Clem W. Collins, C.S.B., of Boston, Massachusetts
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
In a lecture in Faneuil Hall, Boston, yesterday, September 14, 1980, Clem W. Collins spoke on how health care and health maintenance are viewed in Christian Science. The members of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston sponsored his lecture, "Come Join Christ's Health Revolution."
Mr. Collins has been in the public healing ministry of Christian Science since leaving the United States Navy after the Korean war. He has served as First Reader of The Mother Church and for a number of years as Publisher's Agent for the writings of Mary Baker Eddy. He became a teacher of Christian Science in 1970 and is now a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship.
The lecturer was introduced by Miss Sharman Brown, a local member of The Mother Church.
An abridged text of the lecture follows:
Is it too much to claim that it is God's responsibility to maintain man's health? Is it too much to claim that God's love and care are available now here and everywhere?
The challenge seems immense. In the United States alone millions of individuals are said to be suffering from chronic diseases for which there is no known cure in medical systems.
Actually, we don't have to look far to see that a health revolution has already begun, for in many religions today people are seeking to understand the potential of spiritual healing and to practice it, at least to a degree.
To be successful, a revolution requires a radical change, a complete change. Mankind's need is for a health-care system that not only recognizes this but can do something about it a system that provides not only for healing but for health maintenance, including victory over the decline attached to aging.
Actually, there is such a system. It has always existed, for its basis is the Christ, the healing Truth about God and man. But it took the immaculate Jesus, in fulfillment of the divine scheme of things, to reveal it. Adherents of Christian Science understand this Science to be the reinstatement of Jesus' healing method a method applicable not only to sickness but to every kind of trouble known to mankind.
Christian Science has come to fulfill God's promises to heal mankind's needs. Its effect is to bring spiritual light to everyone a fuller sense of God's love and care for everyone, resulting in a higher, holier, more effective healing system a system meeting mankind's instinctive yearning for spiritual healing as a way to worship God.
Health is God's expression of love for man. David brings this out in one of his Psalms:
"Bless the Lord, . . . who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's" (Ps. 103:2-5).
Now, what is health to you? What it is to you or to me determines where we'll look for it and what we'll find. Speaking of what is certain to be ultimately recognized as the most profound concept of health the world has ever known, Mary Baker Eddy, Discoverer of Christian Science, tells us in the Christian Science textbook, "Health is not a condition of matter, but of Mind" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 120).
This Mind refers to God, and this is an essential point.
She continues: "Nor can the material senses bear reliable testimony on the subject of health."
Think of the momentous implications in this revelation. Health is a condition of Mind the all-powerful, unassailable God, the creator.
It follows, then, that health is an unalterable condition of man created in the likeness of God, the likeness of good. Yes, God is good! God is Love! And since health is a condition of this all-powerful, all-loving God, how can it ever be destroyed?
It can't be. Health cannot be destroyed.
When I was a teen-ager I had an experience that proves how practical this understanding is. I was in Colorado with some friends for a week of mountain climbing. One night we were wrestling around in our cabin, and I inadvertently stuck my leg through a windowpane. The glass went in deep. I picked out all I could and bound up the leg to stop the bleeding. The leg became swollen and discolored.
When I got home and my mother saw the condition, she was extremely frightened. Her father my grandfather had been a medical doctor, and she'd seen cases in his office, not this bad, that led to amputation. She was a Christian Scientist, but in this situation apparently an advanced case of blood poisoning she was so frightened she didn't know what to do. So she asked me what I wanted to do. Did I want medical treatment or Christian Science treatment? Since our family had been relying on Christian Science for all our health needs, to me there was no question.
She called a Christian Science practitioner. I hadn't spoken with the practitioner very long before a great sense of peace came over me. The practitioner talked a few moments with my mother to allay her fear, and then took up treatment of the case through prayer. Now, healing prayer is the unfoldment of thoughts from God. Healing results from the intercommunication from God to man. It's divine Love casting out fear and imparting the realization of health and harmony, and man bearing witness to this.
Who can resist divine Love? You can't. I can't.
I learned later that my mother prayed and sang hymns all night. For myself, the fear was gone after I talked with the practitioner, and so was the pain. I went to bed and slept through the night.
In the morning I woke to find my leg normal in size all swelling gone. I felt a strange sensation and looked to see a piece of glass coming out on the side opposite the wound. The flesh closed naturally and painlessly. I dressed and went to school. And if anyone ever felt he walked with God along the way, I did that morning.
Where did this healing take place, in the body or in consciousness? The outward results are the signs following a change in consciousness.
