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New Thought

New Thought

A late-nineteenth-century religious movement that wedded the spiritual idealism of philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson with the pursuit of healing alternatives through various mental and psychological processes. The origin of New Thought is generally traced to Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802-1866), a mesmerist from the state of Maine. Quimby had become fascinated with the phenomena associated with mesmerism (or hypnotism ) but began to notice that its healing potential really came from the transfer of healing thoughts. He concluded that mind was the major factor in healing. The mind of the patient had come to accept thoughts that caused disease, and healing was accomplished when the mind came to believe the truth. For Quimby, the mind's operation upon the body brought health.

Quimby lived in Portland, Maine, far from the centers of culture. He wrote down his ideas but never published them, and only a few students found their way to his door. When he died as a relatively unknown and unheralded healer in 1866 there was nothing like a movement built around either him or his ideas. One of his students, Warren Felt Evans, a Swedenborgian minister, settled in Salisbury, Massachusetts, and in 1869 wrote the first of a series of books on mental healing, acknowledging in passing his debt to Quimby. However, his developing ideas left Quimby behind for a form of pantheism.

The most notable of Quimby's students was Mary Baker Eddy. She found significant relief from her chronic medical problems under Quimby's tutelage, but had questioned the fact that her symptoms returned when she left Maine and tried to resume her normal life. She also was offended by Quimby's disparagement of ministers, churches, and religion in general. She went to the Bible as a means of answering her questions.

Eddy reached a crisis in 1866 a few weeks after Quimby's death. She slipped on some ice and injured herself to the extent that she was bedridden. Some thought she was going to die. However, during her recovery, all of her study came together in a new revelation that God was all, the sum of reality. Since God is all, and in his presence there can be no illness, she concluded that illness must be an error in the individual's mind. The realization of this new insight led to her immediate healing. She would embody this new idealistic understanding of the universe in a booklet, The Science of Man (1870), and then more completely in her textbook, Science and Health (1875). She taught informally for several years but in 1876 encouraged the formation of the Christian Science Association, an organization of her students and the root of the Church of Christ, Scientist, which she would found three years later.

The Christian Science movement placed a new healing emphasis before the American public. Eddy regularly offered classes at which she trained people to become practitioners. Her students in turn moved out to establish offices and offer their services to their suffering neighbors. Led by the distribution of Science and Health (soon expanded with a biblical key to become Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures ), the Christian Science movement spread across North America and into Europe during the 1880s.

The Emergence of New Thought

Eddy built this large movement, with which Quimby was never involved. It was built around her own particular healing vision, the core of which had been revealed to her in 1866 and which she developed throughout the rest of her life. She had little patience with students who wished to take her ideas and make personal elaborations upon them. Students who deviated from Eddy's own presentation of Christian Science were soon separated from the organization. By the mid 1880s there were a number of independent Christian Science practitioners, including some who moved away due to Eddy's insistence upon the centrality of Christian faith and symbols. Collectively they became known as the mind cure movement.

In 1885, one of Eddy's most talented students, to whom she had entrusted the Christian Science Journal, broke with Eddy and moved from Boston to Chicago to establish an independent private practice. After a year as merely a practitioner, Emma Curtis Hopkins was talked into opening a school at which she could teach Christian Science and train practitioners. The school opened in 1886 as the Hopkins Metaphysical Association. By the end of 1887, affiliated associations managed by her students could be found from Maine to California. Hopkins' efforts pulled together the independents into a coherent competing movement that grew and diversified over the next decade. Among Hopkins's students were a number of capable leaders who, with her encouragement, founded their own independent movements. Over the years she taught Melinda Cramer (founder of Divine Science), Myrtle and Charles Fillmore (cofounders of Unity), Annie Rix Militz (founder of the Homes of Truth), and Ernest Holmes (founder of Religious Science).

Hopkins thus mobilized the followers and trained the leaders of what would in the 1890s become known as the New Thought movement and is rightly remembered as the movement's founder. Hopkins would largely resign from any leadership role in 1895 after launching the movement, which consisted of several large associations of churches and centers (Unity, Divine Science, Homes of Truth, and later the Church of Truth and Religious Science) and many independent churches and centers. Various attempts to organize the movement were made through the early years of the twentieth century, culminating in the formation of the International New Thought Alliance in 1915. Several years later the alliance adopted a "Declaration of Principles" which guided it for forty years until the present "Declaration," which was adopted in 1957, appeared.

