Christian Science Reveals God as “A Very Present Help”
Otto G. Ziegenhagen, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Currently on an extended tour of
the country, Mr. Ziegenhagen spoke in the edifice of the First Church of
Mr. Ziegenhagen was introduced by
Mrs. Harriet F. Archer, Second Reader of First Church of Christ, Scientist,
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
In order to solve any problem, we need to acquaint ourselves with the fundamental facts or truths concerning it. There is one right answer to any problem, and it cannot be honestly obtained by ignorance or guesswork. This certainly applies to the working out of our salvation, as Christ Jesus so plainly expressed it in his statement (John ), "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
There are many who know very little about Christian Science, although it is steadily growing in recognition throughout the world. Some mistakenly think Christian Science is an application of the human mind to change a situation at will. People say, for instance, "You're not sick, just forget about it," or "If you want money or anything else, just think it." Let me tell you of an experience that took place during World War II, when a friend who was active in the field of Christian Science, was traveling on one of our trains. It was during meat rationing times, and at he went into the club car and asked the porter to fix a little lunch. He said: "I'd like some scrambled eggs, buttered toast, and some crisp bacon." The porter replied, "I can give you the eggs, and I can give you the toast, but as for the bacon, you'll have to use Christian Science."
No, my friends, the demonstration of Christian Science is not a question of getting material things − bringing in the bacon − it is the effect of realizing the fundamental facts of God and His creation. We can no more expect to receive God's help without understanding Him in His true light, than we can expect to receive help from the principle of mathematics without understanding it. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, says in the textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 390): "It is our ignorance of God, the divine Principle, which produces apparent discord, and the right understanding of Him restores harmony."
Christian Science brings you that "right understanding" of God now. Is not the truth of God and man always present? And if so, is there actually any error present to contradict that truth? In the Psalms we read (Ps. 46:1), "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." The Psalmist certainly encouraged himself to trust in God even in the face of adversity. Such trust brings proof to one that where trouble may suggest itself to be, the understanding of God's ever-present help eliminates it.
Now the question may arise, How can I eliminate an error or trouble that is confronting me? Do I merely have to ask God to take it away? The only answer is to recognize the spiritual fact that error is nothing, because God did not create it, and to replace the lie with the truth. Thus we prove that God is an ever-present help. This realization is prayer. Christian Science prayer includes knowing the truth of God and His creation, which brings us under the government of divine Love. These words from Job define prayer very plainly (Job ), "Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee." Some time ago, when I was engaged in another profession, I had in my employ a young woman who had much trouble in making her living. When she appeared at work one morning she seemed terribly depressed. She told me she had been faithfully attending her church of another denomination, and that day when she was praying, someone next to her emptied her pocketbook of every penny she had. I asked her what prayer was, and she replied: "Prayer means asking God for something that you want." I asked her to repeat it, which she did without too much thought. Then I put this question to her, you mean that you ask God for something you want? She paused momentarily and then exclaimed, "Of course it isn't what I want, it is what God wants." From that time on she seemed like a new-born individual expressing much joy, and she became prosperous in a delightful way. She had found the right approach to prayer.
The Nature of God
In order to benefit from prayer we must acquaint ourselves with God, and this involves a willingness to surrender our misconceptions of Him. In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy gives the following definition (p. 587): "God. The great I am; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence." When we think of God in this light, we see the infinitude of His true nature. Unless we know God as infinite, we cannot expect the blessings of an "all-wise" and an "all-loving" Mind. There is no way to know God except to entertain thoughts that emanate from Him, from Mind, Truth, Love. Any attempt to see God in a finite way − that is, to humanly circumscribe Deity − is to hinder progress. In the Gospel of John we read (John ), "No man hath seen God at any time." Here it is quite plain that we can never see God or become cognizant of His goodness through the physical senses. As the Psalmist says (Ps. 46:10), "Be still, and know that I am God."
Just think for a moment about the presence of Truth, where it is, and what it is doing, and you will find that Truth is everywhere, always operative, that is, always, expressing itself. The whole expression of Truth is the likeness of God, and the likeness of God is perfect man. We read in Genesis (Gen. 1:27), "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him." This is the real man, the perfect man who is forever inseparable from his creator.
The materially outlined form
called man is the misrepresentation of God's image and actually has no abiding
place in the infinite realm of Spirit. Then how are we going to free ourselves
from this matter world, this world of chaos and discord? Paul gives us
excellent advice in his letter to the Romans (
Spiritual sense alone reveals God as Spirit. It is not difficult to perceive God as Spirit if we will allow ourselves to become conscious of Truth and Love, for they have no finite outline. No one can draw a picture of Truth, or photograph Love, because they are infinite Spirit. We can never see Spirit with our eyes, but we can discern it through spiritual sense as we become conscious of a motivating power that supports all right activity. Spirit is that which gives renewed impetus to right thought and desire, elevating them to higher expressions of good.
