Christian Science: The Science of the One and Only God
Dr. Hendrik J. de Lange, C.S.B., of New York City
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
It is our privilege to draw your attention to the fact that Christian Science may well be called the Science of the one and only God. Through this Science we learn, not merely to believe in God, but also to understand Him more intimately. This enables us to become definitely aware of what we really are, the divine purpose of our existence, and the happiness through practical usefulness this may mean for us.
Life's New Interest
In the light of this scientific understanding of the divine reality, our individual lives receive a higher significance by assuming a new responsibility; that of becoming actively interested in the promotion of the world's welfare. Those who have found their daily experiences dull and stilted may take fresh courage, because Christian Science shows how it is possible for us to cooperate in such a lofty aim. Incidentally, this altruistic and divinely inspired endeavor will add satisfaction and zest to individual existence. These possibilities which, I hope, may appear more tangible as a result of this lecture, are surely a sufficient justification for asking you to listen to a concise exposition of the Science of the one and only God.
The World at Variance
There is hardly a greater contrast imaginable between the theme under consideration and the spectacle offered to us by our modern world. The age, indeed, presents a greater difference of opinions and diversity of concepts than, perhaps, any other period of human history. A bewildering variety of views is prevalent in matters of government, ethics, religion, and almost every other important subject. At the same time, one has to register a growing desire for unity. The world of today, while teeming with controversies and conflicts, is thoroughly tired of the unrest and uncertainty produced by chaotic, unprincipled thinking.
In an age which has grown skeptical in connection with bringing about happier conditions, one may expect the question: Is the establishment of a better coordinated state of human affairs not a Utopian ideal beyond the scope of attainment?
Christian Science, through the vision of its Discoverer and Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, has this direct and pertinent answer: "The characters and lives of men determine the peace, prosperity, and life of nations" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 277). Mrs. Eddy's spiritual intuition and scientific insight gave her the ability to penetrate the mists of materialism and human appearances. Her research and revelation brought to light the hidden divine power and the possibility of availing oneself scientifically of this power for universal benefit.
Those who wish to reap the fruits of harmony and health, both in behalf of themselves and humanity at large, must be willing to refrain from a merely material sense of existence. In fact, religion throughout the centuries has generally taught this necessity in order to find the joys and inner certainties of becoming better acquainted with the great originating power of all existence.
Creative Force Self-Evident
From time immemorial we hear of the worship of certain forces, or gods, to which are ascribed the ability to influence the destiny of men. Even the most crude and elementary forms of worship are based upon the correct discernment that man has not made himself, but that there exists a creative power of which man and his world are the offspring. The willingness to worship and sacrifice for this power implies the equally right deduction that this power can be practically utilized.
Religious history shows that in the measure humanity has become mentally developed, this concept of creative power has changed, and the manner of worship accordingly. It is also seen how, conversely, the changed concept of Deity has had a marked influence upon the progress of individuals and peoples. Paganism with its countless gods goes hand in hand with gross materialism and low morality. When the concepts of the first great cause grew more noble and loving, simultaneously the worshipers proved to be of a higher type.
Israel's Monotheistic Recognition
The people of Israel have had an outstanding position in religious unfoldment. They recognized the oneness of the creative power, while around them other tribes still served "gods many." "Here, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord," is an admonition recurring constantly in varied forms, throughout the books of the Bible devoted to relating Israelitish history.
The understanding of the one and only God has been of far-reaching significance. It was basic to the Ten Commandments, which are still largely influencing the ethical standards of men. Without this understanding, Christianity could never have come into existence. Monotheism, in fact, is the cornerstone of the teachings of Jesus the Christ.
