In the editorial note in your issue of the 23rd ult...

The Pulpit and Ecclesiastical Review

In the editorial note in your issue of the 23rd ult.. you refer your readers to the very able sermon of the Rev. Lewis B. Radford as throwing light on the doctrines of Christian Science. You will, I know, with your usual broad-mindedness, permit me to say that this sermon does undoubtedly throw much light on the problem of psychology in its relation to science and theology, and consequently on the relationship of mental science in any of its many phases to orthodox Christianity; but the one thing from which it diverges at the very beginning, and to which it never again returns, is Christian Science. May I be permitted to attempt to make this good.

The sermon makes it quite clear that the two essential factors in discussing this question are "causation" and "faith;" the vital point, therefore, in respect to Christian Science is to determine whether it has a theory of causation and faith which is at once Christian Scientific, and being scientific, is, ipso facto, demonstrable. Now, with the exception perhaps of the origin of evil, it is doubtful if any question has led to greater speculation than that of causation. For centuries the dispute lay between the materialist and the idealist, until Huxley, with a characteristic declaration that the substance of matter was "as pure a piece of metaphysical speculation as that of the substance of mind," seized upon Paul's reference to the altar to the unknown God, and invented the term agnostic to describe those who believed in an unknown and unknowable God.

The theory of pure materialism is not intellectually difficult to grasp. It may be stated roughly as the hypothesis that there is nothing beyond forces inherent in matter, and that the life and civilization of this planet, as it appears to us to-day, were evolved by a process of natural evolution. Such a theory is no doubt logical, but it reduces causation to the expression of material law, and God, if you care to conceive of your first cause as God, to the level of the elements or physical nature. This in effect leaves the science of being in the same inscrutable mystery in which it found it. And as a result, men, realizing more and more that there is some spiritual element, whose presence, if they cannot explain, they cannot explain away, have sought refuge in one or another of the various theories of idealism. Huxley, indeed, himself declared that if he were forced to decide between pure materialism and pure idealism, he should choose idealism as the more rational. Idealism is the doctrine that matter is the hypothetical substance of mind. If you regard this mind frankly as energy, your first cause becomes practically as purely physical as the materialist's; if on the other hand you regard this mind as God, you reach the ordinary standpoint of orthodox theology.

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February 15, 1908

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