Christian Science: What It Is and What It Can Do for You

 

Elbert R. Slaughter, C.S., of Dallas, Texas

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

The lecture "Christian Science: What It Is and What It Can Do for You" was given by Elbert K. Slaughter, C.S. of Dallas, Texas, at 3:00 o'clock Sunday afternoon, December

3rd in the auditorium of Northeast Senior High School, 5500 16th Street No., St. Petersburg, and was sponsored by Second Church of Christ, Scientist, St. Petersburg.

The lecturer was introduced by Miss Ruth E. Jefferson, Second Reader of Second Church of Christ, Scientist, St. Petersburg, Florida.

The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:

 

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth" (Isaiah 52:7.) So spake the great poet prophet Isaiah to the people of Israel who, because they had forsaken the God who led their fathers out of slavery in Egypt, found themselves again in captivity to harsh taskmasters this time the Babylonians. Now the Babylonians were idol worshipers, having gods many and lords many.

During their sojourn of more than fifty years in Babylon many of the people of Israel had accepted the idolatrous worship of their captors. There was a remnant, however, which clung steadfastly to the God who had revealed Himself to Moses as "I AM," and whose first command was, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3). As is always the case, those who accepted the idolatrous worship of their captors had drifted into dull despondency and hopelessness, and were resigned to a permanent state of servitude.

Throughout the Scriptures, in times of great crisis, God always sent a messenger to reveal Himself to His people and lead them back to the light. This time the messenger was Isaiah, whose task was to rouse the people from their dullness and unbelief into a new and living faith. Convinced that the black night of evil or captivity was at an end, Isaiah set about to awaken the people to that fact.

With poetical eloquence he expressed himself in the beautiful language recorded in his writings. Let me recommend that you read chapters 40 to 55 of the book of Isaiah, so that you may see the outcome of his God-inspired effort. The main theme of his dissertation was, "Thy God reigneth."

As many of you know, the great prophet's effort was not in vain. The people were again led out of captivity, back to Jerusalem, and the temple was rebuilt. Thus the highest concept of God extant at that time was preserved.

 

The Advent of Jesus

As we trace the history of the children of Israel from its beginning we see a gradual lifting of their thought from a concept of deity as a tribal God who loved and hated, to a God who is Love.

This exalted view of God was revealed by our great Wayshower, Jesus the Christ, who also came to proclaim to the people Isaiah's great message, "Thy God reigneth."

The Judaic religion of the time was mainly a system of rites and ceremonies, presided over by a priestly hierarchy whose members were not too interested in what a man thought or did so long as he was obedient to the law as laid dawn by the hierarchy, and paid his temple tax regularly.

Jesus rebuked and severely condemned this materialistic and often hypocritical system. He turned men's thoughts Spiritward; toward that understanding which reveals man's birthright of freedom and dominion, and my friends, that is man's birthright. It is your birthright and mine. The first chapter of the book of Genesis, which contains the true, spiritual record of creation, tells us plainly that God made man in His image and gave him dominion. But unless we realize that our true identity or selfhood is the image or reflection of God we are in no position to claim our birthright. To illustrate, suppose an individual had left his home, family and friends, severed all connections and removed himself to a far country. Then in the course of events he is left a valuable bequest by his father. His inheritance would be of no benefit whatever to him until he came forward and identified himself as the legatee and claimed what was rightfully his. Until he had done so he might live a pauper's life, unaware of his birthright.

Well, Jesus' work was to reveal to men their heritage of freedom and dominion. His word and works demonstrated the power of spiritual understanding over material beliefs. He taught and proved by demonstration that as one grows in the understanding of God and God's spiritual universe, his ability to control material conditions increases proportionately.

