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Denounce imposters to find comfort, courage and counsel in God!

Lesson Application Ideas on “Ancient and Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced” Nov. 20-26, 2006

By Gary Duke, C.S., Saint Louis, Missouri 

Editor’s Note: The following background information and application ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for this week are offered primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp.

The ancient challenges of Nehemiah building a wall, the disciples attempting to heal the epileptic son, and the Pilgrims’ struggle for survival and thanksgiving, is truly our modern story.  We too are constructing things or thoughts, attempting to heal, and perhaps struggling at times, hopefully giving thanks as we rise from mere survival to dominion in God, the only power.  What might try to derail our progress?  “Necromancy, alias mesmerism and hypnotism.” 


Necromancy is defined as “Conjuration of the spirits of the dead for purposes of magically revealing the future or influencing the course of events.  Magic, sorcery” (Ref. 2 = Reference #2 below at the conclusion).  Could we expand this definition to include the attempt to commune with any dead-end beliefs? Mesmeric and hypnotic advertisements of all sorts invite us to believe in sin, sickness and death.  What is our antidote?  To denounce these imposters as false gods and to replace them with genuine understanding of the adorable One.


Note:  In 1775, a physician named Franz Anton Mesmer presented his discovery called animal magnetism, which others referred to as mesmerism.  In 1842, a physician named James Braid developed hypnosis, built upon the ideas and practices of Mesmer (Ref. 8; S&H: chapter 5, “Animal Magnetism Unmasked”).      

Golden Text:  God, the Only Power.

When we’re faced with the appearance of sin, sickness or death aren’t we tempted to feel as though they are a power which hopefully will be overcome by a greater power called God?  Paul brings us up short-“there is no power but of God” (Rom. 13:1).  So God is not merely the strongest of many powers, but is the ONLY power.  Note Mrs. Eddy’s short article titled “The Ego” (Unity of Good, p.27).

Responsive Reading:  If God Be For Us, Who Can Be Against Us?

Prior to a battle in the Civil War, a soldier reportedly remarked to President Lincoln, “We’re praying for God to be on our side tomorrow!”  Lincoln supposedly replied, “Let us pray to be on God’s side.”  If we are truly on God’s side, we will “fear(eth) (respect) the Lord; not be afraid of evil tidings (rumors)” and know that the evil “shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves.”  In summary, “If God be for us (because we are for Him!), who can be against us?”  That is genuinely understanding there is no secondary power to God.

Section 1:  God Comforts.

How do we handle bad news?  Sometimes we might get angry, blame others, or seek comfort in the form of person, place or thing.  The manner in which Nehemiah handled the bad news about the devastation of his people and Jerusalem, his homeland, is instructive.  First he sat down (be still), wept (not what we’d usually think of as a spiritual approach but didn’t Jesus weep prior to raising Lazarus?), mourned and fasted (compassion versus sympathy?).  Then, instead of turning to “comfort food,” he prayed to the God of true comfort, deeply acknowledging the covenant between God and man, which is seen as we love God and obey his commandments (B3).


The fervor of Nehemiah’s prayer was characterized by Mrs. Eddy as “struggle, longing, watchful, striving.”  She goes on to say these “will mould and fashion us anew” until we are comforted by being “awake in His likeness” (S1).  Then, we are “a new creature” where old baggage drops away, revealing spirituality, where there is not only an abundance of goodness, but also “the superabundance of being” (S2).  What might try to keep us from sincere prayer and instead tempt us to remain in the modality of weeping, mourning and fasting?  Animal magnetism, the hypnotic belief that evil is real and is more powerful than God, freezes us like deer caught in headlights (S3).  How can we defend ourselves against this illusion?  Knowledge of error and its operations exposes false human beliefs and then they disappear with the understanding of Truth (S4).  That is when we begin to witness sin’s destruction of itself, thereby overcoming our fear of sin, and we are free to demonstrate the government of God, good (S5).    


Note:  B1-“the gate” is the broad, open space before the city wall, where business is discussed and justice is supposed to be administered (Ref.7); 

“The remnant of Joseph” refers to the few Hebrews which will escape foreign domination (Ref. 7).   

