Defence of Christian Science
From Christian Science Journal, March 1885, by Mary Baker G. Eddy
Against Rev. Joseph Cook and Dr. A. J. Gordon’s Religious BAN.
In your public letter anathematizing Christian Science and its text-book, "Science and Health," you assail the religious views and life of members of your own and of other evangelical churches, the Pastor of the Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, and insult the sacred opinions of more than a hundred thousand readers of this book.
At an early age, I united with a Congregationalist church, at Tilton, N. H., of which I have been a member in good standing over thirty years. Before leaving my native state, I communicated to my pastor the new and more spiritualized sense I entertain of the power of Christianity, its cause and effect, requested a letter of dismission from my church, gave the Pastor my published works to examine before granting it, and received the following reply—
Jan. 13th, 1875.
THIS CERTIFIES that Mrs. Mary M. Glover is a member of this Church in good and regular standing. At her own request, she is dismissed from this and recommended to any evangelical church in Lynn.
When received there her particular connection with us will cease. Theodore C. Pratt.
Pastor of Cong’l Church, Tilton, N. H.
[The initial M. was dropped at my last marriage, to retain my maiden name.]
The discipline of the Congregational church is taken from the 18th chapter of Matt., "If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone," etc. When Rev. Joseph Cook was pastor of a church in Lynn, and it was alleged he was breaking up the society, and he resigned his pastorate, there followed him scathing newspaper articles. I then ventured a woman’s protest against too summary condemnation among Christians.
Again I call public attention to this usage. Only a day before the meaningless farce of examining my books, the aforesaid gentleman called on a student of mine, borrowed "Science and Health," but took no heed of the earnest request that he have an interview with the author, and give her opportunity to explain this text-book that she is teaching to others, before expressing his opinion pro or con. But a glance at a scientific work the grandest minds in Boston are studying, was alone granted, before the Ban on the following forenoon, and the cat’s play with the mouse was over. Are such the footsteps of the shepherd, in accord with Church discipline, or Christian sentiment? Do they meet the demand of Christ, "As ye would that others should do unto you, do ye even so."
The Apostle says, they shall speak with "new tongues" who lay hands on the sick and they recover. One look at the pages of "Science and Health," whose phraseology is difficult,—it must state metaphysics in physical terms and then be understood metaphysically—and this look uninspired, but not unprejudiced, is insufficient for the claims of justice in reviewing a work of that kind, and dead to the demands of Christian charity.
Christian Science is interpreted spiritually: until thus discerned it should not be judged. To have fair play, I offer Clergymen gratuitous instruction; if they give me this chance, I will guarantee they shall understand Christian Science sufficiently to demonstrate it conclusively by healing the sick. Of this unmerited aim at the heart of Christian healing, let us charitably say they "know not what they do;" but it has awakened keen comment and condemnation.
The following is quoted from Rev. A. J. Gordon’s letter, read in Tremont Temple and applauded by Joseph Cook:—
"I believe Christian Science to be of precisely the same lineage as Spiritualism or Theosophy—from beneath, and not from above. One has only to open the published volumes of its lady apostle in this city to find such a creed of pantheism and blasphemy as has been rarely compounded. No personal Deity, no personal devil, no personal man, no forgiveness of sin, no such thing as sin, no sacrificial atonement, no intercessory prayer, and so far as I can learn, its ministry to the bodies and souls of the afflicted has for its ends their conversion to this creed. Let Christians beware of the system."
1st. To the charge, "One has only to open the published volumes," etc., I reply: this was all those censors could have done and arrived at their conclusions. Do not the reverend gentlemen demand the right to explain their creed, or what might be the comment on three persons in one? That it was blasphemy, a heathen conception of Deity! They would not consent to my being heard, and why?
