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God is Knowable!

Christie Hanzlik, C.S., Boulder, CO
Posted Monday, June 29th, 2020

God is Knowable!
Metaphysical application ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on

“God”
for the week ending July 5, 2020

by Christie C. Hanzlik, CS, of Boulder, Colorado
ccern@mac.com • 720.331.9356 • christiecs.com

* CLICK HERE FOR AN AUDIO VERSION OF THE MET

* CLICK HERE FOR A BONUS AUDIO INTERVIEW ABOUT GOD, WITH A CEDARS COUNSELOR FROM 2013

INTRODUCTION: The word “God”

The word “God” has so many definitions and has been used in so many different ways, that I usually find it most meaningful to use one of the synonyms for God that Mary Baker Eddy provides, and which occur in the Bible—divine Love, Truth, Spirit, Life, Mind, Soul, or Principle (also known as Law in the Bible). For example, if I am talking about the qualities of intelligence we get from God, I may use the synonym “divine Mind”; if I’m talking about the honesty that comes from God, I may use the synonym “divine Truth”; and if I am talking about the order and harmony of the universe, I may use the term “divine Principle.” In fact, for a long time I avoided using the word “God” to such a degree that I referred to the word as, “the G-word.”

But a few nights ago, I was talking with a counselor here at CedarS and I used the word God several times. She explained that, like me, she felt uncomfortable using the word God because the word makes her imagine an anthropomorphic man-like person walking around, even though she knows intellectually that God is not anthropomorphic.

And then I had a flash of inspiration.

The reason I was using the word God instead of a synonym while she and I were talking is that the word God is the only way I know of to describe the infinite and eternal power that includes all 7 of the synonyms at once. In other words, I can use the word Love as a synonym for “God” but if I want to talk about all 7 synonyms simultaneously, God is a very helpful word indeed. At once, I felt a deeper appreciation for the word “God,” and began to love the word again.

This Met contains ideas that I found useful as I studied the lesson, and while I hope that it is helpful, it is only one view and there are many more inspirations and approaches to it. Feel free to share your insights with me if you’d like!

GOLDEN TEXT & RESPONSIVE READING

The Golden Text further supports the new inspiration and appreciation for the word “God” that I discovered last week. “Who compares with God? Is anything like him?” (Isaiah 40:18) For me, this means that God is singular…there is no other being, power, substance, or entity that encompasses the breadth, depth, and extent of God.

For me, the Responsive Reading makes the point that God is not mysterious. God is knowable. Unlike the “Men of Athens,” who worshiped the “unknown god,” the Science of the Christ is the study, practice, and demonstration of how we can know and understand God and the way God works in our lives.

SECTION 1: There is no beginning.

The first section of the Bible Lesson sets tone for the remainder of the lesson by reminding us that God is that which has no beginning. God was and is and ever will be. God is Love, Life, Spirit, Truth, Mind, Soul, and Principle and there is no beginning to any of those. There is nothing beyond or outside of God. (B1, 1John 1:1, 3)

We dwell in the good of God, and God dwells in us. (B2, I John 4:13) And God chooses us to understand divine Love, Truth, Life, Mind, Soul, Spirit, and Principle. (B3, Isaiah 43:10)

The Science and Health part of the first section complements the ideas from the Bible. Mary Baker Eddy writes, “God is infinite, the only Life, substance, Spirit, or Soul, the only intelligence of the universe, including man. [A limited fleshly eye] hath neither seen God nor His image and likeness [but we can see God though spiritual discernment]. Neither God nor the perfect man can be discerned by the [limited] senses.” (S1, p330:11)

God is not unknowable. God is knowable. Mary Baker Eddy offers a definition of the word “unknown”—as in the “unknown God” mentioned in the RR—in the “Glossary” of Science and Health. She writes, “Unknown. That which spiritual sense alone comprehends, and which is unknown to the [limited] senses….Paganism and agnosticism may define Deity as ‘the great unknowable;’ but Christian Science brings God much nearer to man, and makes [God] better known as the All-in-all, forever near.” (S2, 596:1–9)

We can—through divine Science—understand God.

