History and Development
“ I am a child of God and therefore I do not inherit sickness.” (1) These words, spoken by Dr. E.B. Weeks, a former follower of Mary Baker Eddy and representative of the Illinois Metaphysical College were the original inspiration for the movement that would become known as Unity School of Christianity founded by Myrtle and Charles Fillmore.
Myrtle (Mary Caroline Page) was born August 6, 1845 in Pagetown, Ohio. Her parents were strict Methodists but she could never accept some of the essential doctrines of the faith such as original sin and eternal punishment. She was afflicted with tuberculosis at a young age which was assumed to have been inherited from her father’s side of the family. Despite her ailments she finished school and received her teaching license in 1867. She began teaching in the Clinton, Missouri public school system, a position she was to hold until after her marriage to Charles. In order to recover from some physical difficulties, Myrtle took a sabbatical and spent a year in Denison, Texas in 1877-1878 where she met Charles.
Charles was born in August 22 in 1854. In 1864 Charles was involved in a skating accident that caused his right hip to become dislocated. Disease of the hip developed which left him with a withered right leg several inches shorter than the left. This forced him to use crutches or a cane. As an adult the right leg was 3.5 inches shorter than the left and required a leg brace.
As a young man he became acquainted with the works of Transcendentalists, James Russell Lowell and Ralph Waldo Emerson through the tutelage of Caroline Taylor. He moved to Denison, Texas in 1874 and worked as a clerk for the freight office of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas railroad. (2)
Charles and Myrtle met through a group of young people who gathered regularly to read and discuss literature, philosophy and poetry. Charles left for Leadville, Colorado not long after they met. He took a course in metallurgy and became a metals assayer. (3)
The couple corresponded while they were apart. By this time, Myrtle had already left much of her Methodist upbringing and was developing a unique belief system. She wrote Charles on one occasion, “Well, if I were called upon to write out my creed it would be a rather strange mixture. I am decidedly eclectic in my theology.” (4)
Charles came to Clinton in 1881 and the two were married on March 29th of that year.
The family first settled in Leadville, Colorado before moving to Pueblo a year later. Charles began working in real estate. The first two sons, Lowell and Rickert were born at this time. In 1844 they moved to Omaha and then to Kansas City one year later in 1885. Charles continued his work in real estate for the first 5 years in Kansas City.
Myrtle, by her own report, was plagued with frequent illnesses during the early years of their marriage. It was in 1886 that a series of lectures were presented in Kansas City by Dr. Eugene B. Weeks. Dr. Weeks had at one time been a student of Christian Science under Mary Baker Eddy. However when one of her chief pupils Emma Hopkins broke away to found her own movement, The Illinois Metaphysical College, in Chicago, Dr. Weeks went with her. It was as a member of her College that he visited Kansas City.
Myrtle was immediately receptive to the teachings of Weeks, especially that of divine healing. Charles was more reticent. Myrtle began to use the teachings to heal herself of tuberculosis. In two years she was no longer an invalid. Charles was won over by the healing of his wife. Charles then began to engage in his own search through meditation, affirmations and denials and eventually saw his leg strengthened to the point that he only walked with a slight limp.
The work of Unity was officially begun with the publication of “Modern Thought” magazine in 1889. Over time, Charles gave up his real estate business and devoted himself to study and writing. In their quest for knowledge, the Fillmore’s read and were influenced by a virtual “who’s who” of New Thought and Metaphysical teachers, among them Emanuel Swedenborg, Franz Mesmer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Warren Felt Evans, Emma Curtis Hopkins, Mary Baker Eddy and Theosophist founder, Madame Blavatsky. They continued their eclectic ways and incorporated items from each of these teachers into their own metaphysical system. The name Unity was eventually chosen because of the movement’s synthesis of other teachers.
Today, Unity is headquartered on a 1,400 acre campus located just outside of Lee’s Summit, Missouri. (5) The ministry is no longer headed by a member of the Fillmore family since the resignation of Connie Fillmore Bazzy. With the passing of Myrtle and Charles, the movement began a transition experienced by most new religions from charismatic leaders who develop the new doctrines to those more organizationally gifted. The school is now led by a Board of Directors. The current president and CEO is Tom Zender. More than 1.2 million people subscribe to the publication, “Daily Word”. Over 170,000 are actually members of Unity centers and churches, which can be found world wide.
