From They Shall be all Taught of God by John Hargreaves

In Science, the oneness and allness of Truth, expressed as God’s law, “I am All” (see No. 30:11 only), cannot be divided into teacher and student. What appears humanly as instruction is simply Truth unfolding itself as this All, and nothing else is involved. Incidental to the fading out of the belief in a personal mind to impart or receive Truth is found the appearance of teacher and student understanding each other and enjoying a useful experience. The one Mind constitutes of its understanding what appears as both parties.

The structure of Christian Science teaching is found in the twenty-four questions and answers that comprise the chapter called “Recapitulation” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy. “This chapter is [taken] from the first edition of the author’s class-book, copyrighted in 1870” (S&H 465:1-2). Class teaching follows the orderly unfoldment of this chapter and can open the doors of perception to those who attend in person. But the true revelation of Science is the self-assertion of Truth itself, in and as consciousness, and this cannot be confined to a personal teacher or student, nor to a classroom. What appears as a human teacher with human persons to instruct will fulfil its useful purpose as a sense of there being any human medium for Truth’s revelation dissolves. “The human sense of things errs because it is human” (S&H 99:16-17). Human teaching may open a door but Truth is perceived, so to speak, from the other side of the door by the Mind that is Truth itself. “Christian Science teaches only that which is spiritual and divine, and not human” (S&H 99:14-15). The more impersonal the teaching, the better. The best medium is no medium.

The disappearance of a personal sense of a teacher as a medium for Truth leads to the recognition that all the functions that express Truth—be they called Teacher, Discoverer, Founder, Leader, or Revelator—are really activities of Truth itself, so not personal. They are Truth in self-expression, and are aspects of the functioning of the one Mind that constitutes them. This is recognised in Science to be our only Mind now. In this same recognition, we find that the Pastor Emeritus was never person, and so is never absent. This gives new meaning to those clauses in the Church Manual that rightly require her authority.

Mrs. Eddy writes: “The epoch approaches when the understanding of the truth of being will be the basis of true religion” (S&H 67:32-2). The Christ Science is understanding, for the reflection of infinite Mind is Mind’s understanding, or idea, of itself. The idea constitutes the real man.

We have seen the passing of what might be termed a religious age, characterised by the fundamentally erroneous belief that God and man are two entities, separate from each other, and blighted by the acceptance that man is estranged from God by virtue of his misdemeanors. Religion has tended to accept this basic separation and then to concern itself with the paths offered by various teachers that would show how man can work his passage back into the kingdom. It seeks to regain oneness from a basis of duality. These paths all involve struggle and the use of some medium or priesthood to aid the journey and, not surprisingly, they seem to be without end.

The Christian Science textbook, written at the end of the nineteenth century, in what was still a religious era, or level of thought, took account of the fact that “the unbiased Christian thought is soonest touched by Truth, and convinced of it” (S&H x:25-27). The people who became interested in this Science came in large numbers from the mainline Christian churches, seeking a more satisfactory relationship between God and man and a more practical and intelligent religion. But, although the terminology that Mrs. Eddy used accommodated this thought, the discovery was not another “religion” in the normal sense of the word. The ideas behind the words concerned eternal Truth itself, “the Christ Science or divine laws of Life, Truth, and Love” (S&H 107:1-2), which she later named Christian Science. It concerned ontology, “the Science of being” that the words represented, and as we go behind the words of a particular era, we find the eternally new, fresh and scientific ideas that are being articulated.

This “religious” era was superseded by a new, “scientific” age. For some time, the growth of materialism had led to an uneasy allocation of territory between religion and science, with religion taking care of things of the spirit and science presiding over an objective world that constituted everyday life. Newtonian physics, which had explained the universe as a great machine, with God at its head, provided some rationale for the coexistence of mind and matter. Unfortunately, as this objective, material world assumed greater importance in human thought (for it was alluring—measurable, and apparently very real), the things of the Spirit became relegated to the forms of public worship, the “vain repetitions” of its priesthood, and to a realm which, however transcendent and hopeful in future terms, had little relevance to daily life. The result was that experience became increasingly hollow in the centre: a spiritual void to be filled with false stimulus, crime, a breakdown of moral or spiritual law and values, and disillusion. The “famished affections” were no longer being fed. The dichotomy between the Spirit and the flesh was resolved by the former’s being left mainly on the shelf.

Today, we are entering a new era, and by this term is meant a level of awareness, rather than a period in time. This is a spiritual age. Increasingly, the search for a new standpoint from which to live which is above the physical, that is, a metaphysical standpoint, is capturing thought. Sincere search should, of course, be distinguished from the semi-metaphysical prattling that characterises a new trend in intellectual conversation and has no relation whatsoever to practical Science. This is true search, gathering strength with great rapidity, both among those who are still aligned to some religious form and those who are thinkers, yet unaligned. It will reach a critical mass, perhaps sooner than we dare think, so that a spiritual basis for living will become the norm. The move has been accelerated by the new theories of physics in which matter is no longer regarded as solid and objective; in which the observer and the observed are one; and in which the indivisible nature of being, instead of the separate components of which it was formerly presumed to consist, is being proved. When Mrs. Eddy wrote over a hundred years ago that Mind is one and All, an impetus was given that was to turn all thought, substance, cause, and effect away from the theories of the past.

