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Emilie Cady — Lessons In Truth (Study Edition)

Why We should Be Preaching Emilie Cady’s Theology of Desire

Graphic from Lessons in Truth Facsimile edition

Hi Friends —

Emilie Cady’s Theology of Desire just may be one of the two or three most important theological innovations of the past 120 years. It’s all laid out in Chapter 5 of the original edition of Lessons in Truth (on Faith) and it is wonderfully elaborated upon by Vera Dawson Tait’s commentary on that chapter.

More important, her Theology of Desire is directly attributable to words of Jesus (Mark 11:24), the Letter of James (James 5:16) and the Letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 11:1). Its Truth is the basis for the healing miracles of Jesus and the spiritual healing by his disciples. Today, biblical scholars refer to these Bible passages as The Prayer of Faith (not to be confused with the poem by Hannah More Kohaus) but my sense is that few really understand it as well as did Emilie Cady.

The Truth of the Theology of Desire was lost to Christian theology as early as the Church Fathers and St. Augustine. It’s loss explains why the gift of spiritual healing was suppressed for nearly two millennia and why a Google search today on “The Prayer of Faith” reveals nothing but short-sighted and unbiblical interpretations (mostly Evangelical) that are rooted in the belief in total depravity of humanity and suspicion of any form of human desire (discussed below as "blind faith"). Even Charles Fillmore did not fully understand Emilie Cady’s assertion about Understanding Faith being rooted in Desire. I say this because the Understanding Faith entry in the original Metaphysics book (later removed) did not refer to Desire.

Regardless, we may now be entering into a new era—a shift from Evangelical Christianity to Metaphysical Christianity—and the time may now have come for western Christianity to be open to Emilie Cady’s discovery. Here’s a bulleted list of the major points she makes, arranged by topic with paragraph numbers from the Study Edition text of the chapter:

Desire as the substance of a Divine Idea (20-39)

  1. Desire is the substance of a Divine Idea.
  2. God creates this substance because God wishes to express something of God’s nature though us.
  3. The Divine Idea is essentially a “promise of God” (25) because the substance of it already exists in the spiritual realm. The essential point is that true Desire comes from God, not from us.
  4. We sense this substance through Intuition. Emilie Cady writes “Desire in the heart is always God tapping at the door of your consciousness with His infinite supply” (27).
  5. Sensing the existence of this substance, we typically make two mistakes: we do not understand its source (God) and all too often we do not conceive its true essence (because it is unformed substance). All we know at this point is a hunger for what has been sensed.
  6. Not understanding the source and not properly conceiving its essence, we think that we are the source of our desires.

Faith as as faculty is the flashlight, the fingers and the foreman (1-10)

  1. Our faculty of Faith begins to perceive the true source and true essence of the Desire. This is what Vera Tait refers to as the “flashlight of Faith”—the ability to perceive the Divine Idea.
  2. Our faculty of Faith then reaches out to grasp that substance (with what Vera Tait refers to as the “fingers of Faith”) and begins to give it shape for expression.
  3. The faculty of Faith, represented by the apostle Peter, stands forth and leads the other faculties in bringing the Desire into expression (referred to by Vera Tait as the “foreman of Faith”).
  4. Taken together, the flashlight, fingers and foreman of Faith is a necessary demand on the pre-existent supply (unformed substance) of the Divine Idea (26).

The development of Faith (11-19)

  1. The rise of modern thinking has led many people to question the usefulness of Faith. Emilie Cady says it is a “word that has drawn forth someting akin to scorn from so-called ‘thinking-people’ and ridiculed as “blind faith” (1).
  2. Blind Faith is a lower-order of Faith which places its trust in supplication to a fickle and changeable God. Blind faith relies on church tradition, the Bible and reason for its information. Blind faith is the type of faith known in Christianity until Emilie Cady and other New Thought Christians made their discovery of Understanding Faith.
  3. Understanding Faith is a higher-order of Faith which understands the true source of Desire (a loving God), is able to discern the essence of Divine Idea behind the Desire (through Intuition) and places its trust in an already-existant supply of unformed substance to satisfy the Desire through workable law of that loving God (Principle).

So why is this important? What is innovative about these assertions? And why should we be preaching about Emilie Cady’s Theology of Desire?

It’s important because one thing we can say with some confidence about Jesus, his disciples and Christian New Thought is that spiritual healing is central to living a God-filled life today, here and now. Jesus was a healer, as were his disciples. And, as Metaphysical Christians, we hold to the belief that we are also called to the gift of spiritual healing—not for some, not for those who lived long ago, in another “dispensation”—but for all of us, we who live and follow Jesus Christ today.

And central to that calling is what we know as the Prayer of Faith: “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24); “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction (substance) of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) and “The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven” (James 5:16).

