New Thought: Ancient Wisdom
New Thought and Christianity mix together about as well as Christianity and everything else. What’s important to realize is that the fundamental principles at back of the entire New Thought Movement predate Christianity, even the old testament by many thousands of years.
Many scholars call these lessons The Hermetic Wisdom, but even that is misleading because Hermes is a western name attributed to an ancient Egyptian philosopher named Thoout. ‘New Thought’ is essentially the teachings of 5,000 year old Egyptian named ‘Thoout’ adapted for our modern palates. Basically, the New Thought Movement is based on the notions of:
- Divine Goodness
- Equality across race, gender, creed, and economic status
- The Human Creative Potential (we can create the lives we want)
- The agreement of like things (also called the ‘Law of Attraction’)
- The inclusive / pervasive nature of Divinity
Sounds pretty simple right? Not really any different than the United States Declaration of Independence. Would it surprise you to know that the 20 of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence were students of these ancient Hermetic teachings?
New Thought Meets Christianity
Amongst other things, Emma Curtis Hopkins (1849-1925) is often credited with coining the phrase; “The New Thought Movement.” She was a tremendously confident, prolific, outspoken, and controversial figure in our world’s history who was always willing to stand up for precisely what she believed in; including being instrumental in securing womens’ right to vote in the United States.
As editor of, “The Christian Science Journal” she attempted to bring the Eastern lessons of Hinduism and Buddhism into the scope of Christianity. It was her firm belief that seeds of truth rest within all world religions and must be understood from a viewpoint above any proprietorship. In other words, she didn’t see Christianity as bound by strict dogmas or singular teachings, instead she saw the core concepts as being present in religions all over the world.
But Christian Science was a religion and wasn’t about to discard its strict teachings for sake of one woman’s views. So she was dismissed as editor of the Christian Science Journal and very nearly excommunicated from their ranks.
If you can’t join them, beat them…
From her perspective the core teachings of Christianity insist that Divinity is Omnipresent. How could Divinity simultaneously be all powerful and all pervasive yet owned by any one religious group?
It made no sense to her. If God is all pervasive we must be able to see signs of God everywhere, end of story. So she decided to start her own church. This is where it gets interesting. Emma Curtis Hopkins, Editor of the Christian Science Journal, gets fired from her position as editor and decides to found her own church naming it exactly the same as the one she just left! If she couldn’t get the Church of Christian Science to see things her way, she was going to create her own Church of Christian Science and name it: The Church of Christian Science.
How is that even possible? Well, that sort of thing can’t really happen these days, but this was over 30 years before radio or widespread use of telephones and the Christian Science Movement was spreading quickly all over the United States. People were interested in a new way of practicing their faith and Christian Science was rapidly filling that void popular across the then 37 US States. People were interested the teachings, most people didn’t even realize that there were two completely unaffiliated organizations with the same name!
New Thought Christianity Proliferates
Emma Curtis Hopkins was a “Preach what I practice” sort of teacher. If her students were going to follow in her footsteps they would need to create their own churches as well. Some of her noteworthy students include:
- Charles and Myrtle Fillmore who co-founded Unity Church
- Anna Rix Militz who founded The Home 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 Divine Science
There are many other New Thought Christian groups out there with over 800 Churches worldwide and close to 10 million practitioners spread around the world. So diverse are they, that any effort to concisely describe them all here would be ridiculous.
So are they all the same? Do they all teach the same things? Actually, each and every one of them teaches something different, but the Core Principle: “There is a all pervasive force of goodness underlying all things” is a root common to them all.
This is an epically important principle for the people all over the world. To shed the idea that we are inherently bad and replace it with the idea that we are inherently good is a tremendously empowering way to think. Literally hundreds of different Churches now offer their own versions of that same core truth with the world. I for one think it’s a pretty entertaining way to get the message out. After all, the idea of being ‘born good’ instead of being ‘born a sinner’ ought to be worth at least few dozen versions…