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Bruce Fraser MacDonald, PhD

A Message of Hope for Troubled Times

Email: TheThomasBook@gmail.com





Simon Magus and the Trinity in
 A Course in Miracles


© Bruce F. MacDonald, PhD

            [I was astonished the effect this essay has had on the spiritual wellbeing of several people who have responded to it by email since it was first put on my website about one year ago.  Their reaction is confirmation of the deep truth of what is written here. 

]            [As I update this in April, 2011, I should mention a few things that have happened since I first put this article on the internet.  I have gotten emails from a number of people who have greatly appreciated what I have written here, because they say they have tried for a long time to follow A Course in Miracles and found that the results were not what are promised in the Course.  They wondered why, until reading this material, and then realized that the Course does not provide an accurate picture of the spiritual nature of humanity.  When you follow its lessons and ideas you will not find spiritual enlightenment but will rather develop some very unhealthy characteristics, mostly based on the denial of the reality of the world, a denial of suffering, of our responsibility for our actions, of truthfulness and of the closeness of God in our world.  God is not far away, as ACIM often says, but is close to us and our life in the physical body.  Our physical life is not an illusion created by the ego, but is the basis of the most valuable spiritual lessons we can have.

           [Some of what I was told in emails I initially did not think could happen. I have not really taken seriously some of the implications of my own vision of reality, in spite of all I have been through. But I have discovered that there actually are some very negative spiritual influences in the world, and Simon Magus is still very much alive in the lives of some people. I have heard of at least two people who have had the experience of Simon Magus trying to “possess” their bodies since they were children, even trying to push them out of the body to take over.  It would seem that, instead of withdrawing into the spiritual realms between lives, Simon Magus has remained as a “ghost,” a kind of psychic vampire who maintains his life in the astral realms by feeding on the lives of the living through the centuries.  The people I have communicated with or heard of have had the strong sense of a negative male presence trying to take over their lives, draining their energy, alienating other people and claiming to be Simon Magus.  In one case, this Simon actually insisted that the person who was the victim of this kind of “psychic vampirism” should read A Course in Miracles, in order to make the person more aware of the philosophy of Simon Magus and the Simonians.  There was also a female presence which seemed to be Helen.  I heard this from someone who was so traumatized by the disembodied Simon Magus since childhood that they searched on Google for anything to do with Simon and found my website, which confirmed for them all they had been experiencing. Fortunately, I have been able to help through The Prayer of Silence and The Thomas Book

            [If there are more people out there who have had these experiences, I would appreciate hearing about their experiences.  With the number of people reading ACIM and trying its exercises, I would not be surprised to find others in the same or similar situations.  My email address is TheThomasBook@gmail.com .

            If you are the victims of this kind of psychic attack, follow the ideas and exercises in The Prayer of Silence, and you will be able to overcome its effects.  The Prayer of Silence is a reliable map of the spiritual life.]

            The fraud which we have explored elsewhere on this website, in the essay on Gary Renard’s stolen Gospel, has implications which stretch back in time and affect much of what we understand about Christianity.  I hesitate to raise all these issues, since I initially thought the main purpose of my writing was only to present the new Gospel, The Thomas Book, and to teach a new type of prayer and meditation in The Prayer of Silence.

            However, a dream I had on the night of Thursday, November 19, 2009, shortly before The Thomas Book was to be released, compelled me to reconsider.  I knew from the dream that the fraud committed by Simon Magus many centuries ago, extended into the present and is currently distorting much of our understanding of the teachings of Jesus, both through the doctrines of many churches and through A Course in Miracles.

            I dreamed I was in a house with many rooms.  In them were people who had been turned into wooden statues, struggling to get out of their wooden confines.  I knew immediately that they were living under a spell, so I went from room to room removing the spell “in the name of Jesus and of God.”  Once the spell was removed, the people jumped up, looked around in a frightened way, realized they had been trapped in this house, and fled.

            I then found the area in which the wizard put spells on people, his “workshop,” complete with intricately tangled paraphernalia hanging from the walls and ceiling.  I cleansed the area of all psychic power and sealed it “in the name of Jesus and of God” so that the wizard would never again be able to entrap the unwary. 

            After I had completed this cleansing process, the wizard came into the entrance hallway where I stood.  His face seemed familiar.  I had thought this wizard would be frightening, but he was very friendly, with a round, smiling, jovial and pink face. He attempted, laughingly and in great good humour, to put a spell on me as well.  I looked directly at him and, “in the name of Jesus and of God,” removed his power to cast spells.

That was the end of the dream.