2nd. To the accusation of "Spiritualism, or Theosophy," I reply: there is not one Christian Scientist who is a Spiritualist, or can be after this enlightenment. Dr. Gordon’s and Mr. Cook’s churches have scores of members who are Spiritualists. From my text-book "Science and Health," I quote the following: "’The opinion that I must be a spiritualist, or medium, because I am not a materialist or creedist, I desire to correct. I never was a spiritualist, never was, and never admitted that I was a medium. I have been called that by Spiritualists: they call most people so. Mediumship is either a fraud or a delusion; it is neither science nor truth. If the so-called medium understood even in part the science of being, he could no longer produce the manifestations said to originate with the departed."
In a lecture delivered in Boston, Rev. Joseph Cook declared in favor of Spiritualism, and ventilated his so-called rationalistic, mystic and Germanistic metaphysics to corroborate spiritualism; a departure from the scriptures, irrational and superficial.
3rd. To the accusation of "Pantheism" I reply, by quoting from my book statements prominent and sustained throughout my entire works: "The Science of Soul is this, ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me; love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Heathen mythology and scholastic theology would perpetuate the fallacy of intelligence in matter, and idolatry and ritualism have sprung from this false belief. The visible universe and material man are counterfeits of God’s creation, the spiritual universe and man; mortal man has made a covenant with his eyes to belittle Deity with human conceptions. Materiality is an atom of dust thrown into the face of immensity, a flickering sense, instead of an abiding fact of creation."
4th. To the accusation of "blasphemy" Science and Health gives the lie in every line that is understood. It asks: "Are you living right, approximating to Divine Love? Then is your Life hid with Christ in God; and the harmony of Christian Science will unfold to you more and more until the perfect day; our explanations will seem clearer, and your good works prove what the understanding of God does for man. I love Christianity wherever it be found; it demonstrates Christian Science in Truth and Love, without which we have not arrived at what that word includes.
5th. To the accusation "No personal Deity,"—the following from Science and Health: "God is infinite; neither a limited Mind, nor a limited body. ‘God is Love,’ and Love is Principle, not person. What the person of the infinite is I have no evidence to sustain a conclusion. The five personal senses have no cognizance of the infinite, finite sense is inadequate to recognize it.
We can have no personal sense of Deity, without limiting him, The term Principle seems distant and cold until it becomes only another name for the supreme Being, and we recognize the divine presence and power of this Being. We do this proportionately as we seek and find in divine science the truth of Life and the life of Truth, and demonstrate it. Omnipotence and omnipresence can be understood only as the divine Principle. I cannot conceive of personal omnipotence or omnipresence, how an everywhere-present body or mind can start from limits or be limitless. An impersonal sense of omnipotence prevents man from having other gods, from the common idolatry—faith in the power of drugs, hygiene, etc. When Deity is understood we shall find no power beside Him, and all power in Him."
6th. To the accusation "No personal devil", I reply: No man hath seen the person of good or the person of evil; both are bigger than person; the Scriptures speak of more than one devil, "He cast out devils;" again, "Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" This defines devil, evil, in man. Jesus said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan;" but this meant not that he was a devil to whom were given the keys of the kingdom; neither were seven persons cast out of Magdalene.
The most distinguished divines in Europe and America admit the Scriptures have both a literal and moral meaning; but which is the most important, a literal or the moral sense of God, man, and devil? Christian Science gives a broader view of Deity than personality can, and it makes man proportionately more liberal and just. Deity is bigger in Science than creeds, not only a definite omnipotence and intelligence, but a practical power, truth and love.
Man is more to science than sense, and evil is more and less; more, because the evil we once saw not we now see; and less, because we have more power over it. St. Paul said, "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of Spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter."
7th. To the accusation "No personal man," I reply: man means more than person, even as mind means more than matter.—he outlives it, this is the survival of the fittest. Man is the image and likeness of God, the representative of infinity; but personal man is not this representative, and man cannot lose his identity in science more than notes or numbers.
By the statement "no personal man," I mean precisely what Bishop Foster said in a lecture in Boston, "No man living hath yet seen man." When his personality disappears man is immortal, and who can say what his personality becomes as the "image and likeness" of its Maker. I am not spiritualist enough to venture the assertion; perhaps Bro. Cook is. One thing is sure, a finite mind is not man in the image and likeness of infinite Mind.
