'Christian Science: Unlocking the Treasures of the Bible'
Christian Science lecturer Andre Piot recalls times when he has ''found healing just by reading and searching the Scriptures. Deep search of the Bible, seeking its spiritual meaning,'' he adds, ''leads to practical resolution to our problems.''
Mr. Piot, a native of Switzerland, now making his home in St. Louis, Missouri , spoke yesterday afternoon on ''Christian Science: Unlocking the Treasures of the Bible'' at The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston.
The lecturer followed a career in mechanical engineering before turning full time to the public healing practice of Christian Science. He is currently serving on The Christian Science Board of Lectureship.
Miss Patricia Culbert, a local member of The Mother Church, introduced Mr. Piot.
An abridged text of the lecture follows:
A few years ago, I heard a prominent radio speaker talking on racial matters in a local auditorium. He was predicting dark hours to come. The speaker was black, the audience all white.
Everyone was roused to action. ''What can we do to help?'' one member of this audience immediately asked. After a long pause, the speaker replied, ''To an audience like this, I would say - pray, and find out individually what to do.''
At the time, I was serving my church in a responsible position. I was also engaged in a demanding professional activity. Even though I didn't seem to have a spare moment left after caring for my family, my church, and my business, nevertheless I resolved to do something about this racial problem.
So I prayed. I was willing to listen for divine direction. You see, in Christian Science we don't pray for things, but we realize that God is harmoniously controlling every aspect of our lives; that He is the one infinite power, totally good. Recognizing God's government through prayer leads us to concrete proof of His care.
Two weeks later, while on a business trip in another state, I stepped into a taxi at the end of a busy day. The taxi was full of cigarette smoke. I said to the taxi driver, a black man, ''You must love cigarette smoking.'' ''No sir,'' he said. ''I have given up cigarette smoking.'' My interest was awakened, and I asked, ''How did you do it?''
''The Bible, sir, the King James Version of the Bible'' was his reply. This further aroused my interest, and I asked him to tell me more.
He explained that some time ago a minister had come to see him and had given him a beautiful leather Bible and said simply, ''Just read it.'' I told him that I was a Reader in my church. Then I asked him to continue his story. He disclosed that he had given up smoking while reading the Bible, and that other good things happened to him. Grasping just a little meant a lot
''You are white - I am black,'' he said, ''but as I read, I realized that we are all the children of God.'' He no longer felt racial prejudice - just love. I marveled. Then he added: ''You know, I used to earn very little money, but since I started reading the Bible, I always have customers. And the dispatcher, who keeps the good runs for his friends, is also sending me on these well-paid runs.''
We had arrived at our destination, and I asked him if he would mind sharing other significant happenings that had come from his reading the Bible.
I said, ''You must love Psalms 23 and 91.''
''No sir,'' he replied, and I noticed that he wrote down the numbers.
''I thought you were a student of the Bible,'' I said.
''Yes, but I'm still at the beginning, in Genesis.''
Look at all he learned just by reading Genesis!
As we parted, he looked back at me and said, ''Such encounters don't just happen! We know who brought us together.''
I felt the kingdom of heaven on earth. Think of it, just by reading one book of the Bible, and grasping something of its message, this taximan had:
* Given up smoking.
* Overcome prejudice.
* Earned enough income for his family.
When I returned home, I pondered this experience. I realized that both my friend and I had felt a divine presence. Wasn't this the healing influence of the Christ, reappearing throughout all ages as promised by Jesus?
But what was the overall meaning of this experience? Slowly, but surely, it became evident that this was the answer to my prayer to do something about the racial problem. I saw that the answer to racial conflict - and to every human challenge, regardless of how severe - could be found in the Bible. From now on my task would be to support, even more than before, the magnificent work done by the Bible all around the world.
Did the Bible affect the lives of people throughout the centuries? With a resounding yes, it has transformed not only individual lives, but the history of nations.
Starting in the 12th century there were people called Waldenses, followers of Waldo, precursors of the Reformation. They risked their lives to translate and distribute a non-Latin version of the Bible and proclaim it the ''sole rule of life and faith'' (The New Columbia Encyclopedia, 1975).
Then, the great period of the Reformation swept Europe some 450 years ago. There was a new insistence upon reading the Bible, whereby everyone could find the truth and individual freedom. Getting acquainted with God
Many men and women of modern times found the Bible a reassuring help when they were entrusted with actions vital to the destiny of the Western world.
