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THE NEW THOUGHT MOVEMENT

AN ANALYSIS & COMPARISON TO 1ST AND 2ND CENTURY CHRISTIANITY

by

Jeffrey Michael Chaffin

Introduction The New Thought Movement began in late 19th and early 20th century America. It has been called "a religion of healthy mindedness", and as of today has three strong denominations and many independent churches to its credit. It is a religious movement that has at its foundations an unparalleled belief in spiritual healing, very reminiscent to the apostolic age of Christianity. So much so, that many New Thought adherents profess themselves to be a "Christian" movement to the frustration of many traditional Christian denominations. Mary Manin Morrisey is the senior minister of Living Enrichment Center in Portland, Oregon, a New Thought "Christian" Church. When asked about calling herself and her church "Christian" she replied, "I refuse to allow a small group of fundamental Christian thinkers to hijack the term "Christianity" from the rest of us." Whether New Thought is Christian or not is a matter of opinion, but the claim itself leads one to question why it is being made. So far though, no definitive work has been put forward that defines New Thought in terms of Christian theology and christology, and what, if any comparisons can be made to the scope of Christian thought. It is the aim of this paper to begin this work by comparing New Thought's theology and implied christology with what I believe is its closest Christian precedent, namely certain forms of Gnostic Christianity, Christianized Greek philosophy and early church fathers of the 1st and 2nd centuries. To do this the paper will be structured into three distinct sections: First, a summary of the sources of New Thought, in order to understand the evolution of its ideas into its present state. Secondly, an analysis and explanation of New Thought's theology and christology with an ongoing comparison to traditional Christian concepts. And the third section will compare New Thoughts theology and christology to Christian thought in the 1st and 2nd centuries. This paper is not claiming any direct connection to the sources of early Christianity. It is claiming a striking precedent though, which I believe draws a much more interesting conclusion, then any direct connection could. I Sources The sources of what became New Thought are certainly far reaching. But, as in any study, a beginning must be defined without being too far fetched in showing a clear progression of ideas and beliefs. This study of the sources of New Thought begins with Franz Anton Mesmer. Franz A. Mesmer was born in 1735 at Weil, Austria and lived a very interesting life until his death in 1815. Earning two doctorates in philosophy and law, he obtained a third degree in medicine in 1766. The deciding factors in Mesmer's life were not his degrees, though they guided him on his course. That came in 1774 when a case came to his attention that a patient was supposedly cured of stomach disorders by a piece of magnetized iron. He thereupon began experiments with magnetism and its healing powers. In that same year he set up a large facility in which he proceeded to magnetize everything imaginable from the kitchen sink to the trees in the yard. One can almost picture the comic scene of Mesmer's wealthy patients, who coming from near and far joined hands and bathed in water magnetized by steel rods listening to hired musicians. Comic as this may seem many of his patients did testify that they had been

cured-though it should be noted Mesmer only claimed to be able to heal "nervous diseases", sending away any patient with an organic illness. Mesmer believed healing took place because of a so-called "Cosmic Fluid" which, he said, "is a great life force which saturates the universe and constitutes its sustaining power. It is a kind of impalpable gas in which all things are immersed." In the next step toward what was to become known as Mesmerism, Mesmer discovered that his magnetized props, which he thought directed this "Cosmic Fluid" were not needed at all for healing to take place. Mesmer, doing away with these props, was convinced that he was able to direct the flow of this "Cosmic fluid" through himself. Naming this new healing technique Animal Magnetism, he began the work of "laying on of hands". Producing the same effect as the magnets, Mesmer was sure that the "Cosmic Fluid" must be flowing from himself to the patient and healing them. His next step in the evolution of his theory was experimenting with "distant treatment". He found that he could cause the same effect upon a patient from a different room. Thus his tactile treatments ended, and the days of mental suggestion began. The final stage of Mesmer's practice, which led to Mesmerism, takes place in France. Mesmer moved to France in 1778, or rather was driven there, on account of a situation concerning a young blind girl, that today might be considered a malpractice suit. In France begins the life of Mesmer as not only a healer but an entertainer as well. The rich and famous came to his salon which was trapped in mystery (tapestries, candles, odd artifacts) in order to awe and inspire. Among his clientele were Madame Pompadour and Marie Antoinette. Mesmer was all the rage, not only for his purported results, but for his method as well. Patients would sit in a circle in his salon holding hands, enveloped in the mystery, as the amazing healer would enter robed in some extravagant cape like a magical being of the highest order. As he let his will be known to his patients, the most amazing things would happen, such as cataleptic trances, hysterical laughter, and dervish like dancing. At the end of these sessions the patients had hardly any recollection of what took place, and claimed to be healed. And thus our understanding of what it is to be "mesmerized". It can clearly be seen that these treatments of Mesmer are in fact states of hypnotic trance. Though Mesmer himself had no idea what he was doing he still held to the belief that he was in some way directing some "Cosmic Fluid". This theory however was soon to be dealt with. In 1784 King Louis XVI ordered an investigation to take place concerning this so-called "Animal Magnetism". Among the members of this notable body were Dr. Guillotin, Benjamin Franklin, and Lavoisier the chemist. After an extensive inquiry they concluded that, "Any fluid or animal magnetism purported by Franz Anton Mesmer had absolutely no reality to it. Further, any effect that may have resulted was merely a product of the imagination and came from the minds of the patients alone." Mesmer was now officially a fraud. However I think fraud is too harsh a term for Mesmer. If it weren't for his earnest (though misguided) explorations, the evolution of hypnosis and thus psychology would be dramatically different than we know it.

The work of Mesmer went in two different directions from this point on. The first was a continuation of Mesmer's own Animal Magnetism. One of his disciples, The Count de Puysegur, made a couple of startling discoveries while continuing Mesmer's work. He found that entranced patients could perform extraordinary feats, could diagnose the sick, place their hands on parts of the body where pain existed, and even prescribe remedies for every sickness. This discovery and therapy is what became known as Mesmerism. Dr. James Baird of Manchester, England, conceived of the other direction. In a direct reaction against Mesmerism Dr. Baird set out to disprove the theory of Animal Magnetism once and for all. What he proved was that Animal Magnetism was really the power of suggestion. Coining the term "Hypnosis" in his book Neurohypnology (1843), Dr. Baird wrote about what he called "double consciousness". This later influenced Freud in his conceptions of the Id and the Ego. The development concerned in this study though still remains connected to Mesmerism. For, it is out of Mesmerism that New Thought finds its first voice. "The mesmeric movement furnished the original foundation and the connecting link by which an extraordinary American created the foundation for the superstructure of New Thought." Phineas Parkhurst Quimby is that extraordinary American. Quimby was born in Lebanon, New Hampshire, February 16, 1802. At two years of age his parents moved the family to Belfast, Maine, where Quimby was to spend the better part of his life. He grew up to be a clockmaker, and it wasn't until 1833 at the age of 31 that he began his studies in mental healing. The event that caused this sudden interest in mental healing was his own recovery from tuberculosis, which he related in an article written in 1863. Julius A. Dresser published it in 1887 as part of a lecture called The True History of Mental Science. Some thirty years ago I was very sick, and was considered fast wasting away with consumption. At that time, I became so low that it was with difficulty that I could walk...My symptoms were those of any consumptive, and I had been told that my liver was affected, and my kidneys were diseased, and that my lungs were nearly consumed. I believed all this, from the fact that I had all the symptoms, and could not resist the opinions of the physician while having the proof with me. In this state, I was compelled to abandon my business, and, losing all hope, I gave up to die. Having an acquaintance who cured himself by riding horseback, I thought I would try riding in a carriage, as I was too weak to ride horseback. My horse was contrary; and, once, when about two miles from home, he stopped at the foot of a long hill, and would not start except as I went by his side. So I was obliged to run nearly the whole distance. Having reached the top of the hill I got into the carriage; and, as I was very much exhausted, I concluded to sit there the balance of the day, if the horse did not start...seeing a man plowing, I waited till he had plowed around a three acre lot, and got within sound of my voice, when I asked him to start my horse. He did so, and at the time I was so weak I could scarcely lift my whip. But excitement took possession of my senses, and I drove the horse as fast as he could go, up hill and down, till I reached home; and, when I got into the stable, I felt as strong as ever I did.

