“Church heals divisions” – Christian Scientists at annual meeting

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston, headquarters of the Christian Science denomination, undergoing renovation

Boston, MA — By Kevin Ness, Manager, Christian Science Committees on Publication

Given the looming challenges the world faces—strife, corruption, climate crisis, health care costs—Christian Scientists at their church’s annual meeting in Boston reaffirmed their faith that the things of the Spirit are what the world most needs.

Church members indicated their commitment to proving “the reliability of practical Christian healing.” Among the experiences shared was the healing of cancer by a former military pilot. “As a pilot, you get used to turning situations over to God,” he said. “I felt God’s love—the warmth. My skill set was to rely on God, not be a cancer patient.” The healing was confirmed in follow-up examinations by U.S. Veterans Administration doctors. 

Church officials reported that the church is financially strong, and in the midst of a significant refurbishment of The Mother Church in Boston, where the church is headquartered.

Presiding over the meeting was new church president Fabián Smara of Argentina. The newly elected readers,— who conduct church services at the Church in Boston are from Nigeria and the United States. The Church of Christ, Scientist, has branches in some 70 countries, and members throughout the world participated by watching the live stream of the meeting in local churches, Christian Science reading rooms, or from their homes.

Kevin E. Ness is manager of Christian Science Committees on Publication for The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts.


Church can be “a place of light,” say Christian Scientists at annual meeting

Christian Scientists gather for their Annual Meeting at The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

By: Kevin Ness, Manager, Committees on Publication

Boston, MA — For many people today, the phrase “sending thoughts and prayers” has become a meaningless cliché. Christian Scientists’ annual meeting on June 4 offered the view that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Church members gathered at the denomination’s Mother Church in Boston and via live video streaming around the world to hear and share experiences that showed how powerful prayer rooted in love can be in people’s lives — and the progress and healing this can bring in a troubled world.

The meeting’s theme was from the New Testament: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” “We need to not just talk the talk but to walk the walk,” said Scott Preller, a member of the church’s Board of Directors, by “taking responsibility for how we act toward one another, so that we really are going to let Spirit, actual love for one another, animate us.”

The denomination’s five-member Board recently completed 17 regional meetings with church members in the United States and Europe. More meetings are planned in North America and other continents. The Board said they wanted to meet face to face with as many members as possible, to listen and talk.
In reporting back to members, they spoke frankly of difficult issues facing the church, as well as other Christian denominations and society at large. But they noted that they also found a “new vitality, a deepening of engagement with core values,” and what they called a new energy and willingness of members to work together as a church “to be a force for good in the world.”

According to this year’s Board chair, Robin Hoagland, “We’ve seen again and again that it’s actual spiritual living and genuine love that matter most. We heard so much from members about the healing of debilitating or incurable conditions, which is a natural consequence when we’re feeling the reality of Spirit, the love of God, at hand.”

One report at the annual meeting cited a paper on Christian Scientists’ practice given at an international academic conference in Asia on religion and healing. “What are objective scholars to make of experiences such as these?” the paper asked, addressing the natural skepticism that many feel regarding spiritual healing in an age of accelerating technological advancement.

The paper acknowledged that the practice of Christian healing can’t be approached “dogmatically or blindly. . . . It isn’t a decision Christian Scientists would impose on others.” Yet ”Christian Scientists’ experiences of healing . . . may have something to teach us all” about the deepest “sources of healing in people’s lives” and “our common humanity and spiritual core.”

The Church of Christ, Scientist, founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879, has branches in some 70 countries. Church officials announced at the meeting that a new translation of Eddy’s book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures has been completed in Igbo, a language whose speakers live primarily in Nigeria. Eddy saw the Scriptures as “the chart of life,” and the Bible, together with Eddy’s book, are considered to be the church’s “Pastor.”

Members of the denomination come from a wide range of backgrounds and all walks of life. New church president Keith Wommack, a Christian Science practitioner and teacher from Corpus Christi, Texas, toured in a rock band for ten years until he found himself “dedicating hours to praying and spiritual study” and being asked by others for help through prayer.

“Unselfed love is the heart of church,” said director Rich Evans. “It reignites in us the teachings of the master Christian, Christ Jesus, to love God and all humanity.” As a report at a workshop related to the meeting described — referring to the healing of a homeless addict — church becomes “a place of light” when the congregation lives the love that God is expressing.


