integrity would knowingly circulate a counterfeit sense of anything or anybody, and yet, even in this so-called enlightened age, this misconception of man as physical persists. The schools continue to teach that man is constituted of material elements, is organic and structural. Christian Science reveals, even as Elijah discovered, that God is not in the earthquake, the fire, or the wind; neither is man, His image and likeness, to be found in matter. That which claims to be man, appears to be man, is even widely believed to be man, is therefore not man, but a false or counterfeit sense of man. This creature of strange contrasts, this duality of good and bad, this suppositional admixture of mind and matter, is a belief, a myth, nothing but a passing phase of ignorance. The antidote for ignorance is intelligence, spiritual light, or enlightenment. It is in this true spiritual enlightenment that we come to know man as he is.
Christian Science, considering this question intelligently, dispels the illusion of a matter man with the revelation that man is the child of Spirit, the embodiment or reflection of the spiritual nature of his Maker. As this truth about man is understood and demonstrated, our human experience becomes less material and more spiritual, manifesting less of the carnal or mortal mind and more of the divine Mind, which is God, the Mind which was also in Christ Jesus. Thus, as thought is spiritualized, thought becomes more expansive. A more fruitful and progressive experience opens up for us, and the once distant view becomes the present grand reality. This is the coming of the Christ, which was so perfectly exemplified in the compassionate ministry of the man Jesus. This is the full salvation that Christian Science teaches and demonstrates, including a freedom from sickness as well as from sin.
An interesting example of this is the healing of a friend of ours. Let me give you his experience in his own words:
"Four years ago, at a time when the newspapers were giving prominence to a certain type of paralysis, I awakened one morning and found myself manifesting this disease, the symptoms of which had been heralded by the press. It was an ugly picture, but after the first shock I began immediately to apply what I knew of Christian Science to the situation, and this statement of Mrs. Eddy's came to me: 'A danger besets thy path? – a spiritual behest, in reversion, awaits you' (Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 19).
"I was taken to the country, to the home of a member of the family who was also a Christian Scientist, and there devoted my thought completely to the acknowledgment of the presence and activity of my individual sense of the Christ. For ten days there was no apparent improvement, but I became disciplined during that time to think of no selfhood apart from God. On the eleventh day I was able to partake of solid food for the first time, and from then on a gradual but continuing recovery was evident. At last except for one spot on the face the healing was complete.
"As I pondered this persistent and final effort of error to get itself accepted as reality, I recalled a small child who upon leaving a Christian Science Sunday School walked away with measured tread repeating in rhythm a line from a poem, 'There is no spot where God is not.' It came to me with great clarity that there was indeed 'no spot where God is not' and with this added realization I was restored to normal health in all particulars."
This convincing experience illustrates the practical nature of prayer in Christian Science – prayer which is the affirmation of Truth, the denial of that which is untrue; prayer which is the silent realization of God's presence, the understanding and appreciation of His great goodness, and the consciousness of the power of His law, the quiet conviction that under the sovereignty of divine Love all is well. Such prayer destroys fear, restores confidence and trust, dispels ignorance and superstition, supersedes false law with the higher law of Spirit, causes the morbid or excited action of disease to cease, and all related or associated beliefs to revert to their native nothingness. True prayer establishes in thought and demonstration the spiritual basis for sound health.
Jesus stated that the
Overcoming the Claims of Evil
The belief in a power apart from and opposed to God seems to touch the experience of all of us at some time. Mrs. Eddy has called this supposititious activity of evil "animal magnetism," and the term is sometimes used by those unacquainted with its fictitious nature to conjure up false pictures to excite or dismay. Contrary to popular opinion, Mrs. Eddy did not originate the term "animal magnetism." Dr. Powell, in his biography of Mrs. Eddy, states that at the time he wrote the biography there were over one hundred books listed in the Boston Public Library on the subject of "animal magnetism," seventy-five of which were published prior to 1870.
While "Mrs. Eddy did not originate this term "animal magnetism," she did expose its true nature when she defined it as "the specific term for error, or mortal mind" (Science and Health, p. 103). And a recent writer in The Christian Science Journal explained it in another way, when he wrote, "All there is to mortal mind is the term, and the term is a solecism," in other words, an improper use of the word, because, in fact and in truth, there could be no such mind.
Righteous indignation is one of the more subtle forms of animal magnetism. Righteous indignation claims that there are times when one is justified in being incensed, wrathful, or angry. A simple example may be found in my own experience of a few years ago. I was driving slowly through the business section of a small city, when another car, backing out from a parking space, crashed into my car, doing considerable damage. The driver of the other car, a lady, was full of apologies, stating that she was particularly sorry because her husband had always said she was the worst driver in town. Only a few moments before, however, in a conversation with an acquaintance, I had become "righteously indignant," over a very unimportant matter, and this combination of righteous indignation, so called, and the husband's wrong mental attitude or malpractice was too much for those automobiles.