B3–Nehemiah means “Yahweh comforts” (Ref. 3).  Yahweh is a Hebrew name for God.  In 586 B.C. the temple at Jerusalem was destroyed and many of the leading citizens were taken back to Babylon (modern day Iraq). The Persians defeated the Babylonians in 539 B.C. and allowed the Hebrew exiles to return to their own land.  In 445 B.C. Nehemiah served the Persian King Artaxerxes as a cupbearer, making sure the king wasn’t poisoned, and also as his private secretary–quite an honor for a foreigner (Ref. 6). “Chisleu” was about December; “twentieth year” refers to Artaxerxes’ reign; “Shushan” was the winter capital of the kings of Persia, modern day Iran (Ref. 3).    

Section 2:  Pop the Question Fearlessly.

When anyone tells about their engagement to be married, it’s fun to hear how he (sometimes she!) “popped the question.”  Often it’s some elaborate scheme concluded on bent knee with heart pounding, breathlessly awaiting the answer.  In many ways, this was Nehemiah’s experience as he waited four months after hearing the news about Jerusalem to summon the courage to ask King Artaxerxes for permission to leave the court and to return to Jerusalem to help rebuild.  During that four months, it’s doubtful Nehemiah began his prayer by thinking he would have to be the one to lead, govern and build.  But he grew into the office of governor via inspiration.  He was undoubtedly aware that the former request to rebuild, made of Persian King Darius, was refused due to fear of rebellion.  Just prior to asking, what did Nehemiah do one more time?  “I prayed to the God of heaven.”  Permission was granted by King Artaxerxes largely to create a stable Judah next to the unstable and rebellious Egypt and also perhaps because of Nehemiah’s trustworthiness (Ref. 3).  But could the process have been without fear? (B4)  Yes, if you know the spiritual answer ahead of time, which we will explore further in the Science and Health.


If our purpose, motives and intentions are spiritually right, which Nehemiah’s were, our advancement is sure and the “Father will open the way” (S6).  If you “know yourself,” continually checking to see how you’re loving God and your neighbor, then you’ll be watching God work.  Then, you’ll be acting as a scribe under orders in your victory over evil (S7).  Nehemiah was made governor of Judah (for twelve years) and given a military escort for safe passage (Ref. 3).  Why would he be given such authority?  “Thou hast been faithful over a few things (cup bearer), I will make thee ruler over many (governor)” (S8).  So the greater the challenge in any area of life, “the stronger should be our faith and the purer our love” (S9) and then the spiritual answer is always progress, no matter what the human circumstance.


Note:  B4-“Nisan” is the first month of the Hebrew year corresponding to March-April (Ref. 3).

Section 3:  Keep Your Own Counsel.

If you really wanted to see a particular movie, which is more likely to be the successful approach with a group of friends? 
#1. “Want to go to the movies?” or #2. “I’ve been thinking about this for a while and got the folks’ ok; let’s go to ‘such-and-such’ movie which starts at 8 p.m. and I can drive-want to go?”  Choice #2 is more likely to happen because you have a well thought-out plan, free of friend’s opinions/diversions, complete with specifics and approval of authority. 


Nehemiah used a similar strategy (B5).  Let’s look at the steps he employed:

1.  Incubation:  He arrived in Jerusalem, told no one what he was doing, scouted out the challenges for three days and formulated an inspired plan, free from the static of human interference, either well-meaning or malicious.  He was protecting the Christ idea, similarly to when Joseph and Mary brought baby Jesus to Egypt to avoid the destructive decree of Herod.  Nehemiah allowed his fledgling plan to be safely nurtured as it grew in the soil of inspiration, without others digging up the seed to examine, pass judgment, and bog down or destroy the mission.

2.  Announcement:  When he was ready, he garnered agreement by stating the obvious “distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste,” and proceeded to enumerate the challenges.  Then he offered a simple solution that most could rally around: “let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach (disgrace, discredit).”  Brilliant!  Building the wall was a visible symbol which would give them the taste of meaningful accomplishment, protection, and the moral courage to tackle their other problems.  Didn’t Jesus also preach simplicity?  The Jews had to follow 613 laws to be good Jews until Jesus boiled it all down to one word, love, and two commands, love God and love your neighbor, which came from the authority of the Scriptures (Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18).   Then, before anyone could speak, Nehemiah punctuated his remarks with the authority of God and King Artaxerxes.  The conclusion?  The motion passed resoundingly!

