A Course in Miracles/Part 2
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2009|
|A Course in Miracles teaches people that for physical and spiritual health, they must accept “proper” attitudes toward themselves, life in general, and the world. In essence, these “proper” attitudes are the rejection of biblical understandings about such issues as sin, guilt, and atonement, and the acceptance of New Age occult teachings such as pantheism (All is God; God is All) and psychic development.|
(Extracted from Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, Harvest House, 1996)
A Course in Miracles teaches people that for physical and spiritual health, they must accept “proper” attitudes toward themselves, life in general, and the world. What are these proper attitudes? In essence, they are 1) the rejection of biblical understandings about such issues as sin, guilt, and atonement, and 2) the acceptance of New Age occult teachings such as pantheism (All is God; God is All) and psychic development. Specifically, the Course offers a form of “Westernized” Hinduism with the distinct goal of changing its readers’ perceptions into conformity with the non-dualistic (advaita) school of Vedanta Hinduism. This school maintains that the world is ultimately a dream or illusion, and that all men are inwardly God. Another chief goal of the Course is to encourage the student to accept psychic (spiritistic) guidance.
Volume I is the “text” itself, which presents spiritual, metaphysical, and theological teachings, including heretical treatments of Jesus Christ, His death on the cross as a vicarious atonement, the Holy Spirit, and the doctrine of salvation, to name a few.
Volume 2 is a “Workbook for Students,” which offers 365 spiritual lessons and exercises to help the participant experientially assimilate the new worldview and cultivate an openness to psychic and spiritistic guidance. Volume 2 has two specific goals: 1) learning New Age Hinduism, and 2) unlearning biblical Christianity. Thus, “Part I of Volume 2” is an extensive indoctrination into the religious philosophy of New Age Hinduism, although it is couched in Christian terminology.
“Part II of Volume 2” provides a specific theological “reindoctrination” for unlearning the “errors” taught by the Bible. Some 14 doctrines are covered, including, “What is Forgiveness?” “What is Salvation?” “What is the World?” “What is Sin?” “What is the Body?” “What is the Christ?” “What is the Holy Spirit?” and on through “The Real World,” “The Second Coming,” “The Last Judgment,” “Creation,” “Miracle,” and “Man.”
The Workbook for Students has specific goals in mind. For example:
- It is the purpose of this workbook to train your mind to think along the lines the text sets forth…. The training period is one year. The exercises are numbered from 1 to 365….
- The workbook is divided into two main sections, the first dealing with the undoing of the way you see now, and the second with acquisition of true perception….
- The purpose of the workbook is to train your mind in a systematic way to a different perception of everyone and everything in the world….
- … be sure that you do not decide for yourself that there are some people, situations or things to which the ideas are inapplicable….
- The overall aim of the exercise is to increase your ability to extend the ideas you will be practicing to include everything. This will require no effort on your part. The exercises themselves meet the conditions necessary for this kind of transfer….
- Remember only this; you need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not even welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy. But do not allow yourself to make exceptions in applying the ideas the workbook contains, and whatever your reactions to the ideas may be, use them. Nothing more than that is required.
Below are some of the titles that describe the mental exercises offered in the Course:
- God is in everything I see.
- I have invented the world I see.
- My mind is part of God’s. I am very holy.
- My holiness blesses the world.
- My holiness is my salvation.
- I am the light of the world.
- Forgiveness is my function as the light of the world.
- My salvation comes from me.
- I am entitled to miracles.
- I am among the ministers of God.
- I walk with God in perfect holiness.
- There is no death. The Son of God is free.
- Salvation of the world depends on me.
- I am the holy Son of God Himself.
- God has condemned me not. No more do I.
- The glory of my Father is my own.
- Fear is not justified in any form.
- Let me not see myself as limited.
- The Son of God is my identity.
- My Self is ruler of the universe.
- Let me remember there is no sin.
- My holy vision sees all things as pure.
- The Word of God is given me to speak.
- The Holy Spirit speaks through me today.
- The holy Christ is born in me today.
- I came for the salvation of the world.
- My Father gives all power unto me.
- I choose to see my brother’s sinlessness.
- My sinlessness protects me from all harm.
- Peace be to me, the holy Son of God.
