What is Unity?
Overview of Unity
Unity describes itself as a worldwide Christian organization which
teaches a positive approach to life, seeking to accept the good in all people and events,
and as beginning as a healing ministry and healing has been its main emphasis for over 100
years. It teaches that all people can improve the quality of their lives through
Unity describes itself as having no particular creed, no set dogma, and no required ritual It maintains that there is good in every approach to God and in every religion that is filling someone's needs. Its position holds that one should not focus on past sins but on the potential good in all.Unity emphasizes spiritual healing, prosperity and practical Christianity in its teachings.
Illness is considered to be curable by spiritual means, but Unity does not reject or resist medical treatments. It is an inclusive faith that welcomes diversity of belief. Unity is accepting of the beliefs of others.
FIVE BASIC IDEAS
Five basic ideas that Unity sets forward as its main belief system are:
1. "God is the source and creator of all. There is no other enduring power. God is good and present everywhere."
2. "We are spiritual beings, created in God's image. The spirit of God
lives within each person; therefore, all people are inherently good."
3. "We create our life experiences through our way of thinking."
4. "There is power in affirmative prayer, which we believe increases our connection to God."
5. "Knowledge of these spiritual principles is not enough. We must live them."
Unity is devoted to demonstrating
that the teachings of Jesus Christ can be lived every day. Unity's basic position is that
the true "Church" is a "state of consciousness in mankind."Unity teaches that each
person is a unique expression of God, that each person is sacred, and each person is
worthy. Unity emphasizes the creative power of thought in people's experience, and encourages taking personal responsibility to choose life-affirming thoughts, words and actions, holding that when people do this, they experience a more fulfilling and abundant life.
Emilie Cady's 1896 book Lessons in Truth, A Course of Twelve Lessons in
Practical Christianity is considered a core text of Unity.
God is understood as spiritual energy which is everywhere present and is available to
all people. In the Unity view, God is not a being in the sky who is capable of anger. The
presence of God only seeks to express the highest good through everyone and
everything.According to Unity founder Charles Fillmore, God is spirit, the loving
source of everything. God is one power, all good, wisdom, everywhere present. God is
Divine Energy, continually creating, expressing and sustaining all creation. In God we live and move and have our being.
Unity proclaims the divinity of Jesus,but also proclaims that we are all children of God and share that divine potential. Unity believes that Jesus expressed his divine potential and sought to show others how to do the same. Unity sees Jesus as a master teacher of universal Truth and one who demonstrated the Way.
Unity uses the term "Christ" to mean the divinity in all people. Jesus is the
great example of the Christ in expression. The Nature of Humanity Unity teaches
that we are individual, external expressions of God. Our essential nature is divine and
therefore we are inherently good. Our purpose is to express our divine potential as
demonstrated by Jesus. The more we awaken to our divine nature, the more fully God
expresses in and through our lives. Salvation, in the Unity view, is found in
conscious understanding of one's innate divinity and then putting this knowledge into practice in everyday life.
Unity founders, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore,
studied the Bible as history and allegory. They interpreted it as a metaphysical
representation of each soul's evolutionary journey toward spiritual awakening. Unityunderstands the Bible as a complex collection of writings compiled over many enturies.
The Bible is a valuable spiritual resource, but is understood as a reflection of the comprehension and inspiration of the writers and