Jesus Defines Life Eternal
It has been the immortal merit of Jesus of Nazareth that he amplified and deepened the concept of God as discerned by Israel's seers. Beyond anyone before him, Christ Jesus demonstrated this spiritual understanding of God as practical and salutary. His mighty works have proved it. Indeed, he declared that life eternal itself depended upon the right concept of Deity: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." The Master saw that the correct knowledge of God constituted all there ever was to the life of the individual, and that this knowledge had to be gained in the way he understood and explained. For this reason he proclaimed: "This is life eternal," and not, "This shall be life eternal."
Besides, one can never think of the eternal in terms of the future. Future and past being but attempts to divide and thereby to limit the eternal, eternality can be experienced solely as a continuous now. If eternality were possible only at some future date, and not at the present, it would be restricted in duration, and lack thereby one of the main characteristics for being eternal.
The Christ Is One with the Father
Jesus' discernment of the all-inclusiveness of God's infinite being gave him the right to state, "I and my Father are one." It is related in the Gospel of John how those who heard this declaration "took up stones . . . to stone him." In other words, the unenlightened thought was offended because it surmised that this "I" referred to the human personality of the Nazarene. A study of the four Gospels reveals that almost invariably Jesus used this personal pronoun "I" in an impersonal way. By it he meant his spiritual understanding, or Christ understanding, of God. In the Christian Science textbook a parallel statement to that of Jesus is made on page 465: "Principle and its idea is one."
This Christ understanding enabled Christ Jesus nineteen hundred years ago, and enables us now, to prove that nothing can stand between God and His own manifestation, man; that God and man are not separate entities, but coexistent and coeternal. By his mighty works, Christ Jesus demonstrated that there was no connection whatsoever between what is divinely real and what is not, by proving the nothingness of the mortal or imperfect and the allness of the divine. There is nothing in divinity which could indicate that this same demonstration is not possible for us at the present day.
In Science and Health (p. 332), we read: "Jesus demonstrated Christ; he proved that Christ is the divine idea of God — the Holy Ghost, or Comforter, revealing the divine Principle, Love, and leading into all truth." Through spiritual understanding and loving-kindness this Christ, or Truth, pervades our thinking here and now. Its healing unction is experienced by the overcoming of sin, sorrow, disease, and death in the proportion that we are desirous to learn more of the liberating divine reality, and are willing to lay aside false finite opinions and their concomitant acts.
The Christ, therefore, is the consciousness of divine Love, — that rare mixture of spiritual strength and unfaltering tenderness which is of such healing efficacy that it practically amounts to the denial, of all that is unlike itself. Every one of us can manifest this impersonal Christ, or Comforter, leading to the fullness of truth, as Jesus prophetically foretold.
The Impersonal Comforter Revealed by Mrs. Eddy
Mary Baker Eddy was abundantly spiritual, loving, and impersonal enough to reveal this Comforter in the fullness of its divine power. Her understanding of the Comforter as divine Science disposes of the limitations of time, personality, and locality in regard to salvation. Christian Science does away with the false theories built up by material sense during the centuries prior to the discovery of the Science of Christianity. These theories attach salvation and healing to the belief in a personal Christ of which Jesus was the privileged embodiment. Doctrines like these are not to be derived from the sayings of the Master as recorded in the Gospels. They are the doubtful deductions of human views lacking spiritual insight. Mrs. Eddy, with her innate spiritual sense, could definitely declare and prove in daily deeds that "the exterminator of error is the great truth that God, good, is the only Mind, and that the supposititious opposite of infinite Mind — called devil, or evil — is not Mind, is not Truth, but error, without intelligence or reality" (ibid., p. 469).
Christian Science Movement Based Upon One Mind
Upon this divine understanding Mrs. Eddy founded, with untiring patience and persevering love for mankind, The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. Under protection of The Mother Church, branch churches of Christ, Scientist, are spreading all over the civilized world. Thus the Christian Science movement has been effectively established. Christian Scientists are evermore grateful for the provisions given by Mrs. Eddy in the Church Manual, which, under the able supervision of the Board of Directors of The Mother Church, have made it possible to keep Mrs. Eddy's statement of the Science of Christianity pure and unadulterated.
