Confusion sometimes arises as to how Christian Scientists view man and sin. Do they, for example, say there is no sin to overcome because ''man is perfect''?
To answer this question we first need an understanding of what Christian Science means by ''man.'' This term can basically have two meanings: mortal man or spiritual man. The first, we might say, is the image of matter, the ''children of men,'' as the Bible puts it. The second is the image of Spirit, the ''children of God.'' The first is man in sin. The second is man in Christ. The first is a misconception of man. The second is the perfect -- and only -- reality of man.
When the Christian Scientist speaks of man's sinlessness and perfection, he is speaking of immortal man, the true concept, brought to light by Christ Jesus. This is the real, ideal man -- man as God made him. He is the ''new man'' that Paul speaks of, and yet Christian Science says he is also the ''original man'' of the first chapter of Genesis, who always was and is now the perfect son of God.
Mortal man, then, is the ''old man,'' the Adamic, sinful man, that is to be ''put off.'' As Paul sums up the lesson we should have learned of Christ: ''That ye put off . . . the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.'' n1
n1 Ephesians 4:22-24.
Of this misconception called sinful, mortal man, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ''Mortals are not fallen children of God. They never had a perfect state of being, which may subsequently be regained. They were, from the beginning of mortal history, 'conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity.' '' n2
n2 Science and Health, p. 476.
Thus, far from ignoring sin, Christian Science confronts sin's claim to power as perhaps no other religion does. It shows the utter falsity and vacuity of a mortal, sinful sense of man. It maintains the truth of man as God knows him. It says that the ''new man'' is the only real and eternal man and that Christ is the way to ''put on'' this true sense of manhood.
So is man ''perfect''? Yes, in the light of Christ, man is seen as he actually is -- the image of God Himself. True, as the Bible says, ''It doth not yet appear what we shall be.'' But what follows is also true: ''We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.'' n3 This is the great hope of us all, the ''hope of glory'' n4 that is in Christ.
n3 I John 3:2.
n 4Colossians 1:27.
And sin? Is it ''unreal''? Yes, but this wonderful fact is only evident in the understanding of Christ that destroys sin and so proves evil's nonbeing in the divine reality of things. As Science and Health explains: ''It is sometimes said that Christian Science teaches the nothingness of sin, sickness, and death, and then teaches how this nothingness is to be saved and healed. The nothingness of nothing is plain; but we need to understand that error is nothing, and that its nothingness is not saved, but must be demonstrated in order to prove the somethingness -- yea, the allness -- of Truth.'' n5
n5 Science and Health, p. 346.
Shouldn't this be the goal of all Christianity - to prove as Christ Jesus did the nothingness of all that is unlike God, good? And to bring to light, through the renewing of ''the spirit of (our) mind,'' the perfection of man and all creation? This is the high goal of Christian Science, which is achievable, step by step, through the grace of God. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Be ye therefor perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48