What is the divine method Jesus preached and practiced? Is it possible to retrace Jesus’ methodology in a clear and simple fashion without reducing healing prayer - an essentially spiritual phenomenon - down to an exercise of the human mind? In its 600 pages of text, with an additional 100 documenting the integrity and effectiveness of the methodology, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures does just that. It puts on record the order of scientific healing, drawing on the authority of Christ Jesus, the master healer, who not only taught and practiced the methodology, but expected his immediate disciples and those that would follow long after would practice the same.
Science and Health explains, “A Christian Scientist requires my work Science and Health for his textbook, and so do all his students and patients. Why? First: Because it is the voice of Truth to this age, and contains the full statement of Christian Science, or the Science of healing through Mind. Second: Because it was the first book known, containing a thorough statement of Christian Science. Hence it gave the first rules for demonstrating this Science, and registered the revealed Truth uncontaminated by human hypotheses. Other works, which have borrowed from this book without giving it credit, have adulterated the Science. Third: Because this book has done more for teacher and student, for healer and patient, than has been accomplished by other books.” (456)
What exactly did Jesus teach about this divine method of healing? And does Science and Health explain the method in sufficient detail to permit us to employ spiritual means with scientific results?
In Recapitulation, the chapter of Science and Health used in the classroom to teach the specific methodology of Christian Science treatment for healing, Mary Baker Eddy brings out the invariability of the divine Cause, which produces an effect that not only holds creation safe from disease, but unfolds immortality. She explains, “For right reasoning there should be but one fact before the thought, namely, spiritual existence. In reality there is no other existence, since Life cannot be united to its unlikeness, mortality.
“Being is holiness, harmony, immortality. It is already proved that a knowledge of this, even in small degree, will uplift the physical and moral standard of mortals, will increase longevity, will purify and elevate character. Thus progress will finally destroy all error, and bring immortality to light.” (492)
Has this methodology disappeared? Was it a limited teaching for a limited group at a particular point in time? No. Science and Health, particularly the classroom chapter, leads today’s disciple of Christ out of the incorrect reasoning from effect to cause promoted by most, if not all, material methods of healing. It unfolds a pure methodology of spiritual reasoning from Cause to effect that enables one to duplicate for himself and for others in some degree the so-called marvels of ancient times. This reasoning is called Christian Science treatment.
Confusion often arises, when discussing this methodology of treatment, over whether such reasoning constitutes a formula. In Article VIII, Formulas Forbidden. Sect. 9 of the Church Manual, Mary Baker Eddy protected the methodology of Christian Science from adulteration through the material symbols and methods that might trip up the members of The Mother Church and render their practice less than successful. The rule reads: “No member shall use written formulas, nor permit his patients or pupils to use them, as auxiliaries to teaching Christian Science or for healing the sick. Whatever is requisite for either is contained in the books of the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. Sometimes she may strengthen the faith by a written text as no one else can.” (p. 43)
Please don't mistake this by-law to mean that there is a church rule that forbids members from seeking whatever aid they prefer in caring for their health. No such rule exists and members are free to do what they feel is best for them. But in the healing practice of Christian Science written formulas are forbidden because they are generally useless, often misleading and sometimes dangerous.
One definition of formula is “a set form of words, as for stating or declaring something definitively or authoritatively, for indicating procedure to be followed, or for prescribing use on some ceremonial occasion.” (Definition resource: dictionary.com)
What does Jesus teach about healing prayer? When asked by his disciples to teach them to pray, he gave them a perfect model for the spiritual reasoning of Christian Science treatment – The Lord’s Prayer. The divine logic unfolding from perfect Cause – our Father – to the perfect effect of the divine kingdom, power and glory that reigns supreme over all forever, brings out the à priori or Cause to effect methodology of Christian Science treatment. Christ Jesus was quite definite in His declarations of truth concerning man’s authority and right to heal; the spiritual truth of God and man, in both a general sense and in specific cases; the powerless of evil and essential nothingness of matter; the impossibility of God, the perfect Mind, ever being separated from His creation, Mind’s perfect idea; and the expectation of healing, joy and gratitude that result from this understanding of the spiritual and real state of divine being.
Procedurally, Christ Jesus’ method was invariable. He started with divine Cause to produce healing. He never started with disease or the problem to find God. He never saw God in, or brought God to, a problem to resolve it. He lifted his patient up to see their pure, sinless, holy state in the light of His better sense of God, man, and reality, and to understand and experience the baseless nature of their problem.
Another definition of formula is “any fixed or conventional method for doing something.” This one can be applied two ways. If healing prayer forbids a fixed or conventional method, it can imply that every time one prays it should be infused with fresh inspiration, and not done by rote. Science and Health agrees. Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Not human platitudes, but divine beatitudes, reflect the spiritual light and might which heal the sick.” (446) Also, “Inspired thought relinquishes a material, sensual, and mortal theory of the universe, and adopts the spiritual and immortal.” (547)
But we can’t discount all method out of hand, and say that healing prayer treatment in Christian Science is “anything goes” positive thinking, or involves taking a backseat and letting thought simply drift into more spiritual realms. That would be a rather Pollyanna view and would lose the scientific basis of divine reasoning so essential to breaking the mesmeric pull to fear and evil. As Science and Health points out, “Strict adherence to the divine Principle and rules of the scientific method has secured the only success of the students of Christian Science.” (456)
Science and Health sums up the methodology in very concise directions: “When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea. Allow nothing but His likeness to abide in your thought. Let neither fear nor doubt overshadow your clear sense and calm trust, that the recognition of life harmonious — as Life eternally is — can destroy any painful sense of, or belief in, that which Life is not. Let Christian Science, instead of corporeal sense, support your understanding of being, and this understanding will supplant error with Truth, replace mortality with immortality, and silence discord with harmony.” (495)
It would make no sense to forbid the very methodology that consistently produced healing for Jesus and that today repeats his work.
Speaking of the material symbols and practices that have grown up around Christianity, Mary Baker Eddy explained, “If all who ever partook of the sacrament had really commemorated the sufferings of Jesus and drunk of his cup, they would have revolutionized the world. If all who seek his commemoration through material symbols will take up the cross, heal the sick, cast out evils, and preach Christ, or Truth, to the poor, — the receptive thought, — they will bring in the millennium.” (34) And elsewhere Science and Health explains, “Losing her crucifix, the Roman Catholic girl said, “I have nothing left but Christ.” (238)
Interestingly, the pitfall of the material physician is not unlike the experience of a metaphysician who uses a formula in the form of a prayer prescription used to treat particular types of ailments. In both cases the fluctuating symptoms of the case – which in actual fact are the effects of delusion, not the effects of matter – maintain control of the case. Positive results may result from the cumulative effect of the will-power or human faith in the healer, or from the power of collective belief. But they are not the result of the scientific method of healing prayer taught in Christian Science.
One last definition of formula to consider is “a special nutritive mixture, especially of milk, sugar, and water, in prescribed proportions for feeding a baby.” Jesus offered no prohibitions to adapting food to the needs of babies. But he did use little children as an example of the simple and pure faith that heals. He said, “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” (Mark 10:15) The apostle Peter took the analogy yet further, when he said, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. (I Peter 2:2,3)
Inspired thought, sourced in divine Mind, leads the healer to the divine logic in each treatment that heals the case. And the childlike thought that follows even a small glimpse of the allness of God to the natural conclusion of the absolute nothingness of evil in any form, is the spiritual understanding that heals the sick.
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