Who Carries Out the Last Judgment?

Question: I am confused about the definition of the Last Judgment in A Course in Miracles. In some places, it says the Last Judgment is carried out by the Sonship, while in others it says that the Last Judgment is carried out by God. Help!

Answer:  It is true that the Course says both things, but I think these two ideas can be harmonized. I'll present my own harmonization at the end, after a brief tour of what the Course says about the Last Judgment.

First, it may be helpful to look at the conventional view of the Last Judgment, since the Course takes pains to correct that view. Most everybody who grew up in a Christian culture is familiar with the basics: At the end of time, an end decided by God, everyone is summoned to a final judgment of everything he or she has done. This judgment is carried out by God (or Jesus, who of course is God). God separates the sheep from the goats — the righteous from the sinners, the saved from the unsaved — the world is destroyed, and each person gets his or her due. The saved are blessed with eternal life in Heaven; the unsaved are damned with an eternal living death in hell. (Different denominations vary in the details of all this, of course; I'm just portraying a common popular view here.)

The Course overturns virtually every aspect of this conventional view. True, the Course's Last Judgment does occur at the end of time (though this end may be spread out over millions of years — see T-2.VIII.2:5). But this end is not determined by God, but by the readiness of the Sonship. The Course's Last Judgment is a judgment of thoughts, not actions. Instead of separating the righteous from the sinners, it is a process of separating true thoughts from false ones in our minds. Instead of the world being destroyed, "It will merely cease to seem to be" (M-14.2:12). And of course, no one is damned: "The final judgment on the world contains no condemnation" (W-pII.10.2:1). All of us ultimately return to the Heaven we never really left.

But now we come to our question: In the Course's version, who carries out the Last Judgment? When the Last Judgment is introduced early in the Text, it is clearly carried out by us, the Sonship. Jesus says, "The Last Judgment is generally thought of as a procedure undertaken by God. Actually it will be undertaken by my brothers with my help" (T-2.VIII.3:1-2). With Jesus assisting us, we will look upon all the thoughts in our minds, separate the true from the false, and allow the true to shine the false away forever:

[All of the Son of God's thoughts] must be brought to the last comparison that he will ever make; the last evaluation that will be possible, the final judgment upon this world. It is the judgment of the truth upon illusion, of knowledge on perception: "It has no meaning, and does not exist." (T-26.III.4:2-3)

But later in the Text, we are told something a little different. Here, the Last Judgment is not so much something we do ourselves, even with Jesus' help. Instead, we hand the job over to the Holy Spirit, who makes the final judgment of our true and false thoughts for us:

The Holy Spirit points quietly to the contrast, knowing that you will finally let Him judge the difference for you, allowing Him to demonstrate which must be true. He has perfect faith in your final judgment, because He knows that He will make it for you. (T-13.XI.4:4-5)

This is echoed in the Workbook's section on the Last Judgment, where we are told that in the Last Judgment, we "hear the Voice for God [the Holy Spirit] proclaim that what is false is false, and what is true has never changed. And this the judgment is in which perception ends" (W-pII.10.1:1).

My impression, then, is that we carry out the Last Judgment by letting the Holy Spirit carry out the His final judgment through us. This makes sense to me, given Jesus' assertion in the Text that his final lesson was "to hear that Voice and no other" (T-5.II.3:9). If the Holy Spirit's Voice is the only Voice we're hearing, then obviously He's the one who's really carrying out the Last Judgment.

But then, in that Workbook section I've just referred to, we get very clear references to the idea of God carrying out the Last Judgment:

You who believed that God's Last Judgment would condemn the world to hell along with you, accept this holy truth: God's Judgment is the gift of the Correction He bestowed on all your errors, freeing you from them, and all effects they ever seemed to have. (W-pII.10.3:1)

God's Final Judgment is as merciful as every step in His appointed plan to bless His Son, and call him to return to the eternal peace He shares with him. (W-pII.10.4:1)

Obviously the Last Judgment is in God's Hands here; it is explicitly called "God's Last Judgment" and "God's Final Judgment." As the section concludes, it tells us exactly what God's Last Judgment of us is:

This is God's Final Judgment: "You are still My holy Son, forever innocent, forever loving and forever loved, as limitless as your Creator, and completely changeless and forever pure. Therefore awaken and return to Me. I am your Father and you are My Son." (W-pII.10.5:1-3)

Okay, so we have a Last Judgment carried out by us, by the Holy Spirit, and by God. How do we sort all this out? I think what we need to do is discern the "big picture" of the Last Judgment that Jesus has in mind here, a picture that encompasses all three ideas. Here's what comes to my mind:

We are capable of believing in truth or falsehood. Our job is to use judgment to accept truth and let go of falsehood in our minds. This discerning of true from false is, the Course tells us, "the one right use of judgment" (T-4.IV.8:6). Our Last Judgment, which we do with Jesus' and the Holy Spirit's help, is the final exercise of this one right use of judgment.

The Holy Spirit knows the truth and also perceives the falsehoods we believe. His job is to act as Judge in our minds, affirming the true and shining away the false. "Judgment is the function of the Holy Spirit, and one He is perfectly equipped to fulfill" (T-8.VIII.4:7). His Last Judgment is the final exercise of His function of judgment in our minds.

God knows the truth and only the truth. He's aware that we're asleep (see T-6.V.1:8), but He doesn't know the specific falsehoods we believe. He doesn't actually judge at all: "Judgment is not an attribute of God" (T-2.VIII.2:3). His job, if you can call it a "job," is simply to know the truth. So His Last Judgment, strictly speaking, is not a judgment at all; it is simply a declaration of the eternal truth about us.

Putting all of this together, here is what I get: Our Last Judgment is carried out by letting the Holy Spirit carry out His Last Judgment through us. His Last Judgment is an affirmation of God's Last Judgment, which God carried out the moment He created us: His eternal declaration of the eternal truth about us.

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