Christian Science is Scientific Christianity

 

The Rev. Arthur R. Vosburgh, C.S.B.

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

If Christian Science be what it claims to be and brings what it claims to bring, then it is the promised, invincible deliverer that "will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations." For the purpose and promise of Christian Science is to establish righteousness, to eradicate evil, and to enable humanity to realize its ideal. It turns unreservedly to the life and teachings of Jesus for the exemplification of this ideal, and has set for itself the task of showing how this ideal is to be realized. To show how Christian Science is Christian, how it conserves all the essentials and emphasizes all the ideals of historic Christianity on the one hand; and how it reveals a definite, demonstrable method on the other, in a word, to show how Christian Science is scientific Christianity, is the purpose of this lecture.

Before considering the merits of Christian Science as a system of thought, the question may arise as to whether these two terms can in any wise be consistently blended; whether to think of Christianity and science as in any sense identical, is not a confusing and confounding of things that inherently differ. For certainly, as we have heretofore conceived their meaning, Christianity and science have stood for two systems of thought differing radically in substance and in method. Perchance the very use of the term Christian Science first came to our hearing with a kind of shock, for science is that which analyzes things; that which classifies, arranges, and measures things. Christianity, on the other hand, has to do with that which is most tender and sacred in human sentiment and experience. The Christ-life finds its birth and its home in the very inner sanctuary of human thought. Now, to think of invading this holy of holies of human consciousness with the methods of science, to undertake to find the analysis and classification and arrangement of the elements that make up the Christ-life, seems at first thought a profanation of something that should be kept forever sacred and apart. It is an insistent feeling that sentiment and science cannot mingle; that there is an inherent contrast or even conflict between the realm of ideals and the realm of law. And yet we remember that every sentiment has its own nature and conditions of birth and being, its own order and method of expression, and therefore its science; and that every ideal embodies in itself the law of its own unfolding. Thus in truth we gain the vision wherein there is a union of these seeming opposites; a union indicated in such words as these of Browning:

 

I spake as I saw.

I report, as a man may of God's work, all's love, yet all's law;

 

or whose still better expression is in the words of Paul, "Love is the fulfilling of the law." An illustration of this is found in music, which is the native language of sentiment and emotion. It is the medium of expression when thought rises into a realm where it is too beautiful, too sublime, for words adequately to convey. Over against this realm of music, with its glowing warmth and color, nothing would seem to stand in greater contrast than the cold, colorless processes of mathematics. Yet we know that music, to its ultimate detail of tone and movement, involves mathematical relations; and in this discovery its standard has not been lowered, but rather have its larger possibilities been revealed. Thus the standard of Christianity will not be lowered nor its ideal degraded, but rather will its resources be revealed and its possibilities released by finding that it is veritably Science.

In seeking the real nature and meaning of Christian Science, the analogy of music may be carried still farther. As an understanding of music is not gained by mathematical or logical processes of reasoning, but by the awakening and directing of musical perception and by an unfolding and expression of musical feeling, so the spiritual understanding which constitutes Christian Science is reached, not by any intellectual process but through spiritual intuition. It is the awakening of the human consciousness to the spiritual idea, and its unfolding and expression in thought and life.

 

