During the course of an intense conversation in which it was clear that his life was being threatened, Christ Jesus made one of the boldest assertions of the ages: Evil is unreal. He said that no truth, not an ounce of truth, can be found in any manifestation of evil, and that the devil, a biblical term for evil, is “a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). In essence, Jesus taught that the appearance of evil should always be seen as a lie, a specious presentation of suggestions that contradict the truth about God’s exclusively good creation. Then, with remarkable precision, he proved it.
In fact, Jesus proved the unreality of evil throughout his healing mission and ministry. He instantaneously healed the sick. He stopped destructive weather patterns dead in their tracks. He redeemed and transformed the character of unscrupulous individuals right on the spot, when they were receptive to his prayers. Jesus proved the unreality of evil to such a degree that even when people in positions of power conspired to put him to death, even when the denial of his mission by all but a few friends could have crushed his spirit, and even when the so-called destructive forces of materiality should have ended his life, he still triumphed over death and the grave. Jesus said of himself, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
In his parting message to his disciples, and to all future generations of Christians, Jesus left clear instructions about the need we all have to continue the work of declaring and proving the unreality of evil, the impossibility of a power opposed to God, infinite good. He said: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17, 18).
Animal magnetism, the lie of evil, only gains traction if we fall for the belief that man is material or animal. How important, then, to know and claim the truth about spiritual man!
In those marvelous verses, Jesus gave to all humanity, not to just his immediate disciples, both a clear command to reject and conquer evil in all its forms—including sin, disease, and death—and also a comforting promise that through the power of God and His Christ, the lie of evil can always be overcome. One of the earliest Christians to prove the truth of Jesus’ statement was the Apostle Paul, who confidently said, “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:57). In another profound promise of victory, Paul firmly said to the Romans, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
Over the centuries, genuine Christianity has certainly endeavored to take a stand against evil through the purity, goodness, and love expressed in the lives of individual Christians. However, it was Mary Baker Eddy who, through her discovery of Christian Science, discerned and helped to reconnect humanity with this deeply important biblical truth: the fact that evil exists only as a supposition, not a reality. She taught that evil can only seem real as a mortal belief, an erroneous concept built on faulty information supplied by the five material senses, and that Christ, Truth, casts out this false sense, along with its lies. To the degree we understand this, we can prove the unreality of evil in our own experience, just as Jesus instructed.
Mary Baker Eddy understood that the unreality of evil was based in one simple fact: The allness of God, who is ever-active and omnipotent good, leaves no place for evil to be, no form for evil to assume, no actual power for evil to wield. However, as the truth of God’s allness became more and more apparent to her thought, she also saw a great need to expose the way in which evil assumes a reality and power to promulgate its lies. Even though evil is only suppositional, it was necessary to expose its supposed ability to operate—because until the truth of God’s infinite goodness is more universally accepted and understood, the lie of evil can seem real and powerful to human consciousness. And when human consciousness is thus deceived, humanity experiences its harmful effects.
Mrs. Eddy explains this phenomenon in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “All reality is in God and His creation, harmonious and eternal. That which He creates is good, and He makes all that is made. Therefore the only reality of sin, sickness, or death is the awful fact that unrealities seem real to human, erring belief, until God strips off their disguise” (p. 472). So long as a lie is believed, the supposed effects of that lie will appear and can feel very real.
Thus it was that Mary Baker Eddy understood that, included in her God-ordained mission to bring greater awareness to the practical healing power of Christ, was the charge to expose the hidden ways and means of evil. She knew she must expose evil, show it to be a powerless lie, but that she must also show the way in which this lie of evil would attempt to operate until its final destruction.
Through love, courage, and consecrated prayer, Mrs. Eddy discerned that one of the best ways to expose the methods of evil was to give evil a different name. This new name for evil would still clearly designate evil as a lie, but it would also uncover the way in which its lies gain supposed traction in mortal thought. The new name for the lie of evil, or all material erroneous belief: animal magnetism. As Mary Baker Eddy is reported to have said once to a group of her students: “Animal magnetism is the name God gave me to give to you by which to handle the error; it covers all error; …” (We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, Expanded Edition, Volume II, p. 33).
