Christian Science Answers Questions
About the Things of God
Arthur C. Whitney, C.S., of Chicago, Illinois
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Arthur C. Whitney, C.S., of Chicago, lectured on ''Christian Science Answers Questions About the Things of God" Tuesday evening in the Murat Theatre under auspices of the Second Church of Christ, Scientist. Miss Frances Shaw introduced the speaker. The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
It is a real joy to talk with you and to show you how the things of God can be made so simple to you through this brief explanation of Christian Science that they will be practical and real.
Newcomers to this religion generally seek help through Christian Science practitioners. These are individuals who have found God's help through prayer in Christian Science in their own experience in times of need. They have realized, as a result, that the greatest and most satisfying thing they can do is to give themselves consecratedly to God's service in helping others as they have been helped. They do this unselfishly, humbly, and compassionately through spiritual understanding and prayer.
Most people become interested in Christian Science as a result of healings which they have experienced or witnessed. Having witnessed the proof of its healing power, they are impelled to seek enlightenment as to the fundamental Principle of Christian Science. Practitioners are sometimes appealed to in the following way:
"I have just now seen and talked with my next-door neighbor. He was given up to die by his physicians only a few months ago. They said nothing possibly could save him. When there was no other way left, he and his wife decided to turn to God in prayer. She dismissed the physician, who was simply waiting for the end, and summoned a Christian Science practitioner, who showed the man and his wife how to pray to God as Christian Science teaches. All three prayed constantly and faithfully, and today that man is completely restored to health and has gone back to his business free. That is wonderful. He says he is more grateful, however, that he has really found God, and has learned to pray understandingly and expectantly, and is looking ahead with great joy and confidence to the time when he has sufficient spiritual understanding to enable him to help others through prayer as the Christian Science practitioner helped him." To illustrate the change that had taken place in my neighbor's thinking he told me this story. It seems that a lump of charcoal and a diamond are two forms of the same thing, namely, carbon. One important difference is that the charcoal absorbs the light, while the diamond reflects it. This neighbor for years had absorbed all the good he could get, and the process had stopped right there. Now he is through with that kind of self-seeking. The healing has awakened him to the fact that he lives to serve and help others and like the diamond, to reflect that spiritual light in blessing others. He asked me, 'Have you a charcoal or a diamond mentality? Do you live to get, or to help, to share, and to bless?' That set me thinking. He told me to find a Christian Science practitioner, ply him with questions as he had done, and then do as he told me. May I ask you some questions? I might tell you first that I am greatly in need of help. My neighbor said that if I would learn to apply the truths of Christian Science as you explained them to me, and pray with the truths I had learned, my help would come quickly, as his has."
Such a person as this one whom I have been quoting has learned that Christian Science is primarily a way of living according to spiritual values and rules rather than just a way of healing sickness; also that it leads to a full salvation from sin, sickness, and all worldliness, through understanding and demonstrating the truths about God and man which can be found in the Bible.
What Is Fundamental to Existence?
Frequently the first question that comes to the earnest seeker after truth is: "What is fundamental to existence, according to Christian Science?"
Such a question starts at the right point, by seeking to know and understand reality, as distinguished from that which is apparent, but unreal.
In Christian Science, God is fundamental to existence. The only actual existence there is, is in God. The belief that you can have any actual existence apart from God is unreal, a misconception or illusion of material sense. To Christian Science, God, not matter or material things, is reality. God is the Christian name for reality. Christian Science explains that God, Spirit, divine Mind, or spiritual consciousness, is reality, and includes and sustains all that is actual, real, present, and permanent, including your own individuality.
The Bible, which is one of the textbooks of Christian Science, tells us that God is infinite, ever-present, eternal good - is really all. Paul, in his letter to the Christian church at Corinth, wrote, "To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him" (I Cor. 8:6). He also said, "In him [in God] we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). The Bible also tells us that we are sons of God now, that we are inseparable from God, and made in the perfect likeness of God.
