Christian Science and Economic Reform

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Christian Science declares emphatically that “divine Love always has met, and always will meet, every human need” (Science and Health, p. 494). In conversing with the intelligent non-Scientist he will probably concede that Christian Science makes people healthy, but he may remark that this result does not alter economic conditions, and that his health only makes the worker a more valuable asset for his employer to grow rich upon. The Scientist might say, “Christian Science reforms the drunkard and makes him temperate in all things;” and to this it may be replied, “In some countries the people are very temperate, but that fact has not solved the labor problem.” The Scientist might say, “Alter the man and he alters his condition;” “Yes,” it is answered, “but that solves only his own problem; the factory hand becomes a Christian Scientist and eventually gets a better position, some one else takes his place, and things are no better, no worse, for factory laborers.” “I admit,” he continues, “that sickness is something we need to get rid of, but to the reformer there is a more virulent evil which is productive of many deadly effects besides sickness that evil is injustice; and I cannot see how Christian Science is going to do much to eradicate it.” This condition of thought will give no anxiety to the Christian Scientist, who knows that “Science must go over the whole ground, and dig up every seed of error’s sowing” (Science and Health, p. 79).

“Man wants heaven, whatever conception he may have of that state, and to every man it expresses the highest idea of existence.”

Reuben Fogson

What is social reform, and what is the best method to achieve it? Social reform is the effort to abolish every form of evil to which humanity, as a collective body, is heir. It aims at equality of opportunity for every child and in every avenue of life. It declares that he that will not work neither shall he eat. It seeks the abolition of unfair profit systems and the provision of just recompense for just labor. It seeks equality of opportunity for every adult to discover what he is fitted for and to work at it like a Hercules; the substitution of mutual co-operation for selfish and greedy competition; the reformation and not the revengeful treatment of wrong doers.

What is social reform, and what is the best method to achieve it? Social reform is the effort to abolish every form of evil to which humanity, as a collective body, is heir. It aims at equality of opportunity for every child and in every avenue of life. It declares that he that will not work neither shall he eat. It seeks the abolition of unfair profit systems and the provision of just recompense for just labor. It seeks equality of opportunity for every adult to discover what he is fitted for and to work at it like a Hercules; the substitution of mutual co-operation for selfish and greedy competition; the reformation and not the revengeful treatment of wrong doers.

“However hard it may seem to the social reformer to lose his cherished belief in material man, it has nevertheless got to go.”

In the interest of the public weal it demands proper sanitation, respect for the rights of others, and a wholesome regulation of all public institutions. To all these betterments a Christian Scientist would contribute his interest and efforts, because he knows that they are better “beliefs” than those which they would supplant; but in his conception of the real value of these ideas and endeavors he differs from the ordinary social reformer. To the social reformer these better conditions are the real and ultimate requirements of human life; grant him these and other conditions of a similar nature, and he would expect to have an earthly paradise. He also thinks that there is a possibility of the establishment of these conditions and of their continuance, apart from Christian Science, because he has large faith in the good qualities of mankind irrespective of their recognition of the supreme Being, and he also has great faith in his peculiar method of obtaining and retaining these conditions.

It is here that the Christian Scientist departs from all other reformers. The Scientist does not believe that these are the real and ultimate conditions of earthly existence, nor that their establishment would constitute an earthly paradise. Neither does he believe in the possibility of their establishment without the aid of spiritual truth, because, unlike the reformer, he has no faith in mankind considered materially, although he has positive assurance of the reality and harmony of man’s being, considered spiritually; and although he may approve and encourage many reforms, he knows that in none of them is salvation from human wretchedness to be found.

