Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to header Skip to footer

Fighting fire with fire—in God’s way

From the June 2013 issue of The Christian Science Journal

In popular usage, the phrase to “fight fire with fire” means to retaliate—to match aggression with aggression—in other words, “an eye for an eye.” But the phrase was coined to describe a technique for literally fighting brush fires. This operation is also called a “back burn.” It means that as a fire is advancing and burning out of control, another fire is deliberately started in the path of the first fire. This second fire—the back burn—consumes the material, such as vegetation, needed to keep a fire going. When the original fire reaches this point, it has nothing to burn. And so it is stopped.

Lately I’ve been thinking that the concept of a “back burn” also has a spiritual application. What about replacing the human mind-set of revenge, retaliation, and resentment with the true concept of “fighting fire with fire”? Wouldn’t this mean that instead of reacting to anger, hate, insult, and attack with more of the same, we would eliminate these combustible mental elements from our consciousness? Then when the flames of conflict seem to come into our experience, they’ll have nothing to feed on—nothing to keep them going. They will burn themselves out for lack of fuel.

But how do we rid ourselves of our own fears, sensitivity, pride, or whatever else tends to “catch fire” when it comes to human relationships? What is the “back burn” that can do this? It is the Christ, God’s idea, as described in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Here, Mary Baker Eddy writes of the Christ in this way: “The impersonation of the spiritual idea had a brief history in the earthly life of our Master; but ‘of his kingdom there shall be no end,’ for Christ, God’s idea, will eventually rule all nations and peoples—imperatively, absolutely, finally—with divine Science. This immaculate idea … will baptize with fire; and the fiery baptism will burn up the chaff of error with the fervent heat of Truth and Love, melting and purifying even the gold of human character” (p. 565).

Sign up for unlimited access

You've accessed 1 piece of free Journal content


Subscription aid available

 Try free

No card required

More in this issue / June 2013


Explore Concord—see where it takes you.

Search the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures