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New Thought Christianity – A Brief History
New Thought: Ancient Wisdom
New Thought and Christianity are mixed together, as well as Christianity and everything else. What is important to understand is that the basic tenets of the entire New Thought Movement predate Christianity and even the Old Testament by thousands of years.
Many researchers call these lessons Hermetic Wisdombut even this is misleading because Hermes is a Western name attributed to an ancient Egyptian philosopher called Of course. ‘New Thought’ is basically the teachings of a 5000 year old Egyptian named ‘little’ adapted to our modern tastes. Basically, the New Thought Movement is based on the notions of:
- Divine Kindness
- Equality in race, gender, faith and economic status
- Human Creative Potential (we can create the lives we want)
- Agreement of Likes (also called ‘Law of Attraction’)
- The all-pervasive / pervasive nature of Godhead
Sounds simple enough right? It’s really not unlike the United States Declaration of Independence. Would it surprise you to know that the 20 original signers of the Declaration of Independence were students of these ancient Hermetic teachings?
New Thought meets Christianity
Among others, Emma Curtis Hopkins (1849-1925) is often credited with coining the phrase; “The New Thought Movement”. She was an extremely confident, prolific, outspoken and controversial figure in our world’s history who was always willing to stand up for exactly what she believed in; including being instrumental in securing women’s right to vote in the United States.
As editor of The Christian Science Journal she tried to bring the Eastern teachings of Hinduism and Buddhism into the realm of Christianity. It was her strong belief that the seeds of truth lie within all world religions and must be understood from a perspective above all ownership. In other words, she did not see Christianity as tied to strict dogmas or particular teachings, rather she saw the core concepts as present in religions all over the world.
But Christian Science was a religion, and it was not about to throw away its strict teachings for the sake of a woman’s views. So she was fired as editor of the Christian Science Journal and almost excommunicated from their ranks.
If you can’t join them, you can…
From her perspective, the core teachings of Christianity insist that the divinity is omnipresent. How can the Godhead be simultaneously all powerful and all-pervading, yet owned by some religious group?
It made no sense to him. If God is pervasive, we should be able to see signs of God everywhere, end of story. So she decided to open her own church. This is where it gets interesting. Emma Curtis Hopkins, editor of the Christian Science Journal, is fired from her post as editor and decides to start her own church naming it exactly the same as the one she just left! If she couldn’t get the Christian Science Church to see things her way, she would create her own Christian Science Church and name it: The Christian Science Church.
How is this even possible? Well, that can’t really happen these days, but this was over 30 years before radio or the widespread use of telephones and the Christian Science Movement was rapidly spreading across the United States. People were interested in a new way of practicing their faith, and Christian Science was rapidly filling that recognized void in the then 37 US states. People were interested in the lessons, most people didn’t even realize there were two completely unrelated organizations with the same name!
The new thought of Christianity is added
Emma Curtis Hopkins was a “Preach what I practice” kind of teacher. If her students were to follow in her footsteps, they would have to establish their own churches as well. Some of her notable students include:
- Charles and Myrtle Fillmore who co-founded the Unity Church
- Anna Rix Militz, who founded the House of Truth
- Ernest Holmes who founded the Church of Religious Science
- Malinda Cramer, Nona L. Brooks and Fannie Brooks who co-founded the Church of Divinity
There are many other New Thought Christian groups out there with over 800 Churches worldwide and close to 10 million practitioners scattered around the world. So different are they that any attempt to concisely describe them all here would be ridiculous.
So are they all the same? Does everyone learn the same things? In fact, each of them teaches something different, but the Fundamental Principle: “There is an all-pervading force of goodness underlying all things” is a common root for all of them.
This is an epic principle important to people around the world. Letting go of the idea that we are inherently bad and replacing it with the idea that we are inherently good is an incredibly empowering way to think. Literally hundreds of different churches now offer their versions of the same essential truth to the world. I think it’s a pretty fun way to get the message out. After all, the idea of being ‘well born’ instead of being ‘born a sinner’ should be worth at least a few dozen versions…
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