Christian Science: The Power of Spiritual Right Thinking
Arthur P. Wuth C.S.B. of Denver, Colorado
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Driving along a highway, a motorist saw an occasional triangular road sign bearing the single word "Think!" He stopped to examine one of the signs and found that it was hinged along the upper horizontal edge. When the forward section was turned upward, it formed a diamond-shaped sign reading "Icy Road." When the road was free of ice, the upper half of the sign was folded down so as to cover the warning. Instead of leaving a blank sign, an alert highway department printed the reminder "Think!"
Think about what? What should one think about when driving an automobile along a modern highway? Obviously, one should think about what he is doing. He should not allow his thought to wander carelessly from the act of alertly and intelligently driving the motorcar, of maintaining a safe and prudent speed, of observing the highway signs posted for his information, and of keeping consistent watch on the condition of his vehicle. We know only too well the tragedies that have occurred when motorists have permitted thought to wander and have failed to exercise due care. The word "think" is deeply significant in driving an automobile.
The Importance of Right Thinking
Can you recall any activity in human experience in which thinking is not important? Have you ever tried to maintain consciousness for a full minute without thinking of something? It cannot be done, so vital is thinking to our very existence. Because thinking is so important, is it not essential that we learn early how to do consistent in constructive thinking, thinking that will improve our experience, fulfill our purpose in life, and add to our joy and well-being?
In the Bible, St. Paul writes: "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Phil. 4:8). Think on these things! Why? Because there is a direct relationship between thinking spiritually wholesome, decent, upright, healthy, Christlike thoughts, and experiencing them. On the very first page of her remarkable book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, makes this arresting statement (Pref. p. vii): "The time for thinkers has come." Farther on she states (Pref., p. vii): "Ignorance of God is no longer the stepping-stone to faith. The only guarantee of obedience is a right apprehension of Him whom to know aright is Life eternal."
Thinking and knowing are closely related, and when that knowing is about God and when that thinking is along the lines St. Paul recommends, concerning the things that are of God, great are the rewards of peace, health, supply, and well-being. Let us think intelligently and logically about these aspects of our subject, "Christian Science: The Power of Spiritual Right Thinking": first, right thinking is directly related to God's oneness and allness; second, right thinking concerning God and His creation enables our bodies to manifest harmony; and third, right thinking is necessary to safety on the highway and in every human activity.
Our first point, then, is to note the relationship between right thinking and God's oneness and allness. Moses led his people into the acceptance of the fact that there is one God with the first of the Ten Commandments: "Thou shall have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:3). It is significant that when the people obediently followed this teaching, they enjoyed protection and prosperity. But when their thinking was confused and they worshipped more than one God, their demoralization began. They were plagued with trials and difficulties. To know that there is but one infinite God is the first step in right thinking. It leads to an intelligent, humble acknowledgment of the primary fact of being that the great and only cause is One.
It is of equal importance to know what that One includes. What do you think of when you think of God? Intelligence? Wisdom? Order? The creator of the universe can never be anything less than the one Mind, the all-wise, the all-intelligent. Imagine the confusion and conflict which would result if there were many creators, many minds, or the incidence of chance and accident if there were no Mind, no guiding intelligence! In his book "Frontiers of Astronomy," Frank Hoyle states: "The great stage where the universe acts out its play is one in which the twin roles of coincidence and chance have scarcely any entry. . . . It was not an accident that the small planets were formed nearest the Sun. Nor do the composition of the planets seem in the least to be a matter of chance" (Prologue, p. xv, and p. 105). This admission by astronomy points to the fact that all true creation is not accidental, but is wisely and intelligently conceived. In Christian Science we acknowledge God to be divine Mind, the creator of a universe of order, a universe where there is no law of chance or accident, a universe that is not material, but is wholly spiritual. And since God is One and He is supreme, there can be only one Mind. There could not be more than one Mind. Paul asks: "Who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? . . . For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever" (Rom. 11:34, 36).
To gaze into the starry heavens on a cloudless night is to gain a deeper appreciation of the vastness of infinity. The magnitude of stellar space gives us an inkling of the unlimited nature of God's universe. At one time astronomers theorized that there might be as many as one million planetary systems similar to our own among the stars of the Milky Way. But now they claim there are more than one hundred billion, a number so extensive and inconceivable that it prompts us to pause in awe at the vastness of the universe even as it seems materially to be. All this appearance points to the infinite nature of God and His creation. In Christian Science we learn that God is not confined, limited, or corporeal. We find that He is omnipresent, everywhere. A synonym which well describes this characteristic of His being is Spirit, for Spirit is not finite. Spirit has not an element of the restrictive, measured, limited characteristics of matter. Spirit is pure consciousness. We read in the Bible: "O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: . . . Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created" (Ps. 104:1, 2, 30).
