Christian Science: The Living Light of Christ, Truth
Jean M. Snyder, C.S.B., of Buffalo, New York
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Spiritual understanding of God is mankind's most urgent need, Jean M. Snyder, C.S.B., of Buffalo, N.Y., said in a Christian Science lecture in the Colonial Theater in Boston today.
Miss Snyder spoke under the
auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in
The lecturer was introduced by James Harry McReynolds, C.S.B., First Reader of The Mother Church.
Miss Snyder spoke substantially as follows:
When Jesus, the great Master, said (Matt. ), "Where two or three are gathered together in my name [according to my nature, for name means nature], there am I in the midst of them," he was not referring to his personality, but to the Christ, his divine nature which he manifested in the highest degree. As we are gathered together in this short hour, we too can experience Jesus' promise, for "There am I" becomes "I am in the midst of thee" to heal and save mentally and physically. Christian Science reveals Deity to the humble, receptive heart. As men desire to know God and turn to Christian Science for enlightenment, instead of clinging to a blind faith in God, they attain a demonstrable knowledge of Him which spiritualizes their thought, for the things of Spirit are seen to be real and the objects of sense unreal,
The human race is seeking a way out of its difficulties, searching for a solution of its problems, pursuing in devious, material ways what it regards as its good, but mankind's most urgent universal need is to know God. Whatever the problem, be it mental, moral, or physical, financial or economic, national or international, the one and only effective solution is a practical, workable knowledge of God and His laws, an understanding of the allness of God and the consequent nothingness of evil in whatever form it seems to appear.
Christian Science offers the world healing by presenting the true concept of the true God and His creation. Mrs. Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, gives this clear and appealing definition of Deity in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 465): "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love." Mrs. Eddy's only authority and source of inspiration was the Bible.
The Scriptures were illumined for me as I studied them in connection with Science and Health. The Bible promises and the narratives of the prophets and Jesus that had been disconnected, puzzling, and obscure to me began to stand out in crystal clearness. Through this study I learned that Jesus was called the Christ because he expressed more of the divine idea of God, more of the truth of being, than had anyone else.
In her textbook Mrs. Eddy states (p. 332), "Jesus demonstrated Christ; he proved that Christ is the divine idea of God - the Holy Ghost, or Comforter, revealing the divine Principle, Love, and leading into all truth." As the Christ, Truth, is understood and applied in one's thinking and living, erroneous beliefs are replaced with true ideas, and spiritual enlightenment and healing follow, which is salvation. Christian Science shows us how to think as did Jesus, and thus approximate the Christ. As we study the Scriptures in the light of Christian Science and imbibe their spiritual meaning, we are enabled to prove their teachings in our daily lives. This spiritual understanding explains the Bible characters and their utterances, which point to the fact that, the Christ, revealed clearly in Christian Science, is ever present to bless all and to fulfill Jesus' commands (Matt. 10:8), "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils."
One of the Bible stories which helped me as I gained its metaphysical or spiritual
significance was that of Jacob and his struggle with a false sense of self as related in the thirty-second chapter of Genesis and as explained in Science and Health (p. 308), where Mrs. Eddy states, "Jacob was alone, wrestling with error, - struggling with a mortal sense of life, substance, and intelligence as existent in matter with its false pleasures and pains, - when an angel, a message from Truth and Love, appeared to him and smote the sinew, or strength, of his error, till he saw its unreality; and Truth, being thereby understood, gave him spiritual strength in this Peniel of divine Science." Please note that Jacob's struggle was with a false or material sense of self, but he was delivered by an angel, or message from God; and Jacob clung to this delivering spiritual message until his nature was changed, and his name also, for after this experience he was called Israel.
I had been very ill, and no material means had helped me; so I turned to Christian Science for physical healing, and began to read my Bible, the same Bible, the King James Version, which I had used in my former church. Like Jacob, I had been wrestling, but without avail until I learned of Christian Science, which healed me. Jacob gained the blessing of overcoming a false sense of self, his material selfhood and its wrong thinking, fears, and deep-seated errors. As the Christ revealed to him the blessing of right thinking and living, Jacob was healed. The narrative in the Bible continues, "And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved."
