This section is superficially an excellent example of how A Course in Miracles tends to undo traditional notions of Christianity. We’ve already seen it with the crucifixion; now we are being asked to accept a meaning of the Last Judgment that entirely upends notions that have driven Christians of all denominations for centuries. I say it’s superficial though because I don’t believe that undoing Christianity is really the point here. This section actually makes clear that we – students of the course, right now – are essential to the overall plan of Salvation. Our ability to function as miracle workers is necessary to bring the atonement to everyone. There is some urgency here, as Jesus reveals the scope of the plan.
For most Christians, the last judgment is an action undertaken by God at the end of times. He looks at every one of us, judges us, finds us wanting or not according to his rigid standards, and then boots us to Hell or accepts us into Heaven. In A Course in Miracles, God isn’t judgmental at all – it’s simply not a quality inherent in that which is One. How can that which is All in All judge a part of itself? It doesn’t work.
Thus, the last judgment is a collaborative process undertaken by all miracle workers in conjunction with Jesus, under his guidance. It is not a judging per se, so much as a leading of all minds to right-minded thinking. When we are in our right minds we can accept the atonement without delay.
But to get to this juncture requires some effort on our part. We have to end the conflict discussed in the last section – the fear that comes from pursuing multiple goals, i.e., wanting one thing but allowing our bodies to do another. The unified goal that we are called to accept is Salvation. When we “judge” everything according to whether it helps or hinders our union with God, then we are making the one right use of judgment. Indeed, a lot of the early text is asking us to begin to sort out what is worthy – what promotes salvation or right-minded thinking – and what is not – everything else. As Jesus said in an earlier section, his control will take over everything that does not matter while his guidance will instruct us in everything that does.
But don’t delay! This is the interesting aspect of this section. The separation, we are told, took place over millions of years – millions! And, accordingly, the atonement will take that long if not longer. The only hope of shortening this lies in the miracle, the means of the atonement. Thus, Jesus asks us to free ourselves from fear – leave the conflict it engenders behind – as quickly as possible. We can’t help him wake others up until we’ve done it ourselves. As Emily Dickinson said in one of her poems, the preponder of Heaven must indeed possess it.
As I’ve said repeatedly over the past couple of weeks, this can be a deceptive text. We’re smart people, savvy readers and this isn’t our first visit to the New Age Spiritual Health Rodeo. But A Course in Miracles is the express lane – it’s heavy and Jesus doesn’t pull a lot of his punches. If it’s your path, devote yourself to it with as much fervor and discipline as you can manage. Jesus is there on the sidelines of our life, urging us along like some sort of divine cheerleader. Ask yourself always where salvation is – whether what you’re doing is bringing it nearer or pushing it away. Ask Jesus for help. Be led by him, be guided.