The NEW THOUGHT MOVEMENT (also "Higher Thought" ) is a philosophical
movement which developed in the
United States in the 19th century,
considered by many to have been derived from the unpublished writings
Phineas Quimby . There are numerous smaller groups , most of which
are incorporated in the
International New Thought Alliance .
NEW THOUGHT holds that Infinite Intelligence, or
God , is everywhere
, spirit is the totality of real things, true human selfhood is
divine, divine thought is a force for good, sickness originates in the
mind , and "right thinking" has a healing effect.
New Thought is neither monolithic nor doctrinaire , in
general, modern-day adherents of
New Thought share some core beliefs:
God or Infinite Intelligence is "supreme, universal, and
* divinity dwells within each person, that all people are spiritual
* "the highest spiritual principle loving one another
unconditionally... and teaching and healing one another"; and
* "our mental states are carried forward into manifestation and
become our experience in daily living".
New Thought movement originated in the early 19th century, and
survives to the current day in the form of a loosely allied group of
religious denominations , authors, philosophers , and individuals who
share a set of beliefs concerning metaphysics , positive thinking ,
the law of attraction , healing , life force , creative visualization
, and personal power .
The teachings of
Christian Science are in some ways similar to
Quimby's teachings. Its founder,
Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Baker Eddy , was a student and
patient of Quimby's but she later disavowed his influence on her
* 1 Overview
* 2 History
* 2.1 Origins
* 2.2 Growth
* 2.3 Major gatherings
* 3 Beliefs
* 3.1 Evolution of thought
* 3.2 Theological inclusionism
* 3.3 Therapeutic ideas
* 4 Movement
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 7 Bibliography
* 8 External links
William James , in
The Varieties of Religious Experience , described
New Thought as follows:
...for the sake of having a brief designation, I will give the title
of the "Mind-cure movement." There are various sects of this "New
Thought," to use another of the names by which it calls itself; but
their agreements are so profound that their differences may be
neglected for my present purpose, and I will treat the movement,
without apology, as if it were a simple thing.
It is an optimistic scheme of life, with both a speculative and a
practical side. In its gradual development during the last quarter of
a century, it has taken up into itself a number of contributory
elements, and it must now be reckoned with as a genuine religious
power. It has reached the stage, for example, when the demand for its
literature is great enough for insincere stuff, mechanically produced
for the market, to be to a certain extent supplied by publishers – a
phenomenon never observed, I imagine, until a religion has got well
past its earliest insecure beginnings.
One of the doctrinal sources of Mind-cure is the four Gospels ;
another is Emersonianism or New England transcendentalism ; another is
Berkeleyan idealism ; another is spiritism , with its messages of
"law" and "progress" and "development"; another the optimistic popular
science evolutionism of which I have recently spoken; and, finally,
Hinduism has contributed a strain. But the most characteristic feature
of the mind-cure movement is an inspiration much more direct. The
leaders in this faith have had an intuitive belief in the all-saving
power of healthy-minded attitudes as such, in the conquering efficacy
of courage, hope, and trust, and a correlative contempt for doubt,
fear, worry, and all nervously precautionary states of mind. Their
belief has in a general way been corroborated by the practical
experience of their disciples; and this experience forms to-day a mass
imposing in amount.
History of New Thought
New Thought movement was based on the teachings of Phineas Quimby
(1802–66), an American mesmerist and healer. Quimby had developed a
belief system which included the tenet that illness originated in the
mind as a consequence of erroneous beliefs and that a mind open to
God's wisdom could overcome any illness. His basic premise was:
The trouble is in the mind, for the body is only the house for the
mind to dwell in Therefore, if your mind had been deceived by some
invisible enemy into a belief, you have put it into the form of a
disease, with or without your knowledge. By my theory or truth, I come
in contact with your enemy, and restore you to health and happiness.