Centuries later a young man by the
name of Saul walked along the road from
In the nineteenth century a young girl so desired to know God that she began to pray seven times a day, making a chalk mark for each prayer on the woodshed of her farm home. She was Mary Baker, later known as Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. This girl never ceased praying; in fact, her entire life was one of prayer. When her church, The Mother Church, was to be built, she referred to it as her "prayer in stone" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 141).
When one reads the life of Mrs. Eddy in any of the authorized biographies of her it is realized that she was a woman with an ideal of which she never lost sight, despite the misunderstanding of her mission, the slander and ridicule heaped upon her. She desired to bless all mankind, and the truth stated in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" has healed and redeemed uncounted thousands. The Christian Science movement which Mrs. Eddy founded is comprised mostly of those who had been forlorn, unhappy, hopeless, and in many instances suffering from diseases pronounced incurable, and healed by the ministrations of Christian Science. This Science is not a theory, nor is it a faith cure. It is religion itself.
Christian Scientists have heartfelt gratitude for Mary Baker Eddy. They honor, respect, and love her, but they do not worship her. They worship God. One does not fail to express appreciation for a gift from a friend, and we do not fail to express our gratitude for the gift of Christian Science which Mrs. Eddy has given us. We recognize the importance of her discovery, the greatest blessing that has ever reached mankind, and we do not let the error of hesitancy keep us from voicing our praise for her. Supporting her movement, loving it and working for it, is being loyal and faithful to her in the way she desires, for she says (Message to The Mother Church for 1901, p. 34), "Follow your Leader only so far as she follows Christ."
When Mrs. Eddy declared that God and good were from the same Anglo-Saxon root, both meaning the same, lexicographers of her day opposed her. Now we find them in full accord with her. In Webster's unabridged dictionary you will find this to be true, as well as the interpretation that Christian Science gives to many terms which Mrs. Eddy first defined in the Glossary of Science and Health (pp. 579-599), such as God, Mind, substance, Principle, angels, Christ, miracles, resurrection.
The Christian Science teaching that God, infinite Truth, is good means that all that is true is perfect and eternal. God's goodness evidences Love, Love divine. Love is expressed in perfection and harmony. Little children can understand that God is good, and they also learn that when they are good they are expressing God or Love, and that sickness is not good, and therefore it is not real or true. It is easy for them to accept this goodness as an expression of Love. I went to see a little friend who was attending the Christian Science Sunday School and who was ill. I took her up in my arms and held her. I said, "Shall we talk about God?" and she was quite willing. I asked her, "What is God? Remembering what she had learned in Sunday School, she said, "God is Love." And I asked her, "What do you mean when you say 'God is Love'?"
This was not so easy to answer, and she paused. I asked, "You love Mother and Daddy, do you not?'' She nodded that she did. "How do you feel when you say you love them?" Again a pause. Then she burst out, "Oh, I feel all right." I said to her, "This is what we mean when we say, 'God is Love': we mean everything is all right." Then she slipped from my arms and began playing with her toys. The child had helped herself, and that was the end of the error that had been talking to her. This is a simple illustration of the Christ revealing God's goodness to babes.
Mrs. Eddy defines good as (Science and Health, p. 587) "God; Spirit; omnipotence;
omniscience; omnipresence; omniaction." The omnipresence of good precludes the presence or substance of anything unlike itself. Omnipotence precludes the presence of another power. Omniscience precludes the possibility of a mind other than that of God. Omniaction precludes the possibility of a law or activity apart from God. Mrs. Eddy's definition of good is complete in that it gives all power, being, Mind, and law to God, good.
John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, declared (I John 4:8), "God is love," and Christian Science emphasizes this declaration. God is omnipresent Love, and God is the one infinite Mind or intelligence, the universal cause, the divine Principle of all good, the one and only creator.
