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Answer the Big Questions by Understanding God as Cause

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Answer the Big Questions by Understanding God as Cause
Lesson Application Ideas for "God the Only Cause and Creator"
May 31-June 6, 2010
by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. of Glen Ellyn, Illinois

[Editor's Note: The following application ideas for this week, and the Possible Sunday School Topics that follow, are offered primarily to help CEDARS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study and application of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp! You can sign up to have them emailed to you free -- in English by Monday each week, or by each Wednesday you can get a FREE TRANSLATION in French thanks to Pascal, in Spanish thanks to Ana or in German thanks to Helga. YOU CAN SIGN UP at www.cedarscamps.org/newsletters]

 The Golden Text assumes that the Cause behind every good effect is God. What else could it be? The theologian Matthew Henry embellishes this text, "...thy sovereignty absolute and incontestable, thy majesty terrible and insupportable, thy power universal and irresistible, thy riches vast and inexhaustible, thy dominion boundless and unquestionable; and, for the proof of this, thou doest wondrous things, which all nations admire, and whence they might easily infer that thou art God alone, not only none like thee, but none besides thee." For the psalmist, God's greatness is incomparable and unquestionable.

 
The Responsive Reading makes the same point through a series of questions. Who that has beheld the awesome power of the seas could not suppose that there is an unseen force controlling them? If you've ever stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, you can't help but think that it's beauty and enormity hints at a power beyond human comprehension. The Bible maintains everything that exists has its foundation in God. The heavens and the earth belong to God. And everything is governed righteously. If God made it, it has to be good.
 
In his Notes on the Bible, Albert Barnes reasons, "Even omnipotent power could not maintain permanently a throne founded on injustice and wrong. Such an administration would sooner or later make its own destruction sure." Using divine logic, the psalmist reasons not from the effect of matter to an unknowable cause, but from an omnipotent God as Creator of all, to the orderly proceedings of the universe. God is the Cause of everything that grows in the earth and equally the power behind every advance in human society.
 
Section 1: How Did We Get Here?
 
The first section addresses one of the biggest questions of all time, "How did all of this come to be?" How we answer this question determines our view of how we think about and treat our fellow beings and our environment. The simple religious answer is God made it that way. But what exactly did He make? In the first book of Genesis the word translated as "create" is the Hebrew bara. This word is only used in conjunction with God. For it is God alone that has the power to create. "Whenever anything absolutely new - that is, not involved in anything previously extant - is called into existence, there is creation" (Barnes). This capacity is reserved only for God. He is the only Cause.
 
Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible[1]  deduces that the use of the word bara implies that God must have been the only creator because what He created came only from Himself independent of any pre-existing reality. He writes, "The supposition that God formed all things out of a pre-existing, eternal nature, is certainly absurd, for if there had been an eternal nature besides an eternal God, there must have been two self-existing, independent, and eternal beings, which is a most palpable contradiction."
 
In Christian Science, we reason from Cause to effect. We don't say, because creation (the effect) appears to be material the Cause must know about or include matter. On the contrary we reason that since God is good and spiritual, so must creation be. Here again, our understanding of creation begins with an omnipotent Creator. We're not alone when we insist that the Creator must be good. Here is Adam Clarke's attempt at defining God:
 
"A general definition of this great First Cause, as far as human words dare attempt one, may be thus given: The eternal, independent, and self-existent Being: the Being whose purposes and actions spring from himself, without foreign motive or influence: he who is absolute in dominion; the most pure, the most simple, and most spiritual of all essences; infinitely benevolent, beneficent, true, and holy: the cause of all being, the upholder of all things; infinitely happy, because infinitely perfect; and eternally self-sufficient, needing nothing that he has made: illimitable in his immensity, inconceivable in his mode of existence, and indescribable in his essence; known fully only to himself, because an infinite mind can be fully apprehended only by itself. In a word, a Being who, from his infinite wisdom, cannot err or be deceived; and who, from his infinite goodness, can do nothing but what is eternally just, right, and kind. Reader, such is the God of the Bible; but how widely different from the God of most human creeds and apprehensions!"
Note that he recognizes the incongruity between the God of the Bible and the God resulting of most human creeds.
Now most of those human creeds assume that God made everything including that which we call matter. But Mrs. Eddy specifies that God's creation consists of spiritual ideas, embraced forever in the Mind that created them (S1). God being infinite Spirit, created a universe like Himself-a "spiritual universe" (S4). Some might jump to the conclusion that this spiritual universe must exist in some parallel existence apart from what we perceive to be a material universe. But there is no indication in Mrs. Eddy's writings that God created two universes. He created only one universe and that universe is the spiritual one. This spiritual universe includes spiritual man. Adam Clarke concurs with this assessment: "God is the fountain whence this spirit issued, hence the stream must resemble the spring which produced it. God is holy, just, wise, good, and perfect; so must the soul be that sprang from him: there could be in it nothing impure, unjust, ignorant, evil, low, base, mean, or vile. It was created after the image of God; and that image, St. Paul tells us, consisted in righteousness, true holiness, and knowledge...."
 
