Christian Science: The Power of the Word
John J. Selover, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
"Saw ye my Saviour? Heard ye the glad sound?
Felt ye the power of the Word?
'Twas the Truth that made us free,
And was found by you and me
In the life and the love of our Lord."
are from the beautiful Communion Hymn (Poems, p. 75) written by Mary Baker
Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. In the search for the
Christ, Truth, that makes free, earnest inquirers turn naturally to the
Gospels, where "the life and the love of our Lord" are portrayed. As
they read perhaps they picture Jesus walking by the
The achievements of Jesus and his followers have many precedents in the Old Testament. Through an enlightened understanding of the one almighty God, Moses saw manna fall from the skies to feed the Israelites and water gush forth from the rock to quench their thirst. Elisha, the man of God, raised from the dead the child of the Shunammite woman who came to him in her time of need (II Kings 4). What was the power which brought about these outstanding results? Surely God's goodness and love were being expressed in a very practical way to those who trustingly and fearlessly turned to Him.
It is illogical to conceive of God as almighty and then to limit in any way His power, willingness, and ability to maintain the perfection of His creation.
The prophets and Wisemen of old looked for the Messiah to appear among men. That messenger, many believed, would come in great power and would immediately revolutionize the lives of men. On the contrary, Jesus' advent was in the quiet of meekness. Only a few Wisemen from the East and shepherds in the fields at first recognized the significance of his coming. They worshiped Jesus, the visible idea of the Christ, who was indeed, in due season, to revolutionize the thinking of the ages. He came with a spiritual message for humanity, a message of healing and salvation. He came to explain and illustrate the practical value of the Christ, Truth, in everyday activities. His purpose was to spiritualize worship and not to overthrow the teaching of the synagogues. He explained clearly that he had not come "to destroy the law, or the prophets," and added, "I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil" (Matt. 5:17).
His spirituality enraged the sensuous, the worldly-minded, and they sought to destroy him. Jesus was victorious over the hatred of his enemies because he refused to hate them in return. Even on the cross he could do nought but love them. He said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). His love for all was an evidence of the power which he employed in his healing work. It was a hint of the divine Principle which enabled him to overcome the cross and grave, and later to disappear to material sense in what is called the ascension.
The attempted destruction of Jesus, the best man who ever walked the earth, did not put a stop to the teachings and practice of Christianity. Rather did it serve to give them impetus.
Paul, the apostle, who at first persecuted Christians, was finally awakened to the great purpose of Jesus' ministry. He joined the disciples and not only preached but did outstanding healing work. For almost three hundred years, according to authentic historical records, healing was continued as a regular part of Christian practice. Then the healing aspect of Christianity was lost sight of in what we now call the Dark Ages. Fortunately the Bible had been compiled and was preserved through this period, but it was not commonly available to the people until the art of printing was developed.
As civilization began to emerge from the darkness, again we have some records of healing by spiritual means. In the "Journal of The Reverend John Wesley," who was one of the originators of the Methodist movement, it is recorded that in 1738 his brother was healed of pleurisy, by prayer alone. And in 1745 he healed his horse of lameness and himself of a severe headache by prayer. He reasoned, to quote his own words, "Cannot God heal either man or beast, by any means or without any?" We might ask ourselves that same question. Surely God can heal, and that without any material means, because God is almighty.
Promise of the Comforter
Before his crucifixion Jesus revealed to his disciples precious promises, promises which have a distinct significance in this present age. They will be found in Chapters 13 to 17 of John's Gospel. Jesus made it clear that he was to leave them, but he gave assurance that he would not leave them comfortless. 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" (John 14:16,17). This "Spirit of truth" obviously did not refer to a fleshly form. Three times Jesus used those words "Spirit of truth" in reference to that which would come. The promised Comforter did not come with popular acclaim or with pomp and ceremony any more than did Christ Jesus in earlier years. It came quietly, and it is felt in the hearts and lives of all who are healed and redeemed by the power of God.
Christian Science today brings to humanity the spirit of Truth, or the Comforter. Millions who have been blessed by the Christ, Truth, as presented by Christian Science recognize it as the Comforter. They gratefully sing these words from one of the hymns in the Christian Science Hymnal (No. 34):
"Christ comes again with holy power,
To lift our blinded eyes to see;
The sick are healed, the sinner blest,
As on that eve in
Christian Science is today receiving a respectful and gracious hearing. This indicates that the thought of humanity is at last ready for its message of salvation.
