Christian Science: Rational Religion
Paul Stark Seeley, C.S.B., of Portland, Oregon
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
This lecture expounds the truth about God. I know you are interested in this basic, all-important subject because you are here. In an understanding of God, man's cause, we can find the intelligent power that produces health, happiness, and success.
If you were to step up to the first dozen persons you should meet on the street and say, "Pardon me, but will you please tell me what God is and where I can find Him," your sanity would probably be questioned, but it is doubtful if you would secure the desired information. Why not? Because mortals, generally speaking, do not know God. They have been brought up to believe that an accurate knowledge of God is denied them. Why, no one has been able to explain. There is nothing more natural to man than an understanding of God, his source.
Christ Jesus said, "I know whence I came, and whither I go" (John 8:14). You and I are entitled to know that too.
Reliable Information about God
Is it not time to challenge the ignorance and mystery which so many mortals have come to accept as inevitable concerning God? We need to abandon a mere belief that there is a God, and gain an understanding of what God is, where God is, what God is doing, and how the intelligent power of Deity can be utilized by each individual to bring health, happiness, and success into his daily life.
While the Master often referred to God as Father — "my Father" and "your Father" — Jesus certainly was not thinking of the Father of us all as a magnified human personality living at some unknown address, high up in the sky, for he defined God as Spirit; and surely Spirit cannot be confined to a magnified human personality. Spirit is incorporeal and universal. The Master said that God, Spirit, dwelt in him, and worked in him; that is, in his consciousness, indicating he understood God as incorporeal, spiritual Mind, in contrast to the material sense of mind that is the essence of all evil, fear, hate, selfishness, sin, unhappiness, and war.
God Is Not a Human Personality
There are more people than perhaps you realize who still believe God is some sort of a corporeal, human person living somewhere high above our earth. They forget that our earth is but one of the many millions of astral bodies, and a human personality, however venerable and beneficent, is, in the light of reason and of Christian Science, an impossible concept of the one universal cause. Where would such a God live to rule effectively the vastness of creation? Would it not be impossible to find a location in the frigid ether from which He could survey the immensity of the universe, which even material sense tells us extends billions upon billions of miles into space?
Instead of this illogical man-made concept of God, Christian Science defines Deity as infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love.
Misconceptions Hide God
The misconceptions of God entertained by men hide God's true nature from them. If you are holding a wrong concept of God, no matter who gave it to you, are you not walling yourself off from the true concept of Him? Clinging to a wrong concept deprives you of the right one. In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," the textbook of Christian Science, its Discoverer and Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, makes this unqualified statement which I hope you will seriously consider (p. 390): "It is our ignorance of God, the divine Principle, which produces apparent discord, and the right understanding of Him restores harmony." The cause of all discord — all unhappiness, sickness, sin, grief, injustice, and war — is our ignorance, our ignorance of God. And the remedy is what? A right understanding of God. Christian Science gives us this.
Mind Is God
One of the things that attracted me to Christian Science, when I was a young man looking for a rational religion, was the concept of God as Mind, not of course the negative, evil, selfish, hateful sense of mind, but the positive Mind in which inhere absolute intelligence and all the good, constructive thoughts and ideas, which are the most vital forces in the lives of men. This seemed to me the one and only rational explanation of the basic, intelligent cause of all that is real and eternal. What else could be universal, omnipotent, ever-available, unerring, all-wise but the one perfect Mind or divine Principle, Love? What else could be God?
The Nearness of Mind, God
Consider the truth that God is Mind, which Christian Science acclaims and which you are considering. Where did it come from? Did anyone invent it? No. Where does each individual discover this Truth as did Mrs. Eddy? In his consciousness. What put it there? Mind itself. It gives this true idea of cause to you and to me and gives us the capacity to understand it. Mind is here present and active through its ideas. The Scriptures say that man dwells, abides, and is active in God. In what but Mind could man dwell, abide, and be active?
