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Fact or Fable?

Lesson Application Ideas for: “Adam and Fallen Man”

October 30 -November 5, 2006

By Craig L. Ghislin, C.S.

Bartlett, Illinois
Editor’s Note: The following background information and application ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for this week are offered primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp.


There is a lot of debate these days about the Biblical view of creation. There are extremists on both ends of the discussion-one side claiming the Bible as absolute literal fact; the other that it is no more than fables and myths. Most people are somewhere in between. While every word in the Bible might not be literal fact, the lessons and directives contained therein are valuable tools for living a constructive life. This Lesson distinguishes between fact and fable within the Bible on the basis of the Science of Being. Hopefully, by the time this week is over, you will have a clearer sense of fact, fable, and the difference between them.


In the Golden Text we find the declaration, “Thy word is true from the beginning.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible defines the Hebrew of “word” in many ways including but not limited to: “a matter spoken of; a thing; a cause; advice; business; commandment; decree; disease; harm; judgment; promise; report; saying; word; or work.” Obviously, there is a great deal of flexibility depending on the context. The Amplified Bible puts it this way: “The sum of Your word is truth [the total of the full meaning of all Your individual precepts]…” So God’s Word needs to be understood in its “full meaning.” Some interpretations are quite narrow. This accounts for misunderstanding and seeming contradictions found in the Bible. Most major theologies continue to view man as descendents of Adam (literally or figuratively) and therefore, as an inherent sinner. How is this explained in Christian Science? Let’s see.


The verses in the Responsive Reading are hardly the words of an inherent sinner. They speak of fidelity to God’s law and freedom from sin. The psalmist acknowledges that God has dealt with him fairly according to righteousness and that his hands were clean in God’s view. God is just. The blessings He bestows on man are commensurate with man’s obedience. The last citation states that God gives “plenty of room”  (Amplified) so his steps will be sure. Dummelow phrases it: “given me freedom to move without obstruction.” God doesn’t put obstacles in our way and play with man as the ancient Greeks and Romans believed. Men are not the pawns of the gods. This view of God is fable. The God of Israel is righteous, fair, and wise. God works for man not against him. This view of God is fact.


Section I: “…Always Beyond and Above…”

The general definition of the Greek Logos or Word is: “(A) the word or that by which the inward thought is expressed…(B) the inward thought itself” (Greek-English Lexicon, Lindell and Scott). The definition continues for an entire column citing various applications of both the “inward thought” and “expressed word.” Interestingly, the logos could also mean a fictitious story or fable. None of Aesop’s fables were true, but that does not diminish the value of the moral lessons they teach. In John (B1), the Logos or Word is both the Thought and the Word-or thought expressed. We can bear this in mind when reading from Genesis. Man, as created by God (B2) is the expression or thought of God. The Abingdon Bible Commentary notes that, “unlike any other being, (man) has something possessed by the Creator and not merely by creation.” Man is unique. Dummelow writes, “The likeness to God lies in the mental and moral features of man’s character, such as reason, personality, free will, the capacity for communion with God.” This is quite a contrast to the Adam man (B3) who is no more than “animated dust” (Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary of the Bible). The literal truth of either creation story is debatable, but they represent two different views of creation. One is fact. The other is fable. One is a spiritual view. The other is a material view. Isaiah and Paul opted for the spiritual. Take a close look at Paul’s list of the things that would claim to separate us from God. “Angels” means, “supernatural powers” that influence human life. “Height” and “depth” refers to astrology, or “the positions of the planets and their power to affect what happens on earth” (Ibid.). How many fables do we, unthinkingly, accept as fact? Think about it.


Mrs. Eddy cuts right to the center of things. She accepts, as fact that, “man is made in the image and likeness of God” (S1). She reasons from God to man; not from man to God. The contrast between the man God made and a mortal is striking. She calls the mortal man a “counterfeit” of God’s immortal creation (S2). A counterfeit is “one who pretends to be what he is not…that which is made in imitation of something, but without lawful authority, and with a view to defraud, by passing the false for the true” (Student’s Reference Dictionary). We could say mortal man himself is a fable. Good never produces its opposite. If God made man good, he has to remain that way. The author of Science and Health was sure that the real man has been and always will be “beyond and above” any appearance of life in matter. And she bases her statement on “fact not fable” (S4).


Section II: So Where Did the Sinner Come From?

