Christian Science: A Fresh Approach to Security
Theodore Wallach, of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Scientific awareness of God's
ever-nearness and power brings real safety and security, Theodore Wallach of
The basis for all security - security from illness and suffering, from sin and failure, from loss and accident - is found in a spiritual understanding of God, Mr. Wallach stated.
A member of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship, he spoke in The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass., on the subject "Christian Science: A Fresh Approach to Security." A former First Reader of The Mother Church, he was introduced by Arthur P. Wuth, the present First Reader.
Mrs. Eddy Found Freedomís Pattern
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Most people, I am sure, do not like to be fooled. Seldom would one find an individual who truthfully admits that he does not mind being deceived. The wise Benjamin Franklin once asked (Poor Richard's Almanac, 1789), "Who has deceived thee so oft as thyself?" But you doubtless say, "I do not deceive myself." Let us look into this matter.
Today, on every hand, a great barrage of propaganda is being directed at the individual. Sometimes helpful advice as to the best washing machine or vacuum cleaner to buy is interspersed with suggestions as to the most healthful cigarette to smoke or the most distinctive liquor to consume. Biased and unbiased recommendations for our security in regard to the major political, financial, moral, and scientific problems confronting the world today also assail us.
Plainly, what has been termed "the battle for men's minds" is in full swing. But the acceptance or rejection of suggestions constantly assailing us is up to each individual. If we accept incorrect statements as true, if we blindly accept mere suggestion as fact, we are indeed self-deceived, and then the judgment implied in Franklin's question, "Who has deceived thee so oft as thyself?" should arouse us to greater alertness.
With unmistakable clarity, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, sets the pattern for our freedom from deception (Pulpit and Press, p. 3), "Know, then, that you possess sovereign power to think and act rightly, and that nothing can dispossess you of this heritage and trespass on Love."
The careful thinker, then, is faced with the necessity for becoming more aware of unprincipled attempts to lead, and mislead, human thought. He finds that the information coming to him through the various media of mass communication must be carefully screened for accuracy.
So, also, must be the conversation of those with whom we come in daily contact. The apparently harmless remark of a friend. "You do not look so well today," may prove to be a mischief-maker, if taken seriously.
I recall a time, several years ago, when I told an acquaintance about an especially good piece of news which had just come to me. Apparently my friend was much impressed. "Why, that's absolutely too good to be true!" he exclaimed. Now it happened that soon after, in conversation with another man I thoughtlessly repeated the unfortunate experience of a friend, about which I had just learned. "Well, what do you expect?" replied the one to whom I was speaking, "Life isn't a bed of roses, you know."
Bible Tells of Totally Good Creator
The concept, so widely held of the naturalness - even the unavoidableness - of evil, and the ephemeral nature of good, well illustrates the depths of deception to which the human mind frequently has fallen. And is not the belief in the authenticity and power of evil one of the main reasons for the world's great sense of insecurity?
How willingly most men listen to tales of the apparent activity and power of evil; how loath they often are to accept accounts of the activity and power of good! Perhaps this explains the fact that, although the glorious nature of spiritual man as the altogether good creation of an altogether good creator is plainly set forth in the very first chapter of the Bible, mankind have, through countless centuries, laid greater stress on the rather obvious allegorical account in the second and following chapters of this great book. And then too many have endeavored to square this latter account with the facts of everyday life.
You know the allegory beginning in the second chapter of Genesis: man created from dust; woman made from his rib and tempted to fall for the conversation of a garrulous serpent who induced her to eat of the forbidden fruit. You will recall that both of them, because of their disobedience, were then driven out of the garden of Eden into a cold, cruel world. I suppose that, according to this allegory, theirs was the very first feeling of insecurity! But are you as familiar with the spiritual account of creation in the first chapter of Genesis? There we are told (Gen. 1:27, 31), "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; . . . and God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."
Now in spite of the well-meaning attempts of some to reconcile these two irreconcilable accounts of creation, no one has really succeeded in believing the two wholly divergent statements.
Many have sought through some materialistic interpretation of Scripture, or through some particular human philosophy, to resolve this momentous question of the actual nature of man and the universe. But is there a more direct or convincing approach than that of the master Christian, Jesus of Nazareth? Said he simply (Matt. ), "Ye shall know them by their fruits." "The fruit of the Spirit" - that is, of spiritual vision or understanding - Paul wrote to the Galatians (Gal. , 23) "is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance;" and the apostle might well have added "security" as a fruit of spiritual understanding.
