Christian Science: The Liberating Light of Truth
J. Lingen Wood, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
"Arise, shine: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee" (Isa. 60:1).
What an awakening message is this!
There are many such to be found in the King James Version of the Bible. Coming as they did from God, divine Mind, although through the
inspired consciousness of an individual, they are not confined to the immediate
period of that individual, to those who heard the messages, to those who read
them through the intervening years. They are universal, and consequently
are just as much for you and me today as they were for the children of
If there is anyone here who feels depressed or sorrowing, is burdened with a sense of lack, limitation, unhappiness or any other discordant condition, be it mental or physical, there is relief and healing for him in this hour. All such discords are darkness, ignorance of God. "Thy light IS come." Christian Science brings a clear explanation to how God's laws can be applied successfully to any and every one of these and all other human difficulties. The power and love of God are here to heal, to comfort, to regenerate, and to dispel ignorance with the enlightening truth of the true nature of God and of man's inseparable relationship to Him.
The Light of Truth through the Bible
Most of us at some time or other have seen an electrician or a telephone repair man surrounded by a tangle of wires so that one not having the "know-how" might doubt whether they could ever be assembled in order. But the technician confidently goes ahead with his job, and before very long all is connected up and the service is restored. Each one of the wires has a distinguishing mark by which the worker can easily identify it and then connect it up correctly. According to what is technically known as the "color code," some cables have a colored tracer in their cover, running their entire length; so no matter where the worker picks the cable up he is able to identify it at once. The tracer thread fulfills its purpose even if the cable is out of sight for a long time or for a long distance or both. Now, let us not think of it so much as a material thread running the entire length of the cable, but rather think of it in its more mental aspect, its purpose as a continuing guide.
This illustration may be applied to the Bible. Throughout that holy book the thread of living truth, the light of Truth, runs from beginning to the end, although at times very much obscured by historical and other events. It runs from that verse in the first chapter of Genesis which reads (verse 3), "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light," to the account of the light which shone in the holy city, New Jerusalem, mentioned by John in Revelation.
Now, what is this light about which we read so much in the Bible? It is the expression of God, the shining Truth, revealing to human consciousness what actually exists in the realm of Spirit. It is intelligence which wipes out of human consciousness all falsities, errors of belief, and unfolds the reality replacing the objects which mortal sense beholds. It is the light of spiritual understanding which dispels ignorance of God. Referring to this understanding, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 505), "This understanding is not intellectual, is not the result of scholarly attainments; it is the reality of all things brought to light." Without this light of intelligence and understanding, we would not be able to distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil, reality and unreality. We would be deluded into accepting as fact the counterfeit of Spirit, termed matter. Christ Jesus referred to it when he said of himself, "I am the light of the world." By this he meant that his spiritual nature was the Christ, the light of the world.
Gleams of this light from time to time broke through the mist of human ignorance. It is discernible in the lives of the Old Testament prophets, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and others, shining more brightly in some cases than others. It shone through the lives of the apostles. For about three hundred years after the crucifixion the healing and liberating power was apparent in the lives of the early Christians in spite of the endeavors of Roman paganism to snuff it out. Later it was obscured as materialism, doctrines, creeds found their way into the early Christian church. There were glimpses of the Christ during the Middle Ages and gradually broadening views of it up to the middle of the nineteenth century. Then in 1866 it began again to shine with a great brilliance and power through the discovery of Christian Science by its Founder, Mary Baker Eddy.
Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Baker Eddy was born and
brought up on her parents' farm in Bow in the state of
Although she gained some temporary
relief, it was not until 1866, when her life was despaired of because of an
injury caused by a fall on a slippery street in
Afterwards she studied the Bible for a period of three years with a view to discovering more of the power which had brought about her healing in her childhood and, more recently, saved her from what was expected to be her deathbed. Then she wrote "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," explaining what her study of the Bible had revealed to her. By healing others she proved the truths stated in this book which was first published in 1875. It is a remarkable book. So clear and inspiring is its statement of spiritual truth that even the reading of this book has often brought about the healing of disease and the solution of human problems.
A young man somewhat interested in Christian Science was employed on a railroad. He fell from a boxcar and badly sprained his ankle. Earlier accidents of this nature had usually necessitated the loss of at least one day's work. His parents suggested that he have medical help, but as he wished to prove what he was learning of Christian Science, he refused. For about an hour he read from Science and Health. The pain subsided somewhat, and he retired. On the following morning there was no swelling, no discoloration and he was completely free (Christian Science Sentinel, May 12, 1956, p. 829).
