To the question, "Can the understanding of Christian Science be gained without a teacher?" the answer must unhesitatingly be "yes." "Spirit imparts the understanding which leads into all Truth. Spiritual sight is the discernment of good.... This understanding is not intellectual, is not aided by scholarly attainments." It manifests itself in "distinguishing between the immortal, unerring, and infinite on the one hand, and the mortal, erring, and finite on the other." ... in "separating Mind, and its idea, from matter—illusion."S.&H. 40th Ed., p. 434 .
Intellectual acquirements and training may hinder entrance into the kingdom of God, but their lack is not—as some seem to suppose—prima facie evidence of fitness for it. Jesus referring to the children said, "To such as these belongs the kingdom of God," and "whosoever may not welcome the kingdom of God as a child, in no wise may enter thereinto."Mark x. 14, Rotherham's version. Manifestations of the false sense of intelligence, self-love, and self-righteousness are as frequent among those called poor or ignorant as with the rich and instructed. The beliefs of the false sense have to be uncovered and overcome in all alike. Experience shows that instruction is almost indispensable to success in this work. Of two persons in—as nearly as may be—equally favorable conditions, the one making a start with a teacher is often further advanced at the end of twelve months than the other after a lapse of several years. Jesus says that every one "thoroughly instructed as to the kingdom of the heavens, is like to a man, a householder, who puts forth out of his treasure things new and old." The frequent references by him and by the apostles to teachers and teaching, as well as their own example—establish the teacher as a legitimate factor in the work of regeneration. That "the Spirit of God is the only teacher," is true; but as held by many well-meaning persons, it is both a fallacy and an error fatal to growth. The understanding of Christian Science is confounded by them with the belief of the old thought. When said from this standpoint, the expression cited above is an intense and often bitter assertion of the claim of personality. So is the belief as expressed by such persons, that God has dealt with them in some special way or granted some special illumination. God is no respecter of persons, and there is no royal road to understanding of Him, any more than to human learning. "Christian Science is not an exception to the general rule, that there is no excellence without labor in a direct line."S.&H. 40th Ed., p. 80 .
Understanding comes, in the words of Paul to the Hebrews, through having "the organs of perception well trained for discriminating both good and evil," and it can come in no other way. The exceptionally simple-minded discern and follow Truth from the first glimpse; but with the great majority of beginners the assistance of one more advanced in understanding is almost a necessity. The simple-minded have an advantage over the sophisticated at the start, but if relied upon, it will soon disappear, and the positions will be reversed. Differences are only relative. None are free from educated beliefs, and there is only one way out of them—power of discrimination, constantly exercised, between material and spiritual sense—what the Psalmist terms the "judgments of the Lord."
Want to read this article from the Journal?
Subscribe to JSH-Online to access The Christian Science Journal, along with the Christian Science Sentinel and The Herald of Christian Science. Get unlimited access to current issues, the searchable archive, podcasts, audio for issues, biographies about Mary Baker Eddy, and more. Already a subscriber? Log in