But what is it in this book, the Bible, the Word of God, that has helped transform the character of so many?
The answer may be in the verse from Job: ''Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee'' (Job 22:21). Let's examine this verse and ask ourselves this question:
What is the key to peacem , the peace of mind that's so desirable in these troubled times?
Acquaintm now thyself with Him.
Wouldn't you say that our taximan friend was exemplifying this getting acquainted with God? His acceptance of the facts presented in the Bible - the Word of God - was the beginning of his transformation. He did not doubt. I found him with a childlike thought, receptive yet strong, and expressing authority over his circumstances. He was enlightened. He had glimpsed something of God's nature.
He was certainly inspired. Did he perceive the true nature of man? Genesis, in the Bible, tells us that ''God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him'' (Gen. 1:27). Think of it, man is made in the image of God!
Christian Science endorses this point completely. Its Discoverer and Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, makes the following comment: ''Man, made in His likeness, possesses and reflects God's dominion over all the earth.'' This statement is from the Key to the Scriptures part of ''Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures'' (p. 516). And elsewhere in this textbook of Christian Science we read, ''Immortal man was and is God's image or idea, even the infinite expression of infinite Mind, and immortal man is coexistent and coeternal with that Mind'' (p. 336). Farther on Mrs. Eddy says, ''The spiritual man's consciousness and individuality are reflections of God.''
This passage highlights the fact that immortal man is ''the infinite expression of infinite Mind'' and that this man's ''consciousness and individuality are reflections of God.'' The source of all harmonious action
What a marvelous idea - you and I are actually that immortal man, not our limited concept of ourselves, but God's concept of what we are, never made of flesh, blood, and bones! But some will say, ''What about my body, the one I can pinch?'' To our present limited sense of things it does appear that man is physical, made of flesh and bones. The Christian Scientist doesn't ignore the body. Quite the contrary, he takes good care of it. Listen to what Mrs. Eddy writes: ''After a lengthy examination of my discovery and its demonstration in healing the sick, this fact became evident to me, - that Mind governs the body, not partially but wholly'' (Science and Health, p. 111). Is there a better way to take care of the body than to put it under the government of divine Mind, the source of all harmonious action?
In letting divine Mind govern the body, we keep our sight on the true concept of man, described in the first chapter of Genesis . . . the ''image of God.'' Truly we must be spiritual, since our creator is Spirit - God. How could God create anything unlike Himself? This veritable man, the true man, the only man, being the image of Spirit, is not both material and spiritual. Though matter seems very real, it represents a false, limited concept of creation.
What enables us to perceive the truth of man? It's the presence of the Christ.
I'd like to explain what I mean by Christ. It's the offspring of God, the Messiah, the power of God, carrying the day against physical enemies. The man Jesus fully expressed the Christ. He was animated by God to fulfill the law of good, to destroy sin, illness, and death. In so doing he was our Way-shower. How praying for direction was answered
When the Christian Scientist is confronted with difficult situations affecting himself, his family, his business, the world, he instinctively turns to prayer, the Bible - the Word of God - and the Christian Science textbook for direction. He seeks the presence of the Christ, showing the way. He finds that this work is practical and effective.
For example, I was once terminated with over 2,000 employees. I felt very sorry, because I had greatly enjoyed my work in a large chemical company.
The challenge seemed insurmountable. We had two sons to educate. We had heavy payments on a new car, and the mortgage on our new house was sizable. I had no savings - in fact, there were some debts. The situation seemed hopeless.
I prayed. The answer came as if someone said to me: Go back to the Bible, to the lesson of the three kings (II Kings 3). I opened the Bible and studied carefully how the three kings joined forces to fight the Moabites.They marched through the wilderness of Edom. After seven days, they reached an area close to the battlefield. The battle was imminent, but there was no water for them and their beasts. That situation too seemed hopeless. The lack of water meant certainm annihilation of the army gathered by them.
In their darkest hour, King Jehoshaphat asked whether or not there was a prophet of the Lord in the area. One servant indicated that Elisha was nearby. The three kings resolved to go and consult with Elisha. At first Elisha didn't want to help them, because he pointed out that the King of Israel had ceased to worship God. Yet when he found that God had sent them to him, he asked for a minstrel - a very significant point. You see, Elisha needed inspiration! When the music was played, the hand of the Lord came upon him and he said: ''Make this valley full of ditches. . . . Ye shall not see . . . rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts. And . . . [the Lord] will deliver the Moabites . . . into your hand'' (II Kings 3:16-18).
