A number of years ago, I spoke to an association of atheists on Christian Science. I’ll admit, I was prepared for a debate. Instead, I encountered a thoughtful, respectful audience cherishing the universal desire to experience lasting good.
While the word “God” was loaded with too many unhelpful connotations for them, we could dialogue on intelligence, on Life, Principle, Truth, Love— all terms used in Christian Science to describe the universal Good that is God.
I learned from that encounter that we all have spiritual sense – the capacity to break through restrictive barriers and beliefs to discover and understand God as He really is. Mary Baker Eddy called this spiritual sense “a conscious, constant capacity to understand God.”
In the Glossary of Scriptural terms in the Key to the Scriptures part of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy gives a definition for God that exposes the divine from many angles.
“God. The great I AM; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence." p.587
That one definition alone gives everyone a jumping-off point to understand God.
The Bible speaks of God as an unchanging power, or law, in whom is “neither variableness nor shadow of turning.” (James 1). In Christian Science, the term divine Principle describes the invariable law of Good that is God. Principle is always expressed in good. Good doesn’t end. Love never quits.
Scripture also identifies God as Spirit. So God that is Principle and Love, is also everpresent Spirit. This means that God’s creation – you and I and everyone, really - are spiritual – that is, we are made by, and of, the substance of Spirit. Love equates to unlimited goodness, Principle to invariable law, Spirit to true substance. Do you see the expansive nature of the God vocabulary of Christian Science? And it is practical, too.
The facts of God are like the facts of math. You just can’t know too much. The more math facts you know, the less of a problem you find in daily calculations. Who is afraid of a multiplication problem, when they have learned their multiplication tables? A kid who knows his 9’s table isn’t afraid of 9 x 9. Just the opposite. He can’t wait to use his 81 every chance he gets!
Considering the true nature of God from so many angles, can actually change the way one deals with life problems, because an expansive sense of God gives ready answers to any issue that may arise.
Now some may be tempted to think, “But I have always been bad at math!” Whether it is the truth of math or the Truth that is God, we are all equipped with the spiritual sense necessary to know what is true.
Christ Jesus used the term “kingdom of God” to describe spiritual sense.
"The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:20,21
"This kingdom of God 'is within you,' — is within reach of man's consciousness here... In divine Science, man possesses this recognition of harmony consciously in proportion to his understanding of God." Science and Health 576:21
The kingdom of God describes God’s revelation of good to His creation. Spiritual sense is a term used in Christian Science to convey our capacity as God’s children to understand what God is. Spiritual sense lets us experience the divine in everyday life. We all have it, but we don’t all use it. Why?
Jesus answered that. He knew that we often become buried in, preoccupied with, material sense – what I call the “Eat, Drink, Clothing syndrome” of a focus on material comforts and discomforts.
Material sense pulls the attention to externals, instead of to seeking the kingdom of God within. Material sense is the backward, downward drag of the perpetual, mistaken belief:
Jesus challenged this:
"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? ... But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6, King James Version
In The Message, I think Eugene Peterson has a helpful take on Jesus' words, showing the contrast between the masters of material sense and spiritual sense, when he paraphrases:
“You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other...There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body...People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met." Matthew 6, The Message
And the rest of Jesus teachings show that when you put first things first, and exercise your spiritual sense, human needs are met without the drag of limitation, risk or fear.
“Take no thought” is not a Pollyanna approach to life that ignores problems. It’s work. Hard work! Christian Science makes strong moral and ethical demands on one. It’s not enough to know God’s law of good if you don’t obey it. It’s not enough to know math facts if you never work an equation. We must take what we learn of God and live it through honesty, purity, selflessness and love, even when it is difficult. This is the spiritual and moral sense that gave Jesus the power to heal sickness and sin and to supply human needs. It can do the same for us.
Mrs. Eddy once wrote – “The talent and genius of the centuries have wrongly reckoned. …They have not accepted the simple teaching and life of Jesus as the only true solution of the perplexing problem of human existence.” Unity of Good, Eddy, 9
Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is within us. God’s kingdom of health and harmony is with us, within all of us, already, right now. We all have the spiritual sense that allows us to understand and experience God and His marvelous creation.
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QUESTION: “How does one heal someone who has lost their sense of orientation, who is 80 percent deaf, who doesn’t know who he is, or with whom he is, anymore? I believe in spiritual healing. I want to see such healing for this man.” (Question originally asked in French.)
RESPONSE: Prayer is especially helpful in such cases because it bypasses broken down lines of human communication and lifts the case directly to God. Prayer involves engaging spiritual sense, which is the innate capacity we all have to discern spiritual reality. Through spiritual sense we can discern the true and present nature of God and man and prove that no one is out of reach of God’s care.