Skeptics claim that if Christian Science appears to heal, it's because the individual was healthy in the first place. Well, this is true but not in the sense the skeptics have in mind. The fundamental premise of Christian Science is the unchangeable perfection of God and His spiritual creation, man. From this standpoint, man never was, never can be, sick, any more than God can be. But we must prove this.
For over a century, Christian Science has healed troubles of every description, including many cases diagnosed by physicians. Fully authenticated accounts are published weekly in the Christian Science Sentinel.
Now, this is the point that man is healthy because health is a condition and quality of God permanently expressed in His spiritual creation, man. But let me emphasize, spiritual man is not an abstraction to which qualities are assigned. Spiritual man is the real you, the real me, right now. It's our solid identity. Yes, our identity is spiritual, but couldn't be more tangible.
The reality of being is not a sick, vulnerable mortal. Nor is it a well, invulnerable mortal. The reality of being is found in spiritual identity and individuality the really substantial, indestructible you and me. And how you'll come to love and appreciate the real you! You'll never have to doctor it, or be afraid for it, because God takes care of you. Your genuine selfhood is never fatigued, weak, sick. God completely provides for you, His child, and there is no other power, no other creator, no other cause.
Now, I'm wondering if you might be thinking, "But aren't you forgetting something? What about this material body I have to look after?"
Let's consider this. The body is responsive to thought, and to thought alone. When we yield our thought to divine Truth only to the good, the harmonious, the pure, the perfect, the healthy the body responds. The body cannot act independently of thought. That's why we should always deny evil, disease, sickness deny them through the divine power and prerogative God gives us. Then we won't experience them.
"Ye shall know the truth," Jesus said. And there's a promise with that ". . . and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). This is the way Christian Science heals. When we yield our thought to divine Truth, the body responds. And this is what happened to my leg. It wasn't that we didn't respect my grandfather's way, the doctor's way. It was that we had found a higher, safer way in trusting the promise of the First Commandment: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:3).
What a blessed promise! No other gods, no other powers. . . . The value of this understanding has proved itself in our family now for five generations, including healings of curvature of the spine, colitis, anemia, hernia, hemorrhoids, mastoiditis, to name just a few. Each healing has been a proof that health is not a condition of matter, but of Mind, God. Matter has not been treated; rather, human consciousness has been set right, awakened by the Christ.
Jesus came to show and to explain that the Christ the truth about God and man has always been here, even before Abraham, to heal and save us. When Jesus, the man, departed, the Christ, his spiritual nature, remained, because the Christ is eternal. The Christ is our dearest friend, our constant companion. How do we know this? Every impulsion to do right is clear evidence of Christ with us. Don't call it merely your conscience! That which urges us to tell the truth, to reject the immoral, to comfort another, is the Christ.
Right now, right here, the Christ is saying to you, ''Be not afraid" (Matt. 14:27). "With God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:26). To have Christ come to you is the most natural happening in all the universe. It comes in quietness, in gentle persuasion, in peace and comfort, in strength and confidence. And we respond by feeling, "Why, I'm not afraid." This isn't wishful thinking it's the truth. It's God-based thinking awakened by the Christ.
Are we waiting for the Christ, the Messiah, to come? It can't be. Christ is Truth, continually with us, meeting our present need, guiding us, comforting us, teaching us. It's teaching us right now the facts of our health that health is a spiritual quality immune to any destructive element that disease is not a condition of matter that disease is not a substance. Disease is thought only, false thought. It has no real origin, no actual cause. Disease never becomes a substance different from thought. That's why we can be healed through prayer the scientific prayer which rejects false, Godless thoughts, and exchanges them for the divine Truth, the Christ-idea of man, spiritual and perfect.
"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock" (Rev. 3:20), the Christ is saying. We need only to open that door of thought, for the Christ, Truth, stands always ready to come in and heal us.
We've been considering the first aspect of our health care system Christ-healing. Now let's consider the second health maintenance. We hear a lot today about health maintenance plans, health maintenance systems, health maintenance organizations. But what are you doing to maintain your health?
Well, Jesus had a plan he endorsed without qualifications. As part of this plan he specified, "Take no thought . . . for your body" (Matt. 6:25). And he assured us that our heavenly Father knows what things we need. To maintain health, we need to maintain an awareness of our unity with God, for it is God that maintains man's health not jogging or physical exercise, not diet or any material means.
Paul dealt clearly with this question of health maintenance when he wrote to Timothy, Bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come" (I Tim. 4:8). In the long run, the only way to gain control over the body and to maintain control is to look to God.
A young friend of mine had an experience that bears this out. He had been training for a long-distance race, running about a hundred miles a week. Just a few days before the race, during a workout, he pulled a hamstring muscle. His coach concluded he was out of the race, and all his months of training appeared to be a complete loss.