Its Practical Basis and Relation to the Scriptures

Christian Science does not take us into a realm of weird abstractions or dreary mysticism, however; it does not build on theories but on facts. The steady, sturdy faith of its followers has not been aroused by any wave of passing enthusiasm nor by any mere philosophical argument. This doctrine strikes its roots deep into the records and teachings of the Scriptures, and looks for its full warrant and witness to the words and works of Jesus. Nevertheless it does not seek its verification in the Biblical statements alone, but in their practical demonstration, and every Christian Scientist has this ground of assurance, that he has again and again seen, and felt, and demonstrated its power in healing sickness, in destroying sin, and in bringing harmony out of discord in every relation of life. There is therefore given us, as the basis of our faith, the absolutely scientific foundation of a present experience, rationally interpreted. In all this, the Scriptures have not lost, they have immeasurably gained in power, in beauty, and in authority. In the light of such an experience, and in the light of the understanding that brings it, the Bible is lifted out of the all-enveloping atmosphere of mystery and miracle. That in olden times there were those who thus, in some degree, understood God and His ways, and who thus wrought all the mighty works, the so-called miracles of the Old Testament are no longer things that seem supernatural, but divinely natural. This divine unfolding, this spiritual evolution having definitely begun in the consciousness of the Hebrew people, it was natural and inevitable that it should go on until it reached its consummation; and this it did when in the fulness of time Jesus came as a perfect expression of the divine idea. Thus we see that the Old Testament is simply an unfolding record of this spiritual understanding, as it appeared in the awakening thought of the chosen people; that the New Testament records its perfect revealing, through Jesus and those who understood him; and that Christian Science has now come to show the absolutely scientific character of this divine understanding, and its adaptation to every human need. Christian Scientists therefore accept the whole New Testament record of the life of Jesus, beginning with the Virgin's spiritual conception, and including all the Master's mighty works of healing the sick, raising the dead, walking the wave, and multiplying the loaves and fishes, up to that which surpassed and crowned them all, his resurrection and ascension; not so much as a matter of faith as of inevitable deduction. Yet in all this they see not the manifestation of his power as a divine wonder-worker, but the demonstration of a divine Principle and spiritual law which are valid for all time, and are only waiting to be understood, to be demonstrated.

 

Faith and Understanding

The query may now arise, Are not the Bible promises conditioned on believing rather than understanding, on faith rather than knowledge? In reply we inquire, How far can you separate the two? How can you have a rational faith in that of which you have no understanding? Nay, more, in human experience does not all knowledge begin in faith, in belief? You learned your multiplication table on faith, you applied it on faith, and through your applied faith gained correct results; and thus the half-formed knowledge that was at first largely faith became a scientific understanding. Thus, too, our knowledge of spiritual things begins in faith; faith in divine resources, in spiritual possibilities, somewhat dimly seen at first, somewhat imperfectly understood; but by applying this limited understanding according to spiritual law, we gain correct results, and faith unfolds into scientific spiritual understanding. Paul writes, "Till we all come into the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man" (marginal reading). The author of the epistle to the Hebrews writes, "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God." While John in one place makes eternal life conditional on faith, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life," in another place he makes it conditional on knowledge, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." Do not these and many other passages clearly imply that faith and knowledge are used as synonyms, expressing different degrees of the same thing? We thus reach the necessary conclusion that back of the works and the teachings of Jesus and his disciples there is an exact Science, which they taught so far as the world was prepared to receive it. The New Testament teaches Christian Science implicitly though not explicitly. In the latter half of the nineteenth century this Science has been revealed anew through one whom God has chosen, and its full and explicit statement is given to the world in the book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," whose author is the Rev. Mary Baker Eddy. And now, by way of historical relation, may we briefly note, in passing, just how this came about.

 

The Discovery and the Discoverer

Christian Science is a very recent movement, as it has come to the world in these latter days. While it is entirely based on the truth unfolded in the Bible and fully exemplified in the words and works of Jesus, its understanding in modern times is through a new discovery of this new-old truth.

Mrs. Eddy is recognized as the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, and she is therefore its natural and necessary Leader. By birth, by education, by native endowment, and by the training which has come through experience, she has been fitted to bring to the world a message of truth. Born of an illustrious ancestry, reared in a home whose intellectual and spiritual ideals were the highest, living in a time and mental environment which were intense in their striving for ideals of freedom and truth, all these influences converged and merged in her character and career. With exceptional intellectual abilities, with a nature intensely spiritual in all its motives and tendencies, trained in the school of adversity, purified in the furnace of affliction, her chastened consciousness was all prepared for the experience that finally came to her when, within the shadow of the death valley, there arose upon her awakened thought the Sun of righteousness, "with healing in his wings."

