- Hardcover: 698 pages
- Publisher: Foundation for a Course in Miracles; 1st edition (July 1989)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0933291078
- ISBN-13: 978-0933291072
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Love Does Not Condemn: The World, the Flesh, and the Devil According to Platonism, Christianity, Gnosticism, and 'A Course in Miracles' Hardcover – July, 1989
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About the Author
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and one of the foremost teachers of A Course in Miracles, which he has been working with since 1973, when he joined Dr. Helen Schucman, scribe of the Course, and Dr. William Thetford at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. He has written more than 25 books on the Course, including Love Does Not Condemn, Absence from Felicity: The Story of Helen Schucman and Her Scribing of 'A Course in Miracles,' The Message of 'A Course in Miracles,' and many others. He has also produced over 150 audio and video titles discussing the principles of the Course. He is President and co-founder, with his wife Gloria, of the Foundation for A Course in Miracles in Temecula, California.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
From the Preface:
A litany from the seventeenth-century Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England contains this petition: "From fornication, and all other deadly sin; and from all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil, Good Lord, deliver us"..."The world, the flesh, and the devil" have been preoccupations of world religions ever since people began reflecting on their existential situation of feeling alone and vulnerable in a world that could be perceived as harmful, evil, and uncaring. Religions, thus, can be seen as attempts to render sensible this otherwise inexplicable and meaningless phenomenal world. They have sought answers to the question of how a separated and physical world, apparently under the benevolent guidance of a loving and non-physical God, can arise in the first place, and then continually manifest pain and suffering. They address the problem of how one is to live in a world of the body, while trying to recall and identify with one's spiritual Self.
In the Western philosophical world, this problem has been addressed since the time of the pre-Socratics in ancient Greece, with Plato being the first to develop an elaborate cosmogony (study of the origin of the world) and cosmology (study of the nature of the world), and then an ethical system and theory of society that was derived from this. His work became the foundation for over two thousand years of theoretical speculation about the nature of spiritual reality and its relation to the world of the body, not to mention having presented a problem that has perplexed Platonists for centuries and centuries....
It is my contention that concurrent with the rise and spread of Christianity ran a strong thread of truth, closer to the message of the living Jesus and counter to the orthodox Christian position. The roots of this thread in the Western world are traceable back to Plato and before, and extend through the great Gnostic and Neoplatonic thinkers to the present day, where A Course in Miracles is among its clearest and purest exponents. This thread reflects a unified spirit, despite its disparate voices. It is the spirit of a wisdom that recognizes the alienation of living in a world that does not correspond to the pure oneness of God, the voice of one experiencing the paradox of the un-bridgeable gulf between the perfection of God and His creation, set against the obvious imperfections of this world that are so foreign to one's true Self. And yet it is a voice that sees salvation from this world as possible if not inevitable.
In many ways, therefore, A Course in Miracles can be seen as integrating the Platonic, Christian, and Gnostic traditions, while at the same time correcting and extending them through a far more inclusive vision that utilizes the insights of contemporary psychology to support its universal message of salvation. My earlier book, Forgiveness and Jesus: The Meeting Place of A Course in Miracles and Christianity, dealt with many of the similarities and differences between Christianity and the Course. The current book explores this comparison in greater depth, more specifically focusing on the behavioral implications of the respective positions of these and the Gnostic and Platonic thought systems regarding the origin and nature of the body and the phenomenal world; in other words, how to meet the challenge stated in John's gospel of being in the world yet not of it....
Our point of departure is the conviction that A Course in Miracles represents the highest level of contemporary spiritual thought and, even more specifically, of Christian thought. The Course alone, of all the explanations that present the meaning and message of Jesus' life, presents a theology -- both abstractly and practically -- that is without contradiction. This book's principal argument, to be developed in the succeeding chapters, is that a theology or philosophy that begins with the premise that this phenomenal world is in any way the manifestation of the Will of God, must inevitably fall into the paradoxical trap of placing within the omni-benevolent God an inherent flaw that contains the tendency towards evil, suffering, and death or, at least, a Will that allows it to happen, the traditional Christian theological position....
One of the basic premises of this book is that A Course in Miracles, although not bridging this unbridgeable gap, has nonetheless successfully resolved the paradox of the One and the many, eternity and time, without the inherent inconsistencies in attitude, if not theory, that have plagued all Platonists, and have marred the history of Judaism and Christianity from their inception. The Course accomplishes this by presenting its thought system on two basic levels. The first of these is metaphysical, contrasting the spiritual reality of Heaven with the illusory, phenomenal world of the ego. The second, remaining only within this world, contrasts two ways of interpreting what is perceived: the ego's condemnatory judgment of sin vs. the Holy Spirit's vision of a forgiving classroom in which we learn to see all thoughts and actions as either expressing love or calling for it. Thus, the material world is seen as illusory but not evil, serving the Holy Spirit's purpose of correcting our purpose in having made it. As is stated in the following passage from the text, which provided this book with its title: The body was not made by love. Yet love does not condemn it and can use it lovingly, respecting what the Son of God has made and using it to save him from illusions (T-18.VI.4:8). By declaring the phenomenal universe to be the work of the illusory ego, though not inherently evil or sinful, the Course gently resolves the great Platonic paradox of living in an imperfect, visible, and material world, yet knowing of a spiritual world whose Source is perfect and good.
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Other than that, he chooses Bible translations very well; he chooses the appropriate Bible scholars, he chooses good authorities on the issue of Gnosticism, he shows the pertinent passages of philosophy authors (Plato, Aristotle, Philo, Plotinus), and shows the historical, social, political, religious realities of Christianity, Ancient Philosophy, Gnosticism and how they are related to each other.
I have an MA in Philosophy, and not a scholar. However, although I'm not a scholar, I would dare say that it is a reliable source to know these ancient movements.