Volume 3 is a “Manual for Teachers” of the Course, and it offers them a sense of “divine destiny” for their spiritual “mission.” Course teachers are referred to as “teachers of God”:
- Except for God’s teachers there would be little hope of salvation, for the world of sin would seem forever real. The self-deceiving must deceive, for they must teach deception. And what else is hell? This is a manual for the teachers of God.
- A teacher of God is anyone who chooses to be one….
- They come from all over the world. They come from all religions and from no religion….
- There is a course for every teacher of God. The form of the course varies greatly. So do the particular teaching aids involved. But the content of the course never changes. Its central theme is always, “God’s Son is guiltless, and in his innocence is his salvation.” It does not matter who the teacher was before he heard the Call. He has become a savior by his answer….
- Certain pupils have been assigned to each of God’s teachers, and they will begin to look for him as soon as he has answered the Call. They were chosen for him because the form of the universal curriculum that he will teach is best for them in view of their level of understanding. His pupils have been waiting for him, for his coming is certain. Again, it is only a matter of time. Once he has chosen to fulfill his role, they are ready to fulfill theirs….
- When pupil and teacher come together, a teaching-learning situation begins…. The relationship is holy because of that purpose, and God has promised to send His Spirit into any holy relationship.
In addition to the three volumes described previously, an additional manual is suggested: Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice, for integrating Course concepts with modern psychotherapy. This is for the professional therapist who wishes to use Course teachings in his counseling practice.
Course encouragement toward psychic guidance is also obvious. Brian Van der Horst, writing in New Realities, observes that: “Above all, the Course instructs students in the discovery of their own inner guidance, the revelation of a spiritual voice that counsels one in all situations. The Voice or God or Holy Spirit, as it is called… gives everything from direction for making decisions on business, career, and life purpose, to advice to the lovelorn.”
All in all, the Course is a masterpiece of spiritual strategy. It claims to be a revelation from Jesus Christ Himself, and it is intelligently organized and simply written. It appeals to personal pride and can become almost addicting emotionally. It is carefully designed to radically restructure a person’s perception against Christian faith and toward New Age occultism.
We would say the text was designed not only for spiritually searching individuals of a secular or psychic persuasion, but especially for nominal Christians in the church who have recognized the bankruptcy of theological liberalism and desire more spiritual “reality” in their lives.
In essence, the Course simultaneously indoctrinates its students in Eastern metaphysics and human potential psychicism, while it specifically insulates them against biblical revelation and true Christianity. In achieving this end, its manipulation of psychological and emotional states is impressive. It offers carefully thought-out spiritual exercises, one for every day of the year.
Publisher Robert Skutch observes, “The concepts of the Course are such that anyone who studies the material seriously must find that his or her perceptions are changing.…” (Skutch is the author of Messages from My Higher Self, produced through a form of automatic writing.)
As noted earlier, Eastern religion, particularly Hinduism (advaita Vedanta), plays an important part in the Course. Robert Skutch writes:
- What they now had in their possession was a spiritual document that was very closely related to the teachings of the non-dualistic Vedanta of the Hindu religion, and that the profundity of the Vedanta certainly paralleled the obvious profundity of the Course. He [Thetford] realized the basic spiritual teachings of both had many striking similarities to each other, and that the main difference between them was that the Course was stating the perennial philosophy of eternal truths in Christian terminology with a psychological application that seemed expressly aimed at a contemporary audience.
In Course philosophy, biblical words undergo drastic changes of purpose. Often, the new meanings are the opposite of their biblical meaning. For example, “atonement” no longer refers to Jesus Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross for sin. In biblical teaching, the atonement is based on the fact that man’s sinfulness separates him from God. Before man can be reconciled to God, there must be a divine judgment of sin. Christ sacrificed His own life on the cross – He was judged in our place – to accomplish this. This is what Christians mean by the word “atonement,” or the atoning sacrifice of Christ (John 3:16,18). In 1 John 2:2 and 4:10 we read, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world,” and, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” God tells everyone, “Your iniquities have separated you from your God” (Isa. 59:2), and therefore, because of God’s mercy to us, “God presented him [Christ] as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood [i.e., His death]. He did this to demonstrate his justice… at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies [those who have] faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:25-26).
