Christian Science: The Science of Christ
Dr. Hendrik J. de Lange, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Dr. Hendrik J. de Lange, C.S.B.,
of New York City, a member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, delivered a
lecture on Christian Science
under the auspices of Seventh Church of Christ, Scientist, Oakland, California,
in the church edifice, 2333 Harrison Boulevard, Oakland, Friday evening,
January 15, 1943, at eight o'clock. The lecture was broadcast over radio
The lecturer was introduced by Mr. Milton W. Morrison, First Reader of the church, who said:
Christ Jesus, the Founder of Christianity, was the most successful man the world has ever known, because he never failed in anything he undertook.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (page 148): "Christianity is the summons of divine Love for man to be Christlike – to emulate the words and the works of our great Master. To attain to these works, men must know somewhat of the divine Principle of Jesus' life-work, and must prove their knowledge by doing as he bade: 'Go, and do thou likewise.' "
The subject of this evening's lecture is "Christian Science: The Science of Christ." It is my happy privilege to present Dr. Hendrik J. de Lange, a member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church.
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Paul's reference to "the mystery of godliness" and "the mystery of Christ" has caused many to suppose that the knowledge of God must be hidden, or, at least, of a phenomenal nature. However, we need not doubt that for God, divine intelligence itself, there cannot be any mystery about supreme Being. Intelligence, to be worthy of the name, must be directly, continuously, and intelligently conscious of itself, and thereby self-explanatory. Then, Christ and godliness can only be a mystery to something wholly foreign to God's own nature. Godliness and Christ must be a mystery to the material sense testimony, "the carnal mind" to which the Mars Hill orator refers as "enmity against God." Consequently, that which is opposing the divine nature is not in a position to explain the divine nature! When it attempts to do it, the results must necessarily be both confused and confusing.
This accounts for much of the misapprehension with which the concept of Christ in the Christian religion has been surrounded. It has led to scholastic theology with its widespread opinion that Christ is a synonym for the personal Jesus. Supposing Jesus to be Christ and Christ to be God, has made many cling to the belief that Jesus is God. Finally, the opinion seems prevalent that the Master's works were miracles – phenomenal exhibitions of extraordinary power.
Interpretation should be given the utmost care. This is evident for the common things of daily life. Looking at objects through a fog may make them appear hazy and out of proportion, perhaps unsightly. However, looking through one of the modern convex show windows gives the impression that one can touch the objects exhibited, so little visual obstruction is offered by the glass in fulfilling its purpose of letting the light shine through.
When it comes to interpreting "the things of God," the closest consideration should be given. Attempting to understand "the things of God" through a medium entirely foreign to God's nature, in casu, the material sense testimony, is like looking at objects through a fog. The results are equally unsatisfactory. Investigating "the things of God" by means of Christian Science is comparable to the light shining through the modern show window.
Christian Science may be defined as the Science, or knowledge, of Christ, Truth. It is not based upon any material sense testimony, but upon the fact that divine intelligence must be inevitably self-explanatory, and that this knowledge must be inevitably available as divine manifestation. Herefrom the deduction may be made that the more correctly one lives Christian Science, the better one becomes conscious of existence as it divinely is; and conversely, the less one is subject to the distorting medium of the material senses through which so many have vainly attempted to find the explanation of existence. In fact, one of the synonymous terms used for Christian Science by its Discoverer and Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, is Divine Science, or knowledge of Divinity, God. The knowledge of God, ideally, is God's knowledge. This ideal is attained in Christian Science, in the measure one permits a human, personal, mediatory sense of trying to know the Divine to be exchanged for divine intelligence expressing itself and identifying itself as its own expression.
For this reason, Christian Science is bound to present a correct knowledge and analysis of Christ – the cornerstone of Christianity. The Science of Christ shows forth Christ's different aspects or offices which, nevertheless, constitute one harmonious whole, being indivisibly one though multifarious in function.
