Christian Science: It is Christian, Curative, and Lawful (2)
Carol Norton, C.S.D.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Carol Norton, member of the International Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church of Christian Science, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, lectured on "Christian Science, It Is Christian, Curative and Lawful," at the Lyceum theater last night. An audience was present which taxed the capacity of the great theater, and long before 8 o'clock every seat on the lower floor was taken. There were a large number of Christian Scientists present, but almost every shade of orthodoxy was represented in the great assemblage. Scattered among the audience were a number of clergymen, who seemed greatly interested in what the speaker had to say. There was also present a large representation of the element which is generally considered outside the pale of the church, and who were plainly bent upon making an investigation of the subject.
The lecturer was introduced by Rev. Arthur B. Vosburgh, C.S.B., of this city, who said:
It is to be presumed that this audience represents a wide variety of thought and opinion regarding Christian Science. But whether you are here to-night as a worker in the cause, as a believer, as an inquirer, or even as an opponent of what you believe to be Christian Science, your presence here bears eloquent and merited testimony to this one thing, the importance and the interest attaching to the questions with which Christian Science has to do. These questions are not, "What shall we eat?" "What shall we drink?" and "Wherewithal shall we be clothed?" but they are questions that have to do with righteousness, with judgment, with salvation, with eternal life.
Perhaps the central question that arises in approaching Christian Science is: "Is Christianity a Science?" That is, is it a definite system that can be taught and practically applied? Was Jesus only a wonder-worker, accomplishing miracles through a mysterious, supernatural power with which he was personally endowed; or were his mighty works the demonstration of a divine Principle and a spiritual law that are universal and eternal? And does Christian Science and Christian power inhere in blind faith or enlightened understanding?
In the light of modern investigation it is impossible to believe that anything comes about except according to law, and we are driven to one of two conclusions, either Jesus's marvelous works of healing the sick, raising the dead, walking the wave, all his so-called miracles, were the demonstrations of a spiritual law which he could apply because he understood it, or the New Testament records of them are mythical statements of what never occurred.
Christian Science accepts the whole scriptural statement of the life of Jesus, beginning with the immaculate conception and including all his mighty works up to that which surpassed and crowned them all, his resurrection and ascension. But Christian Science does not see these as what are ordinarily called miracles; does not see in them simply a manifestation of the Master's power as a divine wonder-worker, but sees in them the demonstration of a divine Principle and a spiritual law that are valid for all time, and are only waiting to be understood to be demonstrated. This interprets the significance of Jesus's words: "He that believeth on me the works that I do shall he do also."
Now, here the thought will arise that the New Testament promises are conditioned on faith and not on understanding. But, I ask, how far can you separate the two? How can you have a rational faith in that of which you have no understanding? Nay, more, all knowledge begins in faith; faith is the beginning of knowledge. All that you have ever learned began in faith and advanced into understanding. You learned your multiplication table on faith, you applied it in faith, you gained correct results through your applied faith, and through this the half-formed knowledge that was at first faith became scientific understanding.
So spiritual knowledge begins in faith: faith in diviner sources, faith in spiritual possibilities at first somewhat dimly seen, somewhat imperfectly understood. But applying this first imperfect knowledge we gain practical results, our vision becomes clearer and faith unfolds into understanding. And this is the method of the New Testament. It is not faith but knowledge that is held forth as the ideal attainment. Peter says, "Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity," or love; "for," he says, "if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." And the Greek word used to indicate this knowledge to which we are thus to attain is not the simple Greek word "gnosis," the general term for knowledge, but it is "epignosis," which means definite, exact knowledge, scientific knowledge, if you will. Not less than twenty times is this same word used in the New Testament. John's first epistle uses the word know thirty-four times, and reaches the climax and conclusion of its thought in the statement "And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us an understanding." And Jesus's definition of eternal life for his followers is "that they may know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."
