Heaven and hell - What the heck?
British author Susan Ertz wrote, “Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.”
Immortality, or eternal life, is often confused with prolonged mortality or endless humanhood. But immortality describes life without any mortal limits, not an extension of limited being. It’s the progression beyond mortal beliefs about life where immortal life, inseparable from Life as God, is fully understood.
Eternity is the experience of total freedom in infinite good. Eternal mortality would be the hell that many, whose faith is rooted in Calvin's teachings, fear awaits us. But Eternal life is heaven, and heaven is the harmony of life that is ours to experience both now and forever.
Christian Science makes a distinction between human experience and mortality. Mortality is not a state of life moving towards death; it is belief in life as already material and therefore already at least partly dead from the start. Matter is lifeless, dead. Death is a consequence of materiality. It’s a product of mortal belief. If you believe yourself to be material, you believe yourself to be mortal. And a mortal can’t avoid death - that is, he experiences the limits of his own belief.
But what if man as God creates us– you and I – are not really material or mortal? What if real life never actually ends?
Take a deep breath. This is an important point: The human experience of death is a perspective of the observer. It is not the experience of the one believed to be passing through it. Death is the product of a mortal belief. It is a false perspective. Even if one believes himself to be mortal, this belief will only last so long as its limits are tested and life is proven to go on. Man is not for a minute actually mortal. And the sense of mortality will fade out as the false belief in it is swallowed up by the understanding that God’s man is spiritual and that real life was never mortal in the first place.
"Man is more than physical personality, or what we cognize through the material senses. Mind is more than matter, even as the infinite idea of Truth is beyond a finite belief. Man outlives finite mortal definitions of himself, according to a law of "the survival of the fittest." Man is the eternal idea of his divine Principle, or Father. He is neither matter nor a mode of mortal mind, for he is spiritual and eternal, an immortal mode of the divine Mind. Man is the image and likeness of God, coexistent and coeternal with Him." MARY BAKER EDDY, No and Yes, 25
The words mortal and human are not synonymous terms. Mortality is a misconception about life as material. Mortality is a belief in death and darkness as inevitable. Human experience is the testing ground for mortal beliefs where mortality yields to the truth about real life.
Whether human experience seems more like heaven or hell depends on the degree to which we cling to self-limiting mortal beliefs about life. But we can outgrow the confines of mortal and material beliefs. We are capable of yielding to a life free from limits.
How to do it involves spiritualizing thought and daily life through honesty, unselfishness and purity rooted in an understanding of God. And we can do it. We are all capable of growing spiritually. We can shake off false mortal concepts about life, and progress out of limitation, fear and hellish conditions.
At the age of 12 I had a healing that illustrated this.
I impaled my foot on a rusty nail and was in a lot of pain. But I prayed for a better sense of my life as God made me. I vigorously challenged the belief that I was even a pinky toe, or one foot’s worth, mortal or material. I had learned in the Christian Science Sunday School that “there is no life, truth, substance or intelligence in matter.” I reasoned, “But there is life, truth, intelligence and substance in me!” I accepted my being to be presently spiritual. I knew I could experience the heaven of healing. This wasn’t theory to me. It was fact.
Looking in the bucket of bloody water, I thought, “That is not me. My substance is spiritual and has never been hurt.” I bandaged up the foot and got on with my day. When I went to bed that night, the bandage fell off. The openings on the top and bottom of my foot were closed and were nearly healed. By the next morning there was no wound at all. All evidence of the accident yielded completely to the spiritual fact and my human body conformed in perfect health.
Whatever beliefs we may currently hold about heaven and hell, life and death, mortality and immortality - these beliefs can and will ultimately yield to spiritual understanding. No one will be left out of heaven. Christian Science discoverer Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "The admission to one's self that man is God's own likeness sets man free to master the infinite idea. This conviction shuts the door on death, and opens it wide towards immortality. The understanding and recognition of Spirit must finally come, and we may as well improve our time in solving the mysteries of being through an apprehension of divine Principle. At present we know not what man is, but we certainly shall know this when man reflects God." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Eddy, 90)
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I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no
© 2011-2023 Michelle Boccanfuso Nanouche, CSB. All rights reserved. Pages updated 2 December, 2022.