Christian Science: Its Redemptive Mission

 

Bicknell Young, C.S.B., of Chicago, Illinois

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

A lecture on Christian Science was given under the auspices of First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Chicago, in the church edifice, 4017 Drexel Boulevard, Friday evening, February 4, by Bicknell Young, C.S.B., of Chicago, member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts.

The subject of the lecture was "Christian Science: Its Redemptive Mission." Mr. Young spoke substantially as follows:

 

There lately fell into my hands a newspaper clipping describing the discovery of a new disease. It was curious to note with what enthusiasm the writer perorated to the effect that this was the only disease that had been both discovered and fully elucidated in America. All of this seemed to him a great boon for the race, and his commendation for the discovery and praise of the discoverer knew no bounds save those of a restricted vocabulary.

About sixty years ago Mary Baker Eddy discovered Christian Science and coordinately discovered that there is no disease, either old or new. This astonishing event, strange as it may seem to you, had to do with facts, not theories. It was purely scientific and ethical, and its high purpose was not tainted by any personal ambition. Mrs. Eddy was not seeking fame but truth, and she found it in the mental realm where truth exists primarily and exclusively.

Always a Christian, she naturally accepted the universally admitted fact that God is infinite; but she perceived that the word infinite had been misinterpreted to include both eternal facts and temporal things. She saw that infinity could not include evil, for infinity means endless continuity, whereas evil means destruction. She was thus enabled to explain evil, a thing that had never been done, notwithstanding that all philosophers from the earliest times of intellectual activity to our own time had asked themselves, What is the origin of evil? Mrs. Eddy saw and announced that an infinite cause and evil in any form are polar opposites. She saw that they can never meet or unite or coalesce or be known to each other; and because she was compassionately aware of the crying need of humanity to be free from disease, she took the first great scientific step toward that most desirable end by announcing the unreality of disease.

This should not be misunderstood, and need not be, for Christian Science and its operation in humanity's behalf fulfill all the requirements of Science every step of the way and show that the most that can properly be said of disease or any other form of evil is that it appears to be a human reality, and that just because it appears to be a human reality it needs to be banished, that is, to be made unreal to human beings. This is exactly the right thing to do and is exactly what Christian Science does.

You may at first doubt such a result, and possibly think me audacious to stand here and announce such a discovery, but you will agree that if this discovery can justify itself by proof, then its beneficent influence must exceed that of all the other discoveries made since the beginning of the world. By way of unimpeachable evidence, thousands of Christian Scientists aver that they have seen disease disappear from the human body when the belief and fear of it were dispelled from the human mind through Christian Science.

You may ask, What difference does it make whether we call disease and other forms of evil real or unreal, seeing that evil, including disease, is the common lot of humanity? Suppose we bring the question home. Would it make no difference to you to discover the unreality of pain and suffering? Would it make no difference to you if instead of having to cope with a mysterious foe whose insidious attacks could not be foreseen, and whose ravages could not be prevented, you were to find out that the foe had no more original or real substance or power than that of universal fear and belief, and that all of its terrifying aspects sprang from these objectionable mental characteristics?

Just here, I am sure you will permit me to say that I do not come before you for the purpose of exciting in you a transitory interest in a strange theory or a mysterious plan. We have no such theory to present, no such plan to exploit. Our purpose is wholly benevolent, our Science strictly Christian. The object we have in view is to extend its immeasurable benefits to all mankind, and we solicit your interest only that you may understand it and put it to the test in your daily lives. We are persuaded through our own actual experience that this Science, properly understood, will satisfy your hope, exalt your purpose, heal your diseases and bring you happiness. Is there anything more to salvation?

Without study and investigation, without careful observation and comparison, the chemist or physicist can make no scientific advancement. We are accustomed to this fact and entirely reconciled to it. Prior to the discovery of Christian Science, however, the world at large, even the exceptionally intellectual part of it, was not aware that exactly the same rule applies to spiritual advancement. Mrs. Eddy's discovery that the works of Jesus were scientific and sequential, instead of being, as is generally supposed, mysterious and sporadic, came about in exactly the same way that other great discoveries are made, that is to say, through observation of ascertained or ascertainable facts, and the method of discovery entailed the same unswerving allegiance to facts that has characterized great scientific investigators from time immemorial.

