Loehr-Daniels Study Course of Basic Teachings
By Franklin Loehr
In the first lesson of this basic series we pointed out that to know what God is like and what He has in mind is to have a key organizing insight (as the philosopher would say; the scientist would say a basic clue) to what God will do in any given situation.
We all understand this principle, and use it in our daily relationships with people. What a person is is the master key to what he does. If we know a person well we can judge quite closely what he will do in this or that situation; and if someone tells us something contrary to what we know of that other person’s character, we doubt the gossip and want to check up on the truth ourselves.
One of the great principles of life is that we act from what we are. As will come out in some of the later lessons, there are two factors about each one of us, beingness and doingness. The two are inextricably tied together as the “Ying” and the “Yang” principles. Doingness builds our beingness, and then from our beingness we draw for our doingness. The two become our distinctive, individual Oneness.
This applies not only to people we know, and to ourselves. It applies also to God. What the Creator is like—His values, His purposes, His ideas, His very nature—determine what He does. (Read “She” instead of “He” for God if you like. God, the Source of both masculine and feminine, must possess and be both. “That” seems less appropriate—God has too much personality to be a “That” or an “It”. We need a word combining He and She. Until then I will follow the prevailing usage acknowledging God as He, although God-Mother is as real and close to me as God-the-Father is wise and powerful.)
This gives us a double-edge approach to understanding the nature of God: First, the more we know about God the more clues we have to what God has done. The more we know about the Creator the better we will understand Creation. God’s nature governs His doing, even as our nature governs our behavior and activities. Second, the more we know about what God has done (and is doing) the more clues we have of what God is like. Even as from our activities and behavior people can judge what our nature is like, so also from God’s doing we can judge His nature, His being.
Philosophers and Theologians alike (as we pointed out in our second lesson, Theology is a branch of Philosophy) seek the central theme that runs through history. The scientists, observing pattern throughout this universe, give the philosophers factual evidence that purpose is one of the basic chords of God’s nature because it is one of the basic themes we find in His doing, in His Creation. A patterned Creation ipso facto means a purposeful Creator.
Religion has long recognized that we learn much about God from what He has done. Religion recognizes two “words” of God, the “spoken word” and the “revealed word.” The “spoken word” is that revelation of God found in the Scriptures and spoken by the prophets of each religion. The “revealed word” is the world of Nature, wherein God reveals Himself by His action.
Let us use now this principle that we learn what God is like by studying what God has done, to understand better the conflict between good and evil. We certainly find that conflict within ourselves. How often do we say with St. Paul, “The good that I want to do I somehow don’t do, and the evil that I don’t want to do I seem to have a habit of doing.” We observe this conflict in others, too, and also throughout the non-human areas of Nature—“Nature red in hand and claw,” living things fighting, killing, eating one another since the beginning of recorded history and beyond.
Why? As we followed the progressions of man’s understanding of God (the second lesson), we saw that the philosophical Dualism which explained this by saying there are actually two gods, two creative principles—light and darkness, good and evil—is no longer acceptable. The universe is too much all of a oneness to be the work of two Creators.
Why then does the one God, Himself good, allow evil on Earth? Why doesn’t He throw a thunderbolt to destroy it—just “zap” it out of existence, as youth today would say? And why, oh why, is God so patient with evil, allowing it to continue so long?
Because God loves Lucifer. The very name Lucifer means bearer of light, and the Bible refers to him as a willful “fallen angel.” Lucifer, too, is one of God’s beloved children. And if God will be this patient and loving with Lucifer, God will be patient and loving with us, too.
Lucifer, of course, is just one name given to the personalized chief of the evil or dark forces. There are other names, of which Satan is probably the most known among us, or simply the devil. I remember an incident that took place in the early fall of 1934. I was taking the night train to Iron River, Michigan, to preach there the next morning. I noted a clerical collar upon another young man in the train. We became acquainted. In the course of our conversation we got to our sermons for the following morning.