And this spiritual vision or comprehension of God, good, has such practical results! How many an employee has reestablished cordial relations with an apparently unkind or unreasonable employer as he has looked beneath the surface, so to speak, and has steadfastly beheld the spiritual man of God's creating, who naturally and consistently expresses qualities of love, wisdom, and integrity. How many a friendship has been saved when one spiritually perceptive individual has refused to accept as really belonging to man certain unlovely characteristics evidenced by his acquaintance. And how many a home has been graced with contentment and security when one member of the household has refused to be hurt, has steadily seen through the deceptive evidence of unrighteousness expressed by another, has seen through to the basic Christlike goodness which marks every child of God.
Christ Dissolves Appearance of Evil
These rather obvious fruits of spiritual perception in everyday relationships hint the great freedom from other phases of deceiving sense testimony which comes to one who refuses allegiance to aught but God. Freedom from sin and suffering, from disease and disaster, proves with telling effectiveness the advantages of understanding that good alone is real.
Some time ago a lady called upon a Christian Science practitioner for treatment. Her difficulty had been diagnosed by the doctors as an advanced case of ulcerated larynx. She was able to speak only in a hoarse whisper, and said she could partake only of liquid foods. Various material remedies and treatments had been tried, without benefit.
The practitioner carefully explained to the sufferer some of the foundational concepts of Christian Science which, when earnestly applied, he assured her, result in healing. He called to her attention this important passage in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy (p. 259): "The Christlike understanding of scientific being and divine healing includes a perfect Principle and idea, - perfect God and perfect man, - as the basis of thought and demonstration." He explained that this perfection must be the scientific basis for our thought because it is the basis of real existence; that it is the Christ, the same divine truth about God and man Jesus understood and utilized, which, dissolves every appearance and experience of evil; and that as the truth was applied the illness from which she suffered could be proved to be deceptive, unreal.
In the course of the conversation, the patient told of her very unhappy home life; that as a young woman she had had a fine singing voice and was preparing for a concert career at the time of her marriage. She said that her husband jealously and vigorously objected to her plans for a musical career and took an intense dislike to her singing. Although she had long ago given up plans for professional activity, her husband's attitude had continued in her thought as a deep-seated sore spot, a mental ulcer, so to speak.
Several times, during the next few days, the practitioner reminded this dear woman that she must think of both herself and her husband as actually God's children, His ideas, the product of the pure, divine Mind possessing only the nature and character which the Father had bestowed upon them.
After about two weeks of treatment in Christian Science without any evident improvement, the patient telephoned one morning and in a hoarse, hard-to-understand voice said that she had decided to discontinue treatment and would go on in Christian Science by herself. The†† practitioner felt a momentary sense of disappointment. He had earnestly expected a healing to take place as the result of his sincere application of Christian Science.
One day about a month later this woman entered his office. He hardly recognized her, so joyous and healthy did she appear. With a clear and cheerful voice, she related how, on her last visit to the practitioner, he had told her emphatically something she must do: and she knew in her heart that there was no use in having further Christian Science treatment until she had done what had been requested.
"And what was that?" was the eager question.
"You said I must love my husband!" was the unhesitating answer. "Many times you told me that 'Love means seeing perfection'; that I could not hope to see my own perfectness as the child of God unless I loved, with similar Christly vision, the one whom I had been regarding as my enemy."
What had actually taken place to bring about the healing? Quite plainly, a radical change of consciousness. The mental healing had preceded the physical healing. This woman had discovered that she was not suffering from her husband's thoughts - his altitude and actions - but from her own thoughts, her own reactions to his actions. And so she began to stop blaming her husband - or anyone else - for her condition. She began to see how her own thoughts governed her body, and that her own response, or reaction, to the words and actions of others was the important thing to watch.
To put it quite plainly, this dear woman found that she had been deceived by her own wrong thinking, her own acceptance of the reality of evil, and she set about to free herself from this deception by gaining a more Christly† understanding of spiritual reality. She had learned something of the profound truth that she did indeed "possess sovereign power to think and act rightly."
What a sense of security must have flooded her consciousness as she found that matter and material conditions are not what they seem to be, but that they change under the impact of a change of consciousness, from a material to a spiritual basis. This change of consciousness, this increasing awareness of the presence and power of God, brought with it another important blessing, increased harmony in her home. She found that as one spiritualizes his concept of his brother man, that other person often begins to live up to this better view.
God, Divine Life, Is Exhaustless
Through prayer and demonstration one finds that he no longer needs to be the helpless victim of evil circumstances, and he becomes master of situations arising in his daily experience. With conviction Mrs. Eddy assures us in Science and Health (p. 403): "You command the situation if you understand that mortal existence is a state of self-deception and not the truth of being. Mortal mind is constantly producing on mortal body the results of false opinions; and it will continue to do so, until mortal error is deprived of its imaginary powers by Truth, which sweeps away the gossamer web of mortal illusion."