No imagination is required to appreciate the beauty of nature — the symmetry of a tree, the color of a flower, the grace of a bird in flight. Nature's beauty, though fading and temporal, symbolizes the beauty of God's creation and hints the glory of His nature. This fact was indicated by Christ Jesus when he said that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like the lilies of the field. He reasoned that if God so cared for them, how much more would He care for us. In speaking of God from the standpoint of the beauty of His creation, it is often convenient to use the word Soul, which is another synonym for God. Beauty is a characteristic of Soul, or God, and of all that He creates.
The farmer plants seed in the spring fully confident that it will sprout, mature, and bear fruit. He has faith that this process will take place, a faith based upon the rules of nature which make the cycle of spring and autumn, seedtime and harvest fixed and unchangeable. Nature's rules often point to the higher laws of God, laws which are invariable, constant. We can have an absolute faith in the laws of God, for God is divine Principle, a synonym which defines His reliability and steadfastness. Authority for understanding God as Principle is hinted in this verse from the Bible: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17).
Have you ever thought about the origin of life, its source and necessity, life which in its simplest meaning stands for activity, usefulness, purpose, consciousness? The chemist and biologist have searched in vain for the origin of life and frankly admit that it cannot be found in matter. To Christ Jesus, however, life was not an enigma, but the conscious spiritual activity of God and His Christ. He said, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). Knowing God means actively expressing His nature, for God is Life, the source of all life.
Mankind has puzzled for centuries about the nature of ultimate reality, that which is fundamentally true. Efforts to explain it from the standpoint of what is seen and felt materially have been unavailing. There are physical scientists today who admit frankly that it is metaphysics, not physics, which must bear the burden of explaining Truth, ultimate reality. The physical sciences, they say, can only report the nature and the activity of physical phenomena. Mankind's search for what is absolutely true is answered in the Bible: "The Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations" (Ps. 100:5). What does St. Paul declare? "Whatsoever things are true . . . think on these things." God is Truth as the Bible states, and to think on the things that are true is to think on Him, to contemplate His creation, to consider that which is eternal, changeless, unadulterated by evil or illusion.
If you experienced a childhood rich in the affection of loving parents, you will have no difficulty in thinking about the creator, the Father and Mother of all, as a God of love — tender, benevolent, forgiving, securely protecting and preserving all that is precious and necessary to His completeness. The Scriptures speak of God's loving-kindness, that He cares for His children, that He loves them deeply. Did not John write, "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love" (I John 4:8)?
Now what have we observed? In endeavoring to think about God have we not concluded that He must be Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, and Love? And have we not seen that, there is Scriptural authority for recognizing God in this way? These seven terms for God are synonymous, interchangeable, and define the aspects of His nature. Some of them are found in the Scriptures, and they are used by Mary Baker Eddy as descriptive of God's nature. Principle was employed by her as a complete term for God, one that fully conveys the nature of God.
The seven synonyms make it possible for mankind to utilize the Bible truths about God, to grow in the understanding of Him, and to fulfill the admonition of St. Paul that we think on the things of God, if we would make them part of our experience. They bear out God's oneness and allness. They emphasize the fact that He is One, not two, not many, and that to be fully cognizant of His nature we must be conscious of these aspects of His being. By taking the synonyms, studying them, pondering them, thinking about them, our understanding of God begins to grow and expand, and we lay the foundation for right reasoning, or scientific thinking.
Christian Science, the Science of right thinking, starts with the fundamental point of the First Commandment that God is the only cause and creator, and that there is none other beside Him. From this it reasons to the logical conclusion that God's creation must be like Him, since like produces like. Christian Science follows intelligently and logically a primary rule of right thinking, the deductive method of reasoning. It starts with cause and reasons to the effect. It states clearly that to know the nature of God's creation, we must first know the nature of God. This is being faithful to the leading commandment of the ten. Right thinking always starts thus, with the major spiritual premise regarding all creation, and then, true to the deductive method, reasons from cause to effect, and comprehends aright the nature of that which has been created.