This I do partly mentally, and partly by talking till I correct the
wrong impression and establish the Truth, and the Truth is the cure.
During the late 19th century, the metaphysical healing practices of
Quimby mingled with the "Mental Science" of
Warren Felt Evans , a
Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Baker Eddy , the founder of Christian
Science , has sometimes been cited as having used Quimby as
inspiration for theology. Eddy was a patient of Quimby’s and shared
his view that disease is rooted in a mental cause. Because of its
Christian Science differs from the teachings of Quimby.
In the late 19th century,
New Thought was propelled along by a number
of spiritual thinkers and philosophers and emerged through a variety
of religious denominations and churches, particularly the Unity Church
Church of Divine Science (established in 1889 and 1888,
respectively), followed by
Religious Science (established in 1927).
Many of its early teachers and students were women; notable among the
founders of the movement were
Emma Curtis Hopkins , known as the
"teacher of teachers",
Myrtle Fillmore ,
Malinda Cramer , and Nona L.
Brooks ; with many of its churches and community centers led by
women, from the 1880s to today.
List of New Thought writers
New Thought is also largely a movement of the printed word.
William Walker Atkinson (1862–1932) wrote and published
Thought Vibration or the Law of Attraction in the Thought World.
Atkinson was the editor of
New Thought magazine and the author of more
than 100 books on an assortment of religious , spiritual , and occult
topics. The following year,
Elizabeth Towne , the editor of The
Nautilus , published Bruce MacLelland's book Prosperity Through
Thought Force, in which he summarized the "Law of Attraction" as a New
Thought principle, stating "You are what you think, not what you think
These magazines were used to reach a large audience then, as others
are now. Nautilus magazine, for example, had 45,000 subscribers and a
total circulation of 150,000. One
Unity Church magazine, Wee Wisdom,
was the longest-lived children's magazine in the United States,
published from 1893 until 1991. Today,
New Thought magazines include
Daily Word published by Unity and the
Religious Science magazine,
Mind , published by the
Centers for Spiritual Living .
International New Thought Alliance (INTA) conference –
held in conjunction with the Panama-Pacific International Exposition ,
a world\'s fair that took place in
San Francisco – featured New
Thought speakers from far and wide. The PPIE organizers were so
favorably impressed by the INTA convention that they declared a
New Thought Day" at the fair and struck a commemorative
bronze medal for the occasion, which was presented to the INTA
delegates, led by
Annie Rix Militz . By 1916, the International New
Thought Alliance had encompassed many smaller groups around the world,
adopting a creed known as the "Declaration of Principles". The
Alliance is held together by one central teaching: that people,
through the constructive use of their minds, can attain freedom,
power, health, prosperity, and all good, molding their bodies as well
as the circumstances of their lives. The declaration was revised in
1957, with all references to Christianity removed, and a new statement
based on the "inseparable oneness of
God and Man".
* Ultimate Spirit
* Law of attraction
* Life force ("energy")
* Personal magnetism
The chief tenets of
New Thought are:
* Infinite Intelligence or
God is omnipotent and omnipresent.
* Spirit is the ultimate reality.
* True human self-hood is divine.
* Divinely attuned thought is a positive force for good.
* All disease is mental in origin.
* Right thinking has a healing effect.
EVOLUTION OF THOUGHT
Adherents also generally believe that as humankind gains greater
understanding of the world,
New Thought itself will evolve to
assimilate new knowledge. Alan Anderson and Deb Whitehouse have
New Thought as a "process" in which each individual and even
New Thought Movement itself is "new every moment". Thomas McFaul
has claimed "continuous revelation", with new insights being received
by individuals continuously over time.
Jean Houston has spoken of the
"possible human", or what we are capable of becoming.
Home of Truth has, from its inception as the Pacific Coast
Metaphysical Bureau in the 1880s, under the leadership of Annie Rix
Militz , disseminated the teachings of the
Hindu teacher Swami
Vivekananda . It is one of the more outspokenly interfaith of New
Thought organizations, stating adherence to "the principle that Truth
is Truth where ever it is found and who ever is sharing it". Joel S.