Verse 31 tells us that everything God made was finished and it was pronounced, "good." To our Leader, there is no allowance for a mortal belief to simulate God's power and recreate what God had already done (S2). It is on this basis that Christian Science takes a different position than traditional theology. It is also on this basis of spiritual creation that we rise above all the "what if?" questions that presume a world beyond God's control. We can have confidence that our environment is not a fragile material ecosystem, but "the unfolding of spiritual ideas and their identities, which are embraced in the infinite Mind and forever reflected" (S1).
 
Section 2: Will There Be Enough For Me?
 
When facing a difficult situation, what's your first response? Do you complain? Do you get scared? Do you think, "Here we go again?" The psalmist turns first to God. It is significant that he asks to feel God's lovingkindness in the morning (B3). As soon as the morning beams are evident, he is ready for God's grace to take over.
 
Isaac was a prosperous man. This did not go unnoticed by the locals. In the story (B4) he runs into resistance every time he digs a well. In those days, digging a well signified ownership of the land and the well usually became the center of the settlement. The local community didn't like that Isaac was successful, and they didn't want him hanging around either. It was a case of jealousy and envy. As in modern times, the more someone has, the more he or she is envied. Clarke points out that this is the first recorded instance of ostracism; i.e., "the banishment of a person from the state, of whose power, influence, or riches, the people were jealous." The Philistines considered Isaac's gain to be their loss, and wanted him out of there.
 
Can you think of any battles over limited resources going on in the world today? Isaac didn't get all uppity about his "rights" did he? No. He calmly moved on, led by God. He wasn't doubtful that there wouldn't be enough for everyone. To fear that we won't get our fair share, is to forget that God is the only Cause and Source of all the good we could ever have or want. Once in a while, I've seen people battle over chicken wings at a dinner table. There was a time when I felt the same way. I wasn't sure where my next meal would come from, so I wanted to get all I could while I had the chance. Finally, I realized that if God is my Creator, He is supplying me with whatever I need. What a relief!
 
Science and Health promotes redemption from selfishness (S7). No matter what the commodity in question, we can always rest easy knowing God equally supplies everyone with what they need. We can never lose anything by taking this higher viewpoint (S8). Instead we find new sources for good and "a more expansive love, a higher and more permanent peace." Mrs. Eddy instructs us that as our views of God and man improve, we begin to see things we didn't know were possible. The key is realizing that Life is not in matter, it's in Spirit (S9). Then the material limitations dissolve. Confidence in God as our supplier allows us to be unafraid and to lovingly give rather than be obsessed with consuming. We realize that there's always enough for everyone.
 
Section 3: What Does It Take for My Prayers to Be Answered?
 
The story of Hannah's bitterness over not having a child (B9) gives voice to a question near to the hearts of many prospective mothers, "Why am I unable to conceive?" Mortal theories have created an entire industry around this question. Fertility clinics and therapists have approached the subject from a strictly material standpoint. Believing that man is conceived materially, they have concocted any number of methods to achieve parenthood. But none of these approaches are guaranteed and many have tried them in vain for either first, or even second children. Submerged in the belief that man creates man-even that God intended it that way-we are left with no answer.
 
