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Advancing beyond intellectual explanations to Christly understanding

From the July 1984 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Sometimes it may seem much easier to describe what Christian Science is and how it operates than it is to actually demonstrate Christian Science by healing. We may well wonder just what more we need to understand, since Mrs. Eddy states in Science and Health, "We must recollect that Truth is demonstrable when understood, and that good is not understood until demonstrated." Science and Health, p. 323. How do we gain the understanding of Christian Science that heals instead of only explains?

It may be that our approach to studying Christian Science is too intellectual. Do we regard Science as another in a list of academic subjects we have mastered? We may be able to write a lengthy thesis about Christian Science theology, but if we are not able to heal, how helpful is our knowledge?

It's true that Christian Science places great emphasis on understanding God, as opposed to a blind faith in His power. But what kind of understanding? Spiritual understanding. Human analyses would categorize mankind's understanding of God within a humanly psychological framework. At one extreme would be blind faith, trust in divine help without any understanding and with no concept of God's nature. At the opposite end of the spectrum might be a scholastic, formal, intellectual approach to God, accepting nothing and trusting nothing but what could be substantiated with human logic and reasoning.

Where does our spiritual understanding of Christian Science fit on this scale? It doesn't, because this is a scale of the human mind. Christian Science teaches that God is the one divine Mind, the only Mind of man. We advance in our spiritual understanding of Science as we accept the great fact that in reality we, as God's spiritual idea, do not possess separate, personal, limited material minds or brains; rather, we reflect the divine consciousness or Ego, God.

The main point is this: Christian Science healing is the power of God manifested, not an intellectual mind-over-matter activity of the human mind. Spiritual healing is the power of the Christ destroying human belief in evil. This point is elaborated on in the Preface of Science and Health. Denouncing the notion that metaphysical healing is produced by the human mind, Mrs. Eddy clearly states what healing is. She writes, "The physical healing of Christian Science results now, as in Jesus' time, from the operation of divine Principle, before which sin and disease lose their reality in human consciousness and disappear as naturally and as necessarily as darkness gives place to light and sin to reformation." Ibid., p. xi.

The human mind wants to see everything described and explained within its own framework of a material universe. It wants to fit Christian Science, its theology and healing, into the human scheme of things. But to demonstrate the healing power of infinite Spirit, God, divine Mind, we must advance beyond a humanly intellectual description of what happens in Christian Science healing and base our understanding in Spirit, in the divine Mind. We must advance our prayers to the point of realizing the absolute spiritual facts of being. We must deepen our spiritual understanding.

How do we do this? Christ Jesus told Nicodemus, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus, evidently thinking about human birth, asked how this could be. And Jesus explained, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." John 3:3, 5. On another occasion Jesus spoke to his disciples of the necessity of becoming as little children to enter into the kingdom of heaven.See Matt. 18:1-5.

Wasn't Jesus saying that we must approach God from an entirely different perspective—from a realization that we are already the children of God, Spirit, instead of human beings struggling to gain spirituality? Becoming as "little children" is seeking God with sincerity and humility and receptivity, not from prideful, intellectual egotism that insists on molding God into its own limited, material framework of reality. In the Bible, the prophet Jeremiah represents God as saying, "Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." Jer. 29:13. Sincerity in our study of Science will bring us to the spiritual truths of God and man that enable us to heal. Searching for God with our heart instead of our head, we will be humble enough to accept these truths and prove them in healing.

How sincerely do we seek God? Are we acknowledging God as the only power, the only cause, the only healer? Or do we sometimes seek God's help in combination with material remedies, thinking that if praying to God doesn't work, we'll have something else to fall back on? Unless our turning to God is sincere and unreserved, we may lack the recognition of His allness that brings healing. We can be confident that our faith and understanding of God will be strengthened and purified in proportion as we honestly and sincerely strive to understand His allness and the consequent futility of looking for help somewhere else.