This event led Quimby to doubt the diagnosis in his case. Of course he was not entirely cured, but it showed him how much can be accomplished through an enlivened spirit breaking out of a state of mere acceptance of one's conditions. With Quimby's new interest in the healing of disease through mental phenomena it is no surprise that he quickly adopted mesmeric therapy. Mesmerism was brought to the United States by the Frenchman Charles Poyen in 1836, and was taken up by Dr. Collyer in New England. Dr. Collyer gave a lecture and demonstration in Belfast, Maine in 1838, which Quimby attended. "Mr. Quimby regarded the mesmeric sleep, or hypnosis as it would now be called, as an interesting phenomenon worthy of investigation." Martin A. Larson in his book New Thought or A Modern Religious Approach divides Quimby's life after 1836 into three distinct phases. (1) The mesmeric (1836-47), Quimby the hypnotist; (2) the intermediate phase of experimentation and discovery (1847-59), a time of temporary mental health clinics in various towns; and (3) the period of maturity (1859-65), when Quimby sets up a permanent office in Portland, Maine, beginning to write out his ideas and discoveries as well as obtaining students. Following Larson's divisions the first part of Quimby's life in the field of mental healing revolves around a man named Lucius Burkmar. Lucius, having a propensity to be easily hypnotized, became Quimby's medium in line with mesmeric therapy. Under the "magnetic state" Lucius showed the same type of extraordinary abilities as found by Count de Puysegur. He could diagnose disease and readily prescribe effective remedies for any particular ailment. It should be noted that at this point Quimby is not with intention performing any sort of mind-healing. The intention of mesmeric therapy is that of a reliable diagnosis of disease. By the end of the mesmeric period however Quimby made a startling discovery. Quimby writes, from the same article mentioned earlier in The True History of Mental Science, I had pains in the back, which, they said, were caused by my kidneys, which were partly consumed. I also was told that I had ulcers on my lungs. Under this belief, I was miserable enough to be of no account in the world. This was the state I was in when I commenced to mesmerize. On one occasion, when I had my subject asleep, he described the pains I felt in my back ( I had never dared to ask him to examine me, for I felt sure that my kidneys were nearly gone), and he placed his hand on the spot where I felt the pain. He then told me that my kidneys were in a very bad state, that one was half consumed, and a piece three inches long had separated from it, and was only connected by a slender thread. This was what I believed to be true for it agreed with what the doctors had told me...But I asked him if there was any remedy. He replied, 'Yes, I can put the piece on so it will grow, and you will get well.' At this I was completely astonished, and knew not what to think. He immediately placed his hands upon me, and said he united the pieces so they would grow. The next day he said they had grown together, and from that day I never have experienced the least pain from them. From this experience and observing more experiences with Lucius, Quimby began to notice that the healings that took place had nothing to do with either the remedy prescribed, as most were so ridiculous as to be absurd, or the diagnoses Lucius gave. For Quimby noticed that Lucius's diagnoses were always consistent with what the patient

believed to be true about himself. "After a time Mr. Quimby became convinced that, whenever the subject examined a patient, his diagnosis of the case would be identical with what either the patient or some one else present believed, instead of Lucius really looking into the patient and giving the true condition of the organs: in fact, that he was reading the opinion in the mind of some one rather than stating a truth acquired by himself." It is with this realization that Quimby leaves Lucius and mesmerism behind. He became aware that it wasn't the remedy prescribed that cured disease, it was in fact the belief or faith in the remedies that did. "Disease", Quimby writes, "and its power over life, its curability, are all embraced in our belief. Some believe in various remedies, and others believe that the spirits of the dead prescribe. I have no confidence in the virtue of either. I know that cures have been made in these ways. I do not deny them. But the principle in which they are done is the question to solve; for the disease can be cured, with or without medicine, on but one principle." The second stage of Quimby's development as a mental healer now begins. It is in this stage that he searches for this principle. Convinced now that there is no such thing as Animal Magnetism or Cosmic Fluid, Quimby begins a twelve-year study of how mind affects mind and belief affects body. Through those twelve years of traveling from town to town offering his services in healing, Quimby became more and more convinced that sickness and disease are an error of the mind and not an ontologically real thing: that is, an evil having no reality of its own, but merely being the effect of a disturbed mind and belief system. He found that if one could correct the belief (change the mind of the patient), by establishing truth in its place, that was the cure. Quimby's son, George Quimby, writes of his father's quest, "To reduce his discovery to a science which could be taught for the benefit of suffering humanity was the all-absorbing idea of his life. To develop his 'theory' or 'the truth', as he always termed it, so that others than himself could understand and practice it, was what he labored for...". The third stage of Quimby's life, which Larson called the period of maturity, can also be aptly named the period of spirituality. For it is here that Quimby's maturing ideas concerning the mind-body relationship find in Christianity, or rather the teachings of Jesus, a context in which to flourish. Quimby saw in his own ideas of sickness, disease and the means to cure them a direct corollary in the teachings of Jesus, e.g. "According to your faith let it be done to you." Quimby states, "This Science of Life and Happiness was founded by Jesus Christ and is the only true religion. When this is established, it will take the place of all other sciences; it is eternal life in Christ; it is Divine Wisdom reduced to self-evident propositions, and it is therefore universally demonstrable, like a mathematical equation. Jesus put intelligence, not in matter, but in Christ, or Science; all those subversions of his doctrine which now pass as religion must one day give way to Truth, which is the Christ-Science, and which anyone can learn. Finally, it is the only key to Heaven." For Quimby, God was The Principle he had rediscovered: man is a spiritual being taking part in the Divine unfoldment, the principle of Life, which is creative and never destructive. Destruction and disease then are the effects of erroneous beliefs concerning one's true nature, which is divine and perfect as God is perfect. Quimby states that he must change the thinking of his patients from "a god of man's belief" to one of "invisible wisdom which fills all space...which has no laws and restrictions and sanctions

men's acts according to their belief, and holds them responsible for their belief, right or wrong, without respect to persons." Quimby taught the impersonal nature of God's Law, which as it says in Matthew 5:45, "... he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous." It was in Quimby that the Science of mental healing found its synthesis with the spiritual healing of Jesus Christ. Three practitioners of this mental science are noteworthy in the next step toward the genesis of New Thought: Mary Baker Eddy, Emma Curtis Hopkins and Warren Felt Evans. Mary Baker Eddy (a student of Quimby) was the founder of Christian Science, a religion that evolves from Quimby's ideas of spiritual healing; though Eddy's own interpretations and renderings of Quimby's ideas places Christian Science forever outside the scope of New Thought. She is included in this study because of her influence on Emma Curtis Hopkins. Emma Curtis Hopkins, who will be discussed further on, was a contemporary of Eddy and was her student at one time. Hopkins left the Christian Science Church because of philosophical and religious differences, preferring to return to Quimby's more original ideas. She eventually became known as "the teacher of teachers", as every founder of current New Thought denominations at one time studied with her. Warren Felt Evans was a fellow practitioner of Mental Healing at the time he met Quimby. Evans' particular influence comes from his background as a Swedenborgian those who are proponents of Emmanuel Swedenborg and his New Church. For Evans the Swedenborgian ideas of the potential of man to heal and man's relationship to the divine only needed a contemporary example to make them explicit. It was in Quimby that Evans found that example. Evans writes in 1872: "The late Dr. Quimby, of Portland, one of the most successful healers of this or any age, embraced this view of the nature of disease, and by a long succession of most remarkable cures, effected by psychopathic remedies, at the same time proved the truth of the theory and the efficiency of that mode of treatment...He seemed to reproduce the wonders of the Gospel history." Although Evans founded no new religious movement, his synthesis of Quimby's system of Mental Healing and his Swedenborgian religious idealism helped to elevate a loosely defined method of spiritual healing to a definite system of religious beliefs and convictions, in turn paving the way for a Religion of Healthy Mindedness. Before moving on to the teachers and founders of New Thought, some attention must be paid two contemporaries of those teachers, for these two men were highly influential precursors to the formation of the New Thought religion. The first of the two is Thomas Troward. Troward (1847-1916) was for many years a divisional Judge in Punjab, India. After retiring and returning home to England in 1900, Judge Troward discovered the New Thought Movement and became a passionate writer and speaker on its behalf. The published works for which he is most famous are The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science which he presented in 1904 at Queens Gate Hall, and the Dore Lectures presented at the Dore Art Gallery in 1906. Judge Troward pioneered the field of Metaphysics. New Thought metaphysics is not to be confused with the Aristotelian Metaphysics, but true to the word metaphysics, it is that which is beyond the known laws of physics. It is the study and application of spiritual law as it relates to our physical existence. The use of this term by Troward and other early New Thought writers is most likely due to the advent of Spiritualism at the time. Spiritualism is concerned with

