Not just a Principle, a real Father

November 12th, 2019

We have a friend who is a very devout Christian Scientist, getting into the practice. Sometimes along with her metaphysical vocabulary she uses a more biblical or traditional phrasing about “trusting the Father” or “listening to the Father,” that kind of thing. Then it’s back to Mrs. Eddy’s synonyms for God—Principle, Mind, Soul, etc.

When the time is right, I want to ask her how God can be both of those things, divine Principle on the one hand and yet our Father on the other hand. Recently as I studied Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32, it struck me how inescapably personal that father and both his sons are. I’d like to challenge my friend—call her Beth—to account in CS metaphysical terms for everything this father, as Jesus portrays him, does.

He gives his sons life in body and soul, gives them a living to sustain them, and gives them free will to love and obey him in return, or not. He lets the younger son run away and disgrace himself, yet never stops watching for the boy to return, and finally seeing him do so, runs to meet him more than halfway, then waves off the boy’s apology and lavishes him with undeserved grace.

Next he is equally patient with the older brother’s self-righteousness as he was with the younger brother’s self-indulgence. The father again goes beyond expectations to reconcile the sinfully selfish firstborn to himself. Though well aware of both sons’ flaws, he is kindly, merciful, and generous to both–even as they are grasping, unloving, and ungrateful to him and to each other.

So I just want to ask Beth how in the world this portrayal of the wise, forgiving father and the woefully wayward children can possibly be squared with the “perfect God and perfect man” she reads about in Science and Health. And to ask her as well, who wouldn’t want a wonderful, understanding father like this, instead of a cold impersonal divine Principle?

You can’t have both, dear Beth. Choose ye this day!


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