Author: John Burton
This article is intended as a Biblical overview, from my standpoint as an evangelical Christian, of the 3-volumed set of books, known as “A Course in Miracles” (A Course in Miracles® was originally a registered trademark of the Foundation for A Course in Miracles, Inc. ® but we were informed in February 2007 that these are now part of the public domain). These had been previously published separately: as the “Text” (Volume 1), “Workbook for Students” and “Manual for Teachers” (Volume 3).
Throughout this document I will refer to these books as “A Course in Miracles” or “ACIM”.
I have carefully studied, checked and read materials presently available on this subject Course, and can only come to one conclusion that everything about A Course in Miracles is diametrically opposed to the fundamental teaching of the Bible and it should be classed as a “New Age Religion”. The following are my own personal views and reasons why I came to this conclusion regarding the ACIM Course.
The Author of the ACIM Course
To begin with the author of ACIM never identifies himself as Jesus. Nowhere, in any of the text of ACIM, is there a clear identification of Jesus as the author. Since the “Christ” of ACIM never identifies himself as Jesus, all assumptions of authorship of ACIM are to this “Christ” and not to Jesus.
In all cases in which Jesus serves in a functional role in ACIM, and not merely as an object of reference, he is made subservient to another being, or a state of being. The vast body of text of ACIM uses inference and deduction, not explicit identification, to lead the student into a swamp of conceptual confusion.
The appeal of ACIM, as with all other channelled (spiritually delivered) materials, is on emotions and feelings, not on rigor of thought or righteousness.
The sadly mistaken notion that ACIM was written by Jesus, a notion that conditions our eternal survival, was based strictly on assumption, out of use of the word Christ, exactly as the author seems to have intended.
Because of this assumption, all those who adhere to the teachings of ACIM have placed themselves in potential eternal jeopardy.
In ACIM, words undergo massive changes of meaning, often; the new meanings are the opposite of their Biblical usage. An example of this would be that “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 judgement of sin. Christ sacrificed His own life on the cross, He was judged in our place and to accomplish this reconciliation. This is what Christians mean by the word “atonement,” or the atoning sacrifice of Christ (John 3:16 and John 3:18).
However, in ACIM it means:
Do not make the pathetic error of ‘clinging to the old rugged cross.’ The only message of the crucifixion is that you can overcome the cross. Until then you are free to crucify yourself as often as you choose. This is not the Gospel I [“Jesus”] intended to offer you. ACIM, volume 1, page 47
The crucifixion had no part in the Atonement. ACIM, volume 1, page 264
The Atonement does not make holy. You were created holy. ACIM, volume 1, page 270
Sacrifice is a notion totally unknown to God. It arises solely from fear . . . ACIM, volume 1, page 33
In ACIM, Christian beliefs (Biblical teachings given by the one true God) are held to be “evil,” “insane,” and “anti-Christ.” (See the above ACIM details). Such Course teachings prove that the Jesus of the New Testament could not be its source. This means that the apparent source who dictated ACIM to Helen Schucman lied when he claimed to be Jesus Christ.
The name Jesus never occurs in the “TEXT” and in the “WORKBOOK FOR STUDENTS”, there is only one biblical quote on page 67. The name Jesus is limited to 16 other uses on five pages in the “MANUAL FOR TEACHERS”.
Therefore, the name Jesus is limited to six of 1188 pages, in the 3 Books making up ACIM and all are at the end. An essential question is therefore: “If Jesus is the author of ACIM, why does he not identify himself?” And again, “Why does he keep reference to himself to these six pages, concentrated to the very end of the three-volume set of books?”
Correcting Errors of Christianity
ACIM makes the claim that the bible is not without error. Apparently all revelation should be accepted as truth according to the ACIM Course, with the one exception of the Bible.
The ACIM take great liberty presenting much needed corrections to the Bible’s Scriptures as and when its suits them.
ACIM – Volume One Page 28 & 29 – states ” The statement ” For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” needs only one small “correction” to be meaningful in this context “He gave IT TO His only begotten son”.
ACIM states clearly that it is:
“Correcting of the errors of Christianity….. to foster spiritual development through the study and practice of ‘ACIM’, a set of 3 books channelled (spiritually delivered) through an atheistic psychologist named Helen Schucman, she believed it came directly from Jesus… to teach the ‘ACIM’ course reinterpretation of traditional Christian principles, such as sin, suffering, forgiveness, atonement and the meaning of the Crucifixion….”
