Christian Science: Some Questions Answered
Will B. Davis, 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
I had the privilege a few years ago of teaching a class of about fifteen young men and women in a Christian Science Sunday School. These young people, all under the age of twenty, were college students and were at home for one of the holiday seasons. Christian Scientists study our Bible Lesson-Sermon each day, which consists of selections from the Bible and correlative, explanatory passages from the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. This Lesson-Sermon is read in all of our churches the following Sunday and is also used as the basis of teaching in all of our Sunday Schools.
In this particular class we found it most interesting to discuss the ordinary everyday problems which confront young people and others, and to find satisfactory answers to various questions right in the lesson for that week. Most of those in the class were students of Christian Science and had been attending our Sunday School for years, but one Sunday one of the girls brought a visitor who knew nothing of the teachings of Christian Science, as she had never read the textbook, attended a Christian Science church service, or even discussed the subject with anyone. Our attention was focused on making the answers to the questions which presented themselves in connection with that particular Lesson-Sermon understandable to our visiting friend. We all agreed that having this newcomer with us that Sunday morning added greatly to the good all of us received in the class.
It seems to me that we have a somewhat similar situation here. I know we have many students of Christian Science in this audience, but I hope we have also many new students and some who have never before investigated the subject.
I shall endeavor to explain some of the teachings of Christian Science fully enough to interest the beginners, but I am sure all of us will benefit by the discussion of these fundamental points.
Some of the questions which are asked by those who have not studied the subject are along these lines: Is it possible to be healed through Christian Science and continue to depend on material remedies at the same time?
Is prayer the basis of healing in Christian Science, and if so, how do you pray?
How about business problems — are we justified in expecting that Christian Science will help us conduct our business affairs successfully and harmoniously?
What does Christian Science teach about God?
Why do Christian Scientists refer so often to Mrs. Eddy and announce that she is the author of Science and Health?
Why does Christian Science teach that man is spiritual and perfect when it seems very evident that man is material and imperfect?
It has been said that Christian Scientists do not believe in the divinity of Christ. Is this true?
Will Christian Science help in solving difficult personal relationship problems at home, in business, in church, in school, or for the nations, even when there has developed a sense of hatred, bitterness, and resentment that seems entirely justified?
In this short lecture it may not be practical to take up all of these questions and others which may come to many of you, but I hope the discussion will be complete enough to awaken a desire to turn to the Bible and to Science and Health for further elucidation and explanation. And may I say right here that as you continue to study this invaluable textbook, you will be forcibly impressed with its completeness. There is an adequate answer in this book to any question that may be asked about the teachings of Christian Science.
Understanding God — First Step
It will be well to consider first the Christian Science concept of God, because it is from the basis of an understanding of God that all other questions must be answered.
We all agree, I am sure, that God is everywhere. To be available to all, God could not be corporeal or physical, and so it is logical to accept the Bible definition of God as Spirit. To fill all space, to be everywhere, God would have to be Spirit and could not be material or have a bodily form.
In the first chapter of Genesis we are told that His creation is wholly good; therefore, God, the creator, must be wholly good. God is supreme intelligence or Mind. As there is only one God, it follows that God must be the only creator — that is, both Father and Mother. In the Glossary of Science and Health, we find "Father" defined thus (p. 586): "Eternal Life; the one Mind; the divine Principle, commonly called God." And we find this definition of "Mother" (p. 592): "God; divine and eternal Principle; Life, Truth, and Love."
In Christian Science we think of God as the only source of law, the only creative cause. And so we find that in both of these definitions the word "Principle" is used to define God. Divine Principle, the origin or source, the Father and Mother of all that is real, expresses not variable but eternal and unchanging law. Could there be any mistakes in a creation which emanates from an eternally good, all-creative Principle? Certainly not, for Principle is also Truth, and Truth, because it is unerring Principle, is God.
God being eternal Mind or consciousness, without beginning or ending, is therefore Life, manifested in continuous right activity. When John, the beloved disciple, defined God as Love, he gave us a term for God which declares the unlimited nature of God's goodness. In Christian Science we learn that divine Love is the infinite creator, and because Love is Life, God, there never could be an end to the good divine Love constantly imparts.
Explains Healing Method
From a basis of an ever-growing understanding of God's ever-present omnipotence and infinite love, we learn to heal through Christian Science. We learn to heal as we realize that the spiritual man of God's creating must, as such, be as perfect as his creator.
