The main part of this article discusses the marginal, heterodox expression of metaphysical New Thought through the teachings of its founders and exponents, Fathers Jehovia, Divine and Jim Jones. This section contrasts and compares them with the teachings of normative Christianity and normative New Thought.
Below we continue the comparative analysis of the three innovative practitioners of the marginal, heterodox expression of New Thought and the teachings of normative Christianity and normative New Thought on Church structure, the supernatural abilities of the Leader, i.e. healings, raising the dead, reincarnation and eternal life, etc.
Mission: While normative Christianity is vast, it does have some general axioms that tie it together in the areas around its self-perceived grand mission in the world: To save human souls from sin for God through the belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the Cross, and thus prepare them for eternal life in Heaven with God and Jesus, and to keep them from the evil clutches of the Devil and eternal damnation in hell with him.
Structure: The Christian Church as a whole is the communion of believers, broadly organized, and generally divided between the clergy leadership and followers referred to as the laity. Most of the religions’ sacred rites and rituals, services and meetings are held in denominational churches or other houses of worship. The broad Christian organization is a self-perpetrating institution based on the various interpretations of the Christian faith as found in the New Testament of the Bible and the experience of 2,000 years of history and practice.
Leadership: The various churches of normative Christianity are led or and administrated by priests, ministers, or other authority figures who are specifically trained in seminaries or other educational structures before being ordained in the faith.
Duties: The primary duty of the clergy is to perform the central ritual of Christianity which is known as Holy Communion. Their other duties consist of administering the denominations, performing rituals such as baptisms, marriages and funerals, preaching the Christian message as understood from the denomination’s specific stance, and performing auxiliary roles as counselors and teachers of the faith.
Powers: Christians believe that they are in a special position, by belief and faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, with his father, God, the all-powerful spirit creator and ruler of the universe. The power of the universe is theoretically accessible to that believer in Jesus, according to the will of God and dependent on the believer’s level of faith. Usually this power is obtainable through a petition to God in the form of prayer. While in theory nothing is impossible for God to grant in Jesus’ name for the believer, such petitions or prayers usually center on the physical, emotional or financial health and welfare of the individual. Prayer is also used to accept or attempt to understand the will of God in cases of extreme personal trail, i.e. death – either one’s own impending death of that of others – either naturally or those caused suddenly due to natural calamities.
In broad Christian mythos it is understood and believed that favorable answers to prayers can, under extraordinary circumstances do fantastical things like reverse death, cause or prevent natural calamities or circumvent the laws of nature or probability. However, believers are generally cautioned in normative Christianity to not make request as motivated in subjective desires to tempt God or his Holy Spirit.
Orthodox New Thought
Mission: New Thought sees its mission as spreading the truth about the ultimate reality to all humans. New Thought metaphysical truth or ultimate reality understands that “Infinite Intelligence” or God is Principle, and that through the collective mind, true humanity is infinite and divine, that spirit or mind is primary, and that the physical, material world is simply Mind in material form. It sees itself as applied Christianity in essence and in fact, as opposed to normative Christianity, which is Christianity in form.
Structure: The orthodox New Thought Movement has no formal structure as such. It is composed of study groups, a few formal churches like the Churches of Religious Science, Unity Churches and the Churches of Divine Science, as well as smaller single congregation groups.
Leadership: There is no organized, recognized or formal leadership of orthodox New Thought, although some formal churches in the movement are structured in ways that approximate the normative Protestant churches of Christianity in form. No priesthood or clergy class exist as leadership over New Thought as a whole and its tenet that every individual is a center of God-consciousness mitigates against the very notion of such.
Duties: The duty of a New Thought devotee is to know oneself so as to know God or universal mind or Principle and to elevate or merge oneself into the totality of it as much as possible.
Powers: As universal mind or Principle or God is in every person, and infinite power over everything is in the reach of the ascended or aware individual.
Heterodox Metaphysical New Thought:
Mission: Heterodox metaphysical New Thought, as discussed in this study, is a movement or school based in New Thought axioms, which posited that certain specific individuals – Father Jehovia, Father Divine and Jim Jones, in particular – embodied the ultimate level of universal mind, Principle or God. It was composed of these leaders and their followers who accepted their leadership claims, embraced their worldviews and collected in a group built around their respective divine leaders’ ministries.
The role of followers was to spread the ultimate truth about the embodied divinity of the respective leader and recruit others who would in turn recognize the leader’s identity and form a community of spiritually-elevated individuals. The mission of such a community, built around the mind of the leader, was to occupy a physical jurisdiction and compose a material and literal utopia on earth in real time.
Structure: The structure of the heterodox metaphysical New Thought movement was based on an extended house commune pattern built around the physical person of the leader.
The structure was flexible and realistic enough to do whatever it had to, in order to fulfill the mission of the leader, even while retaining its house commune structure.
Leadership: The leadership of the heterodox metaphysical New Thought Movement consisted of the individual leader who his followers believe ultimately embodied the highest level of God and those individuals most attuned with him.
Duties: The duty of the heterodox metaphysical New Thought Movement consisted of actions that would produce the results of its mission: To build, sustain and maintain a community, built around the mind of the leader, occupying a physical jurisdiction and composing a material and literal utopia on earth.
Powers: The members in the heterodox metaphysical New Thought Movement believed that their leader embodied the highest level of truth Principle and God, and thus had mastery over the mental and physical aspects of matter. This meant that followers believed their leader could raise the dead, reverse the dying process, and heal any and all sicknesses and conditions. Other paranormal abilities ascribed to the leaders include the ability to read members’ thoughts, to predict future events, to describe members’ past lives, to assist in reincarnations of dying or dead members, and to control the forces of nature, if and when they chose to do so.