Discovery of Christian Science
That the Christ, Truth, is available today was proved when Mary Baker Eddy, in 1866, turned to the Bible for help when medical opinion held out little hope for her recovery from severe injuries resulting from a fall. She had lain in a semiconscious state for about three days. Friends were gathered in the next room expecting her passing. She had been an ardent believer in the power of prayer since early youth, and therefore it was natural for her to turn to the Scriptures for comfort. She opened her Bible to Matthew 9 and read the account of Jesus healing the palsied man. The spiritual essence of this story made a deep impression on her. The command to the palsied man to arise was, she reasoned; meant for her as well as for the suffering ones in all ages. She was conscious of the presence of the power of God, and rose from her bed, dressed herself, and walked into the next room healed. The law of God, the law of good as contained in the Bible, had raised her up to health and useful activity.
With joy and gratitude to God she determined to make a searching study of the Holy Bible to find, if possible, the Science which had healed her of the effects of the accident. She withdrew from society for about three years, studying and testing the healing rules she found in the Scriptures. She tells us in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" that "the search was sweet, calm, and buoyant with hope, not selfish nor depressing" (p. 109), and she adds that she won her way to absolute conclusions as to these rules by "divine revelation, reason, and demonstration."
studied, reasoned, and prayed, the true nature of God was revealed to her
receptive thought. As she read the Bible she was led to the unquestionable
conclusion that God is All-in-all; that He is infinite, divine, supreme; that
He is all-power, all-presence, all-science. The allness of God, good, precludes
the possibility of anything unlike Him. In God, good, there is no error or evil, no sin, disease,
or death. The allness of God means that
neither disease nor injury is a
reality. They are, rather, false beliefs
or illusions, seeming to be real
only to the extent that they are
accepted as real. Now she could understand
clearly how her own healing had
taken place, for it dawned upon
her as a scientific fact that as the belief in the reality of evil is corrected by the recognition of spiritual
truth, of the perfection of God
and His creation, the disease or
injury must naturally disappear.
Many ailing ones in the shoe
manufacturing town of
Establishment of Church
She was thoroughly convinced that she had found in the pages of the Scriptures the underlying laws which resulted in the marvelous Biblica1 healings. She worked alone and against great opposition during those early days to present this discovery to the world. She continued her efforts to learn more and more of the laws of God and to utilize them in blessing all who were receptive to the truth.
In 1875, nine years after her healing, she issued a textbook concerning her discovery and named it "Science and Health." This book did much to help others to learn the basic rules. Four years after the textbook was issued she decided that it was wise to organize a church. Therefore in 1879 Mrs. Eddy called together a few Christian Scientists, and on her motion they voted "To organize a church designed to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing" (Manual of The Mother Church by Mrs. Eddy, p. 17).
Since that date the Church of Christ, Scientist, has been preaching and practicing pure Christianity, carrying out with increasing success the Scriptural commands, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons," encircling the cross and crown, which is the distinctive emblem on all of Mrs. Eddy's published books and on the Christian Science periodicals. It will continue its mission to humanity, inviting all to accept the benefits of the work of our Leader, Mrs. Eddy, until the prophecy in Revelation is fulfilled when "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain" (Rev. 21:4).
The Bible and Science and Health
When one hears Christian Scientists express gratitude to Mrs. Eddy, it is not only because of the healings which they have received, but also because she opened for them the pages of the greatest of all books, the Holy Bible. It becomes chart and compass to every earnest student of this religion. Christian Scientists use the King James Version of the Scriptures, the translation favored by most Protestant churches. Since Christian Scientists read the same Bible common to many churches, there is a natural kinship between these denominations. Many of them would, I am sure, acknowledge agreement with the first tenet of the Christian Science church, which reads, "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life" (Science and Health, p. 497).