The story of Adam continues. How did man find himself in such a fallen state? Genesis tries to explain. Adam wasn’t happy without a companion so God made a woman for him (B6). The sense of “made” here is “to build, or repair” (Strong’s). That’s quite different than the more productive word used for “made” in other parts of the story. One gets the sense that the Lord God was already making adjustments to an imperfect creation. Do you think an all-knowing God would make mistakes? Sounds like a fable to me. Notice that the woman is taken out of man, not created by God. Her character has a built-in flaw. She is willing to talk to the serpent (B7). This story shows the method of temptation. As you read the story look for these points: First, the serpent casts doubt on God’s command. Second, God’s motives are misrepresented. Third, the woman rebels because she wants what she can’t have. Fourth, the forbidden fruit is presented as desirable. Dummelow makes the following points about the serpent story: “Wrong approaches us from outside ourselves and is not the product of our own heart…Sin usually begins as a revolt against authority…Our great security against sin is our being shocked at it. Eve gazed and reflected when she should have fled.” I’m sure everyone can relate to these statements. Don’t we all feel rebellious when we’re told we can’t have something we really want? We get into trouble because we are willing to consider the possibility of sin. We think it will be good for us. We believe a lie. Paul reminds us to refuse to believe such fables (B8).


Science and Health points out that the creation story in Genesis 1 and the story of Adam and are from two different sources (S5). It is also explained that each story uses a different word for God. Mrs. Eddy refers to everything about the fall of man as the “Adam dream” (S6). You may notice that when Adam is put to sleep to facilitate the making of Eve, he never actually wakes up. So in effect, everything that happens in the story from that point on, as well as the results, takes place in a dream. Mrs. Eddy calls the serpent story a “fable” (S7). In this case, she means “a lie.” In fact, everything about the material man is a myth, a fictitious narrative (S8). According to the logic of Christian Science, it is impossible for God’s original plan to go bad, and for God’s creation to fall from perfection. Mrs. Eddy reasoned that if God’s man ever existed apart from his Principle-his Creator-then even man’s existence “was a myth” (S9).


Section III: Sin Brings a Fall-Spirit Brings Redemption

Our fable continues with God calling for Adam (B9). Adam was doing what most sinners do-hiding to avoid being found out. Before accepting the false knowledge that good and evil can be combined, he had no thought of sin or physicality. Once his (material) eyes were opened, he noticed he was naked. Adam’s shame at his sin was part and parcel of the sin itself. Shame and sin go hand in hand. Adam’s sin is the traditional explanation of how misery and suffering came into the world. Adam was condemned; and his work became “exhausting and futile” (Abingdon). He was banished from the garden and the tree of life was guarded by a flaming sword. Although Adam and Eve didn’t die immediately after eating the fruit, the death they suffered was “a separation from the possibility of a free and perfect enjoyment of life…separation from God, the Giver of life” (Interpreter’s). In Psalm 51 (B10), we have a plea from the depths of the soul to restore the broken relationship with God. After making a terrible mistake, don’t we all wish that we could take it back? The psalmist asks to be held up with a “free spirit” of unforced obedience. In the New Testament Peter declares that the followers of Christ have not based their message on “cunningly devised fables” (B11). Rather, their message was based on facts that they had seen and heard first hand. Paul affirms in Romans (B12), that for those who walk after the Spirit, there is no condemnation.


The textbook points out again that the material fable of Adam is a myth (S10). It has nothing to do with the man created in God’s image. Jehovah cursed the ground. God had blessed it, not for the dreaming race of Adam, but for the ideal man, Christ Jesus (S11). Human consciousness must be awakened. Christ does the waking. The Christ shows us the real man who cannot be destroyed (S12). Christ gives us the facts of spiritual creation. Aesop’s fables often conclude with “O logos dheloi oti” or “The story shows, or explains that…” To Mrs. Eddy, the story of Adam shows that mortals should never believe a lie (S13). Sin brings suffering; and it should. Suffering for sin reveals that the pleasures of sin are false-a fable (S14). Traditional Christian theology views man as a sinner. This viewpoint concludes that if we think God made us good, we’re deceiving ourselves because we were all “born in sin.” In Christian Science we understand that man is spiritually good, but we are deceiving ourselves if we continue to sin. This is an important lesson to learn. “The pains of sense are salutary”-wholesome and healthful (SRD). The sword of Science “decapitates error.” To be free from suffering, one needs to be Christ-like and free from sin.


