ce399 | research archive (esoterica)

Wikipedia Removes A Course in Miracles “Controversy and Criticism” Section

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 17/11/2010

Reunifying psychology of forgiveness and atonement

ACIM postulates that reclaiming the awareness of unity, which it terms “salvation,” is the one viable solution to the only actual problem facing seemingly separated minds, the problem of believing they are separate from each other and from God. This awareness dawns through the process of forgiveness, making up an overall plan of atonement, two concepts that ACIM redefines from traditional Christianity.

ACIM proposes forgiveness as the solution because, it explains, seemingly separated minds in the world feel guilt and fear of God stemming from the mistaken belief that they have offended or attacked God by separating from Him. These minds close off from the awareness from love, and love’s absence is felt as fear. They instead engage in judgment against the illusory world and against others, allowing psychological projection of the fear and guilt felt inside them outward onto seemingly external forces and actors. They believe that what is really coming from inside them is instead coming at them from outside, and so believe that problems are myriad, random, and unrelated, as opposed to there being only one problem, centered on belief in separation. These minds invariably become angry at these perceived external threats and attempt to attack them and defend against them, when in truth, ACIM claims, anger is never justified, attack has no foundation, and real strength lies only in defenselessness. These minds are locked in a cycle of experiencing imagined victimization and seeking impotently for solutions outside themselves, which is not where the true problem is, inside themselves. The solution to all this, ACIM concludes, is atonement, achieved through forgiveness.

Forgiveness in ACIM is not the letting go of actual slights and injuries inflicted by others, but is instead the recognition that others have not and indeed cannot harm or wrong the mind of the individual perceiver. This unorthodox outlook is possible, ACIM explains, because it is the mind of the perceiver, rather than anyone or anything else, who actually determines all the experiences that he will receive, and also because his mind is still as God created it, meaning that the events that seem to befall him in the world do not actually affect or change him in any real way.

ACIM takes its title from its notion that forgiveness and atonement are accomplished with, and accompanied by, miracles. ACIM defines a miracle more broadly than does traditional Christianity, as essentially being any change of a mind away from fear and separation and towards love and unity, although ACIM’s definition does include traditional miracles like those found in the Bible, such as healing the sick and raising the dead.


Controversy and criticism

While less controversial than many new religious movements, ACIM has encountered controversy and criticism in several areas.

External critical views

ACIM has attracted attention in Christian apologetics and countercult groups due to its use of Christian terminology and concepts. Citing the philosophical differences between ACIM and traditional Christian doctrine, such groups have usually labeled ACIM as a heretical Christian counterfeit and demonically inspired. A similar view was voiced in an Internet essay by an exponent of The Urantia Book, who viewed ACIM’s de-emphasis of sin as specially benefiting, and therefore likely authored by, the Devil. Skeptical groups look askance at the material’s origins in channeling allegedly emanating from Jesus. Author James Hillman at one point made a statement to the effect that he “hated” ACIM, but such words may simply have been uttered in haste, as he later declined to elaborate on that statement when pressed by author D. Patrick Miller during research for the book, The Complete Story of the Course.

Foolish or subversive doctrine

In common with other spiritual doctrines asserting that the world is illusion and that internal thought rather than external physical factors determine what befalls each observer, ACIM doctrines can be viewed as foolish or dangerous to the adherent. ACIM denies such obvious and self-evident commodities as physical laws, sickness, tragedy and death, which denial most all rational quarters would regard as ludicrous. Rationalists may fear, for example, that ACIM’s premise that only defenselessness confers true strenth will lead adherents to harm through foolhardy strategies of utter pacificism in the face of aggression (see “turn the other cheek”). ACIM’s doctrines may also be seen as subversive to the proper functioning of a rational society. ACIM advises adherents to not bother attempting to change the world, but instead simply to change their thinking about the world. The concern may accordingly arise that ACIM will breed “discerning zombies” who retire from the politics of the world rather than remaining active within it. ACIM’s doctrines further run contra to certain core principles upon which societies have always been founded: ACIM would replace punishment with absolute forgiveness, and do away with the concepts of sin and guilt. The adept, according to ACIM, will never even see any attack or offense in the first place. It may easily be argued that human society as it has always been understood would crumble without retributive justice.

