Christian Science: The "New Tongue" in the Space Age
Maud Cary Bennett, C. S. of Chicago, Illinois
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Some months ago, one of our leading magazines carried an editorial saying that physicists are running out of language to describe their wonderful discoveries in the field of natural science. They are having to find new terminology to convey even to themselves the amazing things they are bringing to light through their study.
These new words and phrases are coming gradually into the vocabulary of all of us. We are speaking in terms of a new era — the space age or the jet age or the atomic age in which we find ourselves.
While physical scientists have been probing into the mysteries of physical cause and effect, thinking has been stirred to greater depths by advancing spiritual enlightenment. We are finding a necessity for advancing into the age of more acute spiritual awareness and understanding. This necessity has thrown new light on many familiar words in the English language.
Enlightened Concept of God
One of these words is God. How different is the general concept of God from what it was a hundred years ago. Yet, even now, there are many thinkers who, if they were asked for a definition of God, would go no further than to say that He is the Supreme Being. Our conception of the Supreme Being is of great importance both individually and as nations because it actually determines our inmost thoughts and motives and so colors every act, small or important, giving it constructive force or bringing friction and inharmony.
Most dictionaries now give, along with other definitions, the one found in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, which reads (p. 465), "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love."
The word God takes on enlarged and constructive meaning as we give thought to this definition. For centuries many devout people and scholars have studied the Bible, endeavoring to obey a God they knew must exist and developing a greater sense of compassion, unselfishness, and integrity in the process. In fact, most of the progress of the ages can be traced to a growing awareness of the possibilities open to mankind through this study.
Yet the Bible has never been understood sufficiently to bring about the enduring peace and health and happiness which it promises to "them that believe." The great power that Jesus, the master Christian, exercised to heal the sick, regenerate the sinning, and feed the hungry has not been used generally as he said it could and should be used.
You remember his words, spoken in a decaying tongue, surviving thousands of translations, were, "These signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they speak with new tongues" (Mark 16:17).
In our age, the spiritual significance of his words has come to light. New meaning has dawned on Jesus' teaching through the discovery of the Science of Christianity. This new light dissipates the veil or obscuration that has often brought resignation to sickness, poverty, and pain instead of dominion over them. This light brings faith and courage to go ahead and conquer difficulties through spiritual means alone, as Jesus did.
Jesus knew God as eternal Life and as divine Love, and he used the knowledge of them in the most practical way ever known. He said, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). He saw clearly that Life, or Spirit, is God, the only cause and creator. Life then is not the result of anything, but is itself the only cause. Nothing could go on, nothing could have existence or activity, no effect could be, if Life were not self-existent, self-expressing, and self-sustaining.
Jesus knew that Life is God. And so he raised the dead and dying to life, health, and activity, and so did his disciples. Many of his followers are doing the same thing in our age, right now, because they themselves have been wakened to the practical significance of knowing God as Life. They are speaking "with new tongues."
Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science
The dawn of the new spiritual era came nearly one hundred years ago, when Jesus' words began to be clear to a New England woman now known to the world as Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science and the Leader of the Christian Science movement. Having unbounded faith in the goodness and power of God she could not then explain, she had struggled on through many years of ill-health which kept her from normal activity. She had suffered the cruelties of grief through the passing on of dearly beloved ones and separation from her only child. Through it all she had vigorously rejected the old belief that a living, loving God could cause or tolerate evil, pain, or suffering.
In 1866, she met with an injury which doctors said would be fatal because there was nothing they could do for her with either medicine or surgery. But as she read the Biblical account of Jesus' healing of the man sick of the palsy to whom he said, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee" (Matt. 9:2), the healing truth dawned upon her. She proved the truth of St. Paul's words, "To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Rom. 8:6). She rose from what had been presumed to be her death-bed and continued strong and in better health than she had ever before experienced.
In her autobiography, "Retrospection and Introspection," Mrs. Eddy tells how she had searched for health for many years in every way then known to regular medical doctors and homeopathic physicians, who did all they could for her but could not cure her. She relates that she at last gained the scientific certainty that all causation is Mind, and every effect a mental phenomenon.
