Fiction: Christian Scientists ignore evil or pretend it’s not real.
Fact: There was no pretending that the noise I heard wasn’t real. I had gone to my office one night to check on some papers. We’d had some security problems in this building, and on this particular night, as I was walking down the stairs from my office on the top floor, I was surprised to hear someone moving around downstairs because the other employees were all away for the Christmas holidays. I didn’t have a cellphone to call the police. But I had often prayed in times of trouble or danger, so I immediately began praying. My prayer was not just for my own safety, but also for whomever it was that I had heard. In addition to affirming that God was right there, protecting and caring for everyone, I also prayerfully insisted that no one could be tempted to do evil. Nor would anyone want to harm another, because in reality, all of us are brothers and sisters—children of God.
I prayerfully insisted that no one could be tempted to do evil.
I prayed fervently as I walked down the stairs toward the first floor as quietly as I could. As I got to the exit, I saw a man leave by the basement door. I was relieved and grateful. And I later found out there was no damage or theft as a result of his visit.
This was what might be called potential evil that’s “in your face,” so you can’t ignore it. But what about things such as terrorism or corruption? Do Mary Baker Eddy’s statements about evil’s unreality in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, mean we should ignore that kind of evil?
No way! In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy explains the need to prove evil’s inability to rule us and the world. For example, she writes, “Mankind must learn that evil is not power” (p. 102).
So how do we prove that? A first step could be to refuse to accept evil into your own thought—like I did that night at the office. You can also do this by refusing to cheat on a test or to speak unkindly about someone. For me, this includes rejecting evil in my own or anyone’s life by recognizing the lies that evil is presenting and refuting them with the spiritual facts of one purely good God and His purely good creation. I do this in my daily prayer for the world.
And Mrs. Eddy’s founding of The Christian Science Monitor is proof to me of her desire for Christian Scientists to be aware of what’s going on in the world and to address it through their prayers. In stating the Monitor’s purpose, she wrote, “The object of the Monitor is to injure no man, but to bless all mankind” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 353)
Proving the “nothingness” of evil so that humanity can be blessed isn’t always easy. But each affirmation of the allness of God excludes and ultimately eliminates evil. Just as in my own prayers for personal safety, so prayer for the larger benefit of humanity insists on God’s all-powerful presence, whether in the Oval Office, the Middle East, Syria, or North Korea. For many years, I have prayed for my own country and for a changing list of countries—often based on the news I read in the Monitor.
Claiming evil’s unreality doesn’t mean ignoring it.
I also celebrate the breakthroughs—such as the long worked-and prayed-for peace in Northern Ireland. Recently, Somalia, which had been on my prayer list for many years, was reported to no longer be a “failed state.” Syria, Turkey, and Afghanistan are just three of the many other countries that deserve our prayers. We can also confront evil when it presents itself in the form of cyberattacks, hunger, and genocide. However overwhelming some of these situations may seem, we can insist that God governs, and that even in the midst of trouble, He is present to guide, and save, and bless.
Claiming evil’s unreality doesn’t mean ignoring it. In fact, our prayers to disarm evil—first, by seeing how it claims to operate, and then by establishing the spiritual fact of God’s presence, power, and law, which exclude evil—are urgently needed. This is our job as Christian Scientists: not to pretend the bad stuff doesn’t exist, but to contribute to healing it.