Christian Science: The Science of Life Abundant
Dr. Henrik J. de Lange, C.S.B. of New York, NY
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke in part substantially as follows:
"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10) was the stirring assurance wherewith the Founder of Christianity confirmed his mission to the receptive heart. Many centuries before, a God-fearing man called Job had received a similar message. "Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty" (Job. 40:10).
At the time, these words might have sounded rather outrageous. Although Job was honest and devout, his troubles had not lessened, but rather increased, in the course of his earthly years and service of the Lord.
The book of Job, until its last or forty-second chapter is a vivid portrayal of the inadequacy of such a dualistic, personal approach to existence. The Hebrew word "Job" stands for desire and affliction: it characterizes Job's mental attitude and experience.
The Day of Christian Science
May I repeat to you my friends, today: "Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty." And may I add, in all humility, that the message of this lecture — the message of Christian Science — is come that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly.
To some among you who feel fearful and afflicted or sad and impoverished, this may sound just as impractical as it did to Job. However, remember that when Job ended the vain contentions with his personal, vindictive sense of God, when he understood better the true nature of the primal cause, and of himself as the expression of that cause — all his losses were wiped out, and he received "twice as much as he had before."
This can be your experience, because today is the day of Christian Science. Today is the day for all the good, which the Bible prophesies as a future attainment, to be made manifest. Christian Science, as the Science of Life abundant, makes it possible for you and me to become acquainted with our own true nature by knowing God; to have the experience of existence as it is, directly from its ever-flowing fount or divine source, and not in the way life seems to be as channeled through the narrow, leaking pipe line of personal sense.
The Importance of "I"
Majesty can be derived only from majesty, and excellency from excellency. Glory and beauty could never spring forth from anything less than glory and beauty. To surmise then that these highly desirable qualities, culminating in the abundance of being, could originate in a material person, or could be cultivated and experienced through a material sense of oneself, would be sheer folly. The stream cannot rise higher than its fount and in Christian Science it is seen that that which receives must have its capacity derived from that which gives, in order to receive.
When Christ Jesus announced, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly," his concept of "I" must have far transcended the customary sense of it. The proverbial "man in the street" thinks of his "I" as referring to a human mind inhabiting a material body. The adjective "human" denotes imperfection, restriction, fallibility; while "material" points to the destructible and exhaustible.
Inferiority Complex Exemption
The suggestions of human personal restriction and inferiority, which might be called "the prince of this world" did not bother Christ Jesus. They found nothing in him, because he discerned that they referred to a human concept about himself, not to his true and only selfhood. He looked out from the source of all existence and found himself in and as divine knowledge, or son of God. Inevitably this gave his "I" an entirely new meaning.
He knew himself identified with the Christ, the "I" that was "before Abraham was." He did not hesitate to declare that he was "the resurrection and the life," the life that will never die. Therefore he could raise the dead and heal the sick. He knew himself one with the Father, the source of all wisdom and intelligence. Thus he was able to teach "as one having authority, and not as the scribes." He acknowledged that he was "the bread which came down from heaven," and this enabled him to feed the multitudes. His "I" was his understanding, loving, constant selfhood, forever the experience and expression of the abundant, infinite, inexhaustible, divine Life or God.
Decline and Rise
Sad to say, after some centuries, the healing evidence of primitive Christianity disappeared almost entirely. It was not God changing and withholding a precious gift as has been averred. "The Father of lights" is indeed invariable and immutable, as James had perceived. The corruption of the church was the culprit whereby the Master's teachings were misinterpreted along the lines of the Old Testament's personal approach.
With the discovery of the Science of Christianity, a truly new era has arrived, comparable in importance only with the advent of Christianity itself. It happened, according to human reckoning, in the 1866th year since the Nazarene's birth: the person who brought the revelation was called Mary Baker Eddy; and the place was the United States of America.
There is reason to believe that the changes brought about in the world during the eighty years after the discovery of Christian Science are at least as important as during the eighteen centuries before this truly world-shaking event. Also the world's concept of Mrs. Eddy has notably altered from thinking of her as the head of a small religious group to the revered Founder and Leader of a world-wide movement gathering in impetus continually. It is not accidental, either, that the United States of America, in 1866 still a second-rate power mainly concerned with caring for its own vast and greatly undeveloped territory, has risen to a unique world prominence.
America's Spiritual Value
The United States of America will be evermore cherished as the cradle of the Christian Science movement. It is more than a vast and rich territory, peopled by a teeming population which has preserved, to a remarkable degree, the enthusiasm of youthfulness and the true sense of adventure, leading to breath-taking inventions and enterprises. Yes, there is far more to America than you can see with the human eye and hear with the human ear!
