The carnal mind, or the mind of christ?
Thoughts about heaven and hell, and especially the implication they have for individuals of faith continue to dominate religious discourse at home and abroad. In the Church of Christ, Scientist, the teachings of Christ Jesus form the basis for understanding such Scriptural and doctrinal issues.
Through parable and precept, Jesus showed that heaven and hell are not geographical locations, as His listeners may have presumed. According to the New Testament, He taught that “the Kingdom of Heaven” was “at hand” and even “within you.” He made His students aware that they could experience the reign of omnipresent God, here and now. Conversely, hell, as Jesus taught it, was the apparent opposite of God’s Kingdom at hand — an agonising sense of being separated from God, arising from sin, and symbolised in the Bible by interminable heat and fire.
The only way to escape the agony of sin and hell is to stop sinning, says Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Christian Science church, in her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She adds, “There is no other way.” This repentance, followed by spiritual transformation, is what the apostle Paul describes in the Bible as putting off the corrupt, sinful “old man” (or old ways of thinking), being “renewed in the spirit of your mind,” and putting on the “new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24). This spiritual renewal and transformation comes through the grace of God that is found in Christ, as we sincerely desire to express and experience more of the kingdom of heaven within.
In I Corinthians 2:16, Paul says that we have “the mind of Christ.” The carnal or human mind, which loves sin and loves to sin, is not the mind of Christ. But when we yield to the divine Mind, we are able to follow Jesus’ example and obey His instructions. Christian Science thus teaches that Christians must strive to “let this mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5). This is a moment by moment spiritual exercise of putting off the old man with his deeds, and putting on the new man, the man God created in righteousness and true holiness – God’s image and likeness.
God works with us, as we work out our salvation. Members of the Christian Science Church are encouraged to prayerfully watch, and constantly guard against sinful thoughts (the carnal mind), which would becloud the fact that the Kingdom of Heaven is within, and to have the mind of Christ; or as Christ Jesus puts it in John 3:7, we “must be born again.”
The Christian Science Committee on Publication for Nigeria West
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