Suppose you have an unselfish desire to do a good deed for someone — be a good Samaritan — where does the idea come from? Do you manufacture it? No. You discover it, living and active in your true consciousness. What put it there? The Mind that is the source and substance of your life, your consciousness and the ideas that constitute it. Your true life or individuality is the expression of eternal Mind, and so is the true individuality of everyone.
This is the spiritual idea of cause and effect. Though we see it as yet but dimly, we see it is the truth of being which the one universal causative Mind gives us the ability to comprehend in the degree we surrender the material misconception of being. Man is the highest expression of Mind, or, as he is often called in the Bible, the son of God, meaning the highest individual evidence of Mind.
While the Scriptures do not often use the word "Mind" for God, they frequently make statements which could not be used were He not Mind. For instance, we are told that "wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding" (Prov. 4:7). What is the substance of wisdom but Mind? What is the essence of understanding but Mind? What makes man capable of having and expressing them but Mind?
Positive Mind Is Everywhere, Not Somewhere
In the past many mortals have believed God to be somewhere, in some place. Christian Science teaches God is unboundable Mind which is everywhere. "If," says the Psalmist, "I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me" (Ps. 139:8-10). Mind cannot be walled out of anywhere, or fenced in somewhere. You would find it at the farthest star. It is at the depth of the deep. Universal Mind knows no limits and accepts no boundaries.
God, Mind, Is All-inclusive
Within infinite Mind is its universe of ideas or identities, safe and secure. Instead of believing God is an important factor in creation, we must see that God is all there really is, is infinite intelligence, Mind, in which are the limitless manifestations of Mind itself, all caused, conditioned, and controlled by the divine Principle which is their life, substance, individuality, and continuity. Says Mrs. Eddy, "God is the sum total of the universe" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 105), that is, the entirety, the whole, the All, including within Mind's allness all that truly is. Remember God is not set apart somewhere. God is the one positive, unlimited Mind, universal cause, including and containing all its ideas in its infinite allness.
What Is God Doing?
Just what is God doing? The Bible says that "he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep" (Ps. 121:4). But what is the ever-wakeful causative Mind, the source and substance of all things doing?
In the human order mortals are thinking, speaking, seeing, hearing, feeling, acting. Each mortal thinks he is doing these things by his own volition. He believes he has a mind of his own with which he thinks and acts, eyes and ears and nerves of his own with which he sees, hears, and feels. All this mortal doing really originates in mortal mind, the false sense of mind, God's opposite. Mortals are its puppets. The thought forces with which the mortal mind animates mortals with impulse, passion, fear, hate, and everyday material thinking are in a sense like the wires with which the puppeteer controls the puppets in a puppet show.
In the spiritual and true order — God's order — infinite Mind is All-in-all. This Mind is doing all the knowing, seeing, hearing, feeling, acting, and speaking. It does so in and through its ideas, the highest of which is man. All that is really being done is being done on the initiative of God, the only Mind, and is evidenced in man, Mind's manifestation. Says Mrs. Eddy, "Science declares that Mind, not matter, sees, hears, feels, speaks" (Science and Health, p. 485). On this basis Jesus healed blindness, deafness, and all affliction.
Finding Real Manhood
Mortals have mistakenly believed man to be material and mortal with a good and evil mind of his own, a will, and a way, and a life pretty much of his own patterning. He has been thought of as embodied and environed in matter and thereby separated from God.
Christian Science teaches that the only real manhood — that is of and in Spirit, Mind — is Mind-like, harmonious, and eternal, not ignorant, cellular, discordant, and temporal. It teaches that the real individuality of you, of me, and of everyone, is not a corporeal body of flesh and bones, separated from God, but is the immediate expression of God, constituted of God's thoughts, qualities, and faculties, at one with God, as the manifestation of Mind must ever be one with Mind.
Man then really has a rational purpose and destiny. It is to be the individual representative, or expression, of Mind, God's compound idea, imaging forth His unlimited ideas in the order of their lawful, never-ceasing unfoldment.