See the other references on this subject in ACIM Volume 2 – Page 403 and also “The Manual for Teachers Pages 3 and 45.
ACIM follows, as with all New Age teaching, that only love is real, and all that is negative is an illusion; the negative in life does not exist. It claims to have all of life’s answers.
The world of time is the world of illusion. ACIM, volume 3, page 4
. . . time does not really exist. ACIM, volume 1, page 5
There is nothing outside you. That is what you must ultimately learn . . . ACIM, volume 1, page 358
The world you see has nothing to do with reality. It is of your own making, and it does not exist. ACIM, volume 2, page 23
The world you see is an illusion of a world. God did not create it, for what He creates must be eternal as Himself. ACIM, volume 3, page 81
ACIM states that sickness, hate, pain, fear, guilt and sin are all only illusions: All Sickness is caused and can be cured by the mind . . . sickness is an illusion. ACIM, volume 1, page 172
The body cannot heal, because it cannot make itself sick. It needs no healing. Its health or sickness depends entirely on how the mind perceives it, and the purpose the mind would use it for. ACIM, volume 1, page 371
If God is real, there is no pain. If pain is real, there is no God. . . . It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain. Nothing external to your mind can hurt or injure you in any way. ACIM, volume 2, page 351
ACIM does away with any accountability for sin and any need for salvation, by making sin and the resulting guilt a Christian might feel an illusion that is only there because people allow it to be in their minds.
ACIM teaches such things as:
• God did not create the world – ACIM Volume 3 page 81, states “The world you see is an illusion of a word. God did not create it”
• We are all equally Christ – see ACIM Volume 2 Pages 353 and 354.
• Jesus is not the only Son of God – ACIM Volume 3 page 86.
• Jesus did not suffer for man’s sin – ACIM states in Volume 1 – page 548,
• The first coming of Christ is merely another name for creation, for Christ is the Son of God. The second coming of Christ means nothing more than the end of the ego’s rule and the healing of the mind.
The final judgement and Hell are not real
God does not believe in retribution. His Mind does not create it in any way. . . This kind of error is responsible for a host of related errors, including the belief that God rejected Adam and forced him out of the Garden of Eden. ACIM, volume 1, page 33
The ego is trying to teach you how to gain the whole world and lose your own soul. The Holy Spirit teaches that you cannot lose your soul and there is no gain in the world. . . ACIM, volume 1, page 212
The Last Judgement is one of the most threatening ideas in your thinking. This is because you do not understand it. Judgement is not an attribute of God. ACIM, volume 1, page 29
Do not fear the Last Judgement, but welcome it and do not wait . . . This is the Second Coming that was made for you as the First was created. The Second Coming is merely the return of sense. ACIM, volume 1, page 158
Christ’s Second Coming . . . is merely the correction of mistakes, and the return of sanity. It is a part of the condition that restores the never lost. . . ACIM, volume 2, page 439
The Holy Spirit teaches thus: There is no hell. Hell is only what the ego has made of the present. ACIM, volume 1, page 281
No one remains in hell, for no one can abandon his Creator . . . ACIM, volume 2, page 233
All of which are contrary to the basic beliefs of the Christian faith, as it is clearly taught throughout the Bible, for instance,
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:18 – “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
ACIM also teaches that evil does not exist; it is an illusion that must be overcome by right thinking.
“Innocence is wisdom because it is unaware of evil, and evil does not exist. So, evil is only real if you believe in it.” ACIM, volume 1, p.45
However, the Bible would again differ:
1 Tim. 4:1 – “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons”.
John 8:44 – “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.” He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
ACIM explains that man’s ego created the world, (manual) volume 3, page 81.
God did not create the world. The physical world is the result of the ego’s projection of the idea of separation and is illusory. In the Clarification of Terms we find: “The word you see is an illusion of the world. God did not create it, for what He creates must be eternal as Himself” (C-54.1).
But the Bible disagrees:
Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
John 1:1-3 – “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”
Colossians 1:16 – “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.”
Man still in heaven
ACIM teaches that man is still in heaven with God, but Jesus in the Bible clearly said He was going to prepare a place for Man. Hence man is obviously not already in heaven.
ACIM teaches that Jesus is but a man who found Christ in other people and is no more the Christ than anyone else: ACIM volume 3, page 83.