What is innovative about these theological assertions? They are innovative because they don’t simply make declarations about how to pray or why some prayers are effective and others are not. These assertions are innovative because they provide a coherent explanation of why the Prayer of Faith is effective. They help us know why Understanding Faith—effective faith—is rooted in God-given Desire, placed under our noses like the scent of chocolate cookies fresh from the oven, designed to arouse our deepest hunger to entice us to give way and allow God’s expresion through us.

Why should we be preaching about Emilie Cady’s Theology of Desire? We should be preaching about Emilie Cady’s Theology of Desire because Rick Warren is right—the Purpose Driven Life, driven by God desire, is a good life.

We should be preaching about Emilie Cady’s Theology of Desire because Catherine Ponder is right—”If you suppress those deep desires, they have no constructive outlet and often turn into destructive channels ... the law of creative prosperity is to take your deep-seated desires and, instead of suppressing them as impossible dreams, begin expressing them constructively by deciding what they really are ... ‘God tapping at the door of your mind, trying to give you greater good.”

We should be preaching about Emilie Cady’s Theology of Desire because Emilie Cady is right—”God wants you to be a strong, self-sufficient man or woman, to have more power and dominion over all before you. So He quietly and silently pushes a little more of Himself, His desire, into the center of your being. He enlarges your real Self, and at once you become conscious of new desire to be bigger, grander, stronger.”

Emilie Cady says “Remember this. Desire in the heart for anything is God’s sure promise sent beforehand to indicate that it is yours already in the limitless realm of supply. And whatever you want you can have for the taking.”

So be it!

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Sunday, September 1, 2019


Lesson 5 — Faith

Clip 71 from Faith.
071 Faith and understanding

“Verily I say unto you that whosoever shall say unto this mountain be thou removed and be thou cast into the midst of the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith.”—Mark 11:23.

“Science was Faith once.”
   —Lowell. [From "The Cathedral"] "Science was Faith once:
Faith were Science now.
Would she but lay her bows and arrows by
And arm her with the weapons of the time."

1. The word Faith is one which has generally been thought to denote a simple form of belief based mostly upon ignorance and superstition. It is a word that has drawn forth something akin to scorn from so-called “thinking people,”—the people who have believed that intellectual attainment was the highest form of knowledge to be reached. “Blind faith,” they have disdainfully chosen to call it; fit only for ministers, women and children, but not a practical thing upon which to establish the everyday business affairs of life.

2. Some have prided themselves on having outgrown the swaddling clothes of this blind, unreasoning faith, and grown up to the place—as they say—where they have faith only in that which can be seen and handled, or intellectually explained.

Clip 72 from Faith.
072 What is faith?

3. St. Paul, a most intellectual man, and a learned theologian, after having written at length upon the nature of faith and the marvelous results attending it, tried to put into a few words a condensed definition of Faith.

4. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” said he. (Heb. 11:1—See ASV Commentary.)

5. In other words, faith takes right hold of the substance of the things desired, and brings into the world of evidence the things which before were not seen. Further speaking of faith Paul says “things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” i. e., things which are seen are not made out of visible things but out of the Invisible. In some way, then, we understand, that whatever we want is in this surrounding Invisible Substance; and Faith is the power which can bring it out into reality to us. Please remember this.

6. After having related innumerable instances of marvelous things brought to pass in the lives of men, not by their work or efforts but by Faith, Paul says

7. “What shall I more say. For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak, of Samson and Jephtha, of David and Samuel and the prophets,
Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the Aliens.
Women received their dead to life again, etc.
   —(Heb. 11:32, 33, 34, 35.)

8. Is there any more power or anything greater you want in your life than is here mentioned by Paul? Power to subdue kingdoms, stop the mouths of lions, quench fire, turn to flight whole armies, receive your dead to life again? Even if your desires exceed this you need not despair or hesitate to claim their fulfillment; for One greater than I, one who knew whereof he spoke, said, “To him who believeth, all things are possible.”

9. Until very recently, whenever any one has spoken of Faith as the one power which could move mountains (or move God, which was still more difficult,) we have felt always a sort of hopeless discouragement. While we have believed that God holds all good things in His hand and is willing to be prevailed upon to dole them out “according to your faith,” yet how could we, even by straining every nerve of our being towards faith, be sure that we have sufficient to please Him? For does it not say, “Without faith it is impossible to please God?” (Heb. 11:6)

10. From the moment we began to ask, we began to question our ability to reach God’s standard of Faith, upon which hung our fate. We also began to feel rather shaky about whether, after all, there is any such power in faith to prevail with the Giver of every good gift, as to draw out of Him something which He had never let us have before.