The Christian Science textbook, now entitled "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mrs. Eddy, is an essential volume for every student of this religion. Literally thousands have been healed simply by studying this book in conjunction with the Bible. The last one hundred pages of Science and Health contain verified testimonies of such healings. One woman, whose testimony begins on page 612, related that an oculist who examined her before the turn of the century had found her eyes to be in a dreadful condition, and she was told that she would always need to wear glasses. She was healed of that trouble while reading Science and Health. I had the opportunity of visiting this woman about two years ago, when she was reputedly over one hundred years of age. As I entered her home she was seated in her favorite chair with a small copy of Science and Health in her lap. She had been reading to herself. I noted that she wore no glasses. She read to me from the volume later without aid or assistance of any kind. Her son, who the physicians declared would have bone deformities because of rickets and who was healed at the same time, was present when I visited his mother. He was in excellent health and showed no evidence of deformity.
Jesus and the Christ
What is this healing system which is reinstated today for humanity's benefit? How does it operate? For answers let us return for a few minutes to Jesus' ministry. Jesus came with a message of salvation and healing. That message was the Christ which he embodied and from which he was inseparable. The Christ is the everlasting divine idea which Jesus expressed. As defined in Christian Science, the Christ is "the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (Science and Health, p. 583).
The power of God, or influence of Truth, which Jesus used and which Christian Scientists employ today is the Christ. The redemptive, regenerative power of the Christ, when accepted and applied, wipes out of human consciousness the fear, the ignorance, and the sin which tend to disable the body
In the fifth chapter of Mark's Gospel the account is given of the healing of a little girl. Her father, Jairus, came to Jesus and "besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live" (verse 23). While Jesus followed the child's father, one came saying, "Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?" Here we see the hopelessness of mortal belief, which declared with finality that nothing could be done for the child. In answer Jesus spoke the comforting words which silenced the alarming report, "Be not afraid, only believe." Here also Jesus was handling the father's fear of the fatality of the sickness and urging him to turn to God with an understanding of the power of His Christ to reverse and destroy every false belief. When he came to the house, Jesus was faced with the tumult of the weeping and wailing of neighbors and relatives. To them she was dead; there was no hope. Jesus, in an effort to arouse them, said, "Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth." And what did they do? They scornfully laughed at him. Then Jesus "put them all out." He put out the wrong thoughts, the doubt, skepticism, scorn, hopelessness. He refused to be influenced by their wailings and denials. He knew Life to be eternal, and that man never dies but forever reflects the Life which is God. He took the father and mother of the child and Peter and James and John into the room where the maiden lay. Why did he not put the father and mother out? Doubtless he realized that they, as well as the child, needed to be awakened from their belief that death was a reality. He compassionately led them from the company of the doubting scorners. With Jesus they were present to see the operation of the Christ, Truth, which aroused them as well as the child from the dream of the reality of death. Jesus confidently applied the divine law of Life. Then, he took the maiden by the hand and commanded, "Damsel, I say unto thee, arise." There, you see, is the perpetual command of the Christ, the law of God, to arise from earth. At his command "the damsel arose, and walked."
Availability of the Word of God
The power of God, the Christ, Truth, is ever available in every home, in every office, in every nation. To gain its benefits one must willingly reach for and accept the Christ as Saviour. Mrs. Eddy, explaining the operation of Truth in human affairs, declares on page 162 of Science and Health: "Christian Science brings to the body the sunlight of Truth, which invigorates and purifies. Christian Science acts as an alterative, neutralizing error with Truth. It changes the secretions, expels humors, dissolves tumors, relaxes rigid muscles, restores carious bones to soundness. The effect of this Science is to stir the human mind to a change of base, on which it may yield to the harmony of the divine Mind."
The "sunlight of Truth" which Christian Science brings to the body is the Christ, the spirit of Truth, the Comforter, which stirs human thinking until it is willing to accept the premise that God is the only consciousness or Life and that man is His perfect image, sinless and eternal. Human consciousness must sooner or later yield to Truth.
Defense Against Evil
There is a
story of a little town in
The Nature of Man
The entireness of God finds expression in man. This man, obviously, is not a mortal. He has no material elements or material organs. He is not made of matter, nor can he collide or fraternize with it. He is spiritual and perfect. He images forth, partakes of, and embodies every quality of God. He is the man spoken of in the first chapter of Genesis as made in the image and likeness of God. He lives in all Life and therefore is eternal. He does not reflect a distant Mind, but the Mind which is ever at hand. The Mind of man is God, and this divine Mind expresses and unfolds man forever. The expression of each idea is unique and beautifully different from every other idea, all, of course, having the same perfect governing Principle. Among some of the enduring qualities which characterize this perfect spiritual man are love, wisdom, purity, holiness, health, spiritual understanding, and spiritual power.
