Sunday 4 August 2019

Part4 Idolatry


Toward the end of the first cen­tury the first epistle of John was written to combat the growing menace of Gnosticism. This little book is outstanding in all Christian literature for its teachings of love and purity and fellowship with God. The letter ends with the simple counsel, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." Obviously the idols John meant were the false teachings against which he had been warning them.

Idolatry may be the worship of material objects; it may be the worship of some manifestation of God in place of God Himself; or it may be the worship of a false conception of God in place of the true. The idols of modern civilization are different from the idols of an­cient paganism, and Christian idols may be more deceptive than heathen. One form of idol worship is the adulation of the human per­sonality. A human being may ex­press a high quality of spiritual goodness – or godliness – but he is not the creator of that goodness. Jesus, the Master, declared, "I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 5:30); "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10).

Jesus and Christ
Jesus was not understood by many of the people of his time, especially his enemies. It is important to understand the dual na­ture of Christ Jesus, otherwise some of his statements about him­self seem contradictory and hard to understand. Christian Science dis­pels the mystery. It points out that Jesus was the name of the human man who was born, brought up, carried out his mission, and at last disappeared to material sense. The name was common among Hebrew boys and men.

But this man Jesus was different from all other men who have ever walked the earth. To state it sim­ply, he knew more about God than any man before or since; he lived what he knew, and he proved the practical power of spiritual under­standing in overcoming every type of human trouble – sin, danger, dis­ease, and even death itself. His friends and associates soon began to perceive that here, right in their midst, was a truly Godlike character. While it reached its highest expression in and through the man Jesus, it was not for him exclu­sively. Others began to share the divine understanding; their lives, too, became imbued and inspired with the divine nature, enabling them also to do great works of healing. For centuries the Jewish people had expected some such manifestation of godliness among them; earlier writers foretold its appearing as the Messiah, the Christ, the Coming One, Immanuel, or God with us. So when Jesus began to teach and heal, many de­vout Jews recognized that he was indeed bringing what they had been waiting for.

Christ, as defined in Science and Health (p. 583), is "The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error." Jesus' work, in revealing the power and presence of God on earth, was incomparable. He stands alone. So the word Christ was attached to him as a title. It stands for the Godlike nature which animated him, and must not be confused with Jesus as the name of the human person.

Dual Nature
Keeping in mind this dual na­ture, we see how inaccurate it is to say that Christ was born on Christ­mas Day, or that Christ was cruci­fied and died. It was Jesus who was born and later crucified and rose from the dead; the Christ, or true spiritual nature, was quite un­touched by these material changes, just as the quantity two remains unchanged when you erase the fig­ure 2 from the blackboard. 

The quantity two is a mental concep­tion; the figure 2 is a material symbol. The symbol is subject to change or erasure; the quantity is always the same because it is a mental conception.
Sometimes Jesus spoke of him­self as the son of man, meaning Jesus the son of Mary. At other times he called himself the Son of God, referring to the Christ or spiritual manifestation of God. Some of his later followers became con­fused on this point. He had said, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30). 

Mrs. Eddy, in the text­book, explains that this means one in quality, not in quantity, "as a drop of water is one with the ocean" or "a "ray of light one with the sun" (see Science and Health 361:15-17). 

But the early Christians fell into the same error of which the Jews accused Jesus, the error of believing the man Jesus to be equal with God. After three hundred years it was definitely declared to be the creed of the Christian church that Jesus was God. This led to the idolatrous worship of the human personality and praying to Jesus as God.

One Mind versus Minds Many
The bedrock of true religion is the First Commandment – one God, infinite and good. One God means one Mind. Human belief would di­vide the one infinite Mind into many finite minds, distribute one to each person, encase it in a body of flesh, separate it completely from the one supreme intelligence, and let it go on from there operat­ing strictly on its own, progressing or retrogressing in good or evil, as the case might be, according to whatever standard or rule it sets up for itself.

The belief of a mind and reality apart from God is the one basic error. This error is responsible for all the troubles of mankind. The belief is that there are many minds, one to each person. Each so-called human mind turns in upon itself, tries to prove itself self-sufficient, develops its own will, and takes pride in its achievements. It calls itself "I" – spelled with a capital letter. This human egotism swells into a great seeming, and yet it is basically unreal and erroneous. The call of Christian Science is to un­cover this falsity, denounce it and cast it out, and return to the sim­ple basic facts as set forth in the First Commandment of Moses and demonstrated by Jesus the Christ with great power and signs follow­ing: one God, one Mind, one Prin­ciple, infinite, good, present, understandable, and demonstrable. The reflection or expression of the true God is seen in the real man and universe.

Spiritual Leadership
Mrs. Eddy's discovery of Chris­tian Science was the revelation to her of the truth of God and man: one Mind expressing itself in an infinitude of spiritual ideas. It in­cluded the uncovering of the claims of evil: many minds, knowing both evil and good, and the belief that there is real substance-matter out­side the infinitude of Spirit. Fi­nally, it included the demonstra­tion that the understanding of these facts will cure disease, dis­pel sin, and harmonize human existence.

The Discoverer of Christian Science is also the Founder of our church. The members of this church are governed by the divinely inspired rules in the Church Manual. The purpose of this organization is to restore to Christianity the lost element of healing; to heal and transform, but not to deify the human personality. Having seen how the worship of human personality had entered the early Christian church as a great mental and moral cloud, depriving Christians of spiritual understand­ing and power to heal, she resolved to keep it out of Christian Science. She declares: "Person is not in the question of Christian Science. Principle, instead of person, is next to our hearts, on our lips, and in our lives" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 135). 

She consistently exhorted her followers not to pursue her personality but to find her in her writings. While she demanded strictly that her place as Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science and author of its textbook should be recognized and acknowledged, this was not because of any desire for personal glory but because she understood that mortal mind would make its attack upon her discovery by first trying to discredit her as the discoverer. The discovery must stand because it is true; the dis­coverer must be acknowledged be­cause she was God's instrument.

Mrs. Eddy is no longer with us in person, but her revelation of man as the perfect expression of God remains to lead her followers on to clearer vision and unerring demonstration. There are no personal leaders in Christian Science churches, but there is no lack of leadership. The revealed Principle and rule of true being is studied and obeyed by students of Chris­tian Science and so provides spirit­ual leadership for all the churches and their members, leadership that is wise, positive, and effective. 

stranger going to a Christian Sci­ence church need have no concern as to whether or not he is getting in with the right people; he is get­ting in with the right Principle. He need not wonder who runs the church, for the true Church is spiritual, and Christian Scientists work to understand God's govern­ment and submit to it. "Again I repeat, person is not in the ques­tion of Christian Science" (Mis­cellaneous Writings, p. 135).

No comments:

Post a Comment