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Think Universally and Act Locally!

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Monday, June 13th, 2016

[Think Universally and Act Individually! Look to God and See the Light.]
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson:

"Is the Universe, Including Man, Evolved by Atomic Force?"
June 13—19, 2016

By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Bartlett)
craig.ghislincs@icloud.com / (630) 830-8683

For 2500 years humans have been theorizing about the origins of the universe, and trying to understand what matter is made of. Since Leucippus and Democritus proposed the concept of the atom, each successive theory has had firm believers and detractors, and the latest theories do as well. Generally speaking, the adherents of Abrahamic religions have presumed that a Being or Force called God was the creative impetus behind all that exists; and that even though there may be laws of physics that govern our universe, God is the Being who set it all in motion. When Mary Baker Eddy discovered Christian Science, she posited a different view. To her, God is indeed the Creator of all that exists—however, God did not create matter, and in fact, God being Spirit, knows nothing about matter. That being the case, matter was never really made. Matter isn’t a condition of being, but a misstatement of the spiritual reality God did create.

The subject of this week’s Lesson addresses these issues head-on. Though the world believes that mankind is at the mercy of material laws, the Bible makes no apologies in its declaration that God has created all reality and continues to govern it harmoniously. The Golden Text declares that while mankind can only guess at the number of stars in the far reaches of the universe, God knows every star by name. God also knows the name, or nature, of every one of His ideas. [CedarS staff is often reminded that by solely reflecting that one Mind, we each can find it natural to remember the names and natures of each camper and of all we cherish.]

Responsive Reading

Based on the premise that God created all things, it’s only natural that in order to understand our world and the universe, we should begin by looking to God. That’s the beginning of all prayer really—looking to God. That’s what Jabez does [in this Responsive Reading (I Chron. 4:10)]. Throughout this Lesson we see examples of the inadequacy of human knowledge. Isaiah represents God as saying, “Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.” While many translations frame these words as a question, The King James Version renders it a command. Theologian Albert Barnes (1798-1870) feels this is to show the Israelites that instead of complaining about God’s designs, and respecting His dealings, they should inquire of God, and allow Him to instruct them as to His purpose. He writes, it’s “a duty to make inquiry respecting future events from God.” He paraphrases Isaiah: “I alone can direct and order future events; and it is your duty and privilege to make inquiry respecting those events.” It seems natural to examine things from the standpoint of human observation. Physicists and natural scientists have routinely looked into matter to determine origins, and predict the future of our universe. But the prophet urges everyone in all situations to look to God for the answers.

Material observation is often deceiving. In the cold of winter the vegetation looks dead, but in the spring it all comes back to life. The human picture often looks bleak, but God causes our view of the picture to change. No matter how barren it looks, there is no human scene that is beyond God’s transforming, creative, renewing power.

Section 1: Which Came First?

The Scriptures specifically declare that nothing existed before God created it. Adam Clarke (c. 1760-1832), a theologian and student of many ancient languages points out that the Hebrew word for “create”—bara—specifically means, “the creation of a thing, or the egression from nonentity to entity.” He also says the precise wording of the Hebrew in Genesis 1:1 utilizes a seemingly insignificant particle “eth” to infer deeper meaning. Clarke quotes eleventh century Jewish scholar Aben Ezra who says the two letters that make up the Hebrew word are the first and last of the Hebrew alphabet and “signify the substance of a thing.” Therefore Clarke felt a better translation would be, “‘God, in the beginning created the substance of the heavens and the substance of the earth,’ i.e. the prima materia, or first elements, out of which the heavens and the earth were successively formed.”

In Genesis, the first act of creation was the light (B1). “Light,” writes Clarke, “is the medium by which all …other works are discovered, examined, and understood, so far as they can be known.”

The New Testament also refers to creation. “In the beginning was the Word…” (B2). This “Word,” or Logos, is the true light, the fount of all wisdom that gives being, life, knowledge and reason to all. This sense of light is far more than a mere spark of existence—it is that which opens thought to the reality of God’s creation. Just as light reveals whatever it shines on, the light of the Word illuminates the spiritual reality of being.

As mentioned above, Mary Baker Eddy has an entirely different take on creation than traditional theology. She understood that God never made the material universe, and she took every opportunity to explain why. She felt that in order to understand what the Bible meant, we need to understand it from a spiritual standpoint (S3).

