A Course In Miracles

From Academic Kids

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Second hardbound edition of A Course In Miracles, as published by Foundation for Inner Peace.

A Course In Miracles ("ACIM") is a book on spiritual principles, which alleges to speak in the voice of the historical Jesus. The initial penning of the course was done by Dr. Helen Schucman using what Schucman claimed was a certain type of channeling process which she described as inner dictation. In this process, Schucman describes herself as having been the scribe of the work.

The original copyright claim filed for the book lists the author(s) of the book as Anonymous (Helen Schucman). Presumably, here the listing of Anonymous as an author is an indirect reference to Schucman's belief that Jesus Christ was the true author. To date, over a million copies have been sold worldwide in 14 different major languages. Worldwide there are estimated to be approximately 2000 active study groups that study ACIM, who meet on a regular basis (usually weekly).

The exact number of individuals who consider themselves to be students of ACIM is difficult to determine, and by intention, no organization exists to track such numbers. Even though some controversy exists regarding these teachings, when compared to most other new religious movements, the level of controversy surrounding ACIM is relatively small.

The writings of ACIM advise that:
"(ACIM) is not intended to become the basis for another cult. Its only purpose is to provide a way in which some people will be able to find their own Internal Teacher."

True to form, Schucman has never been viewed by other students of ACIM as having been a person of any particularly high level of spiritual accomplishment, other than her once having had the ability to serve as a conduit for the channeling of ACIM. Since its initial publication, the vast majority of the students of ACIM have tended to follow this ACIM advice. As such they generally tend to shy away from relying too heavily on any type of earthly spiritual authority figures, and on the spiritual level, they tend to be quite individualistic.

In a rather striking, apparently intentional fashion, the teachings make no attempt to codify or structuralize any system of earthly spiritual authority. Instead the material repeatedly stresses that true authority comes from either God, or from within the individual who has come to know God, but that it is unnatural, or quite temporary at best, for spiritual authority to extend out from one living person over another living person. The teachings state that:
"Freedom cannot be learned by tyranny of any kind, and the perfect equality of all God's Sons cannot be recognized through the dominion of one mind over another."

This egalitarian type of teaching is found consistently throughout the material and appears to be in sharp contrast to some portions of the Christian Bible which are undoubtably aimed at establishing an earthly hierarchy of spiritual authority.

The book's title derives from the book's core premise that love is a miracle which surpasses in value all others. As such, ACIM teaches that:

"Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle."

The book was written in the style of a textbook, and contains teachings and exercises covering the topics of forgiveness, brotherhood, and the nature of love. The exercises contain various meditations, prayers and mental exercises intended to provide practical illustrations and applications for the advancement of spiritual wisdom through forgiveness and love. There are 365 exercises, intended to be performed daily over the course of a year. The general teaching sections of the book are intended to help the student gain "A theoretical foundation ....to make the 'exercises' in this workbook meaningful."

Contents

Authorship

As already noted, the individual who first penned this material, Dr. Helen Schucman, claimed not to have been the true author of this book, but rather merely its scribe, and to have originally penned the material in a manner more akin to a secretary taking dictation than as an actual author. Both Schucman, and the actual text itself, in various undeniable ways, have implied that the true author of this book was the historical Jesus. Schucman describes having received or channeled the material of the book's four primary sections between 1965 and 1975. The initial transcription process took place with the assistance of Shcucman's work supervisor and friend, Dr. Bill Thetford.

At the time of the initial transcription, Schucman was a professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University in New York City and Thetford was a professor of medical psychology at that same university's College of Physicians and Surgeons. Shucman would first take shorthand notes that the Inner Voice would dictate to her, often during the evening. Typically on the following day she would then read these notes to Bill Thetford, who would then type them out as they were read to him. In addition to the substance of the notes themselves, Schucman claims to have received instruction from the inner voice which directed how the notes were to be processed and used. After completing the full set of notes, called by followers as the Urtext, Thetford then edited out certain sections of material identified as personal or ancillary, rearranged some of the material, and added chapter and section headings to it. This version was later further edited by Schucman in conjunction with Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, who had joined the effort. These early versions were then shown to a few close friends and associates prior to their publication.