She saw that divine Mind is the source of all real thought, therefore the cause of all real action. Also that since all causation is God, Life, God must also be divine Mind — Mind that is wholly good. Then every effect, too, coming from a wholly good cause, must be good. So she saw that every cause and every effect that seems to exist but is not good must be illusion, the mirage of unreality; that what the physical senses see and hear is only the result of constantly changing human belief with no stability at all. Therefore it can change in the twinkling of an eye. Never can the physical senses be counted upon to tell us the truth about anything.
From this first wonderful coming together of revelation and demonstration, or divine healing, in Mrs. Eddy's experience, began her determination to give her discovery to the world. She was able to heal others as she herself had been healed, through the power of God alone.
She searched the Scriptures as never before, although she had been an earnest student of the Bible since early childhood. As she searched, the teaching of the Master, Christ Jesus, and the healings accomplished by him became to her clearly the result of divine law and order and not a miraculous power possessed by only the Master himself.
Source and Cause of Law and Order
It was through consecrated study of the Bible and through testing in every practical way the healing power of the laws she had discovered, that Mrs. Eddy was becoming more and more thoroughly convinced that the nature of God, of cause and effect, could never be found through material or physical laws. The divine cause is wholly spiritual and therefore unvaryingly good, untouched by physicality. It acts forever in accord with its own perfection and supremacy.
The Apostle John says that "God is love" (I John 4:8). So Mrs. Eddy saw that Love is simply another name for God. We have now considered three names, or synonyms, for God which give some understanding of His nature. These three words, Life, Mind, and Love, all logically deduced from the Bible as well as from Mrs. Eddy's practical experience, are used as terms for God in Christian Science.
Another word, Truth, is equally logical as a synonym for God. Truth must designate all that is real throughout eternity. Life must be Truth. Love must be Truth. Mind must be Truth. Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). Surely Truth is, and we can know it. It has no beginning and can have no end. It knows no static or inactive period. It underlies — indeed it is — all reality. Truth is the one power that destroys error.
In school when we first began to learn that two and two are four, it was the active consciousness of this mathematical fact or truth that did the correcting of our ignorance of it. So it is our active awareness and acceptance of the truth concerning the nature of God that makes it of value to us. Truth is infinite, forever unfolding, bringing to light more and more of the goodness and presence of God and so a greater sense of freedom from ignorance to mankind.
Principle, Soul, and Spirit are the other three names Mrs Eddy uses in her definition of God. Spirit is one of the Bible terms for God. Jesus told the woman of Samaria, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). Soul denotes the unseen power which creates and preserves all identity and ensures man's immortality. Principle means foundation and origin. So these three names are logical synonyms for Deity.
Two Concepts of Man
Now God, who is Mind, Life, and Love, must be expressed, and the expression of God is man. We read in the first chapter of Genesis, "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him" (Gen 1:27).
Here then is another word — man — which means something quite different its original Bible connotation from what it has become commonly accepted to mean. The view of man which we have all accepted more or less is of a mortal, born of material parents and passing through the stages of infancy, adolescence, adulthood, old age, and death.
This is the man made of dust, described in the Bible in the second chapter of Genesis: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life" (2:7). Centuries ago the prophet Isaiah warned against this view of man. He said, "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?" (2:22). Could this possibly be man made in God's image and likeness? No! Here is another place where a spiritual understanding of the Scriptures is restoring the original tongue in the language of Spirit.
Man is defined in Science and Health as "The compound idea of infinite Spirit; the spiritual image and likeness of God; the full representation of Mind" (p. 591).
This definition, of course, does not apply to the combination of spirit and matter, life and death, good and evil, which men have come to call man. But it does apply to man as God's image and likeness. When the Psalmist asked, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?" (Ps. 8:4) he was singing of this real man, and he answers his own question in these words: "Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet" (Ps. 8:6)
This is the man Christian Science is bringing to light in the experience of thousands of men and women who are willing to let the old man go and truly desire to put on the new man, the original man made in God's image and likeness. This man includes the real identity and individuality of each one of us.
Hope for All Through Correct Understanding of Salvation
Anyone who has ever felt inadequate, frustrated, closed in upon himself, sick, or unable to progress should begin to rejoice because we live in this age which has had revealed to it the way out of these mesmeric conditions. For they are mesmeric; they are not real.
Jesus knew the remedy for it and told his disciples what it was. He said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt 6:33), implying that the kingdom of God includes everything that will satisfy and enrich and bring true happiness to mankind. And he also said, "The kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21).