America is a state of thought, liberated to a considerable extent from the restrictions of a material, earthbound sense of existence. This is the way its riches and its capacity of generous giving, so conspicuously displayed nowadays, should be interpreted. America was born of an ideal, the American Dream, as it has been called — the ideal of freedom and equality of opportunity, dreamed by oppressed people in many nations. The Christliness and fortitude of the Founding Fathers still permeate and inspire that state of thought we call America.
Here, and it could not have been anywhere else, were sufficient originality of thought, Christian animus, and soaring vision, not only for Christian Science to be discovered and founded, but also to be spread with active, loving, generous support all over the civilized world.
The Mother Church and Manual.
Here it was that Mrs. Eddy, in 1894, could found The First Church of Christ, Scientist. The Mother Church, as she tenderly called this church, is the outcome of her understanding of God's motherhood. God's motherhood reveals the unreality of evil. It is one of the greatest contributors, if not the greatest, to the understanding of the scientific nature of Christianity and the life abundant it discloses.
The Manual of The Mother Church, which Mrs. Eddy gave for its guidance and for the development of the Christian Science movement, was the result of her ardent prayers to bless humanity. This codification is of singular significance not only for the movement itself, but also for the world government that the United Nations are endeavoring to establish.
Mrs. Eddy proved herself to be the right kind of Leader. The essence of true leadership is set forth in her admonition, "Follow your Leader only so far as she follows Christ" — a statement occurring twice in her published works; Message to The Mother Church for 1901 (p. 34) and repeated in the Message for 1903 (p. 4). The Christian Scientist is following her in recognizing himself in terms of divine idea and by letting go a material, personal sense of self that spells poverty, lack, sin, disease, death.
Mary Baker Eddy's leadership was the result of her willingness to subjugate the human to the divine. She was God-chosen, because she humbly chose God to be her inspiration, her origin, her All.
What a contrast between the Leader of the Christian Science movement and those two men who, in the languages of their nationality, perhaps in unconscious mimicry, assumed the same title, Il Duce and Der Fuehrer! Their careers were the outcome of the deification of matter. Mrs. Eddy showed forth the operation of the divine Principle that is both Spirit and Love. They brought bondage, lack, war, misery. Mrs. Eddy is reverently remembered as the means whereby Christian Science came to mankind to wipe out the restrictions and pains of material, personal sense and reveal life abundant, poised and secure.
The Truth About Atomic Force
As Spirit, Mind, is the only real power, the only reality anywhere, Mrs. Eddy, with her unusual gift for spiritual analysis — surpassing the nuclear-splitting ability of the modern physicist — stated more than 50 years before the so-called atomic era (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 190): "Atomic action is Mind, not matter. It is neither the energy of matter, the result of organization, nor the outcome of life infused into matter; it is infinite Spirit, Truth, Life, defiant of error or matter." Here is the actual and only truth about atomic force and action. The word "atom" literally meaning that which cannot be further divided into smaller pieces, the only actual atomic force is the indivisible power of divine Mind, or Love, which is always constructive.
Where, then, is the danger of atomic force? Not in the force itself. The danger is in the accepted suggestion claiming that you and I are human persons dwelling in a material universe. It is obvious that the ideas of eternal Life cannot be annihilated by any force, atomic or otherwise. However, as long as you and I believe we are persons entertaining this idea of Life's eternality, there may be destruction. It looms in the material, personal sense about man; in fact, this mistaken sense constitutes the destructibility from the start. Knowing that man is God's idea, not a person endeavoring to know it, places one in the realm of "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness," not fear and war and destruction!
As God's infinite idea, man is not separated from the good, the joy, the happiness, the life abundant of others. In its real sense, existence is not personal; it is one and infinite, and allness is its measure. Let us rejoice in the good of others as much as in our own good, because really it is all divine, and therefore inseparable from us. The good we receive, the good we give, does not come from persons and does not go to persons. It is most liberating and enriching to know this, when we give and when we receive.
Let us never believe that anything which is divinely derived needs to be channeled through the narrow, leaking pipe line of personal sense in order that it can reach us. The good that is God, and that is the only good, being spiritual, is both inexhaustible and ever present. It does not have to come from the outside, because man is the expression of this spiritual good already as the son of God. There is not God and I and a channel between; "Principle and its idea is one, and this one is God, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Being" (Science and health, pp. 465, 466).
In joyfully, lovingly, understandingly acknowledging our integral spiritual status, we lay down the tatters of fear and greed, lack and division. We gratefully discover that we are already decked "with majesty and excellency," arrayed "with glory and beauty;" and that the "I" proceeding from the Father-Mother God now expresses Life abundant.