The Dawn

by Jim Chapman

 

There is a point in one’s spiritual evolution when thought rules out the possibility of God having anything whatever to do with suffering experienced by humans.  Such a view obsoletes old explanations for evil and challenges reasoning to produce a new one.  It is as if, finding a new larger sense of God, we now are entitled to a new smaller sense of evil.  Our progressively appearing spiritual sense of God is accompanied by the progressive disappearance of beliefs in evil.

 When the leading edge of our thought evolves from the belief in God as a divine personality to the understanding of God as supreme spiritual Principle, the idea of God being conscious of actual evil becomes impossible.  This is the point at which religious thought becomes Science, being based not on personality but on Principle.  Understanding God as Principle, Love makes error unthinkable; but until our thinking completely transforms our human beliefs, we will continue to experience a human world wherein degrees of suffering may be apparent.  

 Even having accepted the allness and goodness of God, Spirit as the basis for all legitimate thinking, unredeemed material and human belief will still present a remnant sense of discord and limitation to be overcome.  Sensing this, we naturally want to answer the question, where did evil come from and what is its nature, if only to help us be rid of it.  At this level of belief, there are two practical answers to this, one correct and one incorrect, albeit useful.  

 The first answer is that correct thinking, healing thinking, does not need to answer the question because there is, in spiritual fact, no human suffering and no error of belief.  No other answer is correct as a basis for prayerful thinking.  On the other hand, if this doesn’t do it, vigorous Christian Science practice has nothing to do with dreamy absolutism that is shallowly oblivious to human needs.  When we grow beyond the belief in God as a divine personality, our theology advances from the voluntary belief in a personal origin for evil to the involuntary belief in an impersonal and mythical origin of belief apart from God.  The literal acceptance of the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible illustrates theology compatible with God as a divine personality.  When we accept the idea of God as supreme spiritual Principle, this story evolves from being literal to being metaphorical, the significance of the story, from material to metaphysical.

The theory of the fall, either personal or impersonal, results from an attempted explanation for a human sense of fear.  The innocent human looks about him, sees an imperfect world, mistakenly thinks the imperfection is real, concludes that something went amiss, and then becomes afraid.

Mary Baker Eddy has this thought-provoking statement about fear: "Fear is a belief of sensation in matter."2  If fear is a belief of sensation in matter, perhaps its antidote is related to an understanding of sensation in Spirit.  The man who knows that all his sensations are spiritual becomes deeply and fundamentally unafraid.  This one knows that to be spiritually minded is to really live, to feel all of Life's feelings and to know all of Life's joys.

 The man who is thus unafraid knows that even in terms of human belief, there has never been an original "fall" event of any sort.

 Mary Baker Eddy has used four adjectives as part of the definition of God she provides in the Christian Science textbook.  They are: "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite ..."3  These adjectives, and their sequential order, form the structure for the process of reasoning used in this article.  The first adjective, incorporeal, tells us that our inquiry into causation should consider mental factors.  Since both Creator and creation are mental in nature, they can only be understood metaphysically.  The next adjective leads us to consider the fact that not only is God's creation mental, it is divinely mental.  It is wholly good.

          Next, we consider that looking to Spirit for all our sensations reveals to human belief Spirit's supremacy.  Spirit is, to the highest type of human belief, as well as in divine Science, the only essential mental substance.  It is all powerful, the only reality, and can never be displaced or pushed back.  From this vantage point, we see that there could never have been a beginning to mental discord, even as a false supposing.  However, in order to understand and demonstrate this spiritual truth at the level of human belief, we will need embrace our improved beliefs about the nature of human sense itself.  

 As humans, we haven't yet fully assimilated the idea of infinity.  To some extent we still think of things as beginning.  For this reason, even our human belief can understand the supremacy of Spirit when it is presented in terms of what we have termed the theory of the dawn.  What if God began and is growing, or what if God and spiritual reality are complete, but are simply dawning gradually to individual and collective human thought?  Such theories could explain everything apparent to human sense.  

The appearance of any ill could be viewed as the subjective appearance of some incomplete recognition or expression by humans of the truth of being.  A false sense, earlier attributed to the suppositional beginning of error, is seen to be simply a limited sense of Spirit.  Now human belief can see that all is Spirit and spiritual, present awareness is seen to be spiritual sense, and what might be called matter loses preponderance in our sense of reality.  

However, we cannot escape the absolute Truth, as revealed in Christian Science, that acknowledges nothing less that the totality of infinite spiritual goodness as man's present experience. In Christian Science practice this truth is brought to bear on human belief, and through the action of the Christ, human beliefs are improved.  But we need to love the Christ enough to appreciate improved beliefs about the human scene when they appear.  This statement is more significant than it appears on the surface.