supernatural phenomena, i.e. spirits, angels, ghosts, anything that is contrary to natural law. New Thought writers such as Troward and Holmes did not view any phenomenon as contrary to natural law. For them natural law is the logical effect of a Spiritual law existing in a Spiritual Universe. Holmes writes, "This is the simple meaning of true metaphysical teaching, the study of Life and the nature of the Law, governed and directed by thought; always conscious that we live in a spiritual Universe; that God is in, through, around and for us. There is nothing supernatural about the study of Life from the metaphysical viewpoint. That which today seems to us supernatural, after it is thoroughly understood, will be found spontaneously natural." Troward's published works are based more heavily on law and philosophy then any other New Thought writer. And though he did quote many biblical verses in his writing, they are used as corroborative evidence to reinforce his philosophy, not as any authoritative revelation. Law is Troward's true muse. "The Science of Spirit is not one whit less scientific than the Science of Matter;...To regard even the most exalted spiritual phenomena from a purely scientific standpoint, which is...the working of a universal law." The second influential writer for New Thought was Ralph Waldo Emerson. Even though Emerson had no connection to the burgeoning New Thought Movement his idealistic philosophy of God and Man was adopted and embraced my New Thought. His writings, especially his essays The Over-Soul and Self-Reliance, are still studied today in many New Thought Churches for aids in teaching the philosophy. Emerson's influence on New Thought was of a religious or spiritual nature, helping to define even further the relationship of God and man in the teachings of New Thought. Moving on to the teachers and founders of the current New Thought denominations, one woman stands out as the most influential for all. Emma Curtis Hopkins, as mentioned earlier, became known as "the teacher of teachers". For at one point or another New Thought leaders, such as Charles Fillmore, the founder of The Unity School of Christianity, Malinda Cramer, co-founder of Divine Science, and Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science, were her pupils. Mrs. Hopkins (1855-1925) established the Christian Science Theological Seminary in Chicago in 1887 shortly after leaving Mrs. Eddy's Christian Science church. Written works of Hopkins were published posthumously and include Understanding the Scriptures (1940) and Scientific Christian Mental Practice (1940). Mrs. Hopkins continued to teach out of Chicago until her death in 1925. The legacy she left for New Thought was the continuation of the teachings of Quimby with a great emphasis in Biblical Scripture. The importance she did place on using Biblical Scripture and the teachings of Jesus surely came from her involvement with Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science. Her teachings were essentially Christian Science, but without some of the more overt and authoritarian aspects of Eddy. Unlike the majority of New Thought writers, Hopkins persisted with the Christian Science complete denial of physical matter: "There is no life, substance, or intelligence in matter...and there is no sin, sickness, or death..." This is a doctrine that most of her students later rejected. Ernest Holmes writes in The Science of Mind, "To say that the body is unreal is a mistake. It is real but is an effect...While we may affirm that the body is not a thing of itself, we cannot say there is no body." Despite that particular rejection

most of her students adopted her teachings on the whole, specifically her healing techniques. Ernest Shurtleff Holmes (1877-1960), as mentioned earlier, was the founder of the Church of Religious Science. He is the author of the Science of Mind, This Thing Called You, How to Use Science of Mind, and many other popular works. By the time he was a young man Holmes had already discovered Judge Thomas Troward, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and by 1924 studied with Emma Curtis Hopkins. After the publication of The Science of Mind in 1926, Ernest began a series of lectures in Los Angeles, California. From this lecture series, more followed and Holmes began to collect a following. It should be noted that Holmes never had any intention of creating a Church organization. In fact he resisted it, wishing only to lecture, teach, and publish his writings. But, in the course of things it became apparent that his teaching organization was going to grow into an established Church. So it was, in June of 1949 that the International Association of Religious Science Churches was established. Ernest Holmes also reorganized the Institute of Religious Science and Philosophy as a Church under California Law. The Church of Religious Science as it exists today has since split into two groups, the United Church of Religious Science, and Religious Science International. But, both groups, organizational differences aside, still use The Science of Mind as their main religious text. Nona Brooks (1861-1945) founded the Church of Divine Science. The main text of Divine Science is Divine Science: Its Principles and Practice by Nona Brooks. Though Brooks never met Emma Curtis Hopkins, she studied with a student of Hopkins named Mrs. Frank Bingham. Through Bingham, Brooks began her life in New Thought. The development of Divine Science wasn't to reach its final form though until Nona Brooks met Malinda E. Cramer. Cramer was a student of Hopkins and had previously coined the name "Divine Science" while living in San Francisco. When the two came together it was then that things began to happen. The Divine Science College was created in 1898, and the First Divine Science Church was established in 1899 in Denver, Colorado. Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were the founders of Unity School of Christianity. Charles Fillmore (1854-1948) and Myrtle Page (1845-1931) were married on March 29, 1881. Their induction into New Thought was the result of healing experiences in both cases. From the age of 10, Charles Fillmore was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the hip, which resulted in a withered leg. He used a metal leg brace and could only walk with the aid of a cane. After their marriage Myrtle's health began to fail and she was soon diagnosed with tuberculosis. By the time they had been married five years Myrtle was seriously ill. She was so desperate that she was willing to try anything. So it was that Myrtle and Charles Fillmore attended a lecture by Dr. E.B. Weeks, a student of Emma Curtis Hopkins. After the lecture Myrtle was quite impressed, but Charles still needed convincing. He got his proof when Myrtle's condition gradually improved, and in two years' time she was declared perfectly healthy. "She obtained a new and different conviction which blazed in her mind. One statement made by the speaker was, she believed, directed especially to her, and she felt a great wave of healing power surge through and engulf her in ecstasy. `I am a child of God and therefore I do not inherit sickness,' she repeated over and over; and as she did so, her malady began to recede."

With the health of his wife as proof, Charles Fillmore began an extensive study of New Thought. As he studied his convictions grew, and miraculously so did his leg. "I can testify to my own healing of tuberculosis of the hip...Two very large tubercular abscesses developed at the head of the hip bone, which the doctors said would finally drain away my life. But I managed to get about on crutches, with a four-inch cork-and-steel extension on the right leg...when I began applying the spiritual treatment, there was for a long time slight response in the leg, but I felt better...Then gradually I noticed that I had more feeling in the leg. Then, as the years went by, the ossified joint began to get limber, and the shrunken flesh filled out until the right leg was almost equal to the other. Then I discarded the cork-and-steel extension and wore an ordinary shoe with a double heel about an inch in height. Now the leg is almost as large as the other; the muscles are restored, and although the hip bone is not yet in the socket, I am certain that it soon will be and that I shall be made perfectly whole." Charles Fillmore, like other great New Thought leaders, rejected the "spiritualism", psychic practices and arcane teachings prevalent then (and known today under the term "New Age". "Thus, in a few months, he wrote an editorial divorcing himself from all forms of occultism, hypnotism, spiritualism, palmistry, astrology, and other popular forms of metaphysics, and dedicated his efforts to Pure Mind Healing as demonstrated by Jesus Christ." As a prolific writer Mr. Fillmore published many works, including Atom-Smashing Power of Mind, Christian Healing, Keep A True Lent, and You Can Be Healed.