Christian Scientists do not worship Mrs. Eddy, but they certainly do honor, revere, and love her. What else could they possibly do? A large majority of them have been healed of serious diseases and of the effects of accidents, have been preserved in times of danger, or have been spiritually regenerated and lifted out of depravity. The authenticated cases of healing of every kind of human ailment which appear in our weekly Sentinel, monthly Journal, and monthly and quarterly Heralds in foreign languages, together with those related at Wednesday evening meetings throughout the world by grateful Christian Scientists, bear witness to the blessings which Christian Science is bringing to mankind. So it is not surprising that Mrs. Eddy is held in such high regard, and that her followers are so very grateful to God for the revelation of this Science through her.
This provable knowledge, the Comforter which Christ Jesus promised to send, and of which he said (John 14:26), "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you," is fully revealed in Science and Health. Although she is not personally with us at this time, Mrs. Eddy is accepted by Christian Scientists as Leader because she continues to guide and instruct them through her writings. She admonished them to follow her only as far as she follows Christ.
Light Breaks Through Darkness
The spiritual enlightenment which Christian Science has brought to the world has been a work leavening human consciousness since its discovery. It has reached many who at first may not have realized its presence and power. The Christ reaches any human consciousness which shows any sign of receptivity or repentance for wrong-doing. In Revelation we read, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." The following incident shows that the Christ, the light of Truth, does shine in through the door of human consciousness when it is, even if only slightly, opened from within, and begins its leavening process of dispelling darkness and ignorance of God.
About thirty-eight years ago,
towards the end of the First World War, there was a young officer serving with
the Allied Forces in northern
However, finally the employer put up with him no longer, and the young man's employment was terminated. Because good qualities are of God, they are preserved by
Him and are under His protection and cannot be held in subjection to false appetites or any other so-called power. About a year later Christian Science came to the young man's rescue, and he was in a very short time completely healed of the liquor habit. From that time he began earnestly to study Christian Science. It was not until some years had passed by that he recalled his promise to God, and realized that through his daily study and practice of the teachings of Christian Science he was truly fulfilling his obligation to God.
Our Obligation to God
Obligations are known, in fact very well known, to all business men and women, and indeed every earnest effort should be made to meet them on the due date. It is good business to gain and maintain the reputation of being prompt in such matters. Are we just as concerned about meeting our obligations to God as we are in meeting our financial obligations? Or do they seem more vague and less pressing? Christ Jesus gave us some very good advice, and it was, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33) This means that as we first meet our obligations to God, the way to meet human needs and obligations will be revealed to us.
Mrs. Eddy was alert to the very great importance of acknowledging and meeting our obligations to God. In Science and Health (p. 261) she writes: "Good demands of man every hour, in which to work out the problem of being. Consecration to good does not lessen man's dependence on God, but heightens it. Neither does consecration diminish man's obligations to God, but shows the paramount necessity of meeting them."
With a view to gaining some sense of what our obligations to God are, it is helpful first of all to gain an understanding of God, the One to whom they are due. In Science and Health (p. 465) the following is the definition of God: "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love." Mind is the source of all intelligence, the capacity to know. Our ability to know is because Mind is. The source of our moral strength, of all animation, is Spirit. Our individuality, our conscious identity, has its origin in and is maintained by Soul. All cause, law, government is of divine Principle. Principle is the foundation underlying all effect. The consciousness of existence is evidence that Life is. The reality of all things is Truth, and Love is the very activity and essence of divinity. God cannot be cognized by mortal sense. He is the infinite unseen cause of all that appears, of all effect. His presence can only be recognized by His effect, man and the universe. Man is the means by which God makes Himself known. It is man's obligation to God to live up to full obedience to His laws. The most important thing in the world is to know God.
Christian Science teaches in accordance with the Bible (the King James Version) that it is possible to know God, to commune with Him as Moses (Ex. 33:11) and others of the Old Testament did. In Isaiah 44:8 we read: "Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any." Now, as God is all-knowing Mind, and He knows no other God beside Himself, then there is definitely no other God. Is God matter? Is He a material outlined corporeal form? No; God is Spirit. Then as man is made in God's image and likeness and as all is created by this First Cause, infinite Spirit, then all creation, including man, must be spiritual. God is Love, therefore there is no hatred, no fear, unless of course God, divine Love, made it. Is it conceivable to you that infinite Love would or could make something the opposite of itself? So where does this hatred, which seems so very real to mortal sense originate? As God, Love, did not make it, it was not made. It can have no real existence; it can only be a supposititious opposite of God.
