Are you stumped by a problem and wondering why the answer continuously eludes you? Working out the solution may involve a simple adjustment in method. In math, working on a problem by holding onto a wrong answer, and weighing it in your calculations, naturally produces frustration and a sense of futility; whereas, erasing the error and recalculating the question from the top down, you have a greater likelihood of solving the equation. Equations don’t have to be problems in math or in life when you make your calculations on the right side of the question.
The Bible story of a fishing expedition recounted in John 21 illustrates this point. Briefly, seven of Jesus’ closest students decided to go fishing one night shortly after the resurrection. Although they gave a good effort to find fish, dropping and pulling up their nets all night, by morning they still had nothing to show for their work. Then came the light. Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples didn’t know it was him. He spoke to these dear fishermen, men he loved, asking if they had any food. They replied, No. He then suggested that they change their approach and fish from the other side of the boat where they found immediate success - more fish than they thought they could bring up in the nets.
Something shifted. Hadn’t they experienced this kind of thing before? Health suddenly appearing where disease was rampant; food in abundance where supplies were short; life restored where the end seemed final – these were the works of their Master and Teacher. Suddenly they recognized him and the method he had worked so hard to reveal: You have to work on the right side of an issue if you expect to have effective results.
More than just a teacher of some human problem-solving theory, Jesus was the great Exemplar of the practical method of Christ-healing. His theology included an understanding of the law of God and of the ever-present kingdom of goodness and power manifest in man as God’s reflection. His explanations and illustrations of healing prayer started with God and ended with the knowledge and experience of healing.
Jesus' methodology followed a logical pattern of à priori reasoning from divine cause to healthy effect. A priori knowledge or justification is independent of material experience, as with mathematical logic (2+2=4) and universal truths. Starting with a non-contradictory Principle, à priori reasoning leads to ontological proofs - evidence of reality or true being. Webster's describes ontology as "a branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations of being."
Christian Scientist, Mary Baker Eddy explained, "Our system of Mind-healing rests on the apprehension of the nature and essence of all being, — on the divine Mind and Love’s essential qualities. Its pharmacy is moral, and its medicine is intellectual and spiritual, though used for physical healing. Yet this most fundamental part of metaphysics is the one most difficult to understand and demonstrate, for to the material thought all is material, till such thought is rectified by Spirit." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Eddy, 460)
Jesus started with one infinite God, the perfect Father, in healing sickness, sin, and raising the dead. His theology and method of spiritual reasoning effectively vanquished the material mindedness that bases its conclusions on signs of limitation, mortality and fear. Evil isn't to be ignored in à priori reasoning; rather it is to be reduced to its true denomination as no cause, no thing, no mind, no power, through the understanding of what is real and true. Evil is not something to be feared. Sin, disease, and their varied manifestations are not the controllers of health, existence, or of healing prayer. The appearance of evil in our assessments of man indicates a false or mis-calculation of the facts of true being. A priori reasoning from the basis of perfect God as the sole source of man's condition changes the calculation and produces better, more accurate conclusions.
While Jesus' students naturally saw what he could do, and wanted to do it themselves, à priori reasoning wasn’t always their first inclination in treating the sick. Earlier on, a case of blindness is discussed in John 9. In this account, Jesus taught a lesson which should have corrected the disciples’ tendency to focus on disease symptoms and their causes. He came at healing from a completely different direction, saying, “It is expedient that I do the works of him that sent me while it is day; the night comes, when no one can work.” (Jubilee Bible 2000, John 9:4)
To me, Jesus likened problem-solving which starts with a material cause to trying to work in the dark of night; whereas Jesus saw the expediency of working in the day. By relying on his spiritual source, the healing Christ, to reveal the true being, or “works of God,” in the patient, Jesus worked in the light. In short, while the disciples reasoned from the basis of the disease up to God, Jesus reasoned from perfect God to discover only perfection in man. Of these two approaches, only one could work. Jesus’ method did, and the man was healed.