Publication

ACIM was first published in 1976 by the Foundation for Inner Peace, or FIP, which obtained a copyright on it. In 2003, after some copyright litigation, it was determined that an earlier edition of ACIM, known as the Criswell edition, did not qualify for the same copyright protection accorded to the standard edition currently published by the FIP. This ruling was made as a result of the court's finding (http://www.jcim.net/Copyright/Endeavor_trial_transcripts/03-08697.pdf) that a few unintentional oversights had been made regarding the earliest distribution of the material.

The current standard second edition was released in 1992 and includes some minor edits, numbering to all chapters, sections, paragraphs, and sentences. During the copyright litigation, four earlier editions surfaced and have been widely circulated. These are the Urtext edition, the Nuns edition, the Hugh Lynn Cayce edition, and the Criswell edition. An associated entity, headed by Wapnick, The Foundation for A Course in Miracles, or FACIM, was established in 1983 as a teaching organization. Numerous other ACIM related organizations have been formed as well.

Thus far ACIM has been translated into 14 major languages. Through contractual arrangement, ACIM was published and distributed between 1995 and 2000 by Penguin Books. Due to the recently released public domain (http://www.newchristianchurch.com/caseruling.htm) status of the Criswell edition, most of the original text of ACIM as found in this edition is now also available online (http://acim.miraclevision.com).

Over a million copies of ACIM have been distributed since its release, and it has gained adherents worldwide. ACIM is not associated with any one centralized church or body, but a number of groups and organizations worldwide have emerged that study ACIM or are centered on or significantly influenced by it. Many of those meet in person or have an Internet presence. A number of seminars, tapes, and books have been developed that interpret, teach, or reflect the material in ACIM, perhaps the most widely known of which are the books by Marianne Williamson.

Spin-Off Publications

Several subsequent authors have published successful spin-off books, which are based primarily on the philosophy and teachings found in ACIM. Amongst these are:

  • Daily Meditations for Practicing the Course (http://www.alibris.com/search/search.cfm?qwork=1455518&wauth=Casey%2C%20Karen&matches=22&qsort=r&cm_re=works*listing*title) by Karen Casey with nearly two million copies sold.
  • A Return to Love (http://www.biblio.com/books/14062014.html) by Marianne Williamson with over 1 million copies sold.
  • Numerous other titles with less than 1 million copies sold.

The Contents of ACIM

The central texts of ACIM are comprised of four parts. A Text section that includes teachings on the nature of forgiveness, of love and about the relationship between God and man and between men. This section is 650 pages long. A Workbook for Students section that contains 365 practical self-study lessons designed to correspond to the 365 days of the year. This section is designed to assist a student of ACIM in internalizing the teachings found in the first Text section, and includes various meditations, prayers, and mental exercises. The Workbook section is 500 pages long. A short Manual for Teachers containing concise questions and answers on various topics related to the ACIM teachings which is 75 pages long. A short Clarification of Terms section containing many typical questions and answers. This last section is 15 pages long.

In addition, two separate pamphlets, Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice and The Song of Prayer: Prayer, Forgiveness, Healing, were also received by Schucman and published. These additional materials, along with some others, were all received by Schucman through the same process of 'inner dication'. Some students of ACIM use the term ACIM to refer only to the four main sections of the work listed above. Other students use it to describe all works received by Schucman via 'inner dictation'.

Main tenets

The Introductory paragraph as found in "A Course In Miracles"

The introductory paragraph of the book is included here as it does indeed seem to give a fair summary of the work itself:

"This is A Course In Miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time.The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite. This course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:
Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God."

Cosmology of separation

In ACIM’s cosmology, God the Father and Christ the Son are united in a single purpose, unchanged and unchanging in timeless eternity. This purpose is eternally creative. The seeming contradiction between timelessness and eternal creativity is explained as God’s expression of his endless love. The Father and the Son share an almost complete identity, the main distinction between them being that God is Creator and First Cause who created the Son, while the Son was created but in turn also creates like the Father.

Heaven is actually omnipresent, but cannot be entered into without letting go of misperceptions, and the re-learning of how to see truly. The Father and the Son are actually the expressions of all that is. The Father being God, the Son being all of God’s creation. The Son is both singular and plural, consisting of all things created by the Father (called souls in earlier editions) which are eternally joined in one Son, and who ultimately share in a single identity of the Son of God.

