When one begins the study of Christian Science, one finds many terms used in such a way that the meaning ordinarily attached to them does not seem adequate or correct. Often in elucidating some aspect of spiritual teaching Mrs. Eddy uses a word in its root signification, rather than in the sense it has come to have through association with various human beliefs or customs. Self-abnegation is one of these terms; and a clear understanding of its signification as used in Christian Science is essential to progress.

Self-abnegation, or the denial of self, has been generally regarded as a form of asceticism, the denying one's self ordinary sensuous gratifications for conscience' sake, or aiming at holiness through self-mortification. This acceptation of the term is based on the belief in matter and in material pleasure and pain, and it implies deprivation of something more or less desirable, either in itself or for the sense of pleasure its possession brings. Self-abnegation, when thus regarded, is apt to produce a self-righteous condition of thought, largely tinged with a feeling of superiority. Instead of denying self, it rather tends to build up or to increase egotism or self-exaltation.

The teaching of Christ Jesus is plain and clear: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me;" "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple; ... whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." To human sense these surely are "hard sayings;" and mortals in evading them have tried to substitute a less drastic and rigorous standard of discipleship. The result has been a falling away from the pure spiritual teaching of the gospels and a failure to obey the commands of the Master to "heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils."

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Redeeming the Past
November 8, 1924

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