If we wish to experience a full and happy life, if we wish to express vitality and agility, we must learn what Life is. Christ Jesus tells us, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). Life is not subject to any limits or restrictions. It has no beginning and no end. Life is. Mentally resist the physical suggestion of decrepitude or deterioration. Do not give in and say, perhaps, "Oh, well, it is to be expected – I am getting on in years." Stop it. Turn thought to God as the only Life and say, think, realize, "God is my life." This is not mesmerizing oneself, hypnotizing oneself. It is not wishful thinking. It is far more than that; it is a statement of absolute truth, and thinking it or voicing it is done with a view to progressing to the point of knowing that it is actually true. It is an earnest endeavor to "know . . . God, and Jesus Christ, whom (He hath) sent."
The Light of Salvation
Every human being has to work out his salvation – salvation from sickness, sin, and all other discords which seem to make up mortal existence. There is only one way to do this, and that is the way Christ Jesus taught. You will recall it is recorded in Matthew 18:11 that he said, "The Son of man is come to save that which was lost." His purpose was to redeem mankind from the false sense of life in matter – to restore to them the truth which they seemed to have lost, the consciousness of man's heritage as the child of God, his spiritual identity. In Science and Health (p. 589) Jesus is described as "The highest human corporeal concept of the divine idea, rebuking and destroying error and bringing to light man's immortality." Born of a woman, he was "the Son of man"; he could therefore be recognized by mankind. He was able to deliver his message of the Christ, his spiritual nature, in human language and in deeds which mankind could understand as well as see and hear. His spiritual nature, the Christ, endowed him with the spiritual power and understanding of God to heal "all manner of sickness," as it is related in Matthew 4:23.
The Christ, the divine idea of God, the ideal man, is defined in Science and Health by Mrs. Eddy (p. 583) as '"The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error." Jesus was ever conscious of his true identity, and for this reason he referred to his spiritual selfhood as "the Son of God." It was this truth of his identity that Peter recognized when in answer to Jesus' question, "But whom say ye that I am?" he said. "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. ,16). It was this spiritual selfhood to which Jesus referred when he said. "Lo I am with you alway even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:20). In accord with this promise, the Christ is here today and is a practical, living, spiritual fact clearly recognizable by the purified and spiritualized human consciousness. As we follow Paul's injunction to have that Mind in us "which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5), we can exercise power over evil and perform the healing works promised by Jesus to those that understand him. Jesus showed the way and proved by his works that his way is the true way, the only way.
Salvation is defined in Science
and Health (p. 593) as "Life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated
as supreme over all; sin, sickness, and death destroyed." Therefore
healing of discords both mental and physical is a necessary step in working out
one's salvation. Salvation involves transformation of human consciousness from
the material to the spiritual, and the light of spiritual understanding is
indispensable in this process. Salvation is an individual responsibility, as
Love Our Neighbors
Love is the most powerful influence in human experience. I do not mean emotional, personally possessive love, but the unselfed love manifested by Christ Jesus.
In our daily association with others, problems arise, little personal difficulties. Sometimes impatience is manifested and other such undesirable qualities; differences of opinion are voiced, sometimes a little heatedly. We should be watchful of our response on these occasions. Christ Jesus clearly laid down the rule to be followed. You may recall that when talking with his disciples he said, in effect, that it is quite easy to love those who love us, but we must learn to love those who persecute us and despitefully use us. As we continue striving to keep the light of Truth shining in our consciousness, as we hold to our desire to express the presence and power of God, divine Love, it will be easier to stand firm when confronted with these temptations to be impatient, irritable, and resentful.
The way to progress in gaining the power of Spirit to heal, is to love, to be true to one's higher or true self, true to others. A thought filled with resentment, for example, is not a healing thought. It is the power of God, divine Mind, not human will, which heals. Healing is brought about by the action of the divine Mind, the influence of God, good, the light of spiritual understanding, which purifies and removes discord from human experience.
In Science and Health in the chapter on Christian Science Practice, under the marginal heading "Speedy healing" (p. 365) we read, "If the Scientist reaches his patient through divine Love, the healing work will be accomplished at one visit, and the disease will vanish into its native nothingness like dew before the morning sunshine."
