Christian Science: The Open Door to Heaven
Paul Stark Seeley, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Most religions teach that if men live aright on earth they will be rewarded hereafter with a harmonious environment, often called heaven; if they fail to live rightly here they will be penalized hereafter by an environment, often called hell, that is uncomfortably hot and punitive. The death of a mortal is regarded by some as the time when his earthly account will be balanced and his future living conditions determined. Many who live as nearly right as they know, believe that death will usher them into what they conceive to be heaven. But the uncertainty they feel as to this theory working out in practice causes them to do all they can to put off dying as long as possible.
Christian Science dispels the mystery about heaven and hell. It teaches, and proves, that one may begin now to enter heaven and to stay out of, or get out of, hell. Heaven, it teaches, is not a place one enters physically by personal permit. According to the most reliable informant we have, Christ Jesus, heaven is not an area set apart in the physical universe and visible to the eye. There are no streets of gold there, no angels in physical forms, no human harpists to entertain the residents.
Christ Jesus said, "The kingdom
But it is evident that the state of consciousness most mortals entertain is very far from a heavenly estate. Jesus had reference, of course, to man's true consciousness, made up of the true ideas which express the one true Mind of man, the one good, constructive Mind that is God.
Heaven is defined by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 587), the textbook of this Science, by one word, "Harmony." And is not harmony what we all crave? We desire harmony in our homes, in our vocations, harmony in our bodies, harmony and peace between men and nations. What can satisfy anyone forever but wisdom-ordered harmony? Heaven, harmony, is a state of mind. So it can be found only in our real consciousness. Harmony is produced by right thoughts that express the Mind that is God, such as loving-kindness, humility, unselfishness.
Hell, heaven's opposite, is also a mental state. It is the negative, discordant consciousness made up of the inharmony-producing thoughts of the devilish material mind. God is the only real Mind, positive, intelligent, and good. The devil, or evil, is the negative, unintelligent material sense of mind. From it comes such hell-producing thoughts as fear, hate, anger, jealousy, self-will, self-love, self-pity. "Self-imposed agony" is one phrase used by Mrs. Eddy to describe hell (Science and Health, p., 588).
We impose the agony of hell upon ourselves by accepting as our consciousness the thoughts that produce discord. Evil, material thoughts imprison us in their own unhappy mental environments. God's thoughts lift us into their natural harmony or heaven. It is as simple as that, now and always.
[We shall consider three of Jesus'
directives for entering heaven. First to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, he
said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see
To be born of water would seem to mean to gain a higher, purer sense of origin than the flesh. To be born of the Spirit must mean to accept as one's only true source, or origin, or Parent, the Spirit or Mind that is God. This one must do, not theoretically, nor do it on Monday and forget it on Tuesday. He must consistently recognize that he has no Father or Parent but the source of all that is truly intelligent and good, real Mind.
This is in line with another statement of the Master, "Call no man your father upon earth: for one is your father which is in heaven'' (Matt. 23:9). What does it mean to you when you say that God is your Father? It meant much to the Master when he said this. He used the word Father for God more than any other word.
Certainly God is not man's Father in any material sense for Jesus once said, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing" (John 6:63). What is the most important thing to you in your everyday life? Is it not your consciousness? And is not your worth to yourself and to your fellowman dependent on the qualities of thought you accept as your consciousness? Where do all these worthy and good thoughts come from? What fathers them?
Something fathers them and makes them constantly available to you and me. What is that something? It is our Father, Mind, apart from which we could not have a single good thought or worthy motive. So we see that God is our Father in a very real and practical sense. To be born again means then to accept this one Parent Mind as the continuing source of man's conscious being.
In her book "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 15) Mrs. Eddy includes an article on "The New Birth." It will richly reward anyone who will thoughtfully study it. It includes this statement: "The new birth is not the work of a moment. It begins with moments, and goes on with years; moments of surrender to God, of childlike trust and joyful adoption of good; moments of self-abnegation, self-consecration, heaven-born hope, and spiritual love."]