This creator is the eternal power which created the universe and man to whom was given dominion. All of this is related in the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible. In this chapter nothing unlovely or unspiritual is mentioned. How could infinite Love create anything unlike itself? God, Spirit, has created all good. Matter, sin, sickness, misery and death are not mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis because divine Love did not create them and knows them not, for as the Bible states (Hab. ), "Thou [God] art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity." The dominion which divine Love or Mind gives to man, its highest idea and the climax of creation, is not that of personal domination but the dominion of spiritual thinking and loving knowing, the ability to see all creation in its spiritual light. The first chapter of Genesis bases Christian Science. The creation revealed here is the divine, the spiritual, the perfect, the real, and the only one. This chapter discloses infinity here and now, and not to be attained after what is called death. The second chapter of Genesis is the history of so-called material creation, that of material sense; it is the unreal, and Mrs. Eddy says it is (Science and Health, p. 513) "an attempted infringement, on infinity."
The perfection of the real man of
God's creating had been indicated to Abraham when God said (Gen. 17:1), "I
am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect." The reality of
spiritual creation was what Moses perceived when God revealed Himself to him as
the great I AM. We read in Science and
Health (p. 333), "Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and the prophets caught glorious
glimpses of the Messiah, or Christ, which baptized these seers in the divine
nature, the essence of Love." In
the Ten Commandments Moses is inspired to expound the love of Deity for its
idea, man, showing that God does not permit him to have a mind apart from divinity. In her Message to The Mother Church for 1902
(p. 5), Mrs. Eddy states that Christian Science "lights the fires of the
Holy Ghost," and she adds, "It is this ethereal flame, this almost
unconceived light of divine Love, that heaven husbands in the
First Commandment." In this light
of divine Love the command, "Thou shalt not" becomes "Thou dost
not," because God does not permit His child to have other gods. God's man does not lie, does not covet, does
not rob, does not commit adultery, nor does he so desire. Moses wished to hold the ideal man before the
thought of the children of
At an early age Jesus was about his Father's business, reflecting the Christ. He perceived and demonstrated the real man in the highest degree. He said (Matt. ), "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." In the Beatitudes Jesus shows that the real, spiritual man is blessed because he expresses the qualities of God, such as meekness, purity, peace. The entire Sermon on the Mount is composed of Jesus' instructions based on the Ten Commandments of Moses, and these instructions or teachings interpreted in the light of Christian Science are the very essence of this Science. Jesus' perception and knowledge of the real man's perfectibility enabled him to reverse material sense testimony, consequently (Matt. ), "healing every sickness and every disease among the people." The impotent man at the pool of Bethesda who thought he had to be carried found that he could carry his own bed (John 5:9); the one whose withered arm had not served him discovered he could stretch it forth (Matt. 12:13); Peter's mother-in-law who during her sickness [of fever had been waited upon by others, "arose and ministered unto them" (Luke 4:39); and Lazarus, who thought he died, found himself alive (John 11:44). Jesus' correct view of man produced these cures.] He held to the spiritual fact of the harmony of the spiritual universe of God's creating and stilled the tempest. His understanding of the Christ, truth, met, refuted, and destroyed the evidences of matter and its concomitants - sin, disease, and death.
It was mentioned earlier that the truths in the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible base Christian Science; then it is to these facts that one must turn and upon which one must stand in order to disprove the claims of error and evil with which one is confronted. In our textbook Mrs. Eddy has written a correlative chapter called "Genesis" which gives the metaphysical meaning of the first chapter in the Bible; in fact, her entire book is written around it with clarifying amplification. In this chapter of our textbook, the truth concerning God and man and the universe, all creation, stands forth in pristine purity; here Mrs. Eddy's spiritual interpretation brings out that all is divine Mind and its expression, that everything as it really exists is idea or expression of Deity. Mrs. Eddy saw, as no one else in the world perceived at that time, that there was no matter creation because of the allness of God, Spirit, and the infinitude of Mind. Christian Science teaches that matter is unreal in the sense that it is not of God; hence we do not heal matter, for there is none; that evil is unreal because it is not included in God's creation; that matter and evil are illusions of material sense. There is nothing but God, good. "The Lord he is God: there is none else beside him" (Deut. ).
