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Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on

[N]everlasting Punishment”

for Sunday, October 30, 2016

By Christie C. Hanzlik, CS, Boulder, Colorado



You will certainly find your own insights from this week’s lesson on “Everlasting Punishment.” I could make a joke about the U.S. presidential election season seeming like everlasting punishment, but I won’t. Politicians and pundits, just like each of us, are worthy of the mercy and grace and full salvation that are keynotes throughout this week's lesson.

The belief in everlasting punishment is basically a belief in hell, a separation from good, God, for all eternity. Mary Baker Eddy defines hell in the Glossary of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,

“HELL. Mortal belief; error; lust; remorse; hatred; revenge; sin; sickness; death; suffering and self-destruction; self-imposed agony; effects of sin; that which “worketh abomination or maketh a lie.” (588:1)

For me, the striking part of this definition of hell is “self-imposed agony” because that phrase makes clear that hell is not a punishment forced on us by a vengeful god, but is limited thinking imposing false emotions upon us.

The most common symptom of hell is the belief of “guilt.” Guilt is what we seem to feel when we think we are unworthy. Guilt makes us feel separate from God. I know people who say they feel guilty for things that they eat, for exercising too little or too much, for making mistakes, or for procrastinating. I’ve heard some Christian Scientists say that they feel guilty when they’re sick or have problems. Some of us probably even feel guilty for feeling guilty! Well, guilt doesn’t heal. And guilt is not from God. “God is Love.” (B5, S1, B8) Love heals.

The belief in everlasting punishment is a gross counterfeit of the true affection from Divine Love. Our way shower, Christ Jesus, perfectly understood our inseparable relationship with our merciful Father, who forgives and loves and cherishes His creation. Through prayer, we can understand our relationship with our Parent as clearly as Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus showed us the way to be free of guilt and feel our Father-Mother’s constant love and affection. Our desire to follow him is expressed in the sixth tenet, which is a major theme in this week’s lesson, “And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure.” (S25)

Some of you may have accepted the “optional assignment #1” suggested in the Metaphysical Application on the Lesson on Doctrine of Atonement. The assignment was to study the six tenets because five of the six tenets were included in the three current Bible Lessons, which defeat various claims of false theology. As a refresher, here’s the summary of the three lessons and their themes:

· Doctrine of Atonement: we are always and already at one with God; the lesson focused on “grace,” which we could define as our reminder of our connection to God/Love. Grace makes us feel our at-one-ment.

· Probation after Death: we are always and already at one with God; there is not a death-process to becoming at one with God. The lesson focused on our constant progress, as we “walk as children of light.” We are not in darkness striving to find light, but are already children of light, we are already at one with the light of Love.

· Everlasting Punishment: we are always and already at one with God; there is no everlasting punishment/separation from Love; and a theme of this lesson is “mercy.” Love’s mercy frees us from feeling guilt, shame, or separation.

For those of you who took on the assignment to study the six tenets, you probably noticed the radical stance that Christian Science takes against the old theological belief that we are separate from God. The theological theories of sin, disease, death, guilt, hell, and everlasting punishment are nothing more than a false notion that we are separate from God/Love. And as we acknowledge our at-one-ment, we are freed from the effects of these false beliefs.

Golden Text and Responsive Reading

It seems to me that the opposite of punishment/guilt is mercy. And it is no coincidence that in a Bible lesson that is challenging the false belief of everlasting punishment, the word “mercy” or “merciful” occurs at least fourteen times.

The idea of “mercy” pops up right away in the lesson. The Golden Text describes the everlasting kindness and mercy of God, our redeemer.