II Theology and Christology

New Thought is a fairly broad term covering three major denominations and many independent churches. There are some differences in their teachings, interpretations, and methods, as well as varying levels of emphasis on Biblical Scriptures and its' interpretations; but certain aspects of Christianity and Biblical Scripture played a large role in the evolution of New Thought from a philosophical system to a developed religious movement. This evolution into a religious movement created a strong theology and christology. It is this theology and christology that is of interest in this paper. The theology of New Thought can be considered in two parts: the concept of God, and man's relationship to God. God in New Thought has an infinite nature. It is from this basic assertion that the theology unfolds. Holmes writes, "Mind, the Thing, Spirit, Causation, is beyond, and yet not beyond, our grasp. Beyond, in that It is so big; within, in that wherever we grasp at It, we are It to the extent that we grasp It; but, since It is Infinite, we can never encompass It. We shall never encompass God, and yet we shall always be in God and of God!" The same is said by Troward, "all-generating living spirit must be commensurate with infinitude," and Evans, "God is the first and last...Everything, from the insect to the angel, exists by virtue of a life proceeding from him." This infinite God is all there is. All things exist from God, out of God, of God. Or as Emerson states, "that Unity, that Over-soul, within which every man's particular being is contained and made one with all other." Along with this assertion of God as an infinite being there is also the belief that God has a triune nature. These natures or personae consist of Spirit, Soul, and Body. "God is threefold in His Nature, i.e., that God is Spirit, or Self-Knowingness; God is Law and action; God is result or Body." Charles Fillmore calls this triune nature, "mind, idea, and expression", and Divine Science teaches, "the Trinity is Mind, Idea, Consciousness, or in other terms Spirit, Soul, and Body." It is important to understand these divisions in the nature of God, as they are the keys to understanding man, as well as the process and possibilities for Spiritual Healing. For, as Quimby states, "God is a spirit and not a man...there is no personal God....God is a principle, without form or sex...God is the only reality, and everlasting essence...God is Science, the principle which Jesus taught as the Christ...the reality which is Man is also God...all men and woman are part and parcel of deity." Most New Thought writers in explaining this triune nature of God attempt to equate it with the Holy Trinity. The problem that arises is that the Holy Trinity does not include a physical component, apart from Jesus Christ. The Metaphysical Trinity, as it will now be called, includes both tangible and intangible existence in its entirety. In trying to equate the two trinities the first two aspects of the Metaphysical Trinity, Spirit and Soul, must account for all three aspects of the Holy Trinity. As a straight analogy the equation does not work. But by including the physical Body of the universe as consubstantial with God it does show the uniqueness of the theology of New Thought. God as Spirit is "that Intelligence which out of its own substance bestowed upon you that intelligence you now have." Spirit is THE ALL, the changeless, the Universal Mind. It is the intelligence back of all things, the father, the mother, the source, the first cause, the last cause, and the only cause. Ernest Holmes said of the Spirit, "Spirit is all Life, Truth, Love, Being, Cause and Effect. It is the only Power in the Universe that knows itself.", "whatever the Nature of First Cause or Spirit, It is creative." and, "that this Spiritual

Universe must be one of pure Intelligence and perfect Life, dominated by Love, by Reason and by the power to create, seems an inevitable conclusion.". Spirit is infinite, creative, intelligent, conscious or self-aware, logical, and loving. This Spirit or Father, to compare it with the Holy Trinity, is the God "Whom we have always thought of and believed in, the Being to Whom we have prayed and Whom we have adored." The second aspect of God is the Soul. It is in the concept of the Soul that the Metaphysical Trinity incorporates the ideas of both the Son and the Holy Spirit. The word "Soul" here is used in the sense of a Universal Soul or "Medium through which the Spirit operates". This aspect of God is the way God works. It is the principle or law of God. Fillmore writes, "God as principle is the unchangeable life...substance, and intelligence of being." It must be remembered that New Thought came into being as a philosophy and in a certain sense a science, not a religion. The aspect of God as principle is analogous to that of any principle in mathematics or physics. The principles of mathematics or physics cannot be seen, or touched. They are not limited in any way by time, nor do they occupy space. But the existence of these principles allows a mathematician to solve his proofs, and a physicist to calculate the speed of light. Holmes writes, "The principle of any science is invisible, theoretical, as is our idea of Spirit. No one has seen God; no one has seen Life; what we have seen is the manifestation of Life. No one has seen intelligence; we experience It. No one has ever seen Causation; we see what It does, we deal with Its effects." Inherent in the concept of God as principle is the idea of the impersonal nature of God. God works in an impersonal way, as a principle, which is available to all to the extent that we are aware of it. "The Universe is impersonal. It gives alike to all. It is no respecter of persons...Its nature is to impart, ours to receive.", and "It is superstitious to believe that God will answer the prayer of one above another. Jesus said that God `maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.'(Matt. 5:45)". Along with being the principle or law of God, and as such impersonal, the Soul can also be described as the "Subjective Intelligence" of God, as differentiated from the Objective Intelligence of Spirit. This means that the Soul, as the creative medium through which Spirit operates, is subjective to the conscious will of the Sprit, as clay is subjective to the will of the potter. "It is not self-conscious. It knows only to do without knowing why It does. It is a doer or executor of the will of the Spirit and has no choice of Its own." Referring back to Fillmore's "Mind, Idea, and Expression" concept of the Metaphysical Trinity, the Idea is in subjection to the Mind. For it is through the Idea or Thoughts of the Mind that the Mind is expressed. Holmes liked to use an analogy from nature (the relationship of Seed, Soil, and Plant) to explain the Metaphysical Trinity. The Seed is an idea in the Conscious Mind of God. It represents the intelligence, plan, choice, volition, and all the attributes of the self-conscious Spirit. The Soil then represents the Soul. Within soil there is an intelligence which knows precisely what to do (Law) when a seed is planted in it. This intelligence works by an unseen principle, which is impersonal, as it does not care what seed it is given. Be it a tomato seed, a sunflower seed, or that of some weed the principle will go to work on it, organizing the building blocks of life into the form that the seed has dictated. This means that the law of God is descriptive, not prohibitive. This law does not limit or control, but rather is the way It operates.

Continuing with the analogy to the Holy Trinity, as mentioned earlier, the Soul is the Son and Holy Spirit together. It is the Son in the sense that it is the Word or Logos. Logos, an originally Greek Stoic concept, refers to the universal law of reality. The Stoics saw the Logos as the Divine Power present in everything, the principle according to which all natural things move. Christianity adopted this idea in relation to the Christ in order to show how the Christ is an essential and co-eternal part of God. John 1:1-5 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." Now the Soul as the Holy Spirit is in reference to "God in action". In traditional Christian thought the Holy Spirit is the breath of God. It is the action of God upon man, bringing about a deep sense of Spiritual Awareness. It can be equated with Grace or spiritual union. Because the idea of the Logos was equated with a personal and historical figure, the Holy Spirit in a sense assumed the role of universality in relation to the spiritual needs of the people. Hence, the Son as the creative process of God, and the Holy Spirit as that process in action in each individual, taken together are the attributes of the Soul. The third aspect of the Metaphysical Trinity is Body or result. It is God's creation. "The entire manifestation of Spirit, both visible and invisible, is the Body of God." This unique aspect of the Metaphysical Trinity sets it apart from the Holy Trinity. Body as the third aspect of the Trinity is subject to the Spirit working through the Soul. That means, that Body is always an effect, never a cause. It is the result of Spirit, the infinite intelligence that is continually self-aware, being worked on by a principle that organizes the intangible substance of life into definite form. Everything then is an idea in the Mind of God. As a flower has as its cause the seed from which it sprang, so too the body of man has its cause in the mind of man. "Our physical being is the body of the unseen man." As an effect then the Body of the Universe is not separate from God. It is distinguished from God only insofar as the Body is visible while the idea of the Body inherent in God is invisible. Separating God and Body, for New Thought, would be like separating the idea of Life and living. But it should be said that God is not limited in Body, "For the Creator is greater than His creation." It should also be pointed out that within Body is the inherent quality of Intelligence, but not self-consciousness. "Body expresses intelligence, its apparent intelligence being lent by the consciousness which permeates it. We would not say that consciousness is in the body, but rather that body is in consciousness." These ideas preclude any assertion that this is a pantheistic philosophy. Inherent in the idea of pantheism is a number of contradictory concepts. For pantheism, as the word denotes, is a belief in many gods or spirits. As there are many, each has a role to play, and is thus limited by the existence of other gods. This gives the gods a finite nature. Assuming that pantheism as a philosophy can exist with the belief in only one god, that god is still limited in nature, as pantheism is the idea that god is nature or that natural forces are God or gods, and that those gods exist as the substance of physical matter. To assert that God is an infinite being, that is having a spiritual existence, within, over, and above the physical world, is to rule out any proclamations of pantheistic thought.

