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“New Thought is what all Christianity could have become if it had been able to avoid the stultifying tendencies needed to become a religion capable of competing with mystery religions for the title of official religion of the Roman Empire. It is what all Christianity could have become if it had allowed freedom of belief, concentrating on following the loving, healing example of Jesus rather than developing a rigid superstructure of teachings about Jesus”
New Thought religions are a panentheistic belief system, and are often considered more philosophy than religion by adherents. New Thought holds that an immanent presence, often referred to as Mind, Universal Presence, Life, along with other terms that attempt not to limit the definition or experience of God, is the primary basis of all interconnected reality, personal and transcendent.
In line with Philosophical Idealism, New Thought professes the primacy of mind in relation to the experience of the physical world, and places great emphasis in positive thinking, affirmations, meditation, and prayer. New Thought churches often avoid dogmatic pronouncements about the afterlife or other theological questions, and vary significantly in the degree to which they may or may not associate themselves with Christianity or other major world religions. New Thought teaching asserts some distinction from traditional religious movements in that the personal experience and understanding of (God, Presence, Truth) is expected to evolve and not remain static. The majority of New Thought churches display, discuss, and sell a wide variety of religious and metaphysical literature.
Although New Thought churches are sometimes identified with the New Age movement, adherents draw distinctions. New Thought beliefs predate contemporary New Age thinking by nearly a century, and New Thought churches typically do not share major tenets of New Age thinking (mostly avoiding any teaching of mysticism or Occultism.)
New Thought is a term used to convey the idea of growing or developing thought. In considering this subject, the word "New" should be duly and freely emphasized, because the expression "New Thought" relates only to what is new and progressive. As memes form, spread, and become part of the fabric of human consciousness, our thought is transformed. New Thought practitioners accept and even embrace this endless transformation, while simultaneously acknowledging the thread of history and the unfoldment of creative thought.
The Essence of New Thought Teaching
It would be a misuse of terms to apply the expression "New Thought" to a finite system of thought, because when thought is molded and formed into a system, it ceases to be new. When a system of thought has reached maturity and ceases to grow, expand, and develop, it can no longer be defined by the word "New." It follows, therefore, as a necessary conclusion, that no static system of new thought, or no system of thought defined by that expression, now exists or ever can exist. Any system that takes shape is a mere milestone or snapshot. "New Thought" is the result or creation of perpetually advancing mind. The growing mind is not content with the past or its achievements. It is not satisfied with traditional systems of philosophy or religion originating in other ages and handed down through succeeding generations, although those systems are important in their own right, as part of the framework or fabric that supports the growth of mind. They do not satisfy the striving of the mind. Traditional systems do not grow; mind develops. It wants something larger and better; it wants improvement, growth, and development. It is merely the logical and natural effort of the mind in its struggle for advancement; it is following its basic and inherent law.
As the growing mind applies thought to whatever enters into consciousness, it gains new and enlarged conceptions and, therefore, grows; and what it thinks is new. New Thought has been defined as the latest product of growing mind. A distinguished writer has characterized New Thought as an attitude of mind and not a cult. Those who grasp the true meaning and spirit of New Thought, or, as it is sometimes called, progressive or unfolding thought, do not conceive that a finished or completed system of thought, either philosophical or religious, is a possibility. All systems of thought change with the flight of time. Decay follows growth. The philosophies and religions of today differ from those of yesterday, and those of tomorrow will be unlike those of today. History alone demonstrates the truth of this statement. This conclusion is inevitable also from the very laws that govern humankind's growth and existence.
The human body is not the only result of the processes of evolution, growth, and development; the mind is likewise the product of the same great law. We are evolved and evolving beings, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Change and growth are the silent mandates of divinity. The eternal current ever moves onward. We do not reckon with all of nature's forces. Back of all, unseen yet all powerful, is the one universal law or cosmic urge, forever pushing and projecting humankind forward into higher physical, mental, and spiritual development.
Through the principle of evolution, our physical form was brought to its present state of development. By the same principle we have come to our present mental and spiritual condition. It is a principle operating throughout the universe. Evolution is a movement from the lower to the higher, from the simple to the complex, from the inferior to the superior. How can there be a fixed system of thought, a complete philosophy, a perfect theology, or a defined religion? For as we grow mentally and spiritually, we move away from such limitations. As our mental and spiritual visions expand, the very laws of our being lead us to higher and still higher conceptions of philosophical and religious truth. In religious terms, "Through spiritual evolution are we led to God."
-------------------- Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:20-21 (New King James Version)
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