The Infinite Way incorporates teaching from Christian
Science , as well.
Divine Science, Unity Church, and
Religious Science are organizations
that developed from the
New Thought movement. Each teaches that
Infinite Intelligence, or God, is the sole reality. New Thought
adherents believe that sickness is the result of the failure to
realize this truth. In this line of thinking, healing is accomplished
by the affirmation of oneness with the Infinite Intelligence or God.
John Bovee Dods (1795–1862), an early practitioner of New Thought,
wrote several books on the idea that disease originates in the
electrical impulses of the nervous system and is therefore curable by
a change of belief. Later
New Thought teachers, such as the early 20th
century author, editor, and publisher
William Walker Atkinson ,
accepted this premise. He connected his idea of mental states of being
with his understanding of the new scientific discoveries in
electromagnetism and neural processes.
New Thought publishing and educational activities reach approximately
2.5 million people annually. The largest New Thought-oriented
denomination is the Japanese
Seicho-no-Ie . Other belief systems
New Thought movement include
Jewish Science , Religious
Centers for Spiritual Living and Unity . Past denominations
Father Divine .
Religious Science operates under three main organizations: the United
Centers for Spiritual Living ; the
Affiliated New Thought Network ;
Religious Science Ministries .
Ernest Holmes , the founder
Religious Science, stated that
Religious Science is not based on
any "authority" of established beliefs, but rather on "what it can
accomplish" for the people who practice it. The Science of
authored by Ernest Holmes, while based on a philosophy of being "open
at the top", focuses extensively on the teachings of
Jesus Christ .
Unity, founded by Charles and
Myrtle Fillmore , identifies itself as
"Christian New Thought", focused on "Christian idealism", with the
Bible as one of its main texts, although not interpreted literally.
The other core text is Lessons in Truth by
H. Emilie Cady . The
Universal Foundation for Better Living , or UFBL, was founded in 1974
Johnnie Colemon in
Chicago, Illinois after breaking away from the
Unity Church for "blatant racism".
Grace Mann Brown
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Charles F. Haanel
* Law of Attraction
Joseph Murphy (author)
New religious movement
Ralph Waldo Trine
* ^ Dresser, Horatio Willis (1919), A History of the New Thought
Movement, TY Crowell Co, p. 154, In England the term Higher Thought
was preferred at first, and this name was chosen for the Higher
Thought Centre, the first organization of its kind in England. This
name did not however represent a change in point of view, and the
movement in England has been similar to the therapeutic movement
* ^ Melton, J. Gordon, Jerome Clark New York: Visible Ink Press
(1991); pg. 343. "The International
New Thought Alliance, a loose
New Thought institutions and individuals (approximately
350 institutional members), exists as a voluntary membership
* ^ Conkin, Paul K. American Originals: Homemade Varieties of
Christianity, The University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, NC
(1997); pg. 269. "An
International New Thought Alliance still exists,
with offices in Arizona, a periodical, and around 200 affiliated
societies, some of which still use the label 'church'".
* ^ A B Declaration of Principles, International New Thought
Alliance , retrieved 2008–09 Check date values in: access-date=
* ^ A B "Statement of beliefs",
New Thought info, retrieved
2008–09 Check date values in: access-date= (help ).
* ^ Lewis, James R; Peterson, Jesper Aagaard (2004), Controversial
New Religions, p. 226 .
* ^ James, William (1929), The Varieties of
New York: U Virginia, pp. 92–93 .
* ^ "Phineas Parkhurt Quimby". MSN Encarta. Archived from the
original on 2009-11-01. Retrieved Nov 16, 2007.
* ^ Phineas, Quimby (2008). "Christ or Science". The Quimby
Manuscripts. Forgotten Books. p. 183. ISBN 1-60506-915-9 . Retrieved
* ^ "The Quimby Manuscripts".