            I have not met Gary Renard in the flesh but, when I woke, I realized the smiling man looked exactly like the pictures I had seen on his website. I also realized that I had not just removed his power to put spells on people in the dream – I had also removed his power by telling the truth about him in the article on his plagiarism and also in the chapter from The Thomas Book which deals with his deceptions (Chapter 4, Part 1).  I continue to remove his power every time I explain something about what he has done.

            Reflecting on the dream later, I understood that I had a responsibility to explain further what had been happening over the past centuries because of the teachings of Simon Magus, the wizard who had put many people in a trance.  I had been told by my Inner Guide that Gary was a reincarnation of Simon Magus.  This is not just a personal quarrel between Judas Thomas and Simon Magus, however, or between Gary and me – in fact, I have no quarrel with Gary.  I do not know him.  All I know about him comes from his books, from what I have seen on the internet and what I have heard from some of his friends and associates.  I feel sorry for him, now that he can no longer hide from facing the consequences of his plagiarism. 

            During a Near Death Experience in 1966 (which I describe more fully in The Thomas Book and The Prayer of Silence) I had talked with Yeshua (Jesus) about a project in which we were both involved, which would clarify a lot of things which were wrong with the Gospel stories.  I fulfilled that part of our shared project when we wroteThe Thomas Book together, but I now know that it was not just the Gospels that had been distorted over the centuries.  Many of the doctrinal distortions have been discussed in Chapters Two and Three of Part One of The Thomas Book, but here I would like to look at some matters directly related to Simon Magus.

            I quickly realized that the dream was a replay in modern form of an encounter Simon Magus had with Simon Peter in the Book of Acts in the Bible.  Recognizing this repetition from one life to another led me to understand that there are other repeated patterns in the way Gary is fulfilling his role as the reincarnation of Simon Magus. 

In the Book of Acts, Simon had been watching the Apostles bring the power of the Holy Spirit on the believers in Samaria. Then the story concludes:

“And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’  
But Peter said to him, ‘Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!  You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.  For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity” (Acts 8:18-23). 

Simon asks for forgiveness at the end of this story, but the traditions of the early church and of Josephus, the Jewish historian, state that Simon really did not repent.  He went on to deceive many thousands of people in Rome and throughout the empire with his magical powers and his personal claims.  Some traditions state that Simon even tried to buy a position as an Apostle. 

            Simon became very influential in Rome and became the leader of a powerful group called the Simonians or “Samaritans” (since Simon was himself a Samaritan) who later claimed to be the true Christians.  Some scholars even believe that Simon Magus was in fact the first “Pope” -- that it was not Simon Peter who was in Rome in the early years of the church, but Simon Pater (Priest, Magus), the person who, with his consort, Helen, claimed to be an incarnation of God. 

            The Roman Catholic Church bases the authority of the Pope on their claim that Simon Peter was the first bishop of Rome and that he was in Rome during the early years of the church.  However, it is easy to demonstrate that this claim could not be true just by looking at the letters of St. Paul in the New Testament.  His letters TO the Christians in Rome, which list the Christians who lived in Rome, do not mention St. Peter.  The letters of Paul FROM Rome to other Christian churches (after he was taken there as a prisoner) do not mention Peter either, even though Paul again lists the Christians who were in Rome at the time he was there.  Paul would surely not have missed mention of such an important disciple if Peter had actually been in Rome during those early years.

            Paul was careful to mention in his other letters every time he met with Peter, and none of those meetings took place in Rome.  Paul was officially the “Apostle to the uncircumcised” – the gentiles -- while Peter was the “Apostle to the circumcised” – the Jews.  The Roman church was a gentile church, not a Jewish church -- another reason Peter would not be the Bishop of Rome.  Early church historians, Irenaeus and Eusebius, state that Linus was the first Bishop of Rome, and Eusebius writes further that Peter was the lifelong Bishop of Antioch.  Therefore, although official Catholic doctrine lists Peter as the first Bishop of Rome from “30-64/7,” and thus the “first Pope,” it is obvious from biblical and early historic sources (including official Roman Catholic sources) that Peter was not only not in Rome during those years, he may not have visited Rome even once in his lifetime. In addition, when Paul was arrested in Rome, he said that everyone deserted him, except Mark.  Peter is never mentioned.  If St. Peter had been in Rome, he surely would not have deserted Paul, and if he did, that would surely have been mentioned.

            The Roman Catholic Church claims that St. Peter’s body was buried in the cemetery at the Vatican.  This also could not be true.  That cemetery was reserved for the powerful few -- especially powerful magicians and those who were considered incarnations of the gods, like Simon Magus.  The body of a despised Jewish Christian, executed for treason against the emperor, would definitely not be interred there.

