Christian Science: The Joyous Gospel of Healing and Love
Walter S. Symonds, C.S.B., of San Antonio, Texas
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
In a world devoted to research and material achievement, a different approach to mankind's problem ‒ a spiritually scientific approach ‒ is meeting the test of consistent healing, Walter S. Symonds, C.S.B., of San Antonio, Texas, said in a Christian Science lecture in Boston this noon.
During the last 80 years the expanding practice of Christian Science has restored the spiritual healing practiced by Christ Jesus and the early Christians, Mr. Symonds said. As a result, he added, materialistic thinking is being as directly challenged by pure Christianity today as it was 2,000 years ago.
Mr. Symonds spoke in the Colonial Theater under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. His lecture was entitled "Christian Science: The Joyous Gospel of Healing and Love."
A member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship, he was introduced by Mrs. Ruth Lund, C.S., Second Reader of The Mother Church.
Jesus Changed Human Thinking
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Had you and I been sitting beside a certain road about nineteen hundred and twenty years ago in the land of Palestine across the seas, we could have seen a strange sight one day. Our attention would have been attracted by a multitude of people running and shouting excitedly along the way. Probably at the head of the throng we could have observed a serene-faced young man, a Galilean in his early thirties, riding upon a donkey while the noisy crowd scattered palms, robes, and flowers in his path. Above the babble of voices, there would have rung in our ears the psalms and hosannas that they were singing.
Little would we have known, perhaps, that this motley group was following a man who was to change the course of human thinking for all time to come. Little did those joyous people know the far-reaching effects of their acts that day. Many of them had been healed of divers diseases, and their praise was spontaneous. Some, no doubt, had joined the throng out of curiosity, but all were drawn in some way to this unusual man from Galilee. His few short years of preaching and teaching had brought healing and hope to their weary lives.
It well might have been that we too would have fallen in line with the procession and then later followed to the garden of Gethsemane and there milled around with the tumultuous mob through the long night; but it might also have been true that we would not have understood the great impact that was then being wrought upon the world. Would we have gone home at the break of day discouraged and downcast? Or would we, like the faithful few, have grasped the burning words of the Master, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel"? (Mark 16:15.)
What gospel was he talking about? It was the welcome news of God's relationship to man. Through the dark years of ecclesiastical despotism men had been bowing down to ritualism and formalism. But now there dawned a new light ‒ a light in the hearts of men, bringing hope and revealing the nearness of God. It was a great revelation ‒ a spiritual view of life ‒ and was being manifested before their eyes, healing the sick, making the disconsolate happy, helping the sinful to see and to know the joy of righteous living. Was that not grand news? The word "gospel" comes from the Anglo-Saxon words "god-spell" meaning "good tidings," and so the very derivation of the word conveys the import of this eventful occasion.
Although nearly two thousand years have gone by since that day, you and I still are thrilled by this same gospel. By its very nature it is the Word of God and is as new to us now as it was to men then. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away" (Mark 13:31). Jesus was the name given to the corporeal man born in Galilee, but Mrs. Eddy says the Christ is "the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (Science and Health, p. 583). When Jesus rode humbly into Jerusalem, bringing to the world a new concept of life, the healing and saving mission of the Christ, it was one of the greatest days in all human history.
Hope Continues Through Ages
Through the centuries, following the time of Jesus, men have experienced difficult and dark ages, but the joy and evidence glimpsed by these [ ] on the Palestinian roads so long ago have been a beam of light that has never flickered out. The hearts of men have opened to receive it, and stronger and stronger the gospel has grown in its influence. About three hundred years after the crucifixion of Jesus, spiritual healing was lost sight of, but there has remained the hope and the desire to know God better. Once again this desire has been answered through another messenger revealing to the world the healing power of the gospel.
This time it was a spiritually-minded New England woman who devoted her life to this mission. An instantaneous healing, which followed the reading of the story of a palsied man healed by Jesus, in the second verse of the ninth chapter of Matthew, stirred her determined desire to know the positive rule for healing. Long years of prayer, Scriptural research, and practical application of the truths recorded in the Bible led to the discovery of God's ever-available law by Mary Baker Eddy, who named her discovery Christian Science.