But what is mercy? When I needed to explain the word “mercy” to a group of eight-year-old boys at CedarS three summers ago, it occurred to me that mercy was when something big and powerful was gentle with something much smaller, like when a giant dog is delicate with a tiny baby. [You can listen to a "Prac Talk" Christie gave on the subject of tender mercies, with the help of these same boys, at]. I love the “unlikely friendship” stories about mother lions taking care of baby goats, or a giant gorilla loving a kitten. These relationships are glimpses into the mercy that Love shows us. Infinite and all-powerful God is tender with each one of us. Mary Baker Eddy captures this well with the sentence, “This strength is like the ocean, able to carry navies, yet yielding to the touch of a finger.” (Miscellany, 121:9)

The concept of mercy repeats three times in the Responsive Reading, each time reiterating the concept that all-powerful God loves us tenderly.

SECTION 1: God IS merciful

Section 1 reminds us of the “everlasting love” of God. (B1) With three more references to mercy in this section, we can find comfort in the fact that “God is Love” and not a punisher. (B5, S1)

It is not that we have to seek mercy from God, but rather God IS merciful. We don’t need to beg forgiveness but rather we can feel God’s mercies as an open fount which is constantly flowing. [S5]

That God shows us constant mercy does not mean that we can turn away from God and feel comfort and security. As we turn away, God is still loving us, but we may feel as if we are separated [sinful], and this feeling of separation is unpleasant. Being separated from good feels bad. Mary Baker Eddy explains, “If at present satisfied with wrong-doing [turning away from good], we must learn to loathe it. If at present content with idleness [not caring], we must become dissatisfied with it. Remember that mankind must sooner or later, either by suffering or by Science, be convinced of the error that is to be overcome.” (S3, [italicized brackets added]) It makes sense that Divine Love is constantly pouring out tenderness and affection, but if we are turned away and unwilling to receive those blessings, we will, at some point, need to learn to turn around and feel the full love that’s been there all along.

SECTION 2: The mythical belief in no mercy

This section opens with the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis, and it sure makes me grateful for the first tenet: “As adherents to Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.” (S497). I’m not sure how I would make sense of the story of Cain and Abel if I read it without inspiration.

Without inspiration: Cain kills his brother and faces everlasting punishment

With inspiration: “The account is given, not of immortal [perfect spiritual] man, but of mortal [limited] man, and of sin [separation from God] which is temporal [and not really possible].” (S6, [italicized brackets added]) The Genesis myth of Cain and Abel as the progeny of mortal parents is, in Mary Baker Eddy’s words, “fratricidal.” It kills the brotherhood of man. It dismisses God/Love as the Creator.

Fundamentally, the false belief in everlasting punishment undermines God’s authority as omnipotent and infinite Love. “The belief in life in matter sins [separates man from God] at every step.” (S9, [italicized brackets added])

Mary Baker Eddy does not have gentle words for the myth that tries to separate man from God. “Truth, through her eternal laws, unveils error. Truth, causes sin [the belief in separation from God] to betray itself…” (S9, [italicized brackets added]) She rebukes the mythical suggestion of a limited god that doesn’t know his creation, and refutes the idea that this falsity (Cain’s lie) could be concealed.

Be clear! Cain and Abel are mythical. If this story confuses you, it should…it is a misty myth with no rhyme or reason. The serpent aims to confuse us.

Bottom line? God does not punish. “Sin [the belief in separation from good] is its own punishment.” (S11, [italicized brackets added])

So, how do we make progress when we need correction? “Divine Love corrects and governs man. Men may pardon, but this divine Principle alone reforms the sinner [false belief that we can be separate from Love].” (S12, [italicized brackets added])

SECTION 3: Jesus demonstrates mercy

In Section 3 we have Jesus’ clear illustration of mercy. When he was asked how to punish a woman who committed adultery, he replied, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (B10) Christ Jesus demonstrated how Love’s mercy could overcome the belief that we could ever be separate from good. “Sin is forgiven only as it is destroyed by Christ [our awareness of God],– Truth and Life.” (S15, [italicized brackets added])

Christ Jesus had such a perfect sense of our sinlessness. “Through repentance, spiritual baptism, and regeneration, mortals [those who think they are separate from God] put off their material [limited] beliefs and false individuality [guilt].” (S17, [italicized brackets added])

For more insights into the Biblical history of the story of the adulterous woman, see Warren’s P.S. #1.