“The name of Jesus is the name of one who was a man, but saw the face of Christ in all his brothers and remembered God. So he became identified with Christ, a man no longer, but at one with God. The man was an illusion, for he seemed to be a separate being, walking by himself, within a body that appeared to hold his self from Self, as all illusions do”.
“Jesus remains a Saviour because he was the false without accepting it as true. And Christ needed his form that He might appear to men and save them from their own illusions”.
John 14:1-3 – “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
Jesus clearly said He was going to His Father’s house in order that He might prepare a place for man. If Jesus is preparing a place for man to go, then obviously man is not yet in heaven.
ACIM denies the reality of death, but the Bible teaches that every person will die:
ACIM states: Death is unreal there is no death, but there is a belief in death. ACIM, volume 1, page 46
. . . you made sickness and death yourself, and can therefore abolish both. You are a miracle, capable of creating in the likeness of your Creator. Everything else is your own nightmare, and does not exist. ACIM, volume 1, page 2
When you are tempted to yield to the desire for death, remember that I did not die. You will realize that this is true when you look within and see me. ACIM, volume 1, page 217. There is no death, and we renounce it now in every form . . . God made not death. Whatever form it takes must therefore be illusion. ACIM, volume 2, page 303
Death is the central dream from which all illusions stem. ACIM, volume 3, page 63 and 64.
The Bible states:
Hebrews 9:27 – tells us that man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.
Deut. 31:14 – “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Now the day of your death is near. Call Joshua and present yourselves at the Tent of Meeting, where I will commission him.’ So Moses and Joshua came and presented themselves at the Tent of Meeting.”
John 11:25 – “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”
Christ is not the only “Son of God”
According to ACIM – volume 3, page 83. Jesus is not the only Son of God – Jesus is not the unique Son of God, in the ACIM Course the term “Son of God” includes all created beings. Jesus is not a deity to be worshipped, but an elder brother, differing from the rest of us in time, in that he was the first to remember his true identity as the Christ, an identity shared by us all”.
Jesus and Mankind
Creation is the sum of all of God’s Thoughts, in number infinite, and everywhere without limit. . . . Creation is the holy Son of God. . . We are creation; we the Sons of God. We seem to be discrete, and unaware of our eternal unity with Him. ACIM, volume 2, page 451
I [“Jesus”] have stressed that awe is not an appropriate reaction to me because of our inherent equality. ACIM, volume 1, page 13
Because I [“Jesus”] am always with you, you are the way, the truth and the life. ACIM, volume 1, page 108
‘No man cometh unto the Father but by me’ does not mean that I am in any way separate or different from you except in time, and time does not really exist. ACIM, volume 1, page 5
The Son of God is you. ACIM, volume 2, page 105
Below are quotes taken from the ACIM Course 3 Books, to explain the headings:
The Body Does Not Exist
To be without a body is to be in our natural state. ACIM, volume 2, page 123
. . . the body is not part of you. ACIM, volume 1, page 93
The Holy Spirit’s temple is not a body, but a relationship. ACIM, volume 1, page 407
A mind and body cannot both exist. Make no attempt to reconcile the two, for the one denies the other can be real. ACIM, volume 2, page 167
We are all God
The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself. There is no separation of God and His creation. ACIM, volume 1, page 136 God is not in you in a literal sense; you are part of Him. ACIM, volume 1, page 70
God created you as part of Him. That is both where you are and what you are. . . . It is forever true. It is not a belief, but a Fact. ACIM, volume 1, page 89
Call on your brother’s name and God will answer, for on Him you call. ACIM, volume 1, page 518
God’s Name is holy, but no holier than yours. To call upon His Name is but to call upon your own. ACIM, volume 2, page 334
God is limited
The Bible repeatedly states that you should praise God. This hardly means that you should tell Him how wonderful He is. He has no ego with which to accept such praise, and no perception with which to judge it. ACIM, volume 1, page 64
God is as dependent on you as you are on Him . . . ACIM, volume 1, page 190
God does not understand words, for they were made by separated minds to keep them in the illusion of separation. ACIM, volume 3, page 51
God does not guide, because He can share only perfect knowledge. Guidance is evaluative, because it implies there is a right way and also a wrong way, one to be chosen and the other to be avoided. ACIM, volume 1, page 69
God and His creations are completely dependent on each other. He depends on them because He created them perfect. . . . God is lonely without His Sons, and they are lonely without Him. ACIM, volume 1, page 19.