Hannah turns whole-heartedly to God. She vows that her son would serve in the temple, not only for the usual term between the ages of twenty-five and fifty, but for his whole life. Her prayer was in the spirit of prophecy. She acknowledged God to be the rock- a fountain, source, or spring. God is the only source of our existence, and He knows us through and through (B11).
 
Mrs. Eddy understood that multiplication of God's children had nothing to do with matter. "Man is the reflection of Spirit" (S12). Man is "spiritually conceived and brought forth." She explains, "Darkness and doubt encompass thought, so long as it bases creation on materiality" (S13). Every idea of God already exists perfect, and complete.
 
What are we to think if we have taken this honest desire to God and still have no apparent results? I know of a couple who struggled with this question prayerfully for over a decade. They were told by many well-meaning practitioners to, "just put it in God's hands and be satisfied" with the child they had. They truly worked to see that God was the only author of man and that every idea already existed in Mind. Finally, they found a practitioner who rather than finding ways to cope with or be satisfied with the apparent lack of results, told them that they had every right to expect their prayers to come to fruition. Instead of feeling ashamed, selfish, and embarrassed for wanting another child, their desire was supported through the understanding that all things are indeed possible to God and nothing could impede the divine expression of infinite unfoldment. The effects were almost immediate, resulting in the birth of a healthy child.
 
The key here was the recognition that God didn't ordain matter with creative power, nor does He decide, based on the level of our devotion, whether or not to grant the request for a child; but that the only creative power is God and that no material condition could stand in God's way.
 
Section 4: How Could God Let This Happen?
 
Another question of the ages is, "Where does sickness come from?" I think it's not a coincidence that the case in need of healing in this section is that of a child (B12). The public generally accepts that adults are susceptible to sickness. But it's the children of sickness, famine, and war that move society to take action in their defense. When a child is involved, they question, "How can this be?" "What did this innocent child do to deserve this?" and perhaps "Why is God allowing this child to suffer?" The natural response in Christian Science is that God DOES NOT allow any children to suffer. Neither does he allow adults to suffer. God is not the author of sickness of any kind.
 
Our Leader states unequivocally, "God, good, can no more produce sickness than goodness can cause evil and health occasion disease" (S18). She then addresses the question as to the cause of sickness: "What is it but an error of belief,-a law of mortal mind, wrong in every sense..." (S19). In Christian Science the only causation is in Mind, and sickness is out of the question for both God and man (S20). She states, "Spiritual causation is the one question to be considered..." (S21). Holding to the facts that God never authorized sickness enables us to get a victory over disease.
 
Clarke's explanation of Paul's prayer of thanks (B13) gives a sense of the magnitude of this victory:
 
"Now, thanks be unto God - His coming dispelled all my fears, and was the cause of the highest satisfaction to my mind; and filled my heart with gratitude to God, who is the Author of all good, and who always causes us to triumph in Christ; not only gives us the victory, but such a victory as involves the total ruin of our enemies; and gives us cause of triumphing in him, through whom we have obtained this victory."
 
Section 5: Why Can't We Just Get Along?
 
Sometimes we wonder if it will ever be possible that the world will come together in peace. It seems that there are always at least two camps in some sort of disagreement. The church is not exempt from this challenge. Aside from denominational differences, inter-denominational factions have also come to the surface. It doesn't matter what the religion is, there always seem to be those who disagree with the current course of action. The early Christians had their challenges too, but when they got together, an amazing thing happened. On the day of Pentecost (B14), it was reported that every man regardless of his nationality and language, could understand what the disciples were saying. The by-standers were particularly impressed because the disciples, as Galileans, were thought to be limited in their education.

This event was the result of their unity of thought. Once again, Adam Clarke elaborates: "it signifies that all their minds, affections, desires, and wishes, were concentrated in one object, every man having the same end in view; and, having but one desire, they had but one prayer to God, and every heart uttered it. There was no person uninterested-none unconcerned-none lukewarm; all were in earnest; and the Spirit of God came down to meet their united faith and prayer. When any assembly of God's people meet in the same spirit they may expect every blessing they need."

Can we honestly say that we fit into Clarke's description? The Discoverer of Christian Science understood that the same power that brought the Christian era into being millennia ago is still working today (S23). If we can remember that God is the Father of all, we would be more likely to realize the brotherhood of man (S24). In our practice, we often wonder why healing seems difficult in these modern times. Our Leader clearly felt that healing would be a tangible result of Christian unity (S25,26).
 
