Why We Need a Unity Minister’s Association
Hi Friends -
It was in April 1921 that Charles Fillmore made the daring decision to publish a Unity Statement of Faith. He did so “in response to many requests for our attitude toward certain tenets of the Christian religion.” To counter misperceptions about Unity, Charles Fillmore’s 32 statements of faith declared that “we do believe all that is taught by the church” and that “we believe all the doctrines of the Christian church, spiritually interpreted.”
What is important here is that Charles Fillmore recognized the threat of being misperceived and therefore he took bold steps to address the ambiguity about Unity’s beliefs. His Statement of Faith placed Unity squarely in the Christian camp and unambiguously explained Unity’s unique interpretation of the tenants of the Christian faith.
It was 1984 when Unity ceased publication of the Statement of Faith. It is fair to say that since then the growth of Unity has stalled and that the influence and prestige of Unity ministers has fallen.
I am not saying that the cause is directly tied to Unity not having a clear doctrine. But I do know that two problems were clearly expressed this past week in Houston at the Unity Worldwide Ministries Annual Summit: Unity has a difficult time explaining itself to the broader public and that Unity churches need help in boosting attendance.
There is another subtle correlation that I want to make explicit. It just may be that the ambiguity of Unity’s teachings not only hinders the growth of Unity churches. It may be that the same ambiguity hinders the authority and prestige of Unity ministers. Can ministers and their ministries be successful without having a definitive and distinguishing statement of faith?
Many people are concerned about appearing dogmatic. So was Charles Fillmore, who wrote “We have considered the restrictions that will follow a formulated platform, and are hereby giving warning that we shall not be bound by this tentative statement of what Unity believes.”
Let me say that doctrines are not dogma. Dogma is fixed and unchangeable. Doctrines, as Charles Fillmore says, are “the best we have to offer at this writing.” He famously said “We may change our minds tomorrow on some of the points, and if we do, we shall feel free to make a new statement of faith in harmony with the new viewpoint.”
That’s risky. Dianne Tober recently shared with me, “If our founders worried about how the more traditional Christian based groups of their time would accept and embrace and ‘approve’ of their new ways of expressing their ‘God-ness’, our principles would not have been formulated... Where would we be? While Unity, as we know it, had and has it’s roots in the Christian tradition and it’s Truth Teachings, Universal Truth is more!”
So I ask, is it not possible that Unity leadership in 1984 chose to abandon the Statement of Faith because they worried how the general public would accept and embrace our definitive and distinguishing interpretation of the Christian faith?
Dianne concludes “As Charles Fillmore said: ‘I reserve the right to change my mind!’ I think it was more like expand my mind... All IS and ALWAYS was well. More WILL be revealed! Fear not!”
So let’s not change our mind about having a definitive and distinguishing statement of faith. Let’s root our teachings in what we have received from the Fillmores and then expand our mind with an updated version, formulated in a democratic fashion for today’s culture and language.
Which brings us to the decline in authority and prestige of Unity ministers.
Last week I endorsed the idea of “institutional pluralism” in Unity—that the Unity movement would be well-served by having “several organizations, functioning independently yet co-operatively within the great family of the Unity field activity.”
To be more specific this week, I am proposing that if there were “institutional pluralism” in Unity it would naturally fall into a leadership of three legs: Unity World Headquarters, Unity Worldwide Ministries and some form of a “Unity Minister’s Association.” The Unity Minister’s Association, or UMA, is exactly what existed prior to the launch of what is now Unity Worldwide Ministries.
I’ve written before that the needs of the congregations are not perfectly aligned with the needs of ministers as professionals. Ministers need their own voice. They need to have responsibility to train themselves, to credential themselves and to discipline themselves. But that’s not the main reason there needs to be a UMA.
Unity needs a UMA because it does not have adequate spiritual leadership. Far too many people sense that Unity—both UWH and UWM—have drifted away from its core teachings.