In her exegesis of the first chapter of Genesis, she addresses the seeming anomaly of light being created before the creation of the sun (S1). There were other theologians attempting to explain this as well. For instance Adam Clarke felt that the creation of light before the sun meant the caloric “heat… without which no animal nor plant could exist.” Mrs. Eddy viewed the creation of light more from the standpoint of the New Testament, as “the revelation of Truth and of spiritual ideas.” This interpretation coincides with Clarke’s estimation that light is the medium by which all else is known. She explains the order of creation as light, reflection, and immortal forms, respectively (S2).

For Mrs. Eddy creation was purely spiritual, and God could never create anything opposite, or unlike Himself. More than a theory, understanding the spiritual view of creation brings deliverance from the ills of the flesh.

Section 2: Pre-existence and Co-existence

The psalmist states that rather than creation being a process going on over time, creation came about with God’s single word—“for he spake and it was done” (B3). God’s work is finished and permanent. Human theories have no standing in His presence. Albert Barnes writes, “He renders them vain, unsuccessful, and ineffectual.” Yet, insisting on utilizing whatever observations and calculations it can find, human reasoning continually compiles its own theories of how the universe came into being. Interestingly, Adam Clarke, still following the traditional theological notion that God created matter, says the phrase “highest part of the dust of the world” (B4) means “the first particle of matter” or, “the primitive atom.” He understood the phrase to signify that wisdom existed “before time was” and dwelt as, “a principle which might be communicated in its influences to intellectual beings when formed.” The book of Proverbs attributes all action of gravity, motion, and cosmological activity to God’s direction.

The author of Proverbs speaks of wisdom as an entity, an intelligent principle that pre-existed with God, not as an individual, but as an idea. This is true of all creation. Man has always pre-existed with God as idea, independent from the human scene. Coexistence of man and God is another key element of understanding creation in Christian Science (S4). “Mind [God] creates His own likeness in ideas…” (S5). Material sense reduces these ideas to material beliefs, and tries to confine God within His creation. The theory of a material universe is incompatible with the understanding that man is an idea in Mind (S6). Evolution describes progression of human belief, but Mind’s ideas are already complete and whole (S7, S8).

Borrowing from Webster, Mrs. Eddy defines “Idea” as “An image in Mind; the immediate object of understanding” (S9). God creates ideas not things. As I’ve mentioned before, in previous discussions on the Lesson, if God is the only Mind, and man is Mind’s idea, man exists in God, not in matter. That means we’re spiritual now and always. We aren’t the product of billions of years of material evolution. We’re the offspring of divine Mind (S10).

Section 3: What Are You Looking At?

Throughout each day, our thoughts are focused on various things; and mental strains of music or conversations are constantly going on in consciousness. Sometimes we’re just drifting, and other times we’re trying to solve problems, or working toward healing. Where are your thoughts generally focused? Where do you look for answers?

The prophet encourages us to “lift up [our] eyes on high” (B5). Everything that exists has its origin in God, and God continues to govern all of it. The ancients often used cosmological order to symbolize God’s governing power. Pointing out how small man is compared to the vastness of the universe also exemplifies the vast difference between God’s omniscience and man’s comparative ignorance. Jesus knew the inadequacies of mortal belief well. He always kept his gaze fixed on the realities of spiritual creation (B6). His spiritual view permeated both his teaching and his healing. Jesus wasn’t a mystic, sitting up on a hill somewhere with his eyes closed. He was right with the people, and he taught that the spiritual view—the recognition of God’s kingdom—was available to us right here.

All of the commentators I’ve read agree that the healing of the blind man at Jericho symbolizes one’s willingness to immediately exchange the garments of fleshly belief for the opportunity to gain true spiritual vision (B7). In Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Whole Bible published in 1832, he relates an anecdote from the American colonies sent from English itinerant preachers in the late 1700s:

“Many, both whites and blacks, were brought into acquaintance with God… Two of these, a white man and a negro, meeting together, began to speak concerning the goodness of God to their souls, (a custom which has ever been common among truly religious people)… Among other things they were led to inquire how long each had known the salvation of God; and how long it was, after they were convinced of their sin and danger, before each got a satisfactory evidence of pardoning mercy. The white man said, ‘I was three months in deep distress of soul, before God spoke peace to my troubled guilty conscience.’ ‘But it was only a fortnight,’ replied the negro, ‘from the time I first heard of Jesus… till I received the knowledge of salvation….’ ‘But what was the reason,’ said the white man, ‘that you found salvation sooner than I did?’ ‘This is the reason,’ replied the other; ‘you white men have much clothing upon you, and when Christ calls, you cannot run to him; but we poor negroes have only this (pointing to the mat or cloth which was tied round his waist), and when we hear the call, we throw it off instantly, and run to him.”

