God’s Promises Are Kept
By Kevin Ness
Welcome friends! I have been looking forward to this visit with you all. Many thanks to the High Oaks Board for inviting me, and thank you for being here today to hear about the work of the Committee on Publication and God’s unbreakable promise to His creation, all of us, that supports this work on a daily basis.
Committee work is healing work
Because this Committee work is based on the promises of God’s great care for each of us, the work isn’t a burden, it inspires. It isn’t a chore to fulfill the Committee on Publication’s duties outlined in Article XXXIII of our Church Manual, to correct impositions on the public about Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, and our fellow members, it is a joy. By seeing the spiritual reality even when faced with an unpleasant human picture, we see promise for our own church and all humanity. Not mere hope, but hope fulfilled for all. Through its own majesty and dignity Christian Science reveals this light of eternal promise, and shows itself vital as ever to meet the world’s needs. As a well-loved Christian Science Journal article by Allison “Skip” Phinney once said, “Christian Science is what’s coming, not what’s going.” (The Christian Science Journal, September 1987)
This Committee work for Church begins and ends with our heavenly Father-Mother God, omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient good, who does not share power with another. “Who is so great a God as our God?” the Psalmist asks. (Ps. 77:13)
God is the perfect Principle of all true being, and we are each essential in the great architect’s grand design. As God’s reflection, man is God’s complete, whole, and perfect idea. We are God’s glorious completeness, expressed.
The synonyms for God that Mary Baker Eddy gives represent that completeness. Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth, Love. These synonyms also represent who we are. We can each say:
- Spirit is walking as me.
- Principle is standing as me.
- Soul is expressing beauty as me.
- Love is embracing everyone and expressing itself as me.
- Mind is thinking as me.
- Life is living as me.
- Truth is speaking the Truth as me.
God’s promise to man is a permanent covenant, showing divine Love’s indissoluble link with each of us. It is a promise that these aspects of God are established for all time and never weaken or wane. “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it:” (Eccl. 3:14)
“God’s promises kept” is God’s completeness expressed. It is the basis for the divine authority with which Christ Jesus healed. Jesus approached every situation as its Master, knowing every healing opportunity was already a “done deal”, already complete. And that is how we approach every Christian Science practice case, we “meet every adverse circumstance as its master” (SH 419:16 only), as already done.
“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” (James 4:8), the Bible promises. And someone one I know proved this with a special healing. A woman woke up one day and saw a large lump on her body. It did not hurt, and for a year or so, it was not only ignored, but almost forgotten, which is never a wise thing to do. Then one night she realized the lump was quite enlarged and had become painful. This individual had depended on the healing power of Christian Science all of her life. So instead of examining the body she began examining her own thought to see if she was holding on to any false beliefs about herself or others. She found she had been so busy in her work that she had neglected to give herself a thorough Christian Science treatment every day for the last year or so, and had let her deep well of the water of life dry up. So she began to pour in Truth through floodtides of God’s love. And for the next three weeks she stayed in a holy place with God. She continually read the Bible and Science and Health. She studied the Christian Science Bible lesson in a deeper way, and held on to what our Leader says in Miscellany p. 210:2-7: “Beloved Christian Scientists, keep your minds so filled with Truth and Love, that sin, disease, and death cannot enter them. It is plain that nothing can be added to the mind already full. There is no door through which evil can enter, and no space for evil to fill in a mind filled with goodness.”
This was what was needed for spiritual healing. After a few weeks of the deepest study and communion with God, the lump began to drain. The severe pain began to subside, and within a very short time, the healing was complete. She felt she had been cleansed in the river of Life, anointed with the oil of gladness, and redeemed by the living palpitating presence of the Christ, Truth. The sunlight of Truth and Love invigorated her and purified her life. Truth was the victor.
Committee work is beautiful work
That same deep spiritual conviction is what is needed for the Committee on Publication, too, in its important role of maintaining the “dignity and defense of our Cause.”
This work is done as an expression of the perfection of beauty and love, not hate, or as an “eye for an eye.” In the Committee report at the 2018 Annual Meeting of The Mother Church, I opened by saying “Committee on Publication work is beautiful work.” Someone questioned this and said — How you can say this when you face ugly things written about Christian Science each day? My response: When you bring beauty to it, it is beautiful work. There is joy and beauty in giving a true, fresh understanding of Science and Mary Baker Eddy. And we have this promise from the book of Ecclesiastes: “He [God] hath made every thing beautiful in his time:” (Eccl. 3:11).
