Monday, January 09, 2006

The Belief in the Crucifixion

Starting in 1991, I went to many workshops at the Foundation for A Course in Miracles, then in Roscoe, NY. I knew that it was the best place for me to advance my learning of the Course. However, I was at times bewildered by Ken's apparently very Catholic orientation, stronger yet, I used to believe that Ken Wapnick to some degree spoke mainly for Catholics, because I was raised with some understanding that the belief in vicarious salvation was exactly how Christianity had completely misconstrued the teachings of Jesus. And so I did not at all identify much with the centrality of the crucifixion in Christianity in general or in Catholicism in particular. And as a result I think I probably had a tendency to tune out some of what he said.

At the same time, I met Jeff Seibert at the Foundation, who has since then become a member of the staff, and in fact my very first workshop was the first for him as well. He is about the same age as I am, we have much shared background, except he was raised Catholic and I was raised somewhere off-Protestant. So we had lots of interesting comparison material. Not to mention the fact that we both had been introduced to the Course through the work of Jerry Jampolsky, and, during that first workshop in particular, were struggling with the fact that while Jampolsky uses certain concepts from the Course in his work, he does not teach the Course per sé. So we both felt the need to work with the Course directly, and to understand the Course on the Course's terms, not anybody else's. The Foundation in Roscoe seemed to be the surest way of doing just that.

Over the course of the years since then, I have begun to develop a profound interest in the clarification of the relationship of the Course to Christianity, or perhaps the whole framework of the Abrahamic religions, which in some way can be lumped together because of their common roots. And one thing that stands out is how the development of early Christianity really culminated in the moral acceptance of the Nicene Creed as the key determinant of what made someone "Christian" by the time the world had gotten around to defining what Christianity was supposed to be. So moral confession, and a moral conversion had come to replace the metanoia, or change of mind which Jesus taught, then as he does in the Course. In other words the externalization of "Christianity" in terms of a conscious belief, reduced the whole operation to the level of dialectic thought, or what the Course calls, "the thoughts you think you think," which are not our real thoughts. By virtue of that accomplishment, which starts out with the theologizing of Paul, and culminates in the Nicene creed, the referent now is the ego, no longer the Son of God as Jesus taught. And Christianity is now suited to become a world religion, for it has then become a validation of and support system for the ego thought system, dressing it up in pseudo-spirituality.

Along those lines then, it is important to always be mindful that the "you" who the Course addresses is not who we consciously think we are as the dream character and hero of our own story, but rather as mind, as the "decision-maker," the Son of God who can make a choice. And therefore also the belief in the crucifixion which the Course addresses has nothing to do with what moral/rational beliefs we entertain, Catholic, Buddhist, Protestant, or anything else. If we believe in the ego system, we believe in the crucifixion, but again the Course does not address our rational self-concept, or our conscious beliefs, but the underlying thoughtsystem that sustains all that.

Therefore, the difference between a fundamentalist Christian and a Course student is not that one believes in the crucifixion and the other one doesn't, but rather that one entertains a conscious thoughtsystem which rationalizes the ego choice and makes the world real, whereas the other has entered a path of questioning those values. It is that path which can ultimately change our underlying belief in the crucifixion, through the practice of forgiveness, in the classrooms that our life then comes to represent to us. Common sense in this context is perhaps best summed up with a quip Ken Wapnick has repeatedly made in workshops, namely that as long as you think what you see in the mirror when you get up in the morning is you, there is still work to do. To look at our work with the Course in this fashion, is to recognize that indeed completing the curriculum of the Course is a beginning of that process, not the end of it, as the epilogue to the Workbook states:

This course is a beginning, not an end. 2 Your Friend goes with you. 3 You are not alone. 4 No one who calls on Him can call in vain. 5 Whatever troubles you, be certain that He has the answer, and will gladly give it to you, if you simply turn to Him and ask it of Him. 6 He will not withhold all answers that you need for anything that seems to trouble you. 7 He knows the way to solve all problems, and resolve all doubts. 8 His certainty is yours. 9 You need but ask it of Him, and it will be given you.
Unquote (ACIM:W.ep.1)

Copyright, © 2006 Rogier F. van Vlissingen. All rights reserved.
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