What is The New Thought Movement?
New Thought promotes the ideas that “Infinite Intelligence” or “God” is ubiquitous, 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.
Although New Thought is neither monolithic nor doctrinaire, in general modern day adherents of New Thought believe that “God” or “Infinite Intelligence” is “supreme, universal, and everlasting”, that divinity dwells within each person, that all people are spiritual beings, that “the highest spiritual principle [is] loving one another unconditionally … and teaching and healing one another”, and that “our mental states are carried forward into manifestation and become our experience in daily living”.
The New Thought movement is a spiritually-focused or philosophical interpretation of New Thought beliefs. Started in the early 19th century, today the movement consists of a loosely allied group of religious denominations, secular membership organizations, 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 three major religious denominations within the New Thought movement are Religious Science, Unity Church and the Church of Divine Science. There are many other smaller churches within the New Thought movement, as well as schools and umbrella organizations.
… 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.