In reading the four Gospels, it is
noteworthy that Jesus of Nazareth spoke very rarely about himself as the
Christ, although he unhesitatingly and emphatically acknowledged this fact on
special occasions, for instance, to Peter, the woman of
It is Paul who, in his epistles, frequently uses the word Christ; and so does Peter. It is used in the way of a synonym of Jesus, and also in the sense so well rendered by the expression "the Spirit of Christ," that is to say, Christ as the divine nature or quality, rather than a human personality. The customary view of considering the word Christ as another name for Jesus has spread since the days of the New Testament. This may be seen in the headings which have been placed in the Bibles we use above the Gospel chapters in order to summarize their contents.
Mary Baker Eddy distinguishes between Christ and Jesus, thereby preventing the confusion of mixing the human with the divine. It is done by the way of definition in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pages 583 and 589: "Christ. The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error." "Jesus. The highest human corporeal concept of the divine idea, rebuking and destroying error and bringing to light man's immortality."
In other words, Jesus showed forth, in a hitherto unprecedented way, the spiritual understanding or divine idea which constitutes the Christ. In describing Jesus as "the highest human corporeal concept of the divine idea," Mrs. Eddy discerned that his biography, as portrayed in the four Gospels, was the impression that the Christ, or the divine manifestation which identified Jesus, made upon contemporary human thought. In her book "No and Yes" (p. 36) she states: "Mankind's concept of Jesus was a babe born in a manger, even where the divine and ideal Christ was the Son of God, spiritual and eternal. In human conception God's offspring had to grow, develop; but in Science his divine nature and manhood were forever complete, and dwelt forever in the Father."
As we become well aware of this, the Gospels show forth additional light, and become of greater practical import. Seeing that Christ is the Son, or divine manifestation of God, one receives a more enduring, better available and logical concept of Christ than identifying Christ exclusively with the personal Jesus. One is also impressed by the fact of how clearly Christ Jesus discerned this; and how great was the endeavor to demonstrate it in behalf of his followers. His instructions to this end were along two definite lines. In the first place, he showed to the receptive thought the truth or Christ, concerning himself. In the second place, he emphasized the fact that the works which he did could also be done by others; all having equal possibilities for performing the works of the eternal Christ.
In the first instance, Jesus succeeded during his unique career. The impression made upon those around him, as evidenced in the Gospel biographies, was so far removed from human personality that hardly a single detail regarding his outward appearance is to be found in the Bible. It would be well for the modern faithful follower of the Wayshower to make the same impersonal impression upon his environment!
One can easily comprehend Christ Jesus' joy when Peter gave unmistakable proof of understanding his Teacher's real nature by declaring: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Here was an assurance that Jesus' mission had not been in vain. At least those closest to him had understood him to this extent. Warmly the reply came: "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."
Greater was the difficulty encountered by Christ Jesus, however, in explaining to his followers that his works were not exceptional, in the sense that he alone could perform them, and no one else. Although he had declared, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father," it was not until his going to his Father, that is, until his higher demonstration of Godlikeness, termed the ascension, that they could better understand him. Then they were able to perceive a fuller meaning of his life and message, as well as their own capabilities to do the works he had done. Until then they had been hampered by their belief that the Christ could be limited to an earthly personality.
When Christ Jesus had proved to their satisfaction the truth of his teachings in rising above a personal sense concerning himself, the full-orbed glory of his life began to dawn upon the consciousness of the disciples. The author of Science and Health states it pointedly in these words (p. 34): "His resurrection was also their resurrection. It helped them to raise themselves and others from spiritual dullness and blind belief in God into the perception of infinite possibilities." Now they became conscious of the Christ-message! Mark relates it, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature . . . And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." The message struck home; it is also recorded by Mark that "they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following." "The Lord" in this connection means the spiritual understanding of God, which understanding is the ever-present Christ.