The impact of such doctrines appears limited, however, as very few ACIM adherents have taken these doctrines to heart in such a radical, literal way. ACIM has spawned a wide spectrum of interpretation from the radically literalist to the mildly allegorical, with popular ACIM proponents such as Marianne Williamson far more strongly aligned with the latter than the former. Current evidence does not suggest more than a small minority within the ACIM community adhere to literalist interpretations that would deny what is broadly known as “common sense” and attempt to apply ACIM doctrines to radical or subversive effect in the world. Further, there has been no compelling evidence to suggest that any of the few who do interpret ACIM radically have succeeded in producing any significant outcomes. This is perhaps not surprising, since “the razor’s edge” to be trod by any who would literally deny injustice, sickness and death in favor of miracles would be sharp and difficult indeed.

Group controversy

One group in particular, the New Christian Church of Full Endeavor, along with its teaching arm, Endeavor Academy, has generated pointed controversy both inside and outside the ACIM community. The group is headed by an American, Chuck Anderson, who is referred to by himself and his followers as “Master Teacher.” The group has established intentional communities in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin in the USA, Byron Bay in Australia, and Wusterwitz in Germany. These communities have come under criticism of cult behavior, including brainwashing and psychological and physical abuse of members. Ex-members of the Australian community for a time published a newsletter entitled “Holy Smoke,” detailing their claims of abuses occurring at that location. The larger ACIM community has hotly debated whether some of the more unorthodox doctrines of this group are in fact consonant with the teachings of ACIM.

Shallow or waning influence

In common with many other religious and spiritual groups, ACIM has generated a great deal of materialist by-product. Books, seminars, tapes and other merchandise have generated a substantial amount of revenue for popular ACIM proponents, with the accompanying charge that ACIM is actually “big business” driven by profit motive rather than any true spiritual insight. It may also be questioned whether ACIM has made any significant difference in the world: While personal testimonies from adherents are legion to the effect that ACIM has changed their lives and transformed them for the better, at the same time attacks, quarrels, and legal actions rage within the ACIM community, and there is little compelling evidence to suggest ACIM’s influence has rendered its group of adherents substantially less aggressive or more peaceful than any other group, spiritual or otherwise. Further, it is unclear whether the large initial circulation of the ACIM text can be followed by sustained, long-term significance in the spiritual community. The original channeler of the ACIM material has died, and no centralized church has grown up around the material to perpetuate its doctrines. It has been suggested even by as prominent a proponent as Hugh Prather that ACIM’s influence is on the wane.



Some Doctrinal Christian apologists have considered it heretical or counterfeit.[25] Author and Yogi, Joel Kramer, states that the Course could be considered a classic authoritarian example of programming thought to change beliefs.[26] Anton van Harskamp, a Dutch scholar of religion, says that the Course contains, “…endless variation on some universally meant insights in life…” that, “…brings readers of the book, [or] in any case this reader, [to] a mood in which bewilderment and boredom take turns”.[27] Long time teacher of the Course, Hugh Prather, notes that some of the ACIM students that he knew personally had become, “far more separate and egocentric,” with some of them, “[losing] the ability to carry on a simple conversation”. He admits that he and his wife Gayle, “…had ended up less flexible, less forgiving, and less generous than we were when we first started our path!” However, he attributes these behavioral shortcomings to the ego, not to the ACIM philosophy. Throughout the cited article Prather expresses admiration of the tenets of ACIM. His conclusion of the article contains the following statement “A Course in Miracles can survive in the 21st century, in fact it can transform the 21st century, if those who see the Reality it points to choose to extend themselves beyond their ego boundaries and make the interests of another their own”. [14]

Critical reviews

While less controversial than many new religious movements, ACIM has encountered controversy and criticism in several areas.

Some negative critical reviews

Some conservative Christian reviewers have expressed concerns that the doctrines of ACIM may incorporate some cultic tendencies. Citing the theological and philosophical differences between ACIM and traditional Christian theology and philosophy, such apologists have sometimes labeled ACIM as heretical, counterfeit, and as possibly even demonically inspired. 3 Some skeptical groups look askance at the material’s origins in channeling, allegedly emanating from Jesus. Some such reviewers hold that ACIM’s doctrines are subversive to the proper functioning of a rational society, as nowhere does ACIM encourage its students to actively attempt to improve or change the world for the better, and instead ACIM teaches that the material world is merely an illusion.

Noted psychologist and author James Hillman has described the philosophy of ACIM as fascist. He has claimed that: “The roots of fascism exist within… [ACIM] philosophy…. Everybody would make the world as he or she would like it. But trying to get the power to make the world that way is a form of insanity. This is also what Moussolini and Hitler had: omnipotent fantasy.” He has also described ACIM as, “Republican right-wing politics in the guise of spiritual reformation.” However when asked on numerous occasions to explain the basis for this claim, he has replied only that “I have no answers to your questions and do not have the interest to pursue them.” 4



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