Proof We Understand God
One may quickly and easily learn the terms Christian Science uses for God and man. They may appeal to his sense of logic and reason. But glibly rehearsing these words is a long way from understanding their meaning. We understand God as Mind only as we are willing to accept as true the thoughts which express divine Mind, or Love. Good thoughts are natural to God and natural to man. This is not the self-satisfied human sense of goodness that breeds self-righteousness, but the goodness that is coincident with true intelligence, the goodness that is a quality of pure Mind, that belongs to genuine Love. We know God as we know and love good and express God's ideas, and we never know God so long as we are deceived into attempting to honor Him with our lips and dishonor Him in our lives. By our lives and thoughts we demonstrate, show forth, God.
Man United to God
Another point that is very satisfying in Christian Science is its teaching that man really is united to everlasting Mind and is united to this perfect, divine Mind now. There is much comfort in the discovery that one's real life is not hopelessly tied up in mindless matter, fettered and limited by material embodiment, and subject to heartless, ignorant, material forces. Man is an individual mode, or expression, of eternal Mind, living to individualize the Life, Love, Truth, and good that is real being.
We Understand in a Degree
These truths we see as yet only in a degree. But that is something. The full measure of understanding of an ideal does not come in a moment to thought long darkened by the misconceptions of ignorant material thinking. Said Paul, "For now we see through a glass, darkly; . . . but then [as our spiritual understanding increases] shall I know even as also I am known" [of God]. It means much to see something of life's underlying verities, to see how to use them to demonstrate more and more of one's unity with the living God, infinite good, and to help others do so.
Logic of Christian Science Unanswerable
Christian Science teaches that God is the intelligent harmonious, and good Mind, and therefore there can be no effect from this one and only cause but what is truly intelligent, harmonious, and good. The effect cannot depart from the quality and nature of its cause. Is there anything but good logic in this? Then the conclusion follows that all evil — inharmony, sickness, contention — is not of God, divine Life, Truth, and Love, since evil is not intelligent, harmonious, or good. It therefore has no real cause and must in the last analysis be unreal.
Why Break with Logic?
But here is where many hesitate. They say such reasoning is logical but not practical. One says: "I have been sick; I have suffered from wrongs done me by others; I see and hear evil in many forms about me; I know it is very real, regardless of logic. It is too much to challenge all that the physical senses say. I should like to believe evil is not real, but whether it comes from God or not, here it is, and to me it seems very real."
That is just what I thought and kept on thinking for some time after I started studying Christian Science. One day I saw that just so long as I consented to go on thinking that way, I was simply tying up my sense of life and selfhood with evil and mortality, claiming them as realities, mentally including myself in a bundle of negative values I really had no use for and wanted to be free from.
I then began to see the truth of what Christian Science teaches, that the material sense of origin, of material parentage, birth, growth, maturity, affliction, and death was a misconception of life and selfhood that was entirely unworthy of a supremely intelligent cause and was therefore unworthy of acceptance in my consciousness as reality, regardless of how much it clamored through material sense testimony for recognition.
The master Christian called this evil — this material sense of life, mind, and selfhood — a lie and a liar. So long as I was willing to accept the lie, the material sense of mind, as cause, and its effect, material creation and mortal man, at its own inflated valuation of itself, I was aligning my sense of cause and effect with what was a denial of God and the manhood made to evidence Him.
We Need Courage
It takes courage, I discovered, and plenty of it, to stand up and mentally repudiate the claims of matter, or evil — and they are identical — to reality and identity. But it has to be done; and God, the real Mind, Life, and Soul of the true individuality of you and me, gives us the courage with which fearlessly to do it. We must claim and use that quality of Mind so essential to the overcoming of evil.
Repudiation of Material Self Necessary
The principal work is to overcome, to surrender and get rid of, the false material sense of self which is evil's only agency for self-assertion. We must choose our status — either as a physical puppet of the so-called mortal, material mind, responsive to its suggestions of fear, hate, selfishness, resentment, sickness, animality, and lack, or as the individual expression of the Mind or intelligence that is God, having no other parent, responsive to no will but the divine, daily expressing obedience to the Principle that governs the universe.
