Biography — True and False

         The German proverb, "To understand a man rightly, one must read his whole story," gives a semblance of reason to the growing tendency to record the facts of human history in the form of biography. Where, formerly, biography was written only of the most prominent and, usually, of the noblest men and women, now the lives of many of lesser note are thus recorded. Now, biography has a place, an important place, in literature, and the outstanding characteristics and accomplishments of those who have attained distinction in the various walks of life may be perused with profit. As exemplars of true idealism, of selflessness, of courage and high emprise, the lives of illustrious men and women may teach many valuable lessons, for throughout the ages the spiritually illumined have been God's true witnesses; and their deeds in behalf of mankind are proofs of the presence and operation of divine Mind in the affairs of men. Biography which adequately portrays such lives furnishes inspiration and purpose to its readers. It is worthy and commendable.

         Christian Scientists, however, learn that since man is spiritual, God's veritable likeness, true biography pertains only to the perfect man. And it is to learn more of the real man that they direct their inspired efforts. To learn the truth about God the Father, and His son, man in His own image, is the persistent desire of all. This does not mean, however, that biography as the story of ennobled human lives has not its place in the education of Christian Scientists, but, rather, points to the necessity of understanding its right place and its rightful mission. Such literature, to fulfill the highest purpose, must deal with the positive side of human character, that is, with the good expressed in word and deed.

         Since all mankind is subject in some degree to the restrictions of what is commonly termed human nature, the record of the purely human traits which tend toward the lower rather than the higher propensities, offers little of value. Certain phases of existence which are, in some degree, common to all mankind are to be overcome by all; and the best biographer finds no necessity to deal with them. Rather does he turn to the nobler side of his subject, setting forth the highest and best, that which has lifted a mortal above the light of common day into the glory of the divine and eternal. Such biography is uplifting, inspiring, exalting to all who read it. Moreover, from the best biographies, the skilled and discerning analyst may construct the character of the person whose life-story is the subject of such portrayal.

         All Christendom yearns for more intimate details regarding the life of the Founder of Christianity. Every possible source of information has been searched and researched for fuller light upon the life of the most marvelous of men. Yet from his biography as recorded in the four Gospels the inspired student may learn the essentials of his character — his gentleness, humility, love for humanity, patience, meekness, and might. All that is necessary to the understanding of the spiritual nature and purport of his mission has been disclosed. Moreover, so transparent was his mentality to the divine light that those to whom his true selfhood is revealed behold the Father. On one occasion, when gently rebuking Philip for his lack of spiritual discernment, did he not say, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?" Jesus' demonstration of the Christ made God manifest to men. Knowledge of the letter and a grasp of the spirit of the biography of earth's most interesting character, as contained in the four Gospels, enables us, likewise, in some degree to see the Father, to learn of God, to know and understand Him. This is the highest, the noblest, purpose of true biography. It reveals God as manifested in human lives through the Christ.

         The true biographer of Mrs. Eddy is that one who finds in her life, as portrayed in her writings and works, evidence of the divine source of her revelation, and records it; who sees God made manifest in her lofty idealism, in her splendid courage coupled with true humility, in her exalted wisdom, in her rare consecration and devotion to her vision. No one can adequately set forth her true character who does not, as do the biographers of the Nazarene, glimpse the holy purpose which inspired her; who do not through her transparent life catch more than a glimpse of the Father. Rising far above the level of her mere human experience, the true recorder of her life must recognize both the divine source of her revelation, and her sacred purpose in making its substance available to all.

         Only from such an exalted viewpoint may the record be made. How fully she realized this transcendent fact is told in a passage in "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 120): "We look for the sainted Revelator in his writings, and there we find him," she states. "Those who look for me in person, or elsewhere than in my writings, lose me instead of find me." In this one sentence our beloved Leader points the pen of every true biographer to her words and works as the revelator of her true character, the key to her life and its noble purpose. The portrait thus drawn will be true biography, sincere in its portrayal, lofty in its idealism, holy in its purpose.


"Biography True and False" by Albert F. Gilmore, CSB
Christian Science Sentinel, December 7, 1927

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