Christian Science has reinstated primitive Christian healing to mankind, and it is now known and practiced in nearly every nation. It has met and is meeting the needs of many persons throughout the globe. It has led the earnest seeker to understand and to prove divine Principle in his daily life. It has enabled humanity to make practical and confident application of spiritual power to the solving of every problem.
Problems seem to exist, because humanity is not conscious of the truth of man's being ‒ not conscious that Principle, the exact and undeviating fact of God's creation, is the only reality. The truth of all things is that nothing has existence or permanence but God and His ideas. Mortal man delves into the material phenomena and finds himself amazed and confused about the origin of man. He advances countless hypotheses, but all of them fall because they are grounded on the material testimony. Christian Science begins its reasoning by basing all cause upon God or divine Mind. Mrs. Eddy writes in the Manual of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life" (p. 15). Christian Science proves its statements by demonstrating the rules as set forth in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. The demonstrations are made manifest in human minds and bodies, healing them and bringing their actions into harmony and concord with the truth of being.
True Meaning of Demonstration
Frequently Christian Scientists are heard to use the word "demonstration," but sometimes this is not understood by the new student of this subject or one unfamiliar with it. One may believe that he has an illness, and to mortal sense he is said to be sick. This very statement implies that he is not in harmony with the truth oŁ his being. Sickness is not his ideal nor the fact of his existence. He desires health, which is his real sense of perfection. Now the very word "health" is derived from the root word meaning "whole" or "holy." In other words, what the sick man desires is holiness or wholeness.
Let us reason with this individual who believes he is sick and see what we can do for him. Man has been created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26, 27). There is only one God, and the Bible tells us that God has said, "I am the Lord, and there is none else." Who can logically say that man is the product of chance; or that he just happened into existence? Can intelligent man evolve from nonintelligent matter? Only man has been gifted as the son of God and endowed with power to understand the truth about his real self. As this understanding dawns upon one's consciousness, his realization of his sonship with God becomes clearer, and then he begins to think rightly about his relationship to God. With thought thus corrected, man is seen to be harmonious, and his mortal belief of life is dropped little by little for the divine Principle of being. When this is done, one is said to have made his demonstration. In other words, he has come to know God and has put into practice his understanding of the Father. This eliminates wrong or erroneous thinking and heals the body.
Words without works are futile. "The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life" (II Cor. 3:6). Our mere rehearsal of words and formulas brings empty promises unless we put them into our daily practice. By actually living the truths we preach, we lay aside the old man, and in the place of hatred we have love; in the place of selfishness, generosity; in the place of unkindness, compassion; in the place of sensuality, spirituality; in the place of war, peace; and in the place of devils, angels. From the fabric of a worn and tattered humanity, by demonstrating the perfect man we have a joyous, useful, and spiritual life, helping our fellow men instead of dominating and depressing them. This brings peace beyond our fondest hopes, and therein lies the greatness of man. Then the Christian Science gospel of healing is demonstrated over mortal mind, and man realizes his dominion over evil.
Mrs. Eddy says on pages 151 and 152 of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "That mortal mind claims to govern every organ of the mortal body, we have overwhelming proof. But this so-called mind is a myth, and must by its own consent yield to Truth." But what is mortal mind? Science and Health says it is "a belief that life, substance, and intelligence are in and of matter; the opposite of Spirit, and therefore the opposite of God, or good; the belief that life has a beginning and therefore an end; the belief that man is the offspring of mortals" (p. 592). This would embrace all the false beliefs about man, including the fall of Adam and man's subsequent separation from his creator and the belief that evil or devil is more powerful than good. It would embody and make real, accidents, sickness, war, hatred, etc. It would give rise to all the speculative theories of mortal existence, the contradictory beliefs of medical treatment, physiotherapy, psychosomatic medicine, and dozens of other methods designed to heal the sick through material means. On the other hand, Christian Science, relying wholly upon divine Mind and without resorting to material remedies, heals the sick by spiritual means alone.
