During the last three decades the Christian Science...

New Haven (Conn.) Journal and Courier

During the last three decades the Christian Science movement has passed through an amazing growth. Making allowance for all exaggerations of doctrine, all extravagances of speech, all the crudeness of every sort incident to any new movement, the hard fact remains that there must be something of good in a religion which has changed the lives of tens of thousands of people from a tragedy into a song of praise. It is that kernel of good that we are after. I know not how other ministers may feel, nor other churches. But for us there would seem but one course to follow. It is that of open-mindedness to every new fact of the religious life which presents itself. ... Indeed, I think I may say that I go so far as to approach this subject with a kind of eager sympathy. Perhaps I have been peculiarly happy in my acquaintance with Christian Science people. At any rate, I have never found my nature up in arms, so to speak, either over their teachings or their lives. To say that I accept the Christian Science system of thought as a wholly satisfactory interpretation of the New Testament would not be be true. At the same time I believe most sincerely that these people are emphasizing certain religious facts, the importance of which cannot well be overestimated. It is these facts that I would point out. It is these facts that I would have the Church receive, thereby, as I believe, greatly enriching its own life. If their teachings, as they claim, are derived from the New Testament, then surely they are a part of our inheritance. We have no need to go outside our own fellowship to appropriate and practise them. I move on from this point in my sermon with full assurance, for I cannot be mistaken in assuming that it is the dispostion of all who are under my ministry to approach this whole subject in a perfectly frank and fair-minded way. You and I are agreed in this: We would take hold of our investigation in that scientific spirit which asks only for the facts, and in that Christian spirit which would lead us to accept and hold fast to those conclusions that the facts fully warrant. ...

Turning to the affirmative aspect of Christian Science, let us ask ourselves wherein lies its living power? Many answer, "In its healing." It is freely charged that Christian Science is not a spiritual movement: that it cares only for the loaves and fishes of physical health. So fair-minded a man as President Hyde of Bowdoin College seems to fall into this view of Christian Science. In a recent discussion of this subject he writes: "Healing is not, like love, joy, peace, modesty, fidelity, sacrifice, an essential manifestation of the Christian spirit." This may be true. But does he mean to imply that Christian Scientists confine themselves to the healing aspect of their ministry, while they disregard these fine graces of the spirit? If that is the implication I think it wholly unjust. Where is the evidence that they are lacking in the Christian spirit of love? Do they not keep the peace? Are they not law-abiding citizens? Do we find them lacking in fidelity and in patience? To be sure, they cling tenaciously to their beliefs, but since when has it become a crime to believe as a man chooses to believe? To be sure they are enthusiastic, almost to the point of fanaticism, in allegiance to their Church and Leader: but who, that loves our own Congregational fellowship, would not be glad to have our membership fired with this same intense spirit of loyalty? If I am capable of any fair judgment, Christian Scientists magnify first of all the graces of the Spirit. They love one another. They are creators of joy. They keep the peace. Over-modest we may not call them, but their assertiveness has this redeeming quality, it springs out of a deep faith. 'As to fidelity in all family and social relationship, I cannot see that they fall below the standard set up by other Christian bodies. Doubtless there is much to desire in their exemplification of the virtue of self-sacrifice, but that is as true of us as of them. A "peculiar people" they most certainly are, but so were the early Christians, and so are any people who undertake in a crooked world to walk according to some deep Principle of faith.

And this brings me straight to the thing I desire most of all to say. ... What is the one great truth that we may speak of as the religious handle of Christian Science? What is it that they emphasize above everything else: far more, as it seems to me who would be just, than they emphasize their work of healing? As I speak a hundred are answering, "It is their teaching of the great truth of the immanence of God." No! it is not that; it is something infinitely more vital than that; it is what the Scripture calls the presence of God—the living presence of God. The teaching of the immanence of God is a profound philosophical truth, but it is not a truth that gets hold of the hearts and lives of men. It is the presence of God, made known to us in the redeeming healing, uplifting, loving, and sanctifying power of the Christ—it is this, and this alone, that sways and turns the lives of men. The weakness of the teaching of the new theology has been in this, that it has said too much about the immanence of God as a cold, philosophical abstraction and too little about the actual presence of God as a living power at the heart of life. The Scripture never talks about the immanence of God in His universe; its one life-breathing utterance is this: "Emmanuel—God with us." ...

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March 16, 1907

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