With the Bible as its authority Christian Science teaches that real manhood is not found in a few pounds of perishable, unintelligent matter called the physical body, composed of chemicals valued at less than a five-dollar bill. Man is the imperishable manifestation of the eternal Mind, Spirit, called God. Man's only true consciousness is the constant expression of this Mind. Jesus demonstrated this.
Ask yourself what constituted the greatness of the greatest man the world has ever known. Certainly his greatness was not in his physicality. Was it not in the quality of the thoughts that constituted his consciousness? All that Christ Jesus had to work with in destroying the works of evil - sin, disease, and death - was his consciousness. It was the true consciousness of man. The same potent ideas which he so effectively used God gave to him and gives to you and me. These ideas, as he proved, are endowed with spiritual power and light, to lead mankind, individually and collectively, out of mortality's hell and into Truth's heaven.
Jesus was the messenger. Christ was his message. This message from Mind declares God to be without a physical form, incorporeal, universal Mind. The Christ is the true idea of God and man, of cause and its effect. Man, Jesus proved, is the highest individual evidence, or expression, of this ever-present, ever-active Mind.
We shall consider three of Jesus'
directives for entering heaven. First, to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, he
said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the
The ordinary meaning of being born is "to come into the world by birth" (Oxford Dictionary). "Call no man your father upon the earth:" said Jesus, "for one is your Father, which is in heaven" (Matt. 23:9). Mrs. Eddy writes: "The foundation of mortal discord is a false sense of man's origin. To begin rightly is to end rightly" (Science and Health, p. 262). Then the cure for all mortal discord - sin, disease, death - is to be found in gaining the true sense of man's origin. To be born of water, as the Master put it, typifies gaining a purer sense of origin than that of the flesh; and to be born of the Spirit is to accept as one's only real Parent, or source, the Spirit, or Mind, that is God.
Jesus never taught that God works
in ignorant, mindless flesh and blood to make man. He said, "The flesh
profiteth nothing" (John 6:63). Was he right, or was he wrong? Said Paul,
"Flesh and blood cannot inherit the
Note again Jesus' words, "Ye must be born again." When he said something must be done in order for you and me to find heaven, or harmony, do you not think he meant what he said? His statement is a divine command. Are you and I willing to accept it and take the first steps toward being born again? How do we begin?
Some religious teaching has encouraged individuals to believe that they can suddenly emerge from the shadows of death into the harmony of heaven. Jesus never taught this. He taught that no one can die his way into heaven, but everyone can, and eventually must think his way in. In her book "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 15) Mrs. Eddy includes an article on "The New Birth." It will richly reward anyone who will thoughtfully study it. It includes this statement: "The new birth is not the work of a moment. It begins with moments, and goes on with years: moments of surrender to God, of childlike trust and joyful adoption of good; moments of self-abnegation, self-consecration, heaven-born hope, and spiritual love."
A moment is a minute point of time. Hours, years, centuries, are made of infinitesimals called moments. These moments are yours and mine to use. We can use them to trust God rather than to fear evil and so begin to be born again into a sense of heaven or harmony. Or we can use them to bury our sense of selfhood more deeply in the material flesh-and-blood sense of being, which never can enter heaven, harmony. Paul reminds us, "That no flesh should glory in his presence" (I Cor. ). Let us watch our moments! Ask yourself often: "At this moment am I wholeheartedly accepting the true concept of myself as the child of God? Am I loving God with all my heart this moment? Am I loving my brother as myself this moment? Am I claiming, this moment, my oneness with God, omnipresent good, and my separatedness from matter and evil?'
Some American Indians prefer to follow their tribal custom of wrapping themselves tightly in a large blanket rather than wear the customary clothing. But an Indian, of whom I know, is steadily giving up his tribal custom. His friends say he is doing a good job "coming out of his blanket". What are we doing to come out of our "blanket" of limiting material selfhood? It is time for us to be exchanging the blanket of false material self for what Isaiah called "the robes of righteousness," the consciousness that is our God-given right-mindedness where harmony or heaven abides. Step by step, moment by moment, we can exchange egotism for humility, deceit for honesty, selfishness for unselfishness, fear of evil for trust in God. We can be born again.