But why is the lie of evil defined as animal, and why is the lie of evil defined as having a magnetic component? Animal magnetism claims that man is material, governed by electrical forces and animal impulses, and that because of this, either ignorantly or maliciously mortal man can be pushed and pulled like a magnet to think and behave in ways totally contrary to man’s true nature as the likeness of God, which is wholly good. St. Paul described this exact same hypnotic or magnetic phenomena in the Bible when he said: “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.… I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me” (Romans 7:19, 21).
Paul was describing the feeling of being pulled away from good and right thinking, and pushed toward wrong thinking by what seemed like an external force that he could not control. Anything that would turn our thought away from our natural desire as God’s spiritual and good reflection, as God made us, is animal magnetism.
In Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy references the individual credited with initially bringing animal magnetism to the world’s attention, Franz Mesmer. Interestingly, the term animal magnetism later took on the eponym mesmerism, which eventually became synonymous with hypnotism. With keen spiritual insight, Mrs. Eddy used Mesmer’s early definition of animal magnetism to begin to unmask the way in which the lie of evil operates unseen. Speaking of Mesmer’s theory, Science and Health reads: “His propositions were as follows:
“ ‘There exists a mutual influence between the celestial bodies, the earth, and animated things. Animal bodies are susceptible to the influence of this agent, disseminating itself through the substance of the nerves’ ” (p. 100).
Christian Science unmasks animal magnetism by exposing what it claims to be and how it claims to operate; it explains that animal magnetism is a just term for error or the lie of evil, and then shows how divine Truth annihilates it. “Knowing the claim of animal magnetism, that all evil combines in the belief of life, substance, and intelligence in matter, electricity, animal nature, and organic life, who will deny that these are the errors which Truth must and will annihilate?” (Science and Health, pp. 450–451).
The claim of animal magnetism or the lie of evil is based on an entirely false premise. It’s based on the belief that man is material, sensual, and animal in nature. Nothing could be further from the truth! Man made in the image and likeness of God is entirely spiritual. He is holy, pure, and good. Because God’s man is not actually made up of matter or material elements, he is not a magnet through which animal magnetism can operate. There is no animality in him to respond to animal magnetism’s claims. The perfect spirituality of a spiritually perfect man precludes the possibility of even an ounce of animality finding a place in the character or constitution of God’s children. Animal magnetism, the lie of evil, only gains traction if we fall for the belief that man is material or animal. How important, then, to know and claim the truth about spiritual man!
What about animal magnetism’s claim to operate through electrical forces that can cause sin, disease, and death? We read in Science and Health, “Electricity is not a vital fluid, but the least material form of illusive consciousness,—the material mindlessness, which forms no link between matter and Mind, and which destroys itself” (p. 293). Divine Science forms the indestructible link between God and man; matter and electricity are no part of it. Electrical currents are no part of spiritual man; only the health-giving currents of omnipotent Spirit give life to God’s man. All force is spiritual. All power is the manifestation of divine Mind, God, intelligently governing the entire universe in perfect harmony.
Christian Science explains that animal magnetism, the lie of evil, is without foundation; it is only a negation (see Science and Health, p. 102). The word negation means the absence of something. That’s exactly what evil is—it’s the absence of good, just like darkness is only the absence of light. The thing is, though, good is never absent. So if evil, animal magnetism, is the absence of good, and good is ever present, then evil is never present, never real.
At the end of the day, evil is just a liar, building on lies, and this tower of treachery can only do one thing: collapse. Without a mask to hide behind and without any truth to stand on, evil is inevitably swallowed up in its own illusion. Animal magnetism, basing its claim on the false belief that man is material, can simply never find an abiding place in the spiritually minded children of God. The Christlike man can never have a connection with evil, and is responsive only to the Word of God.
While the full demonstration of this fact has not yet been realized, except by Christ Jesus, it is being proven in modest, yet very significant ways, through the practice of Christian Science healing. Inevitably, the power of Truth to conquer error will become more widely known. Then, as the world comes to a greater recognition of man’s ability to overcome the lie of evil through the omnipotent power of good, the words of Christ Jesus’ promise will ring out all over the earth, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19).
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