Centuries before Paul, Moses had written, as recorded in the Bible (Deut. 4:39), "Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else." In other words: (1) God, spiritual consciousness, is All-in-all; (2) there is nothing else. Put these two fundamental truths to work by gaining a conviction of them. Then they naturally accomplish results.
In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy are the statements (p. 289): "The spiritual fact and the material belief of things are contradictions; but the spiritual is true, and therefore the material must be untrue. . . . Spirit and all things spiritual are the real and eternal."
How Can I Make Spiritual Things Real to Me?
Another vital question often asked by those seeking to understand Christian Science is, "How can I make spiritual things real to me? Spiritual things have always been sort of theoretical, far off, beautiful but indefinite and impractical."
Let us turn again to Paul's letter to the members of the early Christian church at Corinth, where we read (II Cor. 4:18): "We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal (or, as we might say, temporarily apparent); but the things which are not seen are eternal" (that is, they are actual, real, present and permanent). The Bible also counsels us (Rom. 12:2), "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (that is, let your outlook, thinking, desires, and actions be transformed by gaining a new, practical, vital, living, spiritual consciousness).
Strive constantly to be conscious of and love the reality of God's presence and nature, for this only is real. Realize and know man's oneness with God. This is making spiritual things real to you. Such a consciousness heals.
Here is an example of becoming conscious of spiritual reality and the healing that naturally follows. Once a woman found herself in great physical distress. Knowing nothing of Christian Science, she went to see her family physician. He examined her and pronounced the condition cancer, which he claimed was beyond any possible help. He, like other medical men, unfortunately, left God out of his calculations. In her ignorance, she accepted his verdict with resignation. She decided that, since she must die, she had better use the time left her to learn all she could about God; because in her mistaken theological belief she supposed that through the experience called death she would meet God. So she took her Bible and went to work in earnest.
Shortly after she began, a Christian Scientist, learning of her desire to know God better, loaned her a copy of Science and Health. Wisely she did not tell the woman it would heal her, because the sufferer did not believe anything could do that. However, she told the woman it would help her to know God and to understand her relationship to Him. This was all the woman thought she wanted. She studied Science and Health persistently, not expecting to be healed, but only striving to find God.
Day after day she kept at it, and each day she came into a better knowledge of God and of her true selfhood as a child of God. Finally one day she said with rejoicing, "Now I feel that I really know and love God, and understand my right relationship to Him. Nothing else matters." Then she discovered that the pain which had been oppressing her had disappeared. She reported the fact to the doctor. He examined her. In amazement he asked her what she had been doing. "Nothing," she replied, "except getting a satisfying knowledge of God and learning to love Him. And I now understand my relationship to Him." The physician replied, "The diseased condition has disappeared completely, and nothing but God could do such a thing."
How Does Christian Science Regard Christ Jesus?
In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy describes Jesus as "the most scientific man that ever trod the globe" (p. 313). Christian Scientists love this Godlike man, Jesus. They are grateful for his Christlike example and living, and they know and acknowledge him as their beloved Master and Wayshower. Christian Science speaks of the Christ as the eternal, unchanging, saving truth, the truth about God and all that God expresses. The Christ, or Truth, was expressed centuries before Jesus' time through Abraham, Moses, and the prophets, and today this same Christ is the foundational truth which Christian Science teaches.
The teachings of Christ Jesus constitute the spiritual facts on which Christian Science is demonstrably founded. Jesus demonstrated this truth as no one has ever done and so became known as Jesus the Christ. As you come to really understand and live according to the truth about God and man, you have the Christ with you. Think of Jesus as the teacher and demonstrator, and of the Christ as the actual, spiritual truth he taught and proved. Let the Christ, Truth, actuate and impel you to think and live as Jesus did.
A serviceman sent me an anonymous poem on this very point. It is called "The Gospel According to You." It reads:
"If none but you in the world today
Had tried to live in a Christ-like way,
Could the rest of the world look close at you
And find the path that is straight and true?
"If none but you in the world so wide
Had found the Christ for his daily guide,
Would the things you do and the things you say
Lead others to live in his blessed way?
