Christian Science: The Reconciler and Consoler
The Rev. Andrew J. Graham, C.S.B.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, and the author of its textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," has given us a compact definition of Christian Science. On page 1 of "Rudimental Divine Science," she has defined it as "the law of God, the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony." From this and kindred passages in her writings, we learn that Christian Science is the reconciler and the consoler of mankind. It is the only way to universal harmony here and now and throughout all eternity. Christians of every name will accept this statement as true when they come to see that Christian Science means Christ-knowing, — that is, knowing God, man and the universe as Jesus the Christ knew them. Paul writes to the Corinthians: "We pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." In Christian Science we would add a word, saying: "Be ye reconciled to God" — good. The addition of this word identifies all good with God. To be reconciled to God — good — is the basis for all lesser reconciliations. This is the only source of consolation for earth's woes. Consolation never precedes reconciliation. One must first be reconciled before he can be consoled. He must begin to see and accept the truth before his sins and sicknesses and woes can be permanently driven away. The English word "reconcile" is derived from the Latin "re" and "conciliare"." Literally it means "to be brought together again." There is a supposition that harmony has been broken, resulting in separation. The theological dogma known as the Fall of Man declares that the man whom God created and pronounced perfect fell away from God — became separated from his Creator. This belief is deep-seated and tenacious. Reconciliation is the act of destroying this belief and of restoring the sense of unity, harmony, or at-one-ment. Christian Science or Christ-knowing is the power through which this result is accomplished. There is no other way.
Prayer to God
Christ-knowing is brought about through prayer to God. On page 1 of Science and Health we read: "Thoughts unspoken are not unknown to the divine Mind. Desire is prayer." To result in good, prayer must be offered to God. Some so-called prayers are offered, but not to God; for that which a man desires above all else is that to which he directs his thoughts, his worship. If his dominant thoughts are set upon earthly riches, gluttony, drink, worldly ease, lust, inordinate ambition and so forth, he becomes an idolater of the worst kind. To such prayers Mrs. Eddy alludes on page 340 of Science and Health: "One infinite God, good, . . . annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry." In Christian Science we learn that all good flows out from God, and from God only. True prayer rends the "veil of the flesh" — matter — material thought. Thus entering the holy of holies, man talks with God, is imbued with the mind of Christ, and begins to be master of human discords.
The Christ Standard
Suppose that two men have taken opposite sides of a question. They have disputed and become excited. They have grown estranged and widely separated. How are they to be reconciled or really brought together again? Success lies in one direction only. Mutual concessions and compromises are mere tentative make-shifts. Harmony reached through such methods is superficial and temporary. To bring about a secure reconciliation both disputants must first hold their private opinions and prejudices in abeyance and look for a standard of truth, outside of themselves, to which both may conform. In one of Lord Bacon's Essays we are told that the way to arrive at truth is first to throw out of one's thought his mental eidola or idols. And thousands of years before Bacon's time, Confucius had written concerning one whom he called master: "The master had no fixed predeterminations." If two disputants agree thus to put aside their opinions and agree to accept and to follow the Christ standard, they will be reconciled. The Christ standard demands absolute honesty, sincerity, purity, humility, love for God and love for one another. If opponents accept and practice this standard, they will find themselves reconciled. Things equal to the same thing are equal to each other. Agreement with Christ, Truth, neutralizes and destroys the contentious spirit and is always constructive. Reconciliation gives men increased power with God. This it seems is what Jesus meant when he said: "I say unto you, if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Thus Christian Science is the reconciler because it repudiates the human, carnal, mortal mind as a guide. It reveals the Christ Mind as the standard — the standard which is attainable here and now. Through its clear teaching, and through its compassionate healing ministry, Christian Science begins to release the human mind from its self-imposed bondage of discord: Reconciles thought to the divine standard and consoles it with the Christ balm: "Well done, good and faithful servant!"