The Christian Science movement, with its churches, Reading Rooms, literature, Board of Lectureship, sanatoriums, stands for more than that which outwardly appears. This great organization is the evidence of the underlying vitality and reality of the Christ, Truth, regardless of the opposing testimony of material sense. Because this movement is based upon Truth, the one and only God, its growth is irrepressible. Christian Scientists are aware of the fact that in the measure they are really worthy of the name they have assumed by thinking and living progressively in accordance with their Science, they will promote the prosperity of the movement. They clearly see that it would be a fallacy to perfect the material organization without adequate self-reformation and spiritualization.
Mrs. Eddy's True Individuality
Those who have had the privilege of coming personally in contact with the revered Leader of the Christian Science movement, have been deeply impressed by her spirituality, wisdom, and beauty of living. As spiritual ideas constitute all true individuality, those ideas which she perceived and expressed will stand out forevermore. While the number of personal reminiscences may diminish, these ideas are indelible, because revealed in profusion throughout her publications. "Those who look for me in person, or elsewhere than in my writings," Mrs. Eddy warningly declares, "lose me instead of find me" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 120).
If we perceive in Mrs. Eddy's writings the spiritual truth which she revealed, and associate her with this truth rather than thinking about her in a merely human way, we shall esteem her in the only right manner. Humanity will understand Mary Baker Eddy more truly, and thereby appreciate her more fully, in the measure that it becomes more inherently spiritually minded.
Christian Science revolutionizes radically religious concepts. Theology had set itself the task to make God comprehensible for mankind. Not only that, its purpose was also to show humanity how to avail itself of primal power. Most of the time, humanity has failed to derive adequate help from the method, commonly called prayer, offered to this end by different doctrines presenting a more or less personal sense of God. In such cases, help has appeared to be so spasmodic, so haphazard, often so ineffectual that people were led to believe that divine power was personal and invested with willful human characteristics and motives. The result is that many either deny the existence of God or profess to believe in a humanly circumscribed and divinely impossible concept of God.
Our own existence being undeniable, and for that reason a primal cause being equally self-evident, the only right conclusion should be that mankind has been singularly deficient in its methods of availing itself of divine power. Those who think that they are atheists are only opposed to their own concepts of God, usually the result of a misrepresentation of Deity by religious sects. Denying God would be tantamount to denying our own existence, which is derived from God.
The revolution in religious thought brought about by Christian Science does away with the pretext of atheism as well as with the uncertainty of prayer. It presents a logical and provable concept of God as taught by the master Metaphysician. On page 331 of the textbook we read: "God is individual, incorporeal. He is divine Principle, Love, the universal cause, the only creator, and there is no other self-existence." A wonderful basis whereupon to avail ourselves of divine power.
God, Divine Principle
Critics have objected to the appellation "Principle," averring that it makes God cold and distant. The very reverse is true. Christian Science shows one that the discernment of God as divine Principle really means that divine Love is ever present. More than this; it means also that divine Love is continually available wherever the scientific understanding of God as "the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" prevails and is maintained in face of opposing suggestions.
This understanding of God makes Christian Science fundamentally different from all other religions and philosophical systems. The allness of God as divine Principle signifies that in divine Being, which is infinite, omnipotent, and congruous, there is not a single element or admittance of evil, limitation, imperfection, matter. God's knowing of imperfection and evil would signify God's destruction, because, in that case, God would not be eternal. Then, God would not exist, as eternity has necessarily to be now in order to be eternal.
Christian Science Treatment Operative through Principle
Prayer or treatment, in Christian Science, is placed upon a scientific basis, and thereby the uncertainties which were formerly attached to the theory of divine intervention are being eliminated in proportion to Christianly scientific advancement. Prayer, apart from Christian Science, has been associated with a personal, necessarily limited, sense of God. When the answer, sought by this kind of petition, did not appear, it was supposed that God considered it better for all concerned not to grant the request! Such hypothesis with regard to availing oneself of divine power is virtually on the same order as expecting rules of mathematics to change by special demand.