Let us consider together the first sentence in Mrs. Eddy's definition of man, to be found on page 475 of our textbook: "Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements." How completely this statement denies all the evidence of the material senses! No thinking person could read such a revolutionary declaration without wishing to learn on what authority it could be made. The next sentence in the definition gives the answer: "The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God." Mrs. Eddy is referring to the first chapter of Genesis: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. . . . And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." Spiritual man, the only real man, the exact likeness of infinite Spirit, must express the goodness, the perfection, of his creative Principle or Father.
And now let me begin again to read the first few sentences from Mrs. Eddy's answer to the question, "What is man?" "Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements. The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter is not that likeness. The likeness of Spirit cannot be so unlike Spirit. Man is spiritual and perfect; and because he is spiritual and perfect, he must be so understood in Christian Science. Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique" (Science and Health, p. 475).
But what of this mortal body which we have been accustomed to think of as man? Mrs. Eddy calls this material sense of things the Adam-dream, and she bases this vitally important conclusion on the second account of creation in Genesis, which begins: "But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground" An entirely different concept of man, isn't it? Twice each year we have a Bible Lesson-Sermon entitled, "Adam and Fallen Man," which exposes the false material view of man and brings to light the real, spiritual, perfect man of Spirit's creating. It is in the proportion that we are able to comprehend man's true spiritual selfhood that we heal through Christian Science.
In two instructive and clear sentences much loved and often used by Christian Scientists, Mrs. Eddy tells us just how Jesus healed: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick" (Science and Health, pp. 476, 477) Humbly and reverently are we as Christian Scientists striving to learn to heal as Jesus healed. We are seeking daily to gain a fuller, more comprehensive understanding of God in order that we may learn to view man as he is.
The Christ Expressed by Jesus
We think of the human Jesus as the most inspired, capable, compassionate, thoughtful man who ever came to this earthly sphere. His disciples understandably and rightly loved him as their friend and instructor. Jesus, however, consistently sought to turn their thought to God as the fountainhead, the one all-creative intelligence, which he was commissioned to make known to them. It is evident that his followers continued to look to him for enlightenment, inspiration, and healing, for finally he had to say to them, "It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you" (John 16:7). He virtually said to them that it was necessary for him, the human Jesus, to leave them so that they might learn to find the impersonal Christ which Jesus so fully presented. The Spirit of truth, the Comforter promised by the Master, has come to the world in the discovery of Christian Science.
Jesus had explained earlier to his disciples that it was not a human person who was coming to comfort them, but the "Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive" (John 14:17). The unspiritual, worldly state of thought is not ready to accept the "Spirit of truth," the eternal Christ. Jesus taught that the Christ, which he lived and demonstrated, was his eternal spiritual selfhood. His declaration, "Before Abraham was, I am," must have meant that the Christ, which always existed, was manifested before the advent of Abraham. The ancient prophets brought about healings through expressing the Christ, and so did Jesus. When he said to his disciples, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you" (John 14:18), they knew that he was not prophesying the reappearance of a human man, but the coming of the Christ, the "Spirit of truth." Through an understanding of the Christ, Truth, we comprehend our true identity. It becomes evident, as we closely study that part of the book of John which contains these promises, that the Comforter is immediately available to those who learn how to differentiate between the human Jesus, the corporeal man, and the Christ, the spirituality which Jesus exemplified. As Mrs. Eddy expresses it on page 25 of Science and Health, "The divinity of the Christ was made manifest in the humanity of Jesus."
In talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus referred to God as Spirit. Therefore, man, the image and likeness of Spirit, is a spiritual being inseparable from God This understanding of the at-one-ment of God and man is the Christ-consciousness, which brings health and harmony into our human experience. Let me illustrate by telling you about a friend of mine who is an earnest student of Christian Science. She was troubled by a sharp internal pain which was becoming almost unbearable. When she did not meet the condition and found that she was obliged to spend quite some time in bed, she asked a Christian Science practitioner for treatment. Still the trouble persisted, and one day, in a state of discouragement, she called the practitioner to say that she did not see how she could carry on much longer. The practitioner declared, "God is your Life, and He is doing the living of it." The at-one-ment of God and man came clearly to my friend. She realized in a degree what Christ Jesus meant when he said, "I and my Father are one." She began to see that there are not actually two lives, the human and the divine. The Life of man is God. There is no blemish, no imperfection in Life. Instead of struggling to attain at-one-ment with God, she now knew that this had never been lost. Such an awakening is the coming of the Christ. She left the telephone completely free, and the healing has been permanent.
Tells of the Discovery
It now seems very strange to me that I once objected to hearing Christian Scientists express wholehearted and loving appreciation for Mrs. Eddy's life and work. When one realizes the reason for this gratitude and has himself benefited by the unselfed love of our Leader and her tireless effort in founding and establishing the Cause of Christian Science, it seems fitting indeed that we should openly acknowledge to others the deep gratitude we feel for her fulfillment of her glorious mission.