Men never become discordant toward one another until after they have become discordant toward God — good. They are never separated into hating and warring factions until after their thought has separated from God — good. And they can never be reconciled or brought together as loving brothers until in thought they have returned to God — good. And whenever and wherever discordant, unloving human beings are brought together in harmony, it is there and then proven that they have found God — good. This is the present-day demonstration which Christian Science has been making among men for the past sixty years. This Church is now well known throughout the world. It is increasing rapidly in numbers and influence. Its membership is composed, to a very large extent, of men and women whose former beliefs, convictions, and habits of life were diametrically opposed to one another. The agnostic, the infidel, the materialist, the creed-bound and emotional Christian and the ethical religionist, have found their reconciliation through Christian Science. The bitterness of the recent world-wide war was, in many individual cases, neutralized through the power of Christian Science. By means of it, multitudes have learned the real meaning of at-one-ment. Through love they have found their true home — that home in divine Mind. Marvelous are the effects of Christian Science on the whole social, political, and religious structure of mankind. One is justified in asserting that it is the most important movement before the world to-day. It is modifying all religious thought, softening theological asperities, and shaping the destinies of nations. With clearness of spiritual vision, wrote Mrs. Eddy, at the close of the bloody war between Russia and Japan: "One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself;' annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, — whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed." (Science and Health, page 340.)
Reason and Revelation
Coincident with the "Rise of Learning," in the fifteenth century, the Holy Scriptures appeared in languages understood by the people. Then was hastened a great intellectual and religious awakening. Prior to that time very few Christians had access to the Bible. But with its translation that precious volume became the object of widespread study. It was not long, however, before thoughtful students began to be puzzled over apparent contradictions in the Holy Bible. Human reason discovered many passages which did not seem to be in harmony with the character of a loving Father. Very justly did they feel that,
"The loving worm within its clod
Were diviner than a loveless God."
The Church had no adequate explanation for these anomalies. The number of intellectual doubters increased. Hume, Voltaire, Paine, and Ingersoll were representatives of a large class of skeptics, stretching down to present days. Human reason, unillumined by Spirit, could not be reconciled to revelation. Christendom, for more than three hundred years, struggled with the problem. Book after book was written, in the futile attempt to reconcile reason and revelation. In 1866, the dawn of the day of understanding was drawing near. Mary Baker Eddy was reared in orthodox Christianity and was familiar with its problems. For twenty-five years she had studied the Bible with great care. Through this study she had gained a spiritual understanding not equaled by any since apostolic days. She applied this understanding to the interpretation of the Scriptures; and through this understanding she was instantaneously healed of severe physical ills, while reading in one of the Gospels. She writes on page 109 of Science and Health: "For three years after my discovery, I sought the solution of this problem of Mind-healing, searched the Scriptures and read little else, kept aloof from society, and devoted time and energies to discovering a positive rule." On page 110 of the same volume she writes: "In following these leadings . . . Reason and revelation were reconciled." Then came to her that spiritual sense of composure, certainty, security, consolation, which pre-eminently marked her whole subsequent life.
"Key to the Scriptures"
This truth which reconciled reason and revelation for Mrs. Eddy was Christian Science. She has made the reception of this truth possible to all mankind. By means of it the Bible is unlocked and its real treasures made available. In the Christian Science Church, throughout the world, are multitudes of men and women who knew little about the Bible and cared less. To these persons that book has become a daily companion, whose teaching harmonizes with the highest reason. All of Mrs. Eddy's writings elucidate the Scriptures. But the three chapters in the Christian Science textbook, entitled Genesis, the Apocalypse, and Glossary, constitute especially the "Key to the Scriptures." A few months' study of these chapters gave to me a workable understanding of God which nearly forty years of study and of preaching in an orthodox church had not revealed. We lovingly commend, to all honest thinkers, a careful perusal of these chapters. They throw a clear light upon the darkest pages of Holy Writ. They have led some of the closest thinkers of the age to accept the Bible as the highest expression of reason known to man. Christian Scientists do not hold to the Bible on mere blind belief. They accept it because they see and know that; rightly interpreted, it is the living Word of God in this and every age. So understood through Christian Science, this Word runneth very swiftly on its loving errand of consolation, — removing manifold perplexities which have vexed Bible students for centuries.