The writings of ACIM teach that our basic conflict or fundamental problem, called the separation, arose when a thought of separation came into the mind of one of the Sons of God and was then shared with other members of the Sonship. This involved the mistaken belief in one’s ability to create one’s own self. It can be likened to the metaphorical apple from the Tree of Knowledge, which contradicted God's will. In the metaphysical system of ACIM, which holds that the separation is merely a mistaken idea, the separation did not really happen. Only Love is regarded as truly valid. Fear, and all of its corollaries are regarded as unreal.

The writings of ACIM teach further that the world of time and space that followed the separation is the domain of perception rather than of true vision, and in reality the material world is only a mistaken belief system. The writings of ACIM do not fully detail the exact nature of the origins of the material world. The material world is said to be an illusion to those who are still trapped in it, and a device for the correction of illusion and the ending of separation for those who are prepared to return to the places prepared for them in the Sonship of the Father.

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.

The concepts of forgiveness and of atonement are two concepts that ACIM enlarges on substantially, to the point where some would argue that it actually redefines them. These concepts as taught by ACIM are undoubtedly substantially enlarged or different from the way these two concepts are uaually taught in most mainline Christian denominations. Amongst Christian denominations, Quakerism, Unitarianism, and the Unity Church are normally regarded as being closest in temperament to the teachings of ACIM. Fundamentalist teachings are normally regarded as being the most distant from the teachings of ACIM.

The writings of ACIM teach that forgiveness is the solution because only it has the ability to heal the seemingly separated minds in the world, which feel guilt and fear of God. These fears stem 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 their mistaken 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, according to the teachings of ACIM, anger is never justified, attack has no foundation, and real strength lies only in defenselessness based on Truth.

These minds are locked in a cycle of experiencing imagined victimization and seeking vainly for solutions outside themselves, which is not where the true problem is. Rather, it lies inside themselves. The solution to all this, ACIM concludes, is atonement, achieved through forgiveness.

Forgiveness, according to the teachings of ACIM, is the letting go of apparent slights and seeming injuries inflicted by others in view of the recognition that others have not, and indeed cannot, harm or wrong the core identity of the individual. This 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 teaching that forgiveness and atonement are accomplished with, and accompanied by, miracles. ACIM defines a miracle as being any change of a mind away from fear and separation and towards love and unity. This definition is far more broad than the definitions normally used by most mainline Christian belief systems. Still, traditional miracles like those found in the Bible, such as healing the sick and raising the dead do fall under ACIM’s definition of a miracle.

The Relationship between ACIM and the Christian Bible

Many of those who consider themselves to be "students of ACIM," view ACIM as a scriptural work on a par with, and that is a continuation of, the Christian Bible itself. According to the historical theological roots upon which most Christian denominations are based, such a manuscript should be recognized as being deutero-canonical and at best, could only be secondary to the Bible. This view is based upon the teachings of the early Church Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries, during which time the Christian Bible was finally canonized and released in its current form.

As with other non-standard or "apocryphal" religious works that claim to have a divinely inspired origin, many Christians have voiced strong disbelief and concern regarding the claims of authorship and content made within this book. Such strong objections are found particularly amongst fundamentalist Christians who view the Bible as the final Word of God, and who find all other materials that may claim to have divinely inspired origins to be particularly objectionable.

Within the more liberal and mainline Christian denominations such criticism of ACIM is rare, however such silence on this question certainly does not imply that these same denominations accept or endorse the claims of divinely inspired origins made within the texts of ACIM. Students of ACIM (who generally consider themselves to be Christians as well) would invite the curious to find out for themselves, and to read a few pages for themselves to perhaps arrive at their own conclusions.


A comparison of the Workbook of ACIM to the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola

Some casual observers have noted some similarities between the teachings and methodologies of the Workbook section of ACIM and the teachings and methodologies of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Catholic religious order of Jesuits. Indeed some similarities do exist, particularly in some of the teaching methods, and in a few of the general principles. Both are sets of "spiritual" exercises which are designed to assist the student in internalizing certain ways of perceiving the world, and both employ various types of prayers and meditations to aid in this internalization process. Also, both sets of exercises ask that these exercises be carried out over a specific number of days.

