Christian Science: Its Purpose and Practice

 

Elisabeth Carroll Scott, C.S.B., of Memphis, Tennessee

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

My friends, Christian Science, given to the world by its Discoverer, Founder, and Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, does not ask anyone to accept mere theories. It is preeminently a practical religion. Through its teachings you will be enabled to find your true self and thus to demonstrate dominion and joy in your present life experience.

Christian Science teaches that God is infinitely good and that His creation is Godlike. The Bible tells us in Genesis (1:31), "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." It is from the standpoint of the goodness of God that Christian Science shows you and me how to solve our life problems by utilizing the power of good which God has bestowed on every one of us and which Christ Jesus said should characterize his followers.

Jesus recognized that his mission was a redemptive one, one of recovery and release. When he went into the synagogue at Nazareth, he read these words from the book of Isaiah, which had been handed him (Luke 4:18), "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach . . . deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." This verse epitomized Jesus' lifework. It also epitomizes the work of his followers, yours and mine. Christian Science shows us how to do the healing and redemptive work which Jesus required of his followers. It is the mission of everyone who follows the master Christian to bind up the broken-hearted and to set free those who are in bondage to sickness, poverty, or sin. Christian Science gives us the knowledge of God which enables us to do this work.

In the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," its author, Mrs. Eddy, gives us this wonderful definition of our creator, God (Science and Health, p 583): "Creator. Spirit; Mind; intelligence; the animating divine Principle of all that is real and good; self-existent Life, Truth, and Love; that which is perfect and eternal; the opposite of matter and evil, which have no Principle; God, who made all that was made and could not create an atom or an element the opposite of Himself." Man created by God is His likeness, inseparable from Him. Science and Health says (p. 381), "As a drop of water is one with the ocean, a ray of light one with the sun, even so God and man, Father and son, are one in being." God is the infinite One; man is the reflection or likeness of God.

 

Man the Climax of Creation

Man is the climax of creation, the highest idea of God. According to the record in Genesis (1:26-28), God gave man dominion over all the earth and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. Christian Science differentiates clearly between sinning, mortal man, an illusion of the carnal mind, and the God-created man who is one with God as His reflection and who expresses the Mind which is God, and who can never be separated from God. In a spiritual understanding of the inseparable oneness of God and man, Mind and idea, is to be found inspiration, guidance, and direction. Because God is man's Mind, man exists at the standpoint of continuous spiritual illumination and divine direction. Claim this for yourself.

Man, the Bible tells us, is the image and likeness of God. God's image of Himself reflects God's knowledge of Himself. God created man after His Mind to express His goodness, intelligence, wisdom, immortality. Science and Health says (p. 516), "The substance, Life, intelligence, Truth, and Love, which constitute Deity, are reflected by His creation; and when we subordinate the false testimony of the corporeal senses to the facts of Science, we shall see this true likeness and reflection everywhere."

Is this the idea you have of yourself? Does your concept of yourself conform to the man created by God to express His Mind? Is it true that you have often accepted a false image of yourself? Do you refuse to accept the statement and proof set forth in the Bible and demonstrated in Christian Science that this image is false? Yet, is it not because the false image of yourself is held by you that you are unable to demonstrate the truth of being and thus to find the solution to your problems?

One should not ignore his God-given capacity to express God. The exercise of one's God-given capacity to express the divine Mind enables him to outgrow the limitations of the erroneous self-image, releases him from anxiety, broadens his interests, and makes one less fearful as to his value in the scheme of things. Each individual spiritual idea is essential to God. If any idea were excluded, God would not have complete expression. Knowledge of this divine fact enables us to see the true value of others, as well as our own genuine value.

It is the realization that God is Love which brings about harmony in any home. The knowledge that Love permeates and supports every individual in God's creation comforts and sustains us in our daily life.

All men yearn to be loved and appreciated. Many of them, no doubt, are lonely, perhaps feel themselves rejected. They long to be accepted and understood. There is only one way for us to aid in meeting this need of our brother man, and that is through the demonstration of our understanding of God who is Love. The perfect man, created by God, is eternally lovable and loveworthy. Since man lives in Mind, he is never lonely. Since he lives in Truth, he cannot be deluded by error or the sense presentation of loneliness or lack. Since he lives in Soul, he is satisfied and complete. Since he lives in Love, he reflects all that God gives, for man is God's beloved child.