Sometimes people say that it is difficult to know God as Spirit, but this need not be so. Even little children can understand Spirit in some measure. Let me tell you of a conversation I had recently with a little boy who attends the Christian Science Sunday School. When he was asked to define God, he replied: "God is Spirit." He paused momentarily, and with sincere thought continued, "Spirit is infinite." I thought it was rather unusual for a four-year-old to speak of God in this way. When he was asked if he could see Spirit with his eyes, he said "No." Then the question was put to him, Can you feel Spirit with your hands? Again, he replied in the negative, and added, "But you can feel Spirit, because it makes you do good things, and it makes you feel joyous." What the child glimpsed was the ever-presence of God as Spirit.
When we look to material things we do not find the true identities of Spirit's creation. Real ideas can only be seen in consciousness, as thoughts reflect God, the source of true creation. The Christ, Truth, reveals God to be infinite Mind, the only creator, and man to be His perfect reflection. God being Spirit, then His reflection is spiritual, without human outline, and is the very expression of God. When we think of this true reflection, let us not think in terms of materially outlined reflections, where the reflection is outside of the subject it reflects. God being infinite, His reflection must be in Him. Therefore, God encompasses His reflection, even as Truth embraces the expression of itself. Wherever God is, man is there too, for there is no place where man does not reflect God. Seeing, then, that man reflects God, who is infinite, we conclude that there can be no room for anything finite or material to attach itself to man.
In this light of reflection we can see the inseparability of God and man. We cannot separate Truth from its own expression.
Each of us as an individual consciousness reflects infinite Mind. But an individual idea is not the entire reflection of God. All of Mind's ideas together exist as the full expression of God. In other words, all conscious individual ideas collectively constitute the full representation or manifestation of God. In reference to Jesus' words "I and my Father are one" (John ), Mrs. Eddy explains in the textbook that this means one in quality, not in quantity.
When we see man as God's expression, His true reflection, the divine idea, and apply this truth to human experience, this results in Christian Science healing. Let me tell you of an experience that a young naval officer had during World War II. While he was at sea, he was badly burned when he saved a ship by putting out a fire.
He was rushed to the mainland where the Christian Science Wartime Minister called on him early the next morning, and found him almost entirely swathed in gauze. The conversation that followed included declarations of perfect God and perfect man. The thought was emphasized that there was never any degree of temperature in God. Only the atmosphere of divine Love prevailed at all times.
The Bible account (Dan. ) was related of the three Hebrew boys cast into the "burning fiery furnace" where there appeared "the form of the fourth . . . like the Son of God." The Christ was seen as always present to save mankind from any form of disaster. It was recognized that the young man's true identity, revealed by Christ, Truth, was never touched by consuming heat "nor the smell of fire."
On the fourth day all evidence of burns about the face had vanished. On the eighth day the doctor was asked when the officer would be released. He replied the "release" would be indefinite because skin grafts would be necessary. This possibility was mentally rejected and the truth was realized that nothing could be taken from man and nothing could be added to him. The very next morning the young officer was released from the hospital completely free from any evidence of burns. His mate who shared this experience with him was also freed. This was in line with what Mrs. Eddy writes in one of her books ("Christian Science versus Pantheism." p. 9), "The demonstration of Christianity blesses all mankind."
In the experience just related is concrete evidence that spiritual power supersedes material sense testimony. You see my friends, as the true reflection of God, divine Love, dawns upon consciousness, the discordant picture dissipates as a shadow before the rays of light. The real man, Truth's reflection, is present here and now, even where the material sense of man seems to be. This fact, realized, reveals the healing power of God to be ever present.
The Eternal Present
Human concepts of time can never change God's eternal day, but tend to hinder mankind's progress by making them hang on to their past and fear the future. All true being − all real existence − can be expressed only in terms of the eternal present. When we are conscious of God, and of His universe, we are eliminating the barriers of time. An old proverb says that time waits for no man, but Christian Science says that eternity is ever- present. The opening lines of the Preface to Science and Health read: "To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings." Here is your present help, whether it be for sickness or sin, or a business problem, incompatibility at home or at the office, fear about yourself or some dear one, or any other discord. Do not delay taking your problem to God. Hear what Paul writes (II Cor. 6:2): "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."