SECTION 2: God’s goodness is uncountable

The second section focuses on the fact that we could count forever and still not be able to count all of God’s goodness. God is uncountable and infinite. The all-ness of God cannot be measured. (and this is a good thing). (B5, Jeremiah 23:23, 24 & B6)

The story in this section was a little tricky for me to understand and connect to the idea of God’s ever-present love, but, as far as I understand it, King David began to get prideful about how much land and people he ruled over. David’s pride led him to take a census—perhaps so that he could boast about his strength and feel even more powerful. After the census was taken, it didn’t give David the pleasure he thought it would and instead he felt terrible (“his heart smote him”) and he regretted his pride. He asked God to forgive him for being so prideful and not seeing that God actually governed. Also, when David measured his kingdom, he was limiting the reach and extent of the kingdom…he was limiting God’s blessings rather than praising God for infinite blessings. (B7, II Samuel 24)

Gods promise was that “the time will come when Israel’s people will be like the sands of the seashore—too many to count!” (B8, Hosea 1:10, NLT) But when David counted the people with the census, he was showing a lack of trust in God and a prideful sense that the kingdom was his, and not God’s kingdom.

Mary Baker Eddy cautions against counting and numbering the people in our churches. Perhaps there is a connection between her reasons for this caution and the lesson that David learned from trying to count his kingdom. Here is a great article by Nathan Talbot, CSB, on ways to pray about the census and “numbering the people” in churches: “Healing, more than counting, the people” https://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/2bg50htp1dg?s=e

The year 2020 is a census year in the United States. Perhaps this section of the lesson can be our reminder to purify and elevate our sense of the census.

Mary Baker Eddy explains, “God has countless ideas [like the sands of the seashore], and they all have one Principle and parentage.” (S6, 517:18–19, 22)

The countable infinity of God’s creation helps us to begin to understand God’s vastness. Trying to number God’s creation could be limiting and restrictive. We cannot measure God or God’s creation. “Allness is the measure of the infinite, and nothing less can express God.” (S5) We could try to count grains of sand for a thousand years and never be able to count all of them…this concept helps us begin to conceive of God’s allness. “Even eternity can never reveal the whole of God, since there is no limit to infinitude or to its reflections.” (S6)

Mary Baker Eddy explains that “Mortal man [like King David] has [tried to measure and count and thus] belittle Deity with human conceptions. [When we look with our limited] sense, mortals take limited views of all things…. (S8)

SECTION 3: Christ makes us aware of God

It made me happy to see the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed–nego in the Bible Lesson because at our Wednesday night testimony at CedarS last week, a counselor shared that she used this story to pray through her fear of getting her temperature checked because of Covid-19 restrictions. She said that one time when she had to get her temperature checked and was afraid that it would be high, she realized that when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed–nego were in the fiery furnace, not only did they not even get the smell of fire on them, but their body temperature would not have gone up at all. The counselor’s temperature reading was the expected norm, but even better than that, she felt God’s presence and comfort free her from fear.

This comforting awareness of God’s presence is just like what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed–nego felt in the fiery furnace. in fact, the comforting awareness they felt was seen by others too in “the form of the fourth”—a fourth figure that represented Christ, an awareness of God.

God exists, and we exist, and Christ is what makes us aware of God’s existence and presence.

For Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed–nego, Christ—their awareness of God’s existence and presence—was made visible in “the form of the fourth.” (B11, B12, Daniel 3)

Their dedication to understanding God, led Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed–nego to go beyond a weak sense of an unknown deity, and rely on a knowable and dependable sense of God. We can do this too. We can know God. As Mary Baker Eddy states, “We should [dedicate our existence], not ‘to the unknown God’ whom we ‘ignorantly worship,’ but to the eternal builder, the everlasting Father, to the Life which [limited] sense cannot impair nor [limited] belief destroy.” (S15)

SECTION 4: Christ Jesus taught us how to know God

God is not unknowable, and Christ Jesus’s ministry shows us how to know God. If Christ is our awareness of God’s presence, and Jesus gets the special title of “Christ” because he is the man, who, more than any other men, had a constant Christ-sense, a constant awareness of God’s presence.

As Mary Baker Eddy writes, “God is everywhere, and nothing apart from Him is present or has power. Christ is the ideal Truth, that comes to heal sickness and [the belief that we can be separate from God] through Christian Science, and attributes all power to God. Jesus is the name of the man who, more than all other men, has presented Christ, the true idea of God, healing the sick and the [those who believe they are separate from God] and destroying the power of [a belief that there is an end].” (S18)

Christ was present with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed–nego, but it was Jesus who best exemplified the Christ, which is why he gets the title Christ Jesus. In Science and Health, we find that “Throughout all generations both before and after the [time that Jesus lived], the Christ, as the spiritual idea, — the reflection of God, — has come with some measure of power and grace to all prepared to receive Christ, Truth.” (S19) “It is possible, — yea, it is the duty and privilege of every child, man, and woman, — to follow in some degree the example of the Master by the demonstration of Truth and Life, of health and holiness.” (S20).

SECTION 5: The ability to understand God did not stop with Christ Jesus

Christ Jesus’s mission was to show us that we too could understand God and God’s infinite goodness. He taught and demonstrated that we cannot be separated from God’s goodness. This lesson continued even after the resurrection.

