SCIENCE AND DOGMATISM

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Marriage should signify a union of hearts.

Mary Baker Eddy

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By John B. Willis

From the November 2, 1912 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

 

THE saying of a recent Christian writer, that “the only theology which is likely to last is one that admits a large degree of Christian agnosticism,” may prove rather startling to some, since it seems to link faith and unbelief in a way which is altogether incongruous. All earnest truth-seekers, however, will agree in saying that as their apprehension of spiritual things has increased arithmetically, the field of unexplored and more or less indistinct vision has increased geometrically. They have consequently grown more reserved in the use of “I know,” and less dogmatic respecting the facts of faith which they have not yet demonstrated. With increased thoughtfulness and receptivity they feel more keenly the sense of mystery, the vastness of Truth, and their mental attitude becomes more scientific.

St. Paul affirmed the inspiring fact, not that we know all, out that “we know in part,” and Mrs. Eddy repeats the thought when she writes, “Christian Science must be accepted at this period by induction. We admit the whole, because a part is proved” (Science and Health, p. 461). The habit of speaking in a final decisive fashion concerning matters of which he really knows very little, if anything, is disastrous to one’s own spiritual growth and to a helpful influence over others, and that Christian teachers should have become noted as representatives of this type of unrealiability is unfortunate beyond words.

Positiveness should characterize Christian instruction, both because there is scientific ground for it and because naught else can satisfy the demands of inquiring thought, but the positiveness which has no foundation other than the traditions of human belief, is sure to experience a fall that will prove disturbing to the faith both of the teacher and the taught. Time was when the great majority accepted the dictum of ecclesiastical authority without question, and the thinking of many is still thus dominated, but the scientific spirit has gone out into all the earth, and the rule of superstition and fear is becoming more and more circumscribed. Hard-headed, unscientific dogmatism is losing its sway in Christian councils, and a fairer field for faith is being opened up.

Christian Science honors the scientific method, it is teaching mankind to distinguish between knowing and believing, and leading them to see that the habit of deluding one’s self into the acceptance of unsubstantiated beliefs is an enslaving self-mesmerism. Christian Science neither indulges nor condones the agnosticism of the world, but it does recognize the fact that the skepticism which renders one alert to seductive fallacies is the handmaid of Science and essential to spiritual progress.

Christ Jesus insisted upon an immovable basis of thought and a logical adherence thereto. He was always articulating his statements with the unquestionable integrities of the divine nature, and it was in entire conformity with this spirit of the Master that the healing philosophy of Christian Science was apprehended. Of this Mrs. Eddy has said: “I knew the Principle of all harmonious Mind-action to be God, and that cures were produced in primitive Christian healing by holy, uplifting faith; but I must know the Science of this healing, and I won my way to absolute conclusions through divine revelation, reason, and demonstration” (Science and Health, p. 109). Christian Science declares that in keeping with the Master’s definite requirement the content of genuine faith may be and must be verified, and that it is the privilege of every aspiring heart thus to demonstrate his way, step by step, up to the sunlit heights of Truth.

 

John B. Willis.