Mary Baker Eddy in Concord

Photo of Mary Baker Eddy, NH Statehouse Painting, 1916, by John Nelson Marble

In June of 1903 a crowd of about 10,000 people flocked to the Concord estate of a New Hampshire native who by then had become one of the most influential women in the country. Her name was Mary Baker Eddy, discoverer and founder of a Christian denomination and system of healing still practiced today in 80 countries around the globe – Christian Science.

Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, said of Mrs. Eddy, “Love permeates all the teachings of this great woman – so great I believe that at this perspective we can scarcely realize how great.” Miss Barton said she was the one person, regardless of sex, who had done the greatest good for mankind.

Mary Baker Eddy lived in Concord from 1889 to 1907, and was one of its most famous citizens. She took a daily drive through the streets of Concord and often helped those in need.

The existing record of Mrs. Eddy’s charitable contributions shows a broad range of interests. She contributed to or funded a number of causes while living in the state capital, a few of which include: the provision of shoes to Concord’s indigent children over a number of years; the paving of major streets in the town; the restoration of fire-damaged buildings at a nearby Shaker community; the town’s YMCA building fund; the New Hampshire Historical Society; Dartmouth College fund for building a hall; the Concord Congregational church to aid repairs; the Bow Bog Methodist Church bell; the relief fund for victims of the 1900 flood in Galveston, Texas; and the relief fund for victims of the San Francisco earthquake in 1908.

Mary Baker Eddy also helped to design and build the granite Christian Science church on the corner of North State and School Streets.

Concord appreciated Mrs. Eddy’s contributions to the community. When she moved from Concord back to the Boston area in 1908, a group of Wonolancet Club members (now the Bow Brook Club) estimated how much Mrs. Eddy’s stay of almost twenty years among them had financially benefited the city of Concord. A conservative estimate was about $1.5 million, which in today’s dollars would be about $40 million.

While residing in Concord, Mrs. Eddy also healed some of Concord’s residents. For example, a Methodist minister, Rev. E.N. Larmour of nearby Bow, was healed of the need to wear eyeglasses (Mary Baker Eddy, Years of Authority by Robert Peel, p. 469); and a reporter visiting Concord from a New York newspaper was healed of throat cancer (Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy by Irving Tomlinson, p. 63).

In addition to publishing eleven books, in her 88th year, after leaving Concord in 1908, Mrs. Eddy established an international daily newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor. It started as a result of her legal challenges with the tabloid journalism of her day while residing in Concord. Its object and journalistic ethic established by Mrs. Eddy is “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind.” Winner of seven Pulitzer Prizes, the Monitor in each of its issues offers balanced, in-depth news coverage to inform readers of the opportunities and problems of peoples and countries throughout the world, along with a religious article giving healing solutions to problems faced by mankind.

In 1992, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures received the National Women’s Book Association award as one of the 75 books whose words have changed the world. About 11 million copies (in 17 languages) have been sold since it was first published.

In 1995, Mary Baker Eddy was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for leaving an indelible mark on society, religion, and journalism. She was the first American woman to found a world-wide religion.

“When I removed from Boston in 1889 and came to Concord, New Hampshire,” Mrs. Eddy wrote in 1904 in a letter to the Editor of the Concord Monitor, “it was that I might find retirement from many years of incessant labor for the Cause of Christian Science, and the opportunity in Concord’s quiet to revise our textbook, ‘Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.’ Here let me add that, together with the retirement I so much coveted, I have also received from the leading people in this pleasant city all and more than I anticipated. I love its people – love their scholarship, friendship, and granite character. I respect their religious beliefs and thank their ancestors for helping to form mine.”

© 2015 Christian Science Committee on Publication for New Hampshire.

Finding gratitude in this summer’s Market Basket situation

Lake Willoughby, Vermont Duck Photo by Elodie Reed
Lake Willoughby, Vermont Duck Photo by Elodie Reed

Mr. Don Alusic, from Amherst, NH, recently published this piece in the Nashua Telegraph.

In New England this summer, we experienced a period of economic disruption unlike anything that has happened in recent years. As we return to things as usual, I would like to acknowledge what I consider to be the presence of the Divine or God in the harmonious outcome.

As I expect you recall, when one board member of the Market Basket board had a change of heart, this allowed one of the two long-feuding cousins, Arthur S., to remove the other cousin, Arthur T. (also known at Artie T.), as CEO of the chain of 71 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine with around 25,000 employees and reportedly $4.6 billion in sales in 2013.