But this young man came to a better conclusion. Christian Science had taught him where his primary training effort was needed. He'd neglected this. Explaining this to me, he said, "I then spent a lot of time doing my spiritual training, observing the spiritual rules that govern man."
The Bible and Mrs. Eddy's work Science and Health are full of these rules. They teach us not to look to the body for support but to hold thought to the fact that God perpetuates in man unassailable strength and well-being.
Armed with spiritual rules, the young man went to the race prepared to run, though he hadn't yet found physical freedom. It was painful even to walk. As he was about to go to his starting position, his brother, discerning his need, came to him and said, "To fear is to dishonor God."
That was God's message to him. It was Christ, Truth, speaking to human consciousness. He saw instantly that it was fear and nothing else that was crippling him. And he determined just as quickly he wouldn't dishonor God. As painful as it was, he walked up to his place with the other runners. The starting gun fired, and as he started to run he found that he was absolutely free. He ran the fastest time he'd ever run and, on top of that, set a new record for his university.
Isn't it good to know we can freely enjoy normal activity under God's rules? And isn't it comforting to realize that we're not bound by the premise that health is maintained by physical exercise? God maintains man's health.
Knowing this, we can walk, run, ski, swim, dance, disco, roller-skate, play racquet ball, tennis, and golf, or whatever, and thoroughly enjoy exercising our rapport with divine Mind. Health, including vitality, strength, and stamina, is a condition of Mind, God, not a conditioning of the body.
The answer to good health maintenance is found in Science and Health. Like this: "One says: 'I take good care of my body.' To do this, the pure and exalting influence of the divine Mind on the body is requisite, and the Christian Scientist takes the best care of his body when he leaves it most out of his thought, and, like the Apostle Paul, is 'willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord'" (p. 383).
Could health maintenance be synonymous with morals maintenance? Mental, moral, and physical well-being is interrelated in fact, inseparable. Paul concluded that in order to preserve a sound body we must "abstain [even] from all appearance of evil" (I Thess. 5:22).
Since health is a condition of divine Mind, doesn't it follow that to preserve the integrity of the body, we must preserve the integrity of our thought? The integrity of our relationship with the righteous, the good, the pure, the true?
I'd like to tell you about a premed student who proved the power of integrity in healing. He was enrolled in a seminar called "The Doctor's Dilemma," which was investigating teachings and practices that defied ordinary medical theory and experience. His assignment was to investigate Christian Science. When he was ready to present his report he came to my office to make sure his findings were wholly valid. Here was expressed the fundamental moral quality the desire to know and state only the truth. It showed itself further in the objectivity of his research.
First, he explained, he had determined that the only honest way to investigate Christian Science was to study the textbook used by its students and practitioners. He found this book to be Mary Baker Eddy's work "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures."
Second, he had decided there was no realistic way to understand Christian Science except to enter into the spirit of its teachings and obediently follow the rules.
What happened was this. Two weeks after he began his study, he came down with a deep cold. This pleased him immensely. Here, he felt, was his opportunity to test the teachings. Following rules from the textbook, he began to work on his case with Christian Science treatment, which means treatment through prayer. The textbook promises, "Working and praying with true motives, your Father will open the way" (p. 326). And the Father did.
Trustfully following the rules, he found himself well in about 10 minutes, with no sign of a cold. This was the type of cold, he told me, that he would ordinarily suffer from for about three weeks. He asked me, "Did I work correctly?" As I said to him, you can't argue with success! His success began with his integrity.
Integrity is spiritual power. This young man's integrity in seeking to accurately understand and state the divinely scientific truths of Christian Science gave him the moral strength to demonstrate God's health maintenance. He was obeying God's law, a policy that ensures success in Christian Science healing. "He risks nothing who obeys the law of God, and shall find the Life that cannot be lost" ("Miscellaneous Writings," p. 211), Mrs. Eddy writes. I like to think of that as our no-risk life insurance policy. "He risks nothing who obeys the laws of God." Obedience to God gives you and me the moral strength to demonstrate God's health maintenance.
This young man's experience points to one of the vital functions of Christian Science in the world today to bring spiritual light to everyone. The ultimate result must be a higher, holier, more effective healing system for mankind.
The effect of this increasing spiritual light is seen in the fact that a number of medical doctors, nurses, and students either through healings or investigation have determined that Christian Science is the safest, most effective, most complete healing system. Some have turned with marked success to its study and practice.
In a sense, this was Mary Baker Eddy's experience. She was not a doctor, but her deep desire to help the sick in their suffering, as well as improve her own delicate health, impelled her to search out and seriously investigate various medical methods of her day. But one by one they failed her.