 

An Example of Jesus' Teaching

An example of Jesus' method of teaching and demonstrating is found in the tenth chapter of Luke's gospel where it is reported that he sent seventy of his students out into the world to practice the Science which he had taught them. According to the narrative, they were very successful, for when they returned, filed with gratitude and joy over their success, they said (Luke 10:17), "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name." Jesus replied, "Rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20). By this perhaps he meant that they were not to rejoice so much over the works which they had accomplished, as over the fact that they had the spiritual understanding which enabled them to do the works.

From his statements here and elsewhere we can infer that our great Master's mission was to reveal to men that they have the spiritual equipment which enables them to do the same works which he did. Bible students are aware of Jesus' complete dominion over material conditions. He healed all manner of sickness, including dementia, broken bones and withered limbs. He stilled the tempest; was transported across the sea of Galilee by ship instantaneously; disappeared from the midst of an angry mob, bent on his destruction. He multiplied the loaves and fishes and did many other marvels and wonders, including the overcoming of death, first for others and then for himself.

What has been overlooked, to great extent, however, is the fact that he taught his students the Science which enabled them to do the same works that he did. To show that spiritual understanding was not limited to his disciples of that day, he made this statement (John 14:12), "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also."

 

 

Mary Baker Eddy

As many of you know, Jesus' disciples and their students followed in his pathway for some three hundred years after his ascension. During that period healing the sick was given as much importance in church activities as reforming the sinner. Then the spiritual import of Jesus' teaching and works began to fade and in its place came again rites and ceremonies, creeds and dogmas. These remained the generally accepted concept of Jesus' teaching until near the middle of the nineteenth century, when the Science of what he taught was discovered by Mary Baker Eddy, who named her discovery Christian Science.

This discovery lifted the concept of Jesus' teaching from a mere system of human ethics to a larger and fuller comprehension of the Master's life mission. It no longer dealt with sin through the doctrine of vicarious atonement, but revealed man's individual control over sin, sickness and all discordant material conditions, through a right understanding of God and man's relationship to Him. Christian Science also proclaims the great message "Thy God reigneth."

Mrs. Eddy's childhood and young womanhood, in fact her entire life, was one of unusual spirituality. She was not as other children. She was grave, thoughtful and withal deeply religious. In her early girlhood she wrote for various publications on the deeper, the religious aspects of life. Her innate religious nature enabled her to turn wholeheartedly to God at a time when a very serious accident threatened her life. Her recovery, brought about by reliance on God alone, awakened her desire to know God aright. Through that desire, coupled with a deep love for her fellowman and unusual spirituality, came the revelation to Mrs. Eddy of the positive, healing laws of Christian Science, which she defines (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 1), "As the law of God, the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony."

As a result of this revelation of the true God, the true Christ and true sense of man in the image and likeness of God, has come The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, with its branch churches, societies and college organizations throughout the free world.

To one with only a slight understanding of Christian Science it is obvious that the great truths of existence which are given to us through Mrs. Eddy's discovery could not be the outcome of human reasoning alone. Only spiritual revelation could have revealed those deeper things of Spirit, which are diametrically opposed to human and material conclusions. They were the result of Mrs. Eddy's life of devotion to God and her inherent spirituality.

What are some of the results of her discovery? A countless host of men and women who were the victims of sickness, sin, sorrow, discord, poverty, ignorance, and the like, have been healed and regenerated, and are walking the earth today with a degree of happiness, freedom and peace that far surpasses anything they had ever hoped for. Many of these people are your friends and neighbors.

What it has done for others it can do for you. It can and will, if you will study and apply it, free you from the bondage of false appetites, fear of a censuring past or foreboding future. It will relieve you of a sense of inadequacy, sometimes termed an inferiority complex, and of a belief of limited opportunity. Above all it can bring you the peace of mind that "passeth all understanding." How does it do that? By revealing to your consciousness the true idea of God and man, which is the true idea of God and you.