And so it came that by the morning that country was full of water, and the Moabites fell into the hand of the three kings. Inspiration gained from a hymn
Now, how does this story relate to my problem of unemployment? Faithfully, I started analyzing every component of this story.
I noticed that the three kings went first through the wilderness of Edom. What is the spiritual meaning of ''wilderness''? In the Glossary of Science and Health, which is a list of Biblical terms giving their spiritual meaning, I found: ''WILDERNESS. Loneliness; doubt; darkness . . .'' (Science and Health, p. 597).
That's me! I felt surrounded with doubt and darkness.
The definition further points out that ''wilderness'' is ''the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence.''
I reasoned: Just where I am now, at this very moment in my existence, that is where the great facts of existence unfold, and because God is good and infinite, His great good will unfold.
I thought about Elisha. He wasn't intimidated by the three kings, and the Bible points out that only one of the kings worshiped God. Did you notice that God helped all of them? This gave me the assurance that He would help me in this situation.
Then I noticed that, like Elisha, I needed inspiration. I felt I should sing. So I sang the third stanza of Hymn 148 in the ''Christian Science Hymnal,'' which begins: ''Green pastures are before me,/Which yet I have not seen. . . .''
I started rejoicing that ''green pastures are before me'' - even though I didn't yet see them. I kept rejoicing - in spite of the bills accumulating! I became more certain that God had something for me and my family.
Finally, I pondered the meaning of the ditches that were filled with water, yet no rain, no clouds, were seen! What was the meaning? I reasoned, it must be a miracle!
I looked up ''miracle'' in the Christian Science textbook and found: ''That which is divinely natural, but must be learned humanly . . .'' (p. 591).
Yes, I thought, I can see that it is divinely natural, but it must be learned humanly. Here on earth. How do I do that?
I was guided to another passage by Mrs. Eddy: ''The divine Mind, which forms the bud and blossom, will care for the human body, even as it clothes the lily . . .'' (Science and Health, p. 62).
I reasoned that if the divine Mind could form the bud and blossom we can see in a rose, it could also fill the ditches with water, without the clouds or rain! Likewise, the divine Mind, God, would straighten my human affairs as surely as He straightened the situation of the three kings.
I didn't advertise for a job. As I continued my study, the telephone started ringing. I was offered several fine positions. A local company had made a rather unusual offer. I felt divinely directed to accept the offer, which met all my needs.
The Bible is like a compass for the Christian Scientist. Deep search of the Bible, seeking its spiritual interpretation, leads to practical resolution of our problems. I've mentioned the word ''prayer'' on several occasions. What does prayer mean to the Christian Scientist? Mrs. Eddy says, ''The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, - a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love'' (Science and Health, p. 1). She goes on, ''Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.''
The Christian Scientist, when he prays, has an absolute faith that all things are possible to God. Even the removal of mountains of discouragement, of fear of unemployment, of sin and disease. The deep desire to know God's plan for man and to do His will is another form of prayer. Inspired prayer, springing from study of the Bible, was not unknown to Mrs. Eddy.
The Bible was a treasure to her. Until her discovery of Christian Science, she was in poor health. She searched diligently for a way to be healed. Medicine , including homeopathy, was of no avail. Finally, when she was at a very low point, near death, she turned to the Bible and was healed. To her this experience became proof that God does the healing. A healing of tuberculosis
The Scriptures had such an impact on Mrs. Eddy that we find her turning wholeheartedly to the Bible in moments of need (Robert Peel, ''Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Trial,'' p. 97). She so customarily studied the Bible that once when a member of her family was asked where she was, he replied, ''O, she is at home reading her Bible'' (Peel, ''Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Discovery,'' p. 127). She herself said in a letter: ''The Bible supplies me with learning and research for all time. All other books may come and go but that lives on forever'' (Peel, ''Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Authority,'' p. 495).
Mrs. Eddy depended heavily on the Bible when she was making important decisions about the government of her Church. An observer said, ''If one plan (for the organization) did not work another must be adopted. I have seen her in these days, walk the floor with her Bible in hand asking for guidance, or direction'' (Peel, ''Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Trial,'' p. 100). Through the guidance that came, she established the By-Laws of the ''Manual of The Mother Church.'' It's no wonder that when she was asked by her Board of Directors for advice, she turned them so frequently back (1) to the spiritual guidance of the Bible and (2) to the Church Manual.
