Christian Science: The Science of Spiritual Healing
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Activity of Christian Thinking
On the first page of the Preface of the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, makes this statement, "The time for thinkers has come." Mrs. Eddy was an unusually well-educated woman; she studied the philosophies of all ages, so her announcement on the first page of the Preface to her book must apply to thinking as something other than the intellectual contemplation of the centuries.
Christ Jesus told his followers, you remember, that to know God is life eternal, in other words that through enlightened thought they should know the truth and that the truth would make them free; through a spiritually mental process liberty was to be found. Life eternal and liberty are precious accompaniments of spiritual thinking.
Christ Jesus wrought a revolution in the world's thinking. His teaching, though darkened for centuries in the Middle Ages, is the foundation of our society today - a society in which, whatever the difficulties we may be going through, the sanctity of individual conscience is in a large measure respected and protected.
Christ Jesus' teachings revealed God as a loving Father and so revealed the brotherhood of man. His lifework proved or demonstrated that a loving Father does not send evil upon His children but that the understanding of His nature heals sickness and provides boundless good. He told the woman of Samaria - a religious outcast in the eyes of the Jews - that God is Spirit and is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth, rather than in one place and by one people. This teaching, in addition to the fact that he had discerned the Samaritan woman's past history, was so startling that she called her friends and told them that she had found the Christ or Saviour. Her thinking was changed.
Many centuries later Mary Baker Eddy, a devout worshipper of God in the spirit, a faithful follower of God as Love, an expectant believer that the sick could be healed by God at any time at any place, was healed instantaneously when she had been given up to die as the result of an accident. This healing which came about as she read in Matthew the account of the man healed of the palsy, showed her that Jesus had used a law which healed through spiritual means alone. She saw that as Jesus had healed the man sick of the palsy of both sin and sickness, this divine law must be available at all times and would again heal both sin and sickness. Mrs. Eddy was a Christian thinker and turned in
thoughtful prayer to God, whom she knew to be Love, for an understanding of this healing. In describing her own thought after her healing, Mrs. Eddy says: "The divine hand led me into a new world of light and Life, a fresh universe - old to God, but new to His 'little one.' It became evident that the divine Mind alone must answer, and be found as the Life, or Principle, of all being; and that one must acquaint himself with God, if he would be at peace. He must be ours practically, guiding our every thought and action; else we cannot understand the omnipresence of good sufficiently to demonstrate, even in part, the Science of the perfect Mind and divine healing" (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 27).
The revelation came to her gradually as she studied her Bible; for three years she read little else, prayed and proved the law she had discovered. Her discovery has brought as great a revolution to human thinking as did the teachings of Jesus, who taught that God is universal. Christian Science teaches that the real universe, including man, is spiritual, created by Spirit, God, and governed and controlled by spiritual laws, and that this true understanding of being redeems mankind from sin, sickness, and death.
Mrs. Eddy was a woman of great moral courage and integrity. She loved God and she loved humanity. She had grown up in a New Hampshire home where religion was a matter of everyday interest and discussion. A biographer tells us how, as a child, she would stay awake listening to her father and his friends talking about religious matters. She was accustomed to think deeply about religion. Blind obedience to doctrine which she could not reconcile with a God who is Love was not acceptable to her. Her healing proved to her the presence of an ever-available spiritual law, and that this law was propounded in the Scriptures. Her qualities of moral courage, integrity, thoughtfulness, enabled her to perceive that God who is Love is also Principle, governing all that He has made, and that man is truly His beloved child or idea subject only to His will.
She saw that God's will for the child whom He loved would be health, prosperity, progress, and well being. This law of Love she perceived to be active in human affairs as God's nature is discerned and expressed. It was the understanding of God as divine Principle, Love, which gave Mrs. Eddy strength and power to give her discovery to the world in her textbook, prove it in permanent healings of all manner of disease, and protect it in the Christian Science organization which she founded and established. Without the demonstration of spiritual healing, as practiced in Christian Science, the statement that the universe including man is spiritual might be considered transcendental. When through the healing of sickness, sin, lack, unhappiness, by spiritual means alone God is proved to be divine Principle governing all reality, the spiritual fact of creation is seen to be worthy of research and respect.
In Mrs. Eddy's three years search for the Principle of her healing the Bible was her only textbook. She prayed and searched and listened. The Bible from Genesis to Revelation revealed to her inspired truths of God, man, and the universe. This pure light showed her that the first chapter of Genesis is a spiritually scientific account of creation and that Spirit is the creator. Consequently it creates a spiritual universe including man, and this proves the theory of a material universe to be delusive and fading.