During the last World War a young naval officer was hospitalized on the West Coast of our country. His leg had been severely injured overseas. It was first thought by the doctors that there was no hope for him. Then later it was believed that amputation would be necessary. Such action was deferred, the doctors waiting to see what developments would take place, but in any event their opinions were that he would never again have full use of his leg. The young officer was a Christian Scientist, reared in a Christian Science Sunday School and a member of The Mother Church. Although it was necessary for him to submit to the rules and regulations imposed upon him by the Navy, there was no thought on his part that medical aid or medical laws had any force or effect. The laws laid down by the doctors were constantly denied, and the truth that man is created by God was constantly affirmed. A Wartime Minister, with the firm conviction that man is the son of God and not subject to medical theories, was soon active on the case, and there was no collusion with the doctors and Christian Science treatment, to take credit for the healing so far as the patient and the Wartime Minister were concerned. Slow but steady progress was manifested from the very beginning of Christian Science treatment.
Beliefs of Mortal Law Overcome
The annulment of the beliefs of mortal mind was interesting to observe. First there was the belief that life would be lost after the injury, but the consciousness of the eternality of God's man was clung to by the young officer, even after hope had been given up by the medical men. Then came the expressed opinions, "His leg will have to be amputated, and a medical discharge will be the outcome." The Wartime Minister continued treatments, and soon the medical men conceded that the officer might get about in a wheel chair. This thought was met, and crutches were resorted to, and then one crutch was admitted to be sufficient. Later a cane replaced the crutch. Gradually mortal belief had given way to progress, but one final mortal law was laid down, "He will always have a stiff leg and limp." In a few months this false statement was overcome also, and the young officer was free.
The calm, strong currents of the truth of being ‒ that God's son was ever perfect, whole, and free ‒ that he could not suffer nor be the victim of accident ‒ were more powerful than the mortal seeming of error. Mrs. Eddy says, "Accidents are unknown to God, or immortal Mind, and we must leave the mortal basis of belief and unite with the one Mind, in order to change the notion of chance to the proper sense of God's unerring direction and thus bring out harmony" (Science and Health, p. 424).
The progress of the naval officer amazed the medical authorities. Condemned at first to invalidism, he was healed and returned to active duty. Christian Science applied in his life superseded mortal opinions, and today he is a strong exponent of the healing power of divine Love. The gospel of Christian Science healing strengthened his faith in God. He is active in a branch church and clings steadfastly and gratefully to the teachings of this great religion.
Abraham prayed for a son to follow in his footsteps and to carry his God-given message to the world. He had the utmost confidence in God. We all remember the story of how Sarah bore him a child in her old age, thus fulfilling God's promise to Abraham (Gen. 21:2). The joy and inspiration were great to Abraham, because God had answered his prayer in Isaac. As the boy grew, the father was most pleased by God's goodness. Then one day in the height of his prosperity, Abraham, mesmerized by the age-old belief that God desired blood sacrifice and burnt offering, thought that God had told him to offer Isaac for a burnt offering. So he took Isaac into a mountain to be sacrificed for his God. He bound the boy and was about to make the sacrifice when God spoke to him, awakened him from this mesmerism, and ordered him to lay not his hand upon him, for He had found Abraham in his faithfulness and devotion willing to part with his most cherished possession ‒ the son God had promised him. Humanly it must have been a heart-rending experience, but his faith and his obedience were well rewarded. God spared Issac to fulfill the promise, "That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 22:17,18).
Prayer Is Communion With God
Later Paul, looking back over the Biblical account of this event, pointed out that "by faith. Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure" (Hebr. 11:17-19). So Abraham came to be known as the father of the children of Israel. His faith in God proved his worthiness of so great a people.
When one turns wholeheartedly to God in his thoughts, he is praying. Prayer is not the mere utterance of words, but it is that self-conscious communion with God which spiritualizes his thinking and regenerates his life. One importunes the omnipotent God, who is Spirit ‒ the Father of all real being ‒ and realizes that his sonship is perfect and present; thus the healing of all discordant conditions is accomplished.
Healing involves a restoration to wholeness. When the human is conscious of the belief that man is separated from good, he feels the need of understanding man's present completeness. Sin, sickness, and death are the opposite of good and afford no satisfaction to mortal man in his quest for relief from the pains of the physical senses.
It is then that a desire for healing or an understanding of man's oneness with good or God is most persistent.