She ordained the Bible and Science and Health the pastor of her Church, replacing all personal preaching.
She established the Bible Lessons to be studied by all adherents of Christian Science. This lesson is also the major part of each Sunday service.
In the Church Manual Mrs. Eddy asks that the Sunday School students be given as their first lessons the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, with its spiritual interpretation by Mrs. Eddy, and the Sermon on the Mount.
Is it any wonder that Mrs. Eddy, in Science and Health, describes the Bible as:
-- her ''only textbook'' (p. 110).
-- her ''only authority'' (p. 126).
-- ''her sole teacher'' (p. viii).
-- ''the chart of life'' (p. 24).
Farther on she declares that it ''contains the recipe for all healing'' (p. 406).
Here's a healing in which the Bible played an important role. When I was a little boy in Switzerland, my father was very ill. During the First World War he contracted what was called Spanish influenza. Some years later he was sick with tuberculosis and a carious condition of bones in the spinal column. He was helpless and could not sit up. For several years he had been treated by the best medical help available.
Finally, our kind family doctor expected my father's passing within a few hours. A brave woman came to our door. She asked us if we had tried Christian Science. Mother asked what it was. She replied, ''A religion that heals.'' Mother had just consulted her Bible. She had again read some of Jesus' healings. She had closed the Bible and said to herself, ''If these healings are true, then something good should happen to my husband.''
After some discussion, the woman suggested that we phone a Christian Science practitioner. The practitioner asked my mother to read the 23rd and 91st Psalms to my father and to pray the Lord's Prayer.
For the first time in three months my father fell into a good and real rest. Next morning he woke up and got up. Two or three days later he took the streetcar and visited the practitioner.
Let's pause for a moment. We have seen how my friend, the taximan, was healed just by reading the Bible. Mrs. Eddy, likewise, was healed by studying the Bible. Many are thus healed. My dad, however, who had great faith in the Bible, also needed the help of a Christian Science practitioner, help through prayer. As a result he was instantaneously healed of tuberculosis and the carious condition of bones in the spinal column. The 'how' of Christian Science practice
The practitioner then gave him a copy of Science and Health. For several weeks thereafter he studied it. He gained a spiritual understanding of the Bible - and along with it, regained strength and weight. The healing was permanent. He lived and worked for more than forty years thereafter. I don't remember his missing a day of work for illness.
What is the textbook of Christian Science from which my dad derived so much good? It's a detailed explanation of this Science. It also includes the Key to the Scriptures, providing an unusually clear and inspired expounding of both Genesis and the Apocalypse. It contains a full explanation of healing as practiced by Jesus some 2,000 years ago. Each rule can be tested and demonstrated. Hundreds of thousands have been healed by the application of the rules described in Science and Health. Many who were sick, even with so-called terminal diseases, have been healed simply by reading this book.
This leads naturally to the last portion of this lecture - a closer look at the ''what'' and ''how'' of Christian Science healing, healing based on Bible teachings. But before discussing the Bible further, we might just say a few words about what Christian Science healing is notm .
People often think that Christian Science is just ''positive thinking'' - it is not. Positive thinking is simply a shift of human thought on a human level. Christian Science, however, demands that limited, human thought yield to the divine Mind, the one and only real Mind. Christian Science is sometimes believed to be simply ''mind over matter.'' Again, it is not. But we might say it is the action of divine Mind over mortal mind. It's the power of Truth, God, which destroys the fear of disease and the sins of mortal thought.
Divine Mind, Truth, is God Himself. God, being infinite, the divine Mind is the only real Mind, the only real cause.
Now, what is mortalm mind? It's the supposed source of evil thoughts, such as selfishness, destructive and murderous thoughts, dishonesty. Christian Science, then, shows the supremacy of divine Mind over such destructive thinking. It shows the false nature of what we call mortal mind. Authority derived from the Bible
You may ask - but how is it possible that, with all the suffering around us, good has ascendancy over evil thinking?