This incident is a good illustration of animal magnetism and how it operates. Mrs. Eddy tells us (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 298), "When unconscious of a mistake, one thinks he is not mistaken; but this false consciousness does not change the fact, or its results." In short, we open the door through our shortsightedness, or material-mindedness, as the case may be, and make it possible for the various phases of evil to operate in our experience. Standing "porter at the door of thought'' (Science and Health, p. 392) and guarding our thoughts carefully, we may prevent accidents or other unhappy experiences. "Let us rejoice that we are subject to the divine 'powers that be,' " Mrs. Eddy tells us in our textbook (p. 249).
I am grateful that early in my progress in Christian Science I was healed of a desire for tobacco and intoxicants, especially in view of the tremendous social pressure of these times and the untold millions spent to instill the desire for and to foster the habitual use of these obnoxious drugs. I say this without any sense of self-righteousness and certainly without any sense of condemnation for anyone who is still in bondage to these false appetites. Some may feel that Christian Science is too radical in its stand on these particular indulgences. Some take the illogical position that it is possible to go too far in a right direction, and they are afraid of becoming "too good" and think it is better to hold on to some of the claims of the flesh, so that they may remain what they are pleased to call "human;" but Mrs. Eddy states unequivocally, "The divine must overcome the human at every point" (Science and Health, p. 43).
We must be willing to strive to overcome and destroy the lesser ills if we ever expect to demonstrate the greater works referred to by Jesus. A case in point was that of a young man who was in a naval hospital for what was termed a relatively simple operation. When the boy was visited by a Christian Science Wartime Minister, he was found to be very much distressed over the prospect. "How could such a thing happen to me?" he said, as he reached for another cigarette. Now this boy had been a student of Christian Science for fifteen years, and it was pointed out to him that if in fifteen years he had not awakened sufficiently to the demands of Spirit to overcome a simple thing like the cigarette habit, then he should not be surprised if he was unable to overcome a physical condition that materia medica thought serious enough to necessitate an operation.
In my case the release from social drinking and the use of tobacco was very unlabored and came through the study of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook after only a few weeks. There was no struggle, and there were no aftereffects. This illustrates what Mrs. Eddy describes as "the unlabored motion of the divine energy" (Science and Health, p. 445).
But such is not always the case. A friend of mine, who is not without a sense of humor, stated that when he first began to attend the Christian Science church, he heard various ones get up and say they had opened Science and Health to such and such a page, and they were immediately healed of drinking and smoking; and, of course, many have had this experience – so potent is the Word of God. But my friend tried this, and he said it must have been the wrong page, because nothing happened, and it was only after a long period of persistent effort, and consecrated work that he finally got rid of these indulgences.
While evil is, of course, entirely supposititious and unreal, through hypnotic suggestion, or mesmeric argument, it claims the ability to impose itself as sin or sickness. It is this claim to power that must be resisted. Christian Science, through the understanding and demonstration of the infinite all-power of divine Love, enable us to break the fetters of this substanceless claim and to gain freedom and the wholesome and healthful expression that are natural to us. Thus we move onward and upward to the realization of our unity with God, as His perfect idea or reflection.
Divine Love Meets the Human Need
Probably there is no statement in the Christian Science textbook more greatly loved or more frequently quoted than the statement that is lettered on the wall of so many of our churches: "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need" (Science and Health, p. 494).
When I first began attending the Christian Science church, I was immediately and tremendously impressed with this statement. Out of the depths of my ignorance on the subject at the time, I visualized some great power, or force, coming into my experience from somewhere and doing a great deal for me, and I was very happy at the prospect. However, I soon exhausted the possibilities of this attractive but very limited concept, and after many disappointments and several years of study and demonstration, I began to see that it was the Love which I understood and expressed that would meet my need. Someone has aptly put it, "It isn't the Love on the wall that meets the human need." I can testify, out of my own experience, that divine Love has met my need in times of serious illness, in times of discouragement and depression, in times of personal inflation and over-optimism. Divine Love has met my need in the administration of large and important business responsibilities and in the smaller matters which make for harmony in the home and elsewhere. Through the ministrations of this Love, broken friendships have been repaired, and the specter of lack has been replaced with the provision of Love's bounty.
Christ Jesus was very conscious of the human need and the opportunities it presented for the practice of universal love. He said to his disciples (Matt. ,38), "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest." The necessities and rewards of our service to others are beautifully expressed in the words of the well-known hymn:
"True, the heart grows rich in giving;
All its wealth is living grain;
Seeds which mildew in the garner,
Scattered, fill with gold the plain.
"Is the heart a living power?
Self-entwined its strength sinks low;
It can only live in loving,
And, by serving, love will grow."
[Published in The West Tulsa (Oklahoma) News, July 31, 1952.]