Christian Scientists look to Mrs. Eddy with confidence, gratitude, and love, in view of the good that has come to them through her teaching and work. It would be needless to affront the intelligence of this audience with the assumption that there is today any occasion for assuring you that Christian Scientists do not in any wise deify Mrs. Eddy. They do not worship her personality, they do not in any wise accord her divine honors, they do not regard her as another Christ. They simply bring to her the honor and confidence and love that are her meed as the Discoverer of Christian Science, and as the logical, fitting, and necessary Leader of the movement that is carrying on its work.

What, then, is Christian Science? No better answer to this question can be given than has been given by Mrs. Eddy, who has defined it as "the law of God, the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the Principle and rule of universal harmony" (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 7).

 

The Revelation of Mental Power

To the average investigator perhaps the most striking fact that Christian Science brings to his attention is that of the direct power of thought, that it is an immediate factor in human affairs even when unexpressed in word or deed, and yet our common experience is so full of illustrations of this that it really is not a startling proposition. What is it that marks the distinct difference recognized on entering different homes, but that you feel the conditions of thought which make up their mental atmosphere? How is it that on meeting some people utterly unknown, one feels an instinctive attraction or repulsion, except that we sense their mentality? One finds his own thought coinciding with the thought of his friend, both thinking the same thing at the same time. These experiences are so frequent as to be commonplace. Far more striking manifestations of thought-influence and thought-control have doubtless come to the observation and experience of every one of us. These different manifestations may or may not be in line with Christian Science; usually they are not at all in line with it, for they manifest, not the workings of divine Mind, but of the human, mortal mind; they are, however, clear evidences of the presence of a realm of thought-resources and thought-activities whose possibilities we are just beginning to see.

Now Christian Science reveals this power of awakened thought; shows how the human mind, with its false elements of belief and fear, must yield to be corrected and controlled by the divine Mind; and that it is thus God works to heal and to save.

In this it is clear that the work of Christian Science is in nowise hypnotic suggestion nor mesmeric control, and it cannot be too strongly emphasized that Christian Science is the polar opposite of animal magnetism in its every form. Because its working is not that of human personality but of divine Principle, the power it demonstrates is not of man, but of God. Neither, on the other hand, is Christian Science identical with what is called faith-cure, for while it teaches us to rely solely on God for healing, this reliance is not a blind faith, but a confidence based on an understanding of God and of the spiritual law that heals. In its understanding of cause and method of cure, the Christian Scientist stands on very different ground from the faith-healer, since Christian Science brings unmistakable proof that all causation is mental, not physical. The procuring cause of all disease is in the false beliefs and fears of the human, mortal mind; its healing is in the realized presence and power of divine Mind, in the demonstration of Truth which destroys error, of Love which "casteth out fear." But in thus demonstrating the healing power of Truth and Love, the Christian Scientist is not finding a special interposition of divine power, but a demonstration of divine law. He is not dealing with the spiritual as the mysterious unknown, but as an understood realm of cause and effect.

 

Its Ideal of Prayer

What, then, is the means by which we may reach our limitless divine resources of Life and Love? There is only one means which the Bible commends, which Jesus emphasizes, and which Christian Science recognizes, and that means is prayer. Prayer is that which makes the resources of God available. Prayer cannot change the infinite; prayer cannot induce God "to do more than He has already done" (Science and Health, p. 2); but it does enable us to realize the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.

In seeking the meaning of prayer, we must needs keep clearly in view the truth of Paul's statement, that "all things are yours;" and again, that "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." Peter also states the same truth when he says, "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness." In other words, there is a realm of limitless resources to which we inherit a title, a promised land which is ours on this condition; "Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon [which you shall reach with the advancing footsteps of understanding], that have I given unto you."

Now to perceive this truth and intelligently to grasp it, is to realize it, and so to bring these spiritual resources into demonstration; and, if the teachings of Christianity are true, these resources will meet every possible need. This points the truth of the Master's words: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added." If, then, there be awaiting us such a heritage of spiritual treasure, such a wealth of divine resources, our mental attitude should be that of one who claims these treasures and affirms that he has them. That which God is offering us with outstretched hands, it is ours not to plead for, but to receive.