So often the beginner wonders how the discovery of Christian Science came about. Most of us have had times in our human experience when we have reached out to God in some extreme emergency. In 1866 Mrs. Eddy met with a severe accident, and her condition was pronounced hopeless; but this experience proved to be a timely opportunity rather than a fatal disaster. On a Sunday morning, when it seemed that the end was near, she asked for her Bible and requested that she be left alone. She was led to consider prayerfully one of the healings of Jesus; and as she did so, she was instantaneously restored to health. She knew that her spiritual, prayerful contemplation of the healing work of our Master had brought the victory. Someone may be thinking, But have not others had similar healings through prayer alone, and without using material means? Yes, but Mrs Eddy was not content to merely accept the healing. She knew there must be a scientific explanation for her healing. The complete revelation unfolded gradually. Having found the rule, she named her discovery Christian Science, and in 1875 she published the first edition of the Christian Science textbook. She was obedient to the divine demand to share her new-found blessings with all mankind.
Many have been healed of disease, of lack, and of other discords when they have approached the question of how to pray aright through the study of the first chapter of Science and Health, entitled "Prayer."
We learn that true prayer is a state of uplifted spiritual thought, leading to spiritual understanding, and not just a request for more material benefits. As we gain, through true knowing, a consciousness of God's ever-present omnipotence, we are praying. When we realize that divine Love is constantly imparting unlimited, inexhaustible good to His spiritual creation, we cannot logically ask for more.
We are praying when we understand that the complete creation of Spirit must be spiritual; that spiritual man, the image and likeness of infinite Spirit, must be as complete and perfect as his Maker. We see the folly of asking to be supplied by depriving others when we learn that God's goodness is much more abundant than the air we breathe and that it is not necessary to impoverish others in order to have all we shall ever need. The purest prayer beholds all of God's children as completely supplied and perfect and well.
Radical Reliance on God Essential
Having learned to pray by acknowledging God, divine Principle, as the only source of power, the only cause, it becomes evident that it is not possible to be healed through Christian Science while depending on material remedies. Mrs. Eddy tells us that "if we trust matter, we distrust Spirit" (Science and Health, p. 234); and she declares on page 445 of Science and Health, "You render the divine law of healing obscure and void, when you weigh the human in the scale with the divine, or limit in any direction of thought the omnipresence and omnipotence of God."
It requires radical reliance on God alone for success in healing. The Christian Science practitioner learns this through experience, for he finds he does not succeed with the patient who openly or secretly attempts to utilize drugs or manipulation and have Christian Science treatment at the same time. And so the practitioner who refuses to help a patient who is using material remedies, or is under the care of a medical physician, is not being narrow or unsympathetic. He is only being honest. He has proved the truth of Mrs. Eddy's statement on page 182 of Science and Health: "It is impossible to work from two standpoints. If we attempt it, we shall presently 'hold to the one, and despise the other.'"
In the fifth chapter of Mark there is an account of the healing of a woman who had been suffering for twelve years from a chronic difficulty. She had spent all she had in seeking healing through material means, but "was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse." It relates that "when she had heard of Jesus," she "came in the press behind, and touched his garment." Immediately she knew that she had been healed, and it is recorded that Jesus said unto her, "Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague." Jesus maintained so steadily the conviction that no evil could possibly exist in God's plan that when inharmony came to him in the guise of this woman's plight, he did not accept it as true; that is, he did not take it in and then have to put it out of his consciousness. The woman in question was healed instantaneously because Jesus refused to accept as a reality the inharmonious beliefs of mortal mind which had seemed so real to her.
As we carefully study the Scriptural record of Jesus' magnificent career we cannot help noting that he always considered the attitude of the patient. In the instance we are considering, it is evident that the woman had implicit confidence that she would be restored to health through this man of God, who was doing such extraordinary work. Something more than hope impelled her that day as she pressed through the throng toward Jesus. Probably she had experimented all she cared to, and quite evidently she was not thinking that, in case of failure, some other method might be tried. What we call her faith was a deep-rooted confidence in the Master's ability to heal. We too need to have an unshakable confidence, a conviction, that the law of God, the divine plan, is unfailing and ever in effect.
The vital point, then, is to understand God so completely that doubts and fears give place to calmness and assurance. It is not enough to say to one who is terror-stricken, "You must not be afraid." It is necessary rather to realize the ever-presence of God's power so fully that the reason for fear is removed. It may seem to the new student of Christian Science that we simply ignore sickness and inharmony, because the beginner does not understand the prayerful reasoning through which we evaluate human experience and remove discords.