By true prayer we can be born again. Prayer is a most important factor in the life of a Christian Scientist. He is taught to pray for himself every day. And prayer is the accepting of the true idea of God as ever-present, causative Mind, causing man to be its manifestation. Prayer is turning thought away from what the negative material mind and matter say man is to what the divine Mind in its Word, in the Bible, says man is, the son, or witness of God. Prayer is challenging the claim of evil and the material body that the reality of being is a fleeting mortal sense of life, filled with sin, disease, and death. It is the accepting in daily thought the spiritual facts taught by the Scriptures, that nothing is real but what is right: nothing is right but what is expressive of God, unselfed good, Spirit, Mind. Prayer is knowing what is the spiritual fact that reverses and gives us dominion over every lie of the evil one, branded by Jesus a liar.
Jesus admonishes us to pray always. Christian Scientists are making a good start to do that. It simply means consistent effort to keep our thinking aligned with the true, spiritual idea of God as All-in-All - the all-cause expressed in all its effects - and man the continuing object of God's great love. In the consciousness of true Mind's making is God's home and man's heaven.
A second directive of the Wayshower for entering heaven is, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). To do the will of the Father takes us into heaven, or harmony. Words of praise for God do not. Obedience is living in accord with law. Law is the Mind-force by which basic intelligence governs its universe and man. The only cause is Mind, and Mind is always acting through spiritual law.
The Bible abounds with counsel for men to obey God's commandments and statutes. All our troubles result from disobedience to these laws. They are not personal, dictatorial commands. They are the natural forces of the basic, loving Principle, or Mind, we call God. As we accept and love and do them, we are doing the will of our Father and thereby align our life with Him. We accept as our consciousness the ideas in which the forces, or laws, of Mind work, law-embodying ideas that unite us in obedience to their source, our God. Thus we enter into the harmony, or heaven, that is coincident with our God-obeying consciousness.
Obedience to God's law is acceptance of the forces of good in our consciousness. Obedience joins our thought and life to God and the harmony of His being. Disobedience to His law imprisons one in a sense of disorder and hell, of his own choosing. Obey your Father's law and so come into a sense of His harmonious kingdom; disobey it and stay out, is the essence of the Master's teaching.
Here is a simple illustration of God's law, spiritual, moral force. A parent saw his little child taking pennies from his older brother's pocketbook. The parent explained to him the difference between honesty and dishonesty. Honesty is a quality of thought natural to him, and by it he knows he has no right to take from another what rightfully belongs to the other, and the other has no right to take from him what rightfully belongs to him. The parent explained that honesty is a quality essential to happiness and harmony in families and in the world.
The child recognized this and accepted honesty as a quality of his life. What happened to the dishonesty? It was destroyed. It never had real substance or life. The child, by accepting what is right and true, became obedient to the moral, spiritual force which is the law of God, the law of ever-present Mind. He mentally turned away from what led to disorder, and hell, and to the road that leads to heaven. Obedience to spiritual force is the way alway.
Right Desire Rewarded
It makes no difference how many may be one's sins of disobedience. Turning from them with an honest desire to be reborn is the essential first step toward freedom from them all. Consider Mary Magdalene, whose sins were many. Yet underneath them all was a desire for good and for deliverance from evil. A humble desire to obey the law of good and a childlike trust in the one who she knew represented God, good, prompted her to show, by washing the Master's feet, her desire to be born again. She wished to align her thought with his, to obey the moral forces of good. This resulted in the Master's commendation and assurance that her sins were forgiven, or destroyed. She found in some measure the harmony and heaven, which is ever to be found in man's God-given consciousness.
The word "salvation" is one commonly used in the Scriptures. It is defined as "deliverance from sin and its consequences, admission to heaven" (Concise Oxford Dictionary). In other words, salvation is liberation from the erroneous thinking that brings hell by accepting ideas which constitute our real consciousness and unite us to the harmony and peace which is heaven.
