Christian Science: Its Explanation of the Business of Living
Elbert R. Slaughter, C.S., of Dallas TX
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Throughout the centuries, seekers of the truth have been asking searching questions about life: what it is; what is its source; what is its ultimate; why do we live; what does life mean here. Physical scientists and philosophers, poets and theologians have earnestly sought the answers to these questions, with no great success. Most of them have had to settle with the conclusion that life is a mystery — sometimes a "sweet mystery," but still a mystery. Physical scientists have endeavored and are still endeavoring to create life from a material source, but to no avail.
We learn in the study of Christian Science that these individuals have failed in their efforts to determine the nature of life because their conclusions are based upon human reasoning and the assumption that life is in some mysterious way connected with and based upon matter and materiality. They have not accepted the simple, clear teaching and life of Jesus as the only solution to the problem of existence.
Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, sought from early childhood to find a logical answer to these questions. Her search led her to the ultimate conclusion that life is spiritual, not material. She proclaimed in her textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 468) "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual."
Thus it was, more than seventy years ago, that Mrs. Eddy announced to the world that matter and the material universe, including physical or mortal man, are simply images in individual human thought, erroneous mental concepts. To make such a statement in an age of gross materialism took spiritual vision, understanding, courage, fidelity, and faith in God and His Word.
Mrs. Eddy's life had been filled with hardships, disappointments, sorrow, and, at times, a struggle for a mere existence. Through all of these experiences the Bible had been her constant and often only companion. And then, after many years of prayerful and consecrated search and devotion to God, had come the light. She glimpsed the sacred truths of existence. She saw what Moses had seen when he wrote concerning God (Deut. 30:20), "He is thy life, and the length of thy days."
Mrs. Eddy saw God and man in their true, spiritual significance: God, the Father, as divine Mind; and man, the son, as His idea. After she had proved her discovery to be the truth, by healing the sick and redeeming the sinner, according to the pattern set by Jesus, she gave her great message to the world through her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," and there she stood against the material opposition of church and scholasticism.
That was the picture almost three quarters of a century ago. What a difference we see today: ecclesiastical opposition somewhat softened by love and understanding; a friendly press; and physical scientists proclaiming to the world the fleeting nature of matter. Some years ago the American Bell Telephone Company laboratories included the following in a statement to the press: "Life is inexplainable in material terms: that ultimate division of the life energy in every cell is not explainable in terms of material physics."
The Church Organization
To work out our salvation involves freeing ourselves from the limitations and discords of material so-called existence, sin, sickness, and death. To aid us in this process, Mrs. Eddy founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, which includes The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, with its branch churches and societies throughout the free world. There are many channels provided by the Church Manual for the dissemination of the truth which enables us to work out our salvation. Among them is The Christian Science Publishing Society, sending its missionaries, our periodicals, all over the world.
"This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3); so spoke the master Christian concerning life. In other words, if we are to gain an understanding of the business of living, it is necessary that we acquaint ourselves with the nature of God and His Christ.
After years of prayerful study of the Bible, Mrs. Eddy wrote in answer to the question, What is God? (Science and Health, p. 465), "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love." By using these seven synonyms, with their descriptive adjectives, to define God, Mrs. Eddy does not by any means imply that there are seven gods. These terms are used to express the nature of Deity, His actuality, His oneness, allness, and infinite being, and she derived each of them from the Bible, specifically or by inference.
Jesus stated plainly and emphatically that God is Spirit. It was the only definition of God he gave to the Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar. The Apostle John tells us that God is Love. St. Paul refers to God as Mind. In Philippians (2:5) he writes, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus," thus indicating that the Mind which animated Jesus in his wonderful accomplishments was God. Since there is one God, and that God is Mind, there can be but one Mind.
On the other hand, and distinctly opposed to the one Mind or God, is a supposititious counterfeit of Mind, which St. Paul designated as the carnal mind. Christian Science teaches that material existence, with its concomitants, sin, sickness, and death, is the product of the carnal mind, and as it is not a creation of God it must be unreal and wholly erroneous Therefore, the externalized manifestations of the carnal mind, matter and all that goes with it, must be unreal.