How willing are we to throw off our material beliefs and run to follow Christ?

Jesus pointed out the difference between his view and his followers’. He said they look on the newly planted fields and, in accordance with human timetables, see the harvest four months away. Jesus sees that the harvest is now (B8).

Jesus was no mystic, and he was more than a preacher. He taught us to take action (S11). Coming from Spirit, we are spiritual, and immediately able to prove our spiritual status through healing (S12). Can looking into matter for answers help us realize our spiritual natures? Our textbook tells us we “must look beyond fading finite forms,” to “gain the true sense of things” (S13). The only place to look is to “the unsearchable realm of Mind.” Then we’ll start to see things we’ve never dreamed of. We can’t find, or see reality when we’re “diving into the shallows of mortal belief” (S14). We have to follow the prophets’ and Jesus’ examples, and look at things from a higher, spiritual standpoint. Then we’ll see what’s really going on, and find healing.

Section 4: Material Laws Overruled

Mrs. Eddy writes on page 86 of our textbook, “Mortal mind sees what it believes as certainly as it believes what it sees. It feels, hears, and sees its own thoughts.” Human sense is always looking at things from a limited point of view, and accepting it at face value. Christian Science teaches us not to do that. In the early days of the biblical record, there were as wide a variety of beliefs about gods as there are material laws of physics today. But the God of Israel was unique. He wasn’t subject to change or whims. He was eternal—He who was, is, and will be, “unchangeably, holy, wise, just and merciful” (Clarke). This God is ever with us holding, guiding, and sustaining us in every circumstance (B9).

The story of Jesus walking on the sea to his disciples, in the midst of a storm (B10) is both a case in point of the power of Truth to overrule material laws, as well as a parable for the power of Love to bring healing to a distressing situation.

Struggling with sin or disease can often seem like being in a tiny boat tossed about in the midst of a stormy sea as the waters crash over the gunwales. It can seem like we’re at the mercy of the waves with no control over our course. But the Christ comes to us, walking over the waves, to quell our fears. As we receive that loving presence into our consciousness the seas are calmed, and we find ourselves suddenly at our destination.

We understand the power of the healing Christ through the teachings of Christian Science. “Science reveals the glorious possibilities of immortal man, forever unlimited by the material senses” (S15). Jesus broke every material law he confronted, whether laws of physics, economics, health, or even death (S16).

In our practice of overcoming material laws, our Leader tells us to begin by “allaying the fear” (S17). That’s what the Christ is doing in the story of the stormy sea. Jesus isn’t frantically thrashing about through the waves in a laborious effort to save them. He’s calmly walking over the waves, and showing the disciples there is nothing to be concerned about. He reasons only from the standpoint of the omnipotence of Mind (S18). As noted in the previous section, we can’t understand the reality of things if we’re reasoning from human illusions. [See P.S. a Cobbey Crisler insight on this.]

Whether in the scale of galaxies, or of miniscule particles, all properties are governed by Mind, and belong to God (S19). The laws of Spirit govern everything. For those of you who may be interested, Dr. Lawrence Doyle gives a fascinating talk which includes a discussion of the uncertainty of the objective material world. One idea he shares pertains to the ship being “immediately at the land.” He says, “Tiny particles do not move from A to B; they instead disappear from A and reappear at B.” (See talk given at Arden Wood: Scientific Healing, by Dr. Lawrence Doyle, November 2015). We can’t say for sure that Jesus was utilizing quantum physics, or that quantum physics is the same as Christian Science, but Jesus certainly overcame time and space. The point is, what the eye sees is not necessarily the reality of the situation, and material laws can be overruled.

Section 5: The Infinite Can’t Be Imprisoned

As noted in First Kings, even in early times, it was inconceivable that the perfect, all-knowing, omnipotent Mind could be confined in matter, or governed by material laws (B11). A lie about God is a lie about man, and a lie about man is also a lie about God. To say that man inhabits a material form, as a prisoner in matter, is basically the same lie that says God can be confined in matter. Fortunately, a truth about God is also a truth about man. The fact that God cannot be confined in matter means that we can’t be either.

