Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Book That Uplifts Faith

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Book That Uplifts Faith

Article excerpt

MY youngest son, now six, was sitting next to me at a mid-week church meeting a few days ago. A man was reading a story from the Bible, and I knew he would go on in a few minutes to read passages from another book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science. My son was making a sincere effort to follow what was going on. He leaned over and whispered to me, asking what the readings were about. "Faith," I whispered back. He paused for a moment, then asked, "Is that bad or good?" "Good," I whispered. He settled back into his seat, confident that he now knew the lay of the land. I, on the other hand, spent the remainder of the meeting much less confident, pondering whether I could categorically say faith was good. It's easy enough to find Bible passages by the dozen trumpeting the value of faith. But that is faith in God. I knew that even those passages which speak simply of faith mean faith in God. Of course that is good. In fact, it's more than good, as the Bible makes clear in Hebrews: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (11:1). But what about faith itself? Not faith in anything, just faith. I began to see, much to my surprise, that it is a neutral term, something human consciousness can engage in without automatically being good or holy. As I thought about it, I realized there were other terms that fit into this same neutral category. Hope. Commitment. Trust. To get a fix on their value meant finding out what the hope was for, what the commitment was to, what the trust was in. For instance, just a day or so before that church meeting, I'd planned an early morning bike ride with my wife. But I'd gotten up feeling ill, not at all inclined to go biking. Now, I had faith that morning--faith that a ten-mile bike ride would make me feel a whole lot worse! But I didn't want to let my wife down. So I went ahead with the ride. That book I mentioned earlier, Science and Health, lifts faith higher. In fact, the book opens with an extraordinary passage on faith: "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God,--a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love" (p. …
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