Christian and Science
I myself have been reconciled to God — good — through Christian Science. As a clergyman I opposed this wonderful truth for many years. My antagonism was instantaneously silenced through a healing received in Christian Science. It came about after this fashion. For three years I had suffered, physically and mentally. Neither the prayers of my church nor materia medica brought any relief. In the summer of 1911 I was in Oxford, England, traveling in search of health. I was suffering physical pain almost constantly and was in a state of abject despair. Walking along Corn Market Street, Oxford, one day, I saw the sign of a Christian Science reading room. I was alone. I had no desire to enter the place, but against my will I was seemingly compelled to do so. This resulted in my receiving a treatment in Christian Science which completely and permanently relieved me of the physical ailments and agonizing fear. More wonderful still, I was instantly healed of my antipathy to Christian Science, and I began to see the anti-Christian nature of many doctrines I had been preaching for years. I found in this new-old truth the true reconcilement, which is another name for the peace that "passeth all understanding." Before the healing I had frequently alluded to Christian Science as being neither Christian nor Science. Seeing the falsity of this threadbare statement was a part of my healing. I came to see that Christian means like Jesus the Christ, and Science means definite knowledge. Christian Science measures up to both these definitions. It teaches that God is Spirit; that He is everywhere all the time and possesses all power; that He made man in His image and likeness; that sin, sickness and death are beliefs, lies, which never came from God, therefore they are destructible; that full salvation is possible here and now, through the knowledge of and obedience to the will of God, hence, Christian Science is Christian. It is also Science because it demonstrates. Only that is Science which is demonstrable. Jesus the Christ proved his religion to be Science by demonstrating it. He advanced no mere theories. He knew that the almightiness of his Father was always present and available. Christian Science demonstrates that the same is true to-day. Loving and obedient Christian Scientists are proving that their healing work is the result, not of blind faith but of definite knowledge — Science. The Christian Scientist does not rest his case on empirical knowledge. He is as sure of his position, as is the student of geometry, who, having solved his problem, writes underneath, with full assurance, his Q. E. D. Opposition to this truth brings to one discord, sickness, and sin. Christian Science awakens love for the good, the beautiful, and the true and becomes the consoler of the unhappy and the miserable.
The cooperation and union of all who love the Lord Jesus Christ is an end devoutly to be desired. The belief of separation should cease. But Christian Science and churches of other names can never be brought into harmony of thought or reconciled on the basis of mutual compromises. Human opinions may compromise, but divine Principle cannot do that. To do much healing work and to do it well, the Christian Science Church must hold to the eternal perfection of God's creation as well as to the unreality of all discord. Outside of Christian Science it is generally held and taught that God's creation fell from its state of perfection. This is a fundamental error, and to accept it as a fact means, humanly speaking, separation from fundamental truth. This error or attitude of thought Science absolutely repudiates. It is a mental position repudiated by the words and acts of Jesus. It is a position which has darkened all religious history and has hindered true civilization. It mixes so much error with truth, that Christendom sees God as "through a glass, darkly," and has lost the power to heal. As Christians of other names approximate to primitive Christian teaching and practice, the sense of separation will disappear. Science is stirring the world. Almost unconscious of the fact, Christians of other names are striving to bring Christian Science back to themselves, instead of going forward with it. Their effort is to put new wine into old bottles. They are seeking reconciliation on a false basis. The Christian Science Church can fulfill its mission only by refusing to sacrifice Principle for policy. The vast majority of Christian Scientists were reared in other folds. They came to see the incongruity and impossibility of reconciliation in any other way than through a return to primitive truth and practice. Not as corporate bodies, nor as masses of men. moved by conventional resolutions, but as individuals, one by one. through healing of mind and body, mankind is being reconciled — united. This is the work of Christian Science:
"Christlike in its benedictions,
Godlike in its strength sublime;
Conqu'ring ev'ry subtle error,
With a meekness all divine, —
May it go across the ocean,
And be known in ev'ry land,
Till our sisters and our brothers,
Are united in one band.
(Christian Science Hymnal, page 136.)