            It would seem from the New Testament witness and from that of early church historians, that Simon Peter was not in Rome at all, and was certainly not the first Bishop of Rome.  But that leaves us with a very important question – who was the Simon who was in Rome – because there definitely was a Simon there in the first century?

According to a number of historical and legendary sources, Simon Pater WAS in Rome, even if Simon Peter was not, during those formative years of Christianity.  And Simon Pater was very influential. The Emperor Claudius even considered Simon Pater a god and many of his teachings were accepted by the Roman populace.  That may reveal why many of the things which Simon Pater/Magus taught became part of the belief system of the early Roman church, including the belief in the Trinity, the belief that the Messiah was the direct incarnation of God and actually a part of the tri-une God (a very non-Jewish idea), the veneration of saints and statues (which were abhorred by the Jewish Christians but practiced by Simon's followers), and the hierarchical church structure, including a Pontifex Maximus (Pope), since Simon Magus/Pater was the first Pontifex Maximus of the Simonian Christians.

It is interesting that one of the legends of the Roman Church tells how Simon Magus was in Rome, demonstrating his power to fly.  Peter and Paul, it is said, were also there and they rebuked Simon so that he came crashing to earth again.  It would seem that this story is actually designed to achieve two things – to show how Simon (who was followed by many of the Romans as the Christ) was defeated by the “true Apostles.”  But it was also designed to place Peter in Rome so that he could be claimed as the first Bishop of Rome, when he really never was in Rome.

The Simonians were very influential in Rome and it would seem that, when Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Empire, many of these Simonian Christians claimed to be the “true church,” and they brought their beliefs and doctrines with them and managed to impose their ideas on the formation of the official version of Roman Christianity.

            Walter Semkiw, MD, the reincarnation investigator, (http://www.johnadams.net/), argues that a number of patterns are carried from lifetime to lifetime.  Names often have the same repeated rhythm or number of syllables.  If Gary Renard is indeed the reincarnation of Simon Magus, then it is instructive to see how life patterns repeat from one life to another.

            In the simple matter of names, “Gary Renard” has the same syllabic pattern as “Simon Magus.”  But the repeated life patterns are even more striking.  

            Simon's desire to be an Apostle was carried over into this lifetime as Gary claimed to be an apostle – Thomas.  But, as is discussed in Chapter Four, Part One ofThe Thomas Book, Gary’s desire was so strong that he tried to claim more than would be justified by his claim to be the Apostle Thomas.  Gary also claimed to be another Apostle at the same time -- Didymos Judas Thomas -- someone quite different from Thomas.  The complexity of his claims cannot be repeated here but take a look at that chapter in The Thomas Book to get a sense of the extent of the deception.

Simon wanted to be seen by his followers as very important in the scheme of things.  He started by wanting to be an Apostle, but his claims continued to escalate until he finally said he was the direct incarnation of God.  It is interesting to look at the development of Gary’s claims which similarly escalate from one book to the next, until he finally claims the exalted status as one who is only one lifetime away from being an “Ascended Master.” 

Simon Magus wanted so badly to be an apostle that he tried to buy the power of the Holy Spirit:  Gary wanted so badly to speak in the voice of Thomas that he even plagiarized "Pursah's Gospel of Thomas" from a modern scholar.

But there are other, more complex parallels.

It is said that when Simon’s marriage ended, he bought a young and beautiful slave-prostitute from one of the temples in Tyre, renamed her “Helen,” and then “revealed” that she was the reincarnation of Helen of Troy who, he claimed, was an incarnation of Sophia, the feminine aspect of God.  By then Simon was claiming that he was the Messiah, the incarnate Power of God.  Helen was alternately Sophia or the “thought of God.”  For the sake of the Romans, Simon also claimed to be Jupiter or Zeus-Pater, and he claimed that Helen was Minerva, Athena and Helen of Troy.  It is not much wonder that Gary has piled up the number of contradictory claims he has about Arten, Pursah, Thomas, Didymos Judas Thomas, Thaddaeus and a variety of Ascended Masters.  Both Gary and Simon have a penchant for claiming a great number of elevated identities. 

            This time around, now that Gary’s first marriage has ended, he has married a beautiful and talented young woman, Cindy Lora, and has “revealed” (his word on his website when they were first married) that she is an incarnation of the Ascended Master, Arten, in the same way Simon made excessive claims about Helen.  Unfortunately, Gary tells us that Arten/Cindy is a reincarnation of St. Thaddaeus, but we know from the research in The Thomas Book that Thaddaeus was another name for Didymos Judas Thomas, who Gary claims to be.  Thus, Gary is married to himself, yet again.  What strange parallels!  Does Cindy know she is playing the role of Helen in Gary’s reincarnation drama?  If not, it is a sad situation for her to be in, but she is young and talented and can survive this.  If she shows Gary love and the forgiveness he preaches, perhaps he can survive this as well and they can put their considerable creative ability to good use together.