We use the term "principle" in connection with mathematics, because it is the source of and includes all mathematical laws. Because God, Mind, is the only source or cause of existence, and because He maintains His creation in perfect harmony and order, then He can be described as Principle.
Jesus not only stated that Life is God, but proved it by his reappearance after he had been crucified.
That God is Truth is one of the most consistent themes of the Bible, as shown in the enlightening statement from Deuteronomy (32:4), "A God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he."
Christian Science teaches that as we become familiar with and understand these seven synonyms for God, we are acquainted with the basic facts of Life, and, as a consequence, we are able to apply our understanding of them to every situation which may arise in our daily lives. As a proof of its effectiveness, an innumerable host of men and women have been healed and regenerated and have found hope, peace, and confidence through the wonderful unfoldment of truth that comes from an understanding of this living presence.
Healing of Asthma
Let me tell you about one such healing, which came as the result of a better understanding of the business of living, brought about by a consecrated study of the synonyms for God. A woman I know had suffered since early childhood from severe attacks of asthma. Many physicians had told her that it was inherited and there was no permanent cure. As a consequence, over the years she developed a sense of resentment because of the fact that she thought she had been born with something she had nothing to do with. She was afraid of certain foods and sudden changes of weather, because of the suffering they seemed to cause.
When she had about given up hope of ever being well and happy, a friend presented Christian Science to her. At first, it was beyond her comprehension that this religion could help or could heal an affliction pronounced by physicians incurable. But as her understanding of God as divine Principle increased, hope replaced discouragement and despair.
Soon after she began to study Christian Science she was seized with an attack of asthma. She called a Christian Science practitioner and asked for help through prayer. She was assured of God's ever-present love and help. Shortly after her call, she felt relief, and her breathing became normal But the healing was not complete. As she said, her thinking needed much purifying. She had to rid herself of resentment over the belief that life had dealt her such an affliction through no fault of her own. She had to learn more patience, more consideration for others, and more love.
To do this, she worked diligently to learn more about God. She studied carefully the seven synonyms for God. She took her dictionary and studied the meaning of each of them. With the aid of the concordances she looked up passages in the Bible and in our Leader's writings containing these words. It was a most joyous and enlightening experience. She began to realize that since God is divine Principle, Love, the source and governor of all that exists, and that since she was included in that government by divine Principle, then her living experience included no error, nor was it subject to chance or change or prenatal conditions over which Principle had no control.
As she continued her prayerful study, she began to realize the perfection of God, His allness and goodness. She saw that man really is God's spiritual image and likeness and that those things which had held her in bondage for so long were no part of the man of God's creating. They were, therefore, no part of her real selfhood, and they could have no hold on her.
But to experience this freedom, she had to make the effort to be more Christlike in her character. She saw that she must really know God as defined by the synonyms if she was to understand Life and living, and that knowing God included knowing the nature of His image and likeness, which was not only her true selfhood but that of her fellow man also, in other words, she was striving to follow Jesus' instructions, previously mentioned, "that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent".
Her study gave her a clearer understanding of God and, as a consequence, a willingness to rely on Him entirely for help. Then a testing time came. She had a severe attack of asthma, complicated by pneumonia. The Christian Science practitioner stood by, day and night. When the crisis came, because of her consecrated and prayerful study, she was mentally equipped to place herself entirely in God's hands. Assured of His goodness, allness, and omnipotence, she was able to rely wholly on Him for healing, saying to her family, "I want no other help." This radical stand brought the healing, and it came quickly. Both the asthma and the pneumonia were completely and permanently healed. There was no period of convalescence.
Not only was she healed, but through this experience she had proven to herself that Life is God and that the business of living includes no chance or change, because it is really governed by God, divine Principle. She learned that man's sole reason for being is to express and thereby glorify God; that her happiness and well-being were secure and safe, because they were included in this government by divine Principle.
We learn in the study of Christian Science that disease is mortal thought manifested on the physical body. This must be true, for matter, within itself, has absolutely no intelligence or sensation. In this instance there was the belief that the disease was inherited; that it was aggravated by certain weather conditions and foods; that because of its history in the experience of mankind's ills, there was no permanent cure. Back of all these thoughts was fear — fear of an unknown power over which the individual had no control.
When all of these erroneous thoughts were replaced in consciousness by the truth of God and man in His image and likeness, their external manifestation, asthma and pneumonia, had no place to exist. When the picture thrown on a screen by a projector is distorted, the operator of the machine makes no attempt to adjust the screen or the picture on the screen; that would be futile. He adjusts the projector, places it in proper focus, and thereby produces a perfect picture.
As we begin to feel and know that man and the universe are ever under God's harmonious government and that God does not share His all-power with evil or material laws, we lose the sense of fear, which is the producer of disease. We have then placed our consciousness in proper focus, and the result is a perfect picture.
Replacing the Old with the New
Such an understanding of our true identity brings with it an explanation of the business of living. We learn that we are not burdened with the task of making a living, for we actually reflect Life, which means that we express Mind. Intelligence is not something that is acquired by spiritual man, It is the basis of his being. In the final analysis we are because God is.
Since man is the image of God, he is maintained by God. Understanding this, Jesus tells us (Matt 6:31, 33): "Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? . . . But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Then our efforts must not be directed primarily toward making a living, but toward gaining a clearer understanding of the intelligence that is God.
The Function of the Christ
Christian Science teaches that ridding ourselves of the erroneous material thinking, which is the result of years of false education, and replacing it with spiritual ideas is the function of the Christ. John tells us (I John 3:8), "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." Mrs. Eddy uses the words "Christ" and "Truth" interchangeably. She defines "Christ" in Science and Health (p. 583) as "The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error." Thus we see why she uses these two terms, Christ and Truth, interchangeably. They have the same function — the correction of error.
Our ability to stand fast in the face of the fears and uncertainties of the day depends upon our acceptance of the Christ as man's divine nature. As we become aware of the presence and power of the Christ we not only are comforted and assured, but we can comfort, heal, and save others in its name, even as Jesus did.
No discussion of the Christ would be complete without a clear understanding of our great Way-shower, the man Jesus, who so clearly presented the Christ to mankind. Because of his spiritual origin and nature, he earned the title of Christ, or Son of God. However, Christian Science teaches that the Christ is not limited to Jesus. In explaining the duality of the human Jesus and the divine Christ, his spiritual selfhood, Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (p. 473): "Christ is the ideal Truth, that comes to heal sickness and sin through Christian Science, and attributes all power to God. Jesus is the name of the man who, more than all other men, has presented Christ, the true idea of God, healing the sick and the sinning and destroying the power of death. Jesus is the human man, and Christ is the divine idea; hence the duality of Jesus the Christ."
Jesus' strict adherence to divine Principle enabled him to present the Christ to mankind in a manner which they could discern, and this was his mission. When it was accomplished, the human Jesus disappeared, while the Christ dwells eternally in God.
A Sense of Pressure Relieved
One of the most persistent problems that confronts mankind today is pressure. Our economy seems to demand much rushing about, and oftentimes we find ourselves doing what circumstances require rather than what we should be doing. Things appear to handle us, rather than our handling them; yet, according to the first chapter of Genesis, God made man in His image and gave him dominion.
I will tell you the experience of one who was able to claim this God-given dominion and assert her control over events by learning more about the business of living, through the study of Christian Science. This woman was occupying a very responsible position in an office, one which required much attention to detail. She also had a family of five and a large house to look after. She became interested in Christian Science and loved it from the start.
However, she felt such pressure from her work, family, and home that she was unable to spend the time studying that she both needed and wanted to do. She redoubled her efforts to get her affairs straightened out, so she could have time to study and really learn how to apply this wonderful truth. However, the more she worked, the farther behind she was with her duties, until conditions seemed hopeless. In addition to her other difficulties, she developed insomnia.
After a period of about two weeks, during which time she had very little sleep and seemed to be approaching a collapse, she sought the help of a Christian Science practitioner. She was assured of God's promise to man of dominion over all the earth, and she was reminded of Mrs. Eddy's classification of man as the humble servant of the restful Mind (Science and Health, p. 119), also her statement (p. 518): "His birthright is dominion, not subjection. He is lord of the belief in earth and heaven, — himself subordinate alone to his Maker." This new student was able to accept many of these truths and received a measure of relief, but the thought of sleepless nights still troubled her. When she was ready to leave the practitioner's office, she said, "This is all very good, and I am sure it is true, but what about two o'clock tomorrow morning, when I have had no sleep, will it help me then?"