Prevailing systems of science and religion have held and taught that facts are derived from the testimony of the material senses, and that this testimony is as real as existence itself, although much of it is inimical to the welfare and existence of man. You can see the tremendous gulf between such systems and Christian Science when I tell you that Christian Science teaches the exact opposite.

Material existence of itself indicates nothing of the immortality of man, and yet religion as generally understood, and the material systems of healing generally accepted, are at one in ascribing to material existence a divine origin. Taking this view, it is only another step, and, according to that false premise, a logical one, for them both to teach that the troubles of the human race must also have a divine origin. Then we find these systems engaged in the attempt to overcome afflictions and diseases which they regard as legitimate and inevitable phenomena in the universe. It is manifest that from this field of thought springs no flower of hope to justify the Psalmist's assurance, "I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness."

However strange the doctrine of Christian Science as to disease and sin may appear to the casual thinker or unthinking person, the fact is that no other doctrine offers a single indication of the way of deliverance. The belief in the reality of evil, the fruit of centuries of wrong beliefs about God, has been accepted without question. I say, without question, for while we admit that here and there a philosopher, or true disciple of Christianity, or a poet perceived the ideals of Christianity, and expressed the hope that they were more real than the contrary experiences to which all seemed to be subject, yet prior to the advent of Christian Science there was nothing definite in this direction; no discernment of Principle by which to judge righteous judgment, no rule by which righteous judgment could be made operative in behalf of sick, sinning, and dying men and women.

It has been commonly supposed that Jesus alone could exercise deific power, and that he alone had the right to do so. But he taught differently, and on the very day that Mrs. Eddy announced the Principle and rule of pure spiritual healing it became possible for everyday people like ourselves to achieve the natural right and privilege of healing the sick and saving sinners.

The very first case healed in Christian Science by Mrs. Eddy nearly sixty years ago proved this Science, proved the universality of it, and brought to pass what St. John declared in Revelation, that Christ "hath made us kings and priests unto God."

Mrs. Eddy's personal experience had convinced her of the futility of material methods. Utterly disappointed, as all must ultimately be, in the mixture of truth and error, spirit and matter, presented to the world in the name of both religion and science, she finally turned to the divine Mind exclusively. She read the Bible in a new light and perceived the deep scientific significance of its teachings. Thus she discovered the Science of Christ, Christian Science. She tested it by healing the sick and reforming the sinner, and finally gave it to the world in her book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures."

With singleness of purpose and heroic fortitude she established the Christian Science movement and became its Leader. Her wisdom and foresight in founding The Mother Church and the branch churches of Christ, Scientist, as well as the publications designed to interest and educate the public, are becoming familiar to well informed people throughout the world. No one can deny the deep devotion and unselfishness of her work. It remains for us to carry it on by following the teachings her writings contain.

Can there be any valid objection to this mission, to this Science with its encouraging promises fulfilled every step of the way? Can there be any valid objection to the proposition that there really is no disease, if that proposition can be understood and proved? Must traditional and erroneous views prevail over the advanced education which promises deliverance from evil?

The Biblical record of the advent and career of Christ Jesus shows that both were disappointing to the materialists of those times, who, through their misinterpretation of prophecy, believed that Christ would appear as a personal king to restore the ancient grandeur of the Jewish race. Everybody today who reads the New Testament with any degree of intelligence, everybody who accepts the Christianity of the gospel, can see such a thing was impossible, and if it had been possible and had occurred it would have meant nothing to you or to me or to any other person whose need is to be set free from sin or suffering. Just so in our time, the general religious and medical belief was that the most that the prayer of the gospel could do, and the only thing that it could safely be permitted to attempt, was to confer a blessing upon material methods or remedies. But the advanced Science, the Science of Christ, Christian Science, had to come, not in the particular way or ways that limited thought, struggling with its own difficulties, would have outlined, but as an expression of Principle, God. And so, born of God, born of good, Christian Science appears to mankind, announcing that the one God is good and infinite, and that because He is good and infinite, He is without any taint of evil and without the possibility of conceiving evil.