There are however, also several major differences between these two works as well. Some of these major differences include the following:

  1. The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius are designed to instill in those who undertake the Exercises, numerous beliefs that are consistent with the Catholic Church of Ignatius' day, such as prayers to Mary, absolute and unquestioning obedience to Church officials, support of the Crusades, antagonism towards Islam, etc. etc.. (The Spiritual Exercises insist that the axis of all evil and the seat of Satan's power is physically located near Babylon [or Baghdad] in the Middle-East). The views taught in the 365 lessons of ACIM can be said to consistently aim at only one thing, the recognition of God's love in all things, and the perfect equality of all mankind as an aspect of this divine love.
  2. The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius are intended to be carried out only while under the guidance of a "Spiritual Director". These Exercises suggest that such a director should be someone specifically authorized by the Catholic religious order of Jesuits to direct those who undertake these Spiritual Exercises. The 365 lessons of ACIM are designed to be carried out independently, without the need for any such 'directors' or any other third party (or parties) to oversee this process.
  3. The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius are designed to be carried out usually only once or twice in one's lifetime over the course of a 28 - 30 day long retreat period. During this retreat period they require the total isolation and seclusion of the retreatant in a quasi-monastic type of setting. The 365 lessons of ACIM are designed to be carried out during one's normal living routines and are 365 days long. As such, they are often repeated each year by students of ACIM once each year for many consecutive years, or indefinately without interruption.

Points of Contrast With Most Mainline Christian Denominations

Some Major Specific Differences

The teachings of ACIM incorporate many Christian concepts and terminologies. Students of ACIM believe that these teachings correct and clarify various traditional misunderstandings about certain portions of the Bible. Opponents of ACIM point out that many of the teachings found in this work cannot be found in the teachings of most traditional Christian denominations. In most cases, differences of opinion between the students of ACIM and the opponents of ACIM center around varying methods of interpretation of the Christian Bible. In one or two rare cases, the teachings of ACIM directly refute the teachings of the Christian Bible.

One of the specific instances where the teachings of ACIM directly refute the teachings found in the Christian Bible concerns the Biblical account of the ultimate relationship between Jesus and Judas. Here ACIM directly challenges the Bibical quote; "Betrayest thou me with a kiss?" regarding the involvement of Judas in the crucifixion. In this case, ACIM teaches that what traditional Christianity would call the "sins" of Judas, are instead merely his mistakes in this regard, and that Jesus forgave Judas, even for these. ACIM teaches that a true betrayal by Judas was impossible, as Truth could never be truly diminished by the mistake of ignorance. ACIM teaches that Truth is merely overlooked, but not lessened, by those who make the mistake of ignorance.

A typical instance of varying methods of Biblical interpretation concerns the differing viewpoints regarding the nature of Heaven and Hell. On this question, ACIM teaches that it is possible for one to experience a certain type of Heavenly awareness while still alive, and that Hell is also possible to experience while still alive, depending on one’s ability to perceive correctly or incorrectly. Most mainline Christian denominations teach that these states of awareness can only be entered into after death. On this point, and others, both camps cite various points of scripture to support their arguments. The prospects for resolutions of these types of debates at any time in the near future would seem unlikely.

Theological Differences

Because of its perspective on reality, separation, and forgiveness, ACIM does not accept sin, death, or sacrifice as being real. ACIM rejects the definition of sin as an evil act having unalterable consequences and necessarily deserving of punishment by others. This is because under its cosmology sin exists only as an illusion or a mistake, and therefore the most logical response to it is to simply correct the mistake, rather than to give it more weight via punishment. ACIM defines mistakes as mental misconceptions having no real(eternal) consequences beyond the need for correction. Accordingly, all acts of others are to be interpreted either as expressions of love, or calls for love, and nothing more.

Death is both illusory and ultimately meaningless for ACIM, because of its position that only by salvation, and not by death, do separated minds cease to believe in the illusory world of separation and return to unity in the Sonship. Sacrifice is similarly impossible for ACIM because of the eternal wholeness of the Sonship. ACIM thus rejects the more traditional Christian belief that Jesus's crucifixion was meant as a sacrificial proxy in payment for the sins of mankind. Instead ACIM explains the crucifixion as a necessary part of the lesson of the resurrection. As such it is a part of an amazing demonstration of the invulnerability of the spirit and of love.

