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FROM THE EDITORS

'UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE FAITHS'

From the September 22, 2008 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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"THE DIRECT RULE for practice of Christian Science is the Golden Rule, 'As ye would that men should do to you, do ye' " (Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 282). That Rule, sometimes known as "the ethic of reciprocity," appears with unmistakable consistency in virtually all the world's major faiths—including Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Jainism, and the Baha'i faith. More than just another wise adage, it's actually a living prayer for all, and an essential component in attaining the peace and healing that the world so deeply yearns for.

WHENEVER PEOPLE COME TOGETHER TO WORK NOT JUST FOR PEACE BUT FOR HEALING, THERE'S CAUSE FOR GREAT HOPE.

To highlight one example of this universal emphasis on the Golden Rule: In an open letter dated October 13, 2007, 138 prominent Muslim leaders appealed to the leaders of the world's Christian churches to establish a dialogue based on common ground between their two faiths. They pointed out that "the future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians." Our "Items of Interest" section (September 1) recently included news of an interfaith conference at Yale University in late July that grew out of this appeal, attended by Muslims, Christians, and Jews—the first of four such conferences to take place around the world in coming months. The event at Yale centered especially on the shared beliefs of loving God supremely and following the Golden Rule.

The Christian Science Monitor quoted the closing statement of conference attendees: " 'Ours is an effort to ensure that religions heal rather than wound, nourish the human soul rather than poison human relations.' " And the Monitor went on to report, "Recognizing that to live together in peace, much less love one another, requires greater understanding between the faiths, the conference focused primarily on theological discussion—on 'who we are and what we think' " (Jane Lampman, "Global Christian-Muslim compatibility: a start," August 4).

Whenever people come together to work not just for peace but for healing, there's cause for great hope. And we find it especially noteworthy that the concepts of identity ("who we are") and mentality ("what we think") should play such a prominent role at multifaith conferences like this one, because this gets at the heart of what needs to happen if humanity is going to truly heal the world's divisions—be they among Christians and Muslims, Russians and Georgians, Uighurs and Han Chinese.

Christian Science explains that healing is attainable in all human circumstances, through a growing understanding of our spiritual identity—who we all are as ideas of the divine Mind, coexisting harmoniously—and by putting off materialistic thoughts and motives, and developing spiritual-mindedness. Through prayer we can gain more understanding of this identity that transcends race, class, and culture, in the effort to be better peacemakers and healers. We're each essential in God's perfect creation, unconditionally loved and loving.

The sixth and final tenet of Christian Science states: "And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 497). There's no mistaking that in referring directly to the Golden Rule, this tenet sets it apart as representing something essential in this practice of Christian Mind-healing.

But just what is it that makes the practice of this Rule potent enough to heal the world's ills? Jesus' words point to the answer. He linked it inextricably with the commandment to love God supremely. And he said that when this love of God and love of neighbor conjoin, these two greatest of commandments reveal the entire message of God's law and of Biblical prophecy; moreover, that they point the way to eternal life (see Matt. 22:40; Luke 10:25–28).

Even the best efforts to do well by our fellow men and women sometimes can come up short. But when unselfish efforts are empowered by a desire to love and honor God—divine Life, Truth, and Love—they become purified, infused with a power that is neither of this world nor subject to the world's limited expectations for repaired unity and healing. This healing force is none other than the Comforter Jesus promised would come to humanity for all time.

In restating the Golden Rule, the sixth tenet of Christian Science clearly implies an order to its beneficial practice: first, "do unto others"; and then, let "them do unto us." Whether we're being called on to forgive, to repair and rebuild, or just to cease hostilities and talk with one another, it's the healer who takes the initiative. And we can safely leave the reciprocal response to the same power that impels the courage to take the first step.

♦

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