The age-old question I have been asking myself as a Christian Scientist, and which many newcomers to the subject may also be asking themselves is this: If error is what its name says it is, namely error, then why do we talk about it in relative terms, as an entity? We hear it often said, and we often read in articles about Christian Science that “error” is trying to trick us – that “error” is always looking for ways to get into our head, that “error” would rule our human life. I asked myself for so long, “If this is true, then what is the supposed entity of this error? If it is indeed the powerless nothing of which we speak, why do we address it as if it were something with a power to do what it supposedly threatens to do, and which we claim it cannot?” Only many years of study and demonstration of the practice of Christian Science has revealed to me the meaning of the answer to these questions. I had been given this answer but never understood it fully. Here is some insight, written with the hope of presenting an understandable answer to these questions to those who continue to be confused by this sometimes seeming self-contradiction.
The entity of error is nothingness. Why does Christian Science address error as if it were something? When we do so, we speak of it in relative human terms. Error is mesmerism, hypnotism, animal magnetism. And vice-versa, animal magnetism is erroneous, mesmerism is erroneous, hypnotism is erroneous.
Earlier in my studies of Christian Science I had thought of animal magnetism as an imagined force to be dealt with in the case of particularly stubborn discords. As my understanding solidified, it became apparent that the THE ONE BASIC animal magnetic claim held by human beings is the hypnotic, mesmeric belief that man is a set of finite mortal human beings, each thinking with a God-granted and independent mind. Christian Science is the first form of thought ever to have come along since the time of Christ Jesus to challenge this massive mental trick played upon mankind, and to build its efficacy upon maintaining the understanding of the mental inseparability between God as cause and man as His effect. The one ever recurring aggressive mental suggestion is this giant lying claim of God-granted humanity. Christian Science reveals the worldly unpopular truth that man is “spiritual and perfect” and that “he is not physique”, as the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, explains in her answer to the question “What is man?” on page 475 of Science and Health with Key to The Scriptures”.
So, the talk about error “wanting” to get in to door of human thought and “trying” to take possession of our being, refers only to the human and false animal magnetic conviction that man possesses individual and separated lives created by, but somehow lived separately from, God. So deep is our false recognition of, and respect for, the carnal man’s verity that we refer to it in relative self identifying terms. We are so accustomed to thinking of ourselves in this false light that our own language has been adapted to reflect the acceptance of error’s entity. If we would defeat the subtle lies of mortality, we must take care to remember the depth of the declaration that error is nothing – no thing – whenever it is referred to as “wanting” to do something or “trying” to get into our thought. To deal with error on its grandest scale is to deal with not just a casual or occasional misunderstanding. To deal with what we call error is to actually grapple with the subtle deep seated mental misrepresentation of all that we actually are, and to replace that misrepresentation, falsely molded in human thought, with the Truth of man’s inseparability from God as His spiritual image and likeness. It is only the unthinking and completely mesmeric conviction of mortality which seems to “try” to dominate our being. Pure Christian Science is radical. The very representation of life as human rather than as divine is all that comprises the “aggressive mental suggestion” against which Mrs. Eddy tells us we must defend ourselves daily in the By-Law entitled ‘Alertness to Duty” in the Church Manual”. This explains why Christian Science is so much more than an “alternative” health system, or a means to finding bodily or mental health in the human life.
Hence the importance of that Bible Lesson-Sermon subject called “Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced”. Sometime in the late 19th century, hypnotism and animal magnetism came on the human scene claiming to be curative agents. They even remain on the medical scene today as commonly used tools in the realm of what is called “alternative” treatment. Therapeutic hypnotism, well intended and highly regarded by its virtue motivated proponents, dresses in the costume of human goodness donned by the universal false belief in the mortality of existence. Hypnotism would, with what it sincerely believes to be the best of intentions, misguided by its own self-deception, accomplish good works. It is a well-meaning counterfeit of God’s power, whose power is the only power that can possibly exist in its own infinite realm of ALL. Mrs. Eddy herself dabbled in the investigation of the claims of hypnotic power to heal several years before her discovery of Christian Science. Then several years later she strongly denounced its use.
Let us not be confused by the use of relative language which must be used in a relative fashion to address mortal mind and error as issues whose nothingness, namely animal magnetism, mesmerism, hypnitism, must be demonstrated.