To know God and to understand divine Principle, Love, is to dwell in the realm of perfection, where man is neither sick nor sinful. The rise of human thought to this plane of thinking destroys mortality and reveals man's freedom from all evil. As we rise, mortal or erroneous thoughts vanish into their native nothingness. One is then conscious only of God and His creation, from which issue the harmonious and true facts of His existence, Life, Truth, and Love.
Mrs. Eddy says "Desire is prayer" (Science and Health, p. 1), and so we pray aright when we desire and demonstrate good, God and His reflection. Thus one sees that a conscious contact with God can only be through prayer. Whirling a prayer stick or saying words by rote does not constitute prayer. There must be a consecration of one's thought, life, and action to God before it can be truly said that he is praying. This nearness to God is more felt than seen and is an individual experience through spiritual inspiration. We may have the full assurance that our prayers will be heard and answered. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law" (Gal. 5:22,23).
Understanding Routs False Belief
Once a young expectant mother was living in a city which was under quarantine for polio, and there was much fear expressed in the newspapers and over the radio, enumerating dozens of victims daily. The young mother read these stories and tried unsuccessfully to shut them out of her consciousness. Suddenly she was seized with the malady. The birth of her baby was only three months away, and her thought was possessed with the fear that her child would be injured. Days and nights of struggle followed, but the mother clung steadfastly to God and refused all material remedies. Her body from the hips down was useless. She and her practitioner prayed earnestly for a clear understanding of God. It then dawned upon her consciousness that God never made man sick and sinful, and that man created in His image and likeness was whole, upright, and free. Although she had different practitioners on various occasions to help her, she was not aroused from her apathy until she realized that salvation is individual, and that she herself must rise in the strength of Spirit; that God is the motive power and that man walks only by reflection. Needless to say she was perfectly healed before the birth of her child, and no material evidence of the disease remained. Today her boy is a strong, active little fellow enjoying the freedom of perfect childhood and is a living witness to the healing power of Truth.
Mrs. Eddy says that the God-inspired walk calmly onward (Science and Health 41:8). Man's work always involves progression. In other words, man never stands still nor walks backward. Life is always active, never decadent nor static. We say that a stone is lifeless, because it never grows, never moves of its own volition. On the other hand, we call a tree or a blade of grass alive, because it puts forth its tiny roots into the soil, gathering its nutriment and pushing its leaves forth, thus manifesting action. By his spiritual growth and progression, man expresses life by action.
By the very nature of creation, man shows forth God's idea by unfoldment, not accretion. "God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis" (Science and Health, p. 258). This unfoldment is the evidence of God's care. Mind is the creator, and Mind is never asleep ‒ never without its constant unfoldment. Science and Health says, "God rests in action" (p. 519).
The rousing of human consciousness from an inactive or sleeping state to the alert and positive reflection of ever-present, omniactive Mind results in healing. In other words, it results from rousing of thought from a belief of separation from God or good to the consciousness of man's oneness with God. When man is conscious of God's presence, all evil disappears. Thus one being inspired goes calmly onward, and the disturbances and discords of this world do not affect him. When one walks toward the sun, he cannot see the shadows, because they fall behind him. When one's thought dwells on health and holiness, he cannot be conscious of the diseased and sickly beliefs of mortal man, because their shadows fall behind him.
Turning to God Heals Human Ills
Far from the gospel of spiritual healing, we observe the frantic search for health now being made by mortal man. Diets, new medicines, exercises, climates, environments, and dozens of other methods are advocated ‒ all of them trying to find material means to produce, restore, or maintain health. There are also certain systems of so-called mind cure or psychiatric remedies. All of these base their hope upon matter or mortal mind. Those who sponsor these cures are doubtless sincere and believe strongly in their efficacy. But they leave God ‒ the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient spiritual God, the only true God, as Isaiah says ‒ out of their reckoning. How can one reason that senseless matter can be intelligent? How can one think that the human body gives health and life to mind? One who has made demonstrations in Christian Science can say of a certainty that Mind cannot be found in matter. He knows that spiritual intuitions come to him from spiritually uplifted thoughts and not from carnal or sensuous thinking or experiences. When he turns to God in his thought, he forgets his human woes. Science and Health says: "Consciousness constructs a better body when faith in matter has been conquered. Correct material belief by spiritual understanding, and Spirit will form you anew" (p. 425). Thus we come to know healing, the restoration of human thinking to discern the spiritual sense of things, the dropping off of the old man and the putting on of the new, the man of God's creating.