Christ Jesus said to those who were wanting to follow in the way of spiritual life he taught, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matt. 16:24). First, do we have a deep, sincere desire to follow the Master's teachings and to do the good which he did? Then if we do, we must deny material self, deny any reality in the mortal, material, selfish, proud sense of selfhood, because it is the denial of God's man.
Self-Will, Our Worst Enemy
Let us stop the futile effort of trying, as material self often does, to will our way through life, stop being like the parrot that echoed its owner's poor philosophy, "I want what I want, I want what I want." It is this ignorant, blind human will that Mrs. Eddy calls "the motive-power of error" (Science and Health, p. 597). It wrecks lives, homes, businesses; it blocks progress and threatens the world's peace.
One form of human will is to be determined to have one's way in dealing with others, disregarding what is God's will for man. Another form is to be willing to be apathetic to God's control, to be willing to accept and condone bad habits, old grudges, and continuing enslavement to ignorance of God and man. Human will is our worst enemy. The antidote is the understanding of God, and man as His expression, found through humility, or the willingness to let the Mind that is God be the one guiding influence in our lives.
Remember that the first quality the Master mentions in the Sermon on the Mount as essential to our finding God's kingdom is humility. Said he, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:3). The poor in spirit, those free of human will, stubbornness, and egotism, are the ones to whom the kingdom, where God's wisdom and love govern, becomes a reality.
By Prayer We Communicate with God
By intelligent prayer we communicate with and find God. Prayer is simply the spiritual right-mindedness which denies the wrong material sense of cause and effect and affirms and thinks in terms of the true idea of God and man. "Prayer," says Science and Health (p. 2), "cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it." True prayer brings you into harmony with the Science of being.
Prayer is the life line God has provided for each of us. Are we using it? Prayer unites thought with God; nothing else will. You will never find God except through the prayer of right thinking and right living.
Daily Prayer for Oneself Essential
I early learned in Christian Science that daily prayer for myself was a first, never-to-be-neglected duty. Prayer keeps the window of our consciousness clear, so that spiritual light can come in and enable us to be uplifted ourselves and so be better able to help others. Understanding prayer shuts the door on the evil suggestions of fear, friction, sickness, and sin that would camp in our mental homes. It opens thought to God's guidance and assures us of God's protection. In his daily prayer one denies the false material sense of self, affirms God's fatherhood, man's sonship and unity with Him, and one's superiority to all that matter and mortality claim.
Deliverance by Divine Communication
Communication between deific Mind and man is natural. The means for this communication is thought, and it is quicker than any human form of communication. It is instantaneous. Mind's communications are never distorted or delayed, because nothing can oppose the omniaction of Mind. Spiritual intuition is one means of Mind's communication.
Here is an illustration of the way deific Mind communicates with us to save us from the negative forces of fear, ignorance, and destruction. Not long ago the United States had one of its worst hotel fires. In the hotel a Christian Scientist was trapped by the smoke on the tenth floor. Escape seemed impossible.
He turned to God, realized God's presence, power, and love and that his life was in the secret place of the Most High, in unity with divine Life and Love. He pondered the spiritual truths in the ninety-first Psalm, rejoiced that right in the midst of the danger God was giving His angels, Mind's constructive thoughts, charge over him to keep him in safety.
Omnipresent Mind reassured him, bade him dress and then make a rope out of all of his bedding. Several times he started to lower the rope from the window, but the still, small voice said. "Not yet; lean on God, He will save you." Finally the voice said, "Now," and he lowered the rope and then clung to it. It reached only a small fraction of the way to the ground, but a fireman with another rope was below to aid him to reach a ladder and so descend to safety.
The smoke was so dense that when he started to let himself down he could not see the fireman two stories below, but he lowered himself at just the right time to be saved.