All the troubles of mankind are the results of their belief in the reality of matter. History shows that men cling to matter long after its deceitfulness begins to appear. Usually, they resort to Spirit only after the falsity of matter is learned through much suffering. Any system of teaching which inculcates trust in matter weakens faith in Spirit and is un-Christian. The public life of Jesus was passed in teaching and demonstrating the unreality of matter; and in teaching and demonstrating that Spirit is the only substance. Through centuries of development, the belief in matter-medicine has strongly intrenched itself in human thought. It claims to be able to do something for man which Spirit either cannot or will not do. Matter-medicine is wholly in the realm of empirical knowledge, and so is forever changing. It has developed from crude remedies to a more refined system; but this refined error is more misleading than the crudities of former centuries. Christian Science accepts Jesus, not only as a Teacher, but also as the Way-shower. He never alluded to matter as a means of healing nor did he ever employ it as such. He trusted in his Father, as supreme, everywhere, all the time. The larger part of mankind still put their trust in matter-medicine. In this respect Christendom as a whole has practically forsaken God for matter. But individuals who have long been dominated by that thought are changing in great numbers. Wherever the reconciling power of Christian Science is accepted, matter gives place to Spirit.
Two of our Christian Science lecturers were formerly prominent matter-physicians. Many medical men and women have become successful Christian Science practitioners; while thousands of sufferers, finding no relief in matter, have gained health and peace through Spirit. On page 5 of "The People's Idea of God," Mrs. Eddy writes: "A Truth-filled mind makes a pure Christianity and a healthy mind and body." She further adds on the same page: "Oliver Wendell Holmes said, in a lecture before the Harvard Medical School: 'I firmly believe that if the whole materia medica could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind and all the worse for the fishes.'" Paul says, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." This freedom or reconciliation Christian Science offers to all who are in bondage to matter-medicine.
God's Male and Female
On page 249 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy writes: "Let the 'male and female' of God's creating appear." In the first chapter of Genesis God says: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion. . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." In this true account of the spiritual creation man is a unit, undivided. He includes, in this selfhood, all the mental and spiritual characteristics of what we call the male and female. God's man has never been separated into parts, which must be reunited or reconciled. But there is a belief that such separation has taken place. This belief is stated in the second chapter of Genesis in which is given a false, material account of the creation of man, on this wise: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground." This so-called man is known as Adam. From Adam the Lord God is said to have taken a rib and from that rib he made woman. "The 'male and female' of God's creating" was and is a unit, an undivided individuality. The belief of sex distinction vanishes as Spirit gains dominance. This change is alluded to by Jesus when he says: "In the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage." Mrs. Eddy affirms the same fact, metaphysically, when she defines resurrection as "spiritualization of thought" (Science and Health, page 593). Individuals know that as they allow Christian Science to dominate their lives, their true selfhood is realized; and in this selfhood they see the "'male and female' of God's creating." Sexuality has no place in perfection. However, in our present stage of progress, "suffer it to be so now," is the teaching of Jesus, the New Testament writers, and Christian Science, No real Christian Scientist would advocate so obnoxious a measure as the ruthless destruction of family ties. On page 56 of Science and Health we read: "Marriage is the legal and moral provision for generation among humankind. Until the spiritual creation is discerned intact, is apprehended and understood, and His kingdom is come as in the vision of the Apocalypse, — where the corporeal sense of creation was cast out and its spiritual sense was revealed from heaven, — marriage will continue, subject to such moral regulations as will secure increasing virtue." Those who are learning more about God are realizing that true, spiritual unity which is the very essence of marriage. They are being drawn nearer together in that reconciliation which Christian Science is demonstrating.