In doing away with the false personal concept about God, and revealing the actual nature of Deity as one and whole, Christian Science is enabling mankind to avail itself scientifically, logically, and continually of God's power. The treatment consists in realizing the nature of God and man from the standpoint of the perfection of Being, the one Mind, as given in Science and Health (p. 476): "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." With this statement coincides another passage in the textbook (p. 259): "The Christlike understanding of scientific being and divine healing includes a perfect Principle and idea, — perfect God and perfect man, — as the basis of thought and demonstration." Experience teaches that when we meekly permit "perfect God" to be the basis of thought — and thereby recognize ourselves as "perfect man" — the demonstration will be more satisfactory and instantaneous.
Healing Power Impersonal
The activity of real Christian Science treatment is unlimited. It is better understood and evidenced in the proportion one realizes that this treatment does not depend upon a person but is divine Mind's own presence, power and law. In the same way, the discernment that all phases of evil are primarily not personal and material, but only different aspects of the same error or lie, makes the treatment more directly effective. This effect takes place even though the patient may appear to be thousands of miles away, according to human reckoning.
Divine Mind being really All, everything essential for everyone's infinite, uninterrupted life and happiness exists already in the ever-present realm of divine ideas. Consequently, in order to accomplish its purpose the Christian Science treatment shows its effects in the suppositional realm of belief, although the realization of the Truth takes place, exclusively, in the realm of the Truth.
Human outlining and imagination do not belong to the treatment. You will find that the operation of divine law is infinitely superior to any form of personal planning. Your work will be more successful in the measure that you keep your thought in the realm of the Truth, and let the operation of divine law bring about the obliteration of the false claim.
This fact was clearly proved in the case of a young girl who had been suffering for six months under a severe claim of hemorrhage. She had been twice in a hospital and had been attended by a number of doctors, among whom were two specialists. They had done their best to heal her, but all in vain. The claim continued until she was so weak that she could hardly leave her bed. The medical authorities told her that according to their estimate she had only forty per cent of the amount of blood that she needed. One day, her music teacher asked her to try Christian Science. The parents consented, but thought it would be safer to keep the doctor on the case as well. The fear, thus manifested, seemed to affect the girl, whose condition became worse.
Then came the turning point. Her mother always having had faith in God and His healing power, it was decided to dispense with the medical practitioner's services altogether. Upon hearing that there was a lecture to be given on Christian Science, the girl was much enthused. She went by automobile to the church in which the lecture was to take place. Her aunt and father supported her when she had to walk to the back part of the auditorium to find a place in the last row of seats. Fear came over her when she found that she was obliged to sit alone, as the hall was so crowded. However, the atmosphere of peace and joyous expectation she felt there stilled her apprehension.
During the lecture a sense of worry left her. She was deeply stirred and inspired when, towards the end, the lecturer compared man's natural and perfect status as God's manifestation with the ease and freedom the eagle displays when moving through the clear ether. Her healing came at that moment. At the conclusion of the lecture she walked out of the church unaided, liberated, whole! The healing was permanent.
Moreover — and this is the most beautiful part of it — she, her sister, and brother are now regularly attending the Christian Science Sunday School; and the parents are faithful attendants of the Christian Science church.
In the light that "God is His own infinite Mind, and expresses all" (Science and Health, p. 310), fear loses its fearfulness. One cannot fear evil, because in God's allness evil does not exist, and one cannot fear the nonexistent. Then one can only fear a belief that evil exists. This belief is disposed of and its nothingness demonstrated by the Christian Science treatment which thus is found to be the operation of divine Principle made manifest.
The healings related in the Bible, and called miracles by those who have not yet discerned the ever-present power and immaculate nature of the one and only God, have indeed their counterparts in the records of the modern Christian Science movement!
