Everyday Religion

Religion is one of the most difficult concepts to define or describe. Hardly two authorities agree as to what it denotes or includes. "The general tendency of opinion, however, seems to be toward conceiving religion as the extension of the process of biological adaptation into man's personal relation with the cosmos" (Dictionary of Religion and Ethics, by Professor Shailer Mathews and Professor Gerald B. Smith). By this test, Christian Science is advanced religion. It regards God as "the divine Principle of all that really is," as "the Soul of man and of all existence," and as "the Mind of man" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, pp. 275, 280, 470), and it continually emphasizes the individual relations which result from this basic relationship.

On page 10 of "Toward Civilization," Professor Charles A. Beard, historian and publicist, has spoken of Christian Science as "America's contribution to religion." This creditable recognition is accompanied by the implied criticism that this Science fits into what he describes as "machine civilization." Nevertheless, when this criticism is considered thoughtfully, it does not detract from Mrs. Eddy's contribution to religion, for religion should be adapted to human needs; and, if civilization has become mechanical, then for this very reason it needs a religion which is both practical and spiritual. In the "Commonwealth History of Massachusetts," the Rt. Rev. Charles L. Slattery, previously for many years Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts, wrote the chapter on "Religious Forces." And he closed the section on "The Christian Scientists" as follows: "The whole government of the Christian Science Church is devoted and efficient, and many people bear witness to the awakening of new hope and the discovery of a life of prayer."

As a description of religion, the following points are offered as likely to satisfy all careful thinkers. Considered as an individual experience, religion includes a feeling of human dependence on a divine Person or Principle, together with the mental outlook and practice which correspond to this recognition. As developed further, religion includes a systematic teaching and a methodical practice expressing a comprehensive view of divine realities and of human capacities, immunities, and obligations resulting therefrom. Naturally, also, such a development should be accompanied or followed by an appropriate organization, so that many persons can act together to preserve and propagate their religion and to make it most useful.

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Denying Sin and Disease
August 1, 1931

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