The ministry claims to be, “a worldwide movement of prayer, publishing, and education that helps people of all faiths apply positive spiritual principles in their daily lives. We support all people in their individual quest to know God and find healing in their lives. Our philosophy offers a practical approach to Christianity and teaches that as children of God, we are heir to all that we need.” (6)
Unity claims the Bible for its basic textbook. However, it must be noted that Unity uses a metaphysical approach to the Bible. This means that most of the words and concepts in the Bible must be interpreted according to their deeper, metaphysical meaning, as determined by the Fillmores. So, for example, according to the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, the term “Jews” means the following: “Jews in their highest aspect symbolize divine ideas, or spiritual consciousness. Each individual has his formless and formed mind, and they seem, in the present race consciousness to be hostile one to the other. In Scripture these are referred to as Jew and Gentile.” (7) It is through this unique approach to scripture that Unity can claim to follow the Bible while at the same time affirming beliefs contrary to the text of scripture.
The works of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, their son Lowell Fillmore and Emilie Cady also feature prominently as well. Lastly, spiritual insight can also be gained through the sacred writings of most religions especially those which are Eastern in their origin.
Unity claims that their emphasis on Jesus is what separates them from other New Thought groups. While it is true that Unity does place a significant amount of emphasis on the person of Jesus, their understanding of Jesus is strikingly different from that of historic Christianity.
In answer to the question, “Does Unity believe in the deity of Jesus Christ?”, the official statement of faith replies, “Yes, Unity teaches that the spirit of God lived in Jesus, just as it lives in every person. Every person has the potential to express the perfection of Christ, as Jesus did, by being more Christ-like in everyday life.” (8)
First, it should be noted that the statement above indicates that Jesus is no more divine than every other person. This is in fact the official Unity position. In order to fully understand the statement given above, however, it is necessary to define some terms.
Jesus. In the more formal usage in Unity publications, the name “Jesus” refers only to the mortal man born in Nazareth. Emilie Cady, in her writings, frequently refers to him as, “the Nazarene”. This mortal man, conceived in purely normal means, was divine in his essence but no more so than every man is divine in his essence.
Christ. The Christ is the divine part of every man. The Christ consciousness or Christ spirit resides in every person. Each person is essentially good and is united with God. This Christ is the “higher Self” which is the eternal part of man and which must be realized and appropriated in this life.
Jesus Christ. This term refers to the man Jesus as he fully actualized his divine or Christ consciousness. Jesus was able to perform the miracles he did because he was fully aware of his own divinity. This knowledge did not come automatically. Jesus grew in his own understanding of his divinity. He may have been re-incarnated countless times before he was able to become fully in touch with his deity. For some in Unity, the prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah amount to a type of job description. Jesus came and essentially volunteered to assume the position.
Because Jesus is the only person to become fully Christ conscious, Jesus is our great “way-shower”. The uniqueness of Jesus rests only in the level of Christ consciousness that he achieved not in his essential nature. The potential exists for every person to achieve the same level of Christ consciousness that Jesus achieved and to perform the same works that he performed. In Unity thought, Jesus is the great example, not the great exception. In his essence, he is no different from you or me. For example, the series “Foundations of Unity”, states the following, “It is Unity’s view that divinity is not separate from, nor the exclusive prerogative of, God or Jesus Christ, but is involved in man and is progressively revealed to him as he fulfills his divine destiny, Jesus Christ, who we believe is the greatest exponent of this teaching, did not make as the keynote of his message “Look what I can do as a Son of God”, but rather, “Here is what you can do as a Son of God.” In this way Jesus fulfilled His role as Way-Shower” (9) (emphasis added). Similarly, from the same source, we read, “So each human being may say of his spiritual nature, “I am the Word of God spoken forth in perfection.” (10) Recent Unity authors continue to reiterate this teaching. Richard and Mary Alice Jafolla write, “[Jesus] insisted the Father and we are one. To Jesus, the focal point of God and that oneness is indeed within us. In fact, it is the I AM of us, the Christ of us.” (11)
Supreme Being or Beings
One of the difficulties confronting the researcher wishing to acquaint himself with the teachings of Unity is that many of their statements are seemingly contradictory. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Unity’s doctrine of God. Consider the following examples.
