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The New Thought Movement describes a set of religious developments that originated in the United States during the late 19th century, inspired by the philosophy of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby from Belfast, Maine. Although Dr. Quimby did not start any movement of his own, he is generally accepted and acknowledged as the father of New Thought.
From this movement, at least nine religious denominations have emerged: Divine Science, Religious Science, the Universal Foundation for Better Living, and the Unity Church. Although Emma Curtis Hopkins, formerly associated with Christian Science, was considered the "teacher of teachers" of several key New Thought group founders, Christian Science developed in a different direction and is not considered a New Thought denomination. In addition, there is the Pagan New Thought religion of Huna popularized by Max Freedom Long (see; "NEW THOUGHT RELIGION: A Philosophy for Health, Happiness, and prosperity" by Dr. Martin A. Larson, PhD.),
New Thought religions are a panentheistic belief system, and are often considered more philosophy than religion by adherents. New Thought holds that an immanent presence, often referred to as Mind, Universal Presence, Life, along with other terms that attempt not to limit the definition or experience of God, is the primary basis of all interconnected reality, personal and transcendent.
In line with Philosophical Idealism, New Thought professes the primacy of mind in relation to the experience of the physical world, and places great emphasis in positive thinking, affirmations, meditation, and prayer. New Thought churches often avoid dogmatic pronouncements about the afterlife or other theological questions, and vary significantly in the degree to which they may or may not associate themselves with Christianity or other major world religions. New Thought teaching asserts some distinction from traditional religious movements in that the personal experience and understanding of (God, Presence, Truth) is expected to evolve and not remain static. The majority of New Thought churches display, discuss, and sell a wide variety of religious and metaphysical literature.
Although New Thought churches are sometimes identified with the New Age movement, adherents draw distinctions. New Thought beliefs predate contemporary New Age thinking by nearly a century, and New Thought churches typically do not share major tenets of New Age thinking (mostly avoiding any teaching of mysticism or Occultism.)
New Thought is a term used to convey the idea of growing or developing thought. In considering this subject, the word "New" should be duly and freely emphasized, because the expression "New Thought" relates only to what is new and progressive. As memes form, spread, and become part of the fabric of human consciousness, our thought is transformed. New Thought practitioners accept and even embrace this endless transformation, while simultaneously acknowledging the thread of history and the unfoldment of creative thought.
The Essence of New Thought TeachingEdit
It would be a misuse of terms to apply the expression "New Thought" to a finite system of thought, because when thought is molded and formed into a system, it ceases to be new. When a system of thought has reached maturity and ceases to grow, expand, and develop, it can no longer be defined by the word "New." It follows, therefore, as a necessary conclusion, that no static system of new thought, or no system of thought defined by that expression, now exists or ever can exist. Any system that takes shape is a mere milestone or snapshot. "New Thought" is the result or creation of perpetually advancing mind. The growing mind is not content with the past or its achievements. It is not satisfied with traditional systems of philosophy or religion originating in other ages and handed down through succeeding generations, although those systems are important in their own right, as part of the framework or fabric that supports the growth of mind. They do not satisfy the striving of the mind. Traditional systems do not grow; mind develops. It wants something larger and better; it wants improvement, growth, and development. It is merely the logical and natural effort of the mind in its struggle for advancement; it is following its basic and inherent law.
As the growing mind applies thought to whatever enters into consciousness, it gains new and enlarged conceptions and, therefore, grows; and what it thinks is new. New Thought has been defined as the latest product of growing mind. A distinguished writer has characterized New Thought as an attitude of mind and not a cult. Those who grasp the true meaning and spirit of New Thought, or, as it is sometimes called, progressive or unfolding thought, do not conceive that a finished or completed system of thought, either philosophical or religious, is a possibility. All systems of thought change with the flight of time. Decay follows growth. The philosophies and religions of today differ from those of yesterday, and those of tomorrow will be unlike those of today. History alone demonstrates the truth of this statement. This conclusion is inevitable also from the very laws that govern humankind's growth and existence.
The human body is not the only result of the processes of evolution, growth, and development; the mind is likewise the product of the same great law. We are evolved and evolving beings, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Change and growth are the silent mandates of divinity. The eternal current ever moves onward. We do not reckon with all of nature's forces. Back of all, unseen yet all powerful, is the one universal law or cosmic urge, forever pushing and projecting humankind forward into higher physical, mental, and spiritual development.
Through the principle of evolution, our physical form was brought to its present state of development. By the same principle we have come to our present mental and spiritual condition. It is a principle operating throughout the universe. Evolution is a movement from the lower to the higher, from the simple to the complex, from the inferior to the superior. How can there be a fixed system of thought, a complete philosophy, a perfect theology, or a defined religion? For as we grow mentally and spiritually, we move away from such limitations. As our mental and spiritual visions expand, the very laws of our being lead us to higher and still higher conceptions of philosophical and religious truth. In religious terms, "Through spiritual evolution are we led to God."
The following individuals figured prominently in the history of the New Thought Movement:
- Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
- Thomas Troward
- Emma Curtis Hopkins
- Ernest Holmes
- Charles Fillmore
- H. Emilie Cady
- William Walker Atkinson
- Myrtle Fillmore
- Malinda Cramer
- Nona Brooks
- Neville Goddard
- Emanuel Swedenborg
- Mary Baker Eddy
- Emmet Fox
- A.K. Mozumdar
There have also been significant individuals through the years who have left their mark on the New Thought Movement as respected authors & leaders:
- J. Stillson Judah, The History and Philosophy of the Metaphysical Movements in America (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1967). Review by Neil Duddy.
- Charles Braden, Spirits in Rebellion
- New Thought
- Metaphysical Bible Dictionary
- Phineas Quimby
- Living Enrichment Center
- Mary Manin Morrissey
General New Thought Links:
- International New Thought Alliance
- New Thought Espagnol
- New Thought Brazil
- Affiliated New Thought Network
- New Thought Information & Resources
Read about New Thought::
- New Thought Library
- Addington New Thought Archives
- New Thought History Chart
- University of Virginia religious movements page - entry on the New Thought Movement
- Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion
- Neville Goddard On-line
- Biographies of most New Thought writers
- Emma Curtis Hopkins
Find a New Thought Center::
New Thought Denominations include::
- Divine Science Federation International
- Divine Science Links, History and Resources
- Divine Science of Metropolitan St. Louis
- What is Divine Science?/Church List
- Divine Science Writings Index
- Northwoods Divine Science Resources
- Former Northwoods Divine Science Writings / New Thought Library
- Centro de Recursos de la Ciencia Divina de Lima-Perú (IN SPANISH-EN ESPAÑOL)
- Religious Science International
- United Church of Religious Science
- Affiliated New Thought Network
- Global Religious Science Ministries
- Unity School of Christianity
- Independent Unity "Practical Christianity"
- Association of Unity Churches
- World Federation of Unity Churches
- Charles Fillmore
- Charles Fillmore Seminary
Other Major New Thought Organizations and Ministries
New Thought Churches and Ministries
- Agape International Spiritual Center
- Alpine Church of Religious Science
- Celebration Center of Religious Science
- Celebration of Life Center
- Center for Spiritual Living, St.Louis
- Center for Spiritual Living, Seattle, WA
- Church of Today
- Garden of Forgiveness
- Modern Teaching of New Thought/Religious Science
- Pathways Spiritual Centers, Delaware
- Hillside Chapel and Truth Center, Atlanta
- Religious Science Baltimore
- New Thought Indianapolis
- Unity of Kauai
- hu:Új Gondolat Mozgalom
- pt:Movimento do Novo Pensamento
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