But in the Course, the word “atonement” means the exact opposite: that one is not, and never has been, separate from God. Therefore, an atoning sacrifice in the biblical sense is meaningless. For the Course, the term “atonement” refers to correcting the belief that men are separate from God, which is presumed to be a false belief. Hence, because “the atonement” is not yet completed (i.e., some people still think they are separate from God), Course students are told they have an important role to play “in the Atonement.” In other words, their job is to help reconcile men to the spiritual truth they are God and therefore cannot be separate from Him.
According to the Bible, God freely pardons, or forgives, a believer’s sins on the basis of Jesus Christ’s atonement: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sins and forgives the transgression?” (Micah 7:18); and, “[We] are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). And consider the important words of the apostle John, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives” (1 John 1:8-10). But the Course denies this, just as it rejects the biblical concept of the atonement.
The Course also denies the biblical teaching on forgiveness. “Forgiveness” does not pardon sins before God, because sins aren’t even real to begin with. Therefore, “forgiveness” merely involves the realization that there never were any sins to pardon. Likewise, “sinners” do not exist, because “sin” is an illusion. According to an interview with Course editor and teacher Kenneth Wapnick:
- Wapnick: There’s a line in the Course that says, God does not forgive because he has never condemned. Technically, God doesn’t forgive, God simply loves. Forgiveness in the Course is the correction for the belief in sin, the belief in separation, the belief in guilt.
- SCP [Spiritual Counterfeits Project]: Christ did not die for our sins?
- Wapnick: No. Absolutely not. Because once you see his death in that way, then you make sin real…. The whole idea of the Course is that sin is an illusion…. The crux of the whole thing is that our relationship with God has never been impaired. It’s only in our thinking that it was. In other words, for the Course, sin never really happened…. What Jesus did for us was show us that the separation never really happened.
As a result of this distorted theology, the Course approach to “salvation” lies in understanding that no one requires salvation in the biblical sense because all men are already divine. “Salvation” is merely accepting one’s “true” identity as being one in essence with God. Each individual is the Son of God; each is already perfect. Therefore, we need nothing from God because our true nature is God.
Sin, guilt death, judgment, propitiatory atonement and other biblical doctrines are viewed as “attack” philosophies by the Course. That is, they are concepts which greatly hinder spiritual “progress” and severely damage the realization of our “true” divine nature. Men must become free of these false, enslaving, and evil ideas if they desire true spiritual freedom. Otherwise, they choose to “remain in hell” and to “kill” the God of love.
In the Course worldview, orthodox Christian beliefs (biblical teachings given by the one true God) are held to be “evil,” “insane,” and “anti-Christ.”
We can see just how unbiblical the instructions of the Course are when we contrast them to what the Bible teaches:
- The Course explains that men are not separated from God. The Bible teaches, “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2).
- The Course explains that there was no atonement for sin and that Jesus Christ did not die on the cross for our sins. The Bible teaches, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross…” (1 Pet. 2:24), and, “Jesus Christ, the Righteous One… is the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 2:1-2). Jesus Himself taught, “The Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).
- The Course explains that no one needs to believe on Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins. The Bible teaches, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus Himself warned, “If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:24). And, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, emphasis added).
- A Course in Miracles, Volume 2: Workbook for Students, Huntington Station, NY: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1977, pp. 1-2, emphasis added.
- Ibid., pp. I-IX.
- A Course in Miracles, Volume 3, Manual for Teachers, Huntington Station, NY: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1977, pp. 2-5.
- cf. John Ankerberg, John Weldon, The Facts on Self-Esteem, Psychology, and the Recovery Movement, Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1995.
- Brian Van Der Horst, “Update on A Course in Miracles,” New Realities, vol. 3, no. 1, August 1979, p. 50, emphasis added).
- James Bolen, “Interview: William N. Thetford,” New Realities, vol. 6, no. 2, September/October 1984, Part 2, p. 78.
- James Bolen, “Interview: William N. Thetford,” New Realities, vol. 6, no. 1, July/August, Part 1, p. 24.
- A Course in Miracles, Volume 1, text, Huntington Station, New York: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1977, p. 10.
- Dean C. Halverson, Kenneth Wapnick, “A Matter of Course: Conversation with Kenneth Wapnick,” Spiritual Counterfeits Journal, vol. 7, no. 1, 1987, pp. 13-14).
- Course, Volume 1, chs. 13,22-23.
- Ibid., chs. 5-6; pp. 374-78.