“God is not a being or person having life, intelligence, love, power.
God is that invisible, intangible, but very real, something we call life.
God is perfect love and infinite power. God is the total of these, the
total of all good, whether manifested or unexpressed.” (12)
“God is not a person. If we attempt to personify God, we set Him
apart from us. God is not a person having qualities or attributes;
He is All-good. God is Spirit, Being, the everywhere-present Mind
teeming with living ideas, qualities, or attributes, such as life love,
power, wisdom, substance, joy, strength, plenty, and every other
good thing.” (13) (emphasis in the original)
Unity writers have consistently rejected the personhood of God while at the same time referring to God in personal terms. Emilie Cady was very candid about the unpleasantness that many persons feel when confronted with Unity’s teaching that God is not a person. She wrote, “Many have thought of God as a personal being. The statement that God is Principle chills them, and in terror, they cry out, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him” (Jn. 20:13). Broader and more learned minds are always cramped by the thought of God as a person, for personality limits to place and time.” (14) Yet even, Cady, while rejecting God as a person, finds herself incapable of escaping personal references and attributes. She writes of the Father-Mother God and of the divine will and the love of God among others. So how does one make sense of Unity’s concept of God?
Unity is pantheistic. God is in all of his creation, every rock, tree, bug and person all have the divine spark. God is intimately, permanently connected with creation and yet is transcendent beyond it. In statements nearly identical to those of Hindu gurus Emilie Cady writes, “God, then, is the substance (from sub, under, and stare, to stand), or the real thing standing under every visible form of life, love, intelligence, or power. Each rock, tree, animal, every visible thing, is a manifestation of the one Spirit—God—differing only in degree or manifestation; and each of the numberless modes of manifestation or individualities, however insignificant contains the whole. One drop of water taken from the ocean is just as perfect ocean water as the whole great body.” (15)
God relates personally but is not a person. This seemingly contradictory idea might at first be difficult to understand. However, in fairness to Unity, when they state that God is not personal, what they are really rejecting is the idea that God is a great man with a glorified form located somewhere out there. If one were to picture most medieval Christian art showing God in the form of a man with long white hair and beard, one would have an idea of what Unity is rejecting. In Unity’s understanding, the concept of personhood confines a being to a specific location and point in time. Since Unity teaches that God is limitless, God is not personal in their understanding. God is Universal Mind or Divine Principle.
Unity, at times, claims to be Trinitarian in belief. However the terms, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are interpreted metaphysically as Mind, Idea and Expression. Unity denies the orthodox concept of the Trinity as one God eternally existing in three persons, all co-equal and co-eternal.
God is the only real force in the universe and God is all-good. It should be noted that Unity stresses the goodness of God as they define it, not as it is necessarily defined biblically. There is little reference in Unity’s teaching to God being holy or just. There is virtually no discussion of God’s punishment of sin in a divine sense or of His wrath. Unity flatly denies that God would ever cause and use human weakness or infirmity for His own glory contrary to clear Biblical teachings on this subject such as Exodus 4:11 and 2 Cor. 12:7-10. Further, Unity rejects some forms of traditional morality on this same basis. For instance, since God is all and is all-good and since man is a manifestation of this good, homosexuality and heterosexuality are morally equivalent. Both types of people are manifestations of the divine. Neither is right or wrong.
Because God is the only force in the universe and is all-good, evil does not exist. Emile Cady writes, “Now the truth is that all which is not good (God) is no thing. It is the lie, and has only to be characterized as such in order to disappear.” (16) She further writes that we must learn to see things as God sees them, “all good”. (17) Likewise, the devil and demons are not real.
Human Predicament or Problem
For Unity, the basic human problem might simply be stated as ignorance. Man at his nature is divine. However, man suffers from the perception of separation from God. To the degree that man believes himself to be separated from God and subject to evil and sickness, he suffers. Once again, it will be helpful if we define terms.