Understanding our heavenly Father-Mother God and Her elegant creation, man, is how we see this beauty. Mrs. Eddy writes, “As our ideas of Deity become more spiritual, we express them by objects more beautiful.” (Peo. 14:1-2) Mrs. Eddy once said to one of her early publishers, William Dana Orcutt, “If a man has beauty in himself, he can put beauty into anything.” (Mary Baker Eddy and Her Books, p. 45)
I first realized the power of this idea while in law school, when I was required to write about a legal case that involved a pretty ugly set of facts, but yet I still knew my thinking reflected the beauty of divine Love, and that this beauty could be expressed fully in the assignment. And seeing beauty in it became my focus in writing. Not only did I complete the challenging assignment, the paper ended up winning an award for Best Brief — I know it was because it was full of God’s beauty.
It is the same with the corrective responses of the Committee on Publication. If there is beauty in our thought, this beauty is expressed on the page, and the reader feels it. And this pure expression of divine Love heals and melts any hardness. “The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he [God] uttered his voice, the earth melted.” (Ps. 46:6)
Can’t you see this applied to all of the tasks in front of you? When you see the beauty and order of our heavenly Father-Mother, it will naturally be expressed in that letter you have to write, the presentation you have to give, the decision you have to make, or even that bill you have to pay. Divine beauty is everywhere and cannot be stopped. “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.” (Ps. 50:2) It’s a promise!
Bringing the beauty of divine Love, seeing the world as God sees — as perfection — brings healing and fulfills the Manual’s instruction to make the Committee on Publication’s correctives in a Christian manner. With the same love that Christ Jesus brought to every case, such as raising his friend Lazarus from the dead. And when we do this, we see the same sure results.
This Christly love motivates our Committee work. When one loves humanity, it isn’t possible to stand by and watch the misconceptions that would abuse this Science and somehow block others from receiving it. We love others deeply enough to see this Science bless them as it has blessed us, uninhibited and without misrepresentation, and that love is what will truly lift the public’s thought of Christian Science. When we reach our patient — here, public thought — in this way through divine Love, “the healing work will be accomplished at one visit,” our Leader writes in the Christian Science Practice chapter of Science and Health. (SH 365:15-19)
Mrs. Eddy bathed her patients and the world in spiritual love just as Jesus did. And we all must too. Alfred Farlow, the first Manager of Committees on Publication who served under Mrs. Eddy, told her in a letter that her replies to critics were “like a refreshing shower that washes away the dust so gently and completely that one forgets that it was ever in existence.” (Alfred Farlow to Mary Baker Eddy, June 24, 1909; Setting the Course, p. v) Isn’t that beautiful?
And we strive to do the same as Committees on Publication, returning blessing for cursing and following the Manual provision “Christ the Ensample” which says to “return no violent invective” and to “do good unto your enemies when the opportunity occurs.” (Man. 41:1)
For example, we encountered a professor outside the U.S. who wrote and did a radio program on religious cults that regularly featured Christian Science. He’d had many friendly contacts with Christian Scientists over the years, but still repeated unfair and harsh characterizations of Christian Science on these radio programs, in newspapers, etc. Our Committee in that country realized she was called to meet this with true Christian love and prayer, not just making nice with him, and knew she needed to see that the error was impersonal — that it was imposed on the professor’s thought and not his native thinking from God. She prayed to see a corrective response that would truly heal, rather than be one extreme of general friendliness or the other extreme of locking horns. In praying and working with a member of our Manager’s office staff, the Committee and the staff member prayed over this numerous times. They said it felt like going around the walls of Jericho seven times. And then they felt those walls come down in their prayer even before writing anything. They realized they didn’t need to change an individual man’s thought, but instead needed to pray to see the imposition lifted in their own thought and for all humanity. When the claim no longer weighed on their own thought, this led to a different kind of letter. It was loving, but it was also strong and very precise in the way it corrected the accusations. It didn’t just tell our Christianity, it showed it in the way it was written. And the response from the professor, who replied right away, was markedly different. It wasn’t a total reversal in position, but a clear reversal in tone, and one that showed a shift in how he would present Christian Science going forward, and with an openness to further discussion. We were deeply grateful.
When I’m tempted to react to things we see written about Christian Science, I think often of statement someone shared with me: “If they aren’t calling you the son or daughter of God, then they aren’t talking to you.”
