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A Brief History of New Thought

There are nearly one thousand New Thought congregations on this continent. The New Thought movement, although relatively young, is growing exponentially.

In truth, New Thought, is not new at all. The  inherent ancient wisdom contained in New Thought can be traced back thousands of years to the Essences, the Greek philosopher Plato, and the early Christian mystical sect known as the  Gnostics.

Today, it is seen by many to be a  recapturing  of  the  basic metaphysical teachings of Jesus that were lost over the centuries as the Church grew in power and complexity, or as a contemporary Statement and a practical application of the Perennial Philosophy—the thread of Truth that underlies and connects all religion.

Credit for founding the New Thought movement as we know it today is generally given to Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802-1866), a Maine clockmaker who developed a method of spiritual healing he called ‘mind cure’ after experiencing his own spontaneous healing of tuberculosis. One of his patients was Mary Baker Eddy, who brought New Thought ideas to public attention when she incorporated them in the Christian Science Church she founded in 1879.

Many brilliant thinkers helped to shape and popularize the movement in it’s first hundred years; Emma Curtis Hopkins, Thomas Troward, Joel Goldsmith, Emmet Fox, Ralph Waldo Trine, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore and Dr. Ernest Holmes (Founder of our teaching) are but a few of the people who have contributed.

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Dr. Ernest Holmes

Founder of the Religious Science Movement

1887 - 1960


Ernest Holmes founded the International Religious Science movement, wrote “The Science of Mind” and numerous other books on metaphysics, and originated the international periodical Science of Mind magazine, which has been in continuous publication since 1927. Holmes’ Science of Mind teaching, recognized today as one of the leading viewpoints in modern metaphysics, is a spiritual philosophy that has brought to people around the world a working cosmology – a sense of their relationship to God and their place in the Universe – and a positive, supportive approach to daily living. 

Ernest Holmes was born in 1887 on a small Maine farm, the youngest of nine sons. As a teenager, he attended Bethel preparatory school, but he spent most of his time out-of-doors, asking himself “What is God? Who am I? Why am I here?” He mentally tangled with all the local preachers and doubted the answers he got in church. At the age of 18 he left school and formal education and set out on his lifelong course of independent thinking. He went to Boston, worked in a grocery store, and pursued his studies relentlessly. A year later, he discovered the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Reading Emerson is like drinking water to me,” he said later. His metaphysical studies intensified, his quest for truth leading him to literature, art, science, philosophy, and religion, and in particular the Christian Science teachings of Mary Baker Eddy.

After Ernest Holmes became acquainted with the writings of Emerson and Mary Baker Eddy, he soon was exploring the writings of Christian D. Larson, Ralph Waldo Trine, Horatio Dresser and Phineas Quimby. Holmes was particularly impressed with the New Thought writings of Larson and eventually abandoned the Christian Science textbook for Larson’s works.

In 1914, at the age of 25, Ernest moved to Venice, California. Pursuing his studies, he discovered the writings of Thomas Troward, which fed the flame ignited by his earlier studies of metaphysics. Almost casually, he began speaking on Troward’s writings to small but ever-growing groups. Without ceremony, his lifetime ministry had begun. Later, as his audiences grew, he was ordained as a minister of the Divine Science Church.

Ernest published his first book, “Creative Mind,” in 1919, followed shortly after by another volume entitled “Creative Mind and Success.” He continued his studies, and lectured to growing crowds in California and Eastern cities. Meanwhile, he was writing “The Science of Mind,” which was to become the “textbook” of the Religious Science philosophy. First Published in 1922, it was originally copyrighted by his wife in 1926, revised in 1938, and is now in its 45th printing, The Science of Mind exists in a Braille version and has also been translated into, Japanese, Swedish, Dutch, German, Spanish, French, Afrikaans, Russian and Ukrainian. At the time the book was published, his many enthusiastic students urged him to set up an incorporated organization. He refused at first, but eventually agreed, and the Institute of Religious Science and the School of Philosophy was incorporated in 1927.

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