The steps which reach the attainment of answered prayer are therefore these: First, a spiritual perception of our divine resources; second, a mental laying hold of these resources by affirming their reality and our right to them; third, the continuance of this affirmation until our consciousness reaches the stage of a clear spiritual realization; this, clearly held, will, in the words of Science and Health, unfold "Mind, Life, Truth, and Love, and demonstrates the divine sense" (p. 505). To repeat, keeping clearly before us the truth that in the limitless treasures of God there is a present supply for every need, true prayer is a spiritual perception, an affirmation, a realization, and a demonstration of these resources of Life and Love.

Does this seem to be taking things into our own hands and to eliminate all thought of prayer as a petition? It certainly does eliminate the thought of prayer as a petition that will change God or induce Him to do more than He has already done, but if the New Testament teaching is true, petition is in some sense an element of true prayer. If we ask what petition implies, what mental attitude it involves, it is this, is it not, that the petitioner asks because he is dependent on the one whom he petitions for what he asks, and because he expects to receive what he asks; and in this recognition of God as the one on whom we must depend for all good, and from whom we confidently expect to receive all good, the prayer of Christian Science never loses the element of petition.

True prayer, then, seeks not to change God, but to know God. True prayer thinks not of interfering with or interrupting the reign of law, but of conforming to law. Such prayer, demonstrating the power and presence of the infinite Love, proving God to be a "very present help in trouble," is not the expression of the thought that wishes or hopes to bring a divine intervention on the plane of our human condition, but that finds its way up to the plane of the divine condition. Such prayer, recognizing that the changeless conditions of the realm of spiritual reality are what they are because God is what He is, does not seek to induce divine Love to conform to us, but seeks to find how we may conform to divine Love. And such prayer gains its answer when it finds in God that which will satisfy every aspiration, fulfil every ideal, supply every need. In thus realizing the presence and power of Spirit, the human sense of matter and evil ceases to have even a seeming power to hold God's children in want, sickness, or sin.

 

Its Divine Principle

Prayer, then, is the way we find God. It points and leads to the acquainting of ourselves with Him, that we may be at peace, and thereby good shall come unto us. That which alone will bring this peace is such a knowledge of God as will at once answer the needs of the human heart and meet the demands of the highest reason. The whole purpose and purport of Christian Science is seen, when it is found that it does bring just this knowledge of God. Herein His loving, watchful care is so close and tender that not a sparrow falls to the ground without Him, and the very hairs of our head are numbered. Herein His wisdom and power are seen to be so full and vast that He hath "measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with a span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales." To indicate at once this nearness and greatness of our God, Christian Science calls Him divine Principle.

The need of this relatively new term applied to God is that human thought may be freed from certain limited and limiting conceptions which have gathered about our concept of God as a person. Once and for all, we must get away from any sense that God is a being who has some definite form and outline, and who inhabits some particular place. God's relation to His universe is not that of a creator who has constructed a marvelous mechanism, or organism, if you will, has set it running according to certain fixed laws, and now sits back watching it, and occasionally interposing to set things right. God's relation to His creation is recognized when we perceive that everything which really exists is a divine idea. In its original creation every item of it was and is an expression of God's thought; it exists today because it is directly sustained by and as His thought; and when the real nature of things is thus discerned, everything will be seen to be a direct manifestation of the presence and power and wisdom and love of God.

When we see how God's thought sustains and animates all things, many a passage of Scripture becomes luminous. Whenever the power of God is mentioned in the Bible, we know it is the power of divine thought, for "God is a Spirit," "without body, parts, or passions." When, for instance, the Scriptures speak of God's hand, they use a figure to convey the idea of the power which is God's thought. When we read, "He hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand," He hath measured these in His thought; so, "He holdeth the winds in his fist," in His thought. "In his hand" in His thought "is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind." It is God's thought that bringeth "forth Mazzaroth in his season," and doth "guide Arcturus with his sons." It is literally true that, in our real being, we are God's thoughts, and thus that "in him we live, and move, and have our being." This being true, we must live in what is essentially a Mind-universe or a thought-universe; a universe sustained by thought-power, dominated and directed by thought-law, animated by thought-life. In other words, Mind accounts for all and Mind controls all; but this Mind is divine and not human, and is manifested to us as Life, Truth, and Love. It is to indicate this close relationship in which God stands to all His creation, to use a term that will express our concept of Deity as free from all personal limitation, and as the creating, sustaining, controlling, and directing cause of all that is, that we call Him divine Principle; and in this we yet worship the God of our fathers.