The New Testament teaches a science, a science founded on an immutable Principle and an unfailing law. We know that this divine Principle and spiritual law are present and potent to-day, because, to the extent of our understanding, we are demonstrating them. We believe that ultimately through their working in human experience they will destroy all sin, sickness, and death because Jesus has thus demonstrated them. This is the position of Christian Science.
That wider opportunity may be given the public of knowing what Christian Science is and what it is not, an International Board of Lectureship has been appointed under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. We have with us as the speaker for the evening a distinguished member of this board. It is now my honor and pleasure to introduce to you Carol Norton, C.S.D., who will address you on Christian Science: It is Christian, Curative, and Lawful.
When Mr. Norton stepped to the front of the platform he was greeted with applause. He first requested some change in the arrangement of the lights, and then went at his subject earnestly. He is a young man possessing an easy delivery, clear and well-modulated voice, handles himself gracefully on the rostrum, and made an excellent impression upon the audience. As he proceeded in his argument he won the attention of his hearers, and held it with increasing interest until the conclusion of his last utterance. He said:
Life's Progressive Character
Progress is the genius of the ages. Growth, unfolding, development and expansion are the laws of the universe. The divine plan of the infinite Mind, alias God, is self-evidently one of unfolding perfection. The crude and limited conditions of yesterday dissolve as mind crosses the threshold and enters the New World of to-day. Life's progressive character allows of no monotony. The divine heritage of every man and woman is the progressive unfolding of the facts of individual dominion over fear, superstition, depravity, materialism and bodily discord. The conquest of fear is undoubtedly the greatest battle of human existence. While men love the fruits and ultimate outcome of religious and human progress, they have but little patience with the detail of this progression. In fact, all that is progressive is obliged to run the gauntlet of criticism, satire, condemnation, and ofttimes persecution and temporary rejection. It then finds glad acceptance as a friend of the race and as a vital part of scientific religion, or as a practical enlargement of civil liberty.
Freedom of thought can be well termed the Major Prophet of religious and humanitarian progress. The Founder of the Christian religion declared that he came [not] only to fulfill the Hebrew law and prophecies, but that he came that humanity might have life and have it more abundantly. Jesus Christ uttered the greatest promise of the ages when he said: "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." And the sole object of this lecture is the impartial, candid and just consideration of the freedom-bringing Gospel of Christianity, as interpreted and demonstrated in this age through Christian Science, as discovered and founded by Mary Baker G. Eddy. In the spirit of the faith that removes mountains and makes all that is right possible, in the spirit of Love which consistently unites mercy with justice, and finally in the spirit of civil and religious liberty vouchsafed by the common law of Christendom, and especially given to us of this great commonwealth through the Declaration and Constitution, all that is herein stated is offered to the sober consideration of a people jealous of individual rights and the consistencies of Christian citizenship.
Religion of Christian Science
Christian Science is not a religion, but is religion. The term is synonymous with scientific Christianity, alias the demonstrable understanding of the divine Principle upon which Christ established his system of mental reformation and bodily healing. Jesus Christ as the Founder of the Christian religion declared that the essence of the Hebrew law, which he came to fulfill, was included as a whole in three words — judgment, mercy and faith. While the Galilean Teacher and religious Founder received the spiritual recognition of the great Reformer of that period, John the Baptist, he in no wise received a similar recognition from the church and people, whose interests he served and for whose religion he suffered so much. If judgment, mercy and faith constitute the true character of the Mosaic law Jesus certainly made judgment synonymous with justice and spiritual discernment. He showed mercy to be but the handmaid and sister of loving forgiveness, and faith not only the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, as described by Paul, but as that normal perception of spiritual-mindedness which makes the facts of the Creator plain to the creature.
With Jesus Christ, as was also the case with his disciples, apostles, and the early Christians, his teachings and spiritual philosophy aimed at the attainment of character-life and bodily health. His method of healing was one with his method of reformation. The teachings of the founder of Christianity, as set forth in the writings of his four biographers in the New Testament, present the essence of simplicity. Evil thoughts and acts Jesus denominated errors or sins of the mind or temperament. Leprosy, paralysis, dementia, epilepsy and the various physical diseases peculiar to that country, in that period of the world's history, he considered physical errors or bodily discords.
