New Thought: Ancient Wisdom
New thinking and Christianity mingle, as do Christianity and everything else. It is important to realize that the basic principles behind the entire New Thought movement predate Christianity, even the Old Testament, by many thousands of years.
Many scholars name these lessons The Hermetic Wisdombut even that is misleading because Hermes is a western name attributed to an ancient Egyptian philosopher named thousand. “New Thinking” is essentially what the 5,000-year-old Egyptian taught ‘you’ adapted to our modern palate. Basically, the New Thought Movement is based on the ideas of:
- divine goodness
- Equality across race, gender, creed and economic status
- The human creative potential (We can create the life we want)
- The Agreement of Equal Things (aka “Law of Attraction”)
- The inclusive/pervasive nature of divinity
Sounds pretty easy right? Not really different from the United States Declaration of Independence. Would it surprise you to know that the original 20 signers of the Declaration of Independence were students of these ancient Hermetic teachings?
New thinking meets Christianity
Emma Curtis Hopkins (1849-1925), among others, 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, always willing to stand up for exactly what she believed in; including instrumental support in securing women’s suffrage in the United States.
As editor of The Christian Science Journal, she attempted to bring the Eastern teachings of Hinduism and Buddhism into the realm of Christianity. She firmly believed that the seed of truth resides in all world religions and must be viewed from a standpoint that transcends any order of property. In other words, she did not see Christianity as bound by strict dogmas or individual teachings, but saw the core concepts as present in religions around the world.
But Christian Science was a religion and would not give up its rigorous teachings for a woman’s views. As a result, she was dismissed as editor of the Christian Science Journal and almost excommunicated from its ranks.
If you can’t join them, beat them…
In their view, the core tenets of Christianity insist that divinity is omnipresent. How could divinity be omnipotent and omnipresent at the same time and yet belong to a single religious group?
It made no sense to her. If God is 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, is fired from her position as editor and decides to start her own church and call it exactly like the one she just left! If she couldn’t get the Christian Science Church to see things her way, she would start her own Christian Science Church and call it The Christian Science Church.
How is that even possible? Well, that kind of thing can’t really happen today, but that was over 30 years before radio or telephones were widespread and before the Christian Science movement spread rapidly across the United States. People were interested in a new way of practicing their faith, and Christian Science quickly filled a gap that was popular in the then 37 states. People became interested in the teachings, most people didn’t even realize that there were two completely unrelated organizations with the same name!
New Thought Christianity is spreading
Emma Curtis Hopkins was a kind of “Preach what I practice” teacher. If her disciples wanted to follow in her footsteps, they would have to start their own churches too. Some of her notable students are:
- Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, co-founders of Unity Church
- Anna Rix Militz, founder of The Home of Truth
- Ernest Holmes, founder of the Church of Religious Science
- Malinda Cramer, Nona L. Brooks and Fannie Brooks, co-founders of the Church of Divine Science
There are many other New Thought Christian groups with over 800 churches worldwide and nearly 10 million practitioners around the world. They are so diverse that any attempt to briefly describe them all here would be ridiculous.
So are they all the same? Do they all teach the same thing? Actually each of them teaches something different, but the basic principle: “There is an all-pervading force of good underlying all things” is a common root.
This is an epic important principle for people all over the world. Ditching the idea that we are inherently bad and replacing it with the idea that we are inherently good is a tremendously empowering way of thinking. Literally hundreds of different churches are now offering the world their own versions of the same core truth. Personally, I think it’s a pretty fun way to get the message across. After all, the idea of being ‘born well’ instead of being “born a sinner” should be worth at least a few dozen versions…