The new birth begins with moments, then, of surrender to God, instead of habitual mental subservience to matter, or evil. How does one surrender to God? What does one surrender? He mentally surrenders the false belief that his individuality is originated by mindless matter. He does this in the degree that he accepts, and increasingly understands, that his individuality is spiritual, not material, caused solely by Spirit, Mind, God, and is the son, the highest individual expression, of God. A major factor in this misconception of selfhood that each one must sooner or later surrender is the human will. It is the motivating power of the evil sense of mind, the false sense of cause. When you and I can say, without mental reservation, the words of Jesus addressed to the Father, "Not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke ), we are on the way to being born again. "Human will," writes Mrs. Eddy, "must be subjugated” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 118). The human will is as material and unspiritual as pig iron. It is a roadblock to our being reborn. It has no place in the consciousness wherein is heaven. There the only will is the unerring will of the Parent-Mind, God.
Christian Science - the Comforter
Jesus taught that the full understanding of the ideas which constituted his teachings would accomplish "the end of the world"! This understanding would displace in human consciousness the fleeting mortal sense of life and selfhood and all its sin, disease, and death with the enduring spiritual sense of life and manhood - the kingdom of good within us. But he knew that before this would be accomplished much must be individually done to purify and spiritualize human consciousness. Men must be reborn. There was no other way. Said he, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now,” (John ). Then he foretold the coming again of the Christ. Looking far into the future he said, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth . . . But the Comforter . . . shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:16,17,26). On page 55 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy quotes the Master's words, "He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever," and adds, "This Comforter I understand to be Divine Science."
The Comforter is not a human person. It is divine Science - the Science that declares the eternal truth as to God, the only real Mind, which fathers or causes the consciousness and thoughts of man, and governs man by the forces of Mind, spiritual law.
Mrs. Eddy brought this message of
comfort, which, like the Christ, which Jesus taught, has its origin in the Mind
that is God. Few expected that the Messiah would first come in the manner and
at the time he did. Few, if any, expected the second appearing of the Christ
message would come through an obscure, but deeply spiritual, New
How you or I may evaluate Christian Science and its Discoverer will not be the last word in this matter. What will be the final judgment of Mrs. Eddy and Christian Science will be written by what her teachings accomplish for the improvement of men. Christian Science is accomplishing its mission in exactly the way that Jesus foretold, by bringing to our remembrance "whatsoever I have said unto you."
The Christian Science textbook abounds in ideas from the Master's sayings and reveals their practical usability and potency to heal disease and sin, to transform human consciousness and enable us to be born again, to find heaven in a steadily increasing degree where the Master said it always is, within us. Referring to her writings, Mrs. Eddy says in "Miscellaneous Writings" that she was a scribe writing under orders. Causative Mind was impelling her thought to give what it revealed to her.
There is nothing supernatural in an individual finding true ideas and writing them down for the benefit of others. The Bible is largely made up of such Mind-revealed messages. With mankind faced, as it is, with the most perplexing problems in its history - with sin, disease, and death abounding in human experience and little progress being made in overcoming them - why should not a fuller unfoldment of the great saving power and love of God and man's ability to demonstrate His power be made available to meet humanity's great need?
Here is one of many healings that Christian Science has accomplished in our family, which convinces us that this Science is the Comforter which Jesus foretold. Some years ago, one of us became suddenly paralyzed from head to foot. The body was completely immobilized, not a muscle moved. The teachings of Christian Science were immediately applied. None of us were afraid. Our prayers were protests of the truths that Jesus taught. God, we knew, was ever present and ever active, the one causative Mind. The afflicted one's only true selfhood lived in and by the omniactive Mind or Spirit that is God, to whom paralysis is unknown, unfeared, unfelt. These and other spiritual truths were used prayerfully and fearlessly to challenge and reverse the aggressive testimony of physical sense and to realize that what was not of God's making could not have any power over man. Man's causative Ego was Mind, not mindless matter.