The Fall. For Unity, Genesis 2-3 are taken allegorically. The fall of man occurs every time one lowers his thinking from the divine standard of truth. To the degree that man accepts the idea that he is separate from God, that evil and the devil are real or that suffering could be a part of God’s will, he is fallen. However, Unity does not discuss in detail how man came to this position of ignorance in the beginning. For if man is a manifestation of the divine, how did he come to be in a position where he is unaware of this and is subject to ignorance? At least one Unity theologian has attempted to wrestle with this question. Vice President Phillip Pierson states that he believes this occurred during the early evolution of man, when man first developed self-awareness. At the point that man became self-aware, he began to make judgments concerning his differences with other men. To the degree that he perceived differences, he developed separation. This led ultimately to a sense of separation from God. Man began to perceive himself as being separated from God and from other people. Man continued to digress until he developed beliefs in evil and sickness as well. (18)
Sin. The Metaphysical Bible Dictionary defines sin in the following manner;
“Sin is a departure from the law of our being. The command of God to man is, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” The creatures of land and sea represent states of mind and they all are contained in the consciousness of every man. Any failure on our part to exercise this dominion is a falling short or a “sin.”” (19)
In similar fashion, the “Foundations of Unity” series states the following;
Sin is primarily man’s belief that he is separate from God; that he is limited and unlike his divine Parent. Sin is ignoring the divine law of life; it is a failure to recognize one’s own innate divinity and failure to apply (demonstrate) spiritual principles (divine ideas) in his own life and affairs….Sin is a failure to acknowledge the Christ, I AM, within ourselves and others. We sin daily in our lack of trust in the Father; in our failure to live as becomes children of God.” (20) (emphasis in the original)
This faulty belief system then leads to wrong behaviors, sickness and suffering. Cady writes, “Then today if we are manifesting sickness, it is because we have believed the lie about ourselves and have reaped the results of the lie—that is, apparent lack of health—in our consciousness.” (21)
Sin also occurs when we judge others. The Jafolla’s write, “…each human being, regardless of appearance, is a child of God and has the Spirit of God within. Disapproval or condemnation of someone is, when you distill it to its essence, disapproval or condemnation of God.” (22)
Unity does not believe that faith in the atoning work of Christ saves from sin. Emilie Cady wrote, “Simply believing that Jesus died on the cross to appease God’s wrath never did, nor can save anyone from present sin, sickness or want, and was not what Jesus taught”. (23) In like manner, the Foundations of Unity series states, “Jesus did not make the atonement for us—He showed us how to reestablish the ideal in which we were created. Real atonement comes through sustained alliance between man and his indwelling Christ nature (Lord).” (24)
Charles Fillmore taught that Jesus did not actually die on the cross. He wrote, “Jesus did not die on the cross to save men from their sins, but He lived. This is an important distinction, and clears up points that have always been stumbling blocks to those who wanted a reasonable theology…” (25) Essentially, Charles’ belief was that Jesus only appeared to die on the cross but instead regenerated his body and took it with him into the next dimension. Likewise Myrtle taught that Jesus did not go through the process of dying but merely disappeared and took his body with him into the next dimension. Current Unity teachers are more likely to believe the historical record that Jesus did, in fact, die on the cross but also that he then regenerated his body and took it with him into the next dimension.
Since man’s basic problem is one of faulty thinking and understanding, the answer comes from a correction to his thinking to bring his thoughts into harmony with the divine. “Metaphysically, the “atonement” is the blending and harmonious functioning of man’s thinking and feeling with the Christ mind. Men in an unenlightened state of knowing have felt themselves separated from goodness by looking upon God as “a holy Being” separate from them; feeling their iniquity in not being able to measure up to His standard of holiness. However, Jesus of Nazareth taught and demonstrated at-one-ment. “I and the Father are one,” He said, (John 10:30).” (26) This correction of thinking can only be accomplished by the individual and primarily occurs through affirmations and denials along with meditation.
Denials. Emilie Cady taught that, in order to realize our oneness with God at all times, we must learn to deny in ourselves and others everything that would appear contrary to this reality. She taught that there were four basic denials that should be repeated silently several times a day.
First: There is no evil.
Second: There is no absence of life, substance, or intelligence anywhere.
Third: Pain, sickness, poverty, old age, and death cannot master me, for they are not real.
Fourth: There is nothing in all the universe for me to fear, for greater is He that is within me than he that is in the world.
It might be of interest to note, given denial number three, that Emilie Cady died in 1941.
Affirmations then are declarations of truth or what really is rather than what merely appears to be. As with the denials, Emilie Cady taught that there were four essential affirmations that should be stated regularly every day.
