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Probation—continuing progress—after death

From the May 2020 issue of The Christian Science Journal


The week my mom passed on, the subject of the Bible Lesson in the Christian Science Quarterly was “Probation After Death.” You know, it felt a bit unsettling, the thought that my sweet mom could now be “on probation.” What did that mean? Who was judging her? What would the outcome be? When I called my Christian Science teacher to ask about this, he suggested I think of the Lesson subject as “Progress After Death.”

That was helpful and reassuring. And as I have studied and prayed more about this, I have also come to believe spiritual progress, i.e., “probation,” is both before and after the experience referred to as death. We are each day progressing in our understanding and love of God, divine Life and Truth. This is an ongoing process. And it is one of joy and learning.

Let’s face it, the meaning of words often changes over time; what a word implies in one decade or century may be different years later. Words can also mean different things to different people. Perhaps that is why Mary Baker Eddy noted: “The chief difficulty in conveying the teachings of divine Science accurately to human thought lies in this, that like all other languages, English is inadequate to the expression of spiritual conceptions and propositions, because one is obliged to use material terms in dealing with spiritual ideas. The elucidation of Christian Science lies in its spiritual sense, and this sense must be gained by its disciples in order to grasp the meaning of this Science” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 349). So, what does this have to do with the word probation? And why is this word used in the subject of one of the Bible Lessons?

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