The practitioner said, "You are all right now, aren't you?" She replied that she was. He said, "Well, remember it is what you are right now that is important, not what you think you will be at some future time." He explained that in reality she had never lived one moment before now, nor would she live one moment after now; that now and eternity are, in a manner, synonymous terms, for neither has a beginning nor an ending. In reality, now is all there is to eternity.
At that moment she glimpsed the ever-presence of God, right here, right now, in her own consciousness, and although the battle against pressure from various sources did not cease at that moment she gained some light then that she never lost. Striving earnestly to be obedient to Jesus' command, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" (Matt 6:33), she began to take possession of her life. No longer did she permit circumstances to govern her daily living. There was time for prayerful study, resulting in a great measure of calmness and spiritual poise.
The realization came more clearly that there is but one Mind governing the universe, including man, harmoniously and that surely her life, her home and business were under that harmonious government Her daily living became a joyous experience instead of drudgery. The sense of pressure gradually faded, as well as her fear of insomnia, resulting in normal, restful sleep. She found there was no need to continue her office work. Housekeeping duties were handled quickly and easily, and she was able to devote more time to working in a branch Church of Christ, Scientist, of which she had become a member.
The word "pressure" carries with it the thought of forces struggling with each other. In its explanation of the business of living, Christian Science shows clearly that Mind, God, is the only power; that the individual idea of this all-inclusive Mind is man, who expresses Mind's infinite and unceasing intelligence and can no more be separated from his source than a ray of sunlight can be separated from the sun — nor can this idea ever be in conflict with another idea. Each of us must identify himself as the spiritual reflection of Mind. As we gain the realization of what it means to be a reflection of Mind, we shall see that there is no possibility of conflict or pressure in our daily experience, no pushing or shoving, mentally or physically. Mind's impartation moves in accord with Mind, harmoniously.
Christian Science and Business Operation
Through Christian Science a man in the business world learns how to apply his understanding of God to the operation of his business. This frees him from the limitations of human incapacities and the erroneous beliefs and opinions of the carnal mind. By realizing that the government is on God's shoulders, and by knowing Him well enough to be able to place all our affairs under His care and direction, we endow our activities with the assurance, certainty, and success which characterize God's unerring rule.
A business operated under such conditions becomes a thing of joy instead of an irksome task. It enables one to realize that his real activity or business, being the business of reflecting God's ideas, enables him in his human calling to serve, not primarily to get. Yet, this serving is the basis of a profitable operation, for justice demands a fair return for honest effort. One could not maintain a service for his fellow men without maintaining himself in a manner that will enable him to continue serving.
A man would not think of starting a business and then letting others, who have no interest in either the business or his success, run it for him. Yet, isn't this what many of us are doing today in our homes, as well as in our business? We are letting the thinking of the whole world influence us and, to a degree, control our affairs. We are letting the carnal mind enter into our consciousness to the extent that it has control of our affairs. We watch the papers, listen to television and radio for news reports, stock reports, crop reports, weather reports, and too often we make decisions based on what we see and hear, forgetting that God is eternally at hand to guide and save, the very instant we turn to Him in thought and give Him place in our consciousness, in place of the carnal mind's arguments.
A business operated under God's government, that is, one which is governed by our reflection of divine intelligence, tends to be freer from the beliefs and limitations of adverse political, financial, or local conditions and from material laws of supply and demand. A man operating a business under the realization of divine law knows that since his thought and actions are God-directed, they are God-protected. Under such conditions he is in position to accomplish more in the line of service than the man who depends upon his own limited human sense of wisdom, ability, and foresight, thereby rendering himself subject to mistakes, confusion, poor judgment, indecision, and doubt.
Let me tell you of an experience which I witnessed, in which reliance on divine Mind's direction brought about a solution to a very complex business problem. Soon after he became interested in Christian Science, a man I know was confronted with a most distressing problem. He was engaged in the building supply business and had supplied materials to a building contractor for a residence. When the building was nearing completion the contractor disappeared with money due workmen and material suppliers, which he had obtained under false pretenses. There was every evidence of fraud.