Section 6: Who's In Charge Here?

On the larger scale, world unity seems pretty far off. In fact, some people think world unity would be a problem because it would detract from ethnicity. Pride over one's heritage is a two-edged sword. One may be filled with reverence for his ancestors, but that heritage may be embedded with long-standing feuds. In modern times, religion is playing a big part in both our differences and our similarities. I am sometimes asked if a Muslim or a Jew is going to go to heaven. Some people are pretty sure that only Christians who have stated their acceptance of Jesus are the only ones that have a chance. The Bible tells us that all nations shall come to understand God (B16). God's righteousness includes all creation irrespective of nationality, race, gender, or religious affiliation. In Psalms we're called upon to bow down before the Lord our Maker (B18). Barnes notes that bowing down indicates some effort and shows more respect than sitting.
Whether we bow physically, or more importantly, mentally, in reverence to God, we need to acknowledge that the world is indeed under His jurisdiction alone (S28). Joining in this recognition of divine authority, we can let go of all questions regarding who is entitled to what piece of the earth, and who is responsible for maintaining it. Mary Baker Eddy saw God reflected everywhere (S27) and she knew that God would continue to maintain and care for His creation. If we accept that God is the only power-the only Cause-all our concerns, questions, and worries would vanish. We would join with all the world rejoicing in the divine "powers that be" (S30).

[This weekly Metaphysical Newsletter is provided at no charge to the 1,200 campers and staff who were blessed last summer at CEDARS--as well as to thousands of CEDARS alumni, families and friends who request it, or who find it weekly on our website or through CS Directory.  But, current and planned gifts are much-needed to cover the costs of running this "free" service and of providing camperships for ongoing inspirational opportunities.  Your support is always tax-deductible and welcomed--but during the economic downturn, your help has been and continues to be especially needed and appreciated!
 
Our top need
 is to put our efforts and money where our mission is--by raising--and spending--significant dollars to underwrite camperships for the hundreds of campers now applying for aid.
 
CedarS 1st Session, June 13-26 still has a few bunks left, as do several later sessions and programs. Please help us tell any and all Christian Science Sunday School students who you know that there will be plenty of funds available to help them to have their own CedarS Camps spiritual-growth-experience this summer!  

And then, make a charitable donation to our 501C-3 tax-exempt, charitable organization:
1)  Thank you for writing us a check payable to CedarS Camps and mailing it to: CedarS Office, 1314 Parkview Valley, Manchester, MO 63011;
or
2)  Thank you for calling Warren or Gay Huff at (636) 394-6162 to charge your gift using a Visa or Mastercard or to discuss short-term or long-term gift of securities or property that you are considering;
or
3) CLICK HERE RIGHT AWAY TO SUPPORT CEDARS WORK with an online gift using PayPal.com, which can be funded using a Visa or Mastercard account.]

[Camp Director's Note: This sharing is the latest in an ongoing, 10-year series of CedarS Bible Lesson "Mets" (Metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians. (To keep the flow of the practitioner's ideas intact and to allow for more selective printing "Possible Sunday School Topics" come in a subsequent email.) These weekly offerings are intended to encourage further study and application of ideas in the lesson and to invigorate Sunday School participation by students and by the budding teachers on our staff. Originally sent JUST to my Sunday School students and 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, application 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. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension and background as well as new angles (and angels) on the daily applicability of some of the ideas and passages being studied. The weekly Bible Lessons are copyrighted by the Christian Science Publishing Society and are printed in the Christian Science Quarterly as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms or online at eBibleLesson.com or myBibleLesson.com. The citations referenced (i.e. B-1 and S-28) from this week's Bible Lesson in the "Met" (Metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the Bible (B-1 thru B-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (S-1 thru S-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 the ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.]
Enjoy! 
Warren Huff, Executive Director   director@cedarscamps.org    (636) 394-616

 

[PSST - "Dig" for your own, not borrowed, inspiration! There's plenty for all! B-4]