To really admit we need God's help takes humility; it is to recognize that we are dependent upon a power beyond our own personal abilities. Praying to God sincerely, humbly, we let go of a humanly personal sense of ability, of health, of intelligence, and of power. Instead, we accept the grandeur of our spiritual individuality as the perfect reflection of Soul, deriving all of our identity and being from God.

Gaining a sense of humility blesses us. We begin to see that God cares for man, the real selfhood of each of us, instead of thinking we have to fend for ourselves. We begin to realize that God has never forsaken His beloved child, never forgotten us, never let us out of His sight.

This humility is the opposite of mortal egotism, of belief in an identity or selfhood that exists apart from God, which says man can sin (i.e., separate himself from God's direction and care). This material sense of man, with a personal ego, is accordingly capable of bringing on all sorts of trouble. But this is a lie about the real man. Man has the Mind of Christ. He cannot sin. He cannot even want to sin. Because spiritual man's consciousness emanates from God, the divine Mind, he cannot entertain any false beliefs about himself or his Maker. And since man in God's likeness can't possibly fall from grace, or perfection, he is never faced with the overwhelming task of reinserting himself into the kingdom of heaven. We only have to recognize that man has never left this kingdom, because God's law and God's love and power outlaw such a sinful event. Man is only able to be good and to do good, because man forever reflects God, good.

When we pray from the basis of these absolute spiritual truths of God and man and strive to demonstrate them in our daily lives, we find healing. Such prayer dispels misconceptions of reality with the Christ, the true idea of God. It's vital that we understand prayer as explained in Science and Health: "Prayer cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it." Science and Health, p. 2. Prayer is not a humanly mental manipulation of reality. Prayer is the activity of the Christ in human consciousness, revealing the reality of goodness and the falsity of evil, sin, and sickness.

If we pray but do not find healing, it may be that we are unconsciously holding to a human concept of our prayer. We may be thinking of ourselves as applying absolute spiritual truths to an actual material situation that needs changing. But it's not being that needs to be changed, only our perception of it. God doesn't depend on man to enforce His laws, even with spiritual weapons. He doesn't need our help to govern the universe. Our task in prayer is to see what God has done and is doing, to recognize perfection, not to reinstate it.

This has been brought home to me in my prayers. At one time I felt unfairly treated at work; extra compensation had been promised to me, but the promise had not been kept. I prayed. I affirmed that God, not an employer, was in control of my life, and that divine Mind was governing the situation. Still, nothing changed, and I was puzzled about why my prayers had produced no effect. I asked myself, "If this situation persists, how can I honestly and sincerely believe that God is really governing me, when the unfairness still exists?" The impossibility of holding to two opposite views of this one situation became clear to me; either God was governing, or things were unfair. Both couldn't be true at the same time. So, which was really true?

This was the dawn—when I asked myself, "Which is really true?" Through spiritual sense I saw clearly that truly God was governing, then and always. With the question answered on God's side, the only conclusion left was that the "unfair situation" was not true; it was an illusion. And I rejoiced that no matter how long this illusion of unfairness continued to seem real, it could never persuade me or convince me that God was not in control. Of course, this conviction of God's control, despite appearances to the contrary, brought me into harmony with the truth of being. And it brought immediate healing to the situation at hand; I was fairly compensated by my employer. The healing came through the realization of absolute spiritual truth, not a lot of positive thinking. My prayer did not cause God to wake up and help me; it woke me up to see and experience His care.

Science and Health states, in reference to spiritual understanding, "This understanding is not intellectual, is not the result of scholarly attainments; it is the reality of all things brought to light." Ibid., p. 505. The human intellect can describe how Christian Science seems to operate according to human view, but it is the Christly understanding of spiritual reality derived from the divine Mind alone that heals. If we really seek God's help —sincerely, humbly—we seek Him with our heart, not our head. Our pursuit of spiritual understanding will become less of a human struggle as we increasingly recognize that the Christly consciousness which heals is not humanly attained but is the gift of God.

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