New Thought

New Thought

Part of a series on related to
New Thought

Religion portal
v · d · e

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.[1][2]

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".[1][2]

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,[citation needed] 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.[3] 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.



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.[4]



The earliest identifiable proponent of what came to be known as New Thought was Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802–66), an American philosopher, mesmerist, healer, and inventor. Quimby developed a belief system that 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.[5]

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 out into it 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.”[6]

During the late 19th century the metaphysical healing practices of Quimby mingled with the "Mental Science" of Warren Felt Evans, a Swedenborgian minister.[7]

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, Religious Science, and Church of Divine Science.[8] 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;[8] with many of its churches and community centers led by women, from the 1880s to today.[9][10]


New Thought is also largely a movement of the printed word.[11] The 1890s and the first decades of the 20th century saw many New Thought books published on the topics of self-help, financial success, and will-training books. New Thought authors such as of Napoleon Hill, Wallace Wattles, Perry Joseph Green‎, Frank Channing Haddock, and Thomas Troward were extremely popular.

In 1906, William Walker Atkinson (1862–1932) wrote and published Thought Vibration or the Law of Attraction in the Thought World.[12] 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.[13] The following year, Elizabeth Towne, the editor of The Nautilus Magazine, a Journal of New Thought, 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 you are." [14]

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.[11] One Unity Church magazine, Wee Wisdom, was the longest-lived children's magazine in the United States, published from 1893 until 1991.[15] Today, New Thought magazines include the Daily Word published by Unity and the Religious Science magazine, Science of Mind, published by the United Centers for Spiritual Living.

Major gatherings

The 1915 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 special "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.[16] By 1916, the International New Thought Alliance had encompassed many smaller groups around the world, adopting a creed known as the "Declaration of Principles".[8] 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".[8]

There are regular conventions and conferences today, including those hosted by the major denominations, Agape International Spiritual Center, and others.

Belief systems

New Thought Beliefs


Omnipresent God ·
Ultimate Spirit · Divine Humanity · Higher consciousness ·


Universal law
Law of Attraction · Power of choice · Metaphysics · Life force


Affirmations · Affirmative prayer · Creative visualization · Healing · Huna · Personal magnetism · Positive thinking

This box: view · talk · edit

The chief tenets of New Thought are:[17]

  • 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 described New Thought as a "process" in which each individual and even the New Thought Movement itself is "new every moment". Thomas McFaul has hypothesized "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.[18]

Theological inclusionism

The Home of Truth, which, from its inception as the Pacific Coast Metaphysical Bureau in the 1880s, under the leadership of Annie Rix Militz, has disseminated the teachings of the Hindu teacher Swami Vivekananda, 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".[19][not in citation given] Joel S. Goldsmith's The Infinite Way incorporates teaching from Christian Science, as well.

Therapeutic ideas

Divine Science, Unity Church, and Religious Science are organizations which developed from the New Thought movement, each of which teach that Infinite Intelligence or God is the sole reality, sickness is the result of the failure to realize this truth, and healing is accomplished by the affirmation of the oneness of the human race with the Infinite Intelligence or God. They tend to reject the medical science explanations for many diseases and promote their ideas as a sort of alternative medicine.[17][20][21][22][23][improper synthesis?][Third-party source needed]

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.[citation needed] 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.[24]


As a movement, New Thought has two large denominations, Centers for Spiritual Living and Unity.[25][specify] According to the Association for Global New Thought, there are 800 to 900 Unity churches, 600 to 700 Religious Science venues, and 300 to 400 independent mininstries in the United States. A recent survey found that approximately 250,000 people attend at least one New Thought service a month.[citation needed] Publishing and educational activities reach approximately 2.5 million people annually.[26] Other belief systems within the New Thought movement include Jewish Science, Religious Science, and Seicho-no-Ie. Past denominations have included Psychiana and Father Divine.

Religious Science operates under three main organizations: the United Centers for Spiritual Living; the Affiliated New Thought Network; and Global Religious Science Ministries. Ernest Holmes, the founder of 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.[27] The Science of Mind, authored by Ernest Holmes, while based on a philosophy of being "open at the top", focuses extensively on the teachings of Jesus Christ.[28]