Salvation from discordant conditions is what comes as a result of seeking first the kingdom of God. Jesus' immortal words, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," insure us that salvation from ignorance and limitation comes from knowledge and acceptance of the truth as he taught it.
Most dictionaries give, with other definitions of "salvation," the one found in the Glossary of the Christian Science textbook: "Life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; sin, sickness, and death destroyed" (p. 593). My friend, salvation, as set forth in this definition, is a day-to-day experience. It doesn't come all at once. We can't be pushed into it by someone else. And we can't be deprived of it, once we begin to understand and experience it.
Salvation comes from knowing and demonstrating the truth of God and man as revealed in Christian Science. The very nature of Truth is progressive, and as we acquaint ourselves with it, it brings inevitable progress to us in every way.
One of our fliers and technicians in this space age who tested the speed of aircraft for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics wrote in an article in the Reader's Digest of April, 1958, that, as everyone knows, the sound barrier is no barrier at all to present-day supersonic aircraft, and the heat and controllability barriers are not real barriers, but areas of difficulty which can be got through with just a bit more knowledge.
As our thinking becomes more spiritualized we find that the barriers which seem to have perhaps impeded healing and the full realization of health and well-being are not barriers at all, but only areas of difficulty which can be got through with just a bit more knowledge of God. God never made difficulties and doesn't know them. Areas of difficulty for the student of Christian Science are only areas of ignorance which are dissolved as we advance in understanding of the Science of Christianity.
What Does It Mean to Know the Truth?
We often hear Christian Scientists say in telling of some healing or successful handling of a problem, "I knew the truth about the situation." And perhaps many people wonder what that actually means. It means that we accept wholeheartedly the fact of God's allness, His omnipotence. omnipresence, and omniscience, and from this basis of thought reject as unreal everything that is unlike God and therefore unlike man made in God's image and likeness. The problem or physical difficulty then is admitted to be a lie about man. Christian Scientists understand that it is a mesmeric state, which with a little bit more knowledge, as our "space man" has said, can be got through. The mesmeric state of ignorance can be broken.
So we "know the truth," the reverse of error. When the material senses tell us that pain or sickness — or dishonesty or cruelty — or anything else unlike God is present or has power, we "know the truth." The truth is that God never made it and that God alone is present and has power. It is our responsibility and our joy to know this. This knowing of the truth brings the Christ, "the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error," as the Christ is defined by Mrs. Eddy (see Science and Health, p. 583).
The Christ Active in Human Affairs
The Christ is not a person. It is the nature and power of God expressed. It is without beginning and without end, and its power has come into human experience in varying degrees through the ages. Jesus knew himself inseparable from the Christ, or Truth. His goodness and purity, as well as his divine origin, evidenced the Christ and made him our Way-shower. The human and the divine coincided in him, and so he has been rightly named Jesus the Christ, or Christ Jesus.
But the Christ, or Truth, did not disappear with Jesus. It is eternal, and it continues to exist and to be comprehensible to us as the Comforter, taking away the sins and sickness of the world wherever it is understood and entertained. The Christ. or divine Comforter, expresses the true warmth, tenderness, and companion of divine Love. It manifests the strength and wisdom of God, Truth. It endows the individual who entertains it with the aliveness, activity, and joy of Life which is God, the Father-Mother of the universe.
An Instance of the Comforter's Healing Power
An example of this came into the experience of a man I know. The car he was driving was hit by another car with such force that the steering wheel was snapped off and his car hit an iron lamp post. The impact crushed in the top of the car, and the man's head and chest took most of the force of the blow.
He was unconscious when a police squad car came, but before an ambulance arrived, his thought cleared somewhat and, being a student of Christian Science, his first thought was to call a Christian Science practitioner. He asked the police to put in a telephone call from police call box, and he simply told the practitioner that he had been severely injured.
He asked to be taken to the hotel where he was living at the time. With a porter's help he got to his room and again called the practitioner, who came to see him and to work with him to claim his God-given right to health and freedom.
In the next two or three days everything else was healed except his left arm and shoulder, which were seemingly useless. Both he and the practitioner continued daily prayerful work. By this time he was able to be up and about and was invited by some friends to visit them at their home on a lake, for it was warm summer weather. This man has always been quite an athlete and loves to swim, being very much at home in the water. So every morning after breakfast he would go down to the beach alone and take his Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health, and some of the Christian Science periodicals and would read and study and sometimes float on his back in the water near the shore.