When Paul wrote to the Galatians encouraging them to stand fast in Christ’s liberty (B13), he spoke from experience. Though Paul literally felt the backlash of the Pharisaical antipathy toward Christianity, he encouraged young churches to boldly proclaim their freedom from proscriptive rabbinical tradition. He not only faced resistance from theological quarters, but also from others as well.

Barnes, and others, believe the young woman who was a soothsayer (B14), was an imitator of the priestess of Apollo who became violently agitated as she responded to inquirers and became known as the Oracle at Delphi. According to Barnes, fortune-telling was practiced extensively, and was a source of much gain. Where money is involved emotions run high. After Paul healed the woman, her masters were livid over the loss of their source of income. They captured Paul and Silas and turned them in to the magistrates who beat them, and sent them to prison. While there, they didn’t give up hope. They were no doubt in considerable discomfort, being held in stocks after a severe lashing. But they prayed, and sang praises to God. Do you think you would be singing praises to God in that condition? At midnight a great earthquake shook not only the walls, but, the very foundations of the prison. Everyone was freed.

Regardless of what fetters bind us, the power of God brings deliverance (S20). Our Leader writes, “No power can withstand divine Love.” Mortal belief does whatever it can to silence the voice of Truth, and stop its healing mission. But nothing can contain, or curtail the healing power of Truth (S22). Truth opens the doors of captivity because matter simply has no power to contain Truth, or its expression. Matter is not a state of being. It’s the subjective state of mortal mind (S23).

The lesser cannot rule the greater. Material sense can’t teach us anything, and it must yield as we let go of material beliefs, and turn to the spiritual reality (S24, S25). In the talk mentioned earlier, Dr. Doyle shares the saying, “You can’t get there from here.” Well you certainly can’t get to Spirit from matter. There is no matter in the first place. “Man is tributary to God, Spirit, and to nothing else” (S26).

Section 6: God Is All—Transcendent over Everything.

The psalmist calls upon every phase of creation to sing praises to the Lord (B15). In Revelation the Christ idea is represented as being Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (B16). As in Section 1, that little word “eth” containing the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet signifies “the substance” of a thing—so here, the term “Alpha and Omega,” the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, signifies the great first and only Cause—where we start, and where we end up.

In Christian Science there is nothing but God and His idea (S27). That’s all there is. In Christian Science, creation doesn’t evolve through accumulation, building one thing from another. Creation unfolds, revealing the infinitude of spiritual reality (S28). The primary particle isn’t material. It’s spiritual. Our Leader predicts that with the changes of mortal belief, limitations once thought insurmountable would be broken. Today, the astronomer looks out from the stars exactly as she foresaw (S29). This is just one of the many limitations of mortal belief that have dissolved in the light of Truth (S30). In the beginning God said, “Let there be light.” This light is still shining, illuminating the darkness of mortal belief, and opening the prison doors of those shackled to material sense.

I love the line from the last citation. “Divine Science, the Word of God, saith to the darkness upon the face of error, ‘God is All-in-all,’ and the light of ever-present Love illumines the universe.” Every time we speak the truth to error, we are letting Truth light the way to freedom from every material limitation. So let’s look away from matter, and lift up our eyes on high to see the reality of God’s creation.


[Warren’s P.S. from Cobbey Crisler on citation B10 (John 6) on the real speed of being there.
John 6:18. “The winds that come suddenly sweeping down from the east and the desert, or from the west and the Mediterranean, often stir the sea up without warning. They [the disciples] are having trouble negotiating their little boat. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.
John 6:19, “Jesus is having no trouble approaching them on the sea.” This shows that he wasn’t really walking on the surface of the sea at all. As my father once pointed out, if the sea were churned up, walking would be more laborious than being in the boat. Jesus, however, had a method that was revolutionary and less laborious. He must be walking above the sea, not in the peaks and valleys. And if were, then it’s walking on air. But what’s the difference? They’re both rather difficult to do from the human view of it. This sounds mighty logical to me.

John 6:20. When he gets near he says, “It is I; be not afraid.”
John 6:21, “They willingly receive him into the ship.”

They learn a lesson in transportation. Space and time, as obstacles, can be overcome. “Immediately the ship, the disciples, everybody is beached. They’re right there at the destination. It’s a wooden boat. No one says it ended up in fragments. No one was holding their heads and complaining that they hit their head against a sonic boom of something.”
The Book of John, A Walk with the Beloved Disciple, p. 42]

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