GOD is not nature, and nature is not God. The two cannot in any case be used interchangeably. God’s handiwork in nature is not God Himself in nature. God’s power in nature does not identify God Himself with nature. Nature has its own individuality, and God has His distinct personality.
There is found an evil power in nature. If God and nature are to be identified and made one, then God and this evil power (which is a part of nature) must be identified and made one.
We must not identify even the good in nature with God. While God would have us know that all good is from Him, that He is responsible for it, and that His is the power which works it out for us, He wishes us to distinguish between Him and the means through which it comes. And we should also make distinction between God and the power of God.
All this is because God has a personality which cannot be merged into any of the means through which He works.
Personality is the most powerful factor in the universe. It is different from everything else, and cannot be merged into anything else.
I touch you with a stick. It is true to say I touch you; yet it was the stick through which I worked, and you distinguish clearly between me personally, that is, my personality, and the stick by which it is done.
So we are to distinguish between the personal God and any means that He may use anywhere at any time. If we say that God is in nature, we mean that His power is there, and directly at work there, and that in this sense God is there, but we do not confuse God with His power or with nature in which His power works.
And so we do not separate God from His act, not at all. It is God Who does the work, yet He personally is utterly separate, distinct and independent. My work is not I, God’s work is not He; that is, in the individual, personal sense. The record of the Scriptures shows that God was before creation and that He is independent of it.
He was before creation, for we read: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.” Psa. xc. 2.
He is above nature and independent of nature, for we read : “Thou, Lord, in the beginning Nast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of Thine hands : . . . as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed : but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail.”
Nature may change and perish,’ but God remains the same. He does not enter into nature’s shifting changes.
And He will continue to be God even if there is no creation. Earth may pass away, but His word cannot pass away. “They shall perish : but Thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment ; . . . but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail.” Heb. i. 11, 12.
Thus do the Scriptures show God’s entire independence of all its forms.
Every false interpretation of nature fails on one or the other of these two points, in denying either that God was before nature or that He is independent of nature.
Evolution, for example, does not concern itself with causes. It does not explain causation. It reasons on the basis of an already existing creation. So far as its testimony is concerned, there was no creation, and matter is eternal. The fact that it does not acknowledge the creation, and denies the clearly marked-out act of the creation, makes it false science.
These are the thumb-marks of error as shown in evolution.
And Christian Science avers that there is no matter, and hence no material creation; and that the real man and world are spiritual, coexistent with God, and hence eternal. According to this the universe has always existed with God. This is but one form of pantheism, which is the doctrine that seeks to identify creation and the Creator.
And this is the thumb-mark of error as disclosed by Christian Science.
And pantheism itself—the doctrine that God and nature are one—not only preaches the coexistence of nature and God, but in its worst form it makes God a part of nature and sinks Him in the gulf of His own creation by merging Him into the universe. It claims that God is an all-pervading essence, a spirit, existent throughout the universe, and that all things are but a part of Him.
And so here also we discover the thumb-marks of error in the speculation called pantheism.
But the Bible teaches that God was before His works. The world and the universe were created by Him. He was and is before all things, and hence is independent of nature and infinitely greater than nature.
L. A. REED.