He told me that one day three or four days after be had arrived at his friends' home, he was reading and suddenly sensed something of what Mrs. Eddy means in her comment on the patriarch Jacob's experience after he had begun to waken to God's commands. You remember the Biblical account in Genesis says that "Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day" (32:24).
Mrs. Eddy elucidates this by writing in our textbook, "Jacob was alone, wrestling with error, — struggling with a mortal sense of life, substance, and intelligence as existent in matter with its false pleasures and pains, — when an angel, a message from Truth and Love, appeared to him and smote the sinew, or strength, of his error, till he saw its unreality; and Truth, being thereby understood, gave him spiritual strength in this Peniel of divine Science" (p. 308).
My friend said that it came clearly to him then that his body as matter had no power to govern itself and that the belief that it has originates in mortal, miscalled mind. He realized that as Jacob recognized the ever-presence and omnipotence of Truth and Love, he saw the unreality of mortal mind, or a mortal sense of life as existent in matter, and this understanding brought spiritual strength and freedom — and it could do the same for him.
Thinking about this, my friend went down to the water as usual to do — as he said — his floating act, and pretty soon he unconsciously rolled over and started swimming with both arms completely free. For a moment he did not realize what had happened, but when he did the joy of it made him want to shout and sing. He had never before enjoyed swimming as he did that morning.
About three weeks after the accident he was requested to have X rays taken for an insurance company. He never saw the pictures, but because of them the insurance company was happy to settle the claim immediately. The complete healing has been permanent.
This man saw in a measure that he could say of his body as he could of his car, that "it is mine, but not me." And in the measure that he recognized the fact that God, Spirit, is all life and activity, spiritual strength gave him the ability which the material senses said was lacking at that time. It "smote the sinew, or strength, of his error, till he saw its unreality," just as Jacob did.
We read in our textbook. "The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares" (p. 574). The afflictive circumstance is never of value for itself, but is only useful because we are compelled to seek the remedy for it.
To look in any other direction than to the divine Love which created us is to delay the triumph that comes when, through wholehearted reliance on God, we see difficulties melt away, sickness healed, and sin overcome.
True Prayer is the Hope of the World
Jesus said, "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matt. 6:6). This is the rule for prayer which Christian Scientists follow. The closet is the place of refuge within consciousness where we can think as we will — can learn to control and purify our thoughts and commune with God. As long as we can think at all we can think as we choose to think and not as any outsider influence dictates. It is our natural function to think. The ability to think shows unmistakably that we are the offspring of Mind, divine Mind, God.
The Lord's Prayer, which Jesus gave his disciples, is the one used in Christian Science churches at every Sunday and Wednesday service.
The spiritual sense of this Prayer is given in the Christian Science textbook at the end of the chapter on Prayer. The reading of just this chapter, by the way, has often resulted in the healing of longstanding cases of sickness, even when it has not been fully understood.
The Lord's Prayer from the Bible and the "Daily Prayer" from the Manual of The Mother Church by Mary Baker Eddy are the only two prayers ever repeated in unison by Christian Scientists at church services and meetings. In Christian Science, prayer includes the silent or audible rejection of all that is ungodlike and the affirmation of divine facts. The "Daily Prayer" from the Manual of The Mother Church is a simple, short prayer used daily by Christian Scientists. It is this (p. 41): "'Thy kingdom come;' let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!"
This prayer does not implore special blessings for one individual or one nation or one race. Its petition is for all mankind, that the government of divine Truth, Life, and Love may be established in all. At a time of world uncertainty and confusion when the carnal or mortal mind is attempting to convince us of its power and prestige, this prayer may be used to bless everyone and injure no one.
In the quiet sanctuary of earnest prayer is the hope of the world. It has been said that hope is the great, stirring, vital force of the world, and that the reason the Christian world in the early days of Christianity was able to withstand the pressures of the pagan world was that the Christians "outhoped" the pagans.
Hope and faith enable us to stand and rejoice in the face of difficulties and obstacles which it would be impossible for us to surmount in any other way. This opens the way for the Christian to establish a bond of unity with God, Spirit. And unity is an unseen force. The recognition and conviction by the individual of man's unity with God is the powerful animus which the physical senses cannot resist. The true sense of unity operates as an irresistible influence in human affairs to bring all nations and peoples into conformity with the divine plan, which is always good, life-preserving, joy-giving, and peace-assuring.