Pray, Listen, Obey
Many may seem trapped by evil forces sometimes called sickness, sin, unhappy environment, and discordant relationships, but God is always at hand to show the way to freedom. Our part is to pray, listen, and obey. The one in the hotel fire prayed, listened, and obeyed. Learn to do that. God's voice is often still and small and as the Bible writer discerned, sometimes it is as when a lion roareth. But it is ever speaking to us. Through humility we can hear our wise and loving Parent say, "This is the way, walk ye in it." Mind, God, Love, is always articulate, and God's voice is really the only voice that is speaking in Truth's kingdom. There is none other for man to hear.
Regardless of how deep a wilderness you may seem to be in, if you will persistently deny false material sense and self and understandingly claim your sonship with God; if you will pray, listen, and obey, God will show you the way. "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God," says the Bible, "I will stengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness" (Isa. 41:10).
Too often we do not pray fervently, persistently, understandingly. Too often, if we pray, we do not listen for the resulting inspiration and our Father's guidance. Many times, if we pray and listen, we fail to obey. We do not like God's way and in willfulness turn from it. How slow we sometimes are to learn that we cannot improve on the way of God's wise, loving, and constant appointing for His own.
In the understanding which Christ Jesus had of God, the lying claims of sickness, sin, and death met their master. They were confronted with one so conscious of the omnipresence and omnipotence of all-intelligent Mind, so conscious of the unity of man's only real life and selfhood with this all-inclusive, all-containing Mind, that there was not a vestige of fear in his thought because of what evil claimed. To the Mind of Christ, the consciousness radiant with God-given understanding of man as spiritual and Godlike, evil's boasts were futile. Jesus was the human herald of the Christ, the true idea of God and man. It is this true idea of cause and effect that liberates and saves from every wrong concept of being, be it sin, sickness, fear, lack, or hate.
Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Baker Eddy logically maintained that a good cause makes a good effect, a good God makes a good, healthy, harmonious man, regardless of what unthinking matter claims. She had courage too and aplenty. She had to have. At first no one would listen to her explanations of the Christ Science. Gradually, as a result of the healings she accomplished, a few listened, then a few more, enough to form a church; and slowly, against the skepticism of religionists and physicians and indifference from nearly all the rest, she succeeded. Today her discovery encircles the globe, lightening the hearts, homes, and lives of a great multitude. Why? Because it is true, provable, reasonable, rational, logical.
Mary Baker Eddy discovered Christian Science, the Science of Life, because her thought was more receptive than all others in her time to the ideas of spiritual reality. Her consciousness was less darkened than those about her by the ignorance of materiality, less earthbound and fleshbound than other mortals, more open to hear and obey. Through her, God, Truth, declared His Word, made plain His Science to men.
Is there any reason why there should not come to this age so pregnant with progress a clear explanation, an understandable, rational explanation of God and man? Is there any reason why it should not come through a woman messenger, whose qualities of thought enabled her to receive and proclaim it? Does anyone contend that ignorance, confusion, or mystery concerning the one creative cause is a divinely decreed necessity? Then why not welcome the Science that is proving itself to be the demonstrable, rational Science which Christ Jesus taught?
Jesus Gave the Recipe for Healing
Christ Jesus said we should do the same kind of healing he did. Do you think he meant what he said? The way to do it he stated in these twelve words: "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." He did not say we shall have a casual, vague belief in God and an uncertain hope that He will help us and then be free. He did not say we should simply attend church and tell someone of our sins and thereby become free. He did not say we shall simply read in the Bible what someone else has said is true and so be healed and made free. He said we individually shall know, or understand, what is true, namely, what is God, the only cause, and what is God's manifestation, man, God's effect. Doing this we shall become conscious of our Truth-given freedom from affliction, fear, and trouble, which have no part or place in the true sense of cause and effect.
Basis for Christian Science Treatment
Christian Science treatment is based on this simple procedure. The whole objective of this Science is to enable individuals everywhere to understand the true idea of God and man, of cause and effect. Can you think of anything that can save you from ignorance of God and man but the acceptance in your thought of the true idea of God and man? Is there any other possible way? Is not this rational, reasonable, logical? The Master said, "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6), that is, by the true idea of God and man which I teach.