God’s promises kept in legislative work
This same approach of returning only good for evil, and applying Christ’s teachings, such as the Golden Rule, has been very helpful in addressing legislative needs as well. Whether it is addressing health insurance, vaccination requirements, or other areas in the law, our approach to the work is to give a clear and accurate understanding of our Christian Science practice, which has the natural effect of establishing accommodations that give space in law for this practice. And in working with legislators, we follow Mind’s leading each step of the way as we strive for wisdom and balance, keeping central the conviction that Christian Science heals, while at the same time showing respect for the rights of others and public health laws. This healing approach takes it above human lobbying efforts and makes it a real joy.
You may be aware that Congress enacted into law a religious conscience exemption that allows for someone with sincerely held religious beliefs, like a Christian Scientist, to be exempt from paying a tax penalty for not having health insurance, as required by the Federal law. This was the Equitable Access to Care and Health Act (or EACH Act for short), and we are grateful its provisions were passed into law in 2018.
Some individual states have tried to enact a similar health insurance requirement, for which we have been seeking a similar accommodation or exemption. Let me tell you about the beautiful way one such accommodation came about it in the words of that Committee on Publication. He relates:
Testifying at the hearing for the Health Benefit Exchange and its proposed individual mandate wasn’t something that I wanted to do, but I realized it was needed.
In praying about testifying, and potentially answering almost any kind of question about Christian Science in a very public and recorded forum, I affirmed that as God’s idea, I and everyone else involved, express the wisdom of divine Principle, Love, and the intelligence of divine Mind. I thought of what God told Jeremiah, “…thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth…Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee:” (Jer. 1:7-9, 17) What Paul wrote also came to thought, “…I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…” (Rom. 1:16) I also cherished the fact that anything that was said, be it positive or negative, about Christian Science could not keep the “honest seeker for Truth” from finding and experiencing the healing power of the Christ, Truth, as found only in Christian Science.
As the Manager’s office attorney and I waited for my turn to testify, we were both praying and listening to know what the right thing was to do. I especially had to handle the fear of being mesmerized and tricked into doing the wrong thing. One of the ideas I prayed with in that moment was what Mrs. Eddy writes in Pulpit and Press, “Know, then, that you possess sovereign power to think and act rightly, and nothing can dispossess you of this heritage and trespass on Love. If you maintain this position, who or what can cause you to sin or suffer?” (Pul. 3:7-11) In truly the last possible moment before I was to testify, I felt inspired to withdraw as a witness, and instead submit my written testimony for the record. I then went over to the Executive Director and told her what I had done. She asked me, “Are you sure?” I said, “Yes. I know that we have a good faith agreement. I have entered my written testimony for the record, but I’m not going to testify.” She was surprised and appreciative. It felt like the most right thing to do under the circumstances. And after listening to the other witnesses, it was clear our testimony would have sounded out of place, and made Christian Scientists sound like they don’t care about the healthcare needs of the community. However, had we not been at the hearing and prepared to testify, I’m not sure everything would have unfolded the way it did.
I continued to pray to affirm the completeness of the situation. In a follow-up a few weeks later, when the final bill was being disseminated among the legislators, I received a phone call early one morning from the Executive Director herself telling me that the language was missing from the bill, and to please immediately send her our language again. Our accommodation was included in the bill, and it subsequently passed the legislative body (twice). I am SO grateful to God.
We were grateful too! And saw this as evidence of Mrs. Eddy’s statement, “Working and praying with true motives, your Father will open the way.” (SH 326:20-21)
Correcting injustices done our Leader
I love reading about Mrs. Eddy’s life, and seeing how she applied the Truth successfully in her own experience and for her Church. I’ve also found that understanding her life is an important part of being able to correct injustices done to her in the press. To this end, Alfred Farlow required all the Committees on Publication to be thoroughly acquainted with Mrs. Eddy’s life and background, and that is good guidance for all of us, too.
In fact, did you know Farlow helped Sibyl Wilbur gather material for the articles she had published in Human Life magazine and later published as a stand-alone biography “The Life of Mary Baker Eddy”? This information and other accurate biographies help give true facts about Mrs. Eddy and her life and let the world understand her in her “true light and life”, which she said “would do more for our Cause than aught else could… .” L07433, Mary Baker Eddy to Edward A. Kimball, October 15, 1893, The Mary Baker Eddy Collection.