Now all this becomes vital and practical as we see that man is God's likeness, and so reflects the intelligence and energies of the divine Mind. As mortals grasp this truth, they will see how to correlate themselves with these divine resources, and gain their demonstration. Those who understand this will see that the real man is inseparably linked to limitless Life, Truth, and Love, and so they will demonstrate that the Divine is the controlling element in every experience of life. Man is not the power; but as God's likeness, as God's child, he stands as the reflection of the power and love of God, and herein we see the truth of Jesus' words: "The kingdom of God is within you."

Perhaps this can all be focused in an illustration. If a ray of light is passed through a prism into a darkened room, and is thus thrown upon a white surface, a wall or a screen, we have the phenomenon of the solar spectrum; the clear white sunlight is broken up into its primary elements, violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. Now, as the sunlight is the basis of the colors on the screen, yea, of all color, so God is the Principle of His own universe. Just as the laws of color are what they are because light is what it is, so the spiritual laws that sustain the creation are what they are because God is what He is.

If the colors on the screen are dim or blurred or distorted or obscured, we do not blame the light nor think in anywise to change its character nor the mode of its working, we know that the fault is not in the light, but in the prism which admits the light. Thus understanding, our present understanding is the prism through which truth is received. If our experience holds that which is dark and discordant, our release can never be found by holding God responsible, nor by thinking to effect any change in Him or in His attitude toward us. Our part is rather to clear our own consciousness of all that prevents the inflowing of the divine light; and as human sense becomes rarefied and purified, so as to be a clear transparency for transmitting the divine light, the blurred lights and heavy shadows of earth will be replaced by the hues and tints, the beauties and glories of heaven.

 

Its Concept of Man

As we turn from the question, What is God? and seek the correlative truth, What is man? we find that, according to our human sense of things, man has two natures, a spiritual nature, made in God's likeness, and a material nature the very opposite; but no philosophy has ever been able to reconcile this flat contradiction. No one has ever shown how God could give us one nature like His own, and another the very opposite. More than this, if man has two distinct natures he is not an individual; and the sense of individuality, the very fundamental element, the starting-point, of consciousness, would be contradicted. The Scriptures alone solve the difficulty by utterly discrediting and eliminating the flesh. "The old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts," is to be put off, and we are to "put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness;" for, according to the Scriptures, it is only through the spiritual sense that we gain the real facts of being.

These two opposing natures, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, present two opposing phases of consciousness, one of which must be real and the other unreal; for these phases of our consciousness are two opposing witnesses, bearing testimony that is contradictory each of the other. If one be true, the other is obviously false. If material sense tells the truth, man is mortal; if we believe spiritual sense, he is immortal. Which shall we believe? According to the Scriptures, the physical senses tell us nothing of life, "for the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the spirit is life and peace" (Rev. Ver.). They tell us nothing of permanent, real substance. "For the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." They tell us nothing of real intelligence, of divine Mind, for "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him." If, then, they tell us nothing of either life, substance, or intelligence, what is their testimony worth? Is it not evident that we must look for man as created from Mind and not from matter? As man finds and knows himself to be spiritual and not material, he will be satisfied, for he will have awakened with God's likeness; he will find his unity with his divine Principle, and his heritage as God's child.

