A. This is a huge question, on which there can be a number of responsible and intelligent views. The main views I’m aware of are 3:
- Total (or near-total) harmony
- Total (or near-total) disharmony
- The Course as the third testament, the third installment of a progressive revelation
I personally don’t ascribe to any of these three views. As for the first, the Course is constantly engaged in correcting some of the fundamental currents in the Bible. As for the second, the Course constantly expresses too much agreement with and approval of the Bible.
My issue with the third is more complicated, so I’ll say a bit more about it, and in the process lay out my own belief. The third centers on a notion of progressive revelation, in which the New Testament revealed more of God’s true Will than the Old Testament, and in which the Course takes things to an even higher level. I, however, have a difficult time seeing things in terms as simple as that.
I do believe that in some way God was revealing Himself in the Old Testament, but I also believe that revelation was not most of what was going on. Rather, the revelation was like water leaking through the roof—the roof being normal human culture, along with its normal tendencies when it comes to religion.
I believe that Jesus then came along, offering a very different kind of religious impulse. I believe he took the best of Judaism—which really consisted of a loving, caring God who worked through those devoted to Him to make the earth into a reflection of His loving Will—and radicalized these themes, taking them to their logical extension. In his vision, God is only love—pure, unconditional love. And if we place ourselves under the waterfall of that love, so to speak, we can be immune to the assaults of the world and we can do miracles in the lives of others, ultimately bringing His kingdom to earth.
In its extreme nature, I think this vision was so different that even his own followers didn’t grasp it. And so once he left this earth, the roof closed up once again, and his vision became mixed in with more conventional and traditional religious sentiments. This means that the New Testament as written is shot through with themes that really represent distortions of Jesus’ vision, in which it is pulled back down to earth.
I therefore see a lot more alignment, on a very basic level, between Old and New Testaments than the progressive revelation theory would perhaps suggest, with both of them presenting a mix of a loving God and wrathful God, and with Jesus standing out like a diamond in the rough.
And I see the Course carrying forward not the mix of dark and light that we find in the Old and New Testaments, but the diamond that was his actual life and teachings—before they were recorded in the Gospels. The Course takes this diamond and expands it into a full-blown spiritual path, which includes an extensive and detailed spiritual teaching, and a specific and multifaceted spiritual practice.
In other words, rather than being the next logical step after the New Testament, I see the Course as an expansion of the diamond that stands in the blank space between them, and that stands in tremendous tension with both of them.