Freedom Under Law
Restraint of any kind irks the human, carnal, mortal mind. Self-imposed restraint among men is a mark of wisdom. "Not my will, but thine, be done" is the Transfiguration Mount of human experience. Willing subjection to law is the only pathway to freedom. Paul styled himself the slave of Jesus Christ. Obedience to the Master was his highest joy, so that he could say: "Our conversation" (citizenship) "is in heaven" (harmony). The rapid growth of Christian Science is largely due to the spirit of freedom under law which it inculcates and demands. Furthermore, the multitudes who are released from sorrow, sickness, and sin, through Christian Science healing, are so grateful that they gladly listen for its voice and obediently follow its behests. Their reconciliation to law is the guerdon of their freedom. Mary Baker Eddy, cognizant of the fact that freedom and peace could be maintained only through obedience to law, was moved, through inspiration, to provide the Manual of The Mother Church. This body of law is for the encouragement, instruction, direction, growth, and restraint of Christian Scientists. Mrs. Eddy's inspiration still governs the movement, through the Manual, and the student who is vigilant and responsive to the same will be saved from the mesmerism of self-will and self-importance. The fundamental law of the Manual is to be found in Section 1, Article VIII, a part of which reads as follows: "Neither animosity nor mere personal attachment should impel the motives or acts of the members of The Mother Church. In Science, divine Love alone governs man." To disregard the law of Love is to breach the Manual in its most vital part. Radiating from this most important article are directions covering all the activities of worship and work that may be necessary in the movement. Sometimes, Christian Scientists, mesmerized through a sense of desire for self-importance, and clamoring for untimely distinction or recognition, may disregard the Manual or interpret it according to fancy. Such a course in reality automatically detaches the student — separates him from the body. The Manual of The Mother Church stands for impersonal truth. Obedience to it is not, primarily, obedience to persons. A separated or detached student comes into his own again, finding his true reconciliation in responding to the just and compassionate appeal of Christian Science. Freedom under law is righteousness and peace.
Safety and Security
It is not required that Christian Scientists confine their entire reading to the Bible and Mrs. Eddy's writings. It is required, however, that they look to the Bible and Mrs. Eddy's published works as the final source of authority concerning the truth of Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy's presentation of divine Truth is the final revelation. "Absolute Christian Science pervades its statements" (Science and Health, page 465). No other writings, by any one, can add to the truth which she has revealed; nor can any other writer present the truth with greater lucidity than she has done. A diligent study of her various works gives ever-varying approaches to truth as well as a never-ceasing stimulus and freshness to thought. "Precept upon precept; line upon line," seems to have been her motto. One takes no risk in asserting that in the whole range of religious literature there cannot be found another author who has revealed the nature of God and man with such a wealth of diversified expression. The student who is awake does not tire of Mrs. Eddy's writings nor does he accept, as a guide, any one who claims to have advanced beyond her discovery and revelation. These statements seem timely, inasmuch as in certain quarters there is a tendency on the part of some persons to peruse or study other books, as aids to understanding Christian Science. The neophyte in Christian Science deserves to be protected from this pseudo-literature, whether it takes the form of story-books, alleged research volumes, or Bible commentaries. It is the privilege of practitioners and teachers of Christian Science to impress upon patients and students the importance of adhering strictly to authorized Christian Science literature in their progress to understanding. Even commentaries on the Bible, written from the old theological standpoint, are misleading and often dangerous. Books which treat only of the history of the Bible are necessary and may be very useful, but commentaries in general are material, partisan, and dogmatic. In the Christian Science textbook Mrs. Eddy has given an exposition of Genesis and of the Apocalypse. These two chapters, with one named Glossary, are invaluable in interpreting the Scriptures. Any other writings or books treating of Christian Science, not directly authorized, in accordance with the provisions of the Manual, may divert attention from original sources. Only watchfulness and loyalty can prevent the noxious growth of a body of literature which seeks (often commercially) to attach itself to the Christian Science Cause as a legitimate aid. Such products, even though contributed by Christian Scientists, may be barnacles on the ark of salvation. Christian Scientists, aided by the means provided by Mrs. Eddy, should be original investigators of the Word of God and not depend upon poorly predigested food. "Search the Scriptures," says Christ. We have the same right of access to the Mind of God that all God's children have. When one holds steadfastly to the Bible and the writings of the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science as the legitimate sources of Truth and sufficient guides to eternal Life, he will have seen and acknowledged that Christian Science is the reconciler.