The 1957 Declaration affirmed the oneness of God and humanity, a major implication being that humans can reproduce divine perfection in the body. God is defined as universal wisdom, love, life, truth, power, peace, joy, and beauty, and the universe is seen as the body of God. Mental states manifest in human life to good or ill. God manifests as the divine virtues in humans. Humans are basically an invisible spiritual dweller in the body.

Today the International New Thought Alliance is headquartered at 5003 E. Broadway Rd., Mesa, AZ 85206.

Sources:

Beebe, Tom. Who's Who in New Thought. Lakemount, Ga.: CSA Press, 1977.

Braden, Charles S. Spirits in Rebellion. Dallas, Tex.: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963.

Dresser, Horatio W. History of the New Thought Movement. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1919.

. The Spirit of New Thought. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1917.

Fuller, Robert C. Mesmerism and the American Cure of Souls. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982.

Judah, J. Stillson. The History and Philosophy of the Metaphysical Movements in America. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1967.

Melton, J. Gordon. New Thought: A Reader. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Institute for the Study of American Religion, 1990.

Meyer, Donald. The Positive Thinkers. New York: Doubleday, 1965.

Parker, Gail. Mind Cure in New England. Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1973.

Podmore, Frank. Mesmerism and Christian Science. London: Metheun, 1909.

Quimby, Phineas P. The Complete Writings. Edited by Ervin Seale. 3 vols. Marina del Rey, Calif.: DeVorss, 1987.

. The Quimby Manuscripts. Edited by Horatio Dresser. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1919. Reprint, New York: Julian Press, 1961.

Trine, Ralph Waldo. In Tune With the Infinite. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1897.

Troward, Thomas. The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science. London, 1904.

. The Hidden Power and Other Papers on Mental Science. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1917.

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"New Thought." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"New Thought." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Retrieved August 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/new-thought

New Thought

New Thought, popular philosophical movement with religious implications; it affirms "the creative power of constructive thinking." A successor of New England transcendentalism, New Thought grew out of the healing practices of P. P. Quimby and the "mental science" of W. F. Evans, a Swedenborgian minister. From its initial emphasis on the healing of disease it developed into an intensely individualistic and optimistic philosophy of life and conduct. The name was adopted in the 1890s to indicate this broader interest. Annual national conventions were held from 1894, and in 1914 the International New Thought Alliance was formed, with branches in England, Australia, and elsewhere. Composed of many smaller groups, such as Divine Science, Unity (until 1922), and Home of Truth, the alliance is held together by one central teaching, namely, 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 doctrine was widely popularized by such writers as O. S. Marden and Ralph Waldo Trine, especially in the latter's In Tune with the Infinite (1897). Beyond this unifying principle of the constructive power of the mind and the prevailing optimism of the movement, there are a great variety of diverse and often mutually contradictory ideas in New Thought. Individual New Thought leaders have employed concepts from every variety of idealistic, spiritualistic, pantheistic, kabbalistic, and theosophical thought, as well as from Christianity. There are also frequent overtones of the mystical and occult in New Thought literature.

See H. W. Dresser, A History of the New Thought Movement (1919); C. S. Braden, Spirits in Rebellion: The Rise and Development of New Thought (1963); M. A. Larson, New Thought or a Modern Religious Approach (1985).

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"New Thought." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"New Thought." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/new-thought

New Thought

New Thought. A loosely structured movement that emerged in the USA in the last quarter of the 19th cent., which includes a variety of metaphysical, occult, healing sects, schools, and groups such as Christian Science, Divine Science, The Unity School of Christianity, and Science of Mind. It was strongly influenced by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, who practised a form of mesmeric healing with the aid of a medium and advanced the idea that by positive or right thinking it is possible to realize one's highest ideals in the here and now, especially in the realm of healing where prayer is a central part of the process. Since the 1950s there has been a revival of interest in these movements in the USA and W. Europe.

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"New Thought." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"New Thought." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/new-thought

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New Thought (Organ)

New Thought (Organ)

Quarterly organ of the International New Thought Alliance (INTA), the major ecumenical organization bringing together the congregations of the large New Thought groups (Divine Science, Religious Science, and the Unity School of Christianity) with the many small and independent congregations that follow New Thought metaphysics. It includes a directory of the affiliated congregations. Founded in 1914, it was published in Los Angeles for many years; however, its editorial offices were moved in the 1980s to the new permanent headquarters of INTA, 5003 E. Broadway Rd., Mesa, AZ 85206.

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