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For sharper faculties

Firmament, the basis of judgment

From the May 1984 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Because the faculties of spiritual sense express God, they are eternally perfect. They cannot be faulty, nor can they fail. Our true identity—spiritual man created in God's likeness—reflects His being. Therefore our faculties cannot be impaired or extinguished. Because the spiritual senses of eternal Life and infinite Spirit—God—are everlasting and substantial, our real senses are ageless and indestructible. They cognize only reality, and so judge aright that good is All-in-all.

God has revealed what spiritual faculties are. For example, Science and Health, the Christian Science textbook by Mrs. Eddy, defines "eyes" as "spiritual discernment,—not material but mental. . . ."Science and Health, p. 586. Discernment, spiritual and perfect, certainly belongs to our real nature as God's reflection. But when we feel far from this perfection—where blindness, defective vision, and confusion seem as real to us as clear seeing and keen judgment—how shall we distinguish reality from unreality and claim our genuine heritage?

We have a guideline to help us. Early in the spiritual record of creation, God decreed, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters."Gen. 1:6. Revealing the practical significance of this figurative concept, Science and Health defines "firmament" as "spiritual understanding; the scientific line of demarcation between Truth and error, between Spirit and so-called matter."Science and Health, p. 586.

Like the equator, the firmament is a line invisible to the material senses. But unlike the equator, the firmament does not divide something from something else. Spiritually viewed, the firmament does not divide, it clarifies the basis of judgment— the "line of demarcation"—that enables us to divide or distinguish somethingness from nothingness, reality from unreality, so that we may demonstrate the former and be no more deluded by the latter. Science and Health explains: "Spiritual sense is the discernment of spiritual good. Understanding is the line of demarcation between the real and unreal. Spiritual understanding unfolds Mind,—Life, Truth, and Love,—and demonstrates the divine sense, giving the spiritual proof of the universe in Christian Science."Ibid., p. 505.

Christ Jesus demonstrated the basis of judgment called in Science and Health the firmament. He fulfilled the divine prophecy recorded by Isaiah: "Judgment also will I lay to the line." Isa. 28:17. He awakened humanity to spiritual discernment, the "eyes" that see the heaven of spiritual understanding everywhere (see Matt. 13:16). His power to divide clarity from cloudiness was proved as certainly when he rebuked the Pharisees for their moral and spiritual obtuseness as it was when he healed people who were physically blind.

The power of Christ, the divine ideal expressed by Jesus, enabled our Way-shower and enables us, in proportion as we claim our native goodness, to see discerningly. Then we can express in healing works the true judgment afforded by the firmament, or heaven of spiritual understanding. Christ Jesus said, "For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see."John 9:39.

Perfect seeing is systematically demonstrable because the Comforter the Master prophesied would come to teach us all things (see John 14:26) has come. Our Comforter is divine Science; it shows us how to correct the belief that Truth and error, Spirit and matter, good and evil, coexist. This belief is itself blindness. But we need not believe it. Through utilizing the understanding or firmament that excludes the unreal—and the unreal includes both the blindness of false belief and the false belief of blindness—from the ever-presence of reality, we can apply the Christly judgment inherent in spiritual discernment. By watching our thoughts and accepting into our consciousness only that which is real, we can increasingly demonstrate permanently perfect sight.

On the human scene, the better we see the firmament—the clarification between reality and unreality, Truth and error, Spirit and matter—the clearer our judgment, our spiritual and moral vision. And the clearer our judgment, the better our sight. Inseparable from the gospel message of Christian Science is the fact that God, the all-seeing Mind, cognizes only good, since good is all that really exists. Because man is God's reflection, man's good vision follows as an inescapable consequence. Because God sees, we see. And we can prove this. In everyday living we can consistently, unerringly judge from the basis of Truth's necessity and error's impossibility. We can cultivate the spiritual sense of discernment. Through Christ we can demonstrate the reality of Truth as God, and of man as Godlike, proving that any defective or deteriorating sense of faculties is unreal. By enabling us to see good as it is, pure and entire, the firmament enables us to see well.

The reality of Truth awakens us to refute errors of judgment as unreal, to forsake willful wrongdoing, and to overcome mistakes. The reality of Spirit inspires us to rebuke the belief of life in matter in all its disguises, to repent of sin and to heal sickness. Acting through Christ the Saviour, divine Truth or Spirit rescues those who are blinded by the pleasures as well as the impoverishments of the deceitful material senses. Christ opens our eyes to the deception of evil. It makes us yearn and strive to be better. Christ gives us the wisdom to perceive what is nearest right and the courage to do it.

Christ, God's spiritual idea of true manhood, embraces all and is divinely empowered to meet human needs. So the effect of exercising the office of the firmament or expressing clarity through practicing Christian Science is to enable us to see truthfully, wisely—not only to see good and appreciate it but also to detect the claims of evil so that they may be rejected from our experience. Thus discernment and understanding cooperate to produce healing.

Through our efforts to express this harmonious activity in Christian discipleship, Christ corrects the fears, diseased beliefs, and faulty mortal concepts that would interfere with a normal sense of vision. Learning more of the divine reality of man's faculties, we overcome these errors. The effect is that normal vision is preserved through the influence of Truth. Whatever is needed in order to be clearsighted mentally and physically is provided and strengthened through the restorative power of Christ. Thus "the line of demarcation" shows our preclusion of error and our unity with Truth.

What is true of sight is true of all faculties. Today as in Jesus' time the Christ action crowns earnest efforts to destroy spiritually blind, deaf, and mute belief in the illusion of error or matter by awakening us to our God-given faculties. If our need is for better vision, we can yield to the Christ and understand the difference we discern between Truth and error, Spirit and matter. By applying the law of the firmament—the law that Truth, Spirit, when understood in some degree, supplants error or materiality to that exact degree—we can put into practice and realize what we discern and understand of the allness of God and the wholeness of His likeness. Small wonder that the Bible says, "God called the firmament Heaven."Gen. 1:8.

Jesus proved what he announced: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand."Matt. 4:17. From his parables of the kingdom of heaven one may deduce that in human experience the Christian disciple enters heaven—realizes its presence—by discerning goodness, understanding its reality, and demonstrating it in his life through rightdoing. These efforts to realize harmony involve detecting evil—wrong thinking or wrongdoing—understanding the unreality of it and denying it a place in one's decisions and therefore in one's sight. By so progressing, we wake to perfect being. And as we wake to perfect being, we wake to perfect seeing.

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