First: God is life, love, intelligence, substance, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence.
Second: I am a child or manifestation of God, and every moment His life, love, wisdom, power flow into and through me. I am one with God and am governed by His law.
Third: I am Spirit, perfect, holy, harmonious. Nothing can hurt me or make me sick or afraid, for Spirit is God, and God cannot be sick or hurt or afraid. I manifest my real Self through this body now.
Fourth: God works in me to will and to do whatever He wishes me to do, and He cannot fail. (28)
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore also relied heavily on the use of affirmations and denials. Myrtle focused on the “I Am” statements of Jesus and would affirm those for herself. Charles had seven affirmations that appear to be his favorites. They are, “I am Life Omnipresent. I am Love Omnipresent. I am Power Omnipresent. I am Substance Omnipresent. I am Order and Harmony Omnipresent. I am Strength Omnipresent. I am Intelligence Omnipresent.” (29)
Prayer also forms a major component for Unity. However, this prayer more often takes the form of affirmations or of contemplation than may normally be thought of in more traditional Christian circles.
Last things and Life After Death
Unity sees itself as teaching a practical form of Christianity. The focus of Unity is on the here and now not on that which is to come. For this reason, Unity’s teachings regarding the afterlife are not well defined and, in some cases, contradictory.
Heaven and Hell are states of mind and being that people experience now. They are not places to which people will go in the future. The Jafolla’s write, “Heaven is a state of mind. When you live in the awareness of God as a presence and a power in your life, when no matter what happens in the outer world the “real” of you is unchanging, peace-filled and expectant of good, heaven will indeed be in the midst of you…” (30) Unity rejects outright the concept of eternal punishment.
Unity also teaches that the time of judgment is here and now. Once again, the Jafolla’s comments are helpful. “Judgment day takes place each time you set a cause into motion. If you are responsible for some wrong action of any kind, you are “punished” by the deed itself. Your own thoughts and deeds are continually setting up their results, their judgments, and are “taking action” for or against you. No one escapes the day of judgment, because it is taking place every moment of our lives.” (31)
Regarding life after death, many followers of Unity will simply state that they don’t know what will happen though they are certain that it will be something good for every person because God is all-good. Death, in Unity, is spoken of as the “transition”. In Unity funerals, ministers will speak of the departed as having transitioned to another dimension.
There are, however, divergent opinions on this topic and, interestingly enough, they come from the original founders of Unity, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore. Both Charles and Myrtle taught that ultimately, physical death was to be overcome. They believed that it was possible using their techniques to so regenerate the body that it would never die. Charles wrote the most extensively on this subject in a series of articles that was to become the book, “The Twelve Powers of Man”. He wrote, “The Subconscious realm in man has twelve great centers of action, with twelve presiding egos or identities. When Jesus had attained a certain soul development, He called His twelve apostles to Him. This means that when man is developing out of mere personal consciousness into spiritual consciousness, he begins to train deeper and larger powers; he sends his thoughts down into the inner centers of his organism, and through his word quickens them to life.” (32) According to Charles, each of the twelve apostles corresponded to a particular attribute and a particular “ganglion center” of the body. For instance, Peter is the faith principle and is located in the center of the brain. Thaddaeus corresponds to renunciation and elimination and is located in the abdominal region. The crown of the head is the I Am center and corresponds to the mountain where Jesus frequently went to pray. By activating all of these powers properly a person could completely regenerate their body and would never have to experience physical death. Charles was so confident of the truth of this teaching that he made some astonishing claims concerning Unity in general and himself in particular. He wrote, “Because I have emphasized the eternal-life-in-the-body teaching of Jesus, the question is often asked by Unity readers. Some of them seem to think that I am either a fanatic or a joker if I take myself seriously in the hope that I shall with Jesus attain eternal life in the body. But the fact is that I am very serious about the matter and am striving earnestly to follow Jesus in the regeneration, which I am satisfied, will result in a transformation of my body.” (33) Later, Charles spoke of his results in this manner, “…now I have what may be termed an electrical body that is gradually replacing the physical.” (34) Concerning Unity in general Charles stated, “This Society will produce individual members who, through soul concentration, will have so spiritualized the atoms of their bodies as to be able to make themselves visible or invisible at will, and will have the power to live upon this earth plane any length of time they may desire.” (35)
A divergent account of Charles success with his own body is provided by, then Ph.D. candidate Ralph Teener, who was not a Unity student but was preparing his dissertation on the movement. In 1938 he wrote, “Today, Mr. Fillmore is a quite interesting, humorous, white-haired man, some 84 years young. His right leg is much shorter than his left. He wears a higher heel on his right shoe and walks with a decided hitch. When in discussion, his mind is likely to wander from the point at issue. To a superficial observer, his teeth show dental work, certainly not of the “spiritual substance” kind…” (36) Charles died at the admittedly old age of 93 from the effects of kidney failure.