A massive revolt by store employees and customers followed that was ongoing after a month with no end in sight. Every store that I passed had 15-20 people standing on the edge of the busy road urging a boycott of the store unless the former CEO was reinstated. The stores resembled ghost towns, with few cars in the parking lots, few customers inside and greatly reduced stock on the shelves. Although I had never really shopped at Market Basket, in spite of strong urging by a number of my friends, I remember honking in support because it was easy to do as I drove by.

At one point, the governors of New Hampshire and Massachusetts wrote a joint letter to the board imploring for a return of “economic peace.” This was a call to action for me, and I started praying for peace in this situation.

It started with turning to the Bible and the first chapter of Genesis, where it affirms that God created the entire universe and everything in it, including man. Then “God saw every thing that he had made and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Next, I considered the Lord’s Prayer, where it states, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). In my view, this heaven is the very good creation from Genesis.

I also thought about a statement from Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, who states, “The First Commandment in the Hebrew Decalogue – ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’ – obeyed, is sufficient to still all strife” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, p. 279). This conflict at Market Basket appeared to have many elements of strife, such as long-standing grudges, revenge, discord and acrimony. I held to the idea that God was the only power operating in this situation in spite of the appearance otherwise.

The disruption continued another week. Then, it was announced that a deal had been reached for Artie T. to buy the outstanding shares of stock and return as CEO. This lead to great rejoicing on the part of customers and employees.

In a speech to a number of his employees at the company’s headquarters in Tewksbury, Mass., Artie T. said, “Seeing you all here today is like seeing little piece of heaven on earth,” which struck an immediate chord with my prayer. He added, “And not a Greek tragedy!” or human actions leading to an unhappy or unfortunate ending.

This is indeed where it was headed, as bankruptcy and the complete disappearance of the company seemed like the only other viable option. I would like to add my gratitude and rejoicing for the harmonious outcome of this situation. As a result, I have now joined the legion of happy and loyal Market Basket shoppers.

God’s love helps woman make sense of tragedy

ChurchThe following piece by Laurie Toupin of Brookline, NH was published in the Nashua Telegraph on September 27th, 2014.

The Brookline community lost a beloved teacher at CSDA Elementary School last week. She was allegedly murdered by her son who then turned the gun on himself. No one is sure of the motive. Nor does it really matter at this point.

Elizabeth Trombly was a wonderful, kind soul whose life was devoted to helping the students of our community. She was always ready with a warm smile and a nurturing, motherly spirit. She will be missed by many.

No matter what one’s religious conviction or affiliation, everyone struggles to make sense out of these situations and find a solution that will at least bring a moment of peace.

When I am confronted by such a tragedy, I find myself turning to a higher power, which I call God, who offers a sense of love that enfolds and comforts not only those who are left behind, but I am sure, those who have gone on as well.

I like to hold to a letter that a woman named Mary Baker Eddy, the discover and founder of a religion named Christian Science, wrote to one of her students who had just lost her husband:

“Your dear husband has not passed away from you in spirit; he never died, only to your sense; he lives and loves and is immortal. Let this comfort you dear one, and you will find rest in banishing the sense of death, in cherishing the sense of life and not death. Your dear husband is as truly living to-day as he ever lived, and you can find rest and peace in this true sense of Life.” (From Mary Baker Eddy: Christian Healer, Fettweis and Warneck, pg. 219.)

Sometimes it may be hard to feel or recognize a higher power’s presence and help, especially in the face of irrational human actions.

Especially since this death, which has left many in the Brookline community in shock, is only the most recent in a series of similar situations which seem to be affronting American culture.

These situations force such questions as: How do we detect those who may need help before they hurt themselves and others? How do we help them? How do we help the families of the one who has been diagnosed?

The only answer that comes to my mind is love: love that goes beyond ourselves to first notice, then actually reach out to those who are struggling and need help.

But this isn’t a love that we need to cultivate. The Bible says that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. It also says in I John 4:16, that “God is love.”

And if God is love, and we are His image, then we also are capable of expressing and feeling a higher sense of love that blesses everyone we come into contact with.

Mrs. Trombly lived this love through her interactions of all the children and teachers and parents with whom she worked.

And her son as well, who from all accounts, was intelligent and good hearted, but had fallen upon hard times, was loved “unconditionally” by his mother.

When tragedy happens, nobody can make sense of it. There is no rhyme or reason. Evil has no face, no purpose, no rational motive. But there is something that does make sense, especially to those left behind — that is a sense of love that never dies. A love that heals all hurts — the love of God, which fills all space and all consciousness.