The basic sin is the belief in matter, in something besides God, in another presence, power, or law. This is what seems to separate us from God, from realizing our true being as His reflection, and from demonstrating our oneness with Him. Mrs. Eddy states in "Retrospection and Introspection" (p. 31) that trust in materiality is "the unseen sin, the unknown foe, - the hearts untamed desire which breaketh the divine commandments."
To preserve oneself and others from believing in a false sense of power of evil, even a gleam of the potency of God is effective. Consider the belief in power that the moon exerts over the oceans - an inanimate object endowed with power to produce what is known as high and low tides. This is not spiritual power; it is material, and therefore counterfeit. But in God's sight there isn't even the counterfeit; so what must the real power be if this so-called overwhelming counterfeit power apes or imitates it? Human thought cannot calculate it. Spiritual power can be cognized only through spiritual sense or spiritual undemanding.
Evil and matter are dispossessed of their false claims only as they are robbed of all pretensions to power, place, action, and law. We need to see from the standpoint of the true or spiritual creation that evil has no origin or existence, no Principle or permanence, no identity or foundation. Christian Science, the Science of Christ, teaches us how to eliminate the belief of evil from our thoughts and lives. We read in Science and Health (p. 123): "The verity of Mind shows conclusively how it is that matter seems to be, but is not. Divine Science, rising above physical theories, excludes matter, resolves things into thoughts, and replaces the objects of material sense with spiritual ideas." We replace material beliefs and concepts with spiritual ideas of divine Mind. Why? That we may place all things in God's hands, give to Him glory, honor, dominion, and power, and so hallow His name and nature.
When Mrs. Eddy asserted that "all is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation," the physicists, doctors, and theologians laughed her to scorn. Today in their scientific research and unbiased pursuit of knowledge the physicists have approached nearer the point where they are willing to stop and listen to those who are demonstrating the Science of being as taught in Christian Science. Only the thoughtless will scoff at the work of the physicists in their sincere striving to throw light on the nature of man and the universe. They are at least lifting human thought out of the depths of materiality and into improved beliefs. Some of the greatest thinkers of modern times have made statements that go far to show that the physicists can no longer question the truth of Mrs. Eddy's statement as to matter's unreality. Professor Millikan, now Professor Emeritus of the California Institute of Technology, said: "All the thinking of the late nineteenth century has had to be revised. This revision of thought has been made necessary in large measure by the discovery that matter is not indestructible." (Quoted in Syracuse Post-Standard, March 2, 1929.)
Christian Science teaches that all material phenomena, all that seems real in materiality, are human concepts or misconceptions and are the result of the carnal or mortal mind or ignorant belief, which is enmity against God. And when you (Phil. 2:5) "let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus," just to that extent are you aware of the universe of God's creating, the phenomena of divine Mind. Christian Science will so illumine your thought spiritually that you no longer see through a glass darkly, no longer do you believe that man, the beholder of God's wonders, could be the victim of false material sense. No longer do you judge by the hearing of the ear, nor by the seeing of the eye, but you judge by spiritual sense, thus judging righteous judgment. "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing."
Mental and physical discords begin to yield and eventually disappear when one dwells on the truths stated in the first chapter of Genesis, upon spiritual creation and its perfection. Five times it is repeated in this chapter that God beheld His creation and "it was good" (Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21), and the sixth time it declares, "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Gen. 1:31). Here perfect God, perfect man, and perfect universe shine forth in the completeness and perfection of infinity. This perfect spiritual creation is discerned through the understanding of the Christ, Truth. This is the word or truth to which the Psalmist referred when he sang (Ps. 107:20), "He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions."