Possible Sunday School Topics for June 6, 2010, Christian Science Bible Lesson: "God the Only Cause and Creator" by Merrill Boudreaux, St. Louis, MO [& Warren Huff]
 
P.S.S.T. - Golden Text - How many Gods are there? How many causes are there? How many creators are there? Read aloud Hymn 45. [and Hymn 444]
 
P.S.S.T. - Responsive Reading - Make a list of the reasons for rejoicing found in the Responsive Reading. What does it look like when one feels blessed of the Lord, when one knows the joyful sound? Ask students to recall any Bible characters who praised God by leaping up, shouting, or running for the first time.
          See:  Isa. 35:6 lame man leap as an hart           
Acts 3:8 Leaping and praising God
 
P.S.S.T. - Section 1 - Read aloud citation B-1. What was/is the creator? What is man's role in verse 28? What does the word "subdue" mean? Is there any latitude for "caring" for that which has been created as opposed to dominating? Think about the role of God as cause and creator - would God care about and take care of that which He created? Therefore, does man in God's image and likeness have a similar responsibility? [May we all use our precious D.I.A.L identity as the divine image and likeness of God. B-1, Gen. 1:26] What does it mean to be a good steward, or a good shepherd? Share examples from the students about how they are playing their role as a good steward. [You--like all good shepherds and stewards--fulfill your "reason for existing" by imparting "truth, health, and happiness". My. 165:20]
 
P.S.S.T. - Section 2 - Are prayers answered? Is the answer always what one has outlined it to be? How was the strife or fighting settled in citation B-4? What was the covenant made in B-4, verses 28 and 29? See Hymn 444 as a further statement of who is in charge and ends all strife. Why is this so? See citation S-10. What does impartial mean? Enough for everyone.  [The Christian Science inspiration (or "wells") dug by our parents or by others must be "dug again" by each of us to make them our own. We encourage CedarS campers and staff to make wells of sustaining inspiration their own like Isaac did in Gen. 26:18 (between citations in B-4).]
 
P.S.S.T. - Section 3 - What is the comfort God provided to Hannah in B-9? What was the promise Hannah made to God? Did she fulfill her promise? How? What role did Samuel play in stabilizing Israel? (See I Sam. 16: changing of the guard - king from Saul to David.) [Referring to 1 Sam. 1:13, Bible scholar Cobbey Crisler pointed out that it was "woman, Hannah, who introduced and discovered the concept of silent prayer in religion-from the heart, not audibly to be seen and heard of men. And Hannah, not Samuel, introduced the age of prophesy. If not for Hannah prayers of we would not have Samuel to say "Speak God, for thy servant heareth" instead of "Hear God, for thy servant speaketh." (1 Sam. 3:9-10) Find Hannah's line in B-10 in Isa. 45:5 & Hymn 444]
 
P.S.S.T. - Section 4 - What signs and wonders did Jesus perform in this section? How did he do that? See S-17. What was the cause he found and applied? A spiritual cause. See also S-21. What is the result of understanding spiritual causation? Think about all the human progress made since 1875 when Science and Health was written. Has mankind run the course of human progress? If a nobleman, a king, president, or governor came to you today and said my child, gulf, swamp, oil-laden estuary is dead, what would you do? Write out a Christian Science treatment for the threat of a dying area of land resulting from the belief in an oil-spill as a cause. Remember human progress is linked to spiritual causation. [Healing ideas are in Chet Manchester's "Daily Lift" for June 2nd called "Creative solutions to oil spills".]
 
P.S.S.T. - Section 5 - Are you an apostle, a witness for God? If the strife was healed in Section 2, and comfort provided in Section 3, and the nobleman's child was healed in Section 4, what is the spiritual statement in S-24 that links all of those experiences? "With one father..." Again how many causes and creators are there? See Hymn 135. What was the result when the apostles were "...all with one accord in one place."? See B-14, verse 47.
 
P.S.S.T. - Section 6 - Have students list reasons to praise God. Remind them that always, but especially in times of trouble, it is important to have an Attitude of Gratitude. If we start with God and end with God, we learn there is none/nothing, else. See citation S-27. Ask students to add their own statements to the results listed there. Ask students to memorize the last passage in S-30. All other "subjects" must bow to the "divine ‘powers that be'".
 
 

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