Love won’t bring her back to us physically, but God’s love is able to comfort those who were touched by her so that her life may be celebrated and remembered.

May we continue to feel and express that love which she lived.

In the words of a hymn from the Christian Science Hymnal, #30:

Fed by Thy love divine we live,
For Love alone is Life;
And life most sweet, as heart to heart
Speaks kindly when we meet and part.*

* words by Mary Baker Eddy

Declaring our Independence from illness– with help from the Bible

My colleague from Illinois, Thomas Mitchinson, published the following piece on July 4th, which also can be read on Tim’s blog.

Declaring our Independence from illness– with help from the Bible
by Thomas Mitchinson

The first 45 years of her life were rough. Often ill as a child, her first husband died after a few short months of marriage, leaving her destitute and pregnant. She didn’t receive much support from family members after her child was born – and she continued unwell. She married again for her child to have a father, but that man deserted her, and the child was given to others to raise. Now one day coming home from a meeting, she slipped on the ice and was considered close to death.

But she opened her Bible, and in moments of inspiration, she felt God’s great love for her and declared her independence. She became well and spent the next 45 years of her life writing and editing a book that would sell over 10 million copies, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She also established a church. Her name was Mary Baker Eddy.

Another woman was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. She too, opened her Bible and began to study it. She wrote, “The Word of God is extremely important to people who are fighting a battle with their health, for often it’s the only hope they have. I know I would have died if it had not been for the Word of God.”

She chose 40 verses of Scripture that she studied throughout her illness and recovery. They are:

Exodus 15:26
And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.

Exodus 23:25
And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.

Deuteronomy 7:15
And the Lord will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee.

Deuteronomy 30:19
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

Joshua 21:45
There failed not aught of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

Psalm 91:16
With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

Psalm 103:1-5
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 107:20
He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

Proverbs 4:20-23
¶ My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
¶ Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Isaiah 43:25, 26
I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.

Isaiah 53:5
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Jeremiah 30:17
For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.

Joel 3:10
Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.

Nahum 1:9
What do ye imagine against the Lord? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time.

Malachi 3:10
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.

Matthew 8:2, 3
And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Matthew 18:18, 19
Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

Mark 11:23, 24
For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

Mark 16:17, 18
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

John 9:31
Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he hearth.

John 10:10
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Romans 8:11
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

II Corinthians 1:20
For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

II Corinthians 10:4, 5
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Galatians 3:13, 14
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Ephesians 6:10-17
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Philippians 2:13
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

II Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Hebrews 10:23
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

Hebrews 10:35
Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.

James 5:14, 15
Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

I Peter 2:24
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

I John 3:21, 22
Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

I John 5:14, 15
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

II John 1:2
For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.

Revelation 12:11
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

She didn’t die, she was healed of that cancer through prayer. Her name is Dodie Osteen. She also wrote a book, Healed of Cancer.

Others have found their independence from illness through reading and studying the Bible. They have found that the understanding of God given in Scripture lifts their thought above the fear and dismay they feel and align it with the divine – this results in the healing of disease.

Many health columnists provide all sorts of advice on how to stay well. Here is one that may not get much attention: Read and study the Bible. You may want to consider beginning with Osteen’s list. You may find your own list of healing verses. My prayer is that you also find the health, wellness and purpose found by Eddy, Osteen and many others, including myself, by using the Bible to help you declare your independence from illness.

©2014 Christian Science Committee on Publication for Illinois

Boston brotherhood

photo by Elodie Reed
2014 Boston Marathon Champion Meb Keflezighi (photo by Elodie Reed)

Growing up I was somewhat of a loner. Running changed that. In my first cross-country race, even though I finished in last place, I made some friends with teammates. Ten years later, Boston running teammates invited me to join “Team New Balance,” which was a group of elite runners competing in races across America. We trained and raced together in a bond of brotherhood for the Greater Boston Track Club.

Greg Meyer, the last American to win the Boston marathon before today, was a fellow teammate. Today, three decades later, American Meb Keflezighi won the 26 mile run from Hopkinton to Boston. Before the race Meb said, “This year, all 36,000 of us will run together to demonstrate the spirit of the marathon. We will still have our individual motivations, but we will be unified under the Boston Strong umbrella.”

Meb is a 39 year old experienced runner, but was not expected to win. Younger African runners have dominated this race for decades. After today’s triumphant race, Meb said that he worked to win the marathon for God and for the people of Boston. And I’m confident that God and the people of Boston helped him to victory.