In conclusion, New Thought views God as an infinite being, whose nature can be thought of as three distinct personae or modes of being: Spirit, Soul, and Body. And, like the Holy Trinity, these three aspects of God are co-eternal in God. God is an Infinite Consciousness, ever knowing Itself. God manifests its Divine Idea through a principle that is impersonal. The intelligence of God is inherent in the manifestations of God, as those manifestations are the Body of God, and thus consubstantial with God. This triune nature is the creative process of Life. Before concluding this discussion of the New Thought concept of God, a significant point should be made to better understand the religious nature of New Thought as distinguished from its philosophy. The idea of God as a principle runs throughout New Thought theology, and as a consequence the idea of God as impersonal deity. But, it should be remembered that the impersonality of God is THE WAY GOD WORKS. It does not preclude God as the Spirit from having an awareness of love, beauty, and goodness. For these ideas must exist in the Mind of God for them to be expressions in our lives. Holmes writes in The Science of Mind, "The Universe is more than an inexorable law of Cause and Effect. Personality cannot emerge from a Principle, which does not contain the inherent possibility of personality. In each one of us, to each one of us, through each one of us, something is personalized and that which is personalized is personal to its own personification. Spiritual evolution should make the Infinite not more distant, but more intimate." This brings us to man and his relationship to the Divine. It can be summed up in this one statement by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: "The reality of Man is also God, and all men and women are part and parcel of deity." To understand this idea and the full ramifications of it, we must return to the concept of God. God as the Infinite Being, is Universal Spirit, Universal Soul, and consubstantial with the Body of the universe. As Holmes says, "whatever is true of the Universe as a whole must also be true of the individual as some part of this whole. Man is evolved from the Universe as a selfconscious, thinking center of living Spirit, and as such he must, in his nature and being, reproduce the Universe." With this understanding, man then seems to be a microcosm of God. "Man is made in the image and likeness of God, and when he seeks to know himself he will find the true God and will know that he is one with Him." The triune nature of God is also then the nature of man. But, man is not God. "The whole nature of Divine Being is reenacted through man. This, of course, does not mean that man is God. It means that in his small world of individual expression, his nature is identical with God's." Charles Fillmore writes, "Man is being in miniature, and all the powers of God are available to him.", and Malinda Cramer writes in Divine Science: Its Principles and Faith, "Man is defined as the individual expression of God...the Christ Idea in Divine Mind.". Man is a spiritual being, possessing the Spirit of God, and the Soul of God, individualized. The body of man is thus the manifestation of that individualized Spirit working itself into expression through the Soul. Man is "a perfect creation of the living God, spiritual, harmonious, fearless, free." Man as a spiritual being, the image and likeness of God, is also perfect. There is nothing missing from man: no separation from the Father, no reunion needing to take place, only recognition of the already pre-existing union. "Each person is a perfect image and likeness of this great Universal first cause; God, the Father."

The ramifications of this line of thinking are twofold. First, the idea of man re-enacting the nature of God is the theological base for the possibility of spiritual or mental healing. It means that the choices of man, his ideas, beliefs, etc. about himself and the world around him are made manifest by the impersonal principle of the Soul. "Thought is an inner movement, which is largely the result of one's perceptions of life and his reaction to it. Every time this movement takes place it takes place within the Mind, upon Cause, according to Law. We are dealing with the same Power that molds the planets and all that is upon them." It is through knowledge of a spiritual nature or what early Christianity called, athanatos gnosis (knowledge of that which is immortal and which makes immortal), that human beings can use the principle or law of God to heal. It can be a simple matter of faith in your oneness with God. Or a systematic method of denying the disease or sickness, proclaiming the truth of your being as one with the perfect God, and placing yourself in position to accept that perfection as a truth in your life. Or as Emerson stated, "Let us take our bloated nothingness out of the path of the divine circuits. Let us unlearn our wisdom of the world. Let us lie low in the Lord's power and learn that truth alone makes rich and great." The second consequence of this theology is the concept of man as free. With man's freedom comes the possibility of suffering, the need to interpret sin, and a way to salvation. "The power of God is freedom.", which means that the power of God is exercised in choice. "An Infinite Intelligence could not make an automatic individuality," because, "by individuality is meant self-choice, volition, conscious mind, personified Spirit, complete freedom, and a power to back up that freedom." Just as God has choice, choosing to express Itself, so does man. Suffering is a logical consequence of freedom, but not a necessity. "The meaning of freedom implies the possibility of suffering, because if we are free we are free only by virtue of the possibility of choosing more than one course of action as an experience." Because man is a self-conscious being, a part of the whole, his thought and life, is subject to the law of God. Whether he is aware of the law or not, as ignorance is no excuse, man, by violating the law, must by necessity suffer. It should be noted though, that this suffering is not God-ordained. It is by freedom of choice that suffering exists, and the cessation of suffering will happen only when man uses the power of freedom to bring about a new experience. Also, by violation is meant "the ignorant use of" which results in the experience of suffering, as the Law itself can never truly be broken. This "ignorant use of" law is New Thought's view of sin. For New Thought the word "sin" does not have the traditional association with punishment by God, i.e. judgment. Simply put, God does not judge. This is an important point to note if only on a basis of comparison with traditional Christian Theology. The theological argument for this is based in the idea of an infinite God. If God is truly all there is, infinite (as New Thought proclaims) to the point of the physical world being the Body of God, consubstantial with God, then God can have no sense of separation from the manifest Body of God. God can truly only know Itself. This makes judgment impossible for God: for judgment requires separation, i.e., good and evil, God and the Devil, or God and man. The concept of sin in New Thought is better illustrated by the Stoic idea of `foolishness' or `mistake'. If sin is the result of an ignorant use of the Divine Law, then the avoidance of sin is brought about