Perhaps this story offers some clues to understand the disciples’ later fishing experience. Once again, they were working in the night on the wrong side of an issue, where no answers were, until Jesus pointed them to a better way. Mrs. Eddy explained, “Convinced of the fruitlessness of their toil in the dark and wakened by their Master’s voice, they changed their methods, turned away from material things, and cast their net on the right side.” (Science and Health, 35)
In fact, they never actually suffered for a lack of fish. They were plumbing the dark abyss of materiality where nothing would be found. But guided by the Christ-perspective pointing them to search the abundant ever-present good of God and of man, they changed their methods, dropped their nets on the right side of the boat, and found not only a few but more fish eager to jump in their nets than they could have imagined.
The seven page chapter “Animal Magnetism Unmasked” in Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures is devoted to a central point in the Christian healing practice that Jesus taught. Animal magnetism, the generic term for evil, is exposed for what it is: absolutely nothing – no mind, no power, and no person, never a true cause or true effect - in short, not to be found. Evil is never a thing or condition of God or man. Not infrequently we may hear the chapter referred to as the “animal magnetism” chapter. But perhaps a more accurate nickname would be the “evil is not cause” chapter.
These succinct seven pages aren’t the only ones in the Christian Science textbook devoted to unmasking the true nature of all that opposes God, or divine Good, and man as God’s image and likeness. But in this chapter we find some of the best, clearest statements on the unreal nature of evil, or error – which is always a mistaken sense of God and the real man. For example, we read, “In no instance is the effect of animal magnetism, recently called hypnotism, other than the effect of illusion.” (101) “Mankind must learn that evil is not power. Its so-called despotism is but a phase of nothingness.” (102) And here is one of my favorites: “The maximum of good is the infinite God and His idea, the All-in-all. Evil is a suppositional lie.” (103) What this chapter does is effectively reduce evil to zero.
A recent reading of this chapter had me scratching my head. Why is it such a short chapter? What is its main point? And, why is this point important to effective healing prayer? Then I remembered Jesus’ methodology of à priori reasoning, and the necessity of starting with what is real and true about God and man in order to work in the daylight of the healing Christ. Unless evil is recognized as nothing and reduced to zero, it will always claim to be a real cause and therefore a focal point in prayer.
Fear of evil makes material causes seem urgent and pressing. In reaction to fear, we may be duped to accept material appearances as difficult or hopeless, and reason that they figure in some way in the healing. It is the hypnotic pull to consider evil as causative that keeps one persistently casting their net on the wrong side of the question.
In mid December our beloved family cat, Ginger, started exhibiting disturbing behavior, tearing at her fur in an aggressive manner when out of our sight. By the first of the year she had hardly any fur left on her tail, and her chest and one side became the new focus of her attention. For weeks my prayers were a bit pell-mell as I hastily shifted my attention from one potential cause to another, getting nowhere. Over the holidays, Ginger received the loving care of a good friend who prayed for her, too. But when she returned back home, little had changed and the fretful behavior continued.
One night, as I settled in bed, I caught sight of Ginger and her thin rat’s tail. That is when I reached out to God for direction on what to do. I would be leaving shortly on a long business trip. One of my leading fears surfaced: Maybe I should pray again about the stress on her of my work. Then I thought, No, not this time. I wasn’t going to pray over that subject or any other erroneous cause. Instead, I silently affirmed her perfection as an idea of God, and her total exemption from disease and danger from any so-called material or emotional cause. I felt complete peace as I prayed, knowing that God was the only cause and perfection was the only possible condition of our cat.
By morning, it became evident that the self-destructive behavior had stopped. I left on the trip, trusting Ginger again to the devoted care of our friend. Upon my return her fur was nearly restored. Within a short time, her tail, which had looked thoroughly done-for before the trip, was back to its fluffy original state. And she has been free of the problem ever since. (The above photo is an "after" shot.)
My simple prayer to God, asking what more I could do, led to the insight that broke me free of the hypnotic pull to repetitively examine evil as cause, even if under the guise of praying about it. Like the disciples, I changed my method. I turned away from the abyss of material cause, and cast my attention on the right of the issue. Ginger was healed through Christ – the true understanding of God and His perfect creation.
Of Christian healing Jesus said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." (Jubilee Bible 2000, John 9:5) The Christ is here, in this world. And Jesus’ healing methodology shows us how to heal in this divine light.
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