This is #7 in a series of posts looking at the 26 Christian Science Weekly Bible Lesson subjects, chosen by Mary Baker Eddy, and rotated twice per year. These lessons are the sermon at each Christian Science church worldwide, and are read by Christian Scientists daily. Today’s subject is “Soul”. Look for other posts in the category “Lesson Sermon Subjects“.
For reasons beyond my knowledge, I think of a TV show that was popular back in the 1970s called “Soul Train” when I think of this topic. The “soul” I speak of here, is quite different, however. As a child, my parents loved seafood, and we ate it often. A favourite fish was sole. I used to joke (to the annoyance of both my parents and Sunday School teachers) about how this was the “fish” subject. Yeah, I was sometimes an annoying kid.
“Soul” in Christian Science, as used in the context of a Bible Lesson subject, is a synonym for God, and as per what I call “Christian Science grammar”, it is capitalized when used in this way. To the Christian Scientist, Soul is not overly different from what most people would think of it, but there is a notable and nuanced difference, and I hope I can explain it in a way that makes sense. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, explaining Christian Science, especially to someone unfamiliar with it, is a bit like describing colour to someone who’s been blind from birth. Soul (capitalized), as a synonym for God, is sort of a life-force or consciousness, but not really your own individual life-force or consciousness.
The best way I can describe Soul is that it is God’s “essence” if you will, expressed within you as what Christian Scientists like to call the “reflection” of God. In Christian Science, all of us are “reflections” of God–we’re not God, but we are intimately attached to God. Another analogy that is popular in Christian Science is that our relationship to God is like the relationship of a sun ray to the sun. Christian Scientists do also talk of soul or souls (not a synonym of God–see, I didn’t capitalize the words here) and that is the same as anyone else would think of as a “soul”–an individual life-force or consciousness, but this is thinking of soul, consciousness, on a “mortal mind” or material level, and to the Christian Scientist, that is false and illusory. Being synonymous with God as it is in Christian Science, this concept of “soul/Soul” binds you intimately to God in a way that is perhaps unique to Christian Science. In most other faiths, especially Christian faiths, it is taught that we are all sinners, separated somewhat from God.
Christian Science teaches that we are “perfect children of God”–God’s reflections. It doesn’t put us on an even footing with God, but puts us up there. Herein lies one of the big attractions, I believe, of Christian Science, and one of the main points by which its critics in other Christian faiths criticize it. My own current feelings about my relationship to my higher power (I generally don’t like or use the term “God” anymore), is somewhere in the middle and constantly evolving. As I’ve said in some previous posts, I believe in a collective intelligence or energy of which we are all a nominal part–I think of it as the “universe”. I don’t accept the “sky God” as presented in the Bible and in most Abrahamic religions–some sort of precocious, sentient intelligence that is at times benevolent, and at others bloodthirsty and genocidal. I don’t accept that we are all born sinners, but I do believe that we are imperfect beings who have much to learn, and that is part of the reason we are here. I believe we are accountable for the wrongs we do commit. Nobody, and no faith, in my opinion, has all the answers; and I am inherently suspicious of any that does make that claim.