Mrs. Eddy, after speaking of the ultimate destruction of all sin, then points out (Science and Health, p 291), "But this last call of wisdom cannot come till mortals have already yielded to each lesser call in the growth of Christian character." One of the lesser calls which tend to prepare our hearts for the Christ, Truth, is to abandon the false image of ourselves as mortals, and to cease being willfully defensive of its claim to reality. Christian Science shows one how to abandon the false sense of self, for it keeps him actively engaged in proving what he knows is true of himself namely, that he is the perfect expression of God, divine Mind.

 

Fear Dispelled

The Bible says (I John 4:8) "God is love." In Christian Science the constant love of God for His idea, man, is clearly revealed. Christian Science requires us to prove Love's omnipresence. Recognizing that divine Love is the only Mind, governing all, dispels fear, comforts and sustains us. It brings out harmony in human relationships, liberates our lives from evil and our bodies from disease.

 

Promise and Fulfillment

Christ Jesus promised a final revelation of Truth. It has come in our time; it is Christian Science, which came to Mrs. Eddy from God. Christian Science is a discovery, a divine revelation, an impartation of the divine Mind. It is neither human invention nor human opinion. Its purpose is to restore the healing, saving power and practice of Jesus' Christianity.

Mary Baker Eddy is the Discoverer, Founder, and Leader of Christian Science. She is the Discoverer. Her pure spiritual insight brought her so completely into accord with the divine Mind that she perceived the allness of God, good, the perfection of God's creation, and the spiritual laws which govern it. She is the Founder. She saw that her discovery must be available to mankind. Therefore, she founded a church wholly consistent with Jesus' teachings and governed by divine Truth and Love. It was thus that The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, and its branches and activities came into being. She is the Leader of Christian Science. As such, she has brought to the heart of humanity the new dispensation of Christ, Truth, on earth. She counsels us to follow her only so far as she follows Christ, and she indeed followed him. She was so consciously near to God that she naturally drew men to the truth; so aware of God's love that she knew that He did not create evil; so at one with His Mind that she perceived that matter was unknown to Him.

She did not seek to glorify herself: she glorified God. She did not seek to dominate; she sought to lead. Tenderly, firmly relying upon God's power, she led men to God. Through her writings and her works, she will continue to lead men to God until all error is finally destroyed and God's will is done in earth as it is in heaven.

Thousands in their search for God have found spiritual light through the study of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health. I am one. For years I had prayed to know God as He truly is. I echoed the words of Job (23:3), "Oh that I knew where I might find him!" As I read Science and Health I knew that my prayer had been answered, for I gained a concept of God which I recognized as the truth. At this time, I was very ill and had been for several years. I had no thought of physical healing. I rejoiced that I had found my God, and was content. I learned through Christian Science that Life is God, self-existent Being, whom I really express, now and forever. The physical healing came unnoticed, and it has been complete and permanent. This healing was in fulfillment of the Bible promise (Matt. 6:33), "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you."

Mrs. Eddy learned early that the Bible is the Word of God. Her discovery of Christian Science is the result of her profound study of the Scriptures. Of the Bible she says in Science and Health (p. 126), "I have had no other guide in 'the straight and narrow way' of Truth." Students of Christian Science are counseled to study the Bible daily. In all English-speaking countries, the King James Version of the Bible is used in our church services and our daily study. Through this study, in conjunction with the study of Science and Health, we gain a rich treasure of spiritual knowledge. Science and Health, as its full title implies, is truly a key to the Scriptures.

 

Christ Jesus the Mediator

Paul says (I Tim 2:5), "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." A dictionary defines a mediator as one who reconciles; who brings into agreement.

Born of a virgin, claiming no Father but God, Jesus demonstrated the human and divine coincidence. He exemplified and brought to light man's oneness with God. Mrs. Eddy says of him in Science and Health (p. 18); "Jesus of Nazareth taught and demonstrated man's oneness with the Father, and for this we owe him endless homage. His mission was both individual and collective. He did life's work aright not only in justice to himself, but in mercy to mortals, to show them how to do theirs, but not to do it for them nor to relieve them of a single responsibility."

The alert student of Christian Science recognizes Christ Jesus as the Wayshower, and he knows that he must follow Jesus in the Christly way he trod. He is aware that mere theoretical or emotional acceptance of the Christ is not sufficient to make him Jesus' follower, for the Master said (Matt. 7:21), "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."

The student of Christian Science seeks to know God's nature, and to express God. He seeks to gain such a clear spiritual knowledge of Christ, Truth, that he can say with authority, to the presentation of evil, "Get thee behind me." He seeks to gain such a clear sense of the presence of divine Love that resentment and ill-will cannot stand before it. He knows that God is able to furnish evidence of His presence in every human situation and to correct whatever needs correction. He knows that the power of God and His Christ is omnipotent.