 

Its Authority in Christ Jesus

There is evidently only one person who has solved the human problem, and that is Jesus the Christ; and in his life and works we shall find the only illustration and demonstration of the way mortals must live to conform to Principle. It is obvious that Jesus' whole career is utterly unexplainable and incredible on a material basis. His whole career is a consistent annulment of what we have considered material law, a demonstration of the power of Mind. His words meant but little to the multitudes, and even to his own disciples, because they were trying to see their meaning on their own material plane of thought. Obviously, when he tells them that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood, they must get the spiritual vision, or else reject the saying and the sayer. To his disciples he gives the key of his whole philosophy when he says, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh [matter] profiteth nothing." Jesus will be understood, his works repeated, and his kingdom God's kingdom will come, just in proportion as his entirely spiritual philosophy is understood and applied. And with Jesus' life and teachings as precedent and premise, with those teachings confirmed by the demonstration of this present time, Christian Science is simply reiterating and enforcing the Scriptural teaching that God is the one original, immediate, and valid cause, and that this cause is infinite Spirit and infinite good. The whole teaching of Christian Science to its utmost detail is simply to show what is the nature of this one infinite cause, and how, through a spiritually scientific law of cause and effect, this infinite good is demonstrated as the one controlling power. Briefly, then, Christian Science insists that Christianity is Science; that the thought-power which it unfolds is the power of God, not of human will or suggestion; and that the creation itself is only God's thought expressed, and so in its real nature it is essentially and entirely spiritual and perfect. The converse of this is that matter and evil are not expressions of God's thought, have no place in His creation, hence have no power or reality except that bestowed by false human belief. To correct this material belief by spiritual understanding, and so to annul it and its effects in the forms of sin, sickness, and death, is the task set before Christian Scientists.

 

Righteousness

This system of thought is Christian because it fulfils all righteousness, conserving all the essentials of historic Christianity, and emphasizing its every ideal. It is scientific because it is a revelation of Principle which can be rationally conceived and practically demonstrated, according to a definite law. Let us look a little more specifically at Christian Science in its practical application, to see how these things are necessarily true.

We remember that the one ostensible aim of all religion is the establishment of righteousness. This is the recognized goal of Christianity; it was the burden of every ancient Prophet's message, and was the theme of Jesus' preaching. We ask, therefore, What is righteousness, and how is it attained?

Righteousness is simply rightness. The righteousness which Jesus demanded, which must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees ere one can see the kingdom of God, is something vastly more than a correct outward life. The "righteousness of God" can mean nothing less than the "rightness" of a right relation to God, man, and the universe. And such a righteousness can come only as we understand the law that governs man's relation to God and His creation. For righteousness is a conformance to real conditions of being. Unrighteousness is a failure to conform to real conditions.

To illustrate: There is an instance where a county line in New York State was wrongly projected in the early survey, because the surveyor made an error in getting his north and south line. Now a north and south line is a fixed condition, in terrestrial calculation a definitely real condition; that is, at any point on the earth's surface a north and south line is a straight line which, if far enough extended, would pass through the poles and would mark the shortest distance between them. No matter if every person on earth believed that some other line was the true north and south line at a given point, this would not make it so. The true line remains as a fixed condition. The early surveyor failed to meet this condition, and his work was therefore an unrighteous one. His mistake entailed a question of boundary and of territory which occasioned difficulty for years, and which was finally adjusted only by special legislation. The surveyor was unrighteous in his own calling, because he did not conform to the real conditions of his work. The surveyor whose work is right, first gets the true north and south line, and then, according to correct mathematical rules, computes his lines, angles, and distances, and so gains the righteousness of this realm of practical affairs.

The musician knows that music is governed by definite laws of melody, harmony, rhythm, and expression. By understanding these laws and conforming to their conditions, the musician gains the rightness of the realm of music. Now, underlying all human conditions and experiences, there are the fundamental spiritual laws of being, the real conditions that obtain in God's universe; and these conditions exist not as the fiat or decree of a personal God, but as the expression of an immanent divine Principle. The spiritual laws of being are what they are because they express the divine character just as the laws of color are what they are because light is what it is. They transcend and annul all the claims and modes of matter, and express the nature of God, Spirit, only. To conform to these laws, to understand and meet their conditions, is to fulfil the righteousness of the kingdom of God.

