There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus .
I love the whole human family and have labored to bless all, not a clan, but all. I am abrupt, but honest in what I say to all. But behind this is my universal and deathless love for every one of the human family.
Mary Baker Eddy
(Letter to Mrs. Swarts, 1885)
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“GOD IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS”
From the June 1918 issue of The Christian Science Journal
The ancient Greeks called all foreigners barbarians, the Jews classified outsiders as Gentiles and were forbidden by their traditions from associating with them. It was, therefore, a great shock to Peter’s racial and religious susceptibilities when he was made to realize that “God is no respecter of persons.” The vision of the sheet containing all manner of four-footed animals, and the command, “Arise, Peter; slay and eat,” was needed to arouse him from his narrow Jewish concept of God. Thereafter he responded gladly to the call for help from Cornelius, the Roman centurion. In a world of restricted travel every secluded community is apt to consider itself the special object of divine favor and other communities proportionately in disfavor. Until the nothingness of material existence is realized God is believed to make distinctions between persons.
If the term person is used spiritually and not materially, then it is permissible to speak of the real man as person and of God as the infinite Person. Scholastic theology has, however, so beclouded the use of the word person that in Christian Science the term Principle is preferably applied to Deity and image or idea to man. It is certain that God loves and is therefore a respecter of His own ideas, the children of His creation, the expression of His own intelligence. The teaching of Christian Science on this point is perfectly clear, and is thus stated by Mrs. Eddy on page 116 of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “As the words person andpersonal are commonly and ignorantly employed, they often lead, when applied to Deity, to confused and erroneous conceptions of divinity and its distinction from humanity. If the term personality, as applied to God, means infinite personality, then God is infinite Person,—in the sense of infinite personality, but not in the lower sense. An infinite Mind in a finite form is an absolute impossibility.”
The lesson Peter learned by his vision comes to all spiritually minded individuals sooner or later. Beholding the unsubstantially of physical life and the eternal nature of life in God, the advancing Christian is led to understand that God, who is Mind, Spirit, cannot recognize material personalities. He cannot, from the very nature of His being, be a respecter of material persons. From the moment when this is clearly seen the correct thinker feels the walls of separation between men and nations fall as did those of Jericho before the trumpet blasts of the children of Israel. The narrow, parochial, local barriers fade away, national and racial distinctions outlined by matter disappear, and the new family or nation rises out of the debris of discarded beliefs, so that “in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”
When the old world is being shaken free from age long delusions, a new grouping of individuals arises. Jesus allowed divine Mind to outline the new family when he declared, “Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” After Jesus’ ascension, Philip could consort with the semi-idolatrous Samaritans and read Scripture with the treasurer of the queen of the Ethiopians; Paul could found new churches out of the formerly despised barbarians, and write to the Colossians, “There is no respect of persons,” and Peter could be the welcome guest of a Roman military officer. Gradually there emerged from the group of nations which Rome had conquered, a new spiritualized nation, the Christians. They rose up from under the very heel of Roman domination as irresistibly as a seemingly weak plant raises a heavy paving stone in order to reach the light.
God, who cares for His own, is no respecter of persons. The temporary alignments, artificially produced by human will power, mad ambition, lust of conquest, military megalomania, or religious mania are wiped away by the rise of the new nation which obeys God and respects His law. When humanity, through the stress of circumstances, loses faith in its own traditions, whether racial or ecclesiastical, then it turns to the light for guidance. God’s command, “Let there be light,” brings the light; the chosen people cross the boundaries of the desert, partake of the fruit of the promised land, and replace false beliefs with right ideas. Soon it is difficult to remember that there ever was opposition to the new order; for the consciousness of Immanuel, or “God with us,” brings the kingdom of heaven to earth.
During the period of conflict, while the din of battle seems to overtop the call of truth, it may seem as though all nations were being destroyed, but at that very time the shepherd is calling his sheep together, and those who hear, obey and follow him into the spiritual sheepfold of security and righteous activity. The new flock knows no fear and does not suffer. It is the Father-Mother’s good pleasure to give it the kingdom. It does not need to contest the ground with any other flock, for all who seek that spiritual shelter are equal beneficiaries of God’s inexhaustible bounty. Mrs. Eddy writes on page 444 of Science and Health as follows: “If ecclesiastical sects or medical schools turn a deaf ear to the teachings of Christian Science, then part from these opponents as did Abraham when he parted from Lot, and say in thy heart: ‘Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.'”