Paul the Apostle learned Christ Jesus’ lesson even though they never met physically, and thus demonstrated that it is possible for us too. Paul wrote, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell [or two thousand years] can separate us from God’s love.” (B16, Romans 8:38, 39)

Paul is proof that the understanding of God was not limited just to Christ Jesus. To the degree that we understand God, we will find God an ever-present help in trouble and a reliable source of joy and health. Mary Baker Eddy begins the first chapter of Science and Health with a bold statement about the power of understanding God: “The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, — a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love.” (S24)

SECTION 6: God knows us

Sometimes we seem to spend so much energy feeling as if we have to work really hard to understand God. It is a great comfort to realize that God knows us. God knows each and every bit of detail about us…and loves it all.

God rejoices over us, and joys over us with singing. (B19, Zephaniah 3:17)

God causes us to know the full nature of Love, Truth, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Principle, and Life. God says, “I will put my laws into your mind, and write them in your hearts.” (B20, Hebrews 8:10)

We are hidden from the world (a word to symbolize distorting and harmful evils), but known to God. (S27). We are known to God, and we can know God. God is knowable. As Mary Baker Eddy writes, “It is only a question of time when ‘they shall all know Me [God], from the least of them unto the greatest.’” (S28)

While we cannot possibly number and count the all-ness of God, we can know the infinitude of all-ness without any limits. — “The maximum of good is the infinite God and [God’s] idea, the All-in-all.” (S30)

Amen!


[Warren:] Click for an almost-completed edition of inspiring Bible Lesson GEMs from Cobbey Crisler, Ken Cooper & others.


Summer Update (as of 6/29): Click for Director Holly Huff Bruland on CedarS ONLINE!
As we prayed with the motives of loving our neighbor, being law-abiding, acting with wisdom, and offering a camping experience that is consistent with our Christian Science foundation, we were led to cancel not only our June but also our July onsite camper programs. We also are being led to make several additional adjustments to our operations for onsite CIT training and staff development in support of new ONLINE program offerings. At this time, we are still awaiting what we'd consider acceptable guidelines from the county related to overnight summer and family camps, still actively preparing for a reduced-size Family Camp, and still listening for God’s guidance each step of the way. Here are decisions we have been divinely guided to make thus far:

CedarS Camps Schedule for Summer 2020:

  • Session 1 (June 7-20): Cancelled
  • Session 2 (June 21- July 4): Cancelled for campers--replaced with 14-day Precamp for all staff "in a bubble"
  • Session 3 (July 5 – July 17): onsite camper programs Cancelled, but with CIT program and staff continuing in order to support ONLINE, grade-level programs and an international, virtual Musical Theater camp & production
  • Session 4 (July 19 – July 31): onsite camper programs Cancelled, but with CIT program and staff continuing in order to support ONLINE, grade-level programs and an international, virtual Musical Theater camp & production
  • Family Camp (August 2-8): Currently Proceeding as "FULL" at a reduced capacity

We will be in touch with additional specifics about ongoing programs as soon as we know more. Thank you for your patience and support of CedarS as plans for this summer continue to unfold.

We’re happy to answer any questions at 417-532-6699 or office@cedarscamps.org.

With full-strength grstitude, joy and love to each of you,
Holly, Warren, Gay, Kim, Jennifer, and CedarS Team

FYI: Just completed to rave reviews was CedarS first-ever week of Zoom Camp with online programming for 114 wonderful elementary, middle, and high schoolers. Every survey showed that this option of an introductory online CedarS experience supported our mission: “to give each camper an appreciation of spiritual sense and an abundance of wholesome, joyous activity.” These part-day virtual programs, led by eager CedarS counselors, included daily Bible Lesson study with a cabin cohort, camp songs, friendship-building activities, and opportunities for off-screen adventures. Please stay tuned for plans for four, one-week ONLINE OFFERINGS in July. They can be 100% funded by The Campership Fund. And, other friends (like you?) will fully fund (as needed) online devices and internet service for campers and staff to keep in order to reduce any sense of 'digital divide" now and in the future.

We are working to demonstrate that "Of two things fate cannot rob us, namely, of choosing the best [summer yet and best fall yet!], and of helping others thus to choose." (Miscellany, 165:2)

  • You can call CedarS office team now at 417-532-6699 to discuss your interests or to share your support.

  • or you also can MAIL your tax-deductible support to our camp address:
    The CedarS Camps, Inc.
    19772 Sugar Drive
    Lebanon, MO 65536

  • CedarS is a not-for-profit, 501-C-3 organization with a
    Federal ID # 44-0663883.

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