Christ Jesus' teaching showed Mrs. Eddy the way of spiritual living. She courageously accepted the cross of selfless devotion and in due course gave the world her revelation in her textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures."
The Bible the Basis of Christian Science
Jesus taught that a spiritual understanding of the Scriptures is essential to well-being; Mrs. Eddy also has designated the Bible as the basis of her teachings. Her followers love the Bible and study it daily in conjunction with the Christian Science textbook. It is the King James Version of the Bible which is used in Christian Science churches throughout the English-speaking world and is mainly used by the student in his researches.
As an aid to this study and to provide accurate sermons, Mrs. Eddy instituted the weekly Bible Lessons. These lessons are compiled by a committee of Christian Scientists and are published in the Christian Science Quarterly. The Bible Lesson for the week, comprised of correlative selections from the Bible and Science and Health, serves as a Lesson-Sermon. It is studied daily by students and is read the following Sunday as the sermon in all Churches of Christ, Scientist. This study during the week is inspiring and educational, and it brings to the services a prepared thought on the sermon which sheds fresh light to all and evinces healing power. Although the words read are the same throughout the world and the same sermon is read twice where there are two services on Sunday, each reading of it is individual and inspirational.
The student of Christian Science loves his Lesson-Sermon, and goes to it each day. He finds there messages from the Bible and from Science and Health which meet his need for the day and help him to know God and man better. The subjects, twenty-six in number, were chosen by Mrs. Eddy and are repeated once during the year. They treat of God and man, Christ Jesus and Christian Science, substance and matter, reality and unreality, various religious doctrines and other subjects.
The Lesson-Sermon explains God as basically defined on page 587 of the Christian Science textbook: "GOD. The great I AM; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence."
It explains man, if in accordance with
the first chapter of Genesis, as made in the
image and likeness of God: as spiritual and perfect, loving and
intelligent, wise, active, and immortal, the man to whom God gave dominion over
all the earth and its hosts; the only man God made; your true being, my true
being. It teaches that to know God and man aright gives the power to heal the
sick, destroy fear, and become aware of the
Through the study of the Bible and through listening for the answer from the divine Mind, Mrs. Eddy learned to know God. Through the study of the Bible and of her writing we too may become acquainted with Him and be at peace; come to know Him as practically guiding our every thought and action.
We Become Acquainted With God
We learn that God is good. As Mind, He expresses Himself through law in all His creation. Where an honest heart loves good there the law of God is seen to operate, revealing His creation; and spiritual understanding is expressed in the healing of physical ills. The Psalmist said, you remember (Ps. 62:11), "God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God." Power belongeth unto divine Mind. Power therefore is established in human experience through right thinking. As God is infinite Spirit we learn He is everywhere, is all. He cannot really have an opposite. The Psalmist said again (Ps. 139:7-10); "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou are there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me."
We cannot get away from God. As God is Love this means we cannot be anywhere His care does not reach us, where His comfort cannot be felt, where His wisdom is not at hand to guide us. As God is Truth we need never fear the truth, but can love it, desire it, seek it. Fear is just a mistaken sense of power, presence, and fact. We do not need to admit it, fear it, or obey it. The prophets of old through their understanding of God knew that fear was baseless. To Isaiah divine Mind said (Isa. 41:10): "Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; Yea, I will help thee: yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." The truth of any situation is always compassionate. It is always a spiritual fact.
As God is Life, life cannot be dependent on matter, on physical organs, food, or atmosphere. Jesus taught that to know God is life eternal. The understanding that God is Life destroys the belief in death and, as has been proved many times in Christian Science, restores physical well-being to those expected to die under medical verdict. To know God as Soul reveals glimpses of the enduring beauty and grandeur which nature symbolizes. God is not in matter, in hills or clouds, tree or torrent; but the spiritual ideas which they represent originate in Mind, God. The Christian Science textbook says (page 60), "Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more readily attained and would be more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul." If faced by discouragement, drabness, discord, we can become conscious of the presence and allness of God, Soul; become aware, as Soul is aware, of the glory, tenderness, and perfection of spiritual creation. As we identify our thinking with God, accepting only thoughts which come from divine Mind, we shall find the human experience transformed through this spiritual thinking.
This effort to think in line with divine Mind is called prayer or treatment in Christian Science. The resulting transformation of human experience - whether from disease to health, unhappiness to happiness, frustration to achievement - is called demonstration. It is the proof of the present operation of the divine Principle, Love, in human thinking or human consciousness.
