This article was published in May 2001 in the Christian Science Journal. It was written by Jeanne Steeley Laitner.
In bible times, the names of individuals were more an identification—names indicated character and nature. Sometimes an individual’s name was changed when he went through a transforming experience. Jacob, for example, became Israel after his experience at Peniel.1 And Saul began to use the name Paul after his conversion to Christianity on the road to Damascus.2
It was natural, then, to place great emphasis on God’s name as denoting His nature. God revealed Himself to Moses as “I AM” when He told Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. Later, the growing perception of God’s nature was expressed in names such as “the Holy One of Israel,” “Shepherd,” “Father,” “Love.” Of course, an expanding understanding of God’s nature expands our perception of our own identity as His likeness.
Other Bible-based terms for God are Mind, Spirit, Soul, Life, and Truth. In Christian Science the term Principle is also a name for God. God is Principle because He is the Lawgiver, as the Bible teaches. He is the divine source of order and harmony. And His nature is scientifically provable. Science and Health says: “Our Master healed the sick, practised Christian healing, and taught the generalities of its divine Principle to his students; but he left no definite rule for demonstrating this Principle of healing and preventing disease. This rule remained to be discovered in Christian Science.”3
The names for God become even more meaningful when we think of them as synonymous with Principle. For instance, because divine Mind is Principle, we can prove the nature of Mind in practical ways. We can prove, for example, that Mind is the source of infinite, unlimited intelligence. This is our intelligence because we are actually Mind’s expression, regardless of our age, educational background, or other circumstances. Therefore, we can expect to prove Mind’s wisdom, perfect memory, guidance, inspiration.
Another aspect of Mind’s nature is its healing power—Mind’s medicine. Turning from matter to what divine Mind knows of our real self is taking a dose of genuinely curative medicine! Science and Health asks, “Which was first, Mind or medicine?” And it answers: “If Mind was first and self-existent, then Mind, not matter, must have been the first medicine. God being All-in-all, He made medicine; but that medicine was Mind.”4
The names for God illuminate his nature.
When I’ve had symptoms of a cold, I have taken a strong dose of Mind’s medicine by vehemently declaring my oneness with God, with His goodness and power. I’ve insisted on the impossibility of being at the mercy of contagion, bad weather, or any other negative factor. Such declarations are powerful medicine. I’ve seen them bring healing quickly and totally many times.
As we explore more deeply the other names for God, which illuminate His nature, we discover more of His power. And we learn more about our real identity as His image. Discovering God’s nature reveals our As the Bible’s book of Revelation says, “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”5