 

The Nature of God and Man

Have you ever asked yourself the question, "What is God?" It is a good question and is worthy of a proper answer. In fact, according to Jesus' teachings, we must know what God is if we would inherit eternal life. The foundation of the revelation which Mrs. Eddy has given to the world in Christian Science is the clear concept of God and man which she gained through constant and prayerful study of the Bible. So, we must turn to the Scriptures if we would know the true God and the real man, as revealed in Christian Science.

In the first chapter of Genesis we are told that "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him" (Genesis 1:27). There is no question then as to what man is. Man is the image of God. The question to be answered is, "What is God?" To establish a clear concept of man we must naturally begin with God. We cannot start with a human, mortal sense of man and work backward to determine what God is. As Paul tells us (Romans 9:8). "They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God."

To assume that the physical sense of man is the man of God's creating and is God's image and likeness, and then work back from that position would lead us to a corporeal God, and is not this method of reasoning the one many of us have been inclined to follow in contemplating God and man? We have patterned our God after the corporeal or physical concept of man, and as a result have been praying to and worshiping a finite, material deity, instead of an infinite, incorporeal being, described in the Scriptures as omnipresent and omnipotent and as Spirit, and Life, and Truth, and Love. May we not logically assume that an erroneous concept of God, which has no foundation in truth, is the cause of our failure to bring into our experience the freedom, abundance, harmony, and health which the Bible assures us is ours by birthright as the children God? Our reasoning therefore must be from God to man.

Basing its conclusions wholly on the Bible, Christian Science teaches that "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love" (Science and Health, p. 465). Instead of a humanly circumscribed physical personality, God is divine Mind, existing in infinity, knowing no bounds or limitations. One could not conceive of a mind without ideas any more than one could conceive of a sun without rays of light. Divine Mind then must express itself through divine ideas and because of the nature of divine ideas, there could not be a condition or location where they would not be instantly available, any more than there could be a situation or position where the fact that two and two equals four would not be instantly available.

 

Man Is Reflection

Could we ever hope to come closer to God than by admitting into our consciousness divine ideas emanating from the infinite, divine Mind? Could God ever be more vividly present than to be reflected by our own consciousness? The divine Mind, which is God, is infinite, and expresses itself as the all-knowing, all-seeing, omnipotent Principle of all that really exists. This divine Mind is Spirit, all-pervading consciousness, which does not recognize the existence of matter.

That is the God of whom man is the image or reflection. In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy uses an individual before a mirror to illustrate this point. If you stand before a mirror the mirror reflects you in every detail. When you move, your reflection moves also. If you are short and stout, your reflection is short and stout. If you are tall and thin, your reflection is the same. You alone are responsible for your reflection in the mirror. Your image has no responsibility or authority of its own.

Likewise, as the image of God, man must be the reflection of God. Man could not manifest an element or quality unlike God. Since God is infinite Spirit without material form or outline, then man must be infinite and spiritual without material form or outline. Since God is Spirit and the creator of all that really exists, then God is self-sustained and self-perpetuated. If God, the original, is self-sustained and self-perpetuated, then man, the reflection or image, is God-sustained and God-perpetuated. Since God is eternal then man must be eternal. Remember, the man we are describing here is the only real man, the man of God's creating, not the material concept which Paul has told us is not the child of God.

The true idea of God includes the true idea of man, and the true idea of man is the true idea of your true selfhood. This is the truth Jesus was referring to when he said (John 8:31,32), "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

 

Mortal Man and Material Universe

But you may say, "What about this man of flesh and blood that seems to be so real? How do you account for him? What is his origin? What is his ultimate?" Christian Science teaches that this so-called mortal man and the material universe are the products of what St Paul has designated as the carnal mind, and described as enmity against God. Since the divine Mind or God is one and infinite, filling all space, ever present and eternal, there is no place for another mind, except as illusion. And that is what this carnal mind is an illusion, a counterfeit of the divine Mind. This supposititious, carnal mind was never created of God and therefore has no real existence.