We read that “Science is an emanation of divine Mind, and is alone able to interpret God aright” (S&H 127:26-27). In this Science we find that “Mind isone, including noumenon and phenomena, God and His thoughts” (S&H114:10-11). In this infinite One, there is no separation between God and man, or Mind and its consciousness. In this interpretation of God, there is no place for any interpretation derived wholly or in part from a so-called human mind or the five physical senses. Matter is found to be “a misstatement of Mind” (Mis.174:2-3) and not an alternative. Experience is recognised to be subjective and not objective to this Mind. And being is discovered to be one infinite, indivisible, and universal whole, thus realising the practicability, as well as the necessity, of loving your neighbour as yourself.

This Science—what might be termed non-denominational Christian Science —embraces the truths sought by both physical science and religion. It is certainly Science, in that it is amenable to the accepted criteria of hypothesis, experiment, demonstration, and proof, for it is the immutable law of God. It contains the essence of all religion, in that the instinctive, human search for the “kingdom” is satisfied by the understanding, as Christ Jesus said, that the kingdom is within, and that “I and my Father are [not shall be] one” (John 10:30). When a false sense of science and religion is dissolved, the eternal perfection of being is found to be a present possibility.

Instruction in the Science of being will find its place in schools and universities as the incidental, though inevitable, effect of understanding that there is no science or theology that is not divine. “The theory that soul, spirit, intelligence, inhabits matter is taught by the schools. This theory is unscientific” (S&H 300:26-28). So the schools will unteach it. The Principle and practice of Science are one and, constituting all consciousness, cannot be hidden.The ideas, laws, and rules that comprise this true Science are, ultimately, the only legitimate subject for instruction, since they express Truth, or that which eternally is. Such a Science can no more be confined to a particular place, organisation, or limited following than can the principle of mathematics. The Science has been discovered. It is defined in the Christian Science textbook and was written before there was an organisation or church to promulgate it. The practice of this Science involves the living of the rules, laws, and ideas that express it. The working tools for its understanding and practice are set out in the chapter “Recapitulation.”

The effectiveness of any form of human teaching of this Science will vary, according to both the spiritual understanding of the teacher and the quality of the pupils accepted in a class. This variation has become more evident over the years, and the inadequacy of human methods is forcing acceptance of the fact that “they shall be all taught of God” (John 6:45). This means that the self- assertion and unfoldment of Truth as all true consciousness has to replace the former methods of personal teaching and personal pupils. “The reception or pursuit of instructions opposite to absolute Christian Science must always hinder scientific demonstration” (S&H 448:23-25). That which thinks of itself as a pupil of a human teacher yields first to that which holds itself to be a student of Christian Science, and then to the recognition that as Christ Science, or divine idea, there is only Mind understanding and unfolding itself as All.

Within the Christian Science church organisation, provision was made by its Founder for teaching to take place in the classroom. Every three years thirty new teachers were to be appointed and they, in turn, would teach a class annually of thirty pupils. Given this number of teachers and pupils, it was clear statistically that only a very limited number of people could avail themselves of this form of personal teaching. In recent years the number attending these classes has dwindled, and it would seem that a better method of teaching is needed. This method is to be found in the Christian Science textbook itself. It offers a teaching that is more impersonal and consistent than human teaching could be. It stays clear of mortal opinions and human hypotheses, and makes no compromise with or concession to the reasoning of the physical senses. “The student, who receives his knowledge of Christian Science, or metaphysical healing, from a human teacher, may be mistaken in judgment and demonstration, but God cannot mistake” (S&H 455:17-20).

It is significant that Science and Health, which contains the complete statement of Christian Science, makes no mention of any church organisation. Indeed, at the time of its writing in 1875, there was no Christian Science church. While recognising a temporary need for those who came out of other churches and found support in organised forms of worship, Mrs. Eddy clearly foresaw the time when this could be outgrown. The protection offered, in the early days, to the budding thought allowed for a springboard to carry the spiritual message to the world. But there could be no question of the world’s being confined within these limits. We read that “the time cometh when the religious element, or Church of Christ, shall exist alone in the affections, and need no organization to express it” (Mis. 145:3-5). That which, like any movement with a message, appears to grow out of a group of people who first accept and state it, has to yield to the eternal impulse of Truth, which sweeps aside all that would hide or impede it. “Truth’s immortal idea is sweeping down the centuries, gathering beneath its wings the sick and sinning” (S&H 55:15-16). No person or group of persons does this work. But if the message of Truth has outgrown the swaddling clothes that gave it some initial protection, this need not be regretted. Christian Science is infinitely bigger than the organisation of Christian Scientists who first learned about it. It cannot be contained within limits, but has to go out into the whole world of thought, leavening and redeeming it from the false laws of material, finite sense. The yardstick by which this progress of thought can be best measured is found in Science and Health, where we read: “Belief in a material basis, from which may be deduced all rationality, is slowly yielding to the idea of a metaphysical basis, looking away from matter to Mind as the cause of every effect” (S&H 268:6-9). Today, more than a hundred years after this was written, this yielding is by no means so slow.