Whenever you question your value, say: ‘God Himself is incomplete without me.’ ACIM, volume 1, page 165
We are perfect
In the creation, God extended Himself to His creations and imbued them with the same loving will to create. You . . . have also been created perfect. There is no emptiness in you. ACIM, volume 1, page 14
Heaven is not a place nor a condition. It is merely an awareness of perfect oneness, and the knowledge that there is nothing else; nothing outside this oneness, and nothing else within. ACIM, volume 1, page 359
For there is but one mistake; the whole idea that loss is possible . . . You have no problems, though you think you have. ACIM, volume 1, page 506
Nothing exists but God Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven . . . because you can find nothing else. There is nothing else. God is All in all in a very literal sense. ACIM, volume 1, page 110
Nothing beyond Him can happen, because nothing except Him is real. ACIM, volume 1, page 168
Other quotes taken from ACIM Course
The Son-ship is the sum of all that God created. ACIM, volume 1, page 2
I said before that forgetting is merely a way of remembering better. ACIM, volume 1, page 109
Complexity is not of God. ACIM, volume 1, page 508
The reality of everything is total harmlessness. ACIM, volume 1, page 146
True learning is constant, and so vital in its power for change that a Son of God can recognize his power in one instant and change the world in the next. That is because, by changing his mind, he has changed the most powerful device that was ever given him for change. . . . This places you in a position of needing to learn a lesson that seems contradictory; — you must learn to change your mind about your mind. Only by this can you learn that it is changeless. ACIM, volume 1, page 113.
Our curriculum trains for the relinquishment of judgment as the necessary condition of salvation. ACIM, volume 3, page 25
The Bible presents Jesus as the unique and only Saviour of the world
John 14:6 – “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”
Acts 4:10-12 – “… then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ 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 16:29-31 – “The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.”
Jesus is not simply one of the ways or even the latest way – He is the only Way
Sin is an illusion
ACIM explains that sin, like Jesus’ body, is an illusion. Therefore, Man has never sinned, for it is impossible to commit something that is only an illusion.
Sin Is Unreal
The betrayal of the Son of God lies only in illusions, and all his ‘sins’ are but his own imagining. His reality is forever sinless. He need not be forgiven but awakened. In his dreams he has betrayed himself, his brothers and his God. Yet what is done in dreams has not been really done. ACIM, volume 1, page 327
If sin is real, God must be at war with Himself. He must be split, and torn between good and evil; partly sane and partially insane. ACIM, volume 1, page 377
The Holy Spirit will never teach you that you are sinful. ACIM, volume 1, page 423
The Bible strongly disagrees:
Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.
1 John 1:7-10 – “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 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.”
I include below a few more Scriptures that all Bible-believing Christians should be aware of. They warn that there will be false teachers. We would encourage our readers to take time and check out these Scriptures and decide for themselves whether, the evidence above leads you to conclude that they are describing ACIM.
2 Cor. 11:3-4 – “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”
2 Cor. 11:13-15 – “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”
Galatians 1:8 – “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”
2 Cor. 4:4 – “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
1 John 5:19 – “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one”.
I believe it is clear from the above summary that there is no way that one can reconcile the God or the theology of the Bible with the writings found in ACIM. The Jesus in the Bible is incompatible with the “Jesus” who is said to have authored ACIM.
I like many before me have come to this conclusion that ACIM course is in the most part the opposite of the beliefs of evangelical Christianity and that it only uses Christian terminology to seek to alter the meaning of the Word of God.
ACIM teaches the idea of monism (or the belief that all is one), pantheism (the belief that God is in everything (, and panentheism (the belief that all are a part of God). See ACIM Volume 2, page 92, page 454 and volume 1, pages 93, 136 and 165.
ACIM offers a form of spirituality without the need for any change in our actions or accountability for oneself. Only a change in thought is needed. Instead of accepting that we have all sinned and are in need of forgiveness and the salvation offered though Christ’s sacrifice, ACIM teaches that we are part of the divine, and sin and evil are a figment of our imagination.
All Bible Scriptures are taken from NIV Bible version © Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 By International Bible Society. All rights reserved worldwide
This research made use of the following online freely available copies of A Course in Miracles.
Disclaimer: The ideas/writings represented herein are the personal interpretation and understanding of the author and are not necessarily accepted by the copyright holder of A Course in Miracles.
Copyright © 2005 – John Burton, for The Reachout Trust, 24, Ormond Road, Richmond, Surrey. TW10 6TH. All rights are reserved.