Animal Magnetism Exposed
Since the pangs and pains of mortal existence occur only within the confines of time, place, and personality, our salvation from them requires, as Christian Science shows, that we base our thinking upon divine perfection. Hereby, one is gradually freed from false beliefs, because his thoughts dwell less and less in them, and error is no longer accepted as his thought.
Such a state of consciousness is the most efficient protection from animal magnetism or the supposed activity of mortal mind. The textbook points out that "Animal magnetism is the voluntary or involuntary action of error in all its forms; it is the human antipode of divine Science" (p. 484).
All material systems have accepted, more or less implicitly, the reality of evil. Thinking about evil as an entity has led humanity to investigate the supposed source of evil. The problem of the origin of evil has indeed vexed mankind.
Reading in the Bible that God made all (see, for example, John 1:3), theologians have been misled into believing that God must, at least, know evil if He did not originate it, thereby ascribing to God a dual nature. Then such vagaries arose as of God first creating man in His likeness, sinless and pure; afterwards allowing His creature to go wrong; and finally punishing the helpless victim for the wrong which Deity itself must have foreordained or allowed. No wonder that many earnest and straight-thinking people have turned away from such doctrines!
Christian Science solves the problem of the origin of evil and other forms of animal magnetism by declaring and proving progressively that "evil is nothing, no thing, mind, nor power . . . nothing claiming to be something" (Science and Health, p. 330). Evil does not partake of the divine nature or reality, however much it may claim to do so. If it did, evil would be good. The divine reality does not partake of evil. It would be evil if it did. Evil (and this word for the sake of brevity taken in its wider sense as including everything which is believed in as finite, material, temporal, imperfect) can only seem to be real from inside of its own deception. However, from the moment one perceives its unreality, evil is self-seen as a falsity. Gradually it loses its assumed power to deceive or be deceived. In the same ratio, more of the ever-present divine reality is experienced.
Thus is proved, as nothing else could prove, that God is one and all, and never dual in nature. Thereby is emphatically silenced the assertion of a human sense of philosophy, that good needs an opposite, evil, in order to be good; that truth needs an opposite, a lie, in order to be true; that the infinite needs the finite in order to be infinite; that the eternal needs the temporal in order to be eternal. The truth about everything is always one. Duality and plurality belong to the untruthful aspects. There is only one truth about two times two, and that is four; while the lie about this mathematical truth may assume a plurality of aspects — five, three, seven, etc. — in its vain attempt to pattern the truth.
Man's Living Individuality
When we are willing to change our standpoint and our method of thinking from the merely human and mortal to the truth of existence as taught in Christian Science, we begin to see better our real individuality; that is, our individuality as it exists from the standpoint of the divine reality itself. Our real individuality — so we perceive — is certainly not that which is evident to material sense testimony.
God being the one and infinite reality, there is no reality outside of God. Mrs. Eddy states in "Unity of Good" (p. 24), "God is All-in-all; and you can never be outside of His oneness." The reality about us cannot be anything other than that which we know of the divine reality, God. It must be the ideas constituting our spiritual understanding of God. By enlarging this understanding and identifying ourselves with it, we are aware of our fundamental and only individuality. And individuality means nothing more nor less than indivisibility.
Here, we have to be alert in not allowing the suggestion that we as persons originate these divine ideas or experience them as such. By supposing that we have personal minds with which to reflect the divine Mind, we lose the precious import and practical usefulness of at-one-ment, or our oneness with God. We may feel safe in our inviolate nature of being "the temple of God," as Paul so sacredly declared man — in his real aspect — to be.
Silencing the Accuser
This "temple of God" or consciousness of good, means our protection from the claims of the "accuser," called in Christian Science mortal mind. The accusation of hereditary traits disappears in the presence of the acknowledgment of man's birthless, eternal existence. The accusation of accidents and disease dwindles into nothingness before the substantiality and perfection of divine Being — man's substance. The accusation of death is dissolved in the glorious jubilations of Spirit's all-pervading, joyous now — man's identity. The accusation of hatred and war becomes mute before the mighty eloquence of universal Love — man's essence.