The Christian Scientist begins with God as the only creative cause or power, the one true Mind, and reasons from that perfect cause to perfect effect, the real spiritual man, the likeness of Spirit or Mind. Our experience has proved that this correct understanding of the relationship of God and man cures bodily conditions of every type.
We are witnessing through the teachings of Christian Science the same sort of spiritual healing which was performed by Jesus. Many turn to this Science after their cases have been pronounced hopeless, or after years of unavailing effort to secure relief through other means, and still the percentage of cases healed through Christian Science treatment is very high indeed. Even though some may hesitate to place their trust unreservedly in God, let us rejoice in the fact which Christian Science is proving daily, that there is no such thing as incurability — "with God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:26).
Points to Fruitage as Proof
Those who have not had the priceless privilege of being awakened or healed through the teachings of Christian Science, and who may question whether Christian Science is the Comforter promised by our Master, may be given the same answer which Jesus himself used when two messengers came from John the Baptist to inquire, "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" We read in Matthew (11:4, 5), "Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them."
Mrs. Eddy expected Christian Science to be judged by its fruits; that is, on the basis of the healing, regeneration, awakening, and comfort it is bringing to humanity. The final chapter in Science and Health is entitled "Fruitage" and consists of one hundred pages of authenticated testimonies from those who were healed just through reading this textbook.
There is great encouragement for the beginner in all of these testimonies, for they prove that immediate help is available when one begins to read Science and Health and long before a complete understanding of Christian Science has been gained.
It is the continued fruitage from Mrs. Eddy's discovery that has resulted in the unprecedented growth of Christian Science. A total of thousands of testimonies of healing are given every Wednesday in our churches throughout the world. In addition, authenticated testimonies of healing appear each week in the Christian Science Sentinel and each month in The Christian Science Journal and The Herald of Christian Science.
Since the advent of Christian Science, others have endeavored to find an easier means of mental healing than the radical reliance on God alone which was revealed to Mrs. Eddy as the method Jesus used. A way had to be found to preserve for posterity the purity of the revelation. Announcing the name of its author whenever Science and Health is read in our churches is a practice which prevents any confusion and serves as a protection for those who might listen to the argument that some other method is just like Christian Science.
An Impressive Healing
Let me tell you about the experience of a very good friend of mine who will always be grateful that Mrs. Eddy left for us the final revelation of God's law of healing, because it brought him complete awakening and freedom after all other means had failed.
This friend had gone through years of suffering. Many physicians had done their best to help him overcome sinus infection and other complications. They had tried medication and operations; but finally he lost his eyesight completely, and the medical verdict was that he would be blind permanently, as the optic nerve had been destroyed.
Eventually arrangements were made for him to spend the rest of his earthly days in a home for the blind. At this point someone invited him to a Sunday service in a Christian Science church in Chicago. At the close of every Sunday service in our churches the First Reader reads "the scientific statement of being" from page 468 of Science and Health. Although he had never heard this statement before, he was able to repeat it to himself after the service, and he continued to reason with it. Within three weeks his sight began to return gradually; he could distinguish between light and darkness. He had the help of a Christian Science practitioner and gained a complete healing. By the end of two years he had even discarded glasses. He served in the United States Army and became a Christian Science Wartime Worker. When he returned to civilian life, he was unusually successful in business and has found many opportunities to help others through the teachings of Christian Science.
Do you suppose anyone could convince this young man that Christian Science does not heal? In giving me his permission to tell you this experience, he wrote, "I appreciate your remarks about including my experience in your lecture and assure you that it has my full approval, realizing that in giving this message to your listeners, they too will understand, through your explanation, that the real healing was an awakening and a dismissal of the false mortal mind thoughts which had tried to bind me."
That which seems to be a physical inharmonious bodily condition in reality is not physical. Mrs. Eddy makes a statement along this line on page 208 of Science and Health: "A material body only expresses a material and mortal mind. A mortal man possesses this body, and he makes it harmonious or discordant according to the images of thought impressed upon it. You embrace your body in your thought, and you should delineate upon it thoughts of health, not of sickness." Then on the next page we read: "It is the mortal belief which makes the body discordant and diseased in proportion as ignorance, fear, or human will governs mortals." When Mrs. Eddy first set forth these thoughts, they were considered startling, and they were ridiculed by almost everyone who heard them, but today they are readily accepted in part at least even by many successful medical practitioners.
An Invaluable Aid in Business
One of the impressive features of Mrs. Eddy's demonstration was the overcoming of lack or limitation in her own experience. This triumph was inevitable. As we grow in spiritual understanding, God's abundance unfolds in our experience. It is no more scientific to tolerate lack when it comes in the guise of insufficiency of daily supplies than when it is expressed as bodily sickness.
