May 21, 2012 at 4:53 pm #62911
Hi John and Gordon,
Just now read your latest posts. I am very pleased that we have had this further dialogue. I can now see that we are all interested in achieving the same result. It may seem that we are travelling different roads, but, in the end, we will all be arriving at the same destination. And, in the process, we will have had some excellent and stimulating discussions!May 28, 2012 at 3:58 pm #63226
I wrote this and posted it in another location, but this seemed an appropriate place to share it as well (contains a few edits for relevance here)…
It seems a good time to admit that I have struggled recently with the nature of these forums, and I thought I’d share the reasoning…
Over some things they seem to be a wonderful way to share ideas and get simple questions answered, ideas for Sunday School for example, or library research questions to name a few.
But often the discussions are not so wonderful… when it comes to differing theological points, deep rooted questions about Science (more suited for discussion in Sunday School or Christian Science Class Instruction), or politically charged questions. Not infrequently do these discussions fall short of truth seeking, and de-vlove into a back and forth cycle; and worse, transform into discussions that overreach our understanding of Science.
While I won’t give specific examples, I will say that it simply takes a close look to notice that discussions often occur from standpoints we should strive constantly to avoid in Science. Here are just some of those positions…
Speaking in the absolute – causing our words to outpace our deeds, and speaking publicly beyond what we have yet proved. We find this to be a dangerous position, over which there has been concern since early in the Christian Science movement. Ultimately it fails to offer proof of what we speak, and we need to be just as watchful of this today as 100 years ago.
Attempting to reduce the Science of the Christ to theory – considering our own logic to be equally as valid as the understanding of those who layed out and proved the Science for us – including Christ Jesus himself. Here, one may be tempted to believe “some” of what we have been given, but when the Science exceeds present understanding one either rejects what lies beyond, or becomes like Thomas, refusing to believe the spiritual until it can be proved by the material.
A bridge between the last point and the next is the position of trying to leverage or mold Christian Science (or individual passages) to justify personal actions or personal perspectives and opinion (what one currently believes). Science is not malleable, it is never what we want it or would like it to be, it is what it is – the very law of God, unchangable and eternal, no matter what we rationalize it to be (though we do emerge gently into an understanding of it).
Lack of knowledge of, or adherence to, what Mrs. Eddy wrote. The fact is, the only way to understand and practice Christian Science is by spending the preponderance of time reading her works and Holy Scripture. We must spend far more time there AND OUT HEALING the sick, than we spend in discussion with each other – or we offer very little in the name of Science.
One could go on with a list of concerns, but likey the most dangerous of all is the encouragement of turning to each other rather than turning to God for answers, direction and discourse. We can do a little direction pointing for each other (that is the nature of Christian brotherhood), but cyclical discussions that end up where they started or go off on tangents truly accomplish as much as the cycle itself… nothing. Whereas turning always to the One Creator accomplishes all.
In “The Life of Mary Baker Eddy” Sibyl Wilbur worded with such poetry the graceful position of Mrs. Eddy’s mother, a position we should all strive for more diligently, she said on page 19: “What wisdom and love in this spiritual-minded mother, causing her to guide her child into the full benefit of her first deep religious experience! She did not contradict, rebuke, or deride; but guided gently part of the way, then left the child to go up alone to that mount of sacred experience which no two human beings, however tender their relation, can ascend together”
Ultimately, as Paul teaches, perspective matters little, and love counts for all – so it’s never a matter of agreement (except for agreement in the love of Christ), it’s always a matter of love. May we all be quicker to share in the parting words of Abraham to Lot “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.”
May 29, 2012 at 11:06 pm #63298
- This reply was modified 11 months, 3 weeks ago by Mike.
well said Mike. Such great points.May 30, 2012 at 5:33 pm #63377
Mike, thanks so much for sharing here. I especially appreciate your analysis of the 2nd troublesome position in your list. It (the problem of reducing Christian Science to mere theory) is a habit that I am consistently learning how to identify in my own thought and discard. That is actually one of the things I appreciate most about these forums – when I am writing in these conversations, it is easy to re-read my thoughts and see where I am theorizing, vs. speaking of the living Truth. The way you phrased this challenge was elegantly and clearly put, and will be a great help to me in thinking about this issue and whenever it may come up again.
For me, these forums provide an excellent opportunity to practice listening to others and learning to share clearly. The metaphor I’ve often used is that these forums are kind of like a trailhead – a great place to gather, share some inspiration, ask a few questions or share some insights about the trail ahead…but the POINT is the trail! The point is the hike, the living of Life! No one has to use the trailhead – but I am very glad it is here, and grateful for the opportunities this environment can provide for encouraging more bold living.
And that hike has nothing to do with theory!May 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm #63378
I just have to say that everything about Mike’s post is absolutely brilliant, and I so appreciate that you shared those thoughts with us here, Mike! :)May 31, 2012 at 5:54 pm #63470
I thank the power of grace for this topic!
I want to share an experience briefly:
I attended a church for many years beginning before I was a teenager and over the years I had conversations with all of the members at some point. When I grew up I attended a business meeting of this church. The “opinions” of the people at the business meeting did not at all match with the people who I had come to know through the years. It was as if they were all wearing masks of impatience, unhappiness, and control. At one point the church started having round table discussions that opened up the floor for anyone to speak about the topic: community, rebirth, happiness, etc.
I left those meetings feeling just as confused about the identities of these members as from the business meetings.
Then I started attending a church while living in another state that read from the Sermon on the Mount after each Sunday Service. Just sitting and listening to a single verse be read, one by one, in a circle by different visitors and members made me feel like I actually knew who they were because I connected with their spiritual identity! And I felt the verses I got to read said more about me as a spiritual idea than any mouthful of opinions on chosen subjects I could share.
When I came back home I was led to join a new branch church that has the reading of the sermon on the mount each week, a very active metaphysical committee with meetings where we are asked to read our healing thoughts from a notebook rather than give our opinions, and a fellowship rooted in the word of God rather than personality and “mere opinion.”
This was a big healing for me as an individual, but I recognize that others may prefer different ways of fellowship. All I can say is that it is through a deep and consistent study of the Bible that I have really come to understand Mary Baker Eddy’s revelation of Christian Science and my identity and life-mission as a member of her church.
Thank you again for this loving discussion.
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