Mrs. Eddy in her definition of man in Science and Health points out the salutary effect of beholding the perfect man. She says (pp. 476,477): "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick."
One who may be praying to be free from any inharmony will find it helpful to follow this rule. Behold the perfect man! Refuse to believe that man is material or a mortal sinner. God never made a mortal. Mortal man or matter-man is a counterfeit, a misconception of being. It is the lie about man. We need a new view of man, a true, spiritual view. As we ponder the spiritual facts of real being, pattern in our thinking and acting the perfect model, the Christ-man, evil thoughts, fear, ignorance, sin fade and the inharmony disappears. The acceptance of Truth in our thoughts and the rejection of error is the redemptive process whereby we put off the old man and put on the new. The power of God in human consciousness awakens it from the belief that man can be sick or die. It reforms thought, feeds it with spiritual truths, with "supernal freshness and fairness" (Science and Health, p. 248), and that reformation or re-formation has the effect of restoring the natural functions of the body.
Christian Science demands redemption. It demands that we overcome as rapidly as possible the belief that we are mortals. It has been proved over and over again that when hatred, fear, ignorance, sin are cast out of thought and divine Love welcomed in, healing has followed. Better bodies and homes are found as the belief that man is a mortal sinner gives place to an understanding that he is truly spiritual, everlastingly perfect, with an individuality which is maintained entirely by its Maker, divine Life, Truth, and Love.
Healing by Prayer
Mrs. Eddy was once asked, "Is healing the sick the whole of Science?" She replied, in part: "Healing physical sickness is the smallest part of Christian Science. It is only the bugle-call to thought and action, in the higher range of infinite goodness. The emphatic purpose of Christian Science is the healing of sin; and this task, sometimes, may be harder than the cure of disease; because, while mortals love to sin, they do not love to be sick" (Rudimental Divine Science, pp. 2,3).
The same Principle which destroys sin heals also sickness. The power of God is supreme, universal, and is capable of destroying the most malignant disease or the most reprehensible sin. To destroy either, one must learn how to pray effectively and fervently.
Prayer in Christian Science is neither emotional nor intellectual. It is spiritual. Mrs. Eddy says on page 1 of the textbook, "Desire is prayer"; and she adds, "no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds." In prayer one should draw closer to God and not merely urge God to come or to send health or purity to him. God is always present, and that fact becomes evident as we pray with true faith and understanding. As we commune with God in prayer our desires are truly "moulded and exalted." The Lord's Prayer, which, when understood in its spiritual sense, heals the sick, is used in all Christian Science churches at both the Sunday services and Wednesday testimony meetings. Also Christian Scientists are asked to pray thus daily: " 'Thy kingdom come;' let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!" (Church Manual, Art. VIII, Sect. 4.) By living this prayer, one accepts the Christ, Truth, into his experience. This serves to eradicate every ungodlike trait or thought, and the result is healing.
Power of the Word
Christian Science does not present a formula for prayer or treatment. In fact, one who attempts to establish a formula soon loses the spiritual sense of prayer and with it his ability to heal. However, prayer or treatment should be orderly. In the Gospel of John (1:1) we read, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God." This points to the normal way of prayer. Begin with God, perfect God. That is the way the Lord's Prayer begins: "Our Father which art in heaven" (Matt. 6:9). Let us illustrate the power of the Word. A businessman was driving to his home in a large city at dusk when a child darted directly in front of him from the curb between parked cars. Under the circumstances he had no opportunity to pray or give a Christian Science treatment in the usual sense. Instant attention was required. He knew from experience as a Christian Scientist that God is ever present and omnipotent and therefore is instantly available to meet the human need. With all the love and trust at his command he cried out one word, and that word was "God." That which followed illustrated the power of the Word. Actually that cry for help included a complete Christian Science treatment. It declared clearly and concisely that God is all-presence and all-powerful. It declared that God is Love and that His love is impartial and universal. It recognized that God does not single out one to be saved and another one to be lost or harmed. It contained the assurance that the kingdom of heaven, harmony, expressed in safety and salvation, was at hand. It recognized that Love's encircling arms embrace all of God's children. It included a calm assurance that man is ever alive, alert, quick, and active. It contained a denial of mortal mind beliefs that accidents are possible and even normal, that panic, confusion, fear, resentment, separation, injury, destruction are to be expected. It denied any and all statistical beliefs of chance. It declared that God's presence protects and eternally maintains the identity of man. This knowing or prayer, though only outwardly in one word, enveloped the boy with Love's protection. The car struck him, and although going rapidly, it seemed to come to an immediate stop. The boy slid ahead of the car for about fifteen feet. A passer-by picked up the dazed child and rushed him away. The mother and sister of the boy, who had been with him, came up and talked with the driver, who offered to take them to find the child. During the next half-hour there was no panic, impatience, criticism, or fear. A feeling of God's presence enfolded all. Finally the mother and the driver found the clinic to which the boy had been taken, and when they rang the bell, the boy himself answered it. There was no evidence of any injury. Two days later inquiries were made at the home, and the mother cheerfully declared: "Oh, he's fine. He skated to school today."
