By The Rev. Michael Jamison
The Unity Church is 117 years old, founded 1889 by Charles and Myrtle Filmore. The church does not proselytize.
After Myrtle Filmore healed herself of TB, people came to her and asked for positive affirmations. Unity emerged as a response to this.
Unity beliefs center on an itinerant teacher who talked about “The Way” â€“ Jesus. Christ is a prophet. Jesus showed us that everyone can have that intimacy with Spirit. I like to think that Unity is the modern Gnosticism.
In the 1880s, the New Thought movement rose up, urging Christians to go back to the teachings of Jesus. Unity has doctrine but no dogma. There are five basic teachings.
- There is only one God. That God is a concept; omni â€“ containing everything. Everything is united in this concept of The One. Moreover, everything works toward Good.
- People have original virtue, not original sin. God’s will for humanity is health, happiness and abundance.
- Power of the mind. Everything is experienced thru a filter system of our thoughts. People can have the same experiences, yet experience them differently.
- We focus on practicing an awareness of the presence of Spirit. We encourage meditation in morning and evening, and affirmative prayer other times during the day. There is no need for supplicating prayer. Affirm the truth about yourself. Even when things look awful, it can’t be. We affirm truth and convince ourselves that what happens will work for our good. We constantly work to focus our thoughts on good.
- We put this into action. Without action steps to apply religion to solve the challenges of life, it’s all academic.
That’s the only place where we can change things. We can’t change things about the rest of the world. (I’m not sure where this fits.)
Unity is an international organization of about 1,000 churches. The churches support the Headquarters, but not vice versa. We want churches to rise up from the grassroots. Some churches have a service arm that pools its financial resources.
We are a member of Doorstep. We do local community efforts, but no missionary work. We tithe to community groups as well as other Unity churches.
We consider the Bible our primary textbook. The metaphysics of the Bible is what’s most important for us. It teaches us lessons about ourselves. Every story in the Bible is a story about you. It’s also great literature, with a bit of historical accuracy. We do not neglect other sacred writing.
In a fable, we can see things about us. And learn from that. In the New Testament, it’s more difficult to do the same thing. Old Testament is more adaptable.
Questions: Don â€“ Does Unity consider itself to be a part of Christianity?
Rev. Jamison â€“ We think of ourselves as practical Christians. Of and about the primary difference between us and traditional Christianity.
Bill â€“ How do individuals relate to a world in conflict?
Rev. Jamison â€“ We think of it coming from us and reaching out to affect the world. But, we are not pacifists.
Don â€“ Do you have a belief about eternal life?
Rev. Jamison â€“ We believe Soul is an extension of spirit. It seems very probable that there may be reincarnation. It seems logical, but belief in reincarnation is not one of the main five basic teachings.
Ashraf â€“ How do you reconcile traditional Christianity with the Bible?
Rev. Jamison â€“ We teach the Bible as scholarship. We know there was a lot of scriber glossis; that is, a lot has been changed. There also are the Apocrypha and a lot of writing that was totally destroyed. We like to think we are trans-denominational, not nondenominational.
If Unity doesn’t evangelize, how would anyone learn about Unity to know whether they would be interested.
Rev. Jamison â€“ We have a Daily Word magazine. We’re not trying to steal people away from other religions. We’re just doing what works for us.