Recently, I’ve had several patients—long-time Christian Scientists—as well as several other practitioners voice a view that I’ve got to say puzzled me. They each felt that identifying the specific error or false belief in an individual’s thought would somehow make a reality of that error.
Why is that puzzling? Because it’s the antithesis of everything that I’ve ever read in Mary Baker Eddy’s writings about how to restore health and well-being to ourselves and others.
I also found it interesting that each of these individuals justified their position by citing the following statement from Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 476):
Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick.
Now, let me be absolutely clear here: I fully believe in, regularly utilize, and have repeatedly seen the efficacy of seeing the perfect man of God’s creation. However, these dear folks were claiming that Jesus never saw any disease, deformity, or infirmity.
But there’s a problem with their position—the actual accounts of Jesus’ healings that are recorded in the New Testament, as well as Mrs. Eddy’s statements in her writings.
For example, Jesus’ healing of the man who was possessed by multiple evil spirits (evil beliefs) in the country of the Gadarenes (Mark 5:1-15), and the healing of the woman who was afflicted with an infirmity for eighteen years (Luke 13:11-16). Referring to the latter biblical account, Mary Baker Eddy wrote (Science and Health, page 6):
Jesus uncovered and rebuked sin before he cast it out. Of a sick woman he said that Satan had bound her, and to Peter he said, “Thou art an offence unto me.” He came teaching and showing men how to destroy sin, sickness, and death. He said of the fruitless tree, “[It] is hewn down.”
In each case, the Master spiritually discerned the problem—the unreality of the claim of error that was debilitating these people—and mentally/spiritually saw through that lie by beholding the perfect individual of God’s creating resulting in the healings which thereby destroyed the error.
We need to pray for that same spiritual discernment, as well as for the alertness and awareness which prevents us from inadvertently—or otherwise—being seduced by erroneous concepts that are not found in the writings of the Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. Those pleas of the carnal mind—and they are nothing less than that—can take on many guises, including parading about in the garments of “inspiration” and “spirituality.” Make no mistake: their sole intent is to attempt to nullify the healing potency of Christian Science.
A very wise teacher of Christian Science once told me, “If an idea comes to you that appears to be inspiring, but which you can’t find the basis for in Science and Health, then it would be best to not follow it.”
Wise words, indeed!
Eddy wrote (The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, p. 210):
All that error asks is to be let alone; even as in Jesus’ time the unclean spirits cried out, “Let us alone; what have we to do with thee?”
As Christian Scientists, dare we leave it alone?
I am grateful for the last two articles you wrote. Also glad for your last comment here. Rather than concentrating on letters written, it is far better to go to her writings. I’ve been endeavoring to do that in reading S&H chapters but not in sequence and going to her other writings. It is the pure revelation imparted to her, revised over 200 times. How many times were the letters revised and to whom were they written? S&H was written for all of us, all mankind. The specifics are there and not devoted to an isolated individual case. S&H is left to us to listen to how Divine Mind is directing individually each one of us in each specific challenge. It would appear to mortal mind much easier to read what was already written to someone else and use it for ourself rather than become humble and listen specifically to God’s direct guidance to oneself. Putting everything else out and being humble is enough to keep me busy and sticking with the pure word of S&H.
Thank you, Sher. I’m happy that you’ve found the posts helpful. I agree completely that turning to Science and Health and needing to humbly turn to God for the answers that we need is essential. Good points–thanks for bringing them up! 🙂
And, I’ve found Mrs. Eddy’s letters helpful in gaining insight into her development of thought and the issues that she had to constantly contend with from her students and society in order to bring Christian Science to humanity. It becomes very clear to me that her thinking was anything but static! 🙂
Gotta love some honest discussion of the practice! There’s always a balance to working things out in the human scene. The words and phrases that come to mind quickly are: rebuke, detect, cast out. (I’m sure there are many more!) We are admonished to ‘stand porter at the door of thought.’ What else can this possibly mean than to be alert to detect the foe before it even gains admittance?
Thanks so much, Trudy! And, yes, it’s good to be able to talk about the practice openly. Thanks for your comments, including the absolute necessity of standing porter!
Ken, you make an interesting point. I wonder about something I was once admonished by a practitioner to watch out for — that I not go on a “witch hunt.” By that I assume he meant not to go rooting around in my thinking trying to find something wrong. Would you have a comment on that?
Thanks for your question. I think that it’s a matter of balance. Yes, it’s probably not a good idea to go rooting around the proverbial maze of error, but I’ve found that as I focus my thought on Truth, the error that needs to be identified comes to the surface to be seen through, handled, and destroyed.
Great blog and a vital metaphysical point!!
You can’t tell the truth about a lie unless you know what lie you’re dealing with!
Mary Baker Eddy said it is impossible “to define truth and not name its opposite, error.” And she added: “Straining at gnats, one may swallow camels.”
Couldn’t agree more!
There is a letter that Mary Baker Eddy wrote to one of her students who had this same concern. Apparently he was worried that using the name of the disease might run the risk of making it more real. She wrote him back saying that the textbook [S&H] instructs you to get the name of the disease, so do not be afraid to so — or something like that. I remember reading this letter in “Mary Baker Eddy: Christian Healer,” the Amplified Edition, but unfortunately I don’t remember the page number or the name of the student. I will try to look it up, and if I find it I’ll comment again with the citation. Otherwise an inquiry to the Mary Baker Eddy library might shed some light.
Thanks for your comments, Gordon! In We knew Mary Baker Eddy (Expanded Edition), p. 118, Laura Sargent’s account states: “To shut our eyes to error, and say there is no error and that it is nothing–even while it is confronting us as sin or sickness–is an error of itself. Science and Health [says,] We must see it to destroy it understandingly.”
That being said, it seems to me of greater import is that which Mrs. Eddy left in her public record as the full statement of Christian Science–Science and Health–rather than individual letters to specific students.
I’ve enjoyed thinking of getting the name of a disease as much less finding a medical name as simply naming it what it is, “Liar!” Then we can identify the lie specifically: fear, anger, resentment, self-will, contagion, heredity, and a gazillion other et ceteras. As we focus on what’s true about us, the error will stand out like a “which one doesn’t belong?” answer on a Sesame Street episode.
Great blog, Ken.
Thanks for joining in the conversation! And thanks for your very helpful thoughts. Ah–the continued application of Sesame Street lessons! 🙂