The boy Jesus learned quickly the method of right thinking when he stayed behind in Jerusalem and talked with the masters of learning. According to the Scriptural account, he was "sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers" (Luke 2:46, 47). That he must have regarded God as the only creator, reverently beginning with the great and only cause in the reasoning process, is implied in his answer to his mother: "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49.) Jesus adhered strictly to this position. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God," he said (Matt. 6:33).
By living his understanding of God, Jesus experienced such an awareness of God's presence that he was able to heal the physically ill and the morally lax. He taught his disciples to do the same. His fidelity to the purpose and will of God evoked the admission of Peter that he, Jesus, was the living example of the Christ, the spiritual idea of divine sonship. In recognition of this attainment the Master has since been respectfully designated as Christ Jesus. This does not mean that Jesus is the Christ, but rather that he demonstrated Christ, the Godlike nature, in his daily thoughts and deeds. The Christ comes to each of us in proportion to our adherence to God's oneness, our embodiment of right thinking. It has always done so and will ever continue, for in the words of Mrs. Eddy (Science and Health, p. 332), "Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness." The Christ is continually urging each of us to express the divine nature, to religiously abide by the full meaning of the First Commandment.
Mary Baker Eddy
Mrs. Eddy learned early in life the lessons of right reasoning. As a young girl the doctrine of predestination, held to by the pastor of her church, greatly disturbed her because of its untenable position in the light of an all-loving God. It seemed illogical and unnatural to her that an ever-loving Father could be anything but kind, forgiving, and charitable to His offspring.
Later her medical experiments in the field of homeopathy led her to discover that the less the incidence of the drug, the greater its effect upon the patient. From this she was convinced that not the drug but the individual's state of consciousness brought about the desired change. Later she found that the human mind was not a reliable agent in the healing process. Mrs. Eddy had always been an earnest student of the Bible. When she herself was healed through prayer, and when her prayers successfully healed others, she was convinced that the only safe therapy is the divine. This conclusion came to her through reason and revelation and from her own careful study of the Bible, based upon the spiritual truths it contains. Right thinking contributed to that conclusion, thinking which did not deviate from the spiritual fact of the First Commandment. Significantly she writes (Science and Health, p. 340): "The First Commandment is my favorite text. It demonstrates Christian Science. It inculcates the tri-unity of God, Spirit, Mind; it signifies that man shall have no other spirit or mind but God, eternal good, and that all men shall have one Mind."
It was deductive reasoning which led Mrs. Eddy to discover the truth about man. She saw that since God is good and is the only creator, then man must be good, in perfect agreement with the Scriptural record in the first chapter of Genesis. Since God is Mind, man must express intelligence. Since God is Love, man must be free of the inharmony of disease and the fear of it. Since God is Principle, man must be sinless. But she discerned clearly that this man of God's making is not the human, fleshly, mortal sense of man, for to admit such a conclusion would be to abandon the method of scientific right thinking. To start with a mortal sense of things instead of with the infinite is to end in confusion.
Mortal existence is the product of carnal mentality — physical-mindedness instead of spiritual-mindedness. It is a belief in a mind apart from God, of existence in matter instead of in Spirit. "To be carnally minded is death" (Rom. 8:6), writes St. Paul. "The carnal mind is enmity against God" (Rom. 8:7), he declares, and it is this counterfeit mind, this misconception of being, which is responsible for what is designated mortal man.
Now to correct this misconception, where should one begin? With the counterfeit? With what seems to be the effect? Why, no. Follow faithfully, as Christ Jesus did, and as Mrs, Eddy sets forth clearly in Science and Health, the deductive method of reasoning. Start with cause, begin with God in the reasoning process, and you will come to that glorious conclusion voiced by St. John (I John 3:2): "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." You will discern that man, the image and likeness of God, Spirit, is not material, but spiritual. He is not mortal, but immortal. He is the individual expression of God, good.
Now our use of the term "right thinking" in this lecture applies exclusively to spiritual thinking, for unless one's thinking is basically spiritual, unless it has the underlying motivation of obedience to the First Commandment, an earnest, consecrated effort to have the Mind which was in Christ Jesus, it becomes little more than wishful thinking.
Many books and magazines have been published in the last twenty-five years on the subject of positive thinking, or mental health. Some of them are interesting and a few may be helpful to a degree, but most of them are essentially efforts to encourage thinking along humanly positive lines. They espouse the method of mental suggestion on the theory that if one thinks along affirmative lines long enough he will make such thinking a part of his experience. They are based on the belief that life is in matter. Such methods are not Christian Science and should never be confused with it. They deal almost exclusively with the so-called human mind, believing that it has the power of health and well-being, a theory which contradicts the oneness of Mind established by the First Commandment.
