Faces on Faith: A spiritual identity
It’s reported that the number of people who consider themselves “religious” are dwindling, while a larger number identify themselves as “spiritual.” So what does a “spiritual identity” really mean?
All major religions have a spiritual component, but Christian Science takes a radically different approach to the nature of one’s spiritual identity. Students of Christian Science learn that man is created spiritually as the manifestation of God. Therefore he/she includes no mortal or material element. His/her substance is pure, innocent and holy, constantly nourished and nurtured by an all-loving Father-Mother God.
In the textbook of Christian Science, “Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures,” author and founder Mary Baker Eddy writes: “If man were solely a creature of the material senses, he would have no eternal Principle, and would be mutable and mortal. On the other hand, the immortal spiritual man is really substantial, and reflects the divine, which constitutes the only real and eternal entity.” Eddy goes on: “This reflection seems to mortal sense transcendental, because this spiritual man’s substantiality transcends mortal vision.”
Christian Science practitioner and teacher Mark Swinney shares the effects of such understanding, in an experience when he was a young man. His friend was in a serious accident, and was told he would never have the normal use of his hand the rest of his life. Both Mark and his friend were Christian Scientists and couldn’t accept this verdict from a wholly loving God. Each one had a strong grounding in their real “spiritual identity,” which fully reflected God’s unchanging goodness and activity that they were in fact “spiritual to the core.” In a short time, Mark’s friend was pain free and had normal use of his hand.
So where did Eddy get the idea of identity, which has such power to bring change and wholeness? As an avid Bible student, she read in Hebrews from the King James Version: “Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person.” While St. Paul was referring to Jesus in that description, Eddy expands on this concept, inviting us all to embrace a spiritual identity as “the beauty of holiness.”
June Sieber is affiliated with the Sanibel Christian Science Church.