Within an hour every vestige of paralysis had gone and normal activity was restored. What accomplished the restoration of freedom were the God-empowered ideas of being taught by Jesus and brought to our remembrance in the teachings of Christian Science. They enabled us to know how to face and overcome the godless claims of evil, claiming that afflictive material forces were more to man than the constructive forces of God. Here Christian Science proved itself to be the Comforter indeed.
What distinguishes a spiritual leader from others is the quality of his thought, a quality that expresses the Spirit, or good Mind, that is God. It was her God-derived quality of spiritual thought that enabled Mrs. Eddy to discern the ideas of Truth that are ever available to all men, but have not been generally perceived because of what Jesus called "the hardness of their hearts."
The discovery of Christian Science was but one part of Mrs. Eddy's mission. The second part was to found, or establish, this Science in human consciousness. It had to be put into words that men would understand. An organization must be established that would protect the message from distortion and disseminate it throughout the world.
The textbook of Christian Science,
"Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," was given to the
public by Mrs. Eddy in 1875. For some thirty-five years thereafter orderly
footsteps were taken by her to establish the Christian Science movement. The
To her followers she said, "Follow your Leader only so far as she follows Christ" (Message to The Mother Church for 1901, p. 34).
A third directive for entering heaven is thus stated by the Master, "Except ye be converted (accept godliness as your true status), and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3). Jesus called a little child to him and set him before his hearers and said, "Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:4). Humility, he wanted us to realize, is a quality indispensable to finding one's conscious oneness with the harmony and peace that characterize God's presence, or kingdom. Isaiah says of God, "I dwell with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit" (Isa. 57:15). Most of our trouble is "I" trouble. We are prone to accept an inflated, willful sense of self or an inferior sense of self. Both hide our God-made being.
In "Miscellaneous Writings," page 1, Mrs. Eddy says: “Humility is the stepping-stone to a higher recognition of Deity. The mounting sense gathers fresh forms and strange fire from the ashes of dissolving self, and drops the world." The ashes of dissolving self - self-will, self-importance, self-indulgence, self-pity, self-justification - measure our growth in humility and childlikeness. Let us let our ash pile grow. It evidences our readiness to enter the kingdom through humble surrender of false self.
Sin, and sin alone, is what blocks our finding heaven or harmony here and now. That is why John tells us that Jesus came "to take away our sins" (I John 3:5). The Master indicated the way to accomplish this, but much remains for you and me to do to bring about the accomplishment in our individual experience. Of first importance, then, is to find out what sin is.
Sin is nothing else than mortality's self, states Mrs. Eddy on page 468 of Science and Health. Every thought, word, and act that goes to make up the mortal, unGodlike sense of self is sin. Since a mortal is the outcome of mortal mind, the one evil, how can mortal self be anything but sin? There is nothing in it that derives from, or is the effect of, Spirit, pure Mind, our sinless God.
For every sinful thought there is an angel, a God-expressing, God - empowered thought, to reverse and destroy it. Mind provides the thought of honesty to destroy dishonesty, the thought of justice to nullify injustice, the thought of courage to banish fear, understanding to dissipate ignorance, love to annihilate hate, purity to neutralize impurity. In the degree we claim and accept these and other Truth - expressing thoughts as our consciousness they free us from the sinful sense of selfhood which is mortality's hell.
A woman came to a practitioner for help for a large lump that had been on her head for some years. The practitioner talked with her about her only true individuality, which God caused her to have, that it was altogether good and harmonious. She pointed out that there were no hard lumps in Love's manifestation, the real man. The next day the patient said she had come to see that her love was pretty lumpy, that there were many hard places in her thought.
They worked to see how free her
only real selfhood was from any hardness, for that selfhood was always and
impartially expressing pure love to all and was loved by all. Within a week, a
son, to whom she had not spoken for three years, came to see her and their
differences were settled. Two neighbors who had not been speaking to her began
to do so as her attitude became more loving. Her daughter, with whom she lived,
said a great change had taken place in her, noticeable to all in the home.