From the divine Mind or God come all of God's ideas, and they express happiness, kindness, love, abundance, purity, peace and so forth all that is good. From the so-called carnal mind emanate all works of the devil, and they manifest sin, sickness, decrepitude, jealousy, hate, war, matter and death, and all that goes with them.

Individual human consciousness is the arena in which these spiritual ideas and material beliefs seem to mingle, although, like oil and water, they never mix. To the extent that we accept into our consciousness pure and spiritual ideas of the divine Mind, and eliminate therefrom carnal or mortal beliefs, we are working out our own salvation. We are putting off the old man with his deeds and putting on the new man, in accordance with St. Paul's advice. Paul tells us clearly that this mental operation is to be accomplished through the renewing of the mind and not by dying. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." By this he must have meant that our mortal, material concepts of existence will be replaced in consciousness by the understanding of what constitutes the true heaven and true earth, or spiritual universe.

In making this mental transposition from the material to the spiritual, we must be careful not to attempt to mentally unite matter or the unreal with the spiritual or real, or in other words, spiritualize matter. Since God is Spirit and He made all that was made, then there is no matter, for there is nothing in Spirit out of which to create matter. Matter exists only as a fiction of the carnal mind, which is itself fictitious; therefore, matter exists only as a false mental concept.

Thus the material has no connection with the spiritual at any point, and in making the mental translation of the material into the spiritual we cannot unite the two. It consists of replacing in individual human consciousness material misconceptions with spiritual facts or ideas, and those misconceptions which we replace with spiritual facts have absolutely no connection with the spiritual at any point.

While the carnal or material is the counterfeit of the spiritual it is a counterfeit in the sense that the material is not the truth concerning man. Spirit and matter do not mingle.

In Science and Health (p 269) Mrs. Eddy writes, "Metaphysics resolves things into thoughts, and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul." You will note that after metaphysics has resolved things into thoughts it does not change these thoughts into spiritual ideas, but exchanges or replaces them with spiritual ideas. We do not change darkness into light. Darkness is a negative condition which is occasioned by the absence of light. We simply replace darkness with light. We do not change carnal beliefs, we eliminate them and replace them with spiritual ideas.

 

Salvation Is an Individual Process

Thus we see that the process of salvation is an individual one. It really doesn't matter what others may think or do, we must not make our expression of such Godlike qualities as love, devotion, care, tenderness, kindness, compassion and the like dependent upon the attitude of others. What they think or do is their concern. They have their own salvation to work out. We must devote our time and energy to expressing those qualities of thought which bring us freedom from the fetters of sickness, sorrow, false appetite, and ignorance.

Try this expressing business around the home, in the office or shop, wherever you may be, and see the results. As you express joy, happiness, gratitude, appreciation, consideration for others, patience, gentleness, and the like, the clouds disperse and skies become bright and surroundings harmonious. We must not suppress or repress noble qualities of thought. We must express them, for, as we have said before, therein lies our true selfhood and salvation.

 

Personal Experiences

Since I have spoken at length on the things which Christian Science can do for you, someone may say, "How does this man know that Christian Science will do all these things for me?" Nothing is so convincing as one's own experience, and with your permission I should like to give you a brief resume of what Christian Science has done for me.

I was brought up in the church of my family, a church for which I have today the deepest respect. In my early youth I joined the church and became an active member. Like many others, I was anxious to be saved, and uniting with the church seemed to be the generally accepted method of bringing that about. I really didn't know and never asked what my salvation consisted of. As time went on, however, I began to think a little more for myself. There were some questions that I felt needed logical answers. For instance: What is God? What is man? How do we experience salvation?

When I presented my question to those whom I considered qualified to give me the answers, I was told that I really didn't need to be saved from sin, because I had been brought up in a Christian home, attended Sunday School and church regularly, and my uniting with the church was simply an acknowledgment that I was numbered among the saved.

As to questions about God, man and the relationship of man to God, and other questions of a similar nature, I was informed that they were questions which could only be answered in the life after the grave.

