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'Christian Science: What It Is and Isn't'

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I turned to God like the troubled father in Mark's Gospel and prayed with all my heart, ''Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief'' (Mark 9:24). Suddenly, as I prayed I felt a surge of pure joy. I knew that I could have confidence in the law of God, the same law that had preserved Paul at Melita. (Do you remember that Bible story? The Apostle Paul and his companions had been shipwrecked. They all made it ashore, and Paul was gathering sticks for a fire when a viper fastened itself on his hand. The onlookers expected him to drop dead, but he didn't. He shook the snake off into the fire and went on his way, unharmed. Paul had been praying.) All God's creatures move in harmony I picked up a copy of Science and Health and this is what I read: ''Understanding the control which Love held over all, Daniel felt safe in the lions' den, and Paul proved the viper to be harmless. All of God's creatures, moving in the harmony of Science, are harmless, useful, indestructible'' (p. 514 ). The question was no longer whether a particular kind of snake was venomous or not, but ''Could there be anything outside of God's creation, or any venomous thing within it?'' I knew with certainty that God held us all safely in His conscious care. This fact was the law to this situation, and my reliance on it was scientific. And that was that. There were no aftereffects, no pain, no swelling or discoloration, although her father, who knew more about snakes than I did, was momentarily shaken when he saw the puncture mark. You can imagine our awe and gratitude. But this was not a miracle. It was the predictable result of applied Science. There is no material law that can act in conflict with the law of God. We bring our experience within the operation of that law as we live in conscious obedience to it; and isn't that true of any law? Now we come to the final question: ''Is Christian Science basically an activity of the human mind; a form of psychology, an exercise in self-hypnosis, mind control, or mere positive thinking?'' It's none of these things! There are many points of difference between the spiritual method of healing taught in Science and Health and the various mind-methods I've mentioned, but the main point is this: Christian Science is the law of God. Its healing method is the practice of divine law. It is not the effect of one human mind acting upon another to dominate or hypnotize. It's not autosuggestion, either. The practitioner's work in Christian Science is not to talk a patient into health but, through prayer, to reflect the light of the Christ upon the human scene so that he can see through it into reality. As in Bible times, the communication of truth is from God to men. Now, as always, prayer is the point of contact -- the point at which we open our thought to God's self-revelation, and the result is healing. May I tell you a story that illustrates this? The first time I went back to New Zealand after having been away more than ten years, you can imagine how my sister and I talked far into the night. In the process of all this talking I told her something of Christian Science, and of healings we'd had in our family. One morning before I was up, I realized that there was an unusual amount of coming and going in the house. I soon learned that the family doctor had just left. My sister's four-year-old had a raging case of scarlet fever. The child was miserably ill, and my sister close to tears. The doctor was planning to return shortly to quarantine the house and to bring medicine, but in the meantime she felt helpless to relieve the little one's suffering. Desperately she said, ''If there's anything you can do, I wish you'd do it!'' I gave her a reassuring hug and went for my Bible and Science and Health. I thought about Jesus and the father in Mark's Gospel asking uncertainly , ''If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us'' (Mark 9:22 ). Jesus didn't answer with a sermon, but with loving assurance that confidence in God is never misplaced. Then, with authority, he rejected the disease and lifted up the child, and the Bible says simply, ''and he arose'' (Mark 9:27). Following the steps to healing

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Prayerfully, I followed these steps to healing. I realized the nature and the infinite goodness of God. Since obviously no evil could be included in that perfect goodness, it couldn't be a legitimate part of this child's true being as the reflex image of God. On that basis I rejected it. In prayer I lifted the child into the light of the Christ, into the realm of reality. I knew that we were in the living presence of God.

When the doctor returned, he found a happy child playing in the sunshine. He examined her and pronounced her in blooming health. A purely spiritual healing had taken place in the space of an hour.

This is the Science of Christianity. It is a far cry from mental manipulation or the hopeful holding of good thoughts. This is Emmanuel, ''God with us.''

Now Christian Scientists don't claim to have reached the level of the master Christian. But we do know that strict obedience to the teachings of Jesus and steadfast application of the Science of Christianity can heal every kind of disease and every kind of human distress. What we understand spiritually, we can demonstrate humanly.

Christian Science, however, isn't simply an alternative form of therapy. Its mission is not to ensure human comfort, but to arouse mankind to the possibility , here and now, of salvation from material bondage and sin -- whatever would seem to separate us from God. This mission of Christian Science is the redemption of humanity. As we are regenerated, awakened to a sense of our eternal being, we become conscious of God's presence; like Moses, we can speak to God as a man speaks to his friend.

Christian Science calls for no blindfold march to the beat of a different drummer. It offers no strange Utopia, no technique for accomplishing instant health, wealth, or material success. What it does offer is primitive Christianity -- the Christianity of Jesus. It offers a life radiant with purpose , with love and spiritual power. It offers a glimpse of glory -- man and the universe held in the law of God.