The Impermanence of Evil

THE following sentence from a well-known writer, a deeply thinking and widely cultured man, expresses as well as is usually done a comprehension of the change which must follow the understanding and application of the teachings of Christian Science; "To accept the doctrine that moral evil and physical pain and suffering are not realities, would require me not merely to change my opinions, but to recast, so to speak, my character." As to the change of character which must come when the eternal fact of the reality of good displaces in thought the fiction that evil has reality, and therefore eternity, we rejoice in expecting that beautiful change for all mankind. Being transformed by the renewing of the mind, we all shall prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Hitherto mortals have not known enough about the good will of God, and therefore have not been able to overcome evil with good; then, unwilling to acknowledge their failure, they have incorporated into their philosophies and theologies the theory that evil is a reality, and therefore unconquerable. The suffering saint, after trying the potions of many physicians without a cure, has taken pride in thinking that the disease must be specially sent by God, since it is and therefore a reality. If this were correct reasoning we should have to conclude that the infinite intelligence is a reservoir for unconquerable evil and incurable disease

Christian Scientists hold intelligently to the authority of truth revealed in the Scriptures, and so are able to distinguish what is personal and temporary in the record, from what is universal. Those who support verbal inspiration, and claim that every word of the sacred writings is mandatory, are compelled, for example, to claim that the cursing of enemies is legitimate, this being the tenor of some imprecatory psalms. If, however, the thoughts and intents of the heart must be brought before the judgment-seat of Christ, and the mandate of the Christ is, "Bless them that curse you, . . . pray for them which despitefully use you," then it is plain that the un-christianized human sense which makes evil real, and which legitimatizes persecution, cruelty, and slaughter of fellow-men, must disappear before the Christlike understanding which recognizes only good as reality, and by goodness displaces ill-will, by kindness displaces hate, and by love displaces dread and fear.

If we bring our conceptions of God before the same tribunal, we find the theories to be misconceptions which have premised that God is acquainted with evil and forever knows it. Walking in the way opened for us by Christ Jesus, and doing the works which he did, we find that God shines in our hearts, and as the source of all good gives us "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." With this light of truth coincides the prophet's vision of the true God when he said, "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity;" thus men long ago might have had comfort on the ground that the more they knew of God, the less would they behold evil. The true thought was evidently grasped by the Psalm-writer who, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me," and the inference is plain, that the more we know of equity, the nearer do we come to God, who does not know iniquity. Out of many mental struggles came the vision of truth expressed in the book of Job, "Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace." If however as some would have us believe, the divine intelligence can be a pain-producer, and the originator of sickness and sorrow, whereby these conditions become realities, then acquaintance with that Mind would not give us peace. But the thought thrills throughout the Bible that the divine intelligence is "the very God of peace." When a vision of ultimate conditions came to the Revelator, and he thought of man's acquaintance with God being so close that the tabernacle or dwelling-place of God was with men, he saw what the necessary correlative of such acquaintance was:— "There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Since it is the very inmost characteristic of all that is real that it cannot pass away, but endures the same from everlasting to everlasting, why should we be unwilling to grant that even now sorrow, evil, anguish, pain, and sin do not constitute reality? We pray that the divine will may be done on earth as in heaven, and then deny an answer to our prayer by theorizing that on earth the will of God is not a heavenly will, but a power which establishes discord. Men are certainly deceived when they make evil a reality, for the true light and revelation of God shows that good is real and eternal.

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Substance or Shadow?
April 21, 1906

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