Golden text: Acts 15:7-9*
Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.
Judges 9:6-20, 22-23
And all the leaders of Shechem came together, and all Beth-millo, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar at Shechem.
7 When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim and cried aloud and said to them, “Listen to me, you leaders of Shechem, that God may listen to you. 8 The trees once went out to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ 9 But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my abundance, by which gods and men are honored, and go hold sway over the trees?’ 10 And the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 11 But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit and go hold sway over the trees?’ 12 And the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 13 But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my wine that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?’ 14 Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 15 And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade, but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’
16 “Now therefore, if you acted in good faith and integrity when you made Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house and have done to him as his deeds deserved— 17 for my father fought for you and risked his life and delivered you from the hand of Midian, 18 and you have risen up against my father’s house this day and have killed his sons, seventy men on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his female servant, king over the leaders of Shechem, because he is your relative— 19 if you then have acted in good faith and integrity with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you. 20 But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the leaders of Shechem and from Beth-millo and devour Abimelech.
22 Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. 23 And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech,
From 21st Century Science and Health**
When people are being influenced by peer pressure or persuasions, or when they get caught up in groupthink, or obsessed by some image or activity, they are “mesmerized.”
Any seeming benefit derived from mental manipulation is proportional to one’s faith in magic.
The tradition of telling people that if they take one doctrine and have total faith in it, they will be filled with the Holy Spirit, receives a strong rebuttal in the Scripture, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” Faith, at the level of belief, is like a motor piston shifting between nothing and something, having no fixity. Faith, advanced to understanding, gains evidence of Spirit. Spiritual evidence rebukes groundless beliefs of every kind and establishes the claims of God.
In Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and English, the word faith and its corresponding words have these two definitions: trustfulness and trustworthiness. One kind of faith trusts one’s well-being to others. Another kind of faith understands divine Love and how to “work all the more strenuously at your salvation with reverence and trembling.”
Human thoughts have their degrees of comparison. Some thoughts are better than others. A belief in Truth is better than a belief in error, but no mortal belief is founded on the divine rock. Mortal testimony can be shaken. Until belief becomes faith, and faith becomes spiritual understanding, human thought has only a marginal connection to the actual or divine.
Effective prayer comes from enlightened understanding, from divine Mind, not human mind. Human thinking changes indefinitely, so turn to divine Science and spiritual understanding for prayers.
The test of prayer is found in the answers to these questions: Do we love our neighbor better because of our prayer? Or, are we satisfied with prayerful words, without giving evidence of living consistently with those words? If selfishness has given way to kindness, we will regard our neighbor unselfishly and pray for our enemies; but this great responsibility is never accomplished simply by asking that it may be done. Improvement of mind, body, spirit needs to be tangible before we can experience the achievement of our hope and faith.
Praying from the standpoint that God is part and parcel of the sophisticated, flimsy, pleasant, cruel human existence, affects the sick like a drug. Unmindful prayers and drugs have no efficacy of their own, but rather borrow their powers from human faith and belief. Drugs don’t ultimately or permanently do anything on their own because they have no intelligence. It is human belief, not the divine Principle, Love, that causes a drug to be either poisonous or remedial.
Human policies, scholastic theology, and inconsistent health care systems, divide and scatter faith and spiritual understanding. Divine Science comes to the rescue and our birthright of sole allegiance to our Maker asserts itself.
The goal, a point beyond faith, is to find the footsteps of Truth, the way to health and spirituality. Sincere effort is required to reach the Horeb height where God is revealed.
Matthew 8: 5-13
When [Jesus] had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.
From 21st Century Science and Health
There are many instances where the heart of divine Science is meeting our desire for spirituality. The John Templeton Foundation seeks to promote a deeper understanding of the influence spirituality, beliefs and values can have on human health. By promoting collaboration and clinical research into the relationship between spirituality and health, and by documenting the positive medical aspects of spiritual practice, the Foundation hopes to contribute to the reintegration of faith into modern life. That example advances spiritual discovery and helps to offset the world’s tendency to attribute physical effects to physical causes rather than to a spiritual cause.
The explanations of divine metaphysics reverses perverted and physical hypotheses concerning God, just as physical science explains optical illusions.
The ordinary appeal to have faith in the world’s ways and means must yield to faith in the all-might of infinite Spirit.
To love our neighbor’s spiritual nature as we love our own innate identity is a divine idea; but this idea can never be seen, felt, or understood through the physical senses. Physical senses mix with excitable emotions such as adoration and religious faith, or their opposite, disgust. These effects, however, do not proceed from spirituality or spiritual phenomena. Both, idolization and irreverence, are spin-offs of mortal belief.
Mark 5: 24-34
And a great crowd followed [Jesus] and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
From 21st Century Science and Health
Recovery is a struggle, not between material methods, but between human minds and spiritual Mind. It makes no difference what temporal method a patient may adopt, whether it is faith in drugs, counseling, a trust in physical therapy, Reiki, or a reliance on time. The victory will be on the patient’s side only as spiritual Mind through Christ, Truth, subdues the human belief in disease.
Critics who attack faith should be careful not to confuse spiritual faith with blind faith. Faith is necessary in science, medicine, and religion. Consider the researcher or scientist who is trying to find a cure for cancer; they obviously have faith that a cure exists; otherwise they would not even try. People who cannot distinguish between blind (ritualistic) faith and that of spiritual faith are easily misinformed. They can make unfortunate statements such as: “If your beliefs are those of a Christian Scientist, obliging you to forgo all medical interventions, you may even have collaborated with God by refusing to give your child antibiotics.” Christian Science does not “oblige” any particular human action as if people are androids. A student of Christian Science does not collaborate with God as if God is a separate mind. In Science, there is no attitude of give-and-take; there is no human element that says, “If you do this, I’ll do that.” Do physicists collaborate with the law of gravity in order to go to the moon? No. Scientists study the principles of physics, they have the faith those rules will work, they apply the principles, and they go to the moon. Comments and criticisms based on a lack of research obscure any good points being made.
A patient’s belief is molded more or less by the doctor’s belief in the case, even if the doctor says nothing. Giving belief another direction to faith, the physician prescribes drugs until the flexibility of human thought, by chance, causes a vigorous reaction upon itself and reproduces a picture of health and harmony. The physician’s and patient’s thoughts commingle, and the stronger thoughts rule the weaker. This is why it is important for doctors to study and practice the universal law of Truth and Love.
As human thought changes from one stage to another, from conscious pain to painlessness, from sorrow to joy, from fear to hope, and from faith to understanding, the visible manifestation will at last be self-governed by Soul.
Faith should enlarge its borders and strengthen its foundation by resting on revelatory Spirit instead of on repetitious humanity.
*Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
** Text from 21st Century Science and Health, 6th edition, copyrighted by Cheryl Petersen.
 James 2:17
 Phil. 2:12 (Moffatt)
 Matt. 5:44
 Harris, Sam. The End of Faith. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005.