From the standpoint of the infinitude of Deity it is perceived that all that is going on anywhere is God and His ideas - the presence of divine Mind, the power of good, the activity of Truth. "Let thy word, I pray thee, be verified" (I Kings 8:26), is our prayer as was Solomon's; that is, let God's word be manifested in mind, body, and estate. Man is the witness for God. It is inevitable that he express or show forth or make practical his divine Principle. God being supreme in the realm of the real, or Spirit, must be supreme everywhere because of the allness of God. God, Spirit, knows not matter.
A Christian Scientist fell and injured her foot. There was evidence of a broken bone. Treatment in Science took care of the swelling, discoloration, and to a large degree the pain except when the foot was used. But there was not a complete healing of the fear that something was broken. After a few days the patient remarked to the one helping her, "I feel I must go to a surgeon to see what he says about my foot." "What do you want him to tell you?" asked the practitioner. "I want him to tell me the bone is not broken," the patient replied. The practitioner remarked: "God has already told you that. He knows it is not broken. He is of purer eyes than to behold evil. God knows you in your perfection and completeness." Immediately the pain disappeared, and the lady began to use her foot with freedom. Later, when she desired to send her testimony to the Christian Science periodicals, the foot was X-rayed in order that she write according to mortal sense testimony of the condition. The picture showed two bones had been broken and healed perfectly, verifying Mrs. Eddy's statement in Science and Health (p. 215), "Every quality and condition of mortality is lost, swallowed up in immortality."
Is it not more clearly perceived now that the truth concerning God and man and the universe, which we have been realizing, is the Christ? Is it not more clearly seen now that the Christ, Truth, is the Saviour, the deliverer, and not the personal Jesus, who, however, was designated by Mrs. Eddy as (Science and Health, p. 52), "the best man that ever trod the globe"? As the Christ, Truth is accepted and lived by each individual, it will save him from belief in matter with its sin and suffering; and thus eventually the world will be saved. Universal salvation can come only through individual righteousness. The truth governing the thoughts of men and women will be manifested in their lives, in better and higher thinking and living. There is no way of salvation other than by transformation of thought.
John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, whose consciousness was illumined by the Christ, while on earth beheld in a vision the victory of divine Truth over evil, materiality, and sin. In Revelation, the closing book of the Scriptures, he states graphically that he saw that "Satan, which deceiveth the whole world" (Rev. 12:9), destroyed, eliminated and replaced by the beauty and triumph of the presence of Christ, Truth. He beheld the new heaven and new earth - a creation new to him but forever real to God. What was it? That which Christian Science reveals, the spiritual universe and man we have been contemplating, that of the first chapter of Genesis, that of Mind and its ideas - your universe and mine. For John, matter and materiality had disappeared (Rev. 21:4), the former things had passed away, and in their place was the reality of God's spiritual creation. John saw the new man, the real man, your divinity and mine, exempt from error, untouched by suffering, curse, and the claim of death.
He heard the voices of many rejoicing and saying (Rev. 19:1), "Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God." This is the true sense of being which Christian Science is offering you and me and the entire world as a present possession - the earth filled with the divine presence of the living light of Christ, Truth (Isa. 11:9), "as the waters cover the sea."
"When, from the lips of Truth one mighty breath
Shall, like a whirlwind, scatter in its breeze
The whole dark pile of human mockeries;
Then shall the reign of Mind commence on earth,
And starting fresh, as from a second birth,
Man in the sunshine of the world's new spring,
Shall walk transparent like some holy thing."
(By Thomas Moore; quoted by Mary Baker Eddy in Miscellaneous Writings, p. 51.)
[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, March 24, 1953. This copy was made from a badly decomposed page. The text in brackets in the section entitled "Glorious Glimpses of the Messiah" was supplied from a copy of the lecture published in The Marcellus (New York) Observer, Nov. 17, 1950.]