"Ah, friends of the Christ, in the world today
Are many who watch you upon your way,
And look to the things you say and do
To measure the Christian standard true!
"Men read and admire the Gospel of Christ
With its love so unfailing and true,
But what do they say and what do they think
Of the Gospel according to you?
"You are writing each day a letter to men –
Take care that the writing is true;
'Tis the only Gospel that some men may read,
That Gospel according to you."
Someone has well said that the religion you live is the only religion you possess, regardless of how much religion you profess. Let the Master's life be the example for your life.
Do Christian Scientists Study the Bible?
This is an important point. The best-known and most-used translation of the original Hebrew and Greek Scriptures is the King James version or translation of the Bible. This we use in our church services, in common with most Christian churches. Every alert Christian Scientist daily studies the Lesson-Sermons prepared according to subjects selected many years ago by Mrs. Eddy and published in the Christian Science Quarterly. These weekly Lesson-Sermons, which include citations from the Bible and Science and Health, provide the principal part of the Sunday church service. We study the Scriptures
very earnestly and strive to live according to the Bible's inspired teachings. The Bible is one of our two textbooks for study. We have learned that it is not enough just to profess the teachings of the Bible or even to read them or believe in them. We must live by them. The much-beloved Discoverer of Christian Science directly explains this in her work "Miscellaneous Writings," where she writes (p. 196): "The Scriptures require more than a simple admission and feeble acceptance of the truths they present; they require a living faith, that so incorporates their lessons into our lives that these truths become the motive-power of every act."
What Is Science and Health?
That textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, is the product of years of earnest study and demonstration of the truth of Christian Science, through destroying the evidences of sin, sickness, and death. Truly it is a key to the Scriptures, unfolding and explaining the spiritual truths of the Bible in a simple and practical way. In its eighteen chapters, this single volume gives the complete explanation of Christian Science. Its last hundred pages are letters from persons who experienced healing through no other means than an earnest study of the book. Its first chapter gives a comprehensive explanation of prayer. The only textbooks of Christian Science are the Bible together with Science and Health and Mrs. Eddy's other writings.
How Do Christian Scientists Daily Use These Two Textbooks?
Many people are curious as to how Christian Scientists use these two books in their daily living. Daily study and prayer are a vital part of the spiritual preparation of any individual who depends completely upon his spiritual understanding of God. As most students have discovered, it isn't enough to read your books. You would not expect a student of mathematics merely to read his textbook and then put it aside without applying the principle in solving examples. He knows he must study his textbook and then endeavor to apply the principle of mathematics which the book explains. That is exactly what we strive to do in Christian Science. It is work, but it is joyous, refreshing, fruitful work. There is no easy way to achieve the full results of Christian Science. It is not a lazy man's religion.
A well-known humorist tells of one of his many uncles who was a great dreamer. He had many schemes, but could never get them working. One day a neighbor rushed into his home shouting: "We've just discovered gold over in the pasture. Come on over and get it!" "That's great!" shouted the uncle; "now I can make all my schemes work. What do you have to do to get it?" The neighbor replied: "Why, the nuggets are lying all over the ground. All you've got to do is just pick 'em up." The uncle's face fell. Dejectedly he sat down and said, "1 thought there would be a catch in it; you've got to bend over." Yes, to get results through Christian Science you have "got to bend over," to study, ponder, pray, and live spiritual truth.
Don't be satisfied just to read your textbooks. An English writer once said, "Reading is sometimes an ingenious device for avoiding thought." I might add, study never is.
When you pick up the Bible or one of Mrs. Eddy's writings, whether it is in the study of the daily Lesson-Sermon or otherwise, be sure that you have a clear purpose in doing so. It surely is not just to read, but to gain practical, spiritual understanding by which you can live and in which you can find healing.
