Christian Science: The Science of Perfection

 

Dr. Hendrik Jan de Lange, C.S., of The Hague, Holland

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

A lecture on Christian Science entitled "Christian Science: The Science of Perfection," by Dr. Hendrik Jan de Lange, C.S. of The Hague, Holland, member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass., was given at the Sourwine theater last night.

The lecturer was introduced by Mrs. Martha Savage, First Reader of First Church of Christ, Scientist of Brazil, Indiana, who said:

My friends: With much joy I welcome you here tonight, in behalf of First Church of Christ, Scientist of this city.

Sixteen years ago I was very sick, the doctors could give me no hope. Through the healing of a friend I went to a practitioner. I did not ask for help, but asked what God was, and why he made me sick. She told me that God was Love, and did not make me sick; that God was Mind. To my thought that was the only sensible definition I had ever heard for God. I was healed, went home and even the street was beautiful, everything had changed, I was born again.

I purchased a copy of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, and began to read and study. I borrowed all of Mrs. Eddy’s books from the Reading Room one by one until I had read them all.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science says in one of her poems (Page 13), "My prayer, some daily good to do To Thine, for Thee." This is my prayer that each one here will receive good from this lecture, which is entitled "Christian Science: The Science of Perfection," to be delivered by a Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts.

I am pleased to present Dr. Hendrik Jan de Lange, C.S., of The Hague, Holland.

 

The Lecture

The lecturer spoke as follows:

The stirring admonition uttered by him who is called the Saviour of mankind, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," has caused endless speculation and profound perplexity. Yet like other sayings of Jesus, when properly understood, it must have practical value for us in our everyday life. Perfection means the absence of fear and worry and the consequent enjoyment of health and happiness. We may therefore well ask ourselves if these words are not really a clarion call intended to awaken us to practical Christianity.  The students of Christian Science so regard them; they accept the admonition which the words convey, and endeavor to adjust their thoughts and lives to it.

This command, "Be ye . . . perfect," sounded startling and impossible of fulfillment to a world believing in a God knowing sickness, sin, and death and in man as imperfect, sinful, and mortal. Nevertheless, the command was given and was undoubtedly meant to be obeyed. For long centuries, the only way out of this seeming impasse was to interpret Jesus' words in such a manner as to postpone their fulfillment.  The earth, or place where we are living, was deemed to be unsuitable for attaining perfection. The attainment of perfection was accordingly placed in the future. Perfection was assigned to heaven, which in conformity with such theories, was somewhere afar off, where life eternal was going to be enjoyed and happiness experienced. Strangely enough, this heaven requiring eternal life was to be reached only after undergoing death, which is universally admitted to be the culmination of imperfection. All this - notwithstanding the Master's definite words of "Be ye therefore perfect," without any indication of a future time or a different place. Principle implies perfection. In the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," written as a result of the revelation of Christian Science, Mrs. Eddy defines the word "God" to mean divine Principle. In this way religion is lifted out of its unstable groundwork of sentiment and placed upon the firm foundation of Science. At the same time, true Science is shown to be, not a system of human conjecture ever swinging between the uncertain concepts of the human mind and the inevitable limitations of materiality, but an infinite, inspired, and provable knowledge of God, man, and the universe. The Christian Science textbook further defines God as "incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, . . .Life, Truth. Love" (p. 465). How could it be otherwise? These synonyms are in strict accordance with the Bible, where God is called "Spirit," "the Word" or Logos, "the Father of lights with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning," and where John's inspired words, "God is love," are to be found. Moreover, these synonyms are in consonance with our highest sense of the great First Cause, with the source of what we know of infinity and eternality, with the initial and original Power which made all that was made.

 

Evil Not Made

Stating that this perfect and infinite Cause made all that was made, someone may remark, "How about all the imperfection, the evil, sin, sickness, death which seem to abound in the world? Has God made these?"

The answer is: How could a perfect Father-Mother God or Principle conceive of, create, and express something so utterly unlike Himself, and still remain perfect, eternal, infinite? Indeed, He could not, and cannot, because God made all that was made; nothing less, nothing more. This means - and here we have arrived at one of the most glorious revelations of Christian Science - that God did not conceive of nor make nor express the finite, the material, the sick, the sordid. God made everything, and "behold, it was very good," according to the inspired record of the first chapter of Genesis. Consequently, every thing that is real exists as an idea of the divine selfhood, God, and is perfect and inevitable as the expression of divine Principle; spiritual and infinite as the expression of Spirit; beautiful and harmonious as the expression of Soul; eternal and existent as the expression of Life; true and unerring as the expression of Truth; above all, loving and lovely as the expression of Love.

 

Christ the Comforter and Redeemer

Jesus of Nazareth was the Godlike exponent of these truths. They were the very essence of his life and works. His spiritual understanding of God and man was such that he comes nearest to the mark of perfection.

Not the person of Jesus, but the Christ, his divine selfhood, was and is the healer of the sick and the sinning. Our Master acknowledged this clearly when he said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," "I and my Father are one," "My Father is greater than I." Throughout his whole career, Jesus aim was to help his disciples and those who came to be enlightened, to understand this Christ-nature.