A Divine Science
Jesus revealed and lived a Divine Science. The scientific basis of his system was self-evidently the idea of the allness of divine Mind, or divine nature, alias God. The allness of the Supreme Being of necessity includes His supremacy in the realm of the physical, so-called, as well as in the world of the mental or moral. Christ healed the sick and reformed the sinner, by one and the same method. As human depravity is an abnormal moral condition, so blindness, deafness, deformity and the organic and functional diseases which afflict humanity are abnormal conditions of the physical nature, and are no more a part of the divine plan and the true character of nature than discord can be said to be an essential part of music.
For three hundred years the early Christian church continued the work of physical healing through mental and spiritual means, without drugs or material accompaniments. Remove the records of physical healing from the life of Christ, his followers and the early church and the greatest object lesson in Christianity is withdrawn from the vision of afflicted humanity.
The Truth that Jesus promised would bring freedom to the captives of sense meant not only moral and spiritual freedom, but the emancipation of the body from the ills of the flesh. Sin is unnatural, evil is abnormal, licentiousness or animalism is condemned by ethics, health laws, the moral sense of all peoples and the higher instincts of humanity. Such errors of the human mind as tyranny, despotism, avarice, lust, dishonesty, superstition, fear and fanaticism perpetuate the slave chains of all ages, and would evolve a mental despotism through mental quackery and tyrannical codes from the ashes of the already destroyed systems of bodily slavery.
The story of Christianity is most simple if we read it aright. Christianity is essentially the outgrowth of the ideals and career of the man of Nazareth. He taught the naturalness of the divine and effected his works, wrongly called miracles and supernatural events, through a normal and spiritual mastery of certain mental laws of life.
All Law Perpetual
As all law is perpetual these same laws should be demonstrated and operated today, and with deep-toned gratitude the followers of Christian Science rejoice in the fact that their system embodies these rediscovered methods through which physical healing and mental transformation have been reunited in one system.
Jesus not only stated that the works that he performed should be repeated in greater degree in the centuries to come, but promised that the sign or evidence of physical healing should follow the work of his true disciples in all ages. If Christianity originally made health normal and natural through the demonstration of divine Mind-healing this should be possible to-day.
But in order to regain this temporarily lost element of the Christian religion the accurate understanding of the Principle utilized by Jesus must be gained. To this end creeds, dogmas, human opinions, scholasticism, churchly decrees, materialistic materia medica, the theories of organic evolution and germ causation are of absolutely no value.
Spiritual things must not only be spiritually discerned, but must be rationally proved as of practical worth to the common-sense every-day demands of life. In its original character Christianity was a great protest against the licentiousness and materialism of paganism. It stood for the spirit of the law and the prophets rather than for their literalism and mere externalism. It meant regeneration and transformation to the prodigal and Magdalen alike. It meant salvation to the soul and health to the body, peace to the mind and comfort for the broken-hearted, freedom for the down-trodden and enslaved, and progress, civilization and enlightenment for the ignorant and illiterate.
Christianity according to Christ is a great enthusiasm, a great spiritual onsweeping tide of righteousness, equity, justice, liberty, loving-kindness and mercy. For the tomb it gives the resurrection morn; for the spirit of heaviness, a garment of praise. In exchange for darkness it gives light and for pessimism lofty optimism. Its deepest and most profound lessons are drawn from the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, the flowers of the earth and humanity's little ones. For bondage it gives freedom; for barren ethics, intuition, spiritual discernment and divine understanding. In the place of an absentee anthropomorphic God it reveals the truth of the divine Immanence, or the ever-presence of Good in the world. Above all else, the Christianity of the first three centuries, bridging the gulf of fifteen centuries in which lies buried the healing power of Christianity, sends forth a luminous ray which now blends with the light of Christianity as revealed and taught through Christian Science.
