Mind power is not enough

March 18th, 2016

My mother was a devout Christian Scientist as were my grandparents on both sides. My father tacitly endorsed the CS line but was more consumed by material success than spiritual journeys. They would drop my brothers and me off

at the Christian Science church in suburban Detroit to attend children’s study. We were told that children did not belong in the actual church service and were better off in our own service where we would sing songs and then break out to tables where we studied prepared lessons. I noticed early on that there was some incentives for memorizing things and we received the constant drumbeat of Mary Baker Eddy’s greatness. We saw the Christian Science Monitor proudly displayed at the church along with Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. We were also told that there was a Christian Science reading room nearby for serious thinkers. Finally, there was verbal reverence for the “Mother Church” in Boston where the highest authority resides.

I was always a little puzzled that we called ourselves Protestant but there was never any talk of Jesus. Even a little boy who is told he is a Christian gets a little confused when there is little or no mention of Jesus. I had friends who were Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish. The first two mentioned Jesus in passing. The latter told me I was a “good Goy.” My parents told me we belonged to the tradition of Martin Luther as Protestants. I thought this part of my life was completely normal but an abstraction as the whole teaching was about the exalting of my mind.

My mother was placed into adoption as a baby by a poor family that could not afford another child. Thankfully, it was 1928 and abortion was not an option then like it is today. Her adoptive parents were very wealthy Christian Scientists in Grosse Pointe, the affluent enclave of auto executives who worked in Detroit. She was raised in fine fashion with a live-in housemaid and cook, two Cadillacs in the garage, well-kept grounds, and an expectation that the mind was the supreme power in life. She was sent away from Grosse Pointe to a boarding school, Principia, in St. Louis where she learned that Mary Baker Eddy was brilliant and her teaching was true.

Although my mind was good (IQ measured at 181) my physical health was not. I had severe asthma, anaphylactic reactions to all tree nuts, pathological myopia (measured at -25 diopters) severe allergies, pets in the house, a chain-smoking and alcoholic mother, and a father that said “tough it out” when physical maladies arrived. My mother said that my physical problems were “all in my head.”

I must have had bad thinking because I was sick a lot. I missed approximately 50 days of school in the fifth grade. I figured out through much sickness that there was nothing to help me breathe, no doctor to see, no medicine to take, and little sympathy from my brothers who were as healthy as could be. My parents would call the Christian Science practitioner for prayer (in exchange for money) that was supposed to help me get better. I assumed that my thinking was defective but the CS practitioner could think me well. The practitioner never met me, never talked with me, and was like a pen pal that didn’t write back. When someone snuck a tree nut past me in food, I would swell up, throw up past dry heaves, itch like crazy, get very dizzy, and thought I would faint. I tried to treat myself with solid thinking to no avail. I decided I better look out for myself and ask if there were any nuts in the foods at restaurants and friends’ homes. My family would tell me, don’t worry, it’s no big deal, you just don’t like tree nuts. It’s all in your head.

It was not until I left Detroit for the University of Colorado that I saw a doctor who tested me for allergies, asthma, and food allergies. Needless to say, he said I was “off the charts” for all three and I got my first introduction to Benadryl, an Epi-pen, and asthma medications. I could breathe and felt alive. What a joy!

My parents stayed with the CS idea, pursued external success, and their marriage collapsed when no-fault divorce became the rage. They both died young (67 for dad, 70 for mom). My paternal grandfather died at 54, long before I was born. He holds the patent for the 1933 Silver Arrow, considered one of the top 10 automobiles in the 20th century. One of my paternal uncles, also a CS, had the distinction of winning both an Academy Award and an Emmy Award for his work on Robert Frost and William Penn in the 1960’s. He died in his 40’s. My father’s sister died in her 50’s from COPD, also a CS, and a smoker. Her husband was a CS and died in his early 50’s from throat cancer. My other paternal uncle, a successful advertising executive, converted to the Unity church (distant cousin to CS) and saw his health collapse. I saw a lot of successful people in the family (from the world’s perspective) but not much theological truth. It seemed as if their brilliant minds and notable achievements were not accompanied by any understanding of physical health or spiritual joy. How could it be that a religion that taught mental mastery invited so much physical difficulty and spiritual confusion?

I did not have the right theological foundation while growing up to understand reality. The family structure dissolved around divorce, alcohol, and false belief. I finished high school with a 1.2 GPA, a probation officer, and no prospects for the future despite having a genius IQ. If my mind was so good, and CS taught me I could think my way to hope and success, why did my family fall apart, why did they die early, and why was I sick all of my life?

By the grace of His hand, my father got saved through the evangelism of a long life friend. I came to Christ after seeing five members of my family (mother, father, last uncle, last aunt, and last grandmother) die over a five year period in my late 30’s/early 40’s. My two older brothers rejected Christ and had contempt for my father for surrendering to Him.

I came to realize life is hopeless based upon my efforts. My mind was not all powerful as I had always been told. I had people try to lead me into Scientology, Mormonism, Baha’i, New Ageism, and others. Nobody (except my father in his final years) told me the Gospel. Through the grace of God, He used me in bringing my defiant CS mother to Him just days before she died of Cirrhosis from alcoholism. There were very few women (in the ’90’s) that had the scarlet letter of Cirrhosis on their death certificate. She is in Glory now and I praise Him that he would have a child lead a parent to Himself.

My father was the first one to lead me to the Gospel. I had friends who became pastors but they never told me the Gospel. When asked why, they said I was “too far gone” and they didn’t think it was worth their trouble. They were wrong. The Gospel is true for all times and all people. This is why I am writing to you. Although those many years were lost for me, Jesus redeemed them (Joel 2:25.) His mercies are new each morning.

The real God is in the Bible, not in Mary Baker Eddy’s writings or in the practices of Christian Science. This God is the creator, author of life, lover of your soul, and the light of the world. There is hope for you right now. I encourage each CS reader of my story to pick up a Bible, read the Gospel of John, and use the mind that God gave you to ask Him for understanding what you read. You are separated from Him because of your sin and no act of a brilliant mind, or right thinking, can solve your problems. He is real and He is waiting for you. Right now.

I am forever grateful to Jesus and am grateful that He saved me from eternal death. I rejoice in knowing there are many of us that He has brought out of darkness into the light. It grieves me that so many are lost and so many are defiant in their hopeless state.

I never remember having hostility to those who believed, I just didn’t understand why. Sadly, I didn’t have family or friends who would tell me the truth. I didn’t have teachers or counselors who told me the truth. I sure knew a lot who led me to lies. I didn’t take any initiative in exploring the truth until my ship was sinking and I scrambled for someone beyond myself. What a deliverance to reach for hope and to find life!

The task set before you is not to triumph over circumstance through the power of your mind. It is to recognize that you did not create your mind. God did. He wants you to use it. Pick up a Bible. Pray that He will illuminate the words to your wonderful mind and hurting heart. He is waiting for you.
Brad Hughes of Denver is a corporate business strategist, an expert on apologetics and worldviews, and a Centennial Institute Fellow at Colorado Christian University

The author can be reached at bradleyhughes@comcast.net

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