Let it be said here that 1 have only the highest respect for those individuals who tried to answer my questions. They were, without exception, sincere and earnest men, and with many of them it was very evident that they themselves were not altogether satisfied with the answers they were giving. Anyway, I couldn't accept their answers and gradually drifted away from the church.

For several years life seemed very pleasing to me. The things of the world, social activities, sports and business interests filled my daily life. I, like many others in our group, drank socially, was an inveterate smoker and in general followed the usual pattern of indulgences that go with that way of living. After several years of this manner of living, things began to go sour. My business seemed to be coming apart at the seams. I awakened to the awful fact that I was a victim of the drink habit. Because of that my home life was very unhappy and my health was not at all good. My life seemed to be a complete failure.

One day, when conditions were about at their lowest, a very dear friend invited us to attend a Christian Science lecture to be given in our community. We knew very little about Christian Science, in fact, almost nothing, but my wife and I decided to attend.

Not long after the lecturer began to speak I suddenly was awakened to the fact that he was answering the questions which had troubled me for so long. I began to glimpse God's true nature; to see something of what man is and how man is related to God. As the lecture progressed I realized, although somewhat vaguely at first, that my salvation depended on what I knew about God and my relationship to Him, and I saw that Christian Science offered me a way to know the truth about those things now a way to be free from the bondage of sinful beliefs and sickness also. That lecture was the greatest event of my life. It started me on the road to a knowledge of the real facts of existence.

I purchased a copy of the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, along with other authorized Christian Science literature and began to study. I spent many hours in a Christian Science Reading Room, which I found to be a haven of peace. Every branch Church of Christ, Scientist, maintains a Reading Room, which is open to the public. My study led me to the conclusion that if I was to understand Christian Science I must know more about the Bible, which hitherto had been a puzzle to me. It was most comforting to find that Christian Science offers a logical, demonstrable and scientific explanation of the Bible. So instead of being a book of mystery, contradictions and abstractions, the Bible became a chart of life for me. This enabled me in the light of Christian Science to work out the problems of everyday living.

As you may have surmised, the drink habit fell away, along with the craving for tobacco. My business rapidly improved, my health was restored and our home became what a home really should be. No one knows how grateful I was to be healed of the drinking and smoking habits, for they are bondage of the worst sort. As my understanding of Christian Science increased, however, I became even more grateful for another healing the healing of ignorance. The miseries which seem to be the result of the drink habit, and to a lesser degree perhaps, of the smoking habit, are not primarily caused by these evil habits. In fact, these evil habits are not a cause but rather are the result the result of ignorance and false belief; seeking to find happiness and well-being from the wrong source, and believing that there is a power apart from God which can give one a "lift" or quiet jangled nerves.

Through the study of Christian Science I have learned that God is omnipotent and omniscient, that is, all power and all intelligence, and that power and intelligence are manifested through man, the image or expression of God. So Christian Science brought to me good tidings of good. It has enabled me to understand and demonstrate in my daily living the truth of Isaiah's statement, "Thy God reigneth."

Briefly, that is what Christian Science has done for me.

 

Jesus and the Christ

Now God did not bestow His dominion on mortals but He does bestow it on His image and likeness, man. God is manifested through the Christ, which presents the indestructible man. In Science and Health (p. 316) Mrs. Eddy writes, "Christ presents the indestructible man, whom Spirit creates, constitutes, and governs." Christian Science teaches that there is a distinction between the human Jesus and the divine idea, Christ, his spiritual selfhood. The Christ is spiritual and eternal, necessarily coexistent with God, "his only begotten son" (I John 4:9). The Christ exists eternally in the divine Mind as idea, without a trace of materiality, was never born, never crucified, never suffered on Calvary, and never died. The Christ was that spiritual selfhood to which Jesus had reference when he said, "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58).