The marriage of primitive Christianity with nineteenth century Christianity has taken place. The bridegroom cometh and the bride (advancing humanity), adorned as one who goeth forth to meet the bridegroom, enters the wedding feast of renewed spirituality and Christian healing and the glory of John's utterance in the book of Revelation is renewedly fulfilled: "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ . . . And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
Healing of Christian Science
Christianity is steadily, yea rapidly becoming universal. The prophet Isaiah, of Hebrew history, was an advocate of universal peace among the tribes and nations of humanity. The Founder of the Christian religion is called the Prince of Peace, for the symphony of his life is truly set forth in the angelic refrain, "Peace on earth and good, not evil, will toward men."
Morality means death to immorality, and spirituality signifies the annihilation of materialism. As causation is primary and effect secondary, so metaphysics is as high above physics as the heavens are above the earth. The restoration of a lost art is often mistaken for the discovery or creation of something new. So with the restoration of the healing of the sick through spiritual and mental means in modem Christianity by the methods of Christian Science. Many physicians, clergymen, students, philosophers, editors, authors and critics, apparently forgetting that it is an essential part of Christianity according to Christ, hail it as something new and revolutionary; and affirm that they see in it not only a menace to the public health, but certain evidences of a determination to prostitute the catholic and divine character of the Christian religion.
The followers of Christian Science, representing upward of two million religionists and citizens in Christendom, most deferentially respect this needless misconception and fear, and readily understand the attitude of modern medical authorities.
Christian Science not only embodies the healing and regenerative methods of the Christianity of Christ, but represents the highest attainments of modern metaphysical or psychical practice. Its healing system is therefore one of the modern discoveries of Divine Science, but at the same time merely a new acquaintance with an old Truth. The Gospel record records the fact that various systems of healing disease apart from the crude drug methods in vogue at that time sprang up during the life work of Christ, and that he and his disciples from time to time came into contact with these methods. But these systems of sorcery, incantation, and necromancy in no wise interfered with the great record of the Gospels in which the dignified healing power of Christianity stands side by side with its reformatory and regenerative strength.
The recovery of the divine modus operandi of Christian healing through Mary Baker Eddy in the year 1866 is proving itself to the religious world, the restoration of a vital part of the religion of Jesus, and to the world of therapeutical progress it has already shown itself to be an advance beyond either allopathy or homeopathy. As evidence of this assertion it is stated on the best authority that over a million cases of hopeless disease have been healed through its methods during the last fifteen years. The majority of these instances of healing have occurred after the best medical skill proved wholly inadequate to effect a cure.
In the popular mind everything that departs from the ordinary systems of medical practice and surgery is at once labeled as quackery, and Christian Science is ignorantly and ofttimes persistently confused with sorcery, incantation, superstition, mind and faith cure, so-called mental science, hypnotism, mesmerism and religious fanaticism. Studious critics and progressive physicians of all schools readily admit the value to modern society of the new developments and discoveries in the world of Mind-healing, but the masses, untrained in metaphysics, but well schooled in physics, do not at once grasp the practical import of the system.
Exact Curative Methods
Christian Science Mind-healing as a curative method is exact, demonstrable, and of practical worth to suffering humanity. Fixed morals and the power of spiritual concentration and thoughtfulness are most requisite for its successful demonstration. Like all true science it rears its superstructure on its own foundation.
In the prevention and cure of both organic and functional diseases Christian Science attacks the discord mentally rather than physically. It deals directly with temperamental conditions, mental fear, morbidity, pessimism, heredity, the effects of environment, and begins its successful career where physics and surgery end. It is needless to say that Christian Science advocates all practical phases of sanitary reform, believing that cleanliness is next to Godliness.