11. Viewing Faith in this light, it isn’t much wonder that logical minds have looked upon it as a sort of will-o-the-wisp, good enough for weak women and silly children to hang their hopes upon: but not a thing upon which any real, definite results could ever be counted,—not a thing that the business world could rest upon.

Clip 74 from Faith.
074 Blind faith

12. There is a “blind faith,” to be sure. (Some one has truthfully said that a blind faith is better than none at all; for, if held to, it will get its eyes open after a time.) But there is also an Understanding Faith. Blind faith is an instinctive trust in a power higher than ourselves. Understanding Faith is based upon immutable principle.

13. Faith does not depend upon physical facts—or evidence of the senses because it is born of intuition, or the Spirit of Truth ever living at the centre of our being. Its action is infinitely higher than that of reason. It is founded on truth; while as you remember from a former lesson, reasoning or intellectual argument is founded on evidence of the senses and is not reliable.

Clip 75 from Faith.
075 What is intuition?

14. Intuition is the open end, within one’s own being, of the invisible channel ever connecting each individual with God. Faith is, as it were, a ray of light shot out from the Central Sun—God—the farther end of which ray comes into your being and mine through the open door of Intuition. With our consciousness we perceive the ray of light, and though intellect cannot grasp it or give the why or wherefore thereof, yet we instinctively feel that the other end of the ray opens out into all there is of God (good). This is “blind” faith. It is based on truth, but a truth which we are not at the time conscious of. Even this kind of faith will, if persisted in, bring the desired results.

Clip 76 from Faith.
076 What is understanding faith?

15. Now, what is Understanding Faith? There are some things which God has so indissolubly joined together that it is impossible for even Himself to put them asunder. They are bound together by fixed, immutable laws. If we have one we must have the other.

16. Evans illustrates this by the laws of geometry. For instance, If we have a triangle the sum of all the angles is equal to two right angles. No matter how large or small the triangle; no matter whether it is made on the mountain top or leagues under the sea; if we are asked the sum of its angles we can unhesitatingly answer—without waiting an instant to count or reckon this particular triangle—that it is just two right angles. This is absolutely certain It is certain before ever the triangle is drawn by visible lines; and we can know it beforehand because it is based upon immutable, unchangeable laws, upon the truth or reality of the thing. It was true just as much before any one ever recognized it as it is today. People knowing it or not knowing it does not change the fact. Only, just in proportion as we come to know it as an eternally true fact can we be benefitted by it.

17. It is a simple fact that one plus one makes two. It is an eternal truth. You cannot put 1 and 1 together without the 2 resulting. You may believe it or not. That does not alter the fact. But unless you do put the 1 and 1 together you cannot produce the 2, for one is eternally dependent upon the other.

Clip 77 from Faith.
077 How may we know what effects
will follow certain states of mind?

18. There are in the mental and Spiritual worlds—or realms—just as real and unfailing laws for their government as in the Natural world. There are certain conditions of mind which are so connected with certain results that the two are inseparable. If we have the one we must have the other, as surely as the night follows the day. Not because we believe some wise person’s testimony that such is the case,—not even because the voice of Intuition tells us it is so; but because the whole matter is based on laws which can neither fail nor be broken.

19. When we know something of these laws we can know positively before hand just what results will follow certain mental states.

20. God, the one Creative Cause of all things, is Spirit, invisible as we have learned. God is the sum total of all good. There is no good you can desire in your life but what at its centre it is God. God is the Substance of all things,—the real thing within every visible form of good.

21. God, the invisible Substance out of which all visible things are formed, though unseen by these mortal eyes, is all around us waiting to come forth into visible manifestation.

22. This Invisible Good all about us is unlimited, and is Itself the supply of every demand that can be made, of every need that exists in the visible or natural world.

23. One of the unerring truths or facts in the Universe (by Universe I mean the Spiritual and Natural worlds combined) is that some where there is already provided a lavish abundance for every human want. In other words the supply of every good always somewhere awaits the demand. Another truth or fact is that the demand must be made before the supply can come forth to fill it. To recognize these two statements as truth, and to affirm them, is the whole secret of Understanding Faith; faith based on principle or Understanding.

Clip 73 from Faith.
073 What part does faith play
in accomplishing our desires?

24. Let us square this by Paul’s definition of Faith, given earlier in the lesson. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” [Heb. 11:1] (See ASV commentary). Faith takes hold of the Substance of the thing hoped for, and brings into evidence (or visibility) the things not seen.

Clip 78 from Faith.
078 What are the promises of God?

25. What are usually called the promises of God are certain eternal, unchangeable truths, that are true whether they be found in the Bible or the Almanac. They are the unvarying statement of facts which cannot be altered, A promise, according to Webster, is a something sent before hand to indicate that something unseen is at hand. It is a declaration which gives the person to whom it is made, the right to expect and claim the performance of the act.