To illustrate the power of love to heal quickly, I relate the experience of a young university student, who at examination time had a degree of fear about certain subjects. One morning he awoke suffering intense pain in his face. His mother called a practitioner, who went to see the young man. As the practitioner entered the room his thought was filled with loving compassion for the forlorn looking boy. He sat down beside him and talked to him of God and His love for all His children, explaining to him that the power of God to comfort and heal was right there with him. He followed for some time Mrs. Eddy's instructions in Science and Health (p. 201), "The way to extract error from mortal mind is to pour in truth through flood-tides of Love." Then he returned to his own home. Shortly afterwards the happy mother telephoned, giving the joyous news that all was well.
Now, let us see what happened. Here was one feeling distress, discomfort, and pain. These were denied any power or reality on the basis of the omnipotence of God, good. Fear cannot exist, for Love is all. With unselfed love there was poured into mortal mind the truth of man's being as a child of God, as an individual expression of divine Spirit, and his consequent freedom from anything unlike God. Like the leaven which a woman put in three measures of meal to leaven the whole lump, this truth leavened human consciousness, removing the fear of the pending school examination, the pain and discomfort, and revealing the spiritual fact of the presence of painless being. Now, this is not just simply a change in belief through the action of the human mind. It is the operation of the law of Love. It is the liberating action of Truth, the light, of spiritual understanding, brought to bear on human discord.
Church Reinstates Christian Healing
At first Mrs. Eddy hoped her discovery of the system of healing as practiced by Christ Jesus, and her proofs of it in this age, would be embraced by the Christian churches, but her hopes were not realized.
On this point she writes in Science and Health (p. 330), "Until the author of this book learned the vastness of Christian Science, the fixedness of mortal illusions, and the human hatred of Truth, she cherished sanguine hopes that Christian Science would meet with immediate and universal acceptance." So there was only one solution to the problem of finding means to convey the benefit of her discovery to mankind. She herself founded a church, the purpose being "To organize a church designed to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing," to quote the Resolution passed at a meeting of members in 1879 and recorded in the Manual of The Mother Church (p. 17).
As the movement grew, Mrs. Eddy encountered difficulty in finding students sufficiently experienced in spiritual understanding and practice to fill the position of pastors of the growing number of churches. As was her usual practice she turned to God, and she was led to appoint these two books – the Holy Bible, the King James Version, and "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" – as the pastor of the Church of Christ, Scientist, throughout the world. This God-guided decision preserved the purity of her teachings by eliminating personal opinions and has saved the Christian Science denomination from dangers and deviations incident to personal ministry.
Christian Scientists study the Lesson-Sermon, comprised of selections from the Holy Bible (the King James Version) and correlative passages from Science and Health, during the week previous to the Sunday when it is to be read in the churches. In this way the members bring to the service the gift of inspiration gained through their daily study. It has been noticed that this results in a very marked unity of thought and adds to the general inspiration of the congregation and dignity of the service. There are Sunday Schools in connection with our churches, where pupils may be enrolled up to the age of twenty years. They are taught the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and the rudiments of Christian Science. Experience has shown that children generally are very receptive and grasp the truths quickly, and, which is of great importance, soon put them into practice. They quickly develop a trust in God, the innocent, simple trust, of God's lesser creatures indicated in this short poem by Elizabeth Cheney:
"Said the-Robin to the Sparrow,
'I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.'
"Said the Sparrow to the Robin,
'Friend, I think it must be
That they have no heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me'."
Correct View of Man Heals
In the textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mrs. Eddy has given the complete method of healing in Christian Science. We find a brief but complete statement of how Jesus healed in the following words (pp. 476, 477): "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick." Let us for a moment consider the "perfect man" with a view to finding the explanation of Jesus' method of healing. Because of the Master's understanding of God and his at-one-ment with Him, his consciousness was filled with the spiritual light of the Christ, and this enabled him to see through the erroneous presentation of the carnal or fleshly mind's concept of man, and to discern the truth. Let us reason together on this point. God, divine Love, made man in His own image and likeness, according to Genesis (), "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." Accepting this as the absolute truth, the only conclusion that can be arrived at is that man, in reality, is complete and inseparable from God, divine Love. He is healthy, reflecting the thoughts and ideas of Mind.
