Higher Criticism

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Is the glass half full or half empty? That's an old question. Its answer depends on the measure of gratitude one feels. If the glass looks half empty, it may be that we're not grateful for what we do have already. We may criticize or devalue what we have rather than be the least bit thankful. Herein lies the difference between having enough and lacking what we need.

Personal criticism has become a pastime. The challenge is to learn to acknowledge the good in one another, and then to be grateful for that good. We don't have to succumb to the human tendency to focus on the negative more than on the positive. And it is tremendously freeing to learn how to keep our thought dwelling on good. Doing this destroys what is evil and negative in our consciousness, and therefore in our lives, and harmony is established.

This thinking has the power of God behind it. Keeping thought one with God, we learn how to criticize rightly; we find what Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, called "the higher criticism." She wrote: "I called Christian Science the higher criticism in my dedicatory Message to The Mother Church, June 10, 1906, when I said, 'This Science is a law of divine Mind, . . . an everpresent help. Its presence is felt, for it acts and acts wisely, always unfolding the highway of hope, faith, understanding.' . . . Christian Science is the higher criticism because it criticizes evil, disease, and death-all that is unlike God, good-on a Scriptural basis, and approves or disapproves according to the word of God" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 240).

Learning to criticize "all that is unlike God" means discerning human faults only to destroy them; what is faulty is no part of God's child. We all do better to criticize qualities that are unlike God rather than to criticize other people. In fact, to overcome life's difficulties we have no choice but to criticize, find fault with, whatever is destructive to humanity-all that is unlike God, including sickness and death. Discord is unrelated to God and His creation, and is therefore powerless. Understanding this destroys all evil and heals physically.

This doesn't mean ignoring what someone is doing that is wrong. It does mean seeing and denouncing the evil for what it is-as something underived from God and hence not having reality. This is the basis of Christian healing.

The Bible records a healing Christ Jesus brought about that involved criticizing error rather than person. Luke says, "And he [Jesus] arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon's house. And Simon's wife's mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her. And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them" (4:38, 39). Jesus rebuked, criticized, the fever. He didn't rebuke Simon's mother-in-law. He certainly didn't destroy her. But he did destroy the fever. Jesus didn't look for a reason for it to exist or for something to have caused it. He took away any power it seemed to have by discrediting it. His "higher criticism" blessed him and those around him. It brought destruction only to the evil.

Discerning between the perfect identity of God's beloved child and the falsity of evil, we, too, will come to dissociate evil from any person. And we'll come to associate everyone with God, with good. This is what Jesus did. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mrs. Eddy says: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick. Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy" (pp. 476-477).

No matter what evil we're facing, we can learn to criticize, rebuke, the false belief that God made it. Discord doesn't have any foundation upon which to exist. God's child cannot be any less good than God is. Properly speaking, all there is to criticize is whatever is unlike Him.

Healing through prayer is explored in more detail in a weekly magazine, the Christian Science Sentinel.

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