Within two weeks the lump began to suppurate and soon disappeared. She had, in
some measure, been born again. The sin of animosity and hard feelings was
destroyed by accepting ideas of love and true selfhood. She was entering the
You might have a lead nickel passed on to you. Then you may do one of three things: you may seek out the one who gave it to you and secure a good nickel in its place; you may slyly pass it along to someone else; or you may destroy the counterfeit, resolved that its false value shall go no further. So it is with every wrong, critical, valueless thought that may be presented to you or me. Someone may say to you: "Have you heard what they say about Mr. A.? Too bad isn't it? How could he ever let himself do such a thing as that?" What are you going to do with this bit of loose talk? Humanly it might be true, or it might be false. Factually it cannot be more than a mis-statement about a misconception of man. Are you going to pass it on, be a peddler of what is worthless?
If so, you violate the law of God, Love, which demands that you think only of your brother as God, your true Mind, gives you to think of him. To accept as true a concept of our brother God does not make or know, means we are accepting the lie of evil that it has evolved a second creation and man and we are concurring in it. There is no chance of being born again with such thoughts holding a place in our consciousness. Such thinking is sin. Let us make up our minds to say to every bit of loose talk or gossip: "Thus far and no farther. You have come to the end of the road as far as I am concerned. The oblivion of the bottomless pit is yours from here on. I agree with Science and Health, page 188, 'Error rehearses error,' and I shall not attend its rehearsal, or take any speaking or silent part in it. I am busy being born again.”
One of the important questions each individual must find the answer for before he can begin to be born again and enter the consciousness of heaven is, How can I silence and destroy the aggressive arguments of evil that present themselves to my thought? How can I keep out of the hell which evil thoughts bring? How did Jesus do this? Evil talked to him, the same as it does to us. And he talked back. Have you learned to talk back to evil thoughts? When he was tempted in the wilderness to use his spiritual power to turn the stones into bread, after forty days of fasting, he was quick to turn to the spiritual fact and say to the tempter that man lives by the Word of God. After that, he talked back to the suggestion to draw attention to his human personality by proving he could cast himself down from the temple and not be hurt. He silenced it.
Finally, the false evil mind suggested that he could have power over all the kingdoms of the earth if he would bow down and accept evil as another god. His understanding of God as infinite good instantly answered back, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Obedience to this divine law protected him and his mission. It will do the same for you and me and our God-ordered life activity. Answer back to every suggestion of evil with the true ideas of God's giving.
The central theme of the teachings of Christ Jesus is called in the Gospels, "the gospel of the kingdom." Gospel means good news. He expounded this theme over and over again. We have seen he made it clear that God's kingdom, heaven, cannot be seen with the physical eye, nor can one enter it as one would enter a physical community. The reason - the kingdom is wholly mental, a state of harmonious consciousness made of the true ideas expressing the Mind that is God.
Jesus gave numerous directives as to how an individual may enter this close-by kingdom of harmony. We have considered three of them. First, “Ye must be born again." We must relinquish the material sense of parentage and accept Spirit, God, as the only source and Parent of man, who is God's son or manifestation. Being born again, we have seen, means moments and years of surrender to God - of the giving up, step by step, minute by minute, day by day, of the false sense of self which is mortality's self and the embodiment of all sin. Second, one's thought and life must obey the commandments of God, for obedience is simply accepting and living in oneness with the will of the Father, the one real Law-maker. Third, except you and I become as humble in thought as a little child, we cannot enter into - become conscious of - the harmony that is God's heaven.
All these directives come to this: we must be willing to accept as our consciousness the Mind of Christ, the consciousness constituted of the ideas that express God. In them we find our true "heaven-homed" being, obedience to God that is natural and constant, humility that derives from accepting our true status as God's son, having no will or law but God's will to govern our entire life and destiny.
John, voicing the message of the Christ to all men of all ages says, "Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it" (Rev. 3:8). The door opens into the kingdom, heaven, harmony. The price for entering has been defined. It is for you and me to say when we will pay the price and begin to find something of the heaven, or harmony, that is our God-given home. Remember because they are the words of our Way-shower, “Ye must be born again.”
[Published in The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, Nov. 27, 1958. The text within brackets was added from this same lecture as published in The Christian Science Monitor, May 16, 1958.]