New Thought Christianity
Guardian Lifestyles Editor
Published: Oct 10, 2013
New Thought is an umbrella term for diverse beliefs that emphasize practically oriented spirituality, promoting wholeness in living through constructive thinking, meditation, prayer and the realization of the presence of God. It’s more than a century old and includes unity, religious science and divine science. Because it maintains that the mind is continually growing, New Thought is not a static system of beliefs.
While it acknowledges the importance of traditional religious thought as a part of the mind’s development, it finds the permanence of dogma to be contradictory to the mind’s natural striving for advancement.
New Thought practitioners believe there exists one God – an omnipresent universal mind or creative intelligence. It is a principle (not a being), an impersonal force that manifests itself personally, perfectly and equally within all. The universe and all within it are expressions of God – the creative intelligence – with no beginning and no end.
This New Thought Christianity is being practiced at Universal Truth Ministries for Better Living, located in Palmdale by Rev. Claudia Fletcher.
“As a spiritual philosophy, New Thought is not new,” said Fletcher. “It was so dubbed because it came into existence in the late 19th century offering new paradigms, new and different ways of relating the mind and body and inquiring into humankind’s nature.
“It was considered new because these paradigms were the first to be developed in America by Americans antithetic to the old doctrines that came with the early colonizers from England and Scotland. However, much of what was included was not new at all because many of its major ideas had appeared at some period in the history of the Christianity or other religions of the world.
“For example, its philosophical roots of idealism can be traced as far back as Plato (427-437 B.C.E.). The new in New Thought also refers to the fact that in order to achieve positive results in our lives, we must keep our thoughts in a constant state of renewal – having new thoughts every day.”
According to the leader, the God of New Thought is not person, neither place nor thing, but a universal mind and spirit that permeates and interpenetrates the entire universe and finds expression through and as the mind of human beings.
“This Spirit is revealing itself to humankind continually through the reasoning mind and the whispering inward voice of intuition,” she said.
“God is thus universal in scope and application; is everywhere and operates through the use of all-encompassing law. These laws operate constantly whether we know about them or not, and they function the same for everyone and everything.”
According to Fletcher, depending on who is asked about New Thought, the responses can be varied. She said people have referred to them as “airy-fairy people”, and even likened practitioners to a “cult”. She added that none of the descriptors are accurate.
“New Thought is a system of thinking that almost everyone is familiar with; they just don’t know it. Numerous authors, speakers, movie producers and even preachers [outside of New Thought], use New Thought in their works; they just don’t call it by that name,” said Fletcher.
“As a spiritual philosophy, it has a diversified following of individuals from a wide variety of religious backgrounds who now find spiritual nourishment from organizations such as Universal Foundation for Better Living (UFBL), Unity, Centers for Spiritual Living (formerly Religious Science), Christian Science and Divine Science. These organizations are united by the predominant belief in one God – universal mind, creative intelligence, omnipresent – principle (not a being), an impersonal force that manifests itself personally, perfectly and equally within all.”
Fletcher said, “New Thought stands for the universal kinship of all peoples; that it proclaims that health, happiness and success are the birthright of every child of God and denies that there is a future punishment.
“New Thought is about right thinking... thinking in a way that leads to positive results in one’s life and affairs – health, wealth, peace and happiness. It teaches universal spiritual principles that enable people to build happy and prosperous lives and helps people to change their circumstances by changing their thoughts, feelings and beliefs.
“However, there is more to New Thought than right thinking, it is also a lifestyle, metaphysics and religion. The International New Thought Alliance Bulletin defined New Thought in a 1916 edition as a system that practices what Jesus taught – healing, unity, cooperation, seeing the good in others and trusting God for all our needs.”
Fletcher said New Thought focuses on the divinity within humanity.
“We are spiritual beings or expanding ideas in the mind of God, forever held in the mind of God and functioning under and operating through the law of mind action,” she said.
“It is dedicated to the development of the latent possibilities in people. Jesus is the model for expressing our divinity. Jesus is honored as one who realized his oneness with God and exercised power, mastery and dominion over his mind, body and affairs.
“The same authority is available to us when we, too, begin to understand the spiritual principles that govern our lives, acquire a new way of seeing things, and have a new thought about our experiences. Then we shall no longer accept the error belief we are miserable sinners whose brief life on earth ends in heaven or hell. ‘The Father (Source) and I are one’ is true and the realization of this indwelling Christ empowers us to live happier, healthier and more prosperous lives.”
According to Fletcher, New Thought is considered a science because science is demonstrable and knowledge of Truth is also demonstrable. She said it is committed to finding and revealing the good and the beautiful in life.
“New Thought is also practical Christianity that empowers people to realize their potential by becoming consciously aware of the spirit of God within them,” she said.
“Practical Christianity is more than an intellectual theory and can be understood by thinking logically beginning with a basic premise, adding clear-cut propositions and then carried sequentially to a conclusion.”
She said many of New Thought Christianity’s beliefs are derived from the Bible and the words of Jesus Christ.
“New Thought Practical Christianity is not a backward glance at the life of Jesus, but a forward look at the Christ spirit in all people and the expectation of its fulfillment,” Fletcher said.
“Whereas, traditional Christianity is founded upon a particular set of beliefs about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. This savior, God, is believed to have delivered and rescued sinful humanity. The New Testament focuses on how his blood was shed for us and how we are reconciled back to God because of his sacrificial act.
“In the past, New Thought Christianity has interpreted the canonical gospels in an allegorical manner in order to uncover an alternative interpretation of who Jesus was. However, discoveries of the mid-20th century have enabled us to study newly available documents that, even literally interpreted, closely resemble the teachings of New Thought Christianity.
“These scriptures, though external to the Judeo-Christian canon, provide the foundation for New Thought Christian teachings. The Gospel of Thomas is a primary example and resource for understanding of the message of Jesus and how the allegorical method of interpretation plays an important part in helping us to understand the deeper meaning of the canonical scriptures.”
Fletcher said the key to understanding the gospels lies in the word “Christ”. Christ is not the name of a person, she added, but the title given to the universal idea of divine son-ship. And that people must therefore discern when Jesus the man is speaking in the gospels and when the Christ speaks in its absolute.
“The second coming refers not to a literal coming again of Jesus, but to our coming into an awareness of the Christ within us,” she said.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have eternal life. The Son of God is the spiritual potential of all humankind. The son of man is a soul that is not awakened to its divine origin and nature. The son of man is awakened to its divinity and consciously shows forth the likeness of God.”