I told him what I was preaching about—I do not remember the topic now. Then he told me his sermon outline—and I have never forgotten it! Here it is verbatim: Subject, The Devil. Point One, Who the Devil He Is. Point Two, Why the Devil He Is. Point Three, What the Devil He Does. Point Four, Where in Hell He Comes From.
That is a true story. Here was that priest’s way of explaining to his people the seeming contradiction of finding evil in a universe created by One God Who is only good.
Religion must answer, and answer early, this seeming paradox.
The answer proposed by some metaphysicians denies evil: “God is all that is,” they reason. “Therefore there is nothing that is not of God. Therefore all is good, and there is no evil.” This denial of the very existence of evil is a mental exercise requiring quite some agility and persistence in the face of our daily confrontations with evil.
These metaphysicians do lay them-selves open to the suspicion of “hiding their heads in the ground” as the ostrich was supposed to do when danger approached. Other philosophers have observed, “The greatest weapon the devil has is to deny that he ever exists.” Certainly the free world’s denial of Hitler in the 1930s did not cause Hitler to go away. Rather, Hitler’s power and evil grew when it was not recognized early and checked, and led to the great agonies of World War II for six long years, 1939-1945.
A much easier understanding of evil within the framework of One God is the observation that God has given free will to at least some of the living beings we observe on earth—including human beings—and free will inevitably, sooner or later, leads to some wrong choices. When these choices are a giving-away to temptation, or are deliberate choices of non-good or lesser-good in place of only-good, there is evil.
Certainly we can see ourselves, and every other person we know, as “secondary creators” simply because we can and do bring about certain things ourselves. And some of the things we bring about and some of our reasons and choices behind them, are definitely not good. Thus we can see that evil can have a reality of its own, coming from the secondary creation of those who have free will, even though the overall framework is the One God who is all good.
The Bible carries this back further, particularly in the final book of the Christian Scriptures, called the Book of Revelation. Here is told a cosmic drama in which the negative individuals, the “dark forces,” warred against the forces of good even in a spiritual plane. They were defeated in the Heavens and cast down to the Earth.
Why to Earth? One reason we can see—it may not be the only reason, but we can see how this could be the essential reason—is that there are two sources of energy in the universe as we know it, and one of these can be tapped on Earth.
The first source of energy, of course, is the Creator, God. He certainly had and has a tremendous amount of energy, of this force-of-beingness or whatever one wishes to call it, in order to produce this far-flung universe and hold it all in pattern.
The second source of energy is in the very martter of which our material universe is composed. Science is giving us tremendous insights and understandings, and this is one of the most important. The physicists who split the atom, revealing such tremendous energy within it have shown us that in matter there is a storehouse of energy that staggers our minds. We cannot truly comprehend it.
But one thing we can see: If there are those who have rebelled against God and who will not “feed on God” any more—that is, draw their energies from that Source of all energies—then here in matter is an alternate place in which they can find energy.
To use this energy-in-matter, however, requires a definite further step: The forces of darkness are not in themselves material beings, but spiritual. (We use here the word “spiritual” in its first and basic meaning, of that which is non-physical, non-material. The “spiritual realms” are not necessarily the realms of God and the saints; some of the lower astral realms, for instance, even though quite spiritual in the sense of being non-material, are anything but Godly or saintly!) So an intermediary step is required if the energy in matter is to be made available to non-material beings in a form they can use.
This intermediary step, this transmutational agent, is incarnate life. To put life into a material organism, a body, produces a living thing. Because it has a “thing” nature, a physical material part, it partakes of the material realm. Because it is living it partakes of the spiritual realm, too, wherein life dwells.
Therefore a living thing can reach into the energy of the material realm and transmute that energy into the non-material forms of energy upon which both good and evil can feed—our thoughts, our feelings, our impulses and reactions. Thus living things or incarnate (embodied) life, is the intermediary agent transmuting the energy of matter into energies of spirit.
The incarnate life of which we speak is not only human. The work of Dr. Cleve Baxter in testing the emotional reactions of plants shows that not only humans, not only animals, but also the vegetable realm responds with either pleasure or pain, security or fear, and so in its negative emotional responses provides food for evil.