Christian Science makes a distinction between Jesus and the Christ, though it never separates Jesus from the Christ. Jesus is his human name and Christ his divine title. In Science and Health we read (p. 332), "Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness. The Christ is incorporeal, spiritual, yea, the divine image and likeness, dispelling the illusions of the senses; the Way, the Truth, and the Life, healing the sick and casting out evils, destroying sin, disease, and death." The Christ is Jesus' spiritual selfhood. He was endowed with the Christ beyond measure. The human Jesus never impeded the regenerating, redeeming work of the Christ. The Christ which he manifested was so completely at one with God that Jesus could say (John 10:30), "I and my Father are one." The Master prayed for his disciples and also for us, for he said (John 17:20,22-23). "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; . . . and the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one."

Christian Science gives the comforting assurance that each individual can and must work out his own salvation here or hereafter. The purpose of Christian Science is clearly stated in this definition of "salvation" given in Science and Health (p. 593), "Life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; sin, sickness, and death destroyed." The God-created man is forever safe. His inseparability from God separates him forever from evil. Human beings, however, work out their salvation progressively.

 

 

Prayer: The Utilization of Divine Power

We enter the kingdom of God through prayer, for it is through prayer that we learn to understand and express God. Prayer is the only means whereby Christian Science heals, as it was the only means employed by Jesus. Jesus knew that it was the understanding of Truth which healed. Through Christian Science, we are enabled to look through the erroneous evidence of a sick, sinning, impoverished mortal presented by the material lenses and to see through spiritual sense alone, the man created by God and thus deal with and dispel the human condition which appears to be afflictive or destructive. Prayer in Christian Science is not primarily the prayer of petition; it is rather the recognition that

God is infinitely good and that God's man is His perfect likeness. The purpose of Christian Science treatment is to demonstrate the perfect nature of that which God has made. Utilization of divine power is the basis of Christian Science practice.

Christian Science heals sin in the same manner that it heals sickness. The individual asking for help in Christian Science opens his consciousness to the greatest power obtainable the omnipotence of God. Sin is unknown to God and cannot tempt or entice the man created by God. When these divine facts, maintained by the practitioner, permeate the consciousness of the one who has asked for help, they free him from bondage to sickness or from the illusion that he enjoys sin.

Christian Science treatment may be given to ourselves, to another, when requested, or to mankind generally. Christian Science is best known to the public through its healing of disease. Yet the healing of disease is the smallest part of Christian Science. Its major purpose is to destroy sin, which is a primary cause of sickness and death. This Science answers the human call for help in every situation with which men are confronted. It proves that the living power and presence of God are available to help us in every phase of human experience.

It is self-evident that nothing can be really proved which is not true. Neither health nor affluence could be demonstrated through Christian Science if they did not actually exist. Christian Science declares divine facts which can be proved in human experience. One of these facts is that none of God's children can ever lack. God, Spirit, gives each of us spiritual ideas, and through the utilization of these ideas our human needs are met.

Man, God's reflection, has been endowed by his creator with the capacity to understand. Man reflects the spiritual qualities of originality, intelligence, activity, and perception. No human being is poor who expresses these qualities.

Fear of lack will lessen, pressure and uncertainty will be relieved, as one understands that everything which relates to his well-being is safe in divine Mind. Even humanly, business is carried on primarily by means of ideas. The divine Mind is the source of all right ideas, and it has been proved again and again that once one accepts the fact that God's spiritual ideas are ever present, the supporting power of divine Mind is ever at hand, human conditions are improved. In Mrs. Eddy's book "Miscellaneous Writings" we are told (p. 307): "God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment." Our human needs appear to be many and diverse. Actually we have but one, to know and understand God. As we understand Him we perceive that we have no unsupplied need, for there is no lack in the infinity of God, and in reality nothing exists outside of that infinity.

 

The Light of Truth

The purpose of Christian Science treatment is to make the one who asks for help so conscious of the truth of being as God knows it that evil suggestions no longer appear to be true. The direct result of Christian Science treatment is the disappearance of mortal delusions. As thought turns naturally and spontaneously to God as a result of prayer, mortal errors drop away and material limitations decrease.