        Our understanding of God's divinity, His sublimity and goodness, releases us from believing that the divine Principle had any complicity in human discord.  Our understanding of God's supremacy rules out any belief in a "fall" or false supposing.  The next higher human belief about the nature of human sense is presented by the theory of the dawn, a limited human belief.  The important point is that this limited belief of the dawn, when embraced in thought, displaces and removes from human thought any belief in a fall or even suppositional beginning to error.  The good this realization brings to human thought cannot be easily over-estimated.  Even though not true in divine Science, limitation is a better belief than discord in most situations.

Once having embraced the theory of the dawn and the improved human view that comes with it, we need to acknowledge the infinite nature of God, the last of the four adjectives.  The theory of the dawn is not correct in light of spiritually scientific reasoning.  Yet for anyone walking on this planet, the dawn is a better belief than to consider material sense the offspring of an original false supposing, that appears in Eddy’s writings.  The dawn belief does away with the latent fear and superstition inherent in any acceptance of an original misdeed or false supposing.  The theory of the dawn actually allows human belief to accept and comprehend the fact that spiritual goodness is the only mental reality and substance, and it has no opposite.  Is this not the mental state Mary Baker Eddy refers to in her definition of the river Euphrates, the fourth and final mental river to be crossed on the way out of the Adam dream?   In this definition, Mrs. Eddy refers to a state of mortal belief, the only error of which is limitation.4

This highest state of human belief has not yet completely understood the infinite nature of the divine Mind, the conscious reflection of which constitutes man's true and natural being.  If we view human problems as stemming from a discordant mental presence, a so-called “mortal mind,” our belief is rooted in the "fall" or the "false supposing" theory.  If we view a problem as simply inadequate spiritual expression, ours is a belief in "the dawn".  Both beliefs need healing, but the dawn is much less frightening, because, get this, incumbent in the false supposing theory is the allowance for it happening again.  

 I know of a small boy asked by his parents to go out at night to retrieve a cherished toy left out after play.  The little boy didn't want to go.  He protested, "But it's dark out there."  When his parents tried to assure him that he'd be safe, he explained with great feeling, "But, the dark will get all over me."

 To an adult, the child's view may be amusing.  And yet doesn't it illustrate exactly the viewpoint we may have accepted when seeing any discordant condition or false belief as something, rather than as nothing.  The little boy did not yet understand that what appeared to his sense as light and darkness, were not two opposite substances, but rather that light was the presence of illuminating energy and darkness was its absence - simply the want of light.

 In the practice of Christian Science healing, when we the mental aspect of a problem confronts us as something, or even as an "unreal false belief", getting rid of it brings healing.  But when a problem appears to us as unreal from the outset, as intrusive shadow, our declaring its nothingness only confirms what it seems to be.  The opponent which is but a shadow can only be vanquished by turning on lights.

The Christian Scientist who is turning on lights, so to speak, has come to be the conscious presence of the truths God gives to man.  Then healing is the result of being.  It naturally unfolds from man being the image and likeness of God.

 Any error being simply the want of conscious Truth, it becomes plain to human belief that the most awful evil we could ever imagine is, at the level of its mental essence, actually nothing, vacuity.  Any such appearance on the human scene can be seen as just a mental shadow waiting to be filled with the light of Truth.  This healing dawn of Truth is inevitable in belief, and its infinite brightness is already here, in Science.

        We can be grateful to God for the comfort that comes from improved beliefs, for they are the blessings of the Christ.  Christian Science demonstration, however, does not reliably result from application of even the highest human beliefs.  To know as the divine Mind knows, we must think from the standpoint of the present infinitude of God and His reflection man.  We may find wonderful improvements but we can never find permanent rest in even the highest human sense.  It is only the individual rejoicing in an infinite spiritual sense of existence who is truly at home and in heaven.

 As Christian Science healers, we should rejoice in our infinite spiritual sense that the good we desire for ourselves and mankind is present here and now.  The healing standpoint is that everything is already alright.

 By shining this light of spiritual knowing, and by accepting that it has always been shining, we can see it revealed to human sense in blessings.  To base our human beliefs on the theory of the dawn is human progress.  But to stop there, is to lapse from Christian Science into mere positive thinking, buoyant though it may be.  Christ Jesus did not recommend to his disciples even the most positive ways of human thinking.  He wanted them to be infinitely minded, as was his Father.  He taught them, "Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest?  behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest."5

Divine Science has revealed man's present coexistence with self-conscious divine Love to be the timeless Truth of his being.  The joyful appreciation and exercise of this understanding is to work out the problem of being in Christian Science.

(1) Genesis 2:6-3:24

(2) Misc. Writings 93:18-19

(3) S&H 465:9 only

(4) S&H 585:21

(5) John 4:35

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