Mrs. Eddy's great desire to free mankind from its entangling web of mortal illusions led her to explain the nature of God in a more comprehensive and comprehensible way than had ever been done before. For she saw that only a correct understanding of the creator can bring freedom from false opinions about His creation. To this end she has given us seven specific synonyms for Deity: Life, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Love, Principle, Truth.
The understanding that God, the creative Principle of man is exhaustless, incorruptible, divine Life sweeps away the state of deception which pictures life as merely physical, at the continual mercy of material laws of disease and infirmity. You will find that mortal mind cannot produce on your body the results of its false opinions when you understand yourself to be the perfect creation of pure, divine Life and on this basis claim your birthright of exemption from disability.
The illusion that you can be confused or forgetful, lacking in wisdom and mental endowments, is deprived of its imaginary power when the conviction dawns upon your thought that man's creative Principle is purest intelligence, the actual divine Mind, securely holding man at the standpoint of discretion, spiritual perception, alertness, capability.
Anxiety about defective traits of character, concern over one's apparent inability to anchor thought consistently on the side of good, in short, the belief that consciousness is an unruly power within one for good or evil - all these phases of deceptive, human thought yield to the recognition that man's true consciousness is immortal Soul, or God. To claim and understand this orderly divine consciousness as your very own enables you to manifest more clearly your true and glorious spiritual identity as the child of God.
And how gratefully you command the situation when the gossamer-thin delusion that a man can be naturally inclined to evil - possessing an evil spirit, or a bad disposition - disappears under the impact of your wholesome understanding of man as the perfect reflection of perfect Spirit, God.
Love Enfolds Godís Beloved Idea
If you have been harboring the unfortunate illusion that it is possible for the child of God to be unloved and unloving, hurt and resentful, you will find that this error is deprived of all of its imaginary power when you gain the spiritual understanding of God as divine Love who tenderly, safely enfolds man, His beloved idea, in His forever care.
God is Truth, and divine Truth is the rock upon which our standard of freedom from deception is planted, and the basis for all security - security from illness and suffering, from the intolerable suggestions of sin and failure, from loss and accident. These disturbing delusions of discord are swept away by your recognition of the truth that God is the source of all creation, and hence that actual existence is spiritual, permanent, and wholly good.
This cardinal point should not be overlooked, that the mere accumulation of material resources does not give one true security, any more than the accumulation of vast armaments gives real security to a nation. When the heart's desire to learn, follow after, and obey the divine will becomes paramount in our lives, when the rare and precious spiritual-mindedness which enables us to discern between mortal beliefs and spiritual reality becomes established in our consciousness, then we find safety and the satisfaction of ever-improving human conditions.
"No evidence before the material senses can close my eyes to the scientific proof that God, good, is supreme," declares Mrs. Eddy in her "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 277). Here, surely, are the words of one whose eyes are open! Here is faith in the supremacy of good which transcends all carnal sense evidence, faith akin to that of the master Christian.
Even as Jesus was about his Father's business from early boyhood, so the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science showed unusual interest in the things of Spirit at an early age. The whole background of Mrs. Eddy's childhood - the religious family life and healthy intellectual environment - was conducive to an awareness of spiritual values, which enlarged, rather than diminished, as the years brought increasing problems.
The loss of those who were nearest and dearest to her, her lingering ill-health, and general sense of insecurity, all impelled her toward the recognition of the impermanence of material things and the solid realness of spiritual existence. Her struggles and triumphs culminated in her discovery of Christian Science.
In Mrs. Eddy's persistent search for the science of spiritual healing, she found the Science of Christianity. Through her dedicated study of the Scriptures, she found that the healings accomplished by Jesus were based upon his accurate estimate of the true nature and relationship of God and man. And she found that as the full import of the Master's teachings was revealed to her, she was able to heal as he did, by spiritual means alone. The inherent spiritual purity of Mrs. Eddy's thought was the channel for the divine revelation that it is the Christ, the truth of man's indivisible unity with God, which heals and saves. She recognized the Comforter promised by Jesus, whose reappearance in Christian Science is in direct accord with the Master's statement (John ,17) that the Father would send "another Comforter, . . . even the Spirit of truth." "The Comforter," said he (verse 26), "shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
Jesus Saw Man as Pure and Free
The Christ, the practical Truth, manifests itself in the elimination of that which is ungodlike. Jesus of Nazareth, master thinker of all time, so consistently reflected the Christ-consciousness that he came to be known as Christ Jesus, although there is evident distinction between the man Jesus of Nazareth and the actual Christ, Truth, which he reflected. It might be said that Jesus was the human man and the Christ is the truth which he saw. His eyes were open to behold spiritual reality, undefiled by the dream of a man made from dust.