The Holy Trinity of most mainline Christian denominations is present in ACIM, but is explained differently. For ACIM, God the Father is quite literally all in all, an egoless, limitless, perfect, loving, quintessentially real Creator, of whom the highest truth may be stated simply as, "God is." The Son, or Christ, is the aggregate or unity of all of God’s creation, rather than being synonymous with Jesus only, and thus is far more than any one single individual. The Holy Spirit is relied on heavily as the innate and unbreakable link or connection between the seemingly separated minds and the unified minds of Christ and God. The Workbook's purpose is to provide students with confirmatory experiences that connect each reader with the Holy Spirit as their own internal teacher; upon its conclusion after 365 days of daily lessons, the student is left in the internal teacher's care for all further guidance.

One central teaching found throughout ACIM is regarding the perfect ‘equality’ of all of the Sons of God. As such, for the most part, the students of ACIM tend to shy away form systems of strong central hierarchies, as can be found in most mainline Christian denominations. Thus, it would appear somewhat improbable that any strong central authority, dictating what can or cannot be done or believed in the name of ACIM, would be very likely to arise.

This does not mean that there have not been some few who have attempted from time to time to set up such hierarchies, however the nature of some of these temporary hierarchies, such as the Endeavor Academy of Wisconsin, would seem to be transitory at best (see below).

The eschatology of ACIM differs significantly from the eschatology of most mainline Christian denominations. ACIM makes very few predictions regarding the future, other than to say that when the atonement is complete and all seemingly separated minds have recognized their unity as Christ, which process ACIM suggests will take millions of years, the purpose of the world will be over and so the world will end. The world will not be destroyed, but instead “will simply cease to seem to be.”

Although ACIM contains passages that would seem to imply the existence of reincarnation, nowhere does it unequivocally state it as fact. In comparison to Biblical statements about reincarnation, this is actually a less firm endorsement of it than can be found the Bible. Witness the Biblical description of the origins of John the Baptist as found in the Gospel of Matthew. Here at least one clear instance of reincarnation is undeniably laid out as fact in the Bible.

Relation to other spiritual paths

ACIM professes respect for various other spiritual methods and paths that may be used to reach the same goals it pursues. ACIM describes its main benefit as saving time toward the eventual remembering of the unity of the seemingly separated parts of Christ, and cites interpersonal relationships as its special mode for doing so. Many students consider ACIM to have a non-dualistic orientation, and it has variously been compared to Quakerism, Gnosticism, Buddhism, and Advaita Hinduism.

Relation to philosophical idealism, responsibility assumption, and the New Thought Movement

ACIM displays a strong orientation toward philosophical idealism and responsibility assumption in its prescription that the mind and its thoughts control all physical outcomes in the world, even to the point of healing the sick and raising the dead. In this, ACIM shares the outlook of the New Thought Movement, including Religious Science and Christian Science. While ACIM itself might set little stock in other origins, commentators have noted a number of ACIM teachings suggest direct or indirect influence by or relation to Christian Science, including the metaphysical appeal to a perfect, absolute, divine reality outside of material existence; the Idealist idea of healing or resurrection through improved thought and understanding; the subordination of imperfection as illusory; the reformulation of atonement; the reformulation of the Trinity; and the emphasis on God's love and forgiveness rather than eternal damnation. An Urtext passage that was not included in the published version calls Christian Science "clearly incomplete," but praises the formulation of Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy which notes that while Adam of the metaphorical Garden of Eden is mentioned in the Bible as being put to sleep, it is never mentioned that he ever woke up, a reinforcement of the illusory and dreamlike nature of the world. In this connection, it is notable that Thetford's parents were reportedly both Christian Scientists, though he himself minimalized this influence.

Controversy and criticism

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

Independent Critical Views

ACIM has attracted attention in Christian apologetics and countercult groups due to its interpretations (or re-interpretations) of Christian concepts and ideas in ways radically different from how most mainstream Christian denominations interpret these ideas, and also possibly due to concerns regarding its widespread popularity.