3.  Protection:  After Jesus’ baptismal triumph, what awaited him?  Trial by temptation of the devil.  In Nehemiah’s case, after the triumph of his plan, he was tried by temptation of three nearby rulers, Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem, all three whom conspired to keep Judah weak.  They ridiculed the building project and suggested Judah was preparing for rebellion against the King.  Nehemiah responded brilliantly, not trying to match wits, but instead acknowledging God’s authority.  A Bible commentary states, “At this early stage, he is content to leave God with responsibility for the negative handling of opposition.  This, too, is one of the hardest lessons for any church or individual to learn” (Ref. 3).


Christian Science is the ultimate theodicy, exposing and debunking error in its many forms (S10).  By reflecting divine law, the law we live is higher, peaceful, free from false accusation, wise, honest, consistent, and based upon the guidance of divine Mind (S11).  As we comprehend Christian Science and animal magnetism, we can do no harm, our thought is from God, and we more clearly see Mrs. Eddy’s trials and unjust persecutions, often brought by those appearing to do good (S12).  Demonstration of divinity clarifies our vision, but also invites character defamation by detractors (S13).


Note:  B5-“Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian” are all nearby rulers; Sanballat was from Beth-Horon and was governor of Samaria to the north of Judah; Tobiah (the servant of King Artaxerxes) ruled the province of Ammon to the west; and Geshem ruled Arabia to the south.  Jerusalem (in Judah) is ringed by enemies (Ref. 3).

S10-“Theodicy” is the defense of God’s goodness and omnipotence in the face of evil (Ref. 2).                        

Section 4:  Nothingness Exposed.

Have you ever caught a child in the act of some misdeed?  What’s often their best defense?  Offense!  “By not allowing me to eat more than two cookies at dinner, you’re forcing me to sneak and eat in my bed under the covers!”  Often when mortal mind is exposed it turns on you, the upholder of principle.


The Bible points out that we are deceived into being angry and prideful (B6-7). 


How is this deception healed?  Christian Science exposes the nothingness of materiality, which enrages human thought.  This debased thinking lashes out against Life, Truth and Love, but can’t destroy these eternal principles.  In fact, as the error becomes more absurd, it destroys itself, leaving the reality of Love to minister (S14-15).


Note:  S14-“Inculcates” means to teach and impress by frequent repetitions or admonitions (Ref. 2).

Section 5:  Work, Watch and Pray.

A Chinese proverb says, “He who strikes the first blow admits he’s lost the argument.”  Sanballat and company felt they lost the argument when the wall was half built.  They decided the warfare of words was not enough and that they would now join forces to fight against Jerusalem.  Prayer revealed the murderous intent of the enemy, which prompted Nehemiah’s orders to continue the work, but in a different manner.  Soldiers with spears guarded the workers who wore swords, but needed both hands free to work (B8).


To be truly watchful, one must be sober (certainly not drunk, but also aware of animal magnetism in its many forms) and vigilant, alert to danger (S16).  As Christian Science thwarts mortal malice, sin often becomes more aggressive, transitioning from words and mental manipulation to deadly action (S17-18).  The teacher of Christian Science has a responsibility, just as Nehemiah exercised, to inform his/her students of the ways of ignorant and malicious mental malpractice, and how to defend oneself against this human will (S19).    

Section 6:  Error’s Last Stand.

Growing up I repeatedly heard an Air Force motto from my dad if I was tempted to wander from the task at hand:  “Accomplish the mission!”  As an adult, I’ve attempted to heed that advice in addition to the counsel of Ernest Hemingway, the great author, who said, “Write as well as you can and finish what you start.”  Nehemiah understood and lived these truths though challenged again, when very close to finishing the wall, by the enemy who changed its tactics (B9).  With only the doors left to hang, Sanballat and Geshem sent messengers calling for a meeting, but Nehemiah refused.  Three additional invitations were sent and all were rebuffed.  One of error’s last attempts was in the form of an open letter, to broadcast the accusation of Judah’s intended rebellion now that the wall was complete, and to speculate Nehemiah would be crowned king.  It was refuted and followed by the prayer, “O God, strengthen my hands.”  On the 52nd day of construction the wall was complete, an incredible feat which was perceived by the deflated enemy as visible evidence of God’s providence.


