New Thought churches in Wichita, Kansas history and structure
This thesis traces the development of the philosophical and religious movement of New Thought and outlines the histories of the two New Thought churches in Wichita, Kansas: Unity Church and New Thought Community Church. Though based on the teachings of Christ, New Thought incorporates other sources including Hinduism, Swedenborgianism, Transcendentalism and Mesmerism. New Thought is sometimes referred to as New Gnosticism, but where the Gnostics were dualists, New Thought is monistic and can more properly be called a Christian/Hindu syncretism. The spiritual and mesmeric healer, Phineas Quimby, provided in the 1850s and 1860s a focus around which the New Thought movement coalesced. Later writers and teachers developed New Thought into a theology. They include Warren Felt Evans, Julius and Annetta Dresser, Horatio Dresser, Emma Curtis Hopkins, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore (cofounders of Unity School of Christianity), Emilie Cady, Malinda Cramer (founder of Divine Science), Ernest Holmes (founder of Religious Science), Emmet Fox, and Masaharu Taniguchi (founder of Seicho-No-Ie). Proponents of New Thought call it “practical Christianity” for its emphasis on healing and improvement of life. Modern psychology, self-help methodologies, and New Age understandings of spirituality all owe a pioneering debt to New Thought. Personal interviews, material from Unity Village archives, and publically available online and book sources provided the data for this thesis. Besides chronicalling people and events, it focuses on how the organizations of churches founded by New Thought leaders tended to mirror their earlier church affiliations. The resulting churches represent functional syncretisms of traditional church structures with a superimposed New Thought theology.
Thesis (M.A)-- Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of History