A Course in Miracles cautions that controversy is inevitable for those who wish controversy, and that controversy tends to postpone or delay our reaching spiritual certainty. Controversy seems to come with the human package. The Course states: “Theological considerations as such are necessarily controversial, since they depend on belief and can therefore be accepted or rejected. A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary. It is this experience toward which the course is directed. Here alone consistency becomes possible, because here alone uncertainty ends.”
I’m not a theologian, but I’m aware that ACIM offers the potential for controversy, when one compares it with a literal interpretation of the Bible. So, I thought I would offer my experience and understanding of the Course in hopes of ameliorating the controversy.
To me, the most liberating facet of Course theology is the idea that God did not create this world. Instead, we the Son Of God, created in His image, made the world as a projection of the mistaken thought that we are separate from God. Thus, the world is not real, and the bodies within it are not real. The physical world reflects the projection of our guilt for supposedly turning our backs on God, and our fear that God will retaliate and punish us, say, with death. A loving God is not to blame in the least.
This theology thus appears to answer the perennial question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Reverend Billy Graham revisited this question at the National Prayer Service following 9/11 at the National Cathedral on September 14, 2001 (1:20:00 on the video). Before a world-wide TV audience, he said: “..But what are some of the lessons we can learn? First, we are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil. I’ve been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer, totally, even to my own satisfaction…”
It also lets God off the hook for such Biblical accounts as the Great Flood. And it erases the apparent reality of sin, sickness and death.
And, I submit, it narrows the difference between creationism and evolution theory, since it posits that true creation was completely spiritual in nature, and evolution is merely a figment of our imagination. God is not a body, and we are not our apparent bodies.
The presence of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Eden seems to be a close analog to our mad idea of separation form God. Not that God prohibited the mad idea, for that would restrict free will, but the decision to eat the fruit was “man’s” own creative idea. Adam and Eve’s shame at their nakedness mirrors the guilt arising from the separation thought.
Why the difference between the Course and the Biblical account of Genesis? Again I’m no theologian, but I am aware that the books of the Old Testament were largely based on oral tradition handed down over many generations. And as anyone who has played the party game “Telephone” knows, verbal communication is subject to a lot of interpretation and modification. Is the Course inerrant? I can’t say for sure, but I believe it is a more direct transmission of the relevant theology…. At least, it rings a bell and makes a lot of sense to me.
Original Sin and Forgiveness: The primary means that the Course presents for healing the thought of separation is through forgiving all blocks to Love’s presence in our relationships. This process of forgiveness goes well beyond seeing sin and then saying, “Well, that’s okay; I forgive you.” It is actually about not knowing that sin exists. Mistakes, yes. They can be corrected. But unredeemable sin is hardly possible in Course theology.