by an awareness of the law. Fillmore states, "transgression of the law brings its own punishment. We are not punished for our sins but by them.", and Holmes writes, "We are not punished for our sins but by them. Sin is its own punishment and righteousness is its own reward." So, just as suffering is not God ordained, neither is sin. "This does not mean that we can do whatever we wish, with disregard for the consequences; nor does the fact that we are punished for our mistakes mean that there is an evil power in the Universe; it does mean that there is an immutable law of cause and effect running through everything....the age long discussion of the problem of evil will never be answered until we realize that evil is not a thing of itself. It is simply a misuse of the law of freedom." Thus we come to salvation. If salvation is considered in an eschatological way, it salvation is completely unnecessary. For, though New Thought has no formal eschatology, a certain parallel could be drawn to Origen's apokatastasis ton panton, the restitution of all things. Origen's eschatology was the idea that in the end, everyone and everything will become spiritualized, i.e. bodily existence will vanish. Though the literal view of judgment, judgment day, and heaven and hell became the official creed of the Church, Origen's eschatology helps to shed light on understanding why salvation in eschatological terms is irrelevant in New Thought. What is relevant though, is salvation that is concerned with the here and now. Salvation is being saved from the experience of unhappiness, lack, sickness, and depression, which are brought about by the perception of separation. It is a salvation from anything that inhibits or prohibits a meaningful, joyous, and full life. And what is the cause of these apparent evil things? They are the result of ignorance and misuse of a Divine Law. The Kingdom of God is within you, and when you become aware of this, when you attain a gnosis of a spiritual kind, then there is heaven on earth. These teachings of salvation are the core of New Thought. But what is New Thoughts view of Jesus Christ? It has been shown that New Thought professes to teach and practice the teachings of Jesus, but how does New Thought view Jesus as the Christ? What is the New Thought Christology? In order to answer this question a distinction must be made between Jesus and the Christ. The two need to be discussed independently in order to show their relationship later. Traditionally the concept of Christ is associated with the idea of the Logos. Christ is the Word of God. Christ is the eternal principle of creation. What makes the concept of Christ different from that of the Logos though, is that the Christ is the individualization of the Logos. Traditionally this refers to God, or the Logos becoming flesh in Jesus. New Thought on the other hand views this individualization as a Universal principle, not necessarily unique to Jesus. "In the inmost center of every man the indwelling Christ resides." For the Christ is the individualization of God, and as man is the individualization of God, then in all men resides the Christ. "The Christ is God's divine idea of man." It is the divine perfect idea back of all men, that is the Christ. Holmes writes, "Christ is the image of God, the likeness of the Father, the Son of the Universe, the Man that Spirit conceives. Christ is not limited to any person, nor does He appear in only one age. He is as eternal as God. He is God's idea of Himself." It must be understood that the Christ is not an individual, but is an individualization of the Universal. As the Word or Logos it is the self-manifestation of God in man. Fillmore

says, "The Word of God is the revelation to man of the powers and possibilities of his own being", and Quimby writes, "Jesus and Christ are, therefore, different identities, Jesus was a man, just as we are; he had a natural body of flesh and blood like ours. Christ is God, the unseen principle in Man." It should be stressed though, that the divine idea of man, the Christ, is not separate from the Spirit, Soul, and Body of Man. It is those things, as those attributes of man are consubstantial with God. As Warren Felt Evans says, "Christ within is the immortal and incorruptible self, which is forever exempt from disease and death." Who then, was Jesus? Jesus was the Christ, as we are. But Jesus is unique in that he became fully aware of this truth. He knew he was the Christ, and by becoming aware of this Christ Consciousness, he became the embodiment of it. "We do believe that in the unique personage of Jesus, this Christ was more fully orbed than in anyone of whom we have record. We do believe that in the person of Jesus more of God was manifest." Jesus was the perfect embodiment of the Christ, the Christ being the true nature of man. He realized the truth of his nature, to the point of no longer sensing any separation between himself and God. Hence, "The Father and I are one". This concept of the Christ is the Universal idea of Sonship, Father and Son being an eternal reciprocal relationship. This being the case, what role then does Jesus play in the realm of New Thought? It cannot be the traditional role of the savior, that of his death and resurrection, a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus takes on more of the role of a teacher than anything else. A more fitting word for Jesus would be iatros, meaning physician. And Holmes called him "the way-shower". He goes on to say, "If we can look upon Jesus from this viewpoint, we shall be able to study his life as a living example. What is more inspiring than to contemplate the consciousness of a man who has the faith to stand in front of a paralyzed man and tell him to get up and walk, and to know very well that he is going to get up and walk." Warren Felt Evans saw the salvation of man through the following of Jesus' example. "Redemption through Christ Jesus is possible because, by making his life and his righteousness our own, we can live as he lived and so rise into a similar state of perfection." This Christology is unique in that it differs from transformation, adoption, or docetic systems. Transformation elevates Jesus as a God-Man, different in his nature from all other men. Adoption Christology draws a distinction between the soul or spirit of Jesus the man, and the Christ that resided in him. And docetic Christology of the Gnostics refutes any claim that the body of Jesus was real. This "Metaphysical" Christology on the other hand, refutes those ideas with the view that the true spiritual nature of all men is the Christ. And Jesus above all others was the perfect embodiment of that truth. A metaphysical interpretation of the Pauline doctrine of Adam and Christ can serve to better illustrate this concept. Paul saw the creation and fall of Adam and the coming of Christ to be inseparable. Adam was created in the image and likeness of God. By his creation he was inseparable from God, he knew the Truth of God, the Truth of his being. But, through temptation he fell and was thus separated from God. The coming of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of what Adam should have been. New Thought would interpret this as follows: Adam (man) is created in the image and likeness of God, one with God, inseparable. The eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is a symbolic story. It refers to man losing his awareness of his true nature. With the

knowledge of good and evil, man perceives separation, though this apparent separation is not real, only experienced. The Tree of Knowledge would be better named the Tree of Ignorance. For, by eating of this tree, man became ignorant of his divine nature. The Christ, as mentioned before, is the divine idea of man in the Mind of God. It is perfect man. For New Thought, man never lost his perfection, only his awareness of it. The coming of Christ then in the person of Jesus is not a transmutation of the highest being, or a proto-pneuma, first spirit, inhabiting Jesus. It is fulfilled or essential humanity. It is one man among many that realized his truth, the truth of all men, that he is one with God, and fulfilled the possibility that all men have, to be a full expression of the Divine Idea of Man. As such Jesus is an important aspect in all the New Thought denominations, but just how important is left to the individual on their road to spiritual growth.

III Early Christian Precedent In the comparison of New Thought to 1st and 2nd century Christianity, the obvious connection is that of New Thought to what can be called Gnostic Christianity. Gnostic or Gnosticism is an umbrella term for a variety of different teachings in the early days of Christian thought. All of the teachings have in common (in some form or another) the idea of Gnosis, or knowledge of a spiritual nature, as a means of salvation, or redemption. The problem that arises, when studying these Gnostic systems, is the amazing amount of variety involved. The Church Fathers "compared them with the many-headed hydra of Greek legend." For the purposes of this study it seems best to limit the scope. It is possible to distinguish between two subgroups in the Gnostic family: the Indo-Iranian group, and the Syrian-Egyptian. It is within the Syrian-Egyptian group that Christian elements found their way into the Gnostic systems more than the Indo-Iranian. For that reason this study will be limited to that geographical location, and even further to a text originating from that region: the Gospel of Thomas, which can be characterized as a Gnostic Christian text. Many attempts have been made to systematize the views of Gnosticism as a whole. But, because of the large variety and contradictions within the relevant texts, it is difficult to make many sweeping generalizations about Gnosticism. Kurt Rudolph in his book Gnosis explains the common views of Gnosticism under four headings: Dualism, Cosmogony (creation of the world), Soteriology (redemption), and Eschatology (doctrine of last things). And Hans Jonas in The Gnostic Religion delineates the views of Gnosticism in a similar way with the headings of Theology (dualism), Cosmology (view of the world), Anthropology (redemption), and Eschatology. The dualism inherent in the Gnostic worldview, as explained by Rudolph and Jonas, is the division between the material world and the spiritual. The material or visible world is associated with evil, ruled by an evil tyrant, God (Demiurge), whose sole aim is to entrap human beings in a corporal body, keeping