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.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Declaration of Principles." International New Thought Alliance. Retrieved on 2008–09.
  2. ^ a b "Statement of beliefs." Retrieved 2008-09.
  3. ^ James R.Lewis, Jesper Aagaard Peterson (2004). Controversial New Religions. p. 226.
  4. ^ William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, p.92-93. New York 1929 [1]
  5. ^ "Phineas Parkhurt Quimby". MSN Encarta. Archived from the original on 2009-11-01. Retrieved Nov. 16, 2007. 
  6. ^ Phineas, Quimby (2008). "Christ or Science". The Quimby Manuscripts. Forgotten Books. pp. 183. ISBN 1605069159. Retrieved 2011-05-08. 
  7. ^ "New Thought". The Columbia Encyclopedia (6th Edition ed.). Columbia University Press. 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  8. ^ a b c d Lewis, James R.; J. Gordon Melton (1992). Perspectives on the New Age. SUNY Press. pp. 16–18. ISBN 079141213X. 
  9. ^ Harley, Gail M.; Danny L. Jorgensen (2002). Emma Curtis Hopkins: Forgotten Founder of New Thought. Syracuse University Press. p. 79. ISBN 0815629338. 
  10. ^ Bednarowski, Mary Farrell (1999). The Religious Imagination of American Women. Indiana University Press. p. 81. ISBN 025321338X. 
  11. ^ a b Moskowitz, Eva S. (2001) In Therapy We Trust, The Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN 978-0801864032, p. 19.
  12. ^ William Walker Atkinson. Thought Vibration or the Law of Attraction. Advanced Thought Publishing. 1906. Full text public domain version online.
  13. ^ "William Walter Atkinson", WorldCat. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  14. ^ MacLelland, Bruce, Prosperity Through Thought Force, Elizabeth Towne, 1907
  15. ^ Miller, Timothy (1995) America's Alternative Religions, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791423974, p. 327.
  16. ^ Dresser, Horatio, History of the New Thought Movement, 1919
  17. ^ a b "New Thought". MSN Encarta. Archived from the original on 2009-11-01. Retrieved Nov. 16, 2007. 
  18. ^ Houston, Jean. The Possible Human. 1997.
  19. ^ Home of Truth home page. Retrieved on 2007-09-20 from
  20. ^ Official web site of Divine Science. Retrieved on 2007-11-16 from
  21. ^ Official web site of Unity Church. Retrieved on 2007-11-16 from
  22. ^ Official web site of International Centers for Spiritual Living. Retrieved on 2010-01-16 from
  23. ^ Official web site of Global Religious Science Ministries/Alliance for Spiritual Understanding. Retrieved on 2010-01-16 from
  24. ^ Dumont, Theron, Q. [pseudonym of William Walker Atkinson. Mental Therapeutics, or Just How to Heal Oneself and Others. Advanced Thought Publishing Co. Chicago. 1916.
  25. ^ Retrieved on 2008-07-16 from
  26. ^ Goldberg, P. (2010) American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation How Indian Spirituality Changed the West. Random House Digital, Inc. p 62.
  27. ^ Vahle, Neal (1993). Open at the top: The life of Ernest Holmes, Open View Press, 190 pages, p7.
  28. ^ Holmes, Ernest (1926) The Science of Mind ISBN 0874778654, pp. 327–346 "What the Mystics Have Taught".


  • Albanese, Catherine. A Republic of Mind and Spirit. Yale University Press, 2007.
  • Anderson, Alan and Deb Whitehouse. New Thought: A Practical American Spirituality. 2003.
  • Braden, Charles. Spirits in Rebellion
  • 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. Religion in the Future Global Civilization printed in The Futurist magazine. September–October 2006.
  • Mosley, Glenn R. The History and Future NEW THOUGHT, ANCIENT WISDOM of the New Thought Movement. Templeton Foundation Press. 2006, ISBN 0-59947-089-6
  • White, Ronald M. New Thought Influences on Father Divine (Masters Thesis, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. 1980. Abstract

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • New Thought — New Thoughter, New Thoughtist. a system of doctrine and practice originating in the 19th century and stressing the power of thought to control physical and mental events. [1885 90] * * * Mind healing movement that originated in the U.S. in the… …   Universalium

  • New Thought — Any form of belief in mental healing, other than (1) Christian Science and (2) hypnotism or psychotherapy. It was practised in the 19th century, and its central principle was affirmative thought, or suggestion, employed with the conviction that… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • New Thought — Neugeist (engl. New Thought für „Neues Denken“) bezeichnet eine spirituelle Lebensphilosophie, deren Anhänger in der Neugeist Bewegung verbunden sind und teils organisiert, teils unabhängig voneinander deren Lehren praktizieren.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • New Thought — (inglés: Nuevo Pensamiento). Movimiento de sanación mental que surgió en EE.UU. en el s. XIX. Su primer exponente, Phineas P. Quimby (n. 1802–m. 1866), era un mesmerista que enseñaba que la enfermedad es mental. New Thought fue influenciado por… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • New Thought —  Новая мысль …   Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов

  • new thought — noun Usage: capitalized N&T : a mental healing movement embracing a number of small groups and organizations devoted generally to such ideas as spiritual healing, the creative power of constructive thinking, and personal guidance from an inner… …   Useful english dictionary

  • New Thought Music — Articleissues laundrylists = August 2008 notable = August 2008 unreferenced = August 2008New Thought music (also by its religious neutral term positive music or “posi music”Fact|date=August 2008) is an upcoming genre of popular music which is… …   Wikipedia

  • New Thought Ministries of Oregon — NTMO ministers at LEC s final service …   Wikipedia

  • New Thought Movement — Neugeist (engl. New Thought für „Neues Denken“) bezeichnet eine spirituelle Lebensphilosophie, deren Anhänger in der Neugeist Bewegung verbunden sind und teils organisiert, teils unabhängig voneinander deren Lehren praktizieren.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • List of New Thought writers — Part of a series on related to New Thought Beliefs …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”