The child Jesus was human, although his birth came about through the influx of the Holy Ghost, which overshadowed the pure thought of the virgin mother. In explaining the duality of the human Jesus and the divine Christ, his spiritual selfhood, Mrs. Eddy tells us (Science and Health, p. 333): "The word Christ is not properly a synonym for Jesus though it is commonly so used. Jesus was a human name, which belonged to him in common with other Hebrew boys and men, for it is identical with the name Joshua, the renowned Hebrew leader. On the other hand, Christ is not a name so much as the divine title of Jesus."

Because of his spiritual origin and nature Jesus was able to present the Christ to mankind in such a manner as they could discern, and this was his mission. When it was accomplished the human Jesus disappeared to human sense, while the Christ is eternal.

 

Expressing Love Essential

Since man is the expression of God, then he must express the qualities of that Mind or intelligence which is God. So as we consciously express love, kindness, purity, tenderness, compassion, patience, gentleness, and so on, we are demonstrating our at-one-ment with God.

Thus Jesus' counsel to love our neighbor as ourself takes on new significance. He may not have admonished us to love our neighbor as ourselves so much on account of our neighbor as on account of ourselves. Our beloved Leader tells us (Unity of Good, p. 49). "So long as I hold evil in consciousness, I cannot be wholly good."

We are not required to love our neighbor primarily because our neighbor needs our love, but because when we are expressing love we are expressing our true selfhood. We are expressing God.

If we accept into our consciousness bitterness, resentment, hatred or anger toward any individual, group of individuals, nation or nations, that bitterness, hatred or resentment cannot be isolated in our consciousness from all that is held therein, but it may affect our attitude toward every object, person or thing which we hold in consciousness.

So if we see hundreds of different people whom we love and respect, and yet hold in thought hatred toward a single individual, that hatred cannot be isolated, but could affect our thought in regard to everything and everyone of whom we are conscious. The hatred directed toward one individual dilutes or adulterates the love we would feel toward all others.

To illustrate, if we take a vessel filled with the purest water and add one drop of impure substance, the whole container is to that extent contaminated. Even so it is with us. As long as we entertain hatred or resentment toward one individual we cannot gain the clearest concept of our dearest friends and closest relatives.

The Bible tells us (Proverbs 23:7), "As he [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he." Since this is true, what I think about my fellowman is not my fellowman at all, it is I. Conversely, what he thinks about me is not really I. Someone has said, "You may not be what you think you are, but what you THINK is what you are."

 

Prayer

One of the greatest things Christian Science has done for mankind is to teach us how to pray. We learn that our prayers do not and could not change God, nor alter His plan for us, for the nature of God is unalterable and good. Right thinking, spiritual thinking is true prayer. It is the purifying process by which we eliminate from our consciousness all erroneous thoughts. It involves letting that Mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus.

Prayer is the way by which one establishes his conscious unity with the Father, the one Mind, God. True prayer does not involve asking God to look down upon us as miserable sinners, with pity and mercy, but rather it consists in the realization of our sonship with God.

Christian Science teaches, and we must learn, that now are we the sons of God. It is your God-given privilege here and now to claim your divine birthright. How? By holding to the awareness of your true being. God's man has never fallen from his high estate. You are God's man. God did not create two of you, one divine and the other mortal. God made you upright, pure, perfect and free. Thus you are and thus you will always be. Gain this true concept of yourself. It will bring you freedom from the bondage of ignorance, poverty, sickness, false appetite, yes, even an inferiority complex. Therein lies your true happiness, health and prosperity.

Keep this vision of the true God and His Christ always before you. It will brighten your pathway and smooth the rough places in your journey from materiality to the land of Truth and Love. God's love is ever with you. His guiding, protecting care is yours, for you are His. The Comforter is ever with you. In the words of our beloved Leader (Science and Health P. 174), "Truth is revealed. It needs only to be practised."

 

[Published in The Gulfport (Florida) Tribune & The Citizen, Dec. 15, 1961.]

 

 

HOME PAGE INDEX OF LECTURES