In reality there is no past, and there is no future. What are termed past and future are elements of time, which can never be found in eternity − in spiritual reality. Eternity is God's day, the forever present which is, not was or will be. Thinking about the past with regret is not going to correct a present situation. Likewise to be anxiously concerned about the future is not going to accomplish anything now. To realize the omnipresence of God, good, and His eternal day is to break the false sense of time which involves material sense existence − that which has a beginning and an end. How much more clearly this can be seen when we grasp what Mrs. Eddy says in her definition of "Day" in the textbook. Part of it reads (p. 584): "The objects of time and sense disappear in the illumination of spiritual understanding, and Mind measures time according to the good that is unfolded. This unfolding is God's day, and 'there shall be no night there.' "
Whenever we turn to the Father in conscientious prayer we do so in recognition of His eternal presence. This brings into focus the oneness and allness of Life, Truth, and Love and brings evidence of Mind's infinite creation, showing the nothingness of finite material beliefs. We do not petition God to help us in the past, nor should we think His blessings can come to us only in the future. It is now that we commune with Him, and in so doing the regrets, fears, or disappointments in regard to the past are dissipated, and the uncertainties, anxieties, mental pressures, and false responsibilities about the future are eliminated.
It we go to God in prayer, but are not expecting His help immediately, thinking perhaps that the healing will come in the future, our prayer is not scientific. When we go to a problem in mathematics, with an understanding of the principle involved we can expect an immediate result. We do not have to wait until the principle works out the problem − its work is already done and is ever available to those who accept it with understanding. So it is with God's work; the creation of infinite Mind governed by divine Principle, is forever complete and perfect. The Bible tells us about this in the book of Genesis (Gen. 1:31), "And God saw every thing that he had made; and, behold, it was very good." My friends, in your daily prayers always work from perfection and not towards it. Hear these words of the Master (Matt. ), "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
In his healing work Christ Jesus always thought in terms of the present. The Christ, Truth, made it possible for him to heal immediately. He spoke the truth in the present tense. To recall a few of his instantaneous healings, you will remember he declared to the man with the withered hand, "Stretch forth thine hand" (Matt. 12:13); to the palsied man, "Thy sins be forgiven thee" (Matt. 8:2); to the widow's son, who was dead, at the gate of Nain, "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise" (Luke 7:14); and to his beloved friend who lay in the grave four days, "Lazarus, come forth" (John 11:43).
Truth's Healing Power Available to All
For centuries the followers of Christianity have been taught that Christ and Jesus are one and the same in nature and in identity. How can this be true, when Jesus is no longer visible to human sense? Yet the Christ can always dawn upon human consciousness. It is true that Jesus so completely identified himself with the Christ that this title is given to him, and so he is known as Christ Jesus. In the textbook, Mrs. Eddy says (Science, and Health, p. 473), "Christ is the ideal Truth that comes to heal sickness and sin through Christian Science, and attributes all power to God. Jesus is the name of the man who, more than all other men, has presented Christ, the true idea of God, healing the sick and the sinning and destroying the power of death. Jesus is the human man, and Christ is the divine idea; hence the duality of Jesus the Christ."
All those who turn to the Christ, which is the living Truth, may work out their own salvation now, even as Jesus demonstrated his full dominion over the claims of matter.
Let me tell you of an experience that took place a few years ago. A woman was afflicted so badly with arthritis that she could scarcely walk. Her joints had taken on unnatural proportions. The doctors could do nothing for her, so they pronounced the case incurable. In her younger days she had been somewhat interested in Christian Science, but now realized she must turn to it wholeheartedly. She arranged for an interview with a Christian Science practitioner, and was assisted to the office by a friend. In the short conversation that ensued, the practitioner discerned that there had been an incident in her experience that caused a deep sense of irritation.
This was well covered by her displaying a pleasant sense of human personality. The true nature of God as causative Mind was stressed. It was pointed out to her that man in the eyes of God is not a finite personality, and that in her true identity she was an individual spiritual idea or consciousness dwelling in divine Mind. Her true being was that which God knew her to be. The thought was brought out that she as an individual idea of God reflected all the qualities of God. This fact was emphasized as something that would eliminate any sense of lack for her, and remove any regrets she might have harbored. The practitioner took up treatment for her. She showed remarkable improvement and soon was completely healed. During this experience she was also healed of smoking, social drinking, and the wearing of thick glasses. Her body had assumed normal and even unusually graceful proportions.