Perceiving these profound and indisputable facts, the only logical or possible course for Mrs. Eddy in regard to disease or sin or any other form of evil was to announce its unreality, not as a mere theory, but as a scientific proposition to be proved by those who accept God as infinite.

You need have no fear that this proper classification of evil will belittle your intellect or curtail your ability. Ascribing real power or real existence to evil is in itself an unintelligent act. Even systems of material philosophy define the first great Cause in terms of grandeur, immeasurability, continuity, constructiveness. If this divine Cause could take cognizance of sin, disease, and death in any form for one instant, its utterance would be after the manner of Jesus in the parable, "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

I am not pretending to present in a lecture on Christian Science the opinions concerning the gospel that have been accepted more or less without question and without reason by many men and women in our own time and in previous ages. No doubt many of them were good men and women, but the very fact that they came and went and attained so little of heaven in their journey shows that they misapprehended the sayings and demonstrations of Jesus the Christ. What were they waiting for? One and all they asserted their discipleship; one and all they longed for salvation, and some of them had experiences more or less emotional which they called "being saved," but none of them knew what was actually indicated by the words of Jesus, "The kingdom of God is within you."

What does this saying mean? It means Science, real Science. It means that everything that could make a man or woman or child happy, healthy, and ever-living is not a matter of time or place but already exists, and is as near or as far as understanding, or the lack of understanding may cause it to be. It means that health belongs to man from all eternity, and to every man, and to every kind of man, woman, or child. It means that the power to understand God and to live according to His law of health and happiness is an inalienable right and an irrevocable bestowal. It means that you and I and the rest of the human race who have been under beliefs contrary to this divine purpose and law have been deceived, fooled, if I may be permitted to use the word, robbed, deprived of our heritage, imprisoned; and it also means that there is a way of deliverance a practical, scientific, Christian way.

Can this way be understood and followed? If it cannot, then the career of Jesus was in vain and all our protestations of belief in him and our love for him as the Saviour of mankind are utterly vain. Unless his way can be followed, the gospel is of no avail to us. But the fact is that his way can be followed when understood in Christian Science, because it is a clear-cut way, a sane way, the only sane way. Earnest men and women had sought it, but prior to the advent of Christian Science it appeared to be a thorny way, full of pitfalls, and the steps of those who walked therein were clogged with the clay of materialism. That was evidently not the way but a mirage leading to no haven of rest or peace.

Jesus said to his disciples: "For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. "

Christian Science has given us eyes to see the real way and the understanding to walk in it, but I would not give the impression that this way and this understanding can come to you without any effort on your part. We can call your attention to the heritage. According to the Bible it is "incorruptible" and "fadeth not away," but if you desire it you must claim it. There is no realm in which you can do so other than the realm of thought or education, using the term in the highest sense.

In this behalf, nothing could be more helpful than Mrs. Eddy's wonderful statement "God is Mind" (Science and Health, p. 311). It not only implies and provides for everything in the way of healing and redemption, but it also requires appreciation, understanding, responsiveness. Understanding must be awakened in us individually. In this way the whole world will awake. Now while it is true that the world, like the man who is called in the early morning hours, does not enjoy being awakened, nevertheless, awakened it must be, and like that same man, the discomfort of the first conscious moments is soon replaced by the satisfaction of a clearer sense of life.

The thinking that resembles God and thinking is the only thing about a human being that ever does resemble God is the way, and the only way of deliverance. It was the way that Jesus recommended; it was his way, but his philosophy was not that of mere endurance. It had none of the taint of stoicism. It was demonstrable Science.

He was cognizant of the material world, just as we are, but his impression of it was instinctively and scientifically different from that of other people. He knew that the Christ was not a person, but was and is Truth itself, the actual nature of God and the real man.

