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Impersonalizing the mortal self by following Christ

From the July 2023 issue of The Christian Science Journal

With her characteristic spiritual insight, the Leader of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, teaches that the mortal self, or personality, is responsible for our troubles. And she points to the solution by stating: “To impersonalize scientifically the material sense of existence—rather than cling to personality—is the lesson of to-day” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 310).

Christian Science accepts the biblical truth that man is not flesh and blood but the spiritual image and likeness of the one infinite God, divine Mind. His identity is expressed in divine qualities such as intelligence, love, unselfishness, goodness, etc. By contrast, the apparent material personality expresses mortal thought, an unspiritual way of thinking that the Bible says results in sin, disease, and death. For this reason, the material personality, or “the old man” as St. Paul calls it, needs to be put off, and replaced with the true identity of man—“the new man” (see Colossians 3:9, 10)—recognizable through prayer as our Christly selfhood. 

The Latin word persona, which bases the word person, can refer to a mask used in the Roman theater. In like manner, material personality masks the man of God’s creating, presenting us as mortals with inherited material traits and habits. A supposed material mind constitutes this unreal mortal selfhood. Referring to this, Mrs. Eddy says: “Mortal mind sees what it believes as certainly as it believes what it sees. It feels, hears, and sees its own thoughts” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 86). 

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