As a reflection of the one infinite God, each individual must be immortal, that is without beginning or end. Let us illustrate with the mathematical fact that two and two make four. That has always existed, hasn't it? Is there anything that can change it? No. It is the same everywhere and always. When you write on paper the figure 2, place another 2 underneath it, draw a line, and put a 4, has that individual example of the mathematical fact started at that point? No. It has always existed and was ready and available for use when needed. Its identity is maintained even when the figures are rubbed out or the paper burned. Similarly the spiritual fact of your identity and mine always has existed in Mind and it will so continue eternally. Each one being the reflection of divine Mind, expresses the faculties, qualities, and attributes of divine Mind. Each one of us is an individual expression, an individual representation of the one infinite, supreme, all-knowing Mind. God is manifesting Himself in man, His child. As St. Paul puts it in Philippians 2:13: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Therefore in anything which you undertake which is good, true, right, and honest, you can feel confident because you are the reflection of the omnipotent One. You can see that man, the idea of God, is at one with his divine Principle, absolutely inseparable from Him. This is the perfect man whom Jesus beheld in Science.
Then, what are these mortals which we see expressing anything but love – expressing hatred, anger, greed, lust, and the like? How are we to account for them? As we have seen, the only kind of man there is in reality is God's man, and he is spiritual. Mortals are certainly not spiritual. They are the exact opposite of the spiritual; they are a material, mistaken view of the perfect man of God's creating, a counterfeit of God's man. Mortals accept as true this erroneous view of man, which appears to their sense as an outlined corporeal form, subject to sin, disease, death.
Now, the problem facing mankind is the obliteration of the counterfeit from consciousness, and in its place the acceptance of the reality of man's being. As the light of Truth dawns upon human consciousness, the truth or reality of man begins to appear. Holding firmly to this truth, in spite of mortal evidence to the contrary, we find that the man we seem to be or the one we are helping in Christian Science appears to us, in nature and character, more and more like the one whom God made in His own likeness. Christian Science redeems mankind from materialistic thinking. As mortals gain a clearer understanding of God, Spirit, and of man in His likeness, their concept of man becomes less material, and they see more clearly than ever the ever-existing truth of man as spiritual. This results in healing, as Mrs. Eddy states in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 62), "Holding the RIGHT idea of man in my mind, I can improve my own, and other people's individuality, health, and morals; whereas, the opposite image of man, a sinner, kept constantly in mind, can no more improve health or morals, than holding in thought the form of a boa-constrictor can aid an artist in painting a landscape."
Prayer in Christian Science is not pleading with God to give us something we may think we need, or merely a request that God will heal us of our diseases. You will find in Mark 11:24, Jesus said to his disciples, "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." This surely meant that earnest prayer affirming the ever-presence and power of God and that man is His image and likeness would reveal the existing spiritual fact of man's completeness and perfection – man actually having all he needs at all times. We do not ask God to give us something we already have. Our desire and endeavor in prayer is to realize the presence of God's abundance. Jesus gave thanks for God's abundant supply before it was made apparent to mortal sense, when he fed the four thousand and the five thousand with what mortal
sense would have said was a quite inadequate supply of fish and bread. He thanked God before he raised Lazarus from the sepulcher. His prayers were statements of truth, as Mrs. Eddy indicates when she writes in Science and Health (p. 12), "It is neither Science nor Truth which acts through blind belief, nor is it the human understanding of the divine healing Principle as manifested in Jesus, whose humble prayers were deep and conscientious protests of Truth, – of man's likeness to God and of man's unity with Truth and Love."
Prayer means much more than a repetition of words, statements, or sentences. These are used, but to be effective, the exercise of spiritually enlightened mental activity is necessary, a clear conviction of the truth which the words express, an actual feeling of their spiritual meaning. This conviction is gained through the light of understanding, which can be no more affected by the errors, ignorance of God, in human consciousness than the light of the sun can be affected by darkness.
In Christian Science, healing of sickness, discord of any kind, mental or physical, is brought about through prayer. There is no manipulation of the body at all, and no material remedies of any kind are used. The opening sentence of Science and Health is, "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, – a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love." This "absolute faith" is by no means synonymous with "blind faith." It demands a clear conviction and understanding of God as omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. It includes an unwavering acknowledgement of the truth that all is good, as stated in the first chapter of Genesis (verse 31): "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." The prayer that heals is a sincere and persistent voicing or mental affirmation of the truth applied directly and specifically to the false sense or misconception. It is the confronting of the false belief with the truth which results in the utter obliteration of the falsity. The truth is that man is the image and likeness of good only. There is definitely nothing else of which he can be really conscious, or which he can express, because God, good, is All.
Let us close by quoting from our Leader's "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 154): "Pray without ceasing. Watch diligently; never desert the post of spiritual observation and self- examination. Strive for self-abnegation, justice, meekness, mercy, purity, love. Let your light reflect Light."
[Published in The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin )News, April 10, 1958.]