That Mrs. Eddy expected the textbook to take over from the personal role of teacher is clear when, after closing her Church and College organisation, and after the publication of the great 50th edition of Science and Health, she wrote to her students as follows: “You can well afford to give me up, since you have in my last revised edition of Science and Health your teacher and guide” (Mis. 136:18- 21). And, again, she added a By-Law to the Church Manual which reads: “The Bible, together with Science and Health and other works by Mrs. Eddy, shall be his only textbooks for self-instruction in Christian Science, and for teaching and practising metaphysical healing” (34:12-16). It is in this way that we study the letter and imbibe the Spirit which constitute the successful practice of Christian Science. It can be added that Mrs. Eddy studied her book as assiduously as she expected her students to do. We read that absolute Christian Science pervades the statements in “Recapitulation” (see S&H 465:4-6). Truth is always absolute because it is absolutely true. Absolute Truth shows the absolutely erroneous nature of any lie. When this absolute Truth unfolds itself in the understanding, there is no place for human opinions. Error, likewise, is absolute because it is absolutely untrue. The habit of equating the word “absolute” with abstract, and so implying that it is not practical, is misleading. No one expects to be taught relative mathematics in school, and no scientific principle in any discipline makes provision for the slightest deviation from or compromise with its rules. It may be possible to get by with broken French when travelling, but not with broken mathematics. Mrs. Eddy is uncompromising on this matter when she states: “Christian Science is absolute; it is neither behind the point of perfection nor advancing towards it; it is at this point and must be practised therefrom” (My.242:5-7).

To the member of her household who said, “I never accept anything that even your best students say unless I can confirm it in your writings,” Mrs. Eddy replied: “My dear, you are safe, you are safe.” Science and Health contains the whole statement of Christian Science, and its teaching and practice require the whole, and not just a part, of this book. Christian Science is revelation, and contains no human opinions. This is letting Principle, and not person, teach and is a fundamental rule for our study. To attempt to hold Truth in the grasp of matter, or person, is to persecute Truth, and we read that the “persecution of all who have spoken something new and better of God has not only obscured the light of the ages, but has been fatal to the persecutors. Why? Because it has hid from them the true idea which has been presented” (S&H 560:24-28). To see person instead of Principle as the source of any good, or to confuse the messenger with the message, is obscuration. The genius of what appeared as Mary Baker Eddy lay in the fact that a personal sense of self had been so effaced that Mind’s revelation of itself blazed forth. This is why a Christian Scientist requires her book, Science and Health, for his textbook (see S&H 456:25-6 and marginal heading). This book Mrs. Eddy committed to “honest seekers for Truth” (S&H xii:26).

In this book, They Shall Be All Taught of God, the writer is in no way offering himself as another personal teacher, for the clear reasons given in the preceding pages. While constantly being asked if he would hold classes, he has never felt that this would be in accord with any provisions for personal teaching that have already been made. A busy practice does not allow time, nor does his understanding of Christian Science lead to any inclination, to do this. The book arises from many talks with those with whom he has had contact, in the course of which he has suggested pointers that might help individual study and has encouraged them to look to this remarkable chapter, “Recapitulation,” to further their own growth in the understanding of the Science of being.

They Shall Be All Taught of God is therefore in the nature of a commentary on “Recapitulation.” It can only be read in conjunction with Science and Health. It does not and should not stand by itself, any more than a Bible commentary can be read separately from the Bible. Science and Health is the proven source material, and the value of a commentary rests on the degree to which thought is helped to study the original more deeply. It is up to the reader to assess what is written in the commentary in the light of what is already written in Science and Health.

There are many books of a metaphysical nature, and it should not seem surprising to find elements of Truth shining through them. But, too often, they can be distractions that verge on philosophy and so on the reasoning of the human mind. Science and Health is unique in that it provides the way to study, practice and heal by its means. It is purely metaphysical with no missing element. “Works on metaphysics leave the grand point untouched. They never crown the power of Mind as the Messiah, nor do they carry the day against physical enemies, — even to the extinction of all belief in matter, evil, disease, and death, — nor insist upon the fact that God is all, therefore that matter is nothing beyond an image in mortal mind” (S&H 116:13-19).

If, by publishing this book—which brings together the essence of many talks and conversations—a wider need can be met, then its purpose will be fulfilled. Mrs. Eddy writes that “if mortals are instructed in spiritual things, it will be seen that material belief, in all its manifestations, reversed, will be found the type and representative of verities priceless, eternal, and just at hand.” And, again, “The education of the future will be instruction, in spiritual Science, against the material symbolic counterfeit sciences” (Mis. 60:29-6).

This introduction can be closed with a reminder that “the way through which immortality and life are learned is not ecclesiastical but Christian, not human but divine, not physical but metaphysical, not material but scientifically spiritual” (S&H 98:31-2).

John Hargreaves

It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

John 6:45