Jesus' life showed forth the operation of Divine Principle, as far as human mentality in those days could perceive it. The more vivid and distinct the operation of Principle, the more enlightened human mentality appears to be. This enlightenment completed may be called salvation in the sense it is taken in Christian Science (Science and Health, p. 593): "Salvation. Life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; sin, sickness, and death destroyed." As each one is distinct from all others, the way Jesus attained his salvation was definitely his own; but as our Wayshower, his example is of universal significance. The increased spiritual understanding culminating in his salvation showed forth two phases: his resurrection and his ascension. Resurrection and ascension, in one form or another, must be the experience of everyone who has begun to see something of the divine reality. Indeed, resurrection and ascension are the gradual and final falling away of material limitations, of a personal sense of existence, of every belief attempting to place itself between Principle and its immediate expression. Resurrection and ascension are a normal and necessary development, beginning to take place from the moment one becomes aware that there is something divine about himself.
Christian Science considers this mental resurrection neither mysterious nor eccentric; on the contrary, resurrection is the "spiritualization of thought; a new and higher idea of immortality, or spiritual existence; material belief yielding to spiritual understanding" (ibid., p. 593). There is nothing weird or exceptional about this! It is an educational unfoldment which Christian Science is extending to all.
Human education, as everything human, is extremely personal. It takes the human personality as its self-evident basis, and it believes that all attainment is a personal attainment. As a result of this, the average newcomer in Christian Science undertakes the study from that personal angle. His motive for study is for personal improvement, either in health or in harmony. For the beginner, this is perfectly legitimate; one can hardly expect otherwise. Studying and advancing farther in Science, one learns the true nature of one's self, his Christ-selfhood. One begins to grasp what man divinely is: "the compound idea of infinite Spirit; the spiritual image and likeness of God; the full representation of Mind" (ibid., p. 591). Then it is seen better than before that obedience to the First Commandment of Christianity is not only to recognize that there is one God, or divine Mind, but also that man has not a personal mind of his own, since he in the idea of God – the manifestation of divine Mind.
Let it be stated here most emphatically that "idea" is not a human person, or a human mind understanding something about God. This would imply two minds, the Mind which is God, and a suppositional mind of a person. Accepting such a suggestion would virtually be deviating from monotheism, the basis and cornerstone of Christianity. The point made here may perhaps seem slight at first; but it grows in practical value when progressing in the knowledge of Christian Science. Continually thinking of oneself as a human person endeavoring to grasp or to realize divine ideas, leaves one in an unsatisfactory state of thought.
One remains in that mental realm where good and evil clash, and where almost every attainment involves a laborious struggle with much uncertainty about final success.
As in the case of Jesus, resurrection is necessarily to be followed by ascension. While in the mental state of resurrection, the Nazarene, sustaining an aloofness from material sense when it seemed to approach, said: "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father." However, Jesus made a concession to the doubting Thomas by allowing him to touch that which appeared to Thomas as Jesus' side. At this stage of spiritual development, personal sense had been silenced, in that Christ Jesus had become immune to the thrusts of mortal suggestions!
Here Jesus had given a priceless example, worth while to be pondered and followed. The resurrection, or "spiritualization of thought," makes one aware of the Christ, or truth concerning existence. However, it does not entirely change one's mental attitude about oneself as a human person. This takes place when one is entering upon his ascension; when it becomes clear one must not consider oneself any more a human person trying to attain ideas, but that one is, in his real being, the divine idea itself. From this moment, a remarkable release from personal limitations occurs, less struggle, greater dominion, enlarged freedom, increased harmony, more genuine happiness are experienced, until finally divine Being is subjectively reflected as one's glorious selfhood in the naturalness of boundless spiritual bliss.
