It is often observed by those who are not Christian Scientists, that students of Christian Science place considerable emphasis upon the word "belief." As used by them it seems to have a different significance to that generally accepted, and yet it is not likely that Christian Scientists and non-Scientists would disagree as to the mere definition of the word. Among other definitions given by the dictionaries are these: "Assent to a proposition or affirmation or the acceptance of a fact, opinion, or assertion as real or true; partial or full assurance without positive knowledge or absolute certainty." Belief is also here defined as "conviction; confidence;" and again, as "the belief of our senses." The last is sometimes employed by Christian Scientists to express the thought of disease or discord, which of course means the acceptance of sense evidence, irrespective of the spiritual fact. In the Bible, however, the word "believe" generally has a higher meaning and points to some measure of faith in God which leads to spiritual understanding.

Mrs. Eddy says that the text, "Believe . . . and thou shalt be saved," "demands self-reliant trustworthiness, which includes spiritual understanding and confides all to God" (Science and Health, p. 23). She also tells us (p. 297) that "a belief in Truth is better than a belief in error," but she adds that "until belief becomes faith, and faith becomes spiritual understanding, human thought has little relation to the actual or divine." This explains why that which is called faith so often suffers shipwreck. Its sense of revelation is opposed to reason, and yet reason, not alone faith or belief, must be applied to the working out of our human problems. If our present belief does not meet the demand for progress, it is surely reasonable to seek a basis for a better belief, one which will impel us toward the truth, but unfortunately mortals are apt to let many erroneous beliefs solidify and then these take for them the place of realities. This was long the case with mankind at large. They refused to believe that the earth is a sphere, and false belief held otherwise brave mariners from venturing out upon the deep, until at last the truth was known, not merely believed.

A far more vital issue is, however, involved in the erroneous belief that man is material and governed by material law, one which vitally concerns every human being. Long ago Paul said to the Philippian jailer, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." We read that Paul and Silas then instructed this man and the members of his household, with the result that he "rejoiced, believing in God with all his house." This must have meant much more than is grasped by any limited sense of faith or belief, or of what it means to be "saved." It involved the giving up of material belief, which is bondage always, and the gaining of the spiritual understanding of God and man which is freedom. To believe on Christ Jesus meant in this case to believe and accept what he had taught and what he had wrought. He himself had said, "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works."

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February 10, 1912

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