`Would you tell me a little bit about your religion?'
MOST religious people feel a bit uneasy when asked this question. It's not that they mind sharing something of their faith in the normal course of day-to-day contacts, perhaps on an airplane, at a party, or visiting with a co-worker. Rather the challenge is compressing their deepest convictions into a few simple, appropriate statements. Yet the New Testament urges, ``Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.''1 And the Apostle Paul wrote the early Christians, ``Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.''2
When a Christian Scientist is asked to share something about his religion, he almost always will tell about his view of God. Christian Science teaches that God's love is powerful and practical; that God is not remote or inaccessible but knowable through prayer as divine Love, as omnipresent Spirit.
If it seems appropriate, he might say that Christian Science accepts God as the only true creator and that His creation, man, is not the fleshly mortal he appears to be but is the very likeness of Spirit, indestructible and wholly good. This is everyone's true selfhood, the ``new man'' to be revealed, as the ``old man,'' to use St. Paul's words, is put off through purified thinking and living.
Christian Science rejects the notion that an all-loving and all-powerful God could somehow permit His creation to fall away from His care. So it sees sin, disease, limitation, as conquerable, healable. Evil is understood as temporary, a false product of the ``carnal mind,'' to use another of Paul's terms, which must fall before an understanding of God's supremacy. Since evil is godless, it is creatorless and need not be accepted as an inescapable reality.
A Christian Scientist would likely mention that Christ Jesus is his Saviour and Way-shower and that one is saved from evil as he endeavors to live what Jesus has taught. The Christian Scientist believes that Jesus expected his followers to heal sin, sickness, fear, and so forth through wholehearted communion with God.
If the questioner seems interested in learning more, he could be told that most major cities have Christian Science churches and Reading Rooms where visitors are always welcome. He might be encouraged to obtain a copy of the textbook Christian Scientists study along with the Bible -- Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.3 This book contains a complete statement of Christian Science and is available in many public libraries and in all Reading Rooms. It is by no means a substitute for the Bible, since its very basis is Biblical. One of the tenets of Christian Science, found in Science and Health, says, ``As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.''4
One final point. When we share even a few statements about our faith, don't we need to be conscious of the necessity of trying to live what we proclaim? Our words are ``alway with grace'' and ``seasoned with salt'' only to the extent that our daily life stands behind them. In this regard a Christian Scientist might very well relate an example from his experience where his prayer has led him to feel God's renewing love. This love may have been expressed in physical healing, guidance, a lessening of some conflict.
Sharing a little bit about one's religion is seldom easy to do. But when one speaks with honesty and simplicity, blessings can follow. There is never a need to impress or manipulate one's questioner, since God's love is best communicated through respect and kindness.
1I Peter 3:15. 2Colossians 4:6. 3The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 4Science and Health, p. 497.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!