Jesus told a parable, one of His best known, about a boy who left his father’s house. He was called the Prodigal Son. He took his inheritance, that which his father had given him, and that which he had earned, into a far country. There he squandered it in a kind of life such as his father would have thoroughly disapproved, and which he would not have been able to carry on in his father’s house.
After he had spent his resources and when he came right down to where he could not get enough food to keep from getting hungry, he did some serious thinking, and returned to his father’s house, a chastened and contrite son ready to proceed with life as his father would have him. And his father welcomed him with great love and joy.
This is a cosmic parable, a teaching of the very nature of evil and of God. The Father (God) in that parable loves His son, no matter how prodigal the son is. The Father watches eagerly the long road, waiting for His son’s return even though He knows the son must make his own choice. In the teachings we have received from our guide, Dr. John Christopher Daniels, an even further step of the love of God has been pointed out.
It is God Himself who provided the alternative, the “Far Country,” for the Prodigal. Incarnate life on planet Earth is God’s provision for keeping Lucifer and his companions alive while the redemptive processes proceed to win all possible of them back to our Father’s house.
In other words, the Creator knew when He gave to beings “made in His own image” the individuality and freedom of choice which they must have to be able to choose God—and to be “in the image” (of the nature) of God—God knew that some would choose wrong. So long before the wrong choices were made, God set about preparing the “far country” to which the son could go when the son became the prodigal.
Our guide, Dr. John, said he does not know if life is in matter in any other place in the universe excepting on planet Earth. Life, yes, is elsewhere—but not necessarily in matter. The native realm of life is spirit, not matter. We are not mated to Earth, but strangers while incarnate here. Even as cows and chickens serve us by providing living things which can assimilate food we would not be able to eat, and turn it into the food we can eat, so the soul, an individuated portion of God Himself, can incarnate—take on a physical body on Earth—and provide a food crop for evil, or for good.
The result is the basic struggle of evil versus good within us. In the human being the consciousness has been raised because a soul is associated with the body. Human beings can recognize evil for what it is, and with lesser or greater success make the choices that deprive evil of the energies of our beings. We can feed our energies instead to the cause of goodness. When this process has gone far enough and evil is deprived of enough energies it can become again the hungry prodigal, willing to return to the Father’s house and to learn of Him and live with Him.
God loves Lucifer. The point of the conflict with evil is that all possible evil is not to be annihilated but redeemed. The Teutonic pantheon of gods included Thor who hurled the thunderbolts of destruction and annihilation against those with whom he was displeased. God certainly can do that. But the evidence we find all about us is that God does not act primarily in that fashion. Rather, God in His infinite love will go to every extreme necessary to win back His children who have turned from Him or strayed from His way. Why? Because God loves them.
This is our confidence. If God can love even Lucifer, and go to such extreme steps to redeem those who have given themselves to evil, then God loves us and redeems us also. The evil that is within us is not as great as the evil within Lucifer and those with him.
In fact—and this is a very important realization—the evil that is within us has its origin mostly outside us. The evil we experience, even as the good that comes to us from God and the high spiritual realms, is primarily not of our making.
This is reason for much relief and joy. The evil that we do and the evil we find within ourselves is not primarily of our making. There is a battle going on within us, of evil versus good, but the origin and nature of that evil and that good lie essentially outside of ourselves. We are battlegrounds.
We by our understanding and actions can help the battle within to go for good or for evil. We can be warriors, too. But essentially we are the battlegrounds of a conflict far greater than we are. As St. Paul said, “We fight not against the princes and principalities of this world, but against the princes and principalities of darkness.” Yes, and it is the “princes and principalities”—the leaders and the realms—of goodness that fight within us for God.
We can help sway the battle either to good or to evil. But we cannot take full credit for the good in us and we should not take full blame for the evil. Both come from sources beyond us, outside us, and greater than we are. The direction and conduct of the warfare, and the responsibility for victory, rest with spiritual beings far greater than we. Thank goodness God does not depend only or primarily upon us!