Clip 79 from Faith.
079 Does asking for the thing we desire
play a part in spiritual demonstration?

26. When the Nazarene—who had recognized the unchangeable fact that the supply of every want awaited, in the unseen, the demand for it—said “If ye ask ye receive” he was simply stating an unalterable truth. He had learned enough of Spiritual law to know that the instant we ask or desire, (for asking is desire expressed), we touch a secret spring which starts the good we want on its way towards us. He knew that there need not be any coaxing or pleading about it,—that our asking was simply complying with an unfailing law which was bound to work. There was no escape from it. Asking and receiving are the two ends of one and the same thing. We can not have one without the other.

Clip 80 from Faith.
080 What is desire?

27. Asking springs from desire to possess some good. What is desire? Desire in the heart is always God tapping at the door of your consciousness with His infinite supply,—a supply which is forever useless unless there be demand for it. “Before you call I will answer.” [Isaiah 65:24]. Before ever you are conscious of any lack, of any desire for more happiness or fulness or of joy, the great Father-Mother heart has desired them for you. It is He desiring them in you that you feel, and think it is only yourself (separate from Him) desiring them. With God the desire to give and giving are one and the same thing. Evans says “Desire for anything is the thing itself in incipiency;” i. e., the thing you desire is not only for you but has already been started toward you out of the heart of God; and it is the first little approach of the thing itself striking you that makes you desire it or even think of it at all.

28. The only way God has of letting us know of His infinite supply and his desire to make it ours, is for Him to gently push upon this little Divine Spark—part of Himself—living within each of us. He wants you to be a strong, self-sufficient man or woman, to have more power and dominion over all before you. So He quietly and silently pushes a little more of Himself, His desire, into the centre of your being. He enlarges, so to speak, your real Self, and at once you become conscious of new desire to be bigger, grander, stronger. If he had not pushed at the centre of your being first you would never have thought of it, but would have remained perfectly content as you were.

29. You think you want better health, more love, a brighter, more cheerful home all your very own. In short you want less evil (or no evil) and more good in your life. This is only God pushing at the inner door of your being saying “My child, let me in, I want to give you all-good, that you may be more comfortable and happy.” “Behold my servants shall eat; behold my servants shall drink; behold my servants shall build houses and inhabit them; behold my servants shall rejoice and sing for joy of heart.”

30. Remember this. Desire in the heart for anything is God’s sure promise sent beforehand to indicate that it is yours already in the limitless realm of supply. And whatever you want you can have for the taking.

31. Taking it, is simply recognizing the law of supply and demand (even if you cannot see with this mortal understanding a sign of the supply, any more than Elisha did when he had affirmed for rain and not a cloud even so big as a man’s hand was for a long time to be seen). Affirm your possession of the good you desire; have faith in it (because you are working on law and cannot fail); do not be argued off your basic principle by any one; and sooner will the heavens fall than that you fail to get that which you desire.

32. “All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye have received them and ye shall have them.”—Mark 11:24, Revised Version.

33. Knowing the law of abundant supply, and the fact that supply always precedes the demand, demand simply being the call which brings the supply into sight; knowing that all desire in the heart for any good is really God’s desire in us and for us, how shall we obtain the fulfillment of our every desire? And that right speedily?

34. “Delight thyself in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thy heart.” [Psalms 37:4] Take right hold of God with an unwavering faith. Begin and continue to rejoice and thank Him that you have (not will have) the desires of your heart; never losing sight of the fact that the desire is the thing itself in incipiency. If the good were not already yours in the invisible realm of supply you could not by any possibility desire it.

Clip 81 from Faith.
081 In Reality can we desire that which
belongs to another?

35. One asks, “suppose I desire my neighbor’s wife or his property. Is that desire born of God? And can I see it fulfilled by affirming that it is mine?”

36. You do not and cannot by any possibility desire that which belongs to another. You do not desire your neighbor’s wife. You desire the love which seems to you to be represented by your neighbor’s wife. You desire something to fill your heart craving for love. Affirm that there is for you a rightful and an overflowing supply, and claim its manifestation. It will surely come and your desire (?) to possess your neighbor’s wife will suddenly disappear.

37. So you do not in reality desire anything which belongs to your neighbor. You want the equivalent of that for which his possessions stand. You want your own. There is today an unlimited supply of All-good provided in the unseen for every human being. No man must needs have less that another may have more. Your very own awaits you. Your understanding Faith and trust is the power which will bring it to you.

Clip 82 from Faith.
082 Chapter summary

38. As Emerson says: “The man who knows the law is sure that his welfare is dear to the Heart of being; he believes that he cannot escape from his good” (The Oversoul).

39. Knowing the Divine law we can forever rest from all anxiety, all fear; for “He openeth His hand and satisfieth the desire of every living creature” (Psalms 145:16).

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