Inspired thought focused into honorable action moves mountains (S20).  Standing up to error in whatever form–person, place or thing, exposes its empty promise and victory is won (S21).  Until Truth is understood that there is only one power, the mistake of making a reality out of error will continue (S22).  The only power evil possesses is to expose and destroy itself, thereby punishing the evil-doer (S23).  We receive divine power to the degree we do good and give up the false testimony of the physical senses (S24).

Section 7:  Heal the Sick; Cast Out Demons as not of God and therefore without foothold to even exist!

At camp, school or work, we might relate to Nehemiah’s experience of calling upon the Lord for guidance and deliverance from enemies.  But what about relying upon this Science for healing?  In Acts 10, Peter is sharing with Cornelius, the Centurion (Roman officer commanding about 100 men), and his friends, that God anointed Jesus with the Holy Ghost (the Christ) which gave him power to heal by casting out the devil (B10).  Though not in the Lesson, the Holy Ghost descended on everyone gathered, they were baptized, and by implication, were to go forth and do as the Master instructed, “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:8).  This quote is on the front of our textbook, though I’ve been told that Mrs. Eddy chose a more accurate translation for the word “demons” (not used in the King James version of the Bible) instead of “devils.”  Luke gives an example of this injunction in action (B11):  Jesus cast the devil out of a man’s epileptic son and healed him; healing which eluded the efforts of the disciples.  Why couldn’t the disciples heal as the Master?  Jesus exclaimed, “O faithless and perverse generation,” not only rebuking the disciples’ lack of faith, but perhaps the faith of the father, son, and the thought of the people of the times.  Couldn’t the same be said today?  It was common Jewish belief to attribute aggressive diseases to evil spirits, rather than to genetics or to functional disorders as is common today (Ref. 7 p. 684).  What a privilege as students of Christian Science to go back to the example of primitive Christianity, casting out error and replacing ignorance with the truth about God and man which heals, versus trying to fix matter!


Jesus honored God as the only power, which resulted in healing sin, sickness and death (S25).  On the contrary, animal magnetism ascribes power to many things, leaving God out of the equation all-together, errors which Truth annihilates (S26).  But what about a lightening bolt is destructive?  It is not of God, good (S27), similar to what Elijah learned on the mountain where God was not in the destructive elements of wind, earthquake and fire (I Kings 19:11,12).  Our understanding of the Christ reveals our safety in spirituality (S28).  As we demonstrate more from the standpoint of Soul our vision opens, replacing the false with the true concept of body and life (S29).  There is nothing more than the infinite, which is God, leaving no foothold for error to even exist (S30).

Section Summary Benediction:

God is the only power, therefore there is no power against us.  If the illusion of error tempts us, we find comfort, courage and counsel in God.  The nothingness of error is exposed as we watch, work and pray aright.  Errors’ last stand, trying to divert us from our mission, is powerless as we cast out the demons of ignorance, whereby health and harmony are revealed as permanent.


1.      American Dictionary of the English Language, By Noah Webster 1828,

         800-352-3223, website


2.      Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition 1993


3.      Researched Bible Guide, 561-776-5711, e-mail


4.      The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary on the Bible,

         Edited by Charles Laymon


5.      The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language,

         By Eugene H. Peterson, NavPress 800-366-7788,



6.      The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, By Henry Gehman


7.      The One Volume Bible Commentary, By J.R. Dummelow


8.      Wikipedia On-line Encyclopedia,

Camp Director’s Note:
The above sharing is the latest in a long series of CedarS Bible Lesson “mets” (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians. This document is intended to initiate further study as well as to encourage the application of ideas found in the Weekly Bible Lessons as printed in the Christian Science Quarterly and as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms. * Originally sent JUST to campers, staff and CedarS families who wanted to continue at home and in their home Sunday Schools the same type of focused Lesson study and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson “mets” are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way a substitute for daily study of the lesson in the books. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension, background and daily applicability to some of the ideas and passages being studied. The citations referenced (i.e. B1and S28) from this week’s Bible Lesson in the “met” (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible (B1-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. (S1-30) The Bible and Science and Health are the ordained pastor of the Churches of Christ, Scientist. The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. The Lesson-Sermon speaks individually through the Christ to everyone, providing unique insights and tailor-made applications for each one. We are glad you requested this metaphysical sharing and hope that you find some of these ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.)

Warren Huff, Director

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