Discoverer, Founder, Leader
It was Mrs. Eddy's work to give the world a truly enlightened and scientific understanding of God and man. Through the textbook, she has re-established primitive Christianity, whereby the full healing power of God may be felt, when understandingly applied to sin, disease, or death. Mrs. Eddy lived close to God from early childhood. She was reared in a family which had strong moral and religious foundations. In her work "Retrospection and Introspection" she writes (p. 6). "My childhood's home I remember as one with the open hand. The needy were ever welcome, and to the clergy were accorded special household privileges."
Throughout her early womanhood she was faced with one severe trial after another but she turned naturally to God for help as her mother had taught her to do. After her discovery of Christian Science she wrote in the textbook (p. 410): "Every trial of our faith in God makes us stronger. The more difficult seems the material condition to be overcome by Spirit, the stronger should be our faith and the purer our love." There was a yearning on her part to find the living Christ, the Truth which Jesus discerned and proved.
This Truth came to her in startling evidence one day after she had sustained injuries from which she was not expected to recover. She turned to the Bible. For twenty years previous she had had an innate desire to learn the mental cause of all physical action, and the divine Principle of spiritual healing. On this occasion as she read the ninth chapter of Matthew where Christ Jesus' healing of the man sick of the palsy is recorded, she caught an illumined glimpse of the healing Christ and experienced an instantaneous healing. Much to the amazement of the other members of the household, she walked into the next room where her friends were gathered and took her place among them. She had realized that the Christ, Truth, was just as efficacious then as in Jesus' time.
Then followed her unselfish and loving search of the Scriptures to learn more about the truth that had healed her. In the textbook, Mrs. Eddy writes (p. 109): "For three years after my discovery, I sought the solution of this problem of Mind-healing, searched the Scriptures and read little else, kept aloof from society, and devoted time and energies to discovering a positive rule." She writes further, "I knew the Principle of all harmonious Mind-action to be God, and that cures were produced in primitive Christian healing by holy, uplifting faith; but I must know the Science of this healing, and I won my way to absolute conclusions through divine revelation, reason, and demonstration."
Christian Science is not Mrs. Eddy's invention, but it is her discovery, and so she is rightfully called the Discoverer of Christian Science. She founded her movement fearlessly, establishing The Mother Church, and all of its varied activities. As many of you know, the Churches of Christ, Scientist, located in various parts of the civilized world, are branches of The Mother Church. The Church Manual which Mrs. Eddy was divinely impelled to write sets forth the governing By-Laws of her Church. For all this she is regarded as the Founder of the Christian Science movement.
Then rightly she is recognized as the Leader. She has left a wonderful example for all of us to follow. It is through her divinely inspired writings that we are led by her, and some in the fields of medicine and the natural sciences are being led to the Science she discovered. Every day the truths she set forth are becoming more generally accepted.
At one time she stood alone, challenging the material world when she declared in Science and Health (p. 584), "Matter has no life, hence it has no real existence." Today, there are great numbers who accept this statement. Although many may not see the full import of it, it is quite perceivable that the world is gradually awakening to the meaning of this profound statement. More and more attention is being given to the mental rather than to the material aspect of a proposition. This progress will surely continue as Truth is more widely understood.
Today there is visible proof of progress in the varied activities of the Church of Christ, Scientist, which Mary Baker Eddy established through her God-given inspiration and guidance. Communities throughout the world are being blessed by the conducting of church services and meetings. Here, the inspired word of the Bible is explained by the Christian Science textbook and primitive Christianity is again made practical and provable.
Those who need added help in solving a human problem may turn to the list of practitioners published in The Christian Science Journal. These loyal and vigilant workers are ready to stand by and pray for those who are in need of spiritual discernment.
Christian Science Promotes Progress
I think it would be generally admitted that the overcoming of material limitations promotes mankind's progress and enables them to do greater things. Jesus proved that a clear concept of God as infinite Spirit enables one to triumph over all material limitations. Christian Science shows us how to put into practical demonstration the infinite capabilities man expresses as a son of God. It gets at the mental cause of all limitations, and proves that all things are possible to God. It reveals the allness of God − infinite Truth − and demonstrates man's inseparability from Him.
Christian Science challenges any thought opposed to Truth. It demonstrates the harmony of man's being − being at one with the Supreme Being. Christian Science brings healing to the sick through the understanding that infinite Principle, divine Love, tolerates nothing less than its infinite expression. To the sinner, new hope is given by proving there is no satisfaction in material sensation, because infinite Spirit, or Soul, alone is the source of satisfaction. The business man progresses by turning to divine intelligence instead of depending upon human opinions to guide him. Through Science, the college student demonstrates a higher level of ability in academics, in athletics, and in all his activities. Protection, supply, happiness, and harmony are afforded to those who acknowledge one Mind as supreme over all. Christian Science challenges the basic limitations of matter, and its victories over these limitations have a definite effect upon human thought in general.