Today, Boston experienced a sense of brotherhood as a community, which was magnified with an exhilarating marathon for both the men and women. True brotherhood and sisterhood has its origin in the one God, a major theme of the Bible.

Author Mary Baker Eddy, who built her first church in Boston, writes in her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, — whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed.” (page 340)

Today’s successful marathon is one illustration of how the expression of brotherhood results in good.

The writer retired from professional training and racing in 1980 to devote his time and energy to the healing ministry of Christian Science. He currently is the media and legislative liaison for Christian Scientists in New Hampshire.

© 2014 Christian Science Committee on Publication for New Hampshire

The connection between consciousness and health

The Concord Monitor published a letter to the editor that readers of this blog might be interested in. It can be read online here.

A connection between faith and health

Monday, February 17, 2014

One aspect of faith that would be helpful to your readers is to show how faith and health are connected. A Pew Research study found that 80% of Internet users search online for health information.

Numerous medical studies show a strong connection between health and our thinking and actions. Harvard Medical School has reported that our health is affected by our thinking, whether it’s a simple thought of gratitude or a stressful blowup.

These are not new revelations. For 5,000 years Scriptural writings have taught similarly. The Bible says that God is Love, and that God is the countenance of our health. Love and health are strongly connected.

We all have the capacity to be what God made us to be in Love’s image and likeness. Love is a powerful medicine.

Of course there’s more to health than Love. Yet our answers are at hand. Today’s enlightened physicians are digging deeper into finding the mental causes and cures for illness.

New Hampshire native Mary Baker Eddy wrote a textbook based on her lifework of spiritual healing titled Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. It has healed folks all around the globe for more than a century.

Health Diagnosis

My colleague from Florida, Robert Clark, wrote an insightful piece about the work of Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, a professor at New Hampshire’s Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, and author of Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health. Last week Dr. Welch published an Op-Ed in the New York Times titled, If You Feel O.K., Maybe You Are O.K. (Click here to read it.) Here is what Bob Clark wrote (click here to read it on Bob’s blog):

Promoting Health posted on March 1, 2012 by Robert B. Clark

“The New York Times ran an editorial on Monday with this intriguing title, “If You Feel O.K., Maybe You Are O.K.” The author, H. Gilbert Welch, a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, is an author of Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health. Welch’s argument, summarized in his own words, goes something like this:

● “…is looking hard for things to be wrong a good way to promote health?

● “This process (over-screening of the apparently healthy) doesn’t promote health; it promotes disease.

● “For years now, people have been encouraged to look to medical care as the way to make them healthy. But that’s your job–you can’t contract that out.

“Welch is actually joining a chorus of voices within and outside of the medical pharmaceutical complex, encouraging individuals to take a greater level of responsibility for their own health instead of depending on an overly expensive and impersonal health care ‘system’ to do it for them. And not a moment too soon!

“The cost of systematized health care, and its emphasis on overdiagnosis, has already become unsustainable. Do we have to wait for our government to solve this crisis for us? I don’t think so.

“There are many different ways to promote health which don’t include looking for or expecting disease, and don’t need to include an over-reliance on medical systems and insurance models. For me, and a growing number of others, developing a stronger and deeper sense of spiritual health has been effective in promoting and demonstrating physical health.

“Promoting spiritual—and physical— health might include the regular and disciplined study of sacred texts, prayer, meditation, practicing gratitude by keeping a ‘gratitude journal’, making time to help/serve others in your neighborhood, etc. There are probably an infinite number of ways to practice spirituality and thereby promote health.

“Promoting health—and a healthy nation—can be done one individual at a time, one day at a time. We can begin now to become, not a nation of patients, but a nation of healthy, independent thinkers.”

Bob has decades of experience in the practice of Christian Science, which teaches the following about diagnosis: “The moral and spiritual facts of health, whispered into thought, produce very direct and marked effects on the body. A physical diagnosis of disease–since mortal mind must be the cause of disease–tends to induce disease.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 370 by Mary Baker Eddy)

Mrs. Eddy discovered more than a century ago that what we especially need is a diagnosis of our mental and spiritual condition. Rather than seeking out fear-producing physical diagnosis, we can search our thinking for any disease-producing thoughts. And we can destroy them. Spiritual healing occurs when we replace these beliefs with the truth of health.