We Come to Know Christ, the Saviour
Christ Jesus was the most effective
demonstrator of the presence of God who ever lived. He said, "I and my
Father are one" (John );
"The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth
the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these
also doeth the Son likewise" (John ).
His thoughts were spiritual. The divine Mind led him, and he listened for its spiritual
ideas and spoke with the authority of Principle. He spoke of himself, you
remember as "a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of
God" (John ). He
denied that he was God, but he taught and demonstrated the unity of God and man
as Father and son, or, as explained in Christian Science, Mind and idea,
Principle and reflection, cause and effect. The birth of Jesus was contrary to
the so-called laws of matter. His whole career put to silence material law. He
walked on the sea, fed the multitude, healed the sick, raised
the dead through the power of Spirit. He was conscious always of the universe
of Spirit, the
In Science and Health we read, "Jesus represented Christ, the true idea of God," and later in the same paragraph; "Christ presents the indestructible man, whom Spirit creates, constitutes, and governs. Christ illustrates that blending with God, his divine Principle, which gives man dominion over all the earth" (p. 316). The Christ, the immortal idea of Truth, is ever active in human consciousness, to redeem it from the error of material thinking, and to reveal true selfhood to be the man whom Spirit creates, constitutes, and governs. The Christ heals the sick now as in Jesus' day. The Christ message comes to the human heart; the sufferer responds, "I am well," "I am beloved," "I am secure," and the peace, which Jesus promised could never be taken away, is established.
To blend with God is not to lose one's identity. It is to reflect the qualities of God, to be Christlike. It requires the individual to serve and obey Christian moral standards and to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling, thereby demonstrating his true spiritual identity, which is forever free from that which is unlike God. There is no hopeless situation. Through the spiritual understanding of the allness of God, good, and consequent nothingness of evil, the allness of God, Spirit, and consequent nothingness of matter, the student of Christian Science has a firm basis from which to work.
Christian Science teaches that evil is an impostor to be discerned, faced, overcome, and so proved unreal - that is, without origin or authority from God. To believe that God, good, created evil, sin, and sickness that mankind might learn to be strong in the right is like believing that the principle of mathematics created mistakes in order that mankind might become better mathematicians. A problem in mathematics is not given us that we may make mistakes and so learn, but that we may increase our understanding of the laws of mathematics by applying them to the problem and solving it. Mistakes arise in human experience through willfulness or ignorance. They cannot discourage or bind us if we turn from the false material sense of self and gratefully and gladly acknowledge our true identity as the likeness of divine Mind which never makes mistakes. As we do this we find the comfort, power, and intelligence of divine Love right with us to meet our need. In the Bible we read that "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:17) Through the Christ understanding of the man whom Spirit creates, constitutes, and governs, humanity is redeemed from sickness as well as from sin.
The Christ qualities, spiritually understood, expressed, and respected, confer power in human affairs. This government cannot be delegated. As each citizen of the world recognizes his own Christliness as the child of God, so his experience, his universe, will conform to the law of Spirit, the law of Love, to justice and individual freedom. Neither lawless license nor tyranny of human will constitutes true government. To bring peace and progress to humanity, it is necessary for each individual to desire peace and progress in his own affairs and to work for them through true self-government. National governments are truly governments of the people - they are the result of the nation's thinking.
True Desire to Be Cherished
In the darkest hours of human history, the fervent desire for peace and progress has stirred the enlightened human thought earnestly to seek a higher sense of brotherhood and unity. You know what a dark shadow a bright light throws. Today the shadows seem very dark, but the light of spiritual yearning in many parts of the globe is bright and is the hope of the race. In her chapter on Prayer in Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy says (p. 4), "What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds." In this chapter she reiterates the importance of honest desire for spirituality. And the reader may well find himself asking, "Is desire for spiritual good awake and active in my thinking, or have I allowed it to become dormant?"
Let us just consider for a moment true desire and the reason it should not be allowed to sleep or idle. Right desire is the expression of divine impetus in human consciousness; it brings persistence and achievement. To quench such desire is to produce apathy, indifference and the acceptance of wrong conditions. If the desire for growth in grace is sincere we are wholehearted and are willing to make sacrifices to attain our desire. We persist until there is evidence of the answer. The Christian Scientist's desire is for a clearer sense of the great spiritual truths of being which manifest their own harmony in healing and redemption. His whole desire is towards this goal, and he forgets himself in the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace. Mrs. Eddy has referred to grace as the effect of God understood.