Students of Christian Science soon learn that the truths in the Bible and Mrs. Eddy's writings, which they may have thought at first were applicable only to the cure of physical disease, are just as available in solving all other human problems. For example: it is easily discernible that a business must exist in thought before it becomes visibly manifest. How logical it is, then, to expect that successful business activities should stem from enlightened, alert, and God-inspired thinking.
Business conditions seem to react to discordant thinking and become sick just as does the mortal body. You will recall the statement on page 208 of Science and Health brings out the point that a material body is only the expression of mortal mind and that this body becomes harmonious or discordant according to the images of thought impressed upon it. Is it not obvious that these declarations are just as applicable to a material business situation? Godlike, enlightened, courageous thinking is needed for bodily and business health.
The daily lives of business men and women who are Christian Scientists should never become so involved in the routine of business days that there is little time available for spiritual regeneration and refreshment.
While we may sometimes seem to have little time available, my own personal experience and my observation of other Christian Scientists in the business world have convinced me that no one engaged in business can afford to be so occupied with worldly, material affairs that he neglects consistent and regular study of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook.
We can all make an analysis of an average day and insist on so arranging our time that there is made available regular opportunity for the contemplation of the spiritual and real, as opposed to the material and unreal. No matter what your vocation, you can find many, many moments in your day which could be employed to better advantage. First things should be given first consideration.
I can almost hear someone saying, "He doesn't know how busy I am." Another may say, "That might be a good plan for some kinds of business, but it wouldn't work in my situation." Another may be thinking, "If he had all the things to do that come my way every day, he would realize that there are some folks who simply do not have the time to study the Christian Science Lesson-Sermon, Mrs. Eddy's writings, and our periodicals."
But, my friends, the reason I am so positive that everyone can find a way to reach out very often for spiritual ideas in order to satisfy his need for spiritual food is that I did it myself in a very busy business. I learned to study Christian Science en route.
Explains Masquerade of Evil
And now for a word about the necessity of learning to impersonalize evil, of learning to eliminate such evils as dishonesty, greed, injustice, and the like, which come to us in the guise of persons and nations. In this connection I have been greatly helped in considering again and again a citation on page 419 of Science and Health, which reads, "Your true course is to destroy the foe, and leave the field to God, Life, Truth, and Love, remembering that God and His ideas alone are real and harmonious." Earlier in this same paragraph Mrs. Eddy lists some of these foes. They are such errors as "lust, envy, revenge, malice, or hate." The foe, then, is never a person, only a belief in mortal thought.
Of course it is always scientific to destroy any foe or mental suggestion presenting itself to us. Even though the person to whom it seems to be attached has not asked us for help, we may leave the individual alone, but clearly see evil as nothing. When we realize that the foe has no support from divine Principle, no law to uphold it, that it was never made and therefore does not exist, it will no longer continue to present itself to us in the guise of a person. We may eradicate any foe or evil belief by separating it from person, and then giving it no life, no intelligence. Let us make a thoroughly energetic attempt to stop bearing false witness against our neighbor, to cease adding to the burdens of our brother man by seeing evil as attached to him.
When dishonesty, greed, selfishness, insincerity, and the like come to us in the masquerade of people, such evils appear to be individuals. We then reason that, to obliterate such discords from our view, it may be necessary to try to overlook these faults or to move ourselves away from people or places. To believe there could be a creator for such worthless qualities as hatred, fear, and revenge is to have another God, to break the First Commandment. Love's ideas are actuated by kindness, consideration, and justice. When we as Christian Scientists learn to separate bitterness, hate, and resentment from individuals and nations, and then to understand that in reality man has no mind which could tenaciously hold to thoughts of revenge, we shall be doing the most important work which can be done to perpetuate peace at home and abroad.
Let us know that hate cannot be expressed in the realm of divine Love, and perceive in addition that God's children are receptive and ready to receive Love's gift of peace. Let us realize that all the intelligence and love in the divine Mind is being bestowed upon Love's idea, God's spiritual man. All that God has is ours. We cannot conceive of any other real source or creative power than divine Principle. God made all that was made and made all good. Let us claim our divine sonship. Pain, disease, sickness, or abnormality cannot be included in God's creation. Man has all that God gives, and only what divine Love has imparted.
It is through such constructive thinking, my friends, that we can have a part in hastening the attainment of these prophecies from Isaiah: "All the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God" (Isa. 52:10). "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isa. 2:4). "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children" (Isa. 54:13).