Jesus labored with the intensity of a more than human love to explain, to unfold, to make plain to others what he saw. Where others looked upon the diseased, the sinful, the impoverished, he beheld the divine ideal, spiritual man, pure, strong, and free.
Was there ever an individual who relied less upon material sense testimony and more upon the evidence of his spiritual senses? It was his correct view, his spiritual view of man, which healed the sick, a view held with such penetrating clarity that it dissolved the sense dreams of the sick and sinful. Consistently, he denied the power of evil: in the phraseology of the Scriptures (Luke 132), he "cast out devils."
Again and again, he set the example for us, an example closely followed by Mrs. Eddy. Following the Master, Mrs. Eddy saw that the carnal mind, the devil or error, claims the attributes of Deity, even those of unlimited power, presence, and activity. An ancient proverb states, "The devil is God's ape and seeks to counterfeit Him in almost everything." Mrs. Eddy's fearless exposure of evil as unreal constitutes one of her major contributions to scientific Christianity.††
"He who refuses to be influenced by any but the Divine Mind," she says (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 113), "commits his way to God, and rises superior to suggestions from an evil source."
The suggestions of evil often are extremely subtle. "The serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field" (Gen. 3:1), we read in the Scriptural allegory.
Yes, evil is deceptive. The whisperings of the carnal mind falsely insinuate that genuine pleasure and security can be derived from sinful, disobedient, or dishonest living. With good reason, Jesus spoke of the carnal mind, or devil, as "a liar, and the father of it" (John ). For one thing, evil frequently is presented in the guise of good. Qualities which are the very opposite of evil are claimed for it in determined attempts to influence the sons of men.
God Is More Intriguing Than Evil
Cleverly contrived and beautiful advertisements featuring intoxicating beverages and cigarettes, pictures and words full of guile implying that these evils belong in the sacred family circle; that they are as harmless as lovely roses; cool and refreshing as the gentle waterfall deep set in summer woods - all these cleverly contrived attempts to mislead are but so many well-defined instances of the necessity for evil to be clothed in the vestments of good in order to be accepted. What pictures of deception! But who would ever want these evil things if the advertisements pictured accurately some of the conditions they induce?
Our need is to know that good is ever more intriguing, more awing, and far more interesting than evil. It is safer and more fascinating to contemplate and practice the attractive beauties of goodness than the cunning beguilements of evil. Because God, good, is supreme, good must be recognized as predominant in the affairs of men on the grand scale of world politics as well as in the minutiae of our own daily lives. The battle against evil will be won only as we grasp the all-pervasive nature of God, the one divine Mind, and utilize the irresistible force of Truth in destroying error.
Mankind does "possess sovereign power to think and act rightly," and can differentiate between the worthless and the real. As we know and affirm this truth, those about us will exhibit increasing ability to resist the blandishments of evil. Nothing can dispossess man of his heritage of freedom from enslaving habits nor trespass on Love's provision for satisfying goodness.
I was a lad of high school age when Christian Science brought to me the beginnings of the priceless ability to discern between the real and unreal. I had been ill for a long time, pronounced by the doctors to be suffering from a rapidly worsening anemic condition. The time finally came when, after being confined to bed for more than three months, the kindly doctors informed my parents that I would doubtless never get out of bed again.
Then my mother, who shortly before had experienced the healing of a tumorous condition through the ministrations of Christian Science, urged me to accept Christian Science treatment. This I did, with the result that within two weeks I was back in school, thoroughly and permanently healed.
Christian Science Bares Reality
I then began to attend the Christian Science Sunday School, where I learned the first glorious lessons about man's spiritual freedom to think and act rightly. I had long attended a Protestant Sunday School where I had been taught that man lives under and must work out from, a great sense of guilt and condemnation.
How I loved those days in the Christian Science Sunday School. Here I found that young people are given a demonstrable, a working knowledge of Christian Science, an understanding which helps to free them from false beliefs of limited capacity and opportunity, from slavery to physical laws of health, and protects them from evil suggestions of temptation. And, progressively, the line of demarcation between that which is real and that which is unreal is sharply etched in the thought of the student.