For both Charles and Myrtle, physical death was a failure to fully attain to one’s divine status. However, death was not the end. They believed that each person was reincarnated again and again until they were able to attain to the ideal revealed by Jesus Christ. In fact they believed that Jesus had required multiple reincarnations to arrive at his perfected state. This was actually an area of mild disagreement between the Fillmores and Cady who denied reincarnation and taught that the body was to be laid aside when it was no longer useful to the individual.
Modern teachers within Unity do not make the same types of claims as those of Charles though they will still insist that his teachings are correct and are possible to achieve. (37) They leave open the subject of reincarnation to the judgment of each student, though many within Unity lean that direction.
Unity also does not look forward to any return of Christ or “Second Coming”. The “Foundations Series” states, “The second coming of Christ is not a point in time but a point in the growth of an individual’s consciousness.” (38) This occurs through prayer. Once again, from the “Foundations Series” we read, “When in meditation and prayer, one feels Christ occurring in his consciousness as new feelings and awarenesses of love, peace, courage, life, joy, and the like, the second coming has occurred for that person.” (39) In like manner, Charles Fillmore wrote, “The first coming is the receiving of Truth into the conscious mind, and the Second Coming is the awakening and the regeneration of the subconscious mind through the superconscious or Christ Mind.” (40)
Integration and Conversion
Unity School of Christianity is a transdenominational movement that sees itself as compatible with any spiritual tradition. Therefore the Unity complex is open to and used by leaders and students from a variety of movements, though they tend to be from the New Thought and New Age spectrums. Therefore there is no true conversion to Unity School of Christianity.
Within the Association of Unity Churches, a collaborative affiliate of the Unity School though completely separate legally, the process may vary slightly from congregation to congregation depending on the church’s individual charter. However, it would be common for a person to attend classes and state their agreement to the core principles of Unity before being admitted into membership.
Many people have their first contact with Unity through one of the many publications or through one of the numerous Unity-sponsored community events. The appeal for many, may be found in Unity’s emphasis on non-judgmental spirituality and environmental concern.
Presenting the gospel to members of Unity will require care due to the movement’s unique interpretation of scripture and re-definition of biblical words and concepts. Here are some suggestions that may prove helpful.
a. Don’t assume you know what any particular member of Unity actually believes. Unity is the ultimate religious smorgasbord. Each individual is allowed to pick and choose through most of Unity’s doctrines. Additionally, many within the movement have attempted to synthesize Unity’s teachings with historic Christianity. This can produce a confusing mixture of belief systems. Lastly, there are many who attend Unity churches and events and consider themselves students who are not official members. These individuals may have a wide range of beliefs, some from Unity and some from other sources. Ask questions. Make sure that you know the beliefs of the individual with whom you are seeking to share or you may find yourself running down a dead end street.
b. Clarify terms. As with many new religions, Unity uses orthodox vocabulary but reinterprets these terms in a very unorthodox manner. For instance, most orthodox Christians use the terms Jesus, Christ and Jesus Christ in synonymous fashion. But as we have seen, these terms may mean completely different things to a member of Unity. When you speak of Christ, they may be hearing you speaking of the Christ consciousness or Divine Self within each one of us.
c. Emphasize the uniqueness of Jesus. Jesus made unique claims. He claimed to be God. He did not make the same claims for every other person. Jesus did not teach that each person was divine. He did works that no one else in the history of mankind was able to do. He literally died on the cross and He literally rose from the dead. He did not say that He was doing these things to become our way-shower but rather to give His life as our ransom. Christ has no equal.
