THE  TERMINOLOGY OF

A  COURSE  IN  MIRACLES

Peter Solon, Ph.D. (BIO)

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In spite of its popularity, if there’s one aspect of A Course In Miracles that tends to put people off, it’s the Christian terms. Assuming you have an interest in legitimate spiritual practice, if at some point in the past, you decided to reject A Course Miracles on the basis of its Christian terminology, you might want to reconsider your decision in light of the three points to follow. 

  1. X

  2. 1.A Course In Miracles defines the Christian scriptural terms–for example, ”Son of God,” ”Holy Spirit,” ”God” and ”Father”––differently from the way they’re defined in the Bible. In the Course, these terms are elements of a theoretical model that serve as the background context for, what it specifically states, is the more important component of the curriculum––the application of  “universal spiritual themes.” This is not how traditional Christianity views these same terms.

  3. X

  4. 2.The Course underscores the inherent limitations of both its own terminology and that of any spiritual model, at one point noting: “All terms are potentially controversial and those who seek controversy will find it.” 1

  5. X

  6. 3.To overstate the obvious, the scriptural terms of A Course In Miracles are only ‘words’ which the Course defines as “symbols of symbols” that are “twice removed from reality.”  While the Course offers an in-depth discussion of the “role of words,” ultimately, it doesn’t regard them as having a great deal of value.

  7. X

On the other hand, the Course places considerable value on the day-to-day application of its practices which potentially, can (a) diminish personal suffering, (b) deepen the capacity to love, and in some cases (c) turn one’s entire life around. Then of course there’s the bigger picture, the ultimate goal A Course In Miracles, a discussion of which is beyond scope of this brief article but deserves mention. The ultimate goal is variously described as waking up from the dream, awakening to reality and coming home.“ Technically, the ultimate goal is still a dream but it more closely approximates reality––more so than the nightmare most of us live in; and it positions the student to wake up out of the dream altogether. This ‘last step’ isn’t taken by the individual practitioner but rather, he or she yields to it.


In light of the value of its practices and the “universal spiritual themes” upon which they’re based, it’s unfortunate A Course In Miracles tends to be rejected due its use of Christian terminology. If there ever was a case of throwing out the baby with the bath water, this is it.


Roger Walsh, MD, Ph.D.,  professor of psychiatry and scholar of comparative religion, addresses the terminology issue as follows:


When Frances Vaughan showed me the Christian mystical teaching, A Course in Miracles, I was hardly open minded. I opened the books, saw the words "God" and "Holy Spirit," and refused to have anything to do with it for two years. But over those two years I kept running into people who would drop fascinating ideas or interesting one-liners. I'd ask, "Where did you get that?" and they'd say, "From A Course in Miracles."


Eventually I weakened and took another look at the material. After a month or so, when I was past my resistance to the Christian language, I began to feel that this was a truly extraordinary work. 2


Once Dr. Walsh immersed himself in the material, he discovered, the scriptural terms of A Course In Miracles are elements of a model that doesn’t necessarily reflect traditional Christianity but rather, points to the universal principles underlying a spectrum of spiritual traditions.


References


  1. 1.A Course In Miracles, C-in.2:1.

  2. 2.Roger Walsh, MD., Ph.D., Perennial Wisdom,



What Is A Course In Miracles