THERE is great interest today in a holistic approach to solving problems, challenging the mechanistic view of science that has long been dominant. Although there are different perspectives on what exactly holistic means, it is generally agreed that the word pertains to integrity, and involves considering the whole person, including his or her thoughts and feelings. In other words, we are more than just mechanized collections of physical parts.
A graphic example of a mechanized view of man, the opposite of holistic, is depicted by Mary Shelley in her nineteenth-century novel Frankenstein. Here a scientist experiments with the theory that man might be just the sum of necessary body parts, and a little added electricity to make the brain work. With this model in thought, the scientist proceeds to test his reasoning. The result is a horror story, in which a hideous creature is brought to life and gropes with human feelings and questions that are never satisfied or answered. "I am malicious because I am miserable," he murmurs to himself. "If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear." Devoid of purpose and barred from love, the creature becomes destructive.
In contrast to the view of man depicted in Frankenstein, consider the life of Christ Jesus. His view of man, both of himself and of the people around him, was not one of conglomerated body parts, nor was it in any way a psychological scheme of human experiences. Nor did Jesus give credibility to such spiritualistic concepts as incarnation and reincarnation. Rather, he defined the whole of man by what he understood of the holiness of man, who is inseparable from the one creator, God.
This is not just a play on words. Wholeness is a quality of God's being, and it is therefore a quality of man's being. Jesus understood the identity of himself and everyone else in terms of the relationship we all have to God. He knew that because we are God's children, we are, in fact, spiritual, and therefore perfect. Why? Because God, Spirit, is perfect.
In the book of Matthew, the Lord's Prayer begins with the words, "Our Father which art in heaven," affirming that God is Spirit, and that His children are spiritual. Further emphasizing God's supremacy, the second line says, "Hallowed be thy name" (6:9). Jesus recognized the inherent integrity of everyone; he explicitly included us all in the holy relationship that man has with God.
It is not coincidence that the word health is derived from the same root as the words whole and holy. As described in the Bible, Jesus' healing works were sometimes accompanied with commands to be whole and statements that faith was linked to wholeness.
Understanding man's spiritual integrity, Jesus had a profound impact on the daily situations he encountered. For instance, Matthew tells of a man suffering from leprosy (a disease that was considered contagious), who approached Jesus, saying, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean" (8:2). Jesus saw something in the man that kindled a compassionate response; something pure in this man shunned as unclean; something altogether attractive, in place of an unpleasant physical appearance. Jesus must have recognized a state of perfection for the man that was unquestionably spiritual. Fearlessly he touched the man-an act of love-saying, "Be thou clean" (8:3). Immediately the man was healed.
The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote this about such healings of the Saviour: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick. Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy." This is from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (pp. 476-477).
Here is the spiritual perspective of life that Christian Science presents. It is a profoundly honest perspective, and not just sweet thinking. It sees God as the only creator and power. This perspective enables us to see the nature of God in one another. It enables us to see the inherent purity and holiness that are certainly present. To adopt this perspective, we must love. With it we will heal.