            My Inner Guide tells me that A Course in Miracles was dictated by Simon Magus.  There are interesting similarities, and this gives us an insight into how whole philosophical systems can be carried from one life to another and can even be developed further in the stage of life outside of the body. 

The basic premise of the Course is that the world we experience is an illusion.  This is similar to what Simon taught while alive.  Simon Magus taught that Helen was an incarnation of the "thought of God," through which the angels were created.  However, the angels, not God, then created the world.  Since God did not create the world, it is an illusion.   Simon taught that, to achieve salvation and union with God, it was necessary to realize that the world was not created by God but was an illusion created by the angels.  Once his converts realized that, then the universe would disappear and they would experience oneness with God. 

Gary’s teaching, drawn from ACIM, is almost identical. 

In Simon’s teachings God emanated Helen who created angels who created the illusory world.  In ACIM/Gary Renard, God emanated human souls who “created” the illusory world through a form of projection (one step is eliminated).  In both systems God is central and the world is formed by another agency other than God.  The world, in both systems, is a mistake to be overcome. Since God did not create the world, the world is not real.  To overcome the illusion, followers of both systems must go through a variety of exercises to demonstrate the illusoriness of the world and then the universe will disappear and the followers of both religious systems will be delivered from suffering.  The teachings are essentially identical.

            I often wondered why there was such a strong emphasis in A Course in Miracleson the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  I knew this could not come from Jesus because the Doctrine of the Trinity did not arise formally until 325 A.D, at the Council of Nicaea, and is still not a part of the belief system of many churches around the world.  But the Course is strictly Trinitarian.  If my Inner Guide is right, that Simon Magus, and the soul group of which he is part, was the source for A Course in Miracles, it would seem that Simon had ample time in the world of spirits, over the last 2000 years, to refine this doctrine before he dictated it through Dr. Helen Schucman as A Course in Miracles

Simon did, after all, claim that he had “appeared among the Jews as the Son, in Samaria as the Father and among other nations as the Holy Spirit,” according to the early church writer, Iranaeus.  Simon claimed that HE was the Trinity, so he would have a vested interest in propagating the doctrine in the present, especially if his present incarnation in Gary wanted to take the matter further and “reveal” anything else about himself in the future. Was he going to claim to be the Messiah or the Son or even the one incarnation of God (as Simon did) at some future date, once people had accepted, without qualms, every other tall tale he told them? 

            By the way, A Course in Miracles has some profound ideas, especially its emphasis on forgiveness, so cannot be rejected completely.  But it must be read carefully in order to sift the wheat from the chaff.  The universe is not an illusion and does not need to disappear before we can find the love and peace of God within our own lives, as the Course teaches.

            I have spent many years talking with Yeshua while writing The Thomas Book.  I asked him what was wrong with the doctrine of the Trinity and he said that it undermines his whole message – that is what is wrong! 

            He tells me, “When the New Testament mentions the Father, Son and Holy Spirit they are incorporating a phrase which became part of the later liturgy of the church, not what I taught.  It is based, in part, on what I taught, but it distorts the true meaning.  I taught people to think of God as ‘the Father,’ because they were accustomed to thinking of God as a distant, cruel and jealous deity.  I knew God as more like a parent, someone to whom I could talk without fear, so I called Him ‘Abba.’  It was a metaphor, not a doctrine.  In turning God into ‘the Father,” as part of a trinity, the closeness I wanted to convey was destroyed.  I could have just as well referred to God as ‘the Mother.’  Anything which would have emphasized the closeness we can feel to God, to the Consciousness of the Universe, would have worked.”

            “The same is true of ‘the Son.’  A Course in Miracles is partly right in calling the whole of humanity ‘the Son' of God,' except that, again, I meant it metaphorically, not literally.  In the same way as God was ‘the Father,’ the loving Parent to whom we could come when we wanted to communicate with the God who is always within us, so ‘the Son’ was metaphorical in suggesting that we are like the children of God.  We are a family.  ‘Brothers and Sisters’ and 'the Daughter' are also implied by ‘the Son.’"

"People need to think of the whole human experiment as a family, with the Divine Parent as the one who can unite and help everyone.  We must feel love and concern for everyone within this divine family.  In talking about 'the Son' I was speaking more about the nature of human relations than about the nature of God.  God is not 'the Son.'  At some point in history we will be able to treat everyone with love as family.”