The World-Wide Problem
No religious teacher can consistently remain silent concerning the universal social and business unrest prevailing throughout the world to-day. During the last fifty years distance and time have been destroyed to such an extent by inventions and discoveries, that the peoples of the earth are now one family for weal or for woe. A discordant nation in any quarter of the globe becomes a problem which all other nations must help to heal, or suffer inevitable consequences. The whole world at the present time is in just this condition. The great homicidal war in which the peoples of the earth, recently, have been engaged, has thrown into view this illuminating fact that the nations of the earth can no longer dwell apart as separate entitles. God is the one Father and all His children are included in His family. The loving reconciliation to this fundamental fact is the only solution for the world's problem.
Some one people must be first in setting an unselfish example rising above the greed of territory and coin, patiently and irresistibly drawing to its own ideals the other nations of the earth. Opportunity is waiting at the door and we have good hope that the Anglo-Saxon nations, notwithstanding their internal difficulties, will prove to be the rallying point for a disunited world-wide family. This hope is the more radiant because among this people the modern Star of Bethlehem arose. Here Christian Scientists, clear in thought, patient in love, and calm in endeavor, are influencing and moulding the national thought. With unerring prophetic instinct Mary Baker Eddy has written concerning distressing times, in these words, "Those who discern Christian Science will hold crime in check" (Science and Health, Page 97). Christian Science thought is doing this very thing to-day. The learners and doers of Christian Science, unlike their ancestors of the elder dispensation, when trouble comes, do not sit down by the waters of Babylon and weep, nor do they hang their harps upon the trees therein, but singing and making melody in their hearts they look to the ever-present Christ as they sing, in the consoling words of our Leader (Poems, page 75): —
"Saw ye my Saviour? Heard ye the glad sound?
Felt ye the power of the Word?
'Twas the Truth that made us free,
And was found by you and me
In the life and the love of our Lord."
The Way to Healing
And now perhaps some one who is listening to this lecture or reading it may be saying to himself: "Why does not the lecturer say something about the healing of disease?" That is just what he has been saying, throughout this discourse. If a cause is removed its effect ceases. Humanly speaking, every so-called disease of the human flesh is caused by discordant thought of some body or some bodies. A belief of separation from God — good — is the source of all the sicknesses and woes of mankind. This lecture presents some concrete instances of discord and declares Christian Science to be the reconciler. All diseases and troubles are mental in their origin. Man's mental area is a sort of factory; and the products turned out are like their parent-thoughts. Change the thought-processes and one's physical condition and material surroundings will be transformed. The purpose of this lecture is to point out, concretely, how sundry discordant conditions may be destroyed, through Christian Science, and the individuals be reconciled to God — good. Therefore, the burden of the lecture has been healing, through Christian Science.
The subject of this lecture is "Christian Science: The Reconciler and the Consoler." At the outset we stated that consolation could never precede reconciliation. A willful, wicked man — dishonest, hateful, unchaste — can never experience the sweet solace of consolation. He must first earnestly protest against any un-Christlike thoughts having a place in his mentality. He must prepare a guest-room, an upper room, of purified thought, into which the Christ may enter. He must accept and seek to demonstrate the truth before the consoler can come. Then will his heart dance for joy and he will begin to understand what dear John Bunyan meant by the "Chamber of Peace"! In the great picture gallery in Amsterdam one may see a genre painting by Ary Scheffer. An aged couple are seated at a table, evidently to partake of a frugal meal. The picture indicates that they are lowly people and not possessed of much worldly goods. Their heads are bowed for the moment, and their countenances bear the signs of gentle peace. It is the impress of the Christ. They have been reconciled to God — good; and consolation has become their portion. The title of the picture is "Christus Consolator" — Christ the Consoler. Its teaching is a pledge to us all that here and now, on this plane of existence, one may enter into the rest that remains (stands secure) for the people of God. The beliefs of discord which have separated men from men and men from God shall vanish before the light of divine Science. "Like as a dream when one awaketh, so shalt Thou make their image to vanish out of the city."
"Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure;
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
Earth has no sorrow that Love cannot cure."
(Christian Science Hymnal, page 298.)