Christian Science reveals the method of utilizing the power of the Word in solving every conceivable problem in daily life. "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need," declares Mrs. Eddy in Science and Health (p. 494). The truth of this statement has been proved over and over again by Christian Scientists in all parts of the world.
Some critics, while admitting the healing evidence offered by Christian Science, seek to explain it on a material or psychological basis. They are reluctant to admit the almightiness of God and declare either that the patient would have recovered anyway or that the recovery was the result of mental suggestion. Some even add that Christian Science is not a religion but a philosophy or psychology.
Christian Science is no more based on psychology or the use of human mind or suggestion than was the healing method of Jesus and his apostles, for it follows precisely the pattern laid down in the Gospels. Both primitive Christian healing and its modern reinstatement, Christian Science, are founded upon the same Rock, the Christ, Truth, the Word of God. Therefore they are one and show forth the power of God.
Healing by Biblical Rule
Healing of any condition, physical, mental, moral, or financial, is possible today for all who obey the simple Scriptural rules as pointed out and amplified in Science and Health.
Mrs. Eddy stated an essential rule very simply in the first words of the Preface of Science and Health, where she wrote, "To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings."
What is the rule that gives evidence of God's power in everyday affairs? Is obedience to that rule beyond our reach? The rule is to obey God, to come unto Him, to lean on Him. One is not obeying or leaning on God if he harbors hatred, resentment, rebellion, jealousy, impatience, and other base traits in his consciousness. One cannot lean on God and hate at the same time. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pointed out that before one can lay his gifts on the altar, or in other words before he can truly commune with God, he must love, not just tolerate, his brother, his neighbor.
One is not truly leaning on God if he is depending upon material remedies. The Bible makes it clear that one cannot serve God and mammon, Spirit and matter, Truth and error, at the same time.
One is not
leaning on God it he is seeking only material comfort or prosperity. Such a one
must revise his thinking and learn to seek the
The same power of God which heals and saves in our individual lives operates in human consciousness to maintain a righteous government and end conflicts among nations. As each one accepts Christ Jesus as his Exemplar and understands that it is the Christ, Truth, which he expressed, that eliminates envy, fear, greed, hatred, and atheism, he is helping the world find its way out of confusion and discord. The power of God is unlimited. It is capable of solving the greatest or the most minute problem in individual, national, or world affairs. If doubt creeps in, we may find it helpful to declare even as Jesus did to Jairus, "Fear not, only believe."
Christian Science is not limited to any special segment of human society any more than the multiplication table is so restricted. It is a scientific message of the Christ-power calling out, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).
As we come unto God and accept the promised Comforter, we joyfully answer "Yes" to these questions with which we opened this hour: "Saw ye my Saviour? Heard ye the glad sound? Felt ye the power of the Word?" And with Mrs. Eddy's beautiful words from the same hymn we conclude that this Comforter, the Christ, Truth, is truly our
"Strongest deliverer, friend of the friendless,
Life of all being divine:
Thou the Christ, and not the creed;
Thou the Truth in thought and deed;
Thou the water, the bread, and the wine."
[Published in The West Seattle (Washington) Herald, May 7, 1953.]