Citing the philosophical differences between ACIM and many of their mainstream Christian denominations, such apologists have sometimes labeled ACIM as heretical, 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 beneficial for, and therefore likely authored by, the Devil. Skeptical groups look askance at the material's origins in channeling, allegedly emanating from Jesus.

Other more well known commentators in modern mainstream media, such as Oprah Winfrey (http://www.oprah.com/books/favorite/slide/slide_books_favorite_01.jhtml) and Marianne Williamson (http://www.hayhouse.com/authorbio.php?id=152) have praised the teachings of ACIM as beneficial and helpful.

ACIM: A 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 are viewed by some Christian apologists as foolish or dangerous. ACIM denies that physical laws, sickness, tragedy and death are ultimately real. Still ACIM teaches that the thought-system of the separation does seem real enough to those who subscribe to it, and to such individuals, it can seem to have tragic consequences.

Some Christian apologists argue that ACIM's teaching, 'That only in defenselessness does safety lie', might lead adherents to harm through foolhardy strategies of utter pacificism in the face of aggression (see "turn the other cheek"). The students of ACIM would argue that defenselessness does not equal passivity, and that truth in and of itself can sometimes wither the fiercest assault, witness the saying: "The pen is mightier than the sword.”

Some Christian apologists hold that ACIM's doctrines are 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 students of ACIM would explain this belief by citing the ACIM teaching that a single mind that is truly clear has the power to save/ change the entire world. They offer proof of this in the many social activist and charitable works started by ACIM students around the world, such as The Light Party (http://www.lightparty.com), and the Conscious Citizenship Movement (http://www.mwblog.com/involved/index.php)

These types of criticism, and many other similar concerns expressed by Christian apologists, and debated by the students of ACIM can be found through any brief study of ACIM and the many questions and controversies that it has spawned amongst some of the mainline Christian communities.

Because ACIM has no official church or monitoring body, it has generated a wide spectrum of interpretations. A small but significant minority of ACIM students adhere to extreme interpretations of the ACIM teachings that appear, even to other students of ACIM, to be counter-intuitive and even cult-like.

Related Movements

Some Controversy regarding the Endeavor Academy Group

One study 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. For certain reasons, this study group appears to have rejected the Course teaching that perfect equality between all human beings is the goal. As such, this group has set up a very definite hierarchy of leadership in which its leader, Chuck Anderson (an American), is referred to as The Master Teacher. Apparently Anderson teaches that he is the reincarnation of the historical Jesus.

This group currently has established intentional communities in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconson, USA and approximately four other cities in Europe and South America (see Endeavor Academy article) with the Wisconsin community is its headquarters. Most observers, including most other ACIM students themselves, regard this group as being untrue to some of the core premises of ACIM and as having strong cult undertones. This view, held by both students of ACIM and non-students alike is highlighted especially by the text itself which explicitly teaches that,
"(ACIM) is not intended to become the basis for another cult."

In consideration of this Course teaching, and also in view of the somewhat incredulous reaction of the great majority of the students of ACIM to this one group, thus far it would seem that this group is not likely to capture the imagination of any substantially large proportion of those who already study this material at any time soon.

One recent development of note regarding the Endeavor Academy group is its recently having succeeded in partially overturning some of the copyright protections previously accorded to the ACIM materials. Even though the great majority of the students of ACIM may not agree with Mr. Anderson’s claim to be the new messiah, few object to the end result of his actions as having given them greater personal access to the study of various Course related materials.

Marianne Williamson’s Department of Peace Movement

Another development of note related to the ACIM movement is Marianne Williamson’s United States Department of Peace movement. This movement is a grass-roots American political movement which is aimed at the establishment of an American cabinet level position of a Secretary of Peace, as first proposed in the 18th century by George Washington. This movement compares itself to the anti-slavery Abolition movement, or to the Woman's Suffrage movement, and has thus far gained an amazing level of congressional support. As such, it is currently co-led by congressman and former presidential candidate, Dennis Kucinich, and has already gained the endorsement of approximately 50 congressmen. The underlying premise of the organization is the idea that if there could be an officially sanctioned system of always trying to first seek out alternative peaceful solutions to potential conflicts and problems, both internationally and domestically, rather than leaving this option to chance, that greater international and domestic peace would naturally ensue, and that such would naturally benefit all.

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