Righteousness, then, in any possible application of the word, is a conformance to Principle and rule that must be not only believed but understood; and the divine righteousness for which the world is waiting, for which God's saints are working, and of which Jesus taught, is gained through understanding the divine Principle of being and the law through which that Principle is expressed. This one perfect, all-inclusive Principle can only be infinite Spirit, God; and His law can manifest only the power of changeless Love. Whatever interprets Christianity aright will do these two things: it will so reveal the divine Principle that man will not only believe but understand, and so conform every detail of human life to God's requirements; and secondly in practically demonstrating divine Principle it will lead to the elimination of all evil, whether sin, sickness, or death. Whatever accomplishes these is Christianity; whatever fails in these fails to meet the demands of Christianity.

May we, then, as a premise, state this last thought again in different form? Righteousness demands these two things: (l) a Principle and rule that are not only believed but understood, in other words, a Science; and (2) the logical and inevitable application of this Science must ultimately eliminate all error, whether sin, sickness, or death. Any system or doctrine that does not rationally meet these conditions fails in stating the teachings of Christ; any doctrine that does meet these conditions is the doctrine of Christ. And this is what Christian Science does. Its consistent position throughout is that all power and reality belong to God; and, conversely, that matter and evil are powerless and unreal. No less radical position can show us any avenue of escape from the seeming power of the flesh and of sin, and an open way to the fulfilment of the demand that Jesus' followers be perfect, even as the Father which is in heaven is perfect.

The only scientific test of the correctness of this simple but radical doctrine is that of practical experience. Christian Science has won its way thus far, and has secured the allegiance of its army of followers, by its substantial evidence that the knowledge of God and of His law does prove the powerlessness and the nothingness of all the claims of matter and evil. On its ability continually and progressively to demonstrate this by healing sickness and destroying sin, it rests its hope and assurance of final and universal acceptance and adoption.

 

Sin and Salvation

An apprehension may arise as to a danger that this teaching of Christian Science may furnish a covert license for sin, under the plea that it is unreal. So far is this from being true, however, that no other doctrine is so searching and effectual and persistent in pursuing every vice and fault and imperfection until everything unlike the divine likeness is destroyed. A very little knowledge and experience in Christian Science shows that every indulgence of evil brings sure and speedy punishment; that the only way to escape from evil is to find its unreality, and the only way to make it an unreality to our own sense is to refuse to concede it any power either to give pleasure or to cause pain. To surrender voluntarily to temptation is willingly to yield ourselves to the mesmeric sense of the reality of evil, and so complicate our problem and increase the struggle in our effort to become free in Christ.

Not only does Christian Science awaken every motive that impels men to seek freedom in righteousness, but it arouses new hope in our present ability to achieve perfection. That which is to be overcome is no longer seen and felt as a dread, mysterious power, but only a false human sense which we can meet and destroy as a false belief. The adoption of Christian Science takes away from the Christian Scientist every vestige of excuse for yielding to the besetments of evil. There is no longer opportunity to say that "the woman . . . gave me of the tree, and I did eat;" or that "the serpent beguiled me, and I did eat," but only a frank acknowledgment of the folly, sin, and consequent disaster of following and believing an unreality.

Among the teachings of the Discoverer of Christian Science touching this point, we find these words: "A sinner can receive no encouragement from the fact that Science demonstrates the unreality of evil, for the sinner would make a reality of sin, would make that real which is unreal, and thus heap up 'wrath against the day of wrath.' He is joining in a conspiracy against himself, against his own awakening to the awful unreality by which he has been deceived. Only those who repent of sin and forsake the unreal, can fully understand the unreality of evil" (Science and Health, p. 339). In the Message to The Mother Church in 1901 (p. 21), she also says: "Do Christian Scientists believe that evil exists? We answer, Yes and No! Yes, inasmuch as we know that evil, as a false claim, false entity, and utter falsity, does exist in thought; and No, as something that enjoys, suffers, or is real. Our only departure from ecclesiasticism on this subject is, that our faith takes hold of the fact that evil cannot be made so real as to frighten us and so master us, or to make us love it and so hinder our way to holiness. We regard evil as a lie, an illusion, therefore as unreal as a mirage that misleads the traveler on his way home."