Legal Aspects and Rights
The legal aspects of Christian Science are being reviewed from every standpoint. Inasmuch as Christian Science healing is one of the essentials of the Christian religion as accepted by thousands of Christian religionists in all parts of Christendom, representing at the present time over 500 church congregations, its legal status cannot be considered apart from its religious character. On the other hand, its self-evident value to suffering humanity gives it a certain definite therapeutical standing that the age is bound to respect.
Law, common law and the rights of Christian citizenship in all nations are based not only upon the moral code of Moses, that great system of human rights, justice, order and mercy, but also upon the God-given rights of man recognized by the constitutions or magna chartas of all nations. In our preamble of the Constitution of our own commonwealth one of the reasons given for its ordination and establishment is the promotion of the general welfare. In the preamble of the Declaration of Independence life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are mentioned as among the inalienable rights of man. Good health, brought about by the cure of disease, is certainly a part of the general welfare mentioned in the Constitution. Bodily health or harmony is certainly a vital part of life and an essential attainment in the pursuit of happiness named in the Declaration.
Therefore, if popular and materially legalized methods of healing disease utterly fail in given instances, and the restoration in this century of the method of Jesus Christ is found to be practically efficacious, the legal rights of citizenship give Christian religionists or Christian Scientists rightful protection in their dependence upon Christian Science Mind-healing as an essential part of the Christian religion, as safeguarded by those portions of our national Bill of Rights which relate to religious liberty.
Twentieth century religionists and citizens, jealous not only of individual rights and personal liberty, but equally jealous of the attainment and retention of good health, will in no wise accept or allow any form of legislation which will tend to the suppression of medical and curative progress, or anything that interferes with the rights of an individual in the choice of his minister, priest, physician or mode of treatment, be it according to the so-called regular schools or according to the methods in vogue with the early Christians as established by Christ.
Not Medical Practitioners
Christian Scientists in their practice eschew the use of drugs and never use medicine in any form. They cannot therefore be said to be practitioners of medicine. The healing of the sick through spiritual or mental methods is a part of their religion and as such is no more a matter of legislation than prayer is. Their practices are decreasing diseases and healing thousands of cases pronounced hopeless by materia medica. It therefore cannot be said to be a menace to the public health.
According to a recent decision of the Supreme Court of the State of Rhode Island, Christian Scientists cannot be properly denominated medical practitioners. The opinion was a unanimous one, having been concurred in by the full bench. It closes as follows:
"To protect the public, not from theories, but from the acts of incompetent persons, the legislature has prescribed the qualifications of those who may be entitled to perform the important duties of medical practitioners. The statute is not for the purpose of compelling persons suffering from disease to resort to remedies, but is designed to secure to those desiring remedies competent physicians to prepare and administer them. The opinion of the court is that the words 'practice of medicine' must be construed to relate to the practice of medicine as ordinarily and popularly understood, and that the acts of the defendant (a Christian Scientist arrested for practicing medicine without a license) do not constitute a violation of said chapter."
Wholly apart from the religious aspects of the legal status of Christian Scientists is the great and fixed truth that their definite healing results, taken as a whole, not only demand, but grant, recognition and well-ordered protection. That which is proving itself a boon to humanity will be supported and protected by humanity.
Justice to Christian Science
The time cometh when a message will be flashed across the Atlantic by wireless telegraphy, and then will traverse the American continent from East to West, recording the fact that Mr. A. has been healed of cancer through Christian Science treatment after the best medical skill of his own land has utterly failed. The time also approaches when a message will cross the continent that reads: "Died for lack of Christian Science treatment."
The hour has struck for the just treatment of this great truth. Christian Science has healed hundreds, yea, thousands of organic and functional diseases after the best skill of Europe and America has failed. Therefore it can be truthfully affirmed that thousands who have not been allowed to try this form of treatment after receiving the death sentence of the most advanced forms of materia medica, have passed away without having had the benefit of the highest form of therapeutical practice. While this negligence is without doubt innocent, yet these beloved ones might have been spared through a proper application of this mode of treatment.