When the material senses break down, a case can seem unreachable. But this evidence of deterioration only points to a mortal belief about man as cut off from good. This is never the actual case. No one is without hope or help. Your prayers that seek out God’s perspective of His creation can lead you to the truth about the material senses – that they neither limit nor define a man’s capabilities. When we stop fretting over what seems to limit the person and discover real life to be limitless and free in God, the door opens wide to healing.
The identity and liberty of each one of God’s children are intact and safe. Never separated from the divine Life that is God, real life is completely free from limiting, material conditions. We don't have to wait for some hereafter moment to experience the freedom of spiritual being. This present state of existence is completely discoverable through prayer.
A marginal heading, “Identity not lost” appears twice in Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:
“What is man? Brain, heart, blood, bones, etc., the material structure? If the real man is in the material body, you take away a portion of the man when you amputate a limb; the surgeon destroys manhood, and worms annihilate it. But the loss of a limb or injury to a tissue is sometimes the quickener of manliness; and the unfortunate cripple may present more nobility than the statuesque athlete, — teaching us by his very deprivations, that ‘a man’s a man, for a’ that.’” (172)
“The material body and mind are temporal, but the real man is spiritual and eternal. The identity of the real man is not lost, but found through this explanation; for the conscious infinitude of existence and of all identity is thereby discerned and remains unchanged. It is impossible that man should lose aught that is real, when God is all and eternally his. The notion that mind is in matter, and that the so-called pleasures and pains, the birth, sin, sickness, and death of matter, are real, is a mortal belief; and this belief is all that will ever be lost.” (302)
If you are worried that your prayers “here” may not reach one in need “there,” don’t be. It has been scientifically proven that the discernment of the true nature of man in one human consciousness can set others free from their false beliefs about themselves. Christ Jesus discerned the perfect man that divine Truth, God, creates and maintains. He did this in cases where, to material sense, the patient seemed completely out of reach. (See the healing of Jairus’ daughter, Gospel of Luke 8:41-56; and the raising of Lazarus from the dead, Gospel of John, chapter 11) Jesus proved that no one cut off from the Love that is God. He discerned the kingdom of God within us – the spiritual capacity to know and express the Life that is God.
Mary Baker Eddy explained, “When speaking of God’s children, not the children of men, Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you;” that is, Truth and Love reign in the real man, showing that man in God’s image is unfallen and eternal. 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. Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy. Man is not a material habitation for Soul; he is himself spiritual. Soul, being Spirit, is seen in nothing imperfect nor material.” (476)
Jesus didn’t illustrate an exception to the rule. He showed that the power to heal belongs to each of us and can be demonstrated when we understand who we are as children of God. The divine perspective that heals the sick and raises oneself and others out of the oblivion of material sense is available to everyone who is willing to seek it out.
Your prayers are important. Let your search for healing begin with deepening, expanding, your understanding of the true nature of God. The Bible and Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health are indispensable tools to aid you in your prayers. Let them open your eyes to what God is, and to what he is doing right now for His creation.
I frequently receive questions from readers of this blog concerning the practice of healing prayer. Many questions are personal in nature, but occasionally I receive a question generic enough to be addressed for a wider audience. If you have helpful thoughts to share with this questioner, please feel free to leave them in your comment below.
I was surprised that our balloon had no sandbags attached to the side. I later learned that it is gas balloons, not hot air balloons, that use sandbags. And the removal of even a little bit of sand allows the balloon to rise.
I think the relation of sandbags to gas balloons provides a good metaphor for spiritual growth. Every handful of earth-weight (a material sense of persons and things) that we let go of, allows us to go higher and to experience true being as God knows it - resulting in steady ascension.
One of Mary Baker Eddy's pupils who was an editor of the Christian Science Journal, Annie Knott, once wrote:
Well dear one, you have no cause to doubt God's love for you and your child. And if He loves you He doeth all things that is (sic) for your good. But He does not destroy the work of His hands. You alone and all mortals are responsible for mortal conditions. They make them and they yield them up. Why do they give up what is so dear to them? Because they know not yet how to retain them as reality.
(From a letter to Annie Knott sent by her teacher, Mary Baker Eddy, on June 16, 1896. Knott typed a duplicate to the letter, to which she added and initialed the comment: "This I value more than any other. A.M.K."
The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, L04744):
_A blog reader asked, What is spiritual sense? How do you know that you are seeing or feeling through spiritual sense and not through the distorted lens of the human material senses? Why is it so important to break out from material sense and how do you do it?
This post was revised (new content added) and published in the September 3rd, 2012 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel. Click here to find the full article.
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