Spiritual thinking, on the other hand, enables one to comprehend the Science of being, the Science of the Christ. Spiritual thinking fulfills the observation of St. Paul, "To be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Rom. 8:6). It included the necessity of bringing thought into accord with the divine will, of being consciously aware of God's presence and power, of spiritually understanding Him. Such thinking is prayer. It is not just wishing things to be good, but recognizing that everything God made must be good, and understanding the reason why.
The Science of the Christ is the Science of spiritual-mindedness. It is the application of the First Commandment to human experience. It calls for the daily, consistent effort to know and do the will of God, to "think on these things." The deeply entrenched beliefs of materialism cannot be brushed aside with a Pollyanna attitude. They must be expunged from consciousness through prayer, through the healing influence of the Christ.
The premise of all right thinking, then, is the First Commandment, the humble acknowledgment that there is but one great cause, Spirit, and that there is none else beside Him. And right thinking requires that we know Him spiritually, that we understand Him for what He really is.
Mind Governs the Body
The second point in this discussion is that spiritual right thinking concerning God and His present creation enables our bodies to manifest harmony. The physical body, Mrs. Eddy explains, is the carnal mind's expression of itself. It is mortal thought objectified. The body cannot do anything or be anything without that so-called mind's admission or acceptance. To bring the human consciousness into subjection to the divine Mind, is to experience that Mind's government of the body. As we have already observed, we must have in us the Mind which was in Christ Jesus. We must "think on these things." Christ Jesus illustrates how thought governs the body with the parable, of the strong man. Note how Mrs. Eddy comments on this parable in Science and Health (p. 399): "Our Master asked: 'How can one enter into a strong man's house and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man?' In other words: How can I heal the body, without beginning with so-called mortal mind, which directly controls the body? When disease is once destroyed in this so-called mind, the fear of disease is gone, and therefore the disease is thoroughly cured. Mortal mind is 'the strong man,' which must be held in subjection before its influence upon health and morals can be removed. This error conquered, we can despoil 'the strong man' of his goods, — namely, of sin and disease."
We control mortal mind, we bind the strong man, when we acknowledge that there is only one Mind, the divine. We continue to control mortal mind as we adhere to the deductive method of reasoning, start with God, Mind, the first great cause, and from thence reason to the effect. We do so every time we listen to what the Christ is speaking to the human consciousness. In effect, this is being spiritually minded, which Paul tells us is life and peace. The result is that Mind, God, governs the body harmoniously. We can remedy every diseased condition of the body in this way, and we can prevent disease from occurring.
This human body has no more intelligence than an automobile. It goes through the motions imposed upon it by mortal mind just as the motor car responds to the turn of the driver's wheel or the depression of the foot on the accelerator. The businessman who works under mental strain and pressure, and who then begins to suffer physically, has contributed to bodily suffering himself. He is allowing the mortal mind beliefs of pressure, fear, and worry to punish his body.
A woman, fearing a much-publicized and so-called incurable disease, examining her body frequently to see if there is evidence of it, and finding herself the victim of Job's warning "The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me" (Job 3:25), is responsible for the development of that condition in her body. The body itself is helpless to protect itself from the thoughts imposed upon it.
The divine Mind will govern the body harmoniously if we let that Mind govern. This means removing the influence of the carnal mind through prayer. By turning consistently to the divine Mind for guidance, by affirming the truth of our spiritual selfhood, denying the suggestions of mortal existence, and listening to what Mind, God, is telling us, prayer becomes meaningful and effective. The temptations of worry, impatience, pressure, and fear are quickly destroyed. How wisely Mrs. Eddy tells us (Science and Health, p. 176), "Mortal mind is the worst foe of the body, while divine Mind is its best friend."
Sometimes it is felt that one cannot control wrong thoughts, that they come in spite of one's best efforts to resist them. Scare advertising, for example, dangles the possibility of pain and suffering before one's thought in an effort to compel one to buy a so-called preventive product. One cannot always avoid seeing the tobacco and alcohol advertising which speaks glowingly of the pleasures derived from their use, but never hints the physical bondage and mental slavery they engender.
The same holds true of sinful thoughts — the jealousy, envy, procrastination, selfishness, and other forms of evil which blight human existence. Christian Science shows that one is not necessarily responsible for the thoughts that come to him. But he is responsible if he responds to those thoughts, if he takes them in, if he mistakenly believes that they are his own thinking and that he is helpless to correct them.