As Bob wrote, we can find true health in our Scriptural sacred texts. The Bible teaches me that health comes from understanding God. The spiritual understanding of God establishes and maintains health and well-being. It is both preventative and curative. Science and Health states, “Health is not a condition of matter, but of Mind [God].” (p. 120)

In summary, taking seriously the concerns raised by Dr. Welch in his Op-Ed would be one step in helping mankind to achieve successful reform that would lead to more cost-effective health care.


To my understanding as a Christian Scientist, this week’s CBS 60 Minutes piece on placebos points to the beneficial effects of the power of thought, the power of mind, the power of love, indeed, the power of God to heal.

In the 60 Minutes investigation, journalist Lesley Stahl interviewed Irving Kirsch, the associate director of the Placebo Studies Program at Harvard Medical School. According to Stahl, “Irving Kirsch’s specialty has been the study of the placebo effect: the taking of a dummy pill without any medication in it that creates an expectation of healing that is so powerful, symptoms are actually alleviated.”

Speaking about his research into antidepressant medication, Kirsch told viewers that “The difference between the effect of a placebo and the effect of an antidepressant is minimal for most people.”

“And,” Kirsch added, referring to those people he had studied who were taking actual antidepressant medication, “the reason they get better is not because of the chemicals in the drug. The difference between drug and placebo is very, very small; and in half the studies non-existent.”

The placebo effect goes far beyond cases of depression, according to Kirsch. He went on to say that he has found that “placebos are great for treating a number of disorders: irritable bowel syndrome, repetitive strain injuries, ulcers, Parkinson’s disease. Even traumatic knee pain. In this clinical trial some patients with osteoarthritis underwent knee surgery. While others had their knees merely opened and then sewn right back up. And here’s what happened. In terms of walking and climbing, the people who got the placebo actually did better than the people who got the real surgery. And that lasted for a year. At two years after surgery, there was no difference at all between the real surgery and the sham surgery.”

As a Christian Scientist, I find these comments very heartening. They could serve as a springboard to a deeper study of the mental or spiritual nature of health, of how much spirituality and prayer contribute to recovery, and of the efficacy of material means and methods in bringing about genuine healing.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writing over a century ago, said that she had found that drugs were efficacious because doctors and patients believed that they were so. “Unsupported by the faith reposed in it, the inanimate drug becomes powerless,” she writes in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 160).

Here is how she explains her reasons for reaching this conclusion and how this radical view played an important role in her founding of Christian Science:

“The author’s medical researches and experiments had prepared her thought for the metaphysics of Christian Science. Every material dependence had failed her in her search for truth; and she can now understand why, and can see the means by which mortals are divinely driven to a spiritual source for health and happiness.

“Her experiments in homoeopathy had made her skeptical as to material curative methods. Jahr, from Aconitum to Zincum oxydatum, enumerates the general symptoms, the characteristic signs, which demand different remedies; but the drug is frequently attenuated to such a degree that not a vestige of it remains. Thus we learn that it is not the drug which expels the disease or changes one of the symptoms of disease.

“The author has attenuated Natrum muriaticum (common table-salt) until there was not a single saline property left. The salt had ‘lost his savour;’ and yet, with one drop of that attenuation in a goblet of water, and a teaspoonful of the water administered at intervals of three hours, she has cured a patient sinking in the last stage of typhoid fever. The highest attenuation of homoeopathy and the most potent rises above matter into mind. This discovery leads to more light. From it may be learned that either human faith or the divine Mind is the healer and that there is no efficacy in a drug.” (ibid., pp. 152-153)

Mrs. Eddy discovered, as Jesus had demonstrated some 2,000 years earlier, that metaphysical, spiritual prayer is the most powerful healing medicine and treatment. She found that God, divine Mind, is the best healer.

Let me give an example. Kirsch speaks of the power of the placebo effect in treating knee pain. I have found in my own experience that it is possible for a knee injury to be healed without resorting either to medical intervention or to placebos. The Christian Science Journal recently published a healing through Christian Science treatment in my own experience. I had severely injured a knee by running up and down a New Hampshire mountain. I couldn’t walk for a few days, but through prayer the knee injury was healed, and when it returned recently in a milder fashion, it was healed again through prayer so that I am able to walk, hike, run, and bike freely. You can read about this healing in the February Christian Science Journal, which will soon be available online.

Do placebos bring healing? From my study and application of Christian Science to almost every human problem (for more than four decades), a placebo may temporarily help with recovery, but it does not heal. I have found that a higher power – namely God – is the healer. The Bible promises, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)