Now, she was a devoted student of the Bible and had proved the healing power of prayer on a number of occasions. But she hadn't yet grasped the divine Principle and rules of the Science of Christ-healing. Finally, in her own extremity, when she was near death, she asked for her Bible. As she read about a healing accomplished by Jesus, the truth behind it dawned on her and she was instantly healed.
Mrs. Eddy had discovered that the Christ had never left, that Christ is Truth "the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever" (Heb. 13:8), as Paul says. She began to demonstrate her discovery by healing others, and then took students and taught them how to heal. She devoted the rest of her life to establishing the gospel of Christian Science healing.
One thing that has always impressed me about Mrs. Eddy was her awareness of the individual. Like the time a young Methodist minister came to thank her for a generous contribution she had made to his church. He wore heavy glasses, without which he couldn't see a thing. She questioned him about this. When he returned home he found he could no longer see to read until he took his glasses off! Fifty years later his wife wrote a friend, telling of this experience, and adding that he had never again had to wear glasses since that day he talked with Mrs. Eddy (Robert Peel, "Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Authority," p. 469).
Seldom in history has anyone followed Jesus' healing method with the success of Mary Baker Eddy. The reason for her success is no secret. It's found in her absolute obedience to the letter and spirit of Jesus' teachings. He taught insistence and urgency in prayer. Mrs. Eddy practiced both. She was never passive, never just waiting in hope for things to get better. She was dynamic in the face of challenges, meeting cases of sin and disease with determined mental opposition, standing firmly for the infinite might of God, good, and the perfection of His creation, man. And persevering until the individual's God-given right to freedom was demonstrated in healing.
Now I have some good news for you. Not only can we trust God to heal us, and to maintain our health, but we can trust Him to protect us against that unacceptable belief that we must go through an aging process. Our health revolution wouldn't be worth much if it all ended in aging and decline. It's time we did something about this unhappy belief.
A famous comedian once said, "Age is a matter of mind. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."
But we should mind being labeled out of date, past our prime, obsolete. It's aging that must be found obsolete not us, not man. We need to understand and claim this now, regardless of our age. It's never too soon to start claiming ageless, God-created, God-sustained existence. It's never too soon, and never too late, to claim and give fuller expression to the ageless qualities of being gratitude, unselfishness, buoyancy, affection, stillness, equanimity, spiritual strength those wonderful qualities of the heart.
The scriptural promise reads, "If thou prepare thine heart, and stretch out thine hands toward him . . . thine age shall be clearer than the noonday; thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning" (Job 11:13,17).
A young woman had a talk with a Christian Science practitioner who was 95. This practitioner told her, "Don't ever be old. Start right now to get rid of the things that make age. Get rid of ill health, of dispositional traits." Perhaps she had in mind such things as resentment, pride, volatility, criticism, envy, negativeness, etc.
In biblical terms the practitioner was probably saying, "Put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; . . . put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 4:22-24).
The young woman took this counsel seriously. Over the years that followed she diligently sought through Christian Science to understand and live the ageless qualities of being. She herself became a Christian Science practitioner, and when I had the privilege of talking with her she was close to the age of her 95-year-old friend of many years before. She said to me, in a bright, lilting voice, "I honestly feel younger today than I did at 19." And she was proving it.
She explained her undiminished vitality this way: "If we're drawing from an inexhaustible source, the abundance of all good, the infinite good, there's no reason why any good thing should ever lessen in our lives." Jesus came to show and to prove this. And he gave us his rules. Speaking to the old sense of man, he said and we can say with him: "Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world" (John 8:23).
Are we saying this with him? We must claim with Jesus that we're from above that is, we're God-created. Are you thinking of yourself right now as God's spiritual child only? Then you know how imperishable you are; you know you're immune from sin, sickness, aging, and decline. This understanding is true scientific geriatrics.
As Jesus proved and promised we would ultimately prove we are created to live; to live and not sin; to live and not be sick; to live and not die; to live not in unending time but in the harmony of the forever unfolding of God's plan for us. This is the divine Science of the Scriptures.
Everything we've been discussing in relation to healing, health maintenance, overcoming aging, comes down to this question: "Does Christian Science prove itself to be Christ's authentic health revolution?"
You can't really answer this question until you've tested its teachings as the seemingly ageless practitioner, and the premed student, and the long-distance runner did. And as I did as a teen-ager.
Study the Bible, together with "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." Yield to the spirit of the Christ, the spirit of Truth and Love.
Prove the rules in healing.
Then, you be the judge!
[Delivered Sept. 14, 1980, at Faneuil Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, and published in The Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 15, 1980.]