A man physically oppressed turned to Christian Science for help. The practitioner recommended that he obtain and diligently study Science and Health. Later he returned to the practitioner's office to report a worse sense of distress. He said he had read the entire textbook through several times since his previous visit. Wisdom inspired the practitioner to pick up a cookbook on her desk and hand it to him. She asked him to open it at random and read what he turned to. He replied, "Well, if you tell me to do so I will, but I can't see the connection." He had opened the book to a recipe for chocolate cake. She had him read it aloud several times, and then put the book down.
"Now," she said, "where is your chocolate cake?" He protested that he had only read the recipe. She replied, "And you only read the textbook. You got the same result in both cases." She added, "Just what do you need to do in order to get a cake?"
"Well," he replied, "I must first really desire to make it, and be willing to follow the rules. I must find out what ingredients are needed, procure them, and then put them together according to directions. If I faithfully follow the directions, I'll get a good chocolate cake." And he added, "Now I know how to get my healing, too." And he got it.
One way to make daily study more practical is to check every vital or arresting statement that one finds against these five or other similar questions: (1) What does this statement actually mean? (2) Do I really believe it? (3) Do I disbelieve everything contrary to it? (4) Am I living in harmony with it? (5) How can I better demonstrate it? In other words, don't be satisfied just to read the Bible and Science and Health. Study them! Then live as they point the way.
What Are the Salient Facts About Mary Baker Eddy?
Those who have seen remarkable healings through prayer in Christian Science become conscious of the fact that it is impossible to separate the Discoverer and the discovery, and inquire: "What are the facts about Mrs. Eddy and her discovery of Christian Science?"
Christian Scientists are always grateful for the opportunity to tell of the inspired work of Mary Baker Eddy. My gratitude to her for what she has done for me is beyond acknowledgment. This Science she discovered saved my life. No wonder I want to tell you about her. She proved herself a true servant of God.
She had always been very spiritually-minded. It was apparent when she was but a little child. She studied the Bible diligently, and before she was ten years old she was a devout student of the Scriptures. This lifelong belief in the spiritual nature of existence culminated in her discovering the Science underlying Jesus' teachings and works. When a physician had condemned her to die as the result of an accident, she received such spiritual enlightenment while reading the account of Jesus' healing of the palsied man that she was healed, rose from her bed free, and joined her astonished friends, who were gathered together in the parlor awaiting the end.
Her spiritual vision, her courage, and her great love for humanity impelled Mary Baker Eddy to devote the balance of her life to making available to her fellow men this Christianly scientific truth. She knew it would free them from all their ills, and give them what Jesus called the more abundant life. Jesus had foretold the coming of this Christ Science when he spoke of the Comforter which should come and abide with us forever.
Christian Science is the Comforter he promised, because it reveals the spiritual law underlying Jesus' teaching and because it results in the "works" he promised should be done. He said, "By their fruits ye shall know them" (Matt. 7:20).
Besides writing "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mrs. Eddy organized the Church of Christ, Scientist. Its purpose is, as the Church Manual sets forth, "to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing" (p. 17). Thus she became the Founder and beloved Leader of this world-wide movement, Christian Science.
Jesus tells us in the Bible, "He that believeth on me [believeth the Christ, the spiritual truth], the works that I do shall he do also" (John 14:12).
What gratitude we owe to this dear New England gentlewoman, pure, courageous, consecrated, utterly selfless, for discerning the Truth, the Comforter, and for loving it enough to give her life in service, that all men might have this truth to understand and apply in their daily lives. A vast multitude today is grateful that she followed so closely in our dear Master's footsteps. They are grateful to her for what she has done, and they acknowledge it. She is known to them as Discoverer, Revelator, Demonstrator, Founder, and Leader in this, the most vital spiritual movement that exists today. She is the world's greatest benefactor of modern times because she so fundamentally changed the basis for mankind's thinking.
Think of Mary Baker Eddy, not in terms of person or personality, but in terms of her contribution to the progress and advancement of the world's well-being, spirituality, life, and happiness. She aptly wrote in "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 120), "Those who look for me in person, or elsewhere than in my writings, lose me instead of find me." Study her writings and faithfully live the truths you glean from them. Then you will truly find her, love her, and daily be grateful for her.
How Can I Make Discord and Limitation Unreal?
This story may illustrate the point:
An American traveler, in crossing a Scottish moor, accompanied by a guide, looked back to discover a range of hills he had not seen before, and stopped to ask the guide what the hills were named. He replied, "There are no hills there."
Then came the American's instant troubled response, "But I can see the hills."
"I can see the hills too, but they're not here. It's only a mirage," was the guide's intelligent reply. Both saw the hills. Material sense testimony presented the same picture to both of them. The American saw the hills as a reality, actual and substantial. The Scotch guide saw the hills as an illusion, a deception of material sense - apparent, but insubstantial and unreal. The American saw and believed what he saw and was deceived. The guide saw through what was seen and discerned its unreality, and as he pointed out the deception, the American recognized the truth; thus, mentally awakened, he too realized the unreality of what was seen. There is no argument of discordant material sense which can present itself to you and find acceptance as reality in your thinking, when you see through its arguments as the Scotch guide saw through the mirage.
You mentally uncover and reject the erroneous mental mirage, see it as unprincipled, ungodlike, impersonal, and insubstantial, therefore unreal. You no longer associate it with yourself or with any individual. It isn't personal. You don't fight it. You don't struggle to destroy it, any more than you would a mirage. You just recognize it as an illusion. You see it for what it actually is, a false concept that divine intelligence shows you is unreal. You stop believing it as you would that 2 times 2 equals 5. Thus spiritual sense asserts itself, and you demonstrate your God-given dominion over all forms of deception.
Does Christian Science Offer Sure Salvation and Redemption?
Webster defines salvation, as "the act of saving or delivering; preservation from destruction or calamity; redemption." Everything I have talked to you about here has been for the purpose of salvation. The wonderful thing about Christian Science is that it offers you full salvation now. You attain it through spiritual understanding. This understanding can inspire, guide, sustain, protect, or deliver you in any circumstance or condition that seems oppressive. Spiritual understanding wakens, quickens, transforms, spiritualizes, and heals. This is salvation.
How Can I Know Myself as a Son of God?
Let's turn to the Bible to get the answer. It tells us that God created man in God's likeness and endowed him with dominion over all that is unlike God. Now the likeness of Spirit is spiritual, and, therefore, man must be spiritual; man cannot be material. What appears to be a material, mortal sense is only a mirage, a counterfeit concept of your Godlike, eternal, perfect selfhood and being.
Once a man in the West found a young eagle in his chicken yard. It was acting just like a chicken. He loved birds, and he knew its rightful place was not there. With the eaglet lovingly held in his arms, he climbed to the top of a near-by crag. He said to the little bird: "You are not destined to scratch in the ground or exist on the earth. You belong in the heavens above, where you can assert your dominion. Rise to your real status of being." Then lifting the young bird up he sent it forth. It made some effort to fly but not enough to keep it up, and it gradually settled to the chicken yard far below. Twice later he assisted the eaglet in the same way, and the last time the eaglet seemed to sense his purpose and rose on strong wings far above the top of the crag.
It is right for you to assert your God-given dominion and to refuse, for one moment, to allow the limiting suggestions of material sense to hold and bind you to the earth - to enslave you in beliefs that you are a mortal, that you live in matter, and that you’re bound by, and limited in, physical sense, in beliefs of sin, sickness, lack, unhappiness, and eventual death. I am going to repeat to you those wonderful truths Paul wrote to the Romans: "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Rom. 8:14); "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you" (Rom, 8:9). "If any man be in Christ (expresses the Christ-mind), he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Cor. 5:17). How beautifully John expressed this thought as recorded in his first epistle (I John 3:2), "Now are we the sons of God." Seize upon this truth. Believe it with all your heart. It is spiritually natural for you to realize: Now am I the son of God, spiritual, Godlike, perfect, free, joyful, triumphant. "I and my Father are one," as Jesus asserted (John 10:30). Never let go of this consciousness of yourself. This is equally true of your brother.