Error Without Principle
Every Science seeks to distinguish truth from error and this Christian Science achieves. We know that anything that is real must have something to support it, such as principle or law. No one can prove an error to be true, because there is no law supporting an error. An error is nothing more or less than a mistake about a truth. A truth can always be known, but no one can know an error − no, not in any field of thought can an error be known. One may believe in an error, or have faith in it, but no one can actually know an error. Nothing but the truth can be known.
Jesus always manifested the Christ, Truth, in the exercise of his God-given dominion over error. Mrs. Eddy, in the textbook, explains in these words how the Master worked (Science and Health, 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."
It is necessary to deny error at every turn, but this cannot be done by merely declaring there is no error. We must realize the somethingness, the omnipresence of Truth, in order to detect the nothingness of any false suggestion. On this basis we have a workable religion, Christian Science, a Science that can be demonstrated, and made applicable to any human need,
Any error, whether it be sin, disease, or death, can in no way abide in Truth, or God. Truth knows nothing unlike itself. Whatever seems to be unlike Truth is but a false concept entertained in human consciousness. Science teaches us that only through spiritual discernment can we become cognizant of the real, which enables us to detect the spurious or unreal. The material presentation is the counterfeit of the spiritual and the true. Paul has summed it up so descriptively in his letter to the Corinthians, where he writes (II Cor. ): "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; but the things which are not seen are eternal." This statement leads us to look for the real and eternal − the very presence of God and His creation − and to recognize the temporal and fleeting nature of the material.
Truth the Sole Authority
Truth speaks for itself and nothing can actually dispute its word because Truth, God, is the sole authority. Truth is the Life of man and all creation. Christ Jesus saw the real nature of Truth and this gave him power and authority to destroy error. Let us follow the Master's footsteps in our radical reliance upon Truth, being ever so careful never to doubt or question the stand we take for Mind and Principle to guide and sustain us. Sometimes we hear this statement made, "I know that God is everywhere and I am His perfect child; but I still have pain and trouble." And sometimes we hear this one: "Why don't I get help?" If we eliminate the "buts" and "whys," we shall make progress.
When a positive statement is made about God and His man, hold to it without compromise, and deny that any error has existence. Then the Christ, Truth, will be made manifest. To accomplish any demonstration of Christian Science requires singleness of thought and purpose in radically relying upon Truth and Principle. Keeping "thine eye single" as Jesus taught, you will allow nothing but divine Mind to motivate your thinking. Mrs. Eddy says in the textbook (p. 261), "Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts."
Love a Present Help
To see the omnipresence of divine Love through the living Christ, the ideal Truth, will enable one mentally to exclude error from consciousness, thus bringing to light man's true birthright as a child of God. Love must be in our hearts in order that we may have true joy to share with others.
In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy gives us this Love-inspired thought (p. 367): "The tender word and Christian encouragement of an invalid, pitiful patience with his fears and the removal of them, are better than hecatombs of gushing theories, stereotyped borrowed speeches, and the doling of arguments, which are but so many parodies on legitimate Christian Science, aflame with divine Love."
As we go about our daily work, turning to Christ, Truth, for guidance, we feel the Father's hand that blesses all who put their trust in Him. In this way we are working out our salvation, through learning to love and help our fellowmen. We are demonstrating the power of divine Love that heals and saves.
The need for recognizing the true nature of God has been stressed. What term could be better employed to define Him than divine Love? It is now that Love fills all space, disallowing any evil. God and man coexist eternally in perfect harmony, where sin, disease, and death cannot exist. It is love that is Truth's healing power, and is ever available to meet every need. Mrs. Eddy has given to all of us her precious discovery, which she has named Christian Science. Indeed, it is the Science of Christianity, it is the religion of Love. It unmasks all error, and shows matter to be without Principle or Law.
Faithful practice of the teaching of Christian Science brings increasingly into focus the truths of God and man and demonstrates divine power. This great religion of Love, available here and now, does remove all doubt and fear from human consciousness. It reveals the Christ, God's living Truth, which Jesus so completely presented that we may follow in his footsteps. All of our Master's trust was in God.
Again, let me repeat from the Psalms (46:l), "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." This "very present help" could be nothing less than divine Love. Christian Science indeed is the religion of Love. In the textbook Mary Baker Eddy makes this profound statement (p. 113); "The vital part, the heart and soul of Christian Science, is Love."
[Published in The Tampa (Florida) Independent, Dec. 2, 1960.]