To recognize and cultivate true desire exposes the error of false desire - of animality, materiality, false appetite. For instance, when true desire for poise, contentment, fragrance, and freedom is active the false claim that tobacco is desirable loses its illusion. When the true desire for inspiration, security, and dominion is active the false claim, that alcohol can exhilarate or give distinction will fade. That which would enslave, intoxicate, or soil the joyous, intelligent, healthy expression of divine Life is evil. When resisted it is found to be without power or authority.
Christian Science does not deaden right desire. It is the Science of Jesus' teachings, and he said that he had come that we might have life more abundantly. But how can we have life more abundantly if we do not desire more of it? The moth of complacency and the rust of indolence cannot corrupt where there is desire for spiritual food.
Mrs. Eddy says, "Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds" Science and Health, (p. 1). Desire is the heart's prayer. Let us think whether our desire is genuine; whether it is the response to Mind's demand for further unfoldment of good, or whether it is mesmeric. True prayer is answered. False desire is false prayer, and there are many who, as a result of false desire, have had a burdened road to travel.
True desire is for spiritual good, not for material things. Jesus said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33). Should the desire be for health, a clearer expression of man's perfection as the child of God should be sought; if the desire is for wider opportunity, an understanding of the infinite unfoldment of Mind s ideas, right where you are, should be sought. You cannot limit in any direction the unfoldment of a spiritual idea. Should the desire be for companionship, a higher sense of companionship should be sought. Love, joy, intelligence, and wisdom, desired, and striven for, will be manifested in a more congenial expression of companionship. We need to weigh our desires. If they are definitely for something material they are ignorant, but through our understanding of Christian Science we can exchange them for enlightened desires for spiritual ideas and spiritual qualities. We are then entrusting God with our desires, and He has such wonderful ways of fulfilling His promise that "no good thing shall he withhold from them that walk uprightly" (Ps. 84:11).
A Choice Presented
Through the years the philosophers have presented the theory that the universe is a mental concept. Physicists and biologists now say that it is a development of the brain, which they consider the source of intelligence (Reith Lecture, 1951, by J. Z. Young). Mrs. Eddy said, "The physical universe expresses the conscious and unconscious thoughts of mortals" (Science and Health, p. 484). True existence is in spiritual consciousness. Matter is not substance - it is material thinking.
Christian Science teaches, as we
have seen, that the first chapter of Genesis is a spiritually scientific
account of creation; that God, Spirit, could create nothing unlike Himself. His
creation therefore is spiritual. It teaches that God is Mind, divine Mind,
knowing nothing unlike Himself. Matter, being unlike
Spirit, is therefore unknown to Spirit, Mind. Spiritual understanding divides
between the true creation of Spirit and the false belief of material creation.
This understanding reveals the spiritual universe as the realm of the real,
admitted but not understood by philosophers and physicists. This realm of the
real is not something intangible or unattainable - it is the
From Genesis to Revelation the choice between Spirit and matter has been put before humanity. Moses put it thus (Deut. 30:19); "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live." Jesus said (Matt. ), "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."
A student of Christian Science living in a city under air attack during the Second World War was one day walking in the streets pondering the outlook. The same choice came to her in this way: "The war will be the destruction of what appears real to material sense or the destruction of the belief in matter; which will it be for you?" She made her choice then and there that she would more earnestly endeavor to destroy her belief in matter - with the result that nothing which belonged to her was destroyed.
This choice is before each thinker today: the choice as to which shall be determinate in his experience, the universe of Spirit or the evidence of his senses - a universe made of matter. It is in accordance with his choice that his health, happiness, and security are established. His experience, in other words, is the outcome of his thinking. His release from discord comes in proportion as he chooses rightly and then sets to work to bring his thinking into conformity with what he knows of the spiritual universe.
Matter Proved Insubstantial
Some years ago a friend of mine who had not been interested in Christian Science very long was faced with the choice of which way she should go - to a medical doctor or to a Christian Science practitioner. She had become interested in Christian Science because she liked the way of life it opened to her, but she had not proved its healing power, nor did she seriously think of it as a means of healing. For some years a bone in her foot had been out of place. This resulted in displacement of ligaments and muscles with great pain, and it was hard for her to walk. She had been to a doctor, who said that he could do nothing for her, and also to a chiropractor, who had put the bone back and helped her for a while. But after a year or so it slipped out of place again, and the condition which affected her whole body became worse.