No system, political or religious, should be judged by its failures. Should Christianity as a system of religion be condemned because of the character of some of its un-Christian adherents? Should Christian Science be condemned because of its isolated failures? Should its great successes and uniform instances of healing be utterly ignored? Legislation has full and free right to restrict that which is a menace to the moral welfare of the people, and to order through proper laws all that may end in injury to the public health. But Christian Science healing is a vital part of Christianity, according to Christ, and as such represents the religious belief and methods of twentieth century Christians.
It should be plainly and deferentially stated that Christian Science healing is through the efficacy of the most enlightened and advanced form of prayer. What shall the law say about the operation of the religionist's prayer to the Almighty? Is prayer a matter for human legislation? Has mortal man the right to encompass through human law the highest form of understanding prayer? By prayer the Christian Scientist means the "heart's sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed." He means that silent and spiritual communion with the eternal Mind that removes mountains, that transforms natures, that has rocked nations in cradle. This prayer, whether it be the union of the heart with the divine Principle of the universe, or whether it be that intuitional spiritual sense, which, transcending the bounds of time and space, moves all things before it and accomplishes all that is noble, righteous and chaste, is the essence of the modus operandi of Christian regeneration and Christian Science Mind-healing. Such prayer gives courage to the father called upon to provide for his family.
It exalts the reformer and strengthens man. It is the animus back of all moral, civil and religious liberty and progress. It has freed nations and broken the chains of all phases of human slavery. It is the genius of all human and divine progress; the essence of the law of growth, and as high above the materialistic human methods of materia medica and surgery as the heavens are above the earth. Therefore, this spirit of healing love, this element of transforming nature, this power for good, this regenerate force and healing Divinity embodies the center and circumference of prayer, in Christian Science; and I affirm most fearlessly and confidently that it is one of the inalienable rights of Christian citizenship and religious liberty. I repeat, it is not a matter for medical legislation.
As a representative of the Christian Science movement, as a believer in what may be termed the righteousness of the mission of the journalist, I believe that the modern press means to be impartial and just, that it proposes to give all subjects that enter the arena of thought just and candid consideration, presenting both sides of all great questions. Therefore, I look to the press for the dissemination of knowledge, and of the great modem elements of popular education and religious and civil reform.
Christian Scientists joyously and gratefully offer up prayers of gratitude to the Eternal Father for the perpetual inspiration flowing from the life and teachings of the Founder of the Christian religion. They are soberly grateful for the holy lives of all ages and all religious systems, and to-day with heartfelt gratitude thank the Eternal for the inspirational teachings and work of Mary Baker Eddy, rejoicing in the privilege of calling her friend and Teacher, and in being enabled to be followers in the pathway from sense to Soul that her inspired teachings have made luminous. The whole trend of Christian Science is back of the Christianity of Jesus, back to "the faith once delivered to the saints," which means spiritual progression and a fuller imitation of the life of Christ.
In the spirit of Christ's charity, with full faith that the truths set forth this evening will sink deep into the soil of honest and impartial hearts, with renewed confidence in the spiritual receptivity of all who have given the ideas set forth sympathetic hearing, asking that the teachings of Christian Science be on the one hand compared with the Scriptures, and on the other with the decisions of the great court of logic and reason, hoping and praying that this good spell of spiritual regeneration, salvation and physical healing may bring to weary hearts peace, to pain-racked bodies harmony, and to all who sit by the silent tomb, "the spirit of praise, for the garment of heaviness," asking all to think soberly and deeply of the present day demands of the religion of Jesus, I leave these great thoughts with you, fully confident that they will be watered by dews of Heavenly character, and nourished into the full noontide light of the religion of Jesus, aflame with compassionate love and immortal grandeur.
[Delivered Nov. 19, 1899, at the Lyceum Theater in Rochester, New York, and published in The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Nov. 20, 1899.]