In the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel according to John, the Master is seen to be particularly desirous to impart that Christ-understanding to his disciples. Jesus told his friends not to be troubled about his approaching departure, but to believe in the Christ, that is, God manifested, because they believed in God. In such knowledge was salvation for all those who acquired some understanding of the Christ. In the wideness of his vision he stated that they who believed in him, that is, understood his Christ-selfhood, would do the works that he did.  Thus the disciples and all of us who are pondering the sacred books of the Bible, are led to the wholly impersonal impartation of God to mankind. Jesus called it the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth. Mary Baker Eddy called it the Christ Science or Christian Science.

 

The Unfolding of the Christ Idea

Christian Science comes to us as the cumulative development of the spiritual idea, or Christ-idea, throughout the ages. In the history of mankind one can trace that God-given desire for perfection on the part of humanity. It shows itself in the natural desire for liberation from all bondage and mere finite ambition.

Jesus of Nazareth - as has been narrated in the New Testament - showed that a greater amount of perfection was within the reach of mankind than any inspired person before him had demonstrated. During three hundred years after his three years' ministry on earth, the spiritual import of his teachings was understood, and his disciples and others actually proved it by healing the sick through their Christ-understanding.

Later on, however, the discernment of spirituality was lost to such a measure that Christianity considered the works of the prophets and the Master to have taken place as a special dispensation of God and in a period definitely closed.  The Reformation taught humanity again the possibility of a direct communion with God, not monopolized by a priesthood.

In the beginning of the seventeenth century, a small body of such liberty-loving people, later on called the Pilgrim Fathers - and let us not forget that there were also the Pilgrim Mothers! - left the shores of England. After being lovingly sheltered for a while in Holland, where their memory is highly cherished until the present day, they crossed the Atlantic to settle on the North American Continent.  In later years, the United States of America became a nation destined for a growth and prosperity unequaled in human history. Why? Because the framers of the American commonwealth kept aloft the banner of liberty and equality. It need not be wondered at, that in this community of religious and political freedom, the Science of Christianity was discovered and the Christian Science movement founded. The progressive unfolding of the Christ-idea found here a better prepared soil that made possible the great event.

 

The Discoverer, Her Healing And Works.

Here, in what was called the new world, a pure and loving woman, Mary Baker Eddy, discovered, in 1866, the Science of Christianity. At a time when the physicians had given up all hope for her recovery from the effects of a serious accident, she turned to her Bible after all material means had failed, and read in the Gospel of Matthew the account of the healing of the man sick of the palsy (Matt. 9:2-7). A new light upon the Scriptures flooded her thought. She was instantaneously healed from the condition considered fatal, much to the astonishment of her friends and the doctors.

A description of this greatest of all discoveries, and of the events leading up to it, may be found in her book, "Retrospection and Introspection."

Mary Baker Eddy's love for humanity gave her the desire to impart to others this revelation of God's perfection and of His perfect man.  For three years, she withdrew from society and studied the Bible.  She tells in her writings how this led her into a new realm wherein it became evident that the divine Mind alone must answer the questions about existence, and that one must acquaint himself with God in order to be at peace.

The revelation of Christian Science has been fully set forth by Mrs. Eddy in the Christian Science textbook.  Here the author explains that the healings recorded in the Bible were not supernatural, but supremely natural, being in accord with the divine law; the law which frees mankind from imperfection and finiteness. This law transcends and overcomes the finite concept of law, the latter being limited and afflictive. The divine law is utilized by the right understanding of God. This understanding reveals God's law as available at all times and under all circumstances.

 

Prayer and Regeneration

The Christian Science treatment, whereby sinners are saved and the sick are healed, is nothing else than such a scientific prayer. It is the affirmation of the divine perfection as the Principle, law, and power of the treatment and the denial of all appearances, suggestions, and beliefs to the contrary. The realization of the perfection of God and man confirms the truth of being, and brings it out in our daily experience. The more continuous and uninterrupted such realization is, the more potently it operates; hence Paul's admonition, "Pray without ceasing."

 

Regeneration Essential for Healing

Healing the sick is a very important section of the Christian Science ministration, but it is not the ultimate of Christian Science. The cure of bodily disorders is a means to something higher than bodily health and comfort. It is perfectly legitimate to use Christian Science for the healing of a physical complaint, but the practitioner's task is not completed when it stops there.

A more loving attitude in life, a nobler outlook upon it, greater spiritual-mindedness, purity, gentleness, in one word, moral regeneration, is the main purpose of Christian Science. When the morale improves, better conditions of health and life in general will surely supervene.

 

Good Infinitely Available

There is plenty and more than plenty of the things which make existence desirable and enjoyable for every individual, for every nation, for every race, if these things are but conceived of spiritually enough. Christian Science is giving that necessary understanding which is spiritual, and cannot be acquired in any other way.  It teaches that all good is infinite, universal, eternal, instantly available for those who know enough to avail themselves of it.

Jesus has set the example in this respect as he did in all respects. At the shore of the Galilean sea, he fed the five thousand with a few loaves and fishes. How could he do it? By knowing that man as God's image and likeness lives by the Word, by the spiritual understanding of God, as a result of man's inherent oneness with God.

This instance of the infinite availability of good took place in accordance with divine law rightly understood and utilized. It is not an isolated instance. Spiritual satisfaction can be attained and maintained by every individual, consequently by every nation, by every race. "Be ye . . . perfect" means satisfaction to everyone in this audience and in the world at large. It means satisfaction in every detail of existence through the understanding and demonstration of the practical spiritual truth taught in the Science of perfection, Christian Science.

 

[Published in The Brazil (Indiana) Daily Times, May 10, 1929. A fuller version of this lecture is now available on this page.]

 

 

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