In her book "Miscellaneous
Writings" (pp. 124,125), Mrs. Eddy speaks of man's spiritual progress, and
how because of it, he can rise into the knowledge of the unreality of sin and
suffering, and the reality of that which is right. She continues to relate how
by this knowledge the world, the flesh, and all evil are being overcome; and
that dominion over a sinful sense of self is attained. Therefore of man,
redeemed, radiant, and renewed in knowledge, Mrs. Eddy tells us that he shall
"drink anew Christ's cup, in the
The method utilized to this end is called prayer or treatment in Christian Science. In a state of mentality that personalizes God and man, prayer is merely a form of petition. When man is considered to be too sinful to approach God directly, a mediator must be procured, and the petition addressed to this mediator. Hence the conviction of many that it is necessary to believe in Jesus as a personal mediator in order to be saved. In this line of belief, prayer is supposed to be a means to move God to do something or not to do something which otherwise could not be accomplished. These beliefs are plainly predicated upon looking at existence through the material sense testimony, whereby the infinity of divine Mind is misinterpreted into a multitude of personal finite so-called minds.
In Christian Science, treatment is not petition. Fundamentally and ultimately it may be described as the affirmation and understanding of the truth concerning God, who is manifested as man or divine idea. When necessary, this has to be followed up by the denial of every assertion claiming to be not in accordance with the perfection, completeness, harmony which characterize Deity. The affirmation of the truth, although appearing to be the declaration or thought of a human person, is really Truth expressing itself. Conversely, it is not Truth denying erroneous beliefs or conditions, since in the all-inclusive infinity of Truth there is no error. Then all error, when denied, is self-denied, and it is doing this when it becomes informed about its own mythical nature and unreality. God is all is the scientific and effectual mandate of Truth to error, regardless of its supposititious phases and forms.
"If mortal mind knew how to be better, it would be better" (Science and Health p. 186). One of the functions of Christian Science treatment is to inform mortal mind – or a false mental concept believing in the sensation in matter and appearing in the guise of a person – how to be better. The way to do it is to first realize the omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience of perfection. And from this allness of perfection let the affirmations, and whatever necessary denials, reduce that which claims to be a person with a belief of illness or inharmony, to a belief without any identity. This is followed up by informing the belief that it is only a finite, imperfect concept about that which exists in uninterrupted harmony and divine perfection. Therefore, there need be no fear on the part of the belief to give itself up – a fear which often retards the healing. A more vivid and direct apprehension of that which is divinely going on appears in human experience as the healing of the belief – that is, its self-annihilation.
Now that which is divinely going on is the very presence of God, good, Life, Truth, divine infinite Love meeting the human need by remaining divine and infinite, to the utter dispelling of error. Thus we see that the healing is accomplished because of God, infinite, all-encompassing Love, and its divine manifestation, the Christ, precluding error from having any suggested reality or identity.
Spirit and matter, good and evil, Life and death, Love and hatred, have nothing in common. There is no agreement nor meeting place in that real state of consciousness called man. This man means that which everyone here in this audience actually is in the light of Christian Science. Christian Science treatment is operative for just this purpose, to confirm and affirm your divine status, and to deny and wipe out the misstatements about man which may have obscured your health and happiness.
What a manifest comfort, then, for one to know that the Christ-method of treatment – constituting the all-embracing activity of infinite Love, God, Life, Truth – means that there is nothing but itself in operation to heal humanity's discords! What a quickening sense of satisfaction to become aware of the forever fact that there is in reality, not even a supposition of error to infringe upon God's ever-presence and allness!
In corroboration of this fact, I shall read a few lines from the Christian Science textbook (p. 503): "In the universe of Truth, matter is unknown. No supposition of error enters there. Divine Science, the Word of God, saith to the darkness upon the face of error, 'God is All-in-all,' and the light of ever-present Love illumines the universe."
Here I reiterate that the allness of God, ever-present Love, is the basis of all treatment, whether it be a treatment for one who asks help in what might be termed a personal need, or whether it be a treatment for the world in general. The practical fact is that the light of ever-present Love illumines the universe by our being that light as a vivid manifestation of divine Love, the very presence of Love to every situation, to every seeming sickness, sorrow, discord and untoward circumstance.