Dr. Gordon said in his sermon, The Ministry of Healing, "the forgiven soul in a sick body is not half a man." Is it "blasphemy" to say man is impersonal? What, then, of saying a pardoned soul is but half a man! I shudder at the thought.
8th. To the accusation "No forgiveness of sin," I reply: Jesus said "I am the Truth and the Life." Truth does not forgive error, it pursues it unrelentingly, and will not let it alone until destroyed; but when destroyed, there is nothing left to forgive: if forgiven, sin would not need destroying. God is good, and good annihilates evil; in this sense only it forgives it. Your forgiveness is my destruction of sin: our terms vary. But I insist on its destruction when God forgives it.
The Psalmist said, "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases." Disease is not healed until extinct, and Jesus healed sickness as he healed sin, his physical and mental healing were one; he cast out devils, evils, and healed the sick. But how could he both cast them out and forgive them? Had he forgiven them in the sense you employ, they would have remained in man, and this very interpretation has retarded the Christianization of man.
A magistrate pardons a criminal, but that may encourage crime; it has not extinguished the motive for crime, or the crime which is the effect of that motive. Sin should suffer since suffering destroys sin, hence the law of God "thou shalt die."
9th. To the accusation "No such thing as sin," I reply: my meaning is misapprehended here as in all other instances alluded to. It is only on the basis of the opposite to that which is real, it being good, that I say evil is unreal; my faith is founded on reform, repentance; and this destroys sin according to divine law. To illustrate: I believe the unmerited public abuse that would stop the sale of a book healing its thousands, or retard a cause healing the sick and promoting Christianity, is evil; but I shall try, in Christian Science, to reduce this evil in my own mind, and the mind of others, to its common denominator, nothing, because it is not of God; and I shall go on to bless them that curse me and "overcome evil with good."
10th. To the accusation "No sacrificial atonement," I reply: the earthly history of our Lord was a sacrifice beyond tears or prayers to reward, or human power to appreciate, only as we drink of His cup, suffer for righteousness sake, and are baptized with his baptism, cleansed by Truth, the purification of Spirit, and willing to give up a sense of mortal life, its mistaken claims of pleasure and pain, for the life of Christ, spiritual life.
The blood of Jesus speaketh better things than that of Abel. The body and blood of Christ were not material offerings: the blood of Spirit never flowed from human veins. Jesus said "Spirit hath not flesh and blood."
The sacrificial atonement by which Jesus’ struggle and triumph pointed man his way out of sin, sickness, and death, is too great, too glorious to be comprehended only as we love the Father, and sacrifice human affections to the divine. Not to appease the wrath of Love, but to destroy the human sense of hate and sin, Jesus suffered and gave his body a sacrifice for mortals.
A human sense of love sees no farther than to die for a friend, but divine Love includes its enemies; and Love so great destroys hate, blessing itself in blessing its enemies. Any other than the spiritual signification of atonement removes its efficacy from Spirit to matter.
The merit of Jesus’ atonement was increased instead of diminished, was more to me than you, when I learned in Christian Science it revealed the way out of sickness and death, as well as sin.
11th. To the accusation "No intercessory prayer," I reply: prayer is desire uttered or unexpressed. I have found inaudible prayer more efficient to heal than the audible. This prayer is not begging God to do more than He does, but calling on man to recognize what He does; this causes man to love Him more than merely asking for more love.
It is not asking universal Love to include us in His affections, but utilizing the Love and truth already ours. By this prayer we make new and scientific discoveries of what we have and the power of spiritual light; like the photographer who discovers the power of solar light to paint pictures.
Silent prayer, and none other, may meet the demand "pray without ceasing," and is the prayer of the righteous that heals the sick. It is intercessory when effectual, and effectual if sincere. Words may belie desire and utter the hypocrite’s prayer: the apostle says, "Ye ask and receive not because ye ask amiss, to consume it on your lust."