In writing corrective responses and sharing about the life of Mary Baker Eddy in public talks, it’s a joy to explain that her discovery of Christian Science was more than a single moment of a fall on the ice and the realization afterward — which can sometimes be perceived as a hard-to-believe legend or myth — but a product of her lifelong love of God. When she wrote “the time for thinkers has come,” she also could have been writing about herself. Her pure thought of God instinctively challenged the Calvinistic notion of God, which she learned in her early upbringing. She always knew God was a God of love alone. In fact, Mrs. Eddy experienced healing by looking to God even as a little girl, being healed of fever, and healing a mentally unstable man who came to her school. One of her biographers wrote of these experiences: “The child had won with God.” (Mary Baker Eddy: Her Mission and Triumph by Julia Michael Johnston, p. 5)
This same childlike trust was true of Mrs. Eddy as an adult too. One of her workers, describes Mrs. Eddy in a reminiscence, as always looking to God like a child looking to her mother, and would hear Mrs. Eddy say aloud: “Precious Mother Love, darling Mother, show me thy way. Oh, show me thy way!” (We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, Expanded Edition, Vol. II, p. 194) Can’t we approach each challenge the same way? “Mother Love … show me Thy way. Oh show me Thy way!”
And Mrs. Eddy showed how others could feel that same tender Mother Love. When that same worker said that she didn’t have “enough of the mind that was in Christ Jesus” to make a given demonstration, Mrs. Eddy asked, “Would a mother give a child a weight too heavy for it to carry? Would Love give you a task beyond your strength?” (Ibid p. 195) That same infinite Mother Love is supporting every detail of our experience, too.
Christ’s Christianity overcomes evil with good
Before a meeting with all of the Committees on Publication worldwide last October, I asked everyone to read Science and Health and highlight portions related to the Committee work. Many said they highlighted almost the whole book! We also asked they pay special attention to the Atonement and Eucharist chapter, which Mrs. Eddy said in Miscellany, p. 136:3 explains the life of Christ Jesus, as well as her own.
When I studied this chapter, I literally wept. I was touched beyond words at what both our Master Christ Jesus and our Leader Mary Baker Eddy endured in order to bring us Christian Science, and how we can better demonstrate their teaching by humbly and wholly relying on our Father-Mother Love as they did. It also caused me to better understand their lives — what they faced and how they triumphed. I saw in a new way why Christian Science is Christ’s Christianity, and why we owe such a debt of gratitude for what Christ Jesus and Mrs. Eddy faced and accomplished.
It really hit home for me why there was such persecution of Christ Jesus and Mary Baker Eddy, who did the most good. Both were challenging the very existence of so-called mortal error. Mrs. Eddy wrote that Jesus and his teachings “laid the axe of Science at the root of material knowledge….” (SH 27:18) And this error, if it had an intelligence, would resist being destroyed in the form of hatred. “The real cross, which Jesus bore up the hill of grief, was the world’s hatred of Truth and Love.” (SH 50:30-31)
In reading the reminiscence of another worker in Mrs. Eddy’s household, I came across an important example of what Mrs. Eddy faced: The worker related that when writing Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy would have flashes of revelation where she would write so rapidly she didn’t even have time to put the manuscripts on the table, and they would flutter to the ground. Mrs. Eddy said, “So great was the chemicalization in the household after one of these outpourings that I would not be allowed to remain in the house. I moved eight times in eight months while writing Science and Health. I would find my trunk and my chair set out on the sidewalk, and sometimes I would find my manuscripts covered with ink by some person in the house through malice. Sometimes people would leave me only the bed slats to sleep upon…. I tell you these things, my dear students, so that you may not be discouraged.” (Reminiscence of Daisette D.S. McKenzie, pp. 27-28, The Mary Baker Eddy Collection)
In the same way, this Atonement and Eucharist chapter helped me to understand the impersonal resistance to Truth and public criticisms we see in the Committee work, where our Church and our Leader are often portrayed to be the opposite of their true character. But Mrs. Eddy tells us that even though the “idea of Christian healing” may be subject to “unchristian comment,” “this does not affect the invincible facts.” (SH 55:2) And when we take up the cross by turning to God with “Not my will but thine be done” just as Christ Jesus and Mary Baker Eddy did, we wear the crown of rejoicing and fulfill our spiritual mission no matter the challenge.
Christ Jesus loved righteousness and hated iniquity, the Bible tells us, and that is instruction for us to do the same and identify and handle the claims of error or evil through our understanding of good. Our work as Christian Scientists can’t be done without it. We do this in our own thought first, defending ourselves daily from aggressive mental suggestion, as the Manual requires, knowing, for instance, that one Mind alone governs harmoniously, and therefore we cannot be made to forget nor to neglect our duty to God, to our Leader, and to mankind.