d. Emphasize the reality of evil and sin. To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, the doctrine of sin is the only religious dogma we can actually see with our own eyes everyday. Evil is real. Sin is real. No parent has to teach a child to disobey. Why is that if we are naturally good and divine? Unity has a very difficult time reconciling their theology with the evils that occur to people such as child molestation and rape. How can one say to them that evil does not exist? Within the heart of each person is the knowledge that some things are evil.
e. Emphasize the biblical teaching that God is not only loving, He is also just and holy. When earthly laws are broken, we expect that there will be a penalty. When a judge lets the murderer go free the judge is condemned. Unity does not have an adequate answer to the issue of sin that upholds both God’s love and His justice.
f. Question their approach to the Bible. Why is it that Unity teachers read the Bible in a way that would not be permissible with any other document? For instance, normally in understanding an author’s meaning, one reads the document according to normal rules of grammar and normal definitions of words. Why is it acceptable for Unity to approach the Bible so differently? Are we allowed to read the works of the Fillmores or other teachers within Unity in the same manner as they read the Bible? Who determined that these metaphysical definitions are correct? How do we know that they are right? How do we know that Thaddeaus represents elimination and renunciation? Why would God author a book that is so difficult to read and understand? What if the Bible actually means what it says?
g. Many student of Unity are very post-modern in their view of truth. Many of them believe that you have your truth and I have mine. The standard arguments against post-modernism can be helpful here.
h. Deal with the unattainable ideal. Despite their emphasis on healing, Unity students get sick. Several of the leaders of the movement wear glasses. The staff has health insurance and receives sick days. And they all keep dying. Royal Fillmore, one of the children of Charles and Myrtle, died at age 34 even though he was an ardent believer in his parent’s teachings. Despite more than one hundred years of Unity, no one has been able to imitate the work of Christ. At some point, one must begin to ask if the system works at all.
1. Freeman, James Dillet, “The Story of Unity” Fourth Edition, page 45. Unity Books, Unity Village, Missouri, 2000
2. Ibid. page 29
3. Vahle, Neal, “The Unity Movement”, page 34, Templeton Foundation Press, Radnor, PA 2002
4. Op Cit. Dillet. Page33
5. Official Unity website. https://www.unityonline.org/discover_unityvillage.htm
6. Ibid. Homepage.
7. Metaphysical Bible Dictionary page 351. Published in 1931 by Unity School of Christianity, Unity Village, MO. This dictionary claims to be based on the inspired teachings of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore.
8. Unity School of Christianity official website. Frequently asked questions. www.unityonline.org/discover_faq.htm. Accessed 9/6/05
9. Foundations of Unity. Series Two, Volume 1. page 104-105 Various contributors. Unity School of Christianity, Unity Village, MO. No publication date is given.
10. Ibid. page 103
11. Jafolla, Richard and Mary Alice, “The Quest”, page 207. 2005 Unity House Publishing, Unity Village, MO
12. Cady, Emilie, “Lessons in Truth” as included in “The Complete Works of Emilie Cady” page 29-30. 1995. Unity Books, Unity Village, MO.
13. Op. Cit. Foundations of Unity Series Two, Volume 1 page 38.
14. Op Cit. Cady page 33
15. Ibid page 31
16. Ibid page 203
17. Ibid page 209
18. Interview with Phillip M. Pierson, Vice President of Unity Institute conducted 9/1/05.
19. Op Cit. Metaphysical Bible Dictionary page 620
20. Op Cit Foundations of Unity Series page 114
21. Op Cit. Cady page 203
22. Op Cit Jafolla page 291
23. Op Cit Vahle page 93
24. Op Cit Foundations of Unity page 124.
25. Op Cit Vahle page 69
26. Op Cit Foundations page 124
27. Op Cit Cady page 51
28. Ibid. page 59
29. Op Cit Vahle page 55
30. Op Cit Jafolla page 99
31. Ibid 102-103
32. Fillmore, Charles, The Twelve Powers of Man” fourth printing, page 15, Unity House Publishing, Unity Village, MO 2005
33. Op Cit Vahle page 60
34. Ibid 61
35. Ibid 58
36. Ibid 61
37. Op Cit. Pierson interview
38. Op Cit. Foundations page 139
39. Ibid 139
40. Op Cit Fillmore, Twelve Powers of Man, page 15