This divine Christ cannot be found in the realm of matter. The beneficent power and influence of the Christ cannot be invoked through material means. You and I at this moment are thinking about the healing power of God, which available power apprehended is properly named Christ, Truth. To think about it is a wonderful step for us to take, but it is not the final step. In a certain sense there is no final step. You cannot measure thoughts. They are not restricted by time or distance. We can think over hill and dale and lakes and mountains and forests and cities and countries and oceans, and even out to the stars. What a wonderful word Mind is!

Do you doubt the power of this divine presence? Do you think this power insufficient to heal your diseases, assuage your sorrows, comfort your hearts, remove your fears, and give you the kingdom of heaven within and without? The supreme naturalness of all this must appeal to every earnest person. Its efficacy is certain, and every one may test it for himself. Entertaining these ideas with absolute sincerity, you will find that they banish evil thinking and wrongdoing. They will even enable you to love your enemies, a thing which Jesus commanded and which seems to have been ignored by the Christian world.

In the endeavor to obey this command, you will recognize that enmity in yourself is all there is to an enemy, but you will also see that when enmity is entertained it is practically hell within. Is it not evident that here is the very root of war? Peace societies, leagues, courts, the importunities of other nations, condemnation of us and of our government if we fail to join, all of these are of little moment as remedies for war, and full of pitfalls for those who would establish peace on any such foundations. But there is a way to abolish war. It lies within the frontiers of your own thinking. It may be briefly described in the one immortal, eternal, immeasurable word, Love. You may believe it an impossible task to induce mankind to substitute love for suspicion and hate, and we admit that the whole world may not change in this respect overnight. But it can be done individually, and is being done now. I can truthfully say that nothing could tempt me to hate any one. There are thousands of people in the world today walking this path of peace for individuals and nations. They are rapidly increasing in numbers. They are learning Science. They are overcoming fear and suspicion and they are actively conscious of loving their neighbor, every neighbor. Herein shall all "beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks," and learn war no more.

The necessity for right thinking is now quite generally conceded, but who, lacking a knowledge of Christian Science, shall say what right thinking is? The average person told that he could gain his desires or satisfy his ambitions by right thinking, would most certainly conclude that right thinking, so far as he was concerned, would be to suit his personal desires. Christian Science alone brings to light divine Principle and shows that no thinking is right except that which recognizes that the design and purpose of the one divine and infinite Mind is good, and is equally good for all creatures. None are selected or picked out to be particularly favored, but all are blessed. It is ever true that "God is no respecter of persons," but God is a respecter of thinking, or to speak more accurately, thinking approximates the divine Mind, God, when ideas which express the power and law of good, God, are entertained and maintained. If such thinking becomes habitual it constitutes the means by which man's unity with God is proved, and in this light the belief in disease disappears. When this occurs the human body manifests health.

If there were time at our disposal it could be shown that disease and other human afflictions and mistakes do not originate in the material body. They seem to go on in the human body only when the human body is animate or is in that condition which is called life or living. A sense of life on the part of the human being may be accompanied by a sense of suffering in the body, but let that sense of life depart and there is no suffering at all attached to the body. This shows unquestionably that it is not the material body that suffers or that of itself is capable of suffering.

The conclusion that one derives from such incontestable facts is that all suffering and all disease, as well as every other form of evil of which we are cognizant, are perpetuated by the fear and belief which constitute such a large proportion of what is called the human mind. Mrs. Eddy in bringing to light the unreality of evil showed that the only source, substance, evidence, or law that evil seems to have is derived from human opinion and belief. This being the case, we ought to be able to see how important it is for us, who are thinking human beings, to learn to think according to Truth, according to Principle, according to Mind, according to God, rather than according to mere human opinion or habit.

So long as systems of education claiming to be scientific, religious, and ethical persistently teach the reality of sin and disease, and people accept such teaching, just so long sin and disease are perpetuated. Isn't it time that mankind should exercise more intelligence in regard to such things?

The superstitious views incidental to material systems of healing were illustrated in a New York dispatch to a Chicago paper to the effect that an institution for the insane had lately adopted a new treatment. The patients were artificially inoculated with malaria and when they had thoroughly developed the latter disease were healed of insanity, according to the story, and then had to be treated for malaria.

