The Unadulterated Theodicy of Christian Science

 

In  contemplation of  the poetry of numerous traditional Christian hymns, many of which are found in the Christian Science Hymnal, it has become  apparent  to me that the traditional Christian theology of the 19th century was really more in agreement with Mary Baker Eddy’s logical and  scientifically Christian explanations of absolute existence,  first published in the first edition of her textbook of Christian Science in 1875,  than are today’s theologies.  Theology appears to have changed with the times and to have gradually adapted to popular human beliefs as those beliefs changed.

As a child, I noticed in the Christian Science Hymnal many references in its poetry to the powerlessness and the nothingness of death, Christ-like thought being our pattern for life, and the absoluteness of God as a Principle – as opposed to God as a human-like personified power.  Contemporary theology seems to have gradually shifted away from the possibility of idealistic thoughts being actually translatable into practical human experience.  So much of today’s theology seems to teach resignation to evil and disease, as if it could be the will of our loving God that a person should be sick or die.  Popular modern human belief seems more rooted in the observations of material science and medicine than in absolute God, and has been adapted to make place for them over God.  Here is a good example of that solid old theological mindset of practical idealism which has always countered such assumptions:

I know no life divided,

O Lord of life, from Thee;

In Thee is life provided

For all mankind and me:

 

I know no death, O Father,

Because I live in Thee;

Thy life it is that frees us

From death eternally.

 

I fear no tribulation,

Since what so e’er it be,

It makes no separation

Between my Lord and me:

 

Since Thou, my God and Father,

Dost claim me as Thine own,

I richly shall inherit

All good from Thee alone.

 

The words above are a translation from the original German text by their author, Carl J. Spitta, 1801-1859, as found in the current Christian Science Hymnal (Hymn Number 135).     According to “Concordance to Christian Science Hymnal and Hymnal Notes, 1967”,   Spitta’s poetry so appealed  to the general heart that his great collection, Psaltery and Harp, 1833, had to be reprinted every year, reaching its fifteenth edition in 1884.  This author departed our world even before Mary Baker Eddy’s ministry, structured around the discovery of the divine Laws of God, ever was yet born into this world.   It would, then, be impossible that Christian Science thought, per se, could have influenced Spitta’s writing.  Yet that same firm absolute sense of Christian Science, pure and absolute Christianity,  is present in his words. This is one of many inspiring Hymns whose origin I had never considered.  I had thought that the authors of this and many similar hymns must have been associated with the early Christian Science movement.  But this is not so.  Like many other traditional hymns from the 19th century, they only reflect the emphasis on the purer Christian theology of their era.

Interesting to note are human details of Spitta’s life.  Spitta was early apprenticed to a watchmaker in Hanover, his home, and then his family discovered that he was secretly longing to be ordained for the ministry.  He made up for lost time by hard study, and at twenty was ready for the theological course at Göttingen.  His hymns did much for the revival of Evangelical religion in Germany.  His son, L.A. P. Spitta, was author of the famous life of Bach

The tone of these stanzas of Spitta exude pure Christian Science.   The first stanza declares that Life is not divided from the life of the Lord, and that we must therefore never know life from any other perspective.  Yet, modern material medical observations of life insist the contrary – that man is the victim of the powers of matter which can only be defeated in human battle.  But in Truth, the things of Life are products of infinite God, therefore of spiritual origin, and therefore are never caused by material forces nor by any power separated from God – because in an infinite universe of Spirit, no external or independent power can possibly exist.  This is why we do not recognize death.  Of course, death appears as a reality to human thought, which is but a frame of mind which Jesus taught us is to be conquered.   The Scriptures tells us plainly that death is the last enemy that shall be overcome.  The replacement of human thought with Christ-thought uncovers the recognition that our real life is in God, not on earth.  Death exists only as a conception of earthly thought.  It has no place in the spiritual realm which is our actual dwelling place.  The Master Christian, Christ Jesus, taught and demonstrated this for us by raising others from apparent death in at least three recorded instances, and by finally overcoming death himself, in his own resurrection.  His ultimate act of self sacrifice was for the sins of the world, those sins that killed him,  not in the sense of substitution, but of demonstration.  Complete comprehension and appreciation of Jesus’ intense sacrifice will also give to us freedom from death for all eternity.  Jesus promised this.  Eternity by definition must include the present.  Eternity is not a period which begins after death – but now.

The second stanza tells us that we have nothing to fear, no matter how horrible a situation may appear to be when it is falsely seen through fearful human eyes.  Perfect Life is provided for us only in God, not in the limitations of matter which are formulated in human thought.  Human thought has no source in God, and is thus erroneous.   It is only conviction of life as existent in the limited material forms of human thought which lead to the belief in and the experience of death.  God claims us as His own.  We inherit all good from Him, and from Him alone, because he is infinite, eternal, and the source of all that exists in absolute reality.  The infinity and completeness of God leaves no vacuums where evil could possibly have entity or reside.  The human, erring, mortal senses, which Jesus taught us to overcome, are the only, and the imagined sources of things unlike God.  This realization will ultimately free us all from death.

Share

Leave a Comment

Filed under Christian Science

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

HTML tags are not allowed.