Since Christian Science teaches us that the human or mortal mind, and its objectification of thought, called matter, is excluded both as a preventive and healing factor, we can prevent and heal humanity's troubles, only by actually manifesting God, Life, Truth, Love itself. Manifesting God is not an arduous task; it is not a human thought process. It is simplicity itself, because it is the natural expression of Truth. It is wholly a divine activity.
That which constitutes the divine does not need to change its nature and become human in order to accomplish the Christ-healing, and silence the human discordant suggestions claiming identification as man. Truth cannot change into error or stoop to error's material evidence, because Truth must remain Truth, with its all-embracing Christ-power; hereby is extinguished every belief in matter, sin, disease, and death – everything which is unlike Truth.
Human illustrations are inadequate for the clarification of spiritual facts. However, let us take one which may be useful for this instance – that of showing how essential it is to understand that the divine remains divine in order that the human may be helped out of its troublesome and mistaken sense of being.
According to physical observation, we see that a lighthouse must continually remain full of light in order to serve its purpose. Unaware of darkness and dashing waves, the light never changes or alters from remaining a light for the mariners. It must do so because it has no mission other than to be a light, clearly and uninterruptedly. Many a seafarer's troubles have been lessened simply by the lighthouse unfailingly answering its purpose.
Such an illustration points to the steadfastness of consciousness, unswerving manifesting good or God. The fabulous waves of error cannot change, disturb, or bedim the light of that consciousness which is fundamental! – a power so unalterable, so divine, that nothing but the divine is really going on when a Christian Science treatment is fulfilling its activity. In this activity, more of the divine is appearing, and thereby error is disappearing, regardless of its formidable pretensions. The function of the treatment is to exclude every suggestion which might try to interfere with the constant, conscious expression of God as idea, or man. In this way, the treatment atones.
Atonement has been a thorny subject for scholastic theology. In Christian Science, it becomes beautifully simple. It means at-one-ment, or identification with that which is divine. According to scholastic theology, one has to give up all for Christ, in the sense that one is depriving oneself of something worth while. In Christian Science, one gives up all for Christ in the sense that one is being liberated from everything which does not belong to man's Godlike nature. And thus one gains all through Christ, or Truth, which shows that man is the manifestation of divinity. To atone for sins is to give up sinning. Broadly speaking, sinning is to identify oneself – induced by fear, pleasure or hate – with a material state of thinking. Thus, the Christ-consciousness is the propitiation of every sin, because Christ, Truth, demonstrates our divine nature and the inanity of indulging in that which is not real and true, and therefore not truly compelling, pleasurable, or profitable.
Following the Wayshower's precepts, we take part in the Eucharist. When Jesus said, "Take, eat; this is my body," and handed a morsel of bread to his disciples, he was symbolically addressing himself to the receptive thought of his day and of all time to come, inviting it to partake of his nature, which constituted his true body, or divine identity. When we here tonight are willing to drop a personal, human, mortal sense about ourselves, when we are prepared to consider our understanding of God as our very selfhood or identity, we also are taking part in the Eucharist. Thus we are commemorating Christ Jesus in the only true and worthy manner. Thus we become increasingly Christlike in thought and deed. Thus our conscious realization of divine good constitutes the healing Christ to every form of error. Thus the bread which cometh down from heaven becomes individually exemplified.
In this way of true scientific realization, one ever more clearly discerns that Jesus' works were not miraculous. They were consistently exemplifying the liberation which is brought about when naturally expressing the Christ, or Truth. Liberation from what? From the material, personal, human sense of existence. All true existence being divine, the troubles of the world are in a wrong sense of existence. The way humanity as a whole is cognizing existence is faulty. The belief that one has a personal, restricted mind with which to apprehend all that is, constitutes the main difficulty. The only way to be conscious of the perfect, harmonious, satisfying, and happifying divine reality is from the standpoint of divine realty, or divine Mind, and through divine Mind. The need, then, is not in upholding a personal mind by trying to improve it, but by gradually and more and more understandingly refusing to identify oneself with a personal sense of mind.
