I LEARNED the other day that a friend had been very active in his church during his youth, but then he had faced several shattering events that shook his faith in God. At first he went through a period of blaming God for all that had happened. Then gradually, as these things continued to trouble him, he began to wonder if a belief in God was even reasonable in this age. I've known him for some time. He's a good man, a good citizen--ethical, moral, kind, unselfish. To this day he continues to think about the issues of good and evil, of justice, and at times, about God.
Such accounts are far from uncommon. Most of us wrestle at some point with questions about God and the basis of our faith, or lack of it. The 1990s appear to be a period in which religious questioning and spiritual searching are undergoing a notable resurgence. And many people are not satisfied with prepackaged answers. They want to be able to think things through for themselves and reach their own conclusions.
Many people are finding Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy to be a notable help in their spiritual quest to understand God and to find out whether Christianity has relevance today. This book seems particularly in tune with our times. The opening page comments: ``The time for thinkers has come. Truth, independent of doctrines and time-honored systems, knocks at the portal of humanity. Contentment with the past and the cold conventionality of materialism are crumbling away. Ignorance of God is no longer the stepping-stone to faith. The only guarantee of obedience is a right apprehension of Him whom to know aright is Life eternal'' (p. vii:13-20).
It can be startling to find a book that affirms that God is to be understood rather than accepted as a mysterious Being whose will is beyond human ken. Then it's surprising that this understanding inspires love rather than fear. But more significant even than this, it's wonderful to realize that we should expect to prove the substantiality of God's presence and power in our daily lives. Science and Health helps us understand the spiritual laws behind accounts in the Bible of those who had concrete experience of God's power and love. In the pages of Science and Health, the life of Christ Jesus takes on a whole new dimension for us. He proved, through healing, that it is God's will that sickness, sin, and death be destroyed. As in Jesus' time, Christian healing continues to provide evidence that faith grounded in a spiritual understanding of God is practical.
In speaking of her own work that led to the writing of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, writes in this book, ``I knew the Principle of all harmonious Mind-action to be God, and that cures were produced in primitive Christian healing by holy, uplifting faith; but I must know the Science of this healing, and I won my way to absolute conclusions through divine revelation, reason, and demonstration'' (p. 109). Experience proves that ``revelation, reason, and demonstration'' are the needed elements of sound faith.
God is not the conception of our own human minds; therefore His existence and nature must be self-revealed. The element of reason grounds faith on a rock from which one can work with God through the hard experiences that challenge faith. Blind faith, or the argument that the ways of God are inscrutable or mysterious, does not meet mankind's deepest needs.
Christian healing is the evidence of God and His power that Christ, Truth, presents. This demonstration of the power of ever-present divine Love to heal provides the deep-rooted, unshakable proof that religious faith is practical in a scientific age.
The prophet Amos recorded God's direction: ``Seek ye me, and ye shall live'' (5:4). Science and Health and the Bible guide our search for a spiritual understanding of God and verify our faith in His laws with the evidence He has promised.