Older classes devote much of their time to careful study and analysis of the Christian Science Bible Lessons which are read each week in all Christian Science Societies and Churches of Christ, Scientist. These Lesson-Sermons, which consist of citations from the King James Version of the Bible and from the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health, constitute a unique study-course in the fundamentals of Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy herself selected the twenty-six subjects of these Lessons, which range all the way from such foundational topics as God, Life, Truth, Love, Christ Jesus, and Man, to those which answer questions of the human mind like: "Are Sin, Disease, and Death Real?" "Is the Universe, Including Man, Evolved by Atomic Force?"
One of these Lesson-Sermons was a sort of favorite to me as a Sunday School student. This bore the long title, "Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced." The reason this subject appealed to my youthful thought was simple: I took one look at the title and said to myself, "I'm not interested." I then declared a vacation from study for that week!
One day a few years later, when I was working out of an annoying problem which involved a great sense of frustration and lack of self-confidence, I picked up the Bible, Science and Health, and the Christian Science Quarterly to study the Lesson-Sermon, as was my custom. To my dismay, I found that the subject for that week was "Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced." As I began to ponder these words, it dawned upon me that mesmerism and hypnotism were methods and conditions through which one might be deceived or fooled; that the individual mesmerized is so deeply deluded that he believes himself to be what he is not or where he is not.
Suddenly I recognized that this was simply a lesson on how not to be fooled - a lesson on how not to be fooled by the physical senses - and with gratitude to Mrs. Eddy for her penetrating insight, I have ever since found this Lesson to be particularly helpful. And so, in my own thought, I have often considered this the Lesson on "How not to be fooled."
Many a time since then I have found it profitable to challenge myself with the question, "Are your eyes open to the spiritual facts about this situation, about this individual, about yourself?"
To keep one's eyes open spiritually is true prayer. True prayer requires the perception and acknowledgment of basic spiritual facts. Such prayer results in demonstration, or the triumph of spiritual harmony over the fleeting discords or shadows of evil. Prayer in Christian Science involves no ritualistic process, no superficial wording. It is far too natural a thing for that. Small children often furnish illustrations of the confident expectancy which is a mark of effective prayer.
One day, little Jonathan came home from school, complaining of a pain in his stomach, and asked his mother to help him with Christian Science treatment. Wisely, his mother told him she would be happy to do so, but requested that he first endeavor to help himself, as he had been taught in the Christian Science Sunday School and also by his parents.
So Jonathan went into his room and remained there quietly for some time. Then he came bounding out and announced that he was just fine.
"Tell me how you pray," requested his mother.
Godís Nearness Felt Through Prayer
"Well, first I declared that I was God's perfect child and that error couldn't talk to me. But my stomach still hurt. And then I declared "the scientific statement of being from Science and Health real earnestly. But still I didn't feel good. And then I thought of what I learned in Sunday School last Sunday, and said that, too. But my stomach still bothered me a lot. Then I didn't know what else to do, so I just talked to God and said, 'Well, God, I know You're going to help me anyway, so thank You very much!' And God said to me, 'You're welcome!' " And the boy added, "I didn't ever know before how close God is to me!"
This conviction of God's nearness is one of the distinguishing characteristics of prayer in Christian Science. It brings the assurance that we live, move, and have our being in God, the one, divine Mind. This knowledge destroys the age-old delusion that man has, or can have, a mind apart from God, the All-Mind. The very fact of God's infinity assures us that there can be but one actual Mind. It ensures man's utter inseparability from, and forever nearness to, God, pure, divine Mind, The marvelous sense of spiritual freedom and conscious exemption from evil, which this conviction of God's nearness brings to us, gives us courage to claim our God-given heritage now.
And what is this heritage? It is knowledge of the surety of our eternal existence as Mind's cherished ideas. It is salvation, the consciousness, here and now, of permanent well-being, of safe enfoldment in the realm of Love. Not merely to the future does salvation belong! It is the forever fact of God and man, the impregnable relationship between divine Principle and its harmonious idea. It involves the absence of anxiety, speculation, pressure, uncertainty, instability. It is the opening of the very floodgates of heaven, the peace which passeth human understanding.
Christian Science is practical idealism, and you will find that the rich rewards of spiritual-mindedness are seen in purposeful endeavor and satisfying accomplishment in daily experience. And so, as your eyes are clearly fixed on the spiritual realities, the evidences of divine harmony all about us, you will find that the carnal mind's mesmeric efforts to lead, and mislead, human thought, are futile. You will find that you are not fooled by the disturbing pictures of insecurity with which mortal mind manages to affright itself. And you will find that the understanding of God's ever-nearness and power equips you with unfailing ability to know that you do indeed "possess sovereign power to think and act rightly, and that nothing can dispossess you of this heritage, and trespass on Love."
[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 25, 1959.]