them ignorant of their true nature. The true nature is the "Divine Spark" which emanates from the "otherworldly, and unknown God, who dwells beyond all visible creation and is the real lord of the universe." This dualism is the result of the Gnostic Cosmogony. This Cosmogony and hence the dualistic worldview is defined by Rudolph as being "Anticosmic". "That is, its conception includes an unequivocally negative evaluation of the visible world together with its Creator (Demiurge); it ranks as a kingdom of evil and darkness." The Cosmogony itself, which is not fully known, is a complicated system of spheres in which the otherworldly God encompasses the whole. The anthropology of Gnosis then is a result of the fall or downward transgression of the "divine spark" emanating from the true God into a corporal world ruled by the creator of that world, the Demiurge. Zoroastrianism heavily influenced the Indo-Iranian forms of Gnosticism. Hence, good and evil, true God and Demiurge, are thought of as separate powers in themselves, pre-existent to each other. But the Syrian-Egyptian forms of Gnosticism had a different view. "Their common characteristic is the idea of a downward movement, the beginning of which is variously located in the godhead itself as an internal process of self-reproduction, and which finally at the end leads to a breach in the kingdom of light, as a result of which the earthly world and the powers who hold it in subjection come into being. Evil here is not a pre-existent principle, but (according to Jonas) a `darkened level of being', a `degraded element of divinity'". As this evil or Demiurge is a force that keeps man ignorant of his true nature, then redemption or salvation must come in the form of knowledge, or gnosis. This gnosis of course is not of a physical kind, but of a spiritual kind. It is by gnosis, or becoming aware of your true nature, that the Demiurge is conquered. The Demiurge can be represented by anguish, fear, error, lack, deficiency, etc... and is the result of ignorance, which is the greatest evil. By having gnosis, you can recognize and call out these evils, uprooting them into non-existence. "For so long as the root of evil is hidden it is mighty. But as soon as it has been recognized it has perished, and as soon as it has appeared it has ceased to be." The attainment of this gnosis is revelatory by what Jonas names "the call". This "call" is accomplished either by self-knowledge in a process of self-redemption, or by redemption through another. As we are concerned here with Christian Gnosticism, the concept of redemption by another is the most relevant. For, here is where the addition of Jesus Christ comes into the Cosmogony and Soteriology of Gnosis. Jesus as the Christ is the redeemer in this Gnostic myth. He is a proto pneuma, first spirit, emanating from the true god, down to the world of man to give gnosis and truth. As the world of matter is evil and corrupt, Jesus in the Gnostic view never actually took on flesh. He only appeared to do so. This is the docetic Christology spoken of earlier. In light of Jesus Christ's entrance into the Gnostic system Hans Jonas makes an interesting point when discussing the idea of the "alien man" (the Christ). "The Alien from without comes to him who is alien in the world, and the same descriptive terms can in a striking way alternate between the two...The prisoner here is also called `the alien man', and he regains as it were this quality through the encounter with the Alien sent from without." This is suggestive of the

possibility that the "Christ" who comes to save and redeem man, is of the same nature as man only not limited by a body. Or in other words that man too is the Christ in his nature. As far as Gnosticism as a whole is concerned, there is much more that can be said. But, in relating New Thought to the Gnostic system, this short overview seems sufficient. For by removing the Gnostic Cosmogony and thus the dualism inherent in it, it can be seen that New Thought has many similar aspects in its theology, the most obvious being the idea of gnosis as a means of salvation. What is different though, and a very important difference, is New Thoughts "pro-cosmic" world-view. In line with the Anti-Gnostic Fathers, New Thought is decidedly monotheistic, and does not view the physical world as evil. It is a creation of the one true and good God, and as such is inherently good. What it does share with Gnosticism is an interpretation of the "divine spark" in man, as well as the idea of Jesus as a teacher of knowledge that is fundamental to our deliverance from ignorance. Ignorance though, on account of the dissimilar Cosmogonies, is defined differently in New Thought. Ignorance has no power in itself. It is not a conscious evil force. In fact it is not a conscious state at all. What is interesting is that the Syrian-Egyptian concept of evil and thus ignorance acknowledges that evil is not a pre-existent principle. But, in this acknowledgement, they possibly did not go far enough in denying the existence and power of evil to be merely non-being. This is probably due to the already established Cosmogony, and the idea of a ruling Demiurge. Returning to the "divine spark" in man, New Thought shares this idea, but possibly to an even greater degree, namely, the pre-existent unity inherent in New Thought. Though Gnosticism and New Thought both agree that man is in essence a spiritual being, New Thought does not accept any doctrine of separation between man and God. But, both Gnosticism and New Thought, agreeing that man is a spiritual being in the likeness and image of God, hold a unique view of man's place in the world. Hans Jonas writes, "this exaltation of man...indicates a new metaphysical status of man in the order of existence, and it is instruction on this theme which assigns the creator and ruler of nature to his proper place." In relation to New Thought this means that man is not at the mercy of physical conditions. He, as consubstantial with God, has the power and ability to manifest whatever physical conditions he desires. For, as stated earlier, matter is an effect of God and the power of God to effect matter is inherent in man. To sum up, New Thought and Gnostic Christianity can be compared under three headings: 1) Gnosis, or the idea of knowledge as a soteriological necessity, 2) Man as a spiritual being, or "divine spark", and 3) man's new metaphysical status of divinity. A short analysis of certain excerpts from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas will serve as an example of these before mentioned similarities. The Gospel of Thomas is an anthology of 114 sayings of Jesus. The true compiler of the work is not known, but its composition date must be before the earliest known manuscript A.D. ca. 200. An important aspect of the work, and to this study, is the claim of authorship by St. Didymus Jude Thomas the twin brother of Jesus and one of his apostles. Though he is most often referred to by the name Thomas, Jude is the central component of his name. Didymus (Greek) and Thomas (Syriac or Aramaic) though coming to represent him as proper names, had the ordinary meaning of "twin". This

example of pseudepigraphy is common in the world of antiquity, in order to lend authority to the work. But authority is not the only end in this case. For, by claiming the work to have been compiled by the twin brother of "the Living Jesus" i.e. the eternal Christ, "provides a profound theological model for the reciprocal relationship of the individual Christian and the inner divine light or 'living Jesus'". That is, to know yourself is to know the Christ, your divine "twin", and the God within. "Thus the twinship and companionship of Jesus and Thomas metaphorically expressed a general model of salvation through acquaintance (gnosis) with God, emphasizing both practical discipleship and self-awareness." Saying 108 in The Gospel of Thomas says, "whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me; I, too, will become like that person...". This is reminiscent of Jonas' insight of "the Alien Man", and the double reference to the life of him who comes to save, and the life of whom he comes to, as possibly being the same life. This idea then, also predates and most likely influenced Valentinus, assumed author of The Gospel of Truth, in his concepts of the True Father who contains all entirety within himself. "It is he who created the entirety, and the entirety is in him." The Gospel holds no historical framework. That is, it claims to be timeless. Another important aspect is the absence of any mention of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The role of Jesus portrayed in the Gospel is that of a teacher of wisdom, a knowledgeable sage. Taking all this in to account, the Gospel of Thomas, above any other non-canonical or canonical scripture, is interpreted and accepted in its entirety by the New Thought Movement. By the very nature of the text, "obscure sayings", it must be interpreted in a non-literal way, otherwise it makes little sense. The method of interpretation used by the New Thought movement is allegorical in nature, but can be better described by the term "metaphysical allegory". This means that the script can be interpreted to align with the "Metaphysical Trinity" spoken of earlier, and validate, as Jonas said, the "new metaphysical status of man in the order of existence." The similarities of New Thought and Gnostic Christianity lie under three headings mentioned earlier: gnosis, divinity of man, and the placement of man higher in the level of existence or being. The Gospel Of Thomas begins by saying, "Whoever finds the meaning (interpretation) of these sayings will not taste death." This implies that the nature of these sayings possess eternal truths. By becoming aware of these truths man is no longer subjective to his physical conditions. But, what are these truths? The Gospel says that the kingdom of God is everywhere:

The Disciples said to him, "When is the kingdom going to come?" Jesus said, "it is not by being waited for that it is going to come. They are not going to say, `here it is' or `there is it', rather, the kingdom of the father is spread out over the earth, and people do not see it."

The "living Jesus", or eternal Christ states:

It is I who am the entirety: it is from me that the entirety has come, and to me that the entirety goes. Split a piece of wood: I am there. Lift a stone, and you will find me there."

So what does this mean? Metaphysically these sayings are confirming the position of New Thought. The kingdom of God "is spread out over the earth"; i.e. God is infinite, all around, all encompassing. The "living Jesus", or eternal Christ, can be interpreted as the creative principle of God, that is inherent in all existence. Split a piece of wood, you will

find it. The Gnostic and New Thought connection of man's divinity can be seen when Jesus states:

'The kingdom is inside of you. And it is outside of you. When you become acquainted with yourselves, then you will be recognized. And you will understand that it is you who are children of the living father'. `It is from the light that we have come--from the place where light, of its own accord alone, came into existence and [stood at rest]. And it has been shown forth in their image...we are its offspring, and we are the chosen of the living father.' If they ask you, `what is the sign of your father within you?' say to them, `it is movement and repose.'