Protection lies in the fact that we are never denied freedom of choice. We can always apply the simple directive of Scripture, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). The devil, of course, is not a person. It is carnal-mindedness, wrong thinking. And it matters not what the devilish thoughts may be — fear, accident, disease, envy, sensuality, lack, hatred — we can always choose to refrain from making them our own. Outside our consciousness they can cause us no harm, but once they are admitted, we invariably suffer the consequences.
Salvation begins in this way — choosing good thoughts, resisting bad, listening to what the Christ is speaking to the human consciousness, and then heeding that message. Salvation comes from the daily practice of spiritual-mindedness, and through that effort the consistent overcoming of sin and disease.
You and I can form the habit of right thinking by following the instruction so clearly set forth in Science and Health (p. 392): "Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you with realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously. When the condition is present which you say induces disease, whether it be air, exercise, heredity, contagion, or accident, then perform your office as porter and shut out these unhealthy thoughts and fears. Exclude from mortal mind the offending errors, then the body cannot suffer from them." This, you see, is prayer without ceasing. It is working out our salvation as the Bible requires.
The third point to this discussion is that right thinking is necessary to safety on the highway and in every human activity. Accidents never just happen. They are always the result of fear, or superstition, or carelessness. Accidents can be prevented, and the surest way is the method of right thinking taught in Christian Science.
Chance and accident are not supported by law. If they were, everyone would be vulnerable. Christian Science teaches that chance and accident, regardless of the human activity in which they occur, are without law, without authority of any kind. They are simply this product of erroneous thinking — ignorance, fear, and superstition entertained in consciousness. You can disprove the belief in the law of chance by affirming divine Mind's harmonious government. The same law which keeps the celestial bodies in, their proper orbits will enable you to keep your automobile in the right lane, at a safe speed, under constant control, and without endangering the lives and property of others, provided you are receptive and responsive to the Mind that is God.
Accidents imply more than one Mind. It is assumed that all involved have minds of their own and that they are anything but co-ordinated.
But this is not so. Do we not read in the Bible, "Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?" (Mal. 2:10.) And this one is Mind, this divine Mind, the only Mind, before which we can have no other, as the First Commandment requires.
We can avoid accidents of all kinds — on the highway, in the air, in industry, and in the home. In fact, we can prevent accidents from occurring by realizing that there is but one Mind or government, but one law of harmonious control.
''But how will that prevent others from being careless?" you may ask. Often it is felt that it is not our neglect which causes accidents, but the other fellow's, and how can we control him? We do not control him, and we make no effort to do so, but Mind, God, does, whether the other person knows it or not. Our responsibility is to recognize God's control of all.
"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty," the Bible reminds us (Ps. 91:1). Our awareness of Mind's government, and our consistent obedience to Mind's direction, fully protect us. Mrs. Eddy writes (Science and Health, p. 424): "Accidents are unknown to God, or immortal Mind, and we must leave the mortal basis of belief and unite with the one Mind, in order to change the notion of chance to the proper sense of God's unerring direction and thus bring out harmony. Under divine Providence there can be no accidents, since there is no room for imperfection in perfection."
We can all improve our contribution to safe driving, to the prevention of accidents in every human activity, by supplanting the false law of chance with God's law of harmony and order.
Now what have we observed in this discussion on "Christian Science: The Power of Spiritual Right Thinking"? We found that the word "think" is vitally important to being, that the time for thinkers has, indeed, come, and that we cannot begin too soon the admonition of St. Paul to "think on these things," the things of Spirit. We then explored related points in the development of our subject: first, that right thinking is directly related to God's oneness and allness, is directly related to the faithful observance of the deductive method of reasoning; that we can consistently begin with God, the great and only cause, and from that starting point reason logically and intelligently to the effect. Second, we observed that right thinking enables the divine Mind to govern the human body harmoniously, just as it governs the celestial bodies of the Milky Way, if we will but let that Mind govern by having the Mind that was in Christ Jesus. Third, we discovered that right thinking is directly related to safety, for once we rule out of consciousness the belief in a law of chance and accident, and subscribe instead to a fuller realization that there is one Mind only, not two, not many, we can prevent accidents from occurring and feel the safety, peace, and confidence which come through Mind's harmonious government.
The power of spiritual right thinking can be applied to every daily task. You will find as you begin to practice it and notice the improvement and progress that take place in your experience, that you will often pause and thank God for His infinite goodness. Spiritual right thinking is what Paul referred to when he wrote: "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." (II Cor. 10:4,5)