Today I was reading Lesson 162, “I am as God created me,” and was struck by just how incredibly original A Course in Miracles is.
If you listen to traditional religion, it is clear that we have somehow defiled our souls. Indeed, in Christian theology, we are all born with the stain of original sin already on us. There are various solutions to this, various ways of cleaning up our soul. There is penance, church attendance, good deeds, prayer and meditation, and of course, accepting Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as paying our debt, so we can stand clean before God.
Quite understandably, many have become deeply disenchanted with this image of being guilty sinners who have to appease a judgmental God. It is so disempowering. So, in revolt against this image, now we all seek empowerment. I remember reading some New Age channeling which said that in the old age were children before God, but in the New Age, we are God.
But you don’t have to believe that you are God to have accepted a sea change in values. The old values were about the self measuring up to standards “out there.” In the new values, the self is the standard. You should feel good about yourself because you are you. Your feelings are good—express them. Your passions are sacred—pursue them. And your power is awesome—claim it. The whole problem of the defilement of your soul has been taken off the table. Now, the only sin is low self-esteem.
This seems to be the range of the options: “Feel bad about yourself and wipe the stain off your soul by obeying God” and “Feel good about yourself and obey your dreams and passion. Don’t measure up to some ‘good’ out there; express the good within.”
How remarkable, then, that the Course takes a completely different route, one that does not remotely resemble either of one these. It says, “You think you have defiled your soul, and this actually is the hidden source of all your suffering. You think you have lost your most priceless possession: your innocence. However, the solution is not to clean up your soul, and it’s not to make the issue go away by empowering and affirming yourself. The solution is to accept a profound and complete disempowerment. Accept that God is so all-powerful that He is the only One with power over the state of your soul—over your true identity. Yes, you have made many mistakes. You have hurt many people, and quite intentionally. But none of that has defiled your identity, because you have no such power. Only God is allowed influence in that holy place, and the only thing He wills for your identity is holiness. Therefore, you have made no changes in your original innocence whatsoever. You are clean, because you are still as God created you.”
Now, whatever you think of that idea, you ought to at least be wondering one thing: Where on earth did that come from? That is not on the list of options. Who thinks that the answer to feeling like such miserable sinners in church is to give God more power? Intuitively, that feels like it’s so obviously the wrong way to go. I mean, if we give Him more power, the whole problem just gets worse, right? Now, we become mere worms before the all-powerful Judge.
I have never encountered any teaching outside the Course that says, “In response to feeling like a sinner, realize that when it comes to what you are, you have no power, and God has all the power, and He created you holy.” Who is saying that outside the Course?
That kind of originality amazes me. Apart from the beauty and practicality of the idea, I am simply amazed at how someone could come up with an idea in this vital area that no one else seems to have thought of. It makes you wonder if the Course is right and its ideas really did come from beyond the human.