An example of man's new metaphysical status can be seen in the "unity" sayings of Jesus:

Jesus said, "If two make peace with one another within a single house they will say to a mountain `go elsewhere' and it will go elswhere. Jesus said, "When you make the two into one you will become sons of man, and when you say, "O mountain, go elsewhere!' it will go elsewhere.

According to these passages if you realize your oneness with God, and with each other, there is no feat that cannot be accomplished. Important to note is the use of the phrase "sons of man" in saying 106. "Son of man" was a traditional title applied to Jesus in early Christian circles. It is once again the idea that all men share in the Christ nature. A final passage from the Gospel of Thomas that should be looked at:

Jesus said, "if you produce what is in you, what you have will save you. If you do not have what is in you, what you do not have will kill you."

This saying is speaking directly about salvation. It is the idea that salvation comes from within, from yourself, by your own power. What is most interesting about this verse, is its striking similarity to a passage from Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay on Compensation. He writes, "The law of nature is, do the thing, and you shall have the power; but they who do not do the thing, have not the power." This is, yet again, an explicit example of how closely related these two religious movements are. &The precedent for New Thought in early Christianity can certainly be attributed to Gnostic forms of the Christian movement, but there are differences. In order to understand the full scope of New Thoughts precedent in early Christian thought, these differences must be addressed. It was mentioned earlier that New Thought is in alignment with the Anti-Gnostic fathers in its "pro-cosmic" view of the world. This "pro-cosmic' vs. "anti-cosmic" argument has been a relevant issue through out the history of Christian thought and still exits today. The Gnostics had created a contrast between God the creator and God the savior. This heresy was called blasphemia creatoris, a blasphemy of the Creator. Paul Tillich writes in A History of Christian Thought, "This ought to be kept in mind by all neo-orthodox theologians today...They put the Savior God in such opposition to the Creator God that although they never fall into any real heresy, they implicitly blaspheme the divine creation." Irenaeus, a leading Anti-Gnostic, writes in Book III of

Adversus Haereses, "It is not true, as they say, that the Fashioner is one and the Father of the Lord is another, and the Son of the Fashioner one being, the Christ from on high another...All things, he says (referring to the Gospel of John 1:1-5), were made through him; this word "all" therefore includes this world order of ours." In defense against the Gnostic view of the world, early Christian theology concerning creation and the nature of being, in some instances radically denounced evil as having any existence at all. Origen's doctrine of God, concerning the creation of man and the transcendent fall is, mythologically speaking, the transition from union with God to separation from God. Evil then, is the result of separation from God. This transition to separation results from mans' misuse of freedom. For Origen God is the only Being. Thus evil, as a result of lacking God, is non-being. This was St. Augustine's view as well: "Esse qua esse bonum est", which translates as "Being as being is good". Or, in other words, evil is the distortion of the good creation. This idea that evil is not an ontological reality, is shown even further in the writings of Athanasius. Athanasius was for forty-five years the Bishop of Alexandria. In his work On The Incarnation of The Word, written between 316-318 A.D. he writes: Thus, then, God has made man, and willed that he should abide in incorruption; but men, having despised and rejected the contemplation of God, and devised and contrived evil for themselves (as was said in the former treatise), received the condemnation of death with which they had been threatened; and from thenceforth no longer remained as they were made, but were being corrupted according to their devices; and death had the mastery over them as king. For transgression of the commandment was turning them back to their natural state, so that just as they have had their being out of nothing, so also, as might be expected, they might look for corruption into nothing in the course of time. For if, out of a former normal state of nonexistence, they were called into being by the presence and loving-kindness of the Word, it followed naturally that when men were bereft of the knowledge of God and were turned back to what was not (for evil is not, but what is good is), they should, since they derive their being from God who is, be everlastingly bereft even of being; in other words, that they should be disintegrated and abide in death and corruption. For man is by nature mortal, inasmuch as he is made out of what is not; but by reason of his likeness to Him that is (and if he still preserved this likeness by keeping Him in his knowledge) he would stay his natural corruption, and remain incorrupt;...But by being incorrupt, he would live henceforth as God, to which I suppose the divine Scripture refers, when it says: "I have said ye are gods; and ye are all the sons of the Most High; but ye die like men, and fall as one of the princes." For God has not only made us out of nothing; but he gave us freely, by the grace of the Word, a life in correspondence with God. This treatise on creation and the nature of man is very interesting because of its definition of evil, and even its apparent acknowledgement of the idea that preserving the state of likeness with God is a matter of keeping God in one's knowledge, seemingly a Gnostic concept. It should be remembered though that traditional Christian doctrine is in no way as severe in its denial of evil as New Thought. The examples one can find of early church fathers denying the reality or power of evil were directly influenced by the Plotonic school of Greek philosophy, the schism developing at the time between Jews and

Christians, and the need to refute the cosmogony of a dualistic Gnosticism. Once that refutation was no longer needed, and the influence of the Greek system was no longer felt with the coming of the middle ages, Christian thought shifted back to its Jewish roots by giving evil a personality and power of its own. Hence, it will always be teetering on the edge between monotheism and an implied dualism. But what is important to note, for the purposes of this discussion, is the similarities between these early church theologians and the tenets of New Thought. It is in these similarities that New Thought finds a precedent for ideas that can not be reconciled with Gnostic Christianity, and the full scope of New Thought compared to early Christianity can be seen. Conclusion New Thought, as has been shown, is a striking antecedent to Christianity of the 1st and 2nd centuries. Almost all of its theology and christology have not just an implied similarity, but a direct precedent to the early days of Christian thought; from Gnostic Christianity, to the christianized philosophy of the Greeks, to the early church fathers. What is truly amazing is that only a claim of precedence can really be made. For no direct link exists between New Thought and early Christian sources. The formation of New Thought occurred at such a time (late 1800's to early 1900's) that it would have been impossible for it to have taken any cue from the teachings of Gnosticism, as little was known about Gnosticism until The Dead Sea Scrolls and the manuscripts now known as the Nag Hamadi Library were found buried in the Egyptian desert in the 1940's. One must question why, when no direct or even indirect link can connect two distinct religious movements spaced apart by almost seventeen hundred years, is there such a striking similarity in there thought? Possibly there is such a thing as eternal truth: a truth that is so inherent to existence, it will make itself known in every age. Truth, no matter how much is done to push it down or bury it, as is the case of Gnosticism, will continually resurface in the mind of man in one form or another. That such a truth exists and can be found in Gnostic Christianity and New Thought is the only worthy conclusion. Bibliography Braden, Charles S. Spirits in Rebellion, Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963. Dresser, Horatio W. A History of The New Thought Movement, London: George G. Harrap & Co., Dunn, James D.G. Christology In The Making, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2nd ed., 1989 Emerson, Ralph Waldo Emerson's Essays, New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1926. Fillmore, Charles Atom Smashing Power of Mind, Mo.: Unity School of Christianity, 1949.

______Keep A True Lent, Mo: Unity School of Christianity, 1953. Hardy, Edward R. Christology Of The Later Fathers, Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, Holmes, Ernest The Science of Mind, New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1938. Hopkins, Emma Curtis Scientific Christian Mental Practice, California: DeVorss & Co., Jonas, Hans The Gnostic Religion, Boston: Beacon Press, 2nd ed. Revised, 1963. Larson, Martin A. New Thought or A Modern Religious Approach, New York: Philosophical Library, 1985. Layton, Bentley The Gnostic Scriptures, New York: Doubleday, 1987. Richardson, Cyril C. Early Christian Fathers, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. Rudolph, Kurt Gnosis, San Francisco: Harper & Row Pub., 1983. Tillich, Paul A History of Christian Thought, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1968. Troward, Thomas The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science, New York: Robert M. Mcbride & Co., 1909. Tuckett, Christopher Christology And The New Testament, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.

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