Christian Science shows us what is true. Yet, it does more than show us what is true. It comes to us that we may know God, Truth. It brings the light of Truth to bear on human problems and thereby makes divine help available to all who seek it. Christian Science vitalizes and spiritualizes thought. It shows that spiritual thinking, or prayer, is applicable to every human situation. As an example, a man of my acquaintance, a student of Christian Science, had owned and operated a small business for several years. Through changing conditions, he found himself in serious financial difficulties. A verbal agreement had been made whereby the chief creditor was to take over the business, the stock, and accounts receivable and in return assume responsibility for its indebtedness.

The creditor took over and began to operate the business, but soon claimed that the representative who agreed orally that his company would be responsible for the debts had no authority to do so. He forthwith rescinded the transaction. With that the former owner found himself without a job and apparently hopelessly in debt. However, Christian Science had taught him that God's help is ever available and that he could be in no situation where God's love could not reach him and where God's wisdom was not present to guide him. He asked a Christian Science practitioner for help in knowing that God's law of immutable right was in operation.

In Christian Science treatment, we do not petition God to bring about a material result. We pray, in the words of our Master, Christ Jesus, "Thy will be done." We pray that we may understand that there is only one God, one Mind, and that the law of God is ever operating in human consciousness. This scientific understanding of spiritual reality tends to reconcile conflicting claims by making God's law of justice more humanly apparent. In this case, both the practitioner and the one who asked for help affirmed these truths. They knew and declared that man, the perfect idea of God, does not have a mortal mind; that he reflects integrity; that he can want only that which he already has by reflection of God. While Christian Science treatment was going on, my friend obtained an excellent position.

In the meanwhile, a lawsuit had been filed to settle the disagreement. On the day that it was to be tried, the creditor's attorney proposed a compromise more advantageous to my friend than the original oral agreement. My friend recognized that it was through steadfast confidence in God's law of justice that this solution of the problem had come about. When the settlement was agreed upon, one of the attorneys who was present, who knew of my friend's steadfast dependence on God, turned to my friend and said, "I do not see how anyone here today could doubt the power of God to bring about justice in human affairs."

Christian Science enables us to walk on the pathway of this life with sufficient spiritual light to avoid mortal pitfalls. However, it requires something of us if we would prove supremacy over evil. Christian Science is a Science and, like any exact science, it requires steadfast, accurate thinking - clear spiritual thinking. Such thinking does not always appear to be easy. Even humanly, clear, accurate thinking often seems difficult. This was amusingly illustrated by the experience of some friends of mine. Their daughter was having difficulty with her schoolwork. Her mother decided that her father, a college professor, should coach her. At first, all went well. Several evenings later, the mother heard wails coming from the study where they were working. She rushed into the room and said to her husband. "Roger, what are you doing to this child?" The daughter replied between sobs, "Mother, daddy is trying to make me think."

In demonstrating Christian Science, it is essential that we think consistently with its teachings. We prove the truths of Christian Science by understanding and applying its teachings. Businessmen find the truths of Christian Science helpful in their business, as do young people in their work in school or college. I should like to quote excerpts from three letters I have received from college students.

A student writes, "During my years in a college community, I have found this experience a proving ground for correct and fruitful application of Christian Science." Another says: "Through the application of Christian Science, I have progressed from mediocre academic standing to a superior record in my college work and have been self-supporting since my freshman year. During this, my senior year, I was nominated for the Hall of Fame and also for an award for outstanding religious work at my university." A third student says, "Through daily and systematic study of the Lesson-Sermon and through prayer, my entire human experience has continually changed for the better. I am glad that I have Christian Science and that I am a student of Christian Science."

Our ability to prove the truths of Christian Science depends upon the extent to which we habitually maintain and express the divine facts of being. Our ability to bring healing to ourselves and others depends largely upon what goes on day by day, in our consciousness, upon our genuine spirituality.

More and more the medical profession recognizes the mental nature of disease. Some of its members have stated as their opinion that men do not die of a diseased body; they actually die from what these physicians term a broken ego. A group of physicians and interns from the University of Rochester chose at random forty-one patients from the Strong Memorial Hospital. These were suffering from diseases including cancer, ulcerative colitis, heart trouble, and brain tumor (Time, Sept. 15, 1958). Dr. Schmale, Jr., who reported these findings in a publication entitled "Psychosomatic Medicine," stated that the illness followed in thirty-one of the forty-one patients studied within a week of what he terms a blow to the ego. (For example, one sick woman had been deserted by her husband; one man who was ill had lost his position.)

Psychosomatic medicine claims that in many instances physical disease has a mental cause. Christian Science teaches, according to its textbook (p. 377), "The cause of all so-called disease is mental, a mortal fear, a mistaken belief or conviction of the necessity and power of ill-health; also a fear that Mind is helpless to defend the life of man and incompetent to control it." Christian Science denies the necessity of ill-health on the basis that God never made disease or suffering. It also affirms that God's power is available to heal discord of every kind.