The Bible has the answer. Its study revealed to Mrs. Eddy that ''the central fact of the Bible is the superiority of spiritual over physical power'' (Science and Health, p. 131). Isn't that what saved Moses and the children of Israel when they were pursued to the Red Sea by Pharaoh and his war chariots? Pharaoh was moved by a spirit of destruction - the carnal mind. Moses, on the other hand, without the use of weaponry, stood fast with moral courage (not carnal), trusting God. Then Moses witnessed the infinite power of the one God, one Mind, parting the Red Sea and enabling the children of Israel to pass safely to the other side.
In the New Testament we find Jesus of Nazareth casting out devils and healing the sick in God's name, and this without drugs or hygiene. He raised Lazarus from death. We find him calling his twelve disciples together and giving them powerm and authoritym over all devils, and to cure diseasem .
I hope you can see that Christian Science healing derives its authority from the Bible, which demonstrates clearly the superiority of the divine Mind.
Continuing our discussion of the Bible as it relates to Christian Science healing, we might explain the nature of disease. When Moses stood in the presence of the Lord, he was asked to put his hand in his bosom. When he withdrew it, it ''was leprous as snow'' (Ex. 4:6), covered with the disease. Then the Lord told him to return his hand to his bosom. When he took it out, it was clean.
Mrs. Eddy says of this incident, ''It was scientifically demonstrated that leprosy was a creation of mortal mind and not a condition of matter, when Moses first put his hand into his bosom and drew it forth white as snow with the dread disease, and presently restored his hand to its natural condition by the same simple process'' (Science and Heath, p. 321). Realizing man's spiritual perfection
Disease is never, neverm , a condition of matter, but ''a creation of mortal mind.'' The Christian Science textbook further explains that ''disease is an image of thought externalized.'' Mrs. Eddy continues: ''The mental state is called a material state. Whatever is cherished in mortal mind as the physical condition is imaged forth on the body'' (p. 411). It is imagedm forth on the body , it is not a part of it.
Let's suppose we have here a slide projector. Across the room, in front of the projector, there is a wall - a good, well-made wall. We place a slide in the projector, a slide showing the same wall but full of cracks. Let's turn on the projector. What do we see? A wall full of cracks. But you know better, the wall is intact! Are you going to patch up the wall? Of course not.
By analogy, the projector represents mortal or carnal mind. The wall represents the body. The body doesn't need patching up, or surgery, or drugs. However, it will be necessary to destroy the images of disease in mortal thought , or mortal mind, through the power of the one infinite divine Mind.
This analogy takes us only so far, and should not leave the impression that health is projected on a human body. Christian Science healing starts from the standpoint of man's spiritual perfection as God's offspring. We're not trying through prayer to fix up a physical body. Instead, we're realizing God's infinite power and love and man's spiritual wholeness as God's image. The result is a harmonious body, governed by the one divine Mind. Why does the body become harmonious? Because the fear of disease and its images, and the sins in mortal mind, are wiped out. '. . . sufficient guide to eternal Life'
Why isn't disease really a cause or an effect? Doesn't the Bible say, ''Thou shalt have no other gods before me''? (Ex. 20:3). There's only one God, who is infinite. He is all power, all presence. There is no power or presence left for a lesser creation, for disease, for a mortal, material mind, to be a cause or to produce an effect. Mrs. Eddy says: ''The understanding that the Ego is Mind, and that there is but one Mind or intelligence, begins at once to destroy the errors of mortal sense and to supply the truth of immortal sense. This understanding makes the body harmonious; it makes the nerves, bones, brain, etc., servants, instead of masters. If man is governed by the law of divine Mind, his body is in submission to everlasting Life and Truth and Love'' (Science and Health, p. 216 ).
Does one ever finish the subject of ''unlocking the treasures of the Bible''?
We have discussed what a treasure the Bible became to a young man, freeing him from smoking, racial prejudice, and lack. Getting acquainted with God means peace of mind, abundance. The Bible is a chart of life for Christian Scientists. It contains the recipe for all healing, the healing rules practiced and taught by Jesus. Mrs. Eddy gives as the first tenet, or important point, of Christian Science: ''As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life'' (Science and Health, p. 497).
The Bible played a dominant role in the establishment of the Church of Christ , Scientist, and its spiritual meaning alone underpins all the church's activities.
The Bible's pages will renew our inspiration, especially when the spirit is lacking.
Today the Bible is found almost everywhere. Let its spiritual meaning ''overturn, overturn, overturn, it . . . until he come whose right it is'' (Ezek. 21:27).
May God bless you in your own discovery of this pearl of great price.