SECTION 4: Jesus shows mercy by washing the disciples’ feet with flood-tides of Love

In Section 4 Jesus shows another example of mercy when he washed his disciples’ feet. Here the great Master served his students with such tenderness and humility, demonstrating his beautiful mercy. Jesus was strong and powerful and yet showed such tender mercy for his disciples. He expressed God’s power: “This strength is like the ocean, able to carry navies, yet yielding to the touch of a finger.” (Miscellany. 121:9)

With his great strength, Jesus showed absolute tender mercy with his disciples. He was symbolically washing them clean of their belief that they could be separated from Love.

The Christ-inspired purification that the disciples felt on that day is available to us each and every moment. Being “washed clean” each day is our baptism, which Mary Baker Eddy defines as “purification by Spirit; submergence in Spirit.” (S20) She explains, “Our baptism is a purification from all error… The design of Love is to reform the sinner [those that belief they are separate from Love].” (S21, [italicized brackets added])

We can feel daily baptism and purification from merciful “flood-tides of Love. Christian perfection is won on no other basis.” (S22) A few years ago I filmed a Daily Lift on “Floodtides of Love.” You can find this video at

Another way that we can baptize ourselves each day is by practicing the sixth tenet, “And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure.” (S25)

SECTION 5: Peter mercifully raises Tabitha from death [following Jesus, Luke 8:49, PS#2]

In Section 5 we read about Peter raising Tabitha (Dorcas) from death. For me, the significance of this story in the context of a lesson focused on mercy is that Tabitha was a woman who did all kinds of good deeds for everyone else. It was unjust and unfair that she was “punished” for being good.

There is a myth that those who do the most good are punished. But this is a lie. Here are some of the Divine laws that correct this stupid myth:

· “To those [like Tabitha] leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.” (S26)

· “God never punishes man [or women like Tabitha] for doing right, for honest labor, or for deeds of kindness, though they expose him to fatigue, cold, heat, contagion.” [S27, [italicized brackets added])

· “That man does not pay the severest penalty who does the most good…” [S28]

In short, we can all declare, “I am never safer than when I’m doing God’s work.”

SECTION 6: The Lord is full of compassion and plenteous in mercy

We are reminded in the sixth section that God is full of compassion, gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy. (B19) God forgives. God does not punish. There is not everlasting punishment.

And this section includes the third tenet: “We acknowledge God’s forgiveness of sin [our belief that we could be separate] in the destruction of sin [this false belief] and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal. But the belief in sin [separation] is punished so long as the belief lasts.” (S30, [italicized brackets added]) This tenet makes it so clear that the belief in separation can only affect us as long as we hold onto it, but that we cannot actually be separated from God. The belief in separation, as exemplified in the myth of Cain, is a LIE. There is no separation.

As we are learning the great lesson that we cannot be separated from good, we are not alone. Love is guiding us and helping us along the way. As Mary Baker Eddy states, “Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way.” (S31) And Love never runs out of energy or time to care for each of us. “Divine Love is infinite. Therefore all that really exists is in and of God, and manifests His love.” (S32)

[Warren’s P.S.#1, Cobbey Crisler on John 8.3-11, Jesus saves woman taken in adultery:“John 8:3 Suddenly here is “a woman taken in adultery.” One should at least ask the question, where is the husband who would usually make the charge, and where is the fellow she was with? How come only the woman is here?

The event takes place in the area of the temple. If the stones suddenly start flying, both Jesus and the woman were there. Who did they really care about eliminating?

John 8:5 They face him with a rabbinical question. do you say?…

John 8:6, While they’re all saying this, Jesus has disappeared from view, which would actually happen to those in the rear rows if they’ve encircled. You have to look around. Where did he go? He just disappeared. He’s writing on the ground. A record about as evanescent as the material in which he’s writing. Is that the permanent record of womanhood? It’s a dust record. A dust record that can be dominated by the first foot that walks over and decides to change it or trample it.

