Mid Week Faith Lift
March 5, 2014
Unity and New Thought Faith
Rev. Deb Hill-Davis
“Building Consciousness Throughout the World for Over 150 Years”
As more and more people pull away from traditional religion and begin toquestion the organizations they were raised with, the New Thought movement has steadily grown into a solid core of nearly 1000 centers worldwide teaching positive consciousness and common sense. As I listened to Phyllis Tickle speak about the emergent church last weekend, the theme was consciousness and returning to the essential elements of the spiritual teachings of Jesus and other great spiritual masters. That has been the focus of New Thought since it’s beginning. We are what they are seeking.
According to www.adherents.com.”the 3rd largest group of religiousadherents in the world have no religious preference.”
New Thought, not to be confused with New Age, is more than a century old, a practically oriented spiritual faith which promotes the fullness of all aspects of living. New Thought celebrated its legacy worldwide on March 2, 2014, the second annual New Thought Sunday. At Unity of Ames, there was a special service followed by a screening of the movie, What Is New Thought? This movie was produced in 2013 and is a comprehensive look at the history and evolution of the New Thought movement. It features commentary by Della Reese, Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou, all proponents of New Thought ideas along with our own Rev. Eric Page from Unity Institute Archives and Rev. Skye St. John.
New Thought embraces positive thinking, listening to one’s inner voice, affirmative prayer, meditation, and other ways of realizing the presence of God within. New Thought, which began in the mid-1800s in America, has branches similar to almost every other religion although the teachings and rituals are very similar within each branch. The branches include: The Association for Global New Thought, Unity Worldwide Ministries, Centers for Spiritual Living, Affiliated New Thought Network, Agape International Spiritual Center, Hillside International Truth Center, Center of Truth, and Universal Foundation for Spiritual Living. New Thought participated at the 2009 Parliament of World Religions in Melbourne, Australia under the banner of Global New Thought.
New Thought has no dogma or creed but has affinities to idealistic philosophical traditions of all ages and places. New Thought principles include:
· God is the creative Process in action; in everything, everywhere, always, at once
· God is Love and Intelligence in relationship, expressing Itself asthe universe and all life.
· God is Being each one of us.
· The “Christ” is Divine Principle. God is the Perfect-God Conscious human, the true Higher Self of every individual
· Jesus the Christ was the Way-Shower, the Teacher, the Awakened One, the Great Example, not the exception. Jesus knew his Divinity and that God in him did all the healings and teachings.
· Jesus was fully God-conscious; He was the Christ (God) in form.
· Each one of us has the full Christ potential within us. Jesus said, “What I do, you can do also, and even greater things.” Jn 14:12 (NRSV)
Major contributors to the evolution of New Thought were Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: The Complete Writings, in which he began to explore the power of the mind to impact our experiences and our lives. Quimby said, “All the trouble is in the mind, for the body is only the house for the mind to dwell in….” Science of Mind by Ernest Holmes, Spirits in Rebellion by Braden. “Its roots are in Christianity but it is not limited or bound by it,” says Wendy Craig-Purcell, Unity. William Hornaday, DD said, “It is a practical and spiritual approach to life.” New Thought is not a static or fixed belief system. Ernest Holmes in the Science of Mind says, “Religious Science is a correlation of laws of science, opinions of philosophy and revelations of all religions. It is the wisdom of the ages, with the essence of the world’s great spiritual traditions offering a universal key to wellbeing which can be used by anyone, anywhere, at any time.”
Myrtle and Charles Fillmore, Co-Founders of Unity were also major contributors to the New Thought Movement. They attended the first ever Parliament of World Religions in 1893 in Chicago. They read the ancient mystics, the Bhaghavad Gita, the Upanishads and the Tao. Thoreau, Emerson, Walt Whitman and the other Transcendentalist writers greatly influenced the Fillmores. Charles Fillmore states, “Words are also seeds, and when dropped into the invisible spiritual substance, they grow and bring forth after their kind.” You can hear in that statement the beginnings of Unity’s Law of Mind Action. They were students of Emma Curtis Hopkins who was a student of Quimby. They later asked H. Emily Cady, also a metaphysician, to write a book for them, Lessons in Truth which became a Unity classic.
New Thought has learned from all traditions including mindfulness and compassion from Buddhism, Love and Law and the Commandments from Judaism, Submission to God’s Will from the Muslims, non-violence from Jainism, acceptance of others from Hinduism, service to people from Bahai, reverence for nature and the Spirit in all from Native American, and love of God and service to others from Christianity and the primacy of light and fire from Zoroastrianism.
“New Thought honors and respects all people of all faiths who believe spiritual equity and human rights belong to everyone.” (Albert)
New Thought believers say “God is in all, as all and is all” and “There is one life; that Life is God and that Life is our life now. Ernest Holmes said, “There is a Power in the universe greater than you are and you can use it.” New Thought believesthis power was present in Jesus the Christ and that Jesus embodied the “Christ Principle,” and used his God given power to teach, and heal for only good.” (Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes)
New Thought honors and respects all people of all faiths who believe spiritual equity and human rights belong to everyone. They honor and respect all faiths, cultures, creeds, and races and learn from those who believe the presence of God is within all people, places and things. We encourage personal transformation and collective awakening. We practice the gift of active compassion and kindness through our service to all life. We foster a world that works for the highest good of all. Rev. Dr. Stephen Albert, author of The Interfaith Manual and co-minister with his wife Dr. Abigail of the All Faith Center in San Diego notes, “Since 1990, over and over again, I have heard new congregants express the same feelings I had when I first became part of New Thought. They joyfully say, “I never knew there was a place like this;” “I finally have a spiritual place I can call home;” “New Thought is one of the best kept secrets in the world.”
Through leadership from the Association of Global New Thought, the New Thought faith celebrates many service programs throughout the year. These include: A Season for Nonviolence, A Season for the Earth, A Season for Humane Service, and A Season for Interfaith-Intercultural Celebration, which is in September and includes Unity’s World Day of Prayer.
Sunday March 2, 2014 is the Second Annual New Thought Sunday.
Blessings on the path,