Now comes the Christian Science gospel to reassure us and to make us unafraid. All about us today we hear expressed great fear of the woes that beset mortal man. The press, the radio, the daily conversation, and every avenue of communication carry a surplus of rumors or repetition of things said to be inimical to the survival of humanity. One of the most terrifying is the atom bomb, the discovery and use of which has instilled thoughts of hopelessness and dread. The discovery of this atomic force has been aimed mostly at destruction. Some day the Christian Science view will be more broadly accepted that atomic action is in reality the spiritual force of divine Mind which, like so many other things of God, is perverted by mortal mind's reversal into a means of destruction. We will then recognize the truth of Mrs. Eddy's words when she says: "Physical science (so-called) is human knowledge, ‒ a law of mortal mind, a blind belief, a Samson shorn of his strength. . . . Adhesion, cohesion, and attraction are properties of Mind. . . . Human knowledge calls them forces of matter; but divine Science declares that they belong wholly to divine Mind, are inherent in this Mind, and so restores them to their rightful home and classification" (Science and Health, p. 124).
Adhesion, cohesion, and attraction are words commonly used in the discussion of atomic energy. Now these being properties of divine Mind, atomic action is not a force of matter but a belief of mortal mind. Its misuse and perversion are evident through the terror and fear it has engendered, and no property of divine Mind can produce such evil. When through spiritualization of thought we restore this so-called force to its rightful home and use for good, we will no longer be afraid of its effects, but will see that God's law brings only good. The prophecies of Isaiah will be realized, "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them" (Isa. 11:6).
It is through prayer, communion with God, that confidence in the gospel of spiritual healing is realized. Science and Health says: "In divine Science, where prayers are mental, all may avail themselves of God as a very present help in trouble.' Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals. It is the open fount which cries, 'Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters' " (pp. 12,13).
One may pray incessantly and never deplete the resources of Love. Prayer is not for a select number nor for a particular hour. It is always at hand and opens up an inexhaustible reservoir of love and wisdom. The more it is used the greater is its availability. Being spiritually mental, it can be utilized in the secret chambers of our inmost desires. In the long hours of the night and alone, one can reach out and feel the presence of God; or in the lonely desert at high noon, or in the crowded streets of a great city, one can find comfort in the nearness of divine Love through prayer. One can shut out the jolting senses of daily life and retire to the calm, serene fortress of Spirit. "Love never faileth." Strength and poise and confidence are drawn from this never-diminishing, ever-present consciousness of God and His heaven of harmony.
Mrs. Eddy Caught Vision of Truth
It is through prayer that man comes to realize his oneness with God. Jesus, our great Way-shower, was instant in prayer. When he raised Lazarus from the dead, he lifted up his eyes and said: "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always" (John 11:41,42). The healing of Lazarus followed immediately. Here once more healing was the restoration to human thought of the true sense of man, overcoming the false belief of disease and death.
Mrs. Eddy caught this glorious vision of the efficacy of prayer and spent many years conveying to humanity the great message revealed to her through her understanding. One of the gems of English literature is her chapter on Prayer in Science and Health. She recognized that lip service alone, the mere repetition of words and phrases, is of little value. One must go and do as the Master did, "heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast, out devils." Creeds and doctrines in themselves were useless. The life exemplifying these instructions of Christ Jesus must put these precepts into practice. Hence, the teachings of Christian Science have become a way of life.
Thus the great Christian Science movement has come to be the gospel of healing to this age. Christian Scientists recognize that they must live what they preach. The uplifting works of sincere Christian Scientists are bringing radiance, sunshine, and healing to the gloomy outlook of many who have been following the false gods of materialism.
Could we more fittingly conclude this lecture than by quoting the following verses from a song in the Christian Science Hymnal (No. 201):
"O do not bar your mind
Against the light of good;
But open wide, let in the Word,
And Truth will be your food.
. . . . . . . . . . .
"Then open wide your heart
To Truth and Light and Love;
You then shall know your life is hid
With Christ in God above."
[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, March 23, 1956.]