John 8:7, “They keep asking him,” because he’s doing nothing but writing on the ground. This is a brilliant way to control a mob. It was a method that was successful. He has kept the mob from being an unthinking gang. He’s kept them all as individuals because they’re thinking, “What’s he doing? What’s he doing?”

“So they continue asking.” He says “He that is ‘anamartetos’, that is, above error, who never erred or who cannot error sin among you, let him first throw a stone.” He hasn’t objected to Moses’ sentence. He hasn’t set himself apart. He simply returned the sentence to everyone’s individual conscience and let it be established in the mental courtrooms of those present. You can’t have a mob scene when conscience is at work individually. That’s what destroys a mob.

John 8:8, “Again he stoops down and writes on the ground,” giving them a chance for it to work. It’s an impersonal treatment of the situation for all concerned. No condemnation. No anything.

John 8:9, What happened? “They filtered out and they began at the eldest.” This is a significant start. The custom in the Sanhedrin… was that after a decision of any major import was made, the youngest left first. The honor was for the eldest to be the last one you saw.

Not in this case. The eldest were the first you saw leaving. This is not surprising when you think since they had been around longer, they likely had accumulated more sin. So, the eldest left first. “The woman is left standing in the midst.”

John 8:10, What is Jesus going to do? Is he for permissiveness? He said, “Woman” again, “womanhood”, “Where are your accusers? No man hath condemned you?”

John 8:11, “I’m not in that business either. But,” and you can imagine the authority that went behind this, “go, and sin no more.” Terminate that link to the flesh.”

Excerpted in part from a transcript of a talk by B. Cobbey Crisler entitled “Book of John: A Walk with the Beloved Disciple”. To buy your own copy, see W’s PS#3.]

[W’s P.S.#2, Cobbey’s insights on Acts 9:36-41 link to Luke 8:49: Peter raises Tabitha from the dead at Joppa like he saw Jesus raise Jairus’ daughter.
In a neighboring “town of Joppa” we find a woman named Tabitha. She had had an exemplary life, had done much good for many. (Acts 9:36 paraphrased) When she dies, Peter comes right away. (See below, paraphrased)
Acts 9:39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.

Do you recall back in the narratives of the gospel where a similar situation occurred, and Peter was there? It was the raising of Jairus’ daughter. (See below)

Acts 9:40. But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

Acts 9:41. And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.

Acts 9:42. And it was known throughout all Joppa;

Do you remember when Jesus came into that environment that the grief was so thick you could almost cut it into square blocks of moisture (from the tears)? [Luke 8:49… ] There were paid mourners at that point. As a matter of fact, we are told that even the poorest individual was entitled to at least three instruments at the funeral service. You can imagine Jairus, being a ruler of the Synagogue, the extent of noise, and activity, and mourning that must have occurred at the passing of Jairus’ daughter.”

[Excerpts from A Talk by B. Cobbey Crisler, “After the Master What? – The Book of Acts”.
To buy your own copy, see W’s PS#3.]

[W’s PS#3: You can buy your own transcripts of most of Cobbey’s 28 talks at a new website: Email your order or inquiry to, or directly to Janet Crisler, at ]

[Although the recent outpouring of Fiscal Year End gifts was wonderful and greatly appreciated, GIFTS are still VERY MUCH NEEDED and APPRECIATED to cover a year FULL of BIGGER than anticipated maintenance and operating expenses that was HUGE with blessings for campers and staff. Your generous support will enable CedarS to be sustainable in its efforts to bless over 1200 Sunday School students each summer. The blessings of making one's own the love of Christianity and its scientific application are not only immediate and heartfelt, but they also last forever–as can be seen in our summer FRUITAGE. Please check back on this webpage in coming weeks for a gushing stream of new stories of blessings felt across the country and around the world–thanks to God and to your ongoing generosity! CedarS, your friend in need, is "a friend indeed!"

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