Countering Harsh Theological Views
A YOUNG girl's experience shows how a harsh theological view can form the foundation of sickness. Just before joining her parents' church, she found herself sick with a fever that resulted from her disturbance over the church's doctrine of predestination. Her father's insistence on a final judgment day and on a God who is merciless toward unbelievers troubled her deeply. But her mother encouraged the sick daughter to turn to a loving God in prayer. When the young girl did so, she was restored to health.
This incident is described by Mary Baker Eddy--the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science--in her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection. She writes there of the effects of obeying her mother's urging: ``I prayed; and a soft glow of ineffable joy came over me. The fever was gone, and I rose and dressed myself, in a normal condition of health. Mother saw this, and was glad. The physician marvelled; and the ``horrible decree'' of predestination--as John Calvin rightly called his own tenet-- forever lost its power over me'' (pp. 13-14).
Many years later, as an adult, on recovering from an accident after prayerfully pondering one of Jesus' healings, Mrs. Eddy discerned the true, spiritual nature of being, which fully explained her own youthful experience of healing. This revelation showed her the nature of God as infinite good, divine and dependable Love, and man as His ever-cherished child. This true view of God undermined the harsh theology that would present Him as an unrelenting tyrant, or even as a Deity that could disappointedly turn away from His own creation, man. What Mrs. Eddy discovered was the God that Christ Jesus had demonstrated in his healing work almost two thousand years earlier--a God overflowing with unvarying spiritual love for each one of us as His child, a God fully competent to meet and master all claims of sin and disease.
In his own healing work the Saviour is recorded as encountering and overturning harsh theological views in order to effect a cure. The Gospel of Matthew records that in one case, before the Master healed ``a man sick of the palsy,'' he said to him, ``Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee'' (9:2). The reaction of the religious law experts who heard Jesus say this indicates how opposed this was to their interpretation of theology. Matthew says the scribes thought of him as blaspheming. Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he assured them that he, ``the Son of man'' did indeed have ``power on earth to forgive sins'' (9:6). And the Saviour proved his words by healing the sick man. Wasn't his rebuke of wrong religious reasoning a vital element in the healing?
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mrs. Eddy clarifies how crucial our view of God is to our well-being. She writes, ``It is our ignorance of God, the divine Principle, which produces apparent discord, and the right understanding of Him restores harmony'' (p. 390). Nowadays our lives might seem so secular that we may think we can't possibly be dealing with a problem related to theology. There is, however, no greater misconception of God possible than that He doesn't exist and cannot affect our lives. His spiritual love is real and responsive. Atheism, agnosticism, and scientific materialism, for instance, are very definitely harsh theological views. They are various degrees of faith in the nonexistence of God! Such views bring suffering, which can only be healed by the replacement of these views with Christ's true, spiritual insight into God's nature as infinite, divine Love.
The understanding of God we hold in our hearts determines our individual experience of health, conscious self-worth, and productivity. In truth God is real; He is utterly loving. To know Him as He is impels us to love Him deeply. We can hold on dearly to the true theological view and be healed.