Jesus said: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).
His words were not meant just for an era in which he happened humanly to be on earth. Even though they were spoken in what is now called a dead language and in the simple terms which the fishermen of that day could understand, they have stood through the centuries engrossing men's attention and interest and completely changing their lives and living standards progressively through the years.
Mary Baker Eddy's words, too, are the vital, living words of truth, not the product of an era. They have penetrated nearly every part of the globe. This is not because they rouse fleeting, temporary interest, but because they, too, "are spirit, and they are life." They have given us the Science of Christianity, the Comforter which is restoring primitive Christian healing and will bring us into all truth.
Healing Prayer Illustrated
At one time I was lecturing in a small town and stayed at a motel just outside of the town. The church member who came to take me to the lecture hall that evening was a retired mail carrier. He was a most joyous individual, and I asked him if he had been interested in Christian Science a long time. He answered that he had been healed twenty-five years ago of foot trouble and had been a student of Christian Science ever since.
He told me that he had despaired of keeping his job as a mail carrier because of the foot condition. He had bought all kinds of arch supports and tried in every way he knew to keep on with his work because he couldn't bear to accept the thought of failure. He said, "When a Christian Science practitioner told me I could be healed, I would have believed her as easily if she had told me I could walk to the moon." But within less than a week he was completely healed and never missed a day of work after that because of foot trouble.
He also told me he had been more recently healed of kidney stones. After a few days of intense pain, the stones were passed without pain, and there has never been a return of the difficulty. In that small town everyone knows the postman, and there were many comments among the people about the change for the better in his whole attitude. They said he had lost his former "hang-dog" look. He was certainly a radiantly happy man when I saw him and, as he said, a walking testimonial to the healing power of Christian Science.
This Science of Christianity is teaching us to speak with "new tongues." It is showing the spiritual facts which will ultimately replace everything the material senses behold.
True Atomic Power
Atomic action is a familiar phrase to us now — one alternately gripping the world's inhabitants with terror of its untold power for destruction and again beguiling us with its promise of greater human comfort and progress.
A few months ago a friend of mine went into a book store and asked for a book from which he could give his children a simple explanation of the atom. He purchased a little Walt Disney publication called "Our Friend the Atom." In one paragraph, the author, who is the Chief Science Consultant of the Disney Studio, writes: "The atom is so hopelessly small that it lies forever beyond the crude touch of human hands and beyond the dim sight of human eyes, even if aided by the most powerful microscope. So, when the atom emerged . . . it did not appear as the result of an experimental study: . . . somebody just thought of it."
According to this statement, atomic action is a name given to a power the existence of which is incomprehensible to the physical senses. It is of most interesting significance that many years ago, before the phrase atomic action had begun to have any meaning at all for mankind generally. Mrs. Eddy, through clear spiritual, discernment, had perceived the fact that since all causation is Mind, then atomic action is spiritual, not material; it must be Mind; it must be wholly good. And she wrote these startling words which appear in her book "Miscellaneous Writings": "Atomic action is Mind, not matter. It is neither the energy of matter, the result of organization, nor the outcome of life infused into matter: it is infinite Spirit, Truth, Life, defiant of error or matter" (p. 190).
Seeing this great power correctly as spiritual, we can no longer accept the general current of mortal, material thinking regarding so-called atomic power, which may produce more and more fear and confusion. True atomic action is what is really going on, and it is wholly good. In proportion as we recognize its invariably constructive presence and power, the false or counterfeit sense of atomic action will be seen as powerless and unreal.
In a little work called "Christian Science versus Pantheism," Mrs. Eddy wrote at the close of the nineteenth century (p. 12), "This closing century, and its successors, will make strong claims on religion, and demand that the inspired Scriptural commands be fulfilled."
These Scriptural commands apply to all ages — the space age, the atomic age, the jet age, and to any that may be named later. It will be found that all of these are but phases of mortal belief which must yield before the recognition of the present completeness of God's creation, the scientific reality of being as given in the first chapter of Genesis, in which God saw everything He had made and found it good and complete.
This space age is producing thinkers who rightly demand that Christianity be recognized as absolute, demonstrable Science; that it be practical and that it fulfill the prophecies of Jesus and the prophets. Understood in its scientific signification, Christianity opens the door to the achievement of health and happiness and of progressive activity for all peoples.