A Unity Ministers Association is necessary to provide the for the sacred role of spiritual leadership—keeping the flame and holding the high watch. They can begin by assembling to formulate an updated, definitive and distinguishing Statement of Faith.
February 10, 2019
UNITY'S STATEMENT OF FAITH
Extracted from Unity Magazine, April 1921
- We believe in God, the one and only omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Spirit-Mind.
- We believe in Christ, the Son of God, in whom is imaged the Ideal Creation, with perfect Man on the throne of dominion.
- We believe in Christ Jesus, the Son of God made manifest in Jesus of Nazareth; who overcame death, and who is now with us in his perfect body as the Way-shower in regeneration for all men.
- We believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit, whose law of love is perpetually establishing the Divine Plan in man and in the universe.
- We believe in the supremacy and the eternity of the Good, as the one and only reality of man and of all things visible and invisible.
- We believe in the twelve Disciples, the twelve Powers of Man, going forth into mind and body with authority to teach, preach, heal, and wholly save man and the world from sin, sickness, and death.
- We believe that “God is Spirit,” as taught by Jesus, and that all of his Spirit is with us at all times, supplying every need.
- We believe that Divine Intelligence is present in every atom of man and matter, and that the “more abundant life” promised by Jesus is flooding the world and quickening the minds and bodies of men everywhere.
- We believe that the original “authority and dominion” given to man was over his own thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions, and that in the lawful exercise of this authority he will harmonize all discords within and without, and restore the kingdom of God in the earth.
- We believe in the creative power of thoughts and words, that they do accomplish that whereunto they are sent, and that all men are held accountable for their lightest words.
- We believe that, through indulgence in sense consciousness, men fell into the belief in the reality of matter and material conditions. We believe that the “kingdom of God” can be attained, here and now, by overcoming the world, the flesh, and the devil, through Jesus Christ.
- We believe in the atonement that Jesus reestablished between God and man, and that through him we can regain our original estate as Sons of God.
- We believe that the prayer of faith shall save the sick, resurrect the body from “trespasses and sins,” and finally overcome the last enemy, death.
- We believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is alive and in the world today. We believe that the “more abundant life” promised by Jesus, is poured into the race stream as a vitalizing energy, and when accepted in faith, purifies the life-flow in our bodies and makes us immune to all diseased thoughts and germs.
- We believe that sense consciousness may be “lifted up,” as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” and all men be again restored to paradise through faith, understanding, and practice of the Divine Law, as taught and demonstrated by Jesus Christ. “And I, if I be raised on high from the earth, will draw All to myself.” (Emphatic Diaglott.)
- We believe that the Holy Mother, the Divine Feminine, is now being restored to her righteousness, and that she will reign equal with Jehovah in the heavens and the earth.
- We believe that we live, move, and have our being in God-Mind; also that God-Mind lives, moves, and has being in us, to the degree of our consciousness.
- We believe that the body of man is the highest formed manifestation of Creative Mind, and that it is capable of unlimited capacity in expressing that Mind. “Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?”
- We believe that through conscious union with Jesus in the regeneration, man can transform his body and make it perpetually healthy, therefore immortal, and that he can attain eternal life in this way and in no other way.
- We believe that the “blood” of Jesus represents the consciousness of eternal life; that the “body” of Jesus represents the consciousness of incorruptible substance. We believe that these are original elements in Being and that they can be appropriated by all who through faith and understanding attain the Christ standard of spirituality.
- We believe that spirit, soul, body, are a unit, and that any separation of these three is transgression of the Divine Law. We believe that the death which came into the world through the Adamic man was death of the body, and that the restoration of the lost Eden is already begun, in the demonstration over the death of the body, as shown in the resurrection, by Jesus.
- We believe that the separation of spirit, soul, body, caused by death, is overcome by rebirth of the same spirit and soul in another body here on earth. We believe the repeated incarnations of man to be a merciful provision of our loving Father for the final restoration of the whole race to a deathless estate through Christ.