At a meeting of the creditors, the Christian Scientist was chosen to work out the problem and was authorized to complete the structure. He had had some remarkable healing and regenerating experiences since becoming acquainted with Christian Science and, as a consequence, had an abounding faith and confidence in God's law. He refused to accept the belief that there is such a thing as dishonesty in God's kingdom. Therefore, he reasoned, that which indicated dishonesty was not real because it was not of God. He realized that justice and equity were included in God's law and were operative. He knew that those who had supplied labor and materials had done so in good faith and that equity demanded that they receive proper remuneration.
As his thought turned to God, his consciousness was flooded with ideas for a solution. I shall not go into detail, but, suffice it to say, the building was completed rapidly, a buyer appeared and a very satisfactory arrangement was made for financing the sale of the property. What was the result? The craftsmen were paid for their labor, material dealers received remuneration for material supplied, a family acquired a home, which met their need, and a financial institution secured a profitable investment.
What the understanding of God means to the man in business is also available to each of us, in whatever position we may find ourselves. It is available for the housewife, for those engaged in the professions, for workmen, skilled or unskilled. It is equally applicable to the statesman and diplomat, upon whom rest the burdens and responsibilities of finding a peaceful solution to world differences. We must pray daily that that God-bestowed ability, perspicacity, and judgment sit at each conference table and that no element of injustice, greed, selfishness, or duplicity will be present there.
The wonderful healings that have been accomplished through Christian Science treatment are the result of prayer. Prayer is the mental process by which one establishes his present, conscious unity with the Father, the one Mind or God, rather than the process of striving to acquaint some distant, unknown, mythical deity with one's trials and tribulations.
True prayer does not involve asking God to look down upon us as miserable sinners, with pity and mercy, but rather it consists in spiritually raising ourselves to the realization of our sonship with the Father. It is not self-debasement but rather self-immolation, whereby we put off the old man with his deeds and put on the new.
Through prayer we gain a correct concept of our own true identity as the children of God, and learn that as the image of God we possess by reflection all the good that is God's. A knowledge of this fact brings the only true and permanent happiness and security. The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes came to this conclusion after he had exhausted every known material avenue in an effort to find permanent happiness and satisfaction, but with no success. Here are his words: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man" (Eccl. 12:13).
We are all seeking happiness. The Declaration of Independence proclaims the pursuit of happiness as one of our inalienable rights. But unless we are acquainted with what real happiness is, our efforts to attain it are sometimes misdirected. What then is happiness? Is it having fun? Is it wealth or leisure? Is it found in travel and entertainment or in companionship? No, not primarily, for, as the Bible writer quoted above stated, all these things within themselves are vanity and vexation. Happiness cannot be purchased. In Science and Health (p. 57), our beloved Leader tells us, "Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love."
According to the teachings of Christian Science, man is spiritual. Then happiness and man must coincide. Happiness is our true nature. An understanding of what happiness is results in all the good things mentioned above, fun, abundance, entertainment, and companionship.
In its explanation of the business of living, Christian Science teaches that because God is our Life, health, happiness, freedom, and abundance are normal and natural. And since God, the only creator, created only good, sickness, sorrow, discord, and poverty are abnormal and unnatural. Let us claim our God-given heritage, in the name of Christ, Truth, and see ourselves as normal men and women. We accomplish this goal by learning to understand man in the image and likeness of God, as Christian Science reveals him, rather than a mere creature of clay, formed by the carnal mind and swayed by its every whim.
The truth about the man of God's creating is the truth about you and me; and the clear, constant, and positive declaration of one's own perfection as a child of God will gradually and certainly dispel the illusions of mortal existence and plant our feet firmly on the rock of spiritual understanding and conviction and enable us to become masters of material conditions, rather than slaves to them.
In explaining the business of living, Christian Science reveals that God is infinite Life, which includes no death process; that man, as the image of God, is the expression of that one Life; that man has no life of his own that may be lost, impaired, or destroyed; and therefore man is as deathless as his eternal Father-Mother, God. An understanding of this truth gives us the realization that the eternality of man is as fixed and certain as the eternality of God.
St. John pictured it impressively in these words (I John 3:1-3): "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself; even as he is pure."
[Delivered May 30, 1960, at Second Church of Christ, Scientist (city unnamed) and published in The Marcellus (New York) Observer, June 16, 1960.]