SUPPOSE you are a Japanese tourist visiting a beautiful city in Europe. As you tour the town you have a guide that knows the important details and is animatedly relaying all that she knows. Yet you only catch glimpses of her meaning. Why? Because your guide doesn't speak Japanese, and you understand only a little German!
There is an infinitely more important guide, a guide to the kingdom of heaven, which is often perceived as being as incomprehensible as a tour guide talking the wrong language. It is the Bible. Many drink in the beauty of the words, feel awed by the sense of its history, take in much of its moral meaning, but still feel as though the universe of divine Spirit it describes is indecipherable.
The Bible is a guide speaking in a very specific language. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes of ''the inspired Word of the Bible'' as ''our sufficient guide to eternal Life.'' She does this in a sentence that presents one of the fundamental points of Christian Science: ''As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life'' (p. 497). The Bible speaks in the language of Spirit and declares the spiritual reality of God and of His creation, man and the universe. As God's Word, the Bible's highest purpose is illuminating to prayerful inquiry this spiritual reality of being. Paul's second letter to Timothy assures us, ''All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness'' (3:16).
Since the priceless guide to eternal Life is inspired, the uninspired human intellect can't catch the spiritual voice of the Scriptures unaided. So in order to know what it is that this spiritual guide is really relating about man's true existence, we need the aid of an ''interpreter.'' The good news is that such an interpreter exists and is able to throw light on the Bible's spiritual meaning. It is a book wholly derived from the Bible and linked inextricably to it--Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. This book takes us beyond the merely historical, poetic, or moral meaning of the Scriptures to the depth and height of their vital spiritual interpretation.
The idea that Science and Health presents is infinite and universal, transcending culture, race, age, era, and religious denomination. It contains the Science of Christ, the comprehensive knowledge of the spiritual reality of God and man that Christ Jesus lived amongst us two thousand years ago. This is a vast idea! It is also the most freeing of ideas to Bible-lovers, for as Science and Health itself says, ''Christian Science separates error from truth, and breathes through the sacred pages the spiritual sense of life, substance, and intelligence'' (p. 548).
The Bible and Science and Health thrive together. The latter opens up the meaning of the former, while the former gives the latter its authority. Mrs. Eddy intended her book to help others better understand the Bible--in particular the Gospel record of Christ Jesus' unique healing role--through its ability to open the seemingly sealed pages of Scripture. In my own case it was Science and Health that led me to read the Bible and to love the Book of books, which I had previously ignored. Together these books have brought new experiences of good into my life, including healing of many physical ills that I had taken for granted until I began to understand the Bible's message. These two books have given me strength to challenge the peer pressure that seems to say that sensuality and self-indulgence are natural and desirable. And they continue to bring healing and to inspire reformation in every aspect of my life.
To all who love the Bible and want to serve God, Science and Health offers invaluable aid. Its spiritual interpretation of the Scriptures brightens and beautifies the Bible, and makes it practical in our daily lives. Science and Health is a book with a mission: to bring the Bible message of God's inexhaustible love alive for everyone.