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Recapitulation -- God's Questions and Answers

We cannot learn anything from the chapter titled "Recapitulation" in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures until we acknowledge the source of the questions and are prepared to receive the answers from the lips of that source. Spiritual receptivity has been the key to enlightenment throughout the ages.

In Scripture, the book of Job illustrates both the pitfalls of man's intellectual search for God and Christ's simple solution. First, it is important to note that throughout Job's human experience, God's view of him never changed. God asked, "Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?" (Job 1:8). God maintains a view of creation that includes neither limitation nor matter - neither vulnerability nor access to failure. Job's view of God and of himself, however, was imperfect. He needed to be brought back to an awareness of one divine cause and one heavenly effect.

After Job lost everything humanly important to him, he sunk into the dust of mortal beliefs, where he sat listening to and arguing with his so-called friends - his own ruminating thoughts. It seemed that he could not break out of the endless spiral of complaint, guilt, self-justification, and the fragile ever-changing human experience. Job listened to hours of impassioned speeches, many of which were laced with truths, but something vital was missing that prevented any realization of Truth. We may ask, 'Is it sufficient or satisfactory to merely utter a spiritual fact from the human intellect?' Evidently not, for God asked of those speeches, "Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him?" (Job 40:2).

In the face of God's poignant question, Job gave up his human reasoning and became still - "I will lay mine hand upon my mouth" (Job 40:4). He was disgusted with his cogitation but not with God. Finally, he had aligned himself with Jesus' primary Beatitude, "Blessed are the poor in spirit," and was ready to hear both God's questions and God's answers (Matt 5:3). He discovered that it was not his place to ask or answer for himself or even to speak the truth without the divine impetus to do so. "The sensual cannot be made the mouthpiece of the spiritual, nor can the finite become the channel of the infinite" (SH 73:30). As God's interpreter, Jesus knew that he could do nothing of himself and said, "As my Father hath taught me, I speak these things" (John 8:28). Humility alone enables us to hear Spirit, and Spirit alone enables us to speak the truth. We must give merited rebuke, speak the inspired Word, and sing meaningful praises!

One day, as I was contemplating God's question to Job, "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding," I realized that this was a universal question - a question not only for Job but for me and all mankind (Job 38:4). I also realized that the same humble receptivity that Job attained would have to be present in me in order to hear God's answer. When I was ready, I accepted God's question for myself: "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?" I let the question sink into consciousness without any idea of an answer, and then I let it go, confident that my need would be satisfied. Three days later, I felt a presence all around me, and I heard a distinct voice, saying, 'I was with you, wasn't I?' I cannot describe the joy, the oneness, and the comfort that I felt that day; the wisdom of Job and Christ's present-day confirmation became alive with the inspired Word!

When Mary Baker Eddy was writing "Recapitulation," she knew that she could not invent questions from her own mind. God must present the proper questions, and no person, object, or thing could ever be in a position to answer for itself: "Teach us what we shall say unto him; for we cannot order our speech by reason of darkness" (Job 37:19). All harmonious action proceeds from Mind and forever remains a spiritual idea. To hear and record God's message required great humility - great willingness to partake of the heavenly manna while taking care not to interject passion or human advice. Mrs. Eddy said of this momentous work, "I should blush to write of 'Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures' as I have, were it of human origin, and were I, apart from God, its author. But, as I was only a scribe echoing the harmonies of heaven in divine metaphysics, I cannot be super-modest in my estimate of the Christian Science textbook" (My 115:4).

When we are humble enough to hear God directly, both questions and answers are manifest through us, not of us, for we are the effect of Truth. "Recapitulation" will be understood on this basis, for "absolute Christian Science pervades its statements, to elucidate scientific metaphysics" (SH 465:4).

George Denninger ©

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