In describing her experience, my friend said that it was as though two voices were arguing. One said, "You had better try Christian Science." The other said, "Christian Science may be all right for mental diseases, but it could not possibly heal bones, ligaments, and muscles." Then the first voice came back: "What do you mean? You say God is all-power and immediately limit Him to the ability to heal mental diseases. He IS all-power, or He is NOT all-power." You see she was honest and thought out the position. She went to a Christian Science practitioner and told her that she did not know whether to ask her or the chiropractor for help. The practitioner said that she was at least honest and that she had had enough faith to go to her. The practitioner talked to her to show her the falsity of her belief in matter, its structure and her dependence on it. My friend said that the practitioner showed her that Life was not in bits and pieces but was one all-inclusive whole. She pointed out that the Bible says that God is our Life, and she said that together they would stand aside and see how God would bring her through the experience. By this the practitioner meant that my friend was to lay aside her fears and doubts and trust God to manifest His presence in healing, while the practitioner would apply her understanding of Christian Science in prayer. In three days the ligaments were in their right position, and all the swelling was gone and my friend was healed. Since that time she has naturally placed full reliance on Spirit, on God and His law as explained in Christian Science.
At another time this same friend had a further experience which showed, as the first did, that one does not try to do something to matter, but the belief that it can make conditions or laws has to be destroyed. As one of her children began to walk she noticed that his legs were twisted and his feet turned. It was pointed out to her that if something were not done his feet would have to be put in iron braces. About this time her husband met with a severe accident. Her fear for him was great. She felt that fear and the hospital verdict that he could not recover would have an ill effect on him. She asked a Christian Science practitioner for help. The practitioner showed her a photograph of a crowded square taken at nighttime when only the lights and the illumination from the lights showed. There was no sign in the picture of the crowds. This gave her a clear realization that only the light records and that the truth she was acknowledging was the only power. That night her husband's complete healing began, and when she got home some days later she found that the child's legs were straight. This was the natural result of her recognition that only the harmony of spiritual creation is really present to be known or experienced. In the light of this recognition the evidence of the erroneous belief that matter could make conditions for man disappeared.
Christian Science Healing
Christian Science healing is not faith healing, neither is it suggestion nor any other machination of the human mind. It is the operation of the truth that man and the universe are spiritual now, and that God's power is everywhere present to destroy belief in discord.
In Science and Health we read: "Our system of Mind-healing rests on the apprehension of the nature and essence of all being, - on the divine Mind and Love's essential qualities. Its pharmacy is moral, and its medicine is intellectual and spiritual, though used for physical healing. Yet this most fundamental part of metaphysics is the one most difficult to understand and demonstrate, for to the material thought all is material, till such thought is rectified by Spirit" (p. 460). To apprehend the nature and essence of all being we need to be willing to leave old theories, learn of the invisible universe of Spirit, and accept its laws as demonstrable in the human experience. This humble mental process wins the revelation of Spirit which illumines thought and gives us true knowledge of the realm of the real in which there is no sickness. This true knowledge, therefore, must result in the disappearance of any evidence of sickness.
During this process the individual will find that to learn Love's essential qualities and to express them will give him a nearer sense of Spirit and a more active proof of Christ's help. Gratitude, joy, and acknowledgment of God's goodness are potent medicine. Honesty, justice, and mercy adjust conditions with skill. Love gives deep comfort, encouragement, and the gleam of triumph, till God's goodness is demonstrated in healing mind and body.
The threat of universal destruction
so much in men's minds today is a threat to the kingdom of material belief. The
thought which came to that Christian Scientist at the beginning of the war is
applicable to all of us today. The coming years - are they to be lived under
threat of destruction to what appears real to material sense? Or is the
A Time for Thinkers
This is the age of opportunity for all men. Education is seen to be the need and privilege of all. A just standard of living for all is the aim of righteous government. In times past thinking has been considered the privilege of the scholar and philosopher; others accepted what they were told. Mrs. Eddy's declaration that "the time for thinkers has come," would seem to imply the demand of Truth that each individual should ponder the things of God, become acquainted with Him, and claim the privilege of working out his own salvation and proving his own representation of God's goodness in health, harmony, and prosperity blessing all mankind.
Spiritual thinking opens a door to
limitless opportunity for good. It presents indeed a new heaven and new earth
when the belief in matter - first heaven and first earth - is passed away. No
one need feel at the mercy of circumstances. Through changed thinking he may
experience the dominion given him by his heavenly Father, divine Love. We need
not fear progress in spiritual understanding - it reveals the immortal,
Mrs. Eddy has written (Science and Health, p. 506): "Through divine Science, Spirit, God, unites understanding to eternal harmony. The calm and exalted thought is at peace. Thus the dawn of ideas goes on, forming each successive stage of progress." She also wrote (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 275), "Father, we thank Thee that Thy light and Thy love reach earth, open the prison to them that are bound, console the innocent, and throw wide the gates of heaven."
[Published in The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, March 15, 1956.]