It reminds one of the old-fashioned doctor of whom many of us have heard who was asked to take a certain case and refused on the ground that he knew nothing of that disease, but he would take the case if they could get the patient into fits, because he knew how to cure fits.

It is strange that intelligent people should associate the word science with such experiments. The Science by which true health is come to mankind shows that the priceless gift of thought should be applied solely to worthy and noble purposes.

We are often accused of inconsistency. It is said that we deny the existence of matter and then begin at once to put on more flesh, or better clothes, or both, or acquire a house, or an automobile, or both. In short, that we get more matter while saying that there is none. This may seem inconsistent, but the fact is we are not seeking matter nor getting it primarily. We are gaining the appreciable evidence of the power and availableness of Love to help us right where we need help. Jesus gave the rule. He said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." If we think of the "things" instead of seeking and knowing the kingdom, we thereby thwart the action of the rule and prevent the things from being added unto us.

As for our rejection of the theory of matter, anything that Mrs. Eddy has written upon this point is no more radical than the saying of Jesus, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing."

To recognize Mind, God, as unchanging good, and then to permit that thought to have exclusive possession of our mentality, and to reject every appearance or suggestion that is unlike good, is the prayer that heals the sick. This prayer becomes more effectual in the proportion that thought more and more accurately resembles the divine Mind, and here especially is the Bible proved to be the Book of books. The Bible, however, is not a magical compilation that works by itself in behalf of mankind. It is good and beneficial and salutary and redemptive in its teaching when the teaching is properly understood and put into practice, but in the Bible there are many pages devoted to evil, long accounts of wars, details of sin and vice, in some instances, of the most revolting nature. Does any sensible human being believe that God wrote those things in a book, or that He directly or indirectly inspired them? The Bible taken as a whole and read intelligently shows how the power of good can overpower all evil in human lives and in human consciousness, and thus it provides for the inevitable destruction of sin, sickness, and death and the enthronement of righteousness, health, and life.

In the Christian Science textbook Mrs. Eddy shows that the Bible begins with the spiritual record of creation and afterwards gives a material account of creation. These accounts are distinct, and entirely unlike. The first or spiritual record is found in the first chapter of Genesis and in the first five verses of the second chapter. In this record no mortality is ascribed to man who is declared to be the image and likeness of God. Not until "there went up a mist from the earth," as described in the second chapter of Genesis, did any other conception of man occur. And then what happened? "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life."

To read the Bible intelligently one must recognize that different writers in ancient times wrote according to their ability or understanding, just as writers do now. Those who were spiritually endowed wrote accordingly, and correctly ascribed only good to God. Those who were materially minded ascribed evil and materiality to God. Thus occurred the story of Adam and Eve. It is not an explanation of the first record of creation but stands in opposition to it in every respect. It is an allegory. If taken otherwise this story that man was made from dust is the oldest hypothesis of evolution, for it is perfectly clear that the dust of the ground cannot think, and if Adam finally got to the place where he could think and talk and it is written that he even talked with God a tremendous evolution from the "dust of the ground" took place. Consequently, the evolutionists are hardly in a position to condemn those who say they believe in this Biblical account of creation, seeing that it is in accordance with their own theories and has the advantage of priority.

As a matter of fact, neither the hypothesis of evolution nor the allegory of Adam and Eve can be proved. Neither one, if proved, would benefit the human race. Those religionists who believe that man was formed of the dust of the earth cannot heal a single case of disease through any such belief, and those who believe in evolution as commonly taught are equally impotent in that respect. Whereas, those who in the light of Christian Science recognize that there can be but one Creator, one cause, one infinity, and see as a consequence that man in this likeness cannot possibly be subject to sin, disease, or death, can through this understanding, as made clear in the teachings of Christian Science, heal incurable diseases and have done so in thousands of instances, and can save sinners from incorrigible sin and vice and have done so in thousands of instances, and can save, and have saved those who were dying and restored them to health and life.

I am not unmindful that great men and women have believed and still believe in evolution, just as some of the most sincere have believed in the Adamic story, though with less reason. I am not setting up one human opinion against another when I point that both were and are mistaken. They failed to grasp the primal fact that infinity is Mind, Principle, Intelligence, and that otherwise there is no infinity.