- We believe that the kingdom of heaven or harmony is within man, and that through man the law and order existing in Divine Mind are to be established in the earth—symbolized in the book of Revelation as the New Jerusalem descending out of the heavens upon the earth.
- We believe that the “second coming” of Jesus is now being fulfilled; that his spirit is flashing from the east even unto the west, and that all men will feel its quickening. “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is the Christ, or, Here; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you beforehand. If therefore they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the wilderness; go not forth: Behold, he is in the inner chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh forth from the east, and is seen even unto the west; so shall be the coming of the Son of man.” “Watch therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh.”
- We believe that the Great Commandment given by Jesus in Matthew, is the foundation of the law of life to be established in the earth between men. “And he said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second like unto it is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets.”
- We believe that Jehovah God is incarnate in Jesus Christ, and that all men may attain the same perfection by living the righteous life. “Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
- We believe that the Word of God is the thought of God expressed in creative ideas and that these ideas are the primal attributes of all enduring entities in the universe, visible and invisible. The Logos of the first chapter of the Gospel of John is the God Idea or Christ that produced Jesus, the perfect Man. We believe that the Scriptures are the testimonials of men who have apprehended the Divine Logos, but that their testimony should not be taken as final. The Pharisees thought that eternal life could be attained by studying the Scriptures, but Jesus corrected that error by these words, “Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me.”
- We believe that all life is sacred and that man should not kill nor be a party to the killing of animals for food; also that cruelty, war, and wanton destruction of human life will continue as long as men kill animals for food.
- We believe that the misuse of the generative function is responsible for the majority of human ills. Therefore, we believe that purity and control of sex are essential to health and the final overcoming of death.
- We believe in the final resurrection of the body through Christ. We believe that we do free our minds and resurrect our bodies by true thoughts and words, and that this resurrection being carried forward daily, will ultimate in a final purification of the body from all earthly attachments. Through this process, we shall be raised to the consciousness of continuous health and eternal life here and now.
- We believe all the doctrines of the Christian church, spiritually interpreted.
- Almighty Father-Mother, we thank thee for this vision of thy omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence, in us and in all that we think and do, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen!
[The foregoing ‘‘Statement of Faith” is condensed from Unity literature; it covers nearly all the points of doctrine that have been formulated up to date.
We have considered the restrictions that will follow a formulated platform, and are hereby giving warning that we shall not be bound by this tentative statement of what Unity believes. We may change our minds tomorrow on some of the points, and if we do, we shall feel free to make a new statement of faith in harmony with the new viewpoint. However, we are assured that there will be no change in fundamentals; the form of words may be clarified and the inner and outer meaning of the Truth may be more clearly set forth.
However, the foregoing is the best we have to offer at this writing, and it is made in response to many requests for our attitude toward certain tenets of the Christian religion.
It has often been claimed that we do not believe in Christ, the atonement, and several other of the sacred doctrines of Christianity. A careful perusal of the foregoing will convince any one that we do believe all that is taught by the church, and also that our faith is bulwarked by an understanding of the underlying spiritual laws upon which the church bases its doctrines.
Those who want a detailed exposition of what we teach should write to us for the literature that more fully explains the doctrine epitomized in a certain paragraph, always giving the number. Regular readers of our periodicals and our literature, as printed in books and tracts, will at once recognize that they have gleaned, it may be in fragmentary and scattered study, a concept of the various points set forth in this “Statement of Faith.—EDITOR.]
Unity Magazine April 1921 reprinted in Digest Form
This April 1921 issue of Unity Magazine provides a snapshot of the spirit of the Unity movement when Unity was entering its heyday. Why did Unity grow so rapidly during the 1920s?
It may be The Unity Statement of Faith, first published here, that provided the foundation for Unity's growth for the next sixty years. Written by Charles Fillmore, these thirty-two statements convey the spiritual laws upon which Unity is based. On page 307, Charles writes:
We may change our minds tomorrow on some of the points, and if we do, we shall feel free to make a new statement of faith in harmony with the new viewpoint. However, we are assured there will be no change in fundamentals ...