Man’s aspiration and hope may be expressed in a word. Man wants heaven, whatever conception he may have of that state, and to every man it expresses the highest idea of existence. Now the Christian Science definition of heaven is harmony, and very few will object to this definition. Disagreements appear when methods of achieving it are discussed, and because of their disagreements the Scientist realizes clearly the impossibility of attaining harmony under the old conditions of thought. It is here that Christian Science supplies the only real solution to the problem of discord. Why is there discord? Because the world still believes the lie of the serpent when he said, “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Each man believes that he has a mind separate from all others, of which there are millions, all working from different standpoints of education, birth, environment, and belief. Each is a miserable counterfeit of the one Mind, the only real existence, the only Life, Truth, and Love. Can anything but discord be expected so long as the belief of “minds many” remains? To have harmony we must have but one Mind, which is infinite, because its oneness is its allness. What, then, is man? Man is the reflection of this Mind, and he therefore reflects harmony. But this man is not the material personality; the uncertain, inconstant quantity; the inverted image of the real man, of which the social reformer is cognizant. To this unreal man Isaiah refers when he says, “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of.”

“Utopia is not to be obtained by placing all the means of production in the hands of the people, and for the reason that the entities of which the mass is composed are not the realities they seem to be”

Reuben Fogson

That the statements of Christian Science are true concerning man is proved by demonstrations over sickness and sin which are unparalleled by any material method. And if the statements concerning material man are true, is it not plainly impossible to build any earthly paradise with an unreality as its principal factor? However hard it may seem to the social reformer to lose his cherished belief in material man, it has nevertheless got to go. Under the penetrating rays of Christian Science mortal man loses his apparent form and comeliness, becomes less than a shadow, and in his place is revealed the glorified man, the spiritual reality, who, because he reflects the omnipotence of his Maker, has dominion over all; because he reflects the infinite Mind, the kingdom of heaven (harmony) is within him; because he reflects the activity of divine Principle, his work is useful labor, not useless toil; and because he reflects divine Love, he manifests love to all mankind.

white lighthouseCo-operation manifests more brotherliness, and therefore it is better than fratricidal competition; but the Science of Being abides in the one Mind and not in the co-operation of “mutable many-minds.” Socialism, in so far as it aims for the betterment of all, is better than selfish individualism, but Utopia is not to be obtained by placing all the means of production in the hands of the people, and for the reason that the entities of which the mass is composed are not the realities they seem to be. Each factor, being imperfect, the mass is imperfect, rendering it liable to spasms of varying emotion,—panics, cruelty, the bloodthirstiness of revolution. Mortals may strive for the realization of their concept of liberty, equality, fraternity, but the methods employed to obtain these blessings have sometimes led to rapine and murderous revenge. It has been thought that when the personalities which manifested evil were destroyed, the cause had been eradicated; but, like all other so-called material causes, the Christian Scientist finds these to be mere effects. Can mortal, material man ever be just? No; because he does not know what absolute justice is. He only ceases to be unjust in proportion as he ceases to be mortal and material in thought. His highest right is only a sense of right founded on a fluctuating basis. The injunction that Jesus reiterated, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,” is not generally acted upon, being seemingly too high a standard for the average mortal, and yet it is a far lower order than Christ’s command, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” In these words of the Master we are lifted above the feeble sliding scale of human conceptions of what we would that men should do to us, to a higher and living example given by one who spake as never man spake, and who did only the Father’s will. So, then, it is not what I or you would that each should do unto the other, but it is what God would have us do to all His children; therefore our justice depends upon our knowledge of God, and the knowledge of God is not gained through the material senses, for spiritual things are spiritually discerned; and this brings us to Christian Science.

“Justice depends upon our knowledge of God, and the knowledge of God is not gained through the material senses.”

To effect permanent social reform, the study of spiritual causation is necessary. The Socialist considers the cause of all discord to be material inequality and individualism. The co-operator considers the cause to be competition and private, unchecked capitalism, and others would give yet different explanations, but Christian Science shows plainly that these so-called causes are not causes, but the effects of a false sense of Life as material, a false sense of Mind as plural, a false sense of substance as matter, a false sense of existence as temporal.

“When we realize that there is but one Mind, the divine law of loving our neighbors as ourselves is unfolded to us; whereas a belief in many ruling minds hinders man’s normal drift towards the one Mind, one God, and leads human thought into opposite channels where selfishness reigns” (Science and Health, p. 205). These words of our Leader, Mrs. Eddy, lift the thought and give a true basis for the hope of reform. If we would reach a right conclusion we must begin with the right premises.

(Originally published in the August 1904 Christian Science Journal)

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