Matter is non-intelligent. It cannot evolve intelligence, for there is nothing in or of matter out of which intelligence could be made or produced. All stories and theories as to the material origin of man fall to the ground in the face of the unanswerable fact that no stream can rise higher than its source. This fact is as true in religion as it is in science, as true in metaphysics as it is in physics, and it is as true in biology as in any of these. For this unanswerable reason, the theory that man, an intelligent being, is derived from anything lower than intelligence, is preposterous, and there is no other word to characterize it adequately.

Beside this, the whole evolutionary theory is predicated upon the survival of the fittest, and as a matter of actual human experience, the fittest do not survive. Materially considered, the fittest are exactly like the unfit in this respect.

Turning away from such controversies, setting aside what the poet calls

 

Wretched interchange of wrong for wrong.

Midst a contentious world where none are strong,"

 

let us see what Christian Science has to say concerning man and creation.

Christian Science declares that God is Mind, Spirit, Soul, Life, Truth, Love, Principle. These synonyms are most instructive also in regard to man whom the spiritual record in the Bible designates as the image and likeness of God. Man must therefore be the exact image of Mind, Spirit, Soul, Life, Truth, Love, Principle. We need only to look within in order to determine just how far we express this true image.

The Bible reveals this immortal man. Though the forms of speech are more or less strange to occidental ears and the metaphor and hyperbole of expression sometimes threaten to cloud the meaning, still through all, there shines the pure scientific Truth, revealed from time to time in ages long past to those whose thought was concerned with the permanent facts of being rather than with the ephemeral appearances of the passing day.

We say to you that this Truth is all on your side. We affirm, and you can prove, if you will, that it has power, that it is the one real power in the universe, and that it is available to you. We say to you that the natural thing is to be well and happy through spiritual understanding, and the next natural thing is to recover your health and your happiness by

the same power, in case you may have been deprived of either one or both. We are not ignoring the human need, neither are we taught to be pitiless or unkind, on the contrary, our Science is pure Christianity, and the omnipotence of divine Principle is available in that compassion which is the very image of the Christ.

Floating along with the tide of human opinions, accepting the beliefs and appearances that seem to constitute human existence, gauging your education and limiting your thought in such ways, you will not find deliverance.

We ask your interest for something better and nobler. We present the Science by which the real man, who is like the real and only God, is revealed to sick, sinning, human men and women, the Science by which they can gain now some measure of this likeness in thought and conduct, and by which they cannot lose anything except sin and sickness and their fear of death, and ultimately death itself. We ask your consideration of the real man, even your divine selfhood, brought to light in Christian Science, showing forth the infinity of good and expressing the boundless satisfaction of harmonious being.

"Now are we the sons of God," says St. John, and Mrs. Eddy, in terms unapproached by any other writer, defines the real man in these words, "In Science man is the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute his ancestry" (Science and Health, p. 63). We present the Science whereby we can prove ourselves worthy of such ancestry.

Thus as human difficulties and dangers are properly classified and met in Science there comes the cheering message of the divine Christ, "Look up, and lift your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." You will exchange belief for truth. The question as to whether you are going to be fortunate or unfortunate, blest or condemned, happy or miserable, healthy or unhealthy, will begin to vanish from your life. The proverbial uncertainty of existence, coupled as it always is with fear, will no longer color your thinking or add a note of doubt to the ascending harmony of your awakened sense of true being. Omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, will be more than mere words, and even more than religious ideals. You will find that they awaken living ideas and bring you a better and more permanent sense of Life.

Learning that the very nature of infinity is presence, omnipresence, and that consequently only ignorance of God, good, makes Him seem absent, you will place new value upon your growing understanding of Christian Science and be every day more thankful for the revelation and for the Revelator.

 

[Delivered Feb. 4, 1927, at First Church of Christ, Scientist, 4017 Drexel Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, and taken from a Chicago newspaper clipping.]

 

 

HOME PAGE INDEX OF LECTURES