You really love your brother when you see and know him as the full likeness of God and of nothing else. When any ungodlike concept of yourself or another presents itself to you, repudiate it instantly as an illusion, false, impersonal, and untrue, a false concept of the physical senses; deny it admittance into your consciousness just as the guide refused to admit the reality of the mirage on the Scottish moor. See as real, in place of that illusive sense, only that which God knows about you or another, for that only is true and real and unaffected by any physical sense testimony. As Jesus said, "Know the truth." This knowing, or conviction, makes you free.
What Makes Prayer in Christian Science Effectual?
Prayer is really such a simple thing. Always keep it simple. First get a definite mental concept of what actually constitutes Godlikeness or reality to you, and also what constitutes ungodlikeness or unreality. Draw a clean-cut line between them. Then mentally take your stand with reality, and continue to maintain this Godlike consciousness. Repudiate as untrue, and mentally reject, every apparent discordant material sense picture, just as you do when you are confronted with a mirage. Mentally put the truth in place of the sense picture and gain the conviction that this truth is actually in effect now. This mental attitude and activity is the prayer which heals. This Christian concept of prayer, however, is centuries old.
As we noted a while ago, Paul advised the early Christians to "look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (II Cor. 4:18).
Therefore, recognize and accept as real that which you cannot even see with your eyes, the spiritual presence of God, the divine reality; the infinite ever-present spiritual consciousness; "the mighty actuality of all-inclusive God, good" (Science and Health, p. 52). Recognize and reject as unreal all that the material eye beholds, the material sense of mirage, including the material universe, so-called material man, and their by-products - all materiality, worldliness, sin, sickness, greed, lack, and death. The Godlike and spiritual are real. The ungodlike, worldly and material are unreal.
Prayer frees and rouses your thinking from the pictures of material sense, and wakens your thinking to the wonderful realities of spiritual sense. Your salvation, therefore, is in this kind of right thinking and spiritual knowing. Prayer is useful and effectual only in proportion to the content of spiritual thought and conviction. Endeavor to realize or pray, fresh, new, spiritual thoughts every day. Then your prayers will have to be thought, and not be just repeated words which are all too often only the ineffectual dead letter.
Prayer cannot destroy anything real. It cannot make realities unreal nor unrealities real. Prayer makes unrealities unreal to you, no matter how real they may have appeared to be. Prayer harmonizes your thoughts with divine reality and therefore enables you to see the mortal or material sense of things for what it actually is - a mirage, or mesmerism, from which the persistent knowing and conviction of spiritual truth awakens and frees thought. The distress, sin or lack vanishes with the awakening just as the things in a mirage or nightmare vanish as you are roused from it. Then you find peace, purity and harmony were really there all the time.
Be assured of this fact. Prayer is answered at the point of your need.
During the last World War, the Associated Press sent out a dispatch from United States Fleet Headquarters in the Pacific recording this instance of prayer's efficacy. A reconnaissance flyer was covering an area in the Pacific where there had been an air battle during the past few days. It was dusk. All of a sudden the flyer noticed a light flash below on the water. He could not land nor see more than the light. He circled over the spot and maintained his position by watching the flashes of light. He radioed the facts, and a P.T. boat was dispatched to the scene. Several hours later it reached the spot and found one of our flyers who had been shot down in the battle and whose rubber raft had come clear of the plane and provided landing for the boy. For thirty hours he had been there on that life raft. One of his rescuers told him that he should be so grateful he had had a flashlight and was able to signal the reconnaissance plane overhead. The lad answered: "I had no flashlight. I just prayed."
Prayer likewise is answered at the point of your need. The prayer of spiritual understanding in Christian Science is unfailing, because it is the acknowledgment, with conviction, of the spiritual facts that already exist.
In conclusion, let me quote the wise words of our dear Leader, Mary Baker Eddy: "Now measure yourself and your growth by your works, not by your words. . . . Don't be satisfied with one victory. Add victory upon victory" (Christian Science Sentinel, July 8, 1939, p. 902).