12th. To that shocking counsel from such a source, "Let Christians beware of this system," I reply: The apostles were persecuted and misrepresented by the church of their time; the gathering storm of ecclesiastical fury must burst before the full orbed significance of such lives could appear. Even Jesus said "For which of these works do ye stone me?"
There are sinners in all societies; I had hoped for one without them, but history repeats itself. Many are saying to-day, "Have I not done wonderful works in thy name?" who have no part in Him: while others are doing His work.
But alas! for religion, when the watchmen sit in judgment on good works and condemn them, sending forth false alarms and slumbering themselves over Christ’s command "Heal the sick and cast out evil." He that by turns is orthodox, heterodox, spiritualist and lunatic, is shattered in mind, one whose praise is censure, and whose censure praise.
Did Dr. Gordon mean what he said in his sermon, "The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and it is done to-day; and as the faith of the church increases and Christians more and more learn their duty to believe all things written in the Scriptures, will such manifestations of God’s saving power increase among us."
Let an unprejudiced mind compare the leading points of my abjured system with Dr. Gordon’s system of religion, understanding one as thoroughly as the other, and reason and conscience must decide for Christian Science.
His system requires three personal Gods to make one, and that one unable or unwilling to heal the sick, necessitating other gods for this department of human need.
According to his own words, a personal man with his soul forgiven and sick is but half a man. (If he understood forgiveness he would know man is not sick under such circumstances.)
His personal devil seems more omnipotent than his Deity; he has the balance of power, and it is not in all the vanity of his system in the name and for the sake of Christ to cast out this devil and heal the sick.
The God of my abjured system is omnipotent, and it has but one God, and this One an ever-present help, able and ready to make whole all who come unto Him.
Man, after my system, is every whit a man, healthy, holy, of the Elohim of His creation, co-existent and co-eternal with God.
The Satan of my system is being chained and engulphed in the bottomless, where evil has no resurrection and good is supreme.
Christian Science has healed more intemperance, licentiousness, and sickness within the past eighteen years, than has been done by the united power of creeds since Christ.
13th. To the accusation "Its ministry of healing has for its ends conversion to this creed," I reply: It has no creed, and no system that importunes people to join our church, but leaves them to their own convictions. It has no system of begging money or men; it has earned the strong cry for it by benefitting mankind, and reclaims sinners in the way of His appointing. Perhaps the above thrust was occasioned by a member of Dr. Gordon’s church who came to me sick; my conversation, she said, helped her more than medicine had ever done. She was anxious to become my pupil. I took her on charity. It happened that I had a Sabbath lesson for the class. She refused to attend it saying she must go to her own church. I told her not one lesson could be lost if she wished to learn what I taught. She persisted, and staid away from my Sunday lesson. Then I dismissed her from membership with the class. This person was a Spiritualist. I had done for her, according to her own admission, more than her clergyman or the "spirits" could do, yet her bigotry carried the question.
A distinguished clergyman came to be healed; he said, "I have great nervous exhaustion; have to eat beef-steak and drink strong coffee or tea to support me through my sermon." I replied, If my toils are severe and unremitting, I look to Christ for rest and find it; the Truth of my being rebukes its error. A lady said to me yesterday, "Only he who knows all things can estimate the good your books have done humanity." A distinguished D.D. of Boston said: "Your book leavens my sermons." The following from a letter post-marked Philadelphia, "Your books are binding up the broken-hearted, preaching deliverance to the captive, convicting the infidel, alarming the hypocrite, and quickening the Christian." Are these the fruits of blasphemy? Does the same fountain send forth sweet and bitter water?
Protestantism in Queen Elizabeth’s time consigned its victims to the dungeon and stake; it choked the very channels of God; it denied the rights of conscience, and the ecclesiastical paw muzzled the mouth lisping God’s praise.
But the heretics of yesterday are today acknowledged martyrs. Jesus said, "I thank thee, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes." May such Christianity come to this age. Without charity we are as sounding brass; charity "suffereth long and is kind, doth not behave itself unseemly, thinketh no evil, but rejoiceth in the Truth."