Mrs. Eddy told Alfred Farlow of the need to handle malicious animal magnetism. She said to Farlow, “You have learned just the wise ways of meeting the press and would have mastered if m.a.m. [malicious animal magnetism] had been out of the conflict. You must master that or you can do little for me.” (Mrs. Eddy to Farlow, January 21, 1901; Setting the Course, p. 6). Quite an arresting statement!
Whatever the form it takes, we must recognize the error for what it is, an attempt of the so-called carnal mind to destroy Christian Science. That is the watching — recognizing the foe in ambush, as well as the loud, screaming foe, and then handling it through Christian Science, seeing the allness of God and the nothingness of evil, which, as God showed to Moses, turns the serpent into a staff to lean upon.
This important defense will keep us awake to the ways and means of mortal thought, such that we won’t be mesmerized or disturbed by false prophecy (i.e., what we often see on the news), and will see the spiritual light that the Christ imparts to each of us.
God’s promise to pour us out the blessing
Because we do this Committee work as church, all members are vital in supporting it, and seeing through the misconception calling itself lack of vitality of Christian Science or of all organized religion.
Mrs. Eddy told Alfred Farlow how important it was to stay awake and alive, especially in our healing practice, when she wrote him: “… stir the dry bones all over the field, to more words, actions, and demonstration in Christian Science. … ‘Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead and Christ shall give thee light.’” (Mrs. Eddy to Farlow, August 19, 1909; Setting the Course, p. 8) And we know this stirring is needed more than ever today.
It may seem to many who are steeped in secular materialism that God is unknowable or that being spiritual isn’t needed because matter feels satisfying.
Yet, we can address this seeming lack with an abundant understanding of God that feeds the heart hungering for other than materialism. Mrs. Eddy writes of the word “Unknown” in the glossary of Science and Health, “Paganism and agnosticism may define Deity as ‘the great unknowable;’ but Christian Science brings God much nearer to man, and makes Him better known as the All-in-all, forever near.” (SH 596:3)
To address this underlying error, let’s do our part in knowing God ourselves and affirming the Bible’s promise from the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 31:34 to 2nd colon) “they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord…”
When we do this actively, the whole world feels the realness, nearness, and dearness, of our heavenly Father-Mother God, who is constantly pouring out a blessing to all ready to receive it, as promised in Malachi:
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Mal. 3:10)
This poured-out blessing stirs the dry bones and makes them live. It makes our dried, shriveled up sense of life restored and alive. It makes our dried up relationships come alive. Our dried up bank accounts and businesses come alive. And not just us, but our churches, our Sunday Schools. We can know that Spirit has already made them vital, breathed life into them as an expression of divine Life. We look to the Father to meet every need.
I know of a branch church that ran into extreme financial difficulties — its bank account seemed dried up. A member of the Executive Board called a practitioner, explained the church had almost no money, and said, we need $10,000 by Monday or else we will not be able to pay our bills. This was on a Friday. The practitioner asked, “Did you ask God for the money?” The board member said no. “Well, then ask Him!” said the practitioner with a smile. On Monday the board member called the practitioner back. “You won’t believe this,” the board member said. “Someone just gave us a check for $10,000!” (It was not a direct response to the need), then paused and said, “We should have asked for more.” 🙂
And not only is God pouring out a blessing to us, isn’t Malachi telling us that God is pouring YOU out a blessing to the world? You are that blessing. What you know about God is blessing the world and is so needed.
It’s our turn to be the disciples, the prophets, or spiritual seers, as Mrs. Eddy defines “Prophet” (SH 593:4), that see the spiritual reality. In the book of Acts it describes the apostles healing works and says that “great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:33) We are each those disciples, with great grace upon us to do this work.
You might ask, is this a promising time? In our Committee on Publication conference last year someone shared the insight, that while there are many encouraging “signs following” that the age is reaching out for more than materialism, that isn’t why it is promising. We don’t take our cues from the world. We look to God and the teachings of the Bible and Science and Health to tell us what is real and true.
And Mrs. Eddy tells us “The promises will be fulfilled. The time for the reappearing of the divine healing is throughout all time” and therefore not dependent on the particular time or era. And we can fulfill our duty to lay our “earthly all on the altar of divine Science,” so that we can see we are all “endued with the spirit and power of Christian healing.” (SH 55:15)
Mrs. Eddy tells us “Christian Science is irrevocable …” (Pan. 12:26-2) Therefore the time is now. And divine Love’s tender promise to us as expressed in Hebrews remains true. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Heb. 13:5)