The Christian Science approach to healing

August 25, 2009 | 8 comments

If a problem does not yield quickly to prayer, sometimes students of Christian Science struggle between total reliance on God for healing and seeking a medical option.

The textbook of Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, makes provision for temporal help when prayer has yet to reach its desired outcome. Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “If Christian Scientists ever fail to receive aid from other Scientists, — their brethren upon whom they may call, — God will still guide them into the right use of temporary and eternal means.”

She continues to point out, though, that temporal aid is what it is—temporal. And that all issues have to be ultimately resolved spiritually to bring genuine reformation from the inside out. She went on to state, “Step by step will those who trust Him find that ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.’” If one seeks temporal help, that is fine. People need to do what they think is the wisest thing to do under their circumstances. But it is most desirable to find permanent help in God to begin with, if possible, and not have to take a circuitous route to genuine healing.

One truth that helps break the mesmerism of unfulfilled prayer is to understand that the primary purpose of Christian Science is not to fix a material problem, but to reveal spiritual truth. Jesus Christ, the master healer of all time, taught, “Know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Disease is error of belief, and truth is its antidote. It’s knowledge, or understanding of Truth, God, that brings spiritual freedom from physical suffering.

A friend recently shared a story that highlighted the difference between a medical approach to healing and the method Jesus Christ taught.

She had been suffering from pneumonia for several days, and her condition was worsening. Despite dedicated prayer by herself and her family, the lie was not yielding. With the situation looking desperate, a couple of family members decided she needed to go to the hospital, and they pressed her to let them take her. She did not want to go, but something needed to change quickly or the picture was not going to be good.

When pressed again to seek medical help, suddenly a light went on in her thought. She bolted upright in her bed and declared, “A doctor cannot tell me anything about who I am as a child of God.”

She swiftly realized the distinction between a medical approach to healing and the Christian Science approach. The two are strikingly different. A medical doctor views a patient as a physical body and sees disease as a real condition that needs to be treated materially. Christian Science views man as spiritual, and in perfect health as God’s image and likeness. Disease is seen as illusion about God’s perfect man, and is cured by understanding the spiritual truth that dissolves the illusion.

The mesmerism of a “real disease” broke in my friend’s mind. She saw clearly that she was not physical, did not have a disease, and had all she needed coming from God right where she was at home. She couldn’t learn anything more about her true spiritual identity at a hospital then she could at home. The pneumonia broke and she was quickly and happily on her feet again, well.

This story is useful because it illustrates the difference between medical treatment and Christian Science treatment. It is also a red flag for examining how a student of Christian Science approaches healing.

If one views disease as a real condition that needs to be eliminated, efforts to heal it may feel hopeless and even in vain, and rightfully so, for it is the wrong approach. Disease is not a reality. It is an error of belief in the human mind. The belief that disease is real automatically puts thought in the medical camp to begin with, and thus leaves the mental door wide open to believing that the condition can only be resolved through material means.

As my friend realized, spiritual healing is about discovering who we spiritually are. Our spiritual individuality is healthy, well and secure in God’s image. This is an unchangeable fact and provable in the here and now of everyday experience. This truth dissolves the mortal mind lie of disease as being part of that individuality, and healing happens, first in thought, then in the body governed by that thought.

8 thoughts on “The Christian Science approach to healing”

  1. What if the medical aid recommended is thought to be surgery? Then if you have surgery and are improved physically, how does that fit in with ultimately realizing the truth of one’s complete spiritual being forever perfect as the image and likeness of God?

  2. The best example I can think of is a famous cosmetic surgeon’s observation that patients could have cosmetic surgery, and be changed substantially physically, but not see any difference afterward. They thought they still looked less than beautiful. In other words, a true healing is always an inside job.

    Take a different example, say a broken bone set by a surgeon. Well, the patient would still want to pray for spiritual improvement, for example, perhaps there’s a need to be less prone to accidents, or more sure of safety…just for instance. There is always a spiritual demand that needs to be risen to even though physical steps were taken to alleviate the immediate physical distress.

    Or replacement knees and hips…there is still a need to counter the fear of aging and effects that come from harboring that belief. It might be a knee one year, but something else the next year if the underlying belief is not addressed.

    Hmmm…much to think about…

  3. “Not to fix a material problem, but to reveal spiritual truth.” This is what prayer is all about. I am so grateful for all of Mr. Mehlenbacher’s continued efforts in sharing these inspiring truths with us with such frequency and in such unselfish manner.
    Awesome Blessings for All.

  4. I love what Mrs. Eddy says on page 150 of Science and Health -“…the mission of Christian Science now,as in the time of its earlier demonstration, is not primarily one of physical healing. Now, as then, signs and wonders are wrought in the metaphysical healing of physical disease; but these signs are only to demonstrate its divine origin -to attest to the reality of the higher mission of the Christ-power to take away the sins of the world.” I find when I am reminded in prayer that my goal is to see how God is seeing me [and all], the healing comes quickly. Too often we get the cart before the horse. The cart always follows!

    Thanks Evan for this well said and pertinent article.


  5. Not to big note myself, as we say in Australia, but I would recommend my book “Christian Science: Women, Healing and the Church” on this subject. I’ve included a chapter on issues related to the “CS approach to healing” and one effect of this approach, or sometimes the attitude that CS is superior because it is not focused on the physical body (even though it is), is the distress caused to followers of the religion who find their use of ‘temporary’ means frowned upon, looked down on etc.

    I wonder if a more collaborative, less competitive approach couldn’t be adopted, so that healing is seen on a continuum, and healing is seen as a journey too. I’ve often found the journey as interesting and full of growth as the final outcome, if not more so, and that might have included visits to the doctor, even help from the medical profession.

    It would seem to me to be in line with an earlier post, Evan, to be grateful for all healing modalities where they are helpful to people, as Irene Moore advocated in the 1970’s.

    Blessings, D.

  6. Thanks, Evan. I’m so grateful that Mrs. Eddy mercifully included the provision to seek medical care temporarily if needed. I don’t need guilt at this time in my life. As one who found CS in “middle age”, I can attest to the fact that all the medical solutions I had sought were temporary in effect, except for an appendix removal. CS not only has given me permanent healings, but healed things I hadn’t even addressed as a side benefit- like a healing of very messy allergies when a severe back issue was dealt with by a practitioner. Also, a few “incurable” issues that were dealt with by the family in the hospital, were healed with CS prayer while we were there. Nurses who saw the Science and Health book in the room knew what it was and were supportive. I think everyone is becoming more collaborative on both sides of the issue, but instantaneous healing is possible and occurs often. Thanks so much for this site and your hard work.

  7. Thanks, Evan. I have a relative who felt very abandoned by her church for seeking medical care for cancer after several months of trying to work it out through C.S. I think it’s good you point out that MBE made the provision for temporal care so that we don’t lose these dear people in our lives and they have a chance to continue working on whatever needs working on.

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