 

Man's Power Over Evil

Christian Science teaches that God is omnipotent, infinite omnipresent good, without an unlikeness; that His creation is also good, for it expresses Him; and that evil is unknown to God and to the man created by God. Our textbook says (p. 207), "We must learn that evil is the awful deception and unreality of existence." The allness of God necessarily discloses the unreality of evil and shows evil to be only a false presentation of the carnal mind. However, to turn one's back on the evils around one is sheer escapism and is no part of Christian Science. We are taught in Christian Science that the claims of evil must first be recognized as evil and then overcome through the application of the spiritual understanding of God's omnipresence and omnipotence.

Christian Science teaches us how to prove the nothingness of evil. Jesus expected his followers (and this includes you and me) to make this proof. You remember that he said to his disciples that he gave them power "over all the power of the enemy" (Luke 10:19). He expected this power to be exercised until every vestige of hate, disease, and sin disappeared from human consciousness. Then why are many of us who claim to follow Jesus so apathetic in using the power bestowed upon us? According to Luke (4:34), it was a devil which said to Jesus, "Let us alone." Mrs. Eddy tells us in her book "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 211), "All that error asks is to be let alone." Then why do so many of us permit it to have just what it asks?

At this time, when people cry out to be delivered from evil and the fear of evil, those who truly love God cannot ignore that cry. Men have been brought together physically as never before, and ideas voiced in Moscow or Tokyo are heard almost simultaneously in London and New York. Yet, the world picture shows that we live in a time of constantly changing conditions and conflicting ideals of government. What can we do to harmonize this seemingly confusing picture? We can do more than most of us think we can. We know that ignorant and fear-filled mentalities cannot be effectively freed of error by material force. The battle to free mankind from poverty, ignorance, and sin is scientifically waged through prayer the prayer of spiritual understanding which alone is able to improve human thought. God, divine Mind, is everywhere present and everywhere expressed. The presence of Mind, entertained in individual consciousness, when accepted and applied, will bring the healing activity of good to solve the pressing problems of mankind.

The conflicts of the world will disappear progressively as mankind allow their thoughts to become at one with the divine Mind. Mrs. Eddy tells us in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 4), "Thought imbued with purity, Truth, and Love, instructed in the Science of metaphysical healing, is the most potent and desirable remedial agent on the earth." Christian Science shows us how to use this remedial agent. Mutual understanding and cooperation are the natural outcome of the regenerative healing which takes place as the one Mind is understood and demonstrated. The problems of the world may be solved only by degrees. Yet, the truth which you and I persistently and understandingly affirm is not limited by space. Truth knows no barriers of race, language, or nationality. It reaches and changes the receptive thought wherever it may be. Today, the leaven of Truth is working throughout the world. The realization that the divine Mind governs will ultimately silence the voice of evil. The Bible tells us (Ps. 22:28), "The kingdom is the Lord's: and he is the governor among the nations." We can prove that God governs the nations by availing ourselves of the power of divine Love.

 

The Power of Divine Love

Divine power is expressed by men through the reflection of divine Love. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science tells us in her Message to The Mother Church for 1902 (p. 8), "When loving, we learn that God is Love." She also tells us in this same Message to The Mother Church (pp. 8, 9), "Spiritual love makes man conscious that God is his Father, and the consciousness of God as Love gives man power with untold furtherance." The reflection of Love is the goal in Christian Science. Only as we love can we know God. Only as we love and claim God as our Father, can we exercise the power that Love bestows upon its own. You and I can learn to love. Learning to love is learning to live, for Mrs. Eddy, alluding to God, says in one of her poems (Poems, p. 7), "Fed by Thy love divine we live for Love alone is Life." You and I have unlimited capacity to express divine Love. We express immortality as we love. Love is never lived in vain. Our daily and hourly claiming of man's oneness with divine Love helps to free mankind from the beliefs of hatred which are born of fear. To the degree that we understand and know Love's omnipresence, the evils engendered by hatred will fade away.

The purpose of Christian Science is to overcome every belief of evil through the power of the Christ, Truth. Paul says of the Christ (I Cor. 15:25), "He must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet." The Christ must reign in the hearts of men, until every belief of sorrow and sin disappears and the radiant reality of good is everywhere manifest and everywhere expressed.

 

[Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, May 5, 1960.]

 

 

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