Section IV: Christ Separates Fable from Fact

The “horrible pit” and “miry clay” (B13) are common metaphors for the underworld or realm of the dead (Interpreter’s). No matter how deep the trouble we may find ourselves in, God is able to bring us out of it. While sin is condemned, God is compassionate and merciful to his creation (B14). Although in fact, we are God’s sinless children, the material fable, in which good and evil are mixed, presents us with a dilemma. Good though we may be, we are still tempted to sin. Paul recognized this problem in his own experience (B15). The good he wanted to do, he didn’t do and the evil he didn’t want to do, he did. Haven’t we all felt that way at times? It is not our true nature that is inclined to sin, but the fabled fleshly nature. The conflict between our spiritual nature and the flesh causes “internal tension is so distressing as to be comparable to civil war” (Ibid.). That can be pretty tough. But Christ offers help. “If the [Holy] Spirit [really] dwells within you [directs and controls you]” (Amplified) you will live the life of Spirit  (B16).


Jesus proved the power of spiritual living through healing and teaching. Science and Health states clearly that there is no partnership between error and Truth (S16). Since it is logically impossible for God to have anything to do with evil, the existence of evil must a fable not a fact. But we need to hold ourselves superior to sin, sickness, and death (S17). To do that means more than denying we are sinners. It is proving we aren’t sinners by living pure lives. If we really embrace the “truths of immortal Mind” they will “annihilate [reduce to nothing] the fables of mortal mind” (S18).


Section V: Death Is Fable-Life Is Fact

In this section Jesus sees right through the fable of death. The raising of the widow’s son in Nain (B19) is significant, because it showed Jesus’ stature as a “great prophet.” Earlier prophets had raised the dead “with difficulty and wrestlings with God in prayer.” Jesus did it “without effort, by a single word of power” (Dummelow). We should all memorize Psalm 118:17 (B20) and declare it as needed-“I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.”


The fable of Adam includes the death sentence for all his kind. But the facts of spiritual being presented by Christ, release us from death. Death is a myth (S19). Do we believe this? The only way to prove it is to stick with the facts. We’re promised in the textbook that as we give up the myths and fables, the facts will become apparent (S20). Man is not dust. Soul is not in a body. Man is spiritual (S21). Man is never born into matter, and he never dies out of it (S22). Mrs. Eddy urges us in S23 to “feel the divine energy of Spirit.” Nothing can destroy man. God is the only life-giving power. Anything else is what? You guessed it-a myth.


Section VI: Just the Facts

False prophets tell fables and myths. True prophets see spiritually and declare facts. In Isaiah (B21,22), God is represented as saying, “I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” God made all and is in control of it. Man is raised up “in righteousness” not allowed to fall into sin. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (B23). To fully understand the Bible, it needs to be considered in the context of the whole story. The race of Adam may indeed be a race of sinners. But, the doctrine of salvation from sin through Christ frees man from sin. The Old Testament Psalm teaches us to “mark the perfect man” (B24). We can’t just say we aren’t sinners. We need to prove it.


When we have only one God, one Mind, we find ourselves in His likeness (S24). Traditional views of men as a naturally sinning descendents of Adam are mythological-fables. We can see how these views evolved, but if we take the sum of God’s Word into account, we see that God’s man cannot be separated from neither God, life, nor paradise (S26,27). Christian Science distinguishes between the fables and facts (S28). In doing so, we conclude that while the material fable certainly seems to find man to be a sinner, the spiritual facts show that man has never lost his original spiritual perfection. Knowing that, we have the obligation to live in accord with it. So let’s do our best to stay with the facts and live up to our spiritual heritage.

1. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
2. The Abingdon Bible Commentary
3. Amplified Bible
4.  The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary on the BibleEdited by Charles Laymon
 The One Volume Bible Commentary, By J.R. Dummelow

Camp Director’s Note: The above sharing is the latest in a long series of CedarS Bible Lesson “mets” (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians. This document is intended to initiate further study as well as to encourage the application of ideas found in the Weekly Bible Lessons as printed in the Christian Science Quarterly and as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms. * Originally sent JUST 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 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 in the books. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension, background and daily applicability to some of the ideas and passages being studied. The citations referenced (i.e. B1and S28) from this week’s Bible Lesson in the “met” (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible (B1-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. (S1-30) 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 these ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.)

Warren Huff, Director


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