"I facilitate an ACIM group and one of our members frequently says “we are god.” I feel resistance to this as I think ACIM teaches we are the EXTENSION of God, which, to me, is different. She maintains “extension” is the same thing as “being.” I would appreciate clarification. Thank you for the opportunity to ask a question!"
First we need to remember that the Course is attempting to use words to describe a realm of existence which is beyond words. Words are twice removed from reality, symbols upon symbols. This makes it difficult to be very accurate.
Generally speaking, A Course in Miracles is teaching that God is the Original Creator, and we are an "extension" from Him. There are a few subtle distinctions. We did not create God. We are not what is making God be what God is - that is purely an ego perspective and an authority problem. God is also not in awe of us, but as His Creation we are in awe of Him. We are a "thought" of God in God's Mind.
We are equal to God in that God has created us with exactly the same divine perfect characteristics that are of Himself, and as such we SHARE in His Power and Life and so on. We are able to Create the same level of perfection that He has created, and the Course says that we have our "own creations". We are created in His "image" meaning that we are the same in terms of what we have inherited. If we were a body coming from God's body, we would inherit his genetic material and DNA and look like Him, to use an analogy.
But this doesn't give us the power to create God Himself, or to create another God. This is the ego's idea and its authority problem, where it's trying to "be God" without God participating, claiming that a) it knows how to cause God and define God, and b) it knows how to replace God with another God.
Sin was the belief that we had successfully "caused God", producing real effects in Him i.e. in reality, and therefore damaging or destroying Him. Another part of this belief is the belief that we can define what God is and can change God in some way. All of this is ego arrogance and not true.
Similarly the belief that we can create another God has led to the "making" of a false God and false idols and specialness, where we've invented a replacement God who is vicious and vengeful.
The Course speaks about how the ego separated itself from the Father, seeing itself as fatherless, and then proceeded to invent a substitute father in order to explain where it came from. This artificial God is the God of wrath and revenge, and the ego then believes that this "God" is justified in wanting us dead, that it is God's will that we die and be punished, and that by destroying ourselves we are carrying out God's will. These are the kind of consequences that come from seeing ourselves as "on par" with God in every way.
It is difficult to say we're not God when we say that we're One with God because we can't really understand how we can be One i.e. as though a single being, and yet be somehow separate as Christ. And I think the Course speaks a little bit to how we would not be able to understand this with the ego mind because it does not seem to make sense. Our EGO will conclude that it means we must be God.
As far as extension goes, we are the extension of God. ACIM explains extension as being a necessary part of Creation in order for there to be Love and Presence. I think of extension like a radiance of light. A shining outward. Technically there is nowhere to extend to since God is already infinite and everywhere, but nevertheless, conceptually, God is "radiating us" and we are that radiance, but we are not the source of that radiance.
"I am SUSTAINED by the love of God", meaning that God is my source and maintains and sustains me. I could not be what I am without Him doing this. It also means that I do not get to decide who I am or what I am, because I can ONLY be what God has Willed that I be. If I in some way believe that I have any valid opinion whatsoever in determining my identity, where I came from, what I can do, what the truth is, whether I am worthy or not, etc... that's all ego. We have no real say in defining who we are because we ARE God's Will and we can only be what He decides we are.
There is no room in this of any opinion or personal viewpoint. It is purely ego when we then start to say that we can change the truth, can determine who we are, can change our identity, can make decisions on our own, can be independent, can have our own will, etc... these are all the result of SEPARATION from God. They are all false and delusional. We are absolutely incapable of changing the nature of who or what we are, because we are not the ones who are deciding it. God is, and that proves that we are His Creation, and not the other way around. Our only option then is to accept "I am as God Created me", or to deny it and go into the ego.
That which is real has to be extended otherwise it has no meaning or reality. This ties in directly with the requirement that reality be SHARED, otherwise it does not exist at all. Extension could be equated with sharing. As the Son of God we must share i.e. give openly without limitation, that which we are, in order to exist. Otherwise we are akin to a light bulb which is not switched on. The Kingdom has to be extended in this way to give it presence and reality, otherwise there would be no sense of love, no sense of presence or being.
Extension is not being. This idea of "beingness" is trying to be understood by the ego. It has no concept of being, other than to say that it means you're just sort of sitting there doing nothing of value. Being extends itself through light, in order to be, otherwise it would be lifeless.
Another point to make is to ask, who is saying that they are God? Most likely it is the person's spiritualized ego. The ego loves to believe that it is spiritual and the height of that is to claim that it is God. And yet, while the ego is claiming that it is God, it is still separate from God.
That means it's trying to pretend to be a God-like ego. This places the knowledge of God purely on an intellectual, conceptual level. The person is not *actually* experiencing being God, they are just claiming that they are based on a somewhat faulty theory, and is using this to try to make themselves feel spiritual. There is an inauthenticity there which you are probably detecting.
It's one thing to understand in some theological way that you are God (which is not correct), but another to actually experience it i.e. for it to be a living reality. There is no real benefit to making this claim other than that it inflates the ego. And now the ego is claiming that it is being spiritual, while in fact it is just increasing itself and becoming less spiritual.
The ego has an entire spiritual path laid out, as part of its "seek and do not find" agenda, which leads the person away from God, but makes it look like they are seeking for and moving toward God. The ego likes to think about how it is God or like God etc. It scatters words like "divine" and "sacred" all over the place to make it seem special and exalted. These are fantasies about the truth, and are not really attempts to ACTUALLY be spiritual, but rather to PRETEND to be spiritual. There is an illusion of spirituality and it is very deceptive.
To even accurately claim that you are Christ, which is true, when in fact you are thoroughly believing that you are a body, and are not actually experiencing being in the Christ identity, and are not Christ-like, and still want to keep the ego, is similarly just a shift into the intellect to attempt to pretend to be spiritual. It's inauthentic and dishonest because you're not admitting to what it is that you actually are doing - your actual belief that the ego is still real to you. Actions or actualizations speak louder than words.
Claims like this often carry over from the new-age kind of thinking or systems which teach a spiritualized version of the world. It's people who have fallen for the ego's trap of keeping the world and trying to make it holy. It seems like an attempt to be spiritual, but it's really the ego's attempt to cover up the Spirit with a fake spirituality. This has to be recognized and let go when the person is willing to admit to it.
The ego has distracted them from actually being the Christ that they are, by telling them they are not Christ, which has led them to seek for and invent a new definition of themselves and now they're claiming to be God. This isn't really helping them to be WITH God. That spiritual "path" itself has to be let go at some point and the person needs to be more honest. It may just be that they misunderstand some of the Course's metaphysics, but there is a vested interest of their ego at work behind this as well.
You are God's extension, Gods' creation, God's expression. You come from God. You are made from God. But that doesn't mean you are God. You are like God, similar to God, but God is your "Father" and not your creation. To believe otherwise is the entire authority problem, which is nothing other than the ego attempting to be God.