And so in Christian Science the ways of Christianity have not changed; the only safety or release comes by a sincere repentance that includes nothing short of the putting off of "the old man with his deeds," and the putting on of "the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." There is here given us an ideal whose imperative demand is that we "go on unto perfection," until we shall have proven that good is the only power; and that Love and Life are one.

 

Orthodoxy

There are four fundamental statements of Christian teaching which include and imply everything that makes up orthodox Christianity. They are: First, God, as the Being on whom we are entirely dependent, to whom we are morally responsible, and toward whom our highest aspiration tends; second, the Bible containing the revelation of God's word; third, Christ Jesus as the one mediator the Wayshower between God and man; and fourth, the necessity of a radical conversion, repentance, a turning away from all evil and a living of the Christ-life. Christian Science so includes and enforces these vital truths that every Christian Scientist finds them renewedly and increasingly emphasizing themselves in his thought and life. The teaching of these essential truths has been the means of regenerating and redeeming mankind so far as this has been accomplished in all Christian history. Christian Science is thus in direct line with all true Christian effort to redeem the world and bring forth the righteousness of God. It is reestablishing spiritual healing, an element of Christianity which had been well-nigh lost, by its scientific demonstration that it is the normal work of the Christ-life to heal us of sickness as well as sin.

Christian Science is at once most conservative and most radical. It is conservative in building entirely and exclusively on the ideal of life that is found in the character and teachings of Jesus. It is radical in showing how this ideal may become a present reality, and not remain a distant dream. It comes not to destroy but to fulfil. In the words of its Discoverer, "As the ages advance in spirituality, Christian Science will be seen to depart from the trend of other Christian denominations in no wise except by increase of spirituality" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 21). Christian Science comes not to deface a single altar nor to level a single shrine. Rather is it building again the altars that have been broken down, and forth from the inner temple of consciousness it is bringing again the book of the law that had been lost and forgotten.

 

The New-Old Revelation

Finally, Christian Science is not a new truth, but is only a new revelation, a further unfolding of the truth that was once revealed and had been partially lost. In the poem of "The Lost Chord" the author tells how, seated at the organ in an hour of discontent and of idle and aimless reverie, she

 

struck one chord of music

Like the sound of a great amen.

It flooded the crimson twilight,

Like the close of an angel's psalm,

And it lay on my fevered spirit

With a touch of infinite calm;

It quieted pain and sorrow

Like love overcoming strife;

It seemed the harmonious echo

From our discordant life.

It linked all perplexed meanings

Into one perfect peace;

Then trembled away in silence

As if it were loth to cease.

 

But the memory of the chord lingered as a joy, and yet as a regret; try as she would, its matchless harmony could not be recalled. Why? Because it had been heard and appreciated, though not understood. Its transcendent beauty had flooded the musical sensibility, but its composition was unknown.

So once the full chord of Life's harmony was struck by the Christ. Human consciousness caught the tones and reproduced them in lives whose power and beauty wrought as a "good-spell" in the world; but they were caught and handed down as the natural, untrained musician reproduces tones, they were not known in their Science, and thus something of the first power and beauty of the chord was lost; but its echoes had never died out of the world, and in an hour of mortal need one woman's nature, finely attuned to catch the tones of Spirit, heard anew the divine harmony, felt the presence of the Christ, and was healed. From that hour her whole life-purpose has been to give this harmony to the world in a way that it might be understood and never lost. With no other guide than the Bible and the teaching of the Comforter, this woman has wrought this work, and the world knows her today as Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. This Science she has given to the world in the book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures;" and to those who are looking for the coming of Christ and the consolation of Israel, is commended its earnest study, with entire confidence that all such will therein find, as multitudes have already found, the spiritual light and love which are the tokens of Immanuel, God with us.

 

[Published in pamphlet form by The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1908.]

 

 

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