            “Also the ‘Holy Spirit’ was metaphor, not doctrine.  Holy Spirit means Holy Wind, Holy Air.  God is not just like a Father, caring for us from outside, but also like the air which is around us and within us.  We even breathe the air.  God is everywhere, which is a corrective to thinking of God as a person, a Father, somewhere in the sky.  I spoke of the Holy Spirit as the Comforter as well.  This is because the ever-present God can be a comfort to us in times of need.  Strangely, Gary Renard says that God does not even know that we human beings are in pain.  That is a complete reversal of my teachings using the metaphor of the Father who cares for all people, the Comforter who is there to comfort us, ‘God’s children, sons and daughters,’ when we are in trouble.  We are the metaphorical Sons and Daughters part of the family of God.”

            “When you turn these metaphors, through which you can learn of the deep love of the Consciousness of the Universe, of All that Is, for we human beings, into doctrines, you reverse the sense of closeness between we people and God and, instead, make an intellectual structure over which you can fight.  In A Course in Miracles, Simon Magus has even turned the world (which is actually an expression of the nature of God), into an illusion, something which must vanish when it is ‘forgiven.’ He has turned the world into a form of hell.  He has turned the love of God, as the divine Parent, into a distant, uncaring deity who cannot even see what the Course calls the ‘illusion of the universe.’  And he has turned the Holy Spirit, which should be understood as an expression of the universal presence of God, into a substitute for God – merely something God created to ‘correct’ the error of the perception of ‘the Son.’"

"The whole drama of the human growth to spiritual maturity over millions of years, of learning the meaning and nature of the inner Kingdom of God, has been turned by Simon Magus, Gary and A Course in Miracles into a solipsistic struggle by human beings to overcome the 'error of their perception.'  Not only is the earth the centre of their universe, as in the medieval philosophy, but their 'error of perception' has become the centre of their universe.  They have thus, effectively, eliminated God from their world and have enthroned themselves at the centre, which is what Simon Magus wanted to do when he claimed to be 'the Standing One,' the only incarnation of God.”

            "And Gary, like all Docetists, also claims that I did not suffer, that I could not feel pain, because, he said, God cannot feel pain.  Every time a human feels pain, God feels pain, because the universe is not only 'created' by God, it is a manifestation of the total Divine Reality.  Therefore, everything that happens registers in the Divine Awareness.  Like all those who are incarnate in order to teach human beings about their inner divine potential, I suffered in order to know within my own being what other human beings feel so that I would be able to teach them the way to the God within.  This is also why Judas Thomas and you have suffered – so that you can teach others, knowing what other people feel in themselves." 

            “This is why you had the dream and why you had to write this – because my message of the ever-present God was distorted by the churches and by A Course in Miracles into a system of belief which was so complex that not even the scholars and theologians could unravel it!  All they could do was fight to try to force others to believe the unbelievable.  Gary/Simon, who originated the system, could explain it as no one else could because it was his in the first place, but his claims turned out to be a fraud.  My assertion that God is “Abba,” Father, was originally intended to let even children know that God can be trusted like a loving parent, God can be sensed as close as the air, the Holy Wind, and we are all brothers and sisters of each other in the Divine family!  The Trinity cannot address any of those purposes.”


            From these comments by Yeshua, it is obvious that not only the Gospels need correcting.  The doctrines of the churches and of other religious systems need to be rewritten if we are to enter fully into the sense of Divine closeness which Jesus was teaching.

            An important lesson to learn from all of this is that, just because something is “channeled” from a non-physical source, does not mean it is profound or correct.  Those who have died are no more enlightened than those who are alive – some much less so.  Do not hang up your brains at the door whenever you listen to “channeled” material or when people start talking about what Alice Bailey and others have called "Ascended Masters."  There are no Ascended Masters.  There are people like us, at various stages of spiritual maturity, in and out of bodies. Many spiritually less developed people who are “in spirit” are very anxious to manifest in someone else’s voice again.  They know the prevailing prejudice in favour of “channeled” writing and speech, so they take that form to find a following.  Not all of them are honest or trustworthy.  Some of them are very sly, like a fox, comme un Renard, as they say in French, and pretend to be people they are not.  Do not assume that those “in spirit” are more intelligent or more honest than you are – you will also be in spirit some day and will carry over all that you have achieved in this and other lives.  Work out your own salvation, because your spiritual growth depends on you, in the end.  Always ask, individually or in groups, if "channeled" material is really worth listening to or if you can figure out the same spiritual truths, or even more elevated spiritual truths, yourselves, from your own perception.