What Is Usually Done
Suppose Mr. A awakens on a winter morning with a sore throat, is hoarse, and has a fever. If he were not a Christian Scientist, he would say in effect: My material body, its nerves and material sensations, say I have a cold, so I have one. My body tells me how I am. I shall get some material medicine and pour it into my stomach, hoping it will in some way drive out this unpleasant thing. Mr. A believes he is a mortal in a material environment and body, and that he must take what matter doles out to him and then endeavor to get rid of it by pouring some other matter into the body which says it has a cold.
What a Christian Scientist Does
But if Mr. A were a Christian Scientist, he would do something different. He would mentally deny that he was really what matter argued he was, an afflictable bundle of material cells, subject to material climatic and atmospheric conditions. He would affirm that God alone is the cause of man, and so of his life, that God causes him to be His expression and to be healthy and harmonious, spiritual and Godlike, superior to the so-called material mind, its heat or its cold, and incapable of being congested, conditioned, or controlled by its unintelligent, lawless, truthless beliefs.
He would cling steadfastly to the true idea of cause and effect, of God as infinite Mind and of man as Mind's expression, and repudiate the false sense of cause and effect — the material mind and its negative, mortal sense of man — see his unity with the true and his separateness from the false, and so win his freedom. He would know the truth which divine Mind gives him the ability to know, and so would free himself from the error which has no place in intelligent Mind or its manifestation, man.
Simple, rational, logical. The requisites — courage to deny what he has been erroneously educated to believe is himself, willingness to accept the spiritual idea of God and man taught by the Master and Christian Science, and humbly to conform his thought and life, step by step, thereto.
The illustration applies to any form of affliction, sickness, or sin. The purpose of Christian Science treatment is, through understanding prayer, to deny reality to the unreal, the evil and discordant, and to realize reality to be God and His creation, including man. Is there anything astounding about this? Perhaps it shocks human thought and mortal self to think of denying their claim to reality, and very possibly this mind needs to be shocked until it accepts this inescapable requirement to the discovery of true being.
More Light in Dark Places
An understanding of God is what is most needed to solve the international problems that confront the world. The dragon of wrong-mindedness that struts up and down in the earth, seeking whom it may dominate and control, must not be allowed to frighten us, regardless of the name or organization, political or otherwise, under which it may operate. In the crucible of human consciousness the wrong and poisonous elements of human thought must be brought to the surface before they can pass off into oblivion. That process is under way.
More of the light of intelligence, of unselfed divine Mind, is shining in dark places than ever before. The area in human thought where evil can seem to operate and dominate is narrowing, for the influence of Mind's ideas is growing. The carnal mind is being exposed in its nakedness and desolateness. Its hidden motives, malign and willful purposes, and false aims are exposed to the light, and the ways for thwarting them are being more intelligently determined as the absolute nothingness of evil is recognized.
Power Belongs Only to God
One well informed on the underlying purpose of certain political influences so rampant today describes them as "a universal plot for the violent seizure of power." But a long time ago a Scriptural writer saw the futility of such purposes and said, "Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?" (Lam. 3:37)
Evil is confined in its own finity. Outside of its realm of supposition it can never go. Mortal mind is pure delusion. Never forget the unalterable truth stated in Science and Health: "The only power of evil is to destroy itself. It can never destroy one iota of good" (p. 186). Supposititious evil threatens and conspires, but it can never thwart the steady progress of the true idea of God and man, demonstrated by Christ Jesus and today revealed in Christian Science, which is divinely destined to rule all nations absolutely with the rod of iron referred to in Revelation, the absolute authority of divine Mind, the cause of all reality.
The All-Important Thing
Eliphaz gave to Job the wisest counsel which one individual can ever give to another. Let us accept it as just that for ourselves. It is this: "Acquaint now thyself with him [God], and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee. . . . If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up" (Job 22:21, 23).
Let everyone go away from this lecture mindful of this wise counsel restated thus by Mrs. Eddy in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 151): "Brother, sister, beloved in the Lord, knowest thou thyself, and art thou acquainted with God? If not, . . . delay not to make Him thy first acquaintance."
[May 18, 1951.]