New Thought Library. Retrieved 3 June
* ^ ‘Quimby’s son and defender said categorically, “The
religion which teaches certainly is hers, for which I cannot be too
thankful; for I should be loath to go down to my grave feeling that my
father was in any way connected with ‘Christian Science.’...In
curing the sick, religion played no part. There were no prayers, there
was no asking assistance from
God or any other divinity. He cured by
his wisdom.” (Dresser, Horatio W., ed. The Quimby Manuscripts. New
York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company Publishers, 1921. - p436). "Christian
Science is a religious teaching and only incidentally a healing
method. Quimbyism was a healing method and only incidentally a
religious teaching. If one examines the religious implications or
aspects of Quimby’s thought, it is clear that in these terms it has
nothing whatever in common with Christian Science.” (Gottschalk,
Stephen. The Emergence of
Christian Science in American Religious
Life. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973 - p130). A good
composite of both Quimby, and the incompatibility of his ideas and
practice with those of Eddy, can be found in these sources: Taves, Ann
, Fits, Trances, Peel, Robert. Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of
Discovery. Boston: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966 (chapter,
“Portland 1862”); Gill, Gillian. Mary Baker Eddy. Cambridge,
Mass.: Perseus Books, 1998 (pp 131-146 J. Gordon Melton (1992).
Perspectives on the New Age. SUNY Press. pp. 16–18. ISBN
* ^ Harley, Gail M.;
Danny L. Jorgensen (2002). Emma Curtis
Hopkins: Forgotten Founder of New Thought.
Syracuse University Press .
p. 79. ISBN 0-8156-2933-8 .
* ^ Bednarowski, Mary Farrell (1999). The
Religious Imagination of
Indiana University Press. p. 81. ISBN 0-253-21338-X .
* ^ A B Moskowitz, Eva S. (2001) In Therapy We Trust, The Johns
Hopkins University Press, ISBN 978-0-8018-6403-2 , p. 19.
* ^ William Walker Atkinson. Thought Vibration or the Law of
Attraction. Advanced Thought Publishing. 1906. Full text public domain
* ^ "William Walter Atkinson", WorldCat. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
* ^ MacLelland, Bruce, Prosperity Through Thought Force, Elizabeth
* ^ Miller, Timothy (1995) America's Alternative Religions, State
University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0-7914-2397-4 , p. 327.
* ^ Dresser, Horatio, History of the
New Thought Movement, 1919
* ^ "New Thought". MSN Encarta. Archived from the original on
2009-11-01. Retrieved Nov 16, 2007.
* ^ Houston, Jean. The Possible Human. 1997.
* ^ The Home of Truth, Our History
Home of Truth home page. Retrieved on 2007-09-20 from
* ^ Dumont, Theron, Q.
* Albanese, Catherine (2007), A Republic of
Mind and Spirit, Yale
University Press .
* Anderson, Alan and Deb Whitehouse. New Thought: A Practical
American Spirituality. 2003.
* Braden, Charles S. Spirits in Rebellion: The Rise and Development
of New Thought, Southern Methodist University Press, 1963.
* Judah, J. Stillson. The History and
Philosophy of the Metaphysical
Movements in America. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. 1967.
Review by Neil Duddy.
* McFaul, Thomas R (September–October 2006), "
Religion in the
Future Global Civilization", The Futurist .
* Mosley, Glenn R (2006), The History and Future New Thought:
Ancient Wisdom of the
New Thought Movement, Templeton Foundation
Press, ISBN 1-59947-089-6
* White, Ronald M (1980), "Abstract",
New Thought Influences on
Father Divine (Masters Thesis), Oxford, OH : Miami University .
* Albanese, Catherine (2016), The Spiritual Journals of Warren Felt
Evans: From Methodism to
Indiana University Press .
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