This change of concept, which Christian Science explains and brings about, means liberation from all sorts of restrictions and imperfections. In the works of the Nazarene, one may detect its modus operandi. One finds that he consistently dissociated man – as manifestation of Mind – from a "devil" or "unclean spirit," that is, from the human concept of man, with its accompanying evils and infirmities. Thus he made the human mind relinquish itself by charging the "devil" or "unclean spirit" to depart. This was accomplished by divine authority and law – the power of his understanding, through his unswerving identification with the Divine. Healing the sick, raising the dead, reforming the sinner, feeding the multitudes, are all results of the same Christ-method.
Jesus' disciples and followers practiced this method with obvious success. It was natural to them because they were sufficiently spiritually-minded to understand it. Later on, however, medieval theology plunged Christianity back into the personal sense of God and man which pervades most of the Old Testament. And so, Christian healing began to decrease and finally stopped almost altogether. By way of excuse a doctrine was formulated. Doctrines always impress the nonthinking! This doctrine declared that God in His inscrutable wisdom had extended the healing power to the Nazarene and his immediate followers as a special dispensation, but that for some reason or other this dispensation had been subsequently ended. Nobody could or can tell the reason why, because there is no reason for it! "The Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning," cannot do otherwise than be and express His own glorious, all-inclusive, infinite, omnipotent Self. Every state of thought which becomes aware of this Christ-fact receives its healing blessing. It is never divine Principle which has to change; it is always the density of personal, material sense which has to disappear.
In the course of later centuries,
the density of thought lessened. As a result of this, Protestantism was born in
In the first part of this lecture, a statement from "No and Yes" (p. 36) was quoted, wherein the author discriminates between mankind's concept of Jesus as a babe who had to grow and develop, and his Christ selfhood, or divine nature, which was forever complete and perfect. This is equally true for Mary Baker Eddy, and also for everyone else, because all of us not only have the privilege and right, but are obliged to see ourselves from the standpoint of Truth. We are reverencing Mrs. Eddy and doing justice to ourselves in the only possible and right way when we behold her and ourselves in the liberating light of Christ, the divine reality.
By discovering Christian Science, Mrs. Eddy has reconciled reason with religion; she has shown the impersonal, ever-available, and unrestricted nature of the Comforter with scientific exactness and pure inspiration. Jesus was truly the Wayshower by exemplifying the Christ in redeeming human mentality. Mary Baker Eddy complemented his life-work by conceiving the Science of Christ. She divested the Christ-idea from the limitations, mists, and vagaries of personal, material sense. Christ was presented from the standpoint of divine reality. Thus Christian Science reveals the indivisible, immutable Christ, independent of time, place, and person. This Christ is fulfilling its office all the while, and is available for everyone without any exception. Its three main aspects may be described: firstly, Christ, in the sense of the truth about everything – and we have seen that only Truth is revealing this truth about everything. Secondly, Christ, in the sense of Truth identifying Jesus of Nazareth; and we have seen that this is also true about everyone else. In the third place, Christ, in the sense of the healing operation of Truth: in the destruction of incarnate error; and we have seen that this could not only happen in the earthly days of Jesus, but that it can always happen, and especially at the present day – the day of Christian Science.
That which from the human, personal point of view seemed to be the cross of Jesus is discerned in Christian Science, from the divine, impersonal point of view, as the crown of Christ. Following the Wayshower and living the Science of Christ becomes increasingly joyous and spontaneous in the measure one understands Christ aright.
In Science and Health a statement occurs (p. 565) which admirably summarizes what this lecture has endeavored to give. May its vitalizing truth, inspire us evermore: "The impersonation of the spiritual idea had a brief history in the earthly life of our Master; but 'of his kingdom there shall be no end,' for Christ, God's idea, will eventually rule all nations and peoples – imperatively, absolutely, finally – with divine Science."
[Published in The Oakland (California) Tribune, Jan. 20, 1943.]