Material, personal sense accuses itself. As long as one thinks in terms of matter and persons, either famines or an excess of material things seem to occur with their inherent concomitants of fear, lack, unrest, unemployment, jealousy, despotism, war. When one begins to reckon things as they fundamentally are, that is, as ideas or manifestations of the one infinite and only Mind, more satisfactory results appear, showing forth a more spiritual abundance of being.
Take, for instance, the idea of Truth. This idea, being entirely infinite, all of it can be understood and used by each one of us without the slightest possibility of hindering or depriving anybody else. The more scientific and infinite the realization of Truth, the more vivid and tangible it becomes for the benefit of all. Such is the nature of each divine idea which, in order to be infinite, can be but one. If it were possible for two or more ideas to be identical that would mean limitation, because of restricting one another.
Salvation and Satisfaction
Mankind is entitled to feel encouraged in knowing that proportionably as the individual identifies himself with the Divine, in that measure he will experience salvation and satisfaction.
Salvation is exclusively to be found in one's own thought-world. One has to take an active part in it. It means an actual change of thinking from the material to the spiritual, from the human to the divine. The education of humanity has been of a kind to ingrain the suggestion that a plurality of material so-called things and of personal attainments constitutes happiness and satisfaction. These material things and personal attainments, being but false concepts about spiritual, infinite, perfect ideas, how much deeper and more vivid that satisfaction and happiness must be when living these ideas themselves as man, "God's perfect likeness, that reflects all whereby we can know God" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 79).
Hereby is seen conclusively how the Christian Science demonstration never can mean the gaining of something material. On the contrary, it means a release from a material sense of existence. However, the gradual liberation of thought may, to mortal sense, appear to be a more ample supply of what are called the necessities of daily life. Let us not be deceived into thinking of this supply as primarily the demonstration of matter, because such an attitude of thought might tend to cling to that material sense which is the source of all lack and limitation. In this manner we shall never look for our satisfaction in the wrong direction.
The Universal Work
Progressing in the light of Truth, our work assumes universal proportions. We discern better than before the profound verity of the statement quoted in the beginning of this lecture: "The characters and lives of men determine the peace, prosperity, and life of nations." Such a view may appear beyond the scope of the personal and material; and so it is. However, it is not beyond the range of God's law. Then to be constantly aware of our true being by realizing the allness of the divine Mind, and thereby precluding the intruding perplexities of mortal dualism, becomes one's highest office.
The benefits this activity entails for humanity at large are incalculable. As divine consciousness, the one Being, or God, is in every respect harmonious, it does not include lack or overproduction. Divine Being is limitless. Being is ever its own infinite self; it is infinite in versatility and self-renewal. Our spiritual work results in more of the divine Being appearing. Therefore our work is always for the sake of the common good in the progressive unfoldment of spiritual perfection.
Living this understanding of perfect Being is the very opposite of passing mortal years with increasing decrepitude and decay. It is the yielding of human limitations to the omnipresence of the Divine. It is the spontaneous unfoldment of beauty, bounty, dominion, and the greatest of all, love. It means rapture and radiance, not personally and fearfully accepted with a feeling of their fragility and unstability, but enjoyed in the full assurance of their being our individual, natural, and inalienable right. It means happiness, not as a dim and distant personal goal, but as the very essence and starting point of our existence.
My friends, this is all yours, here and now, because such is the grandeur of the one and only Being, infinite Being, therefore inevitably your being. Thus is more tangibly and compellingly understood the Science of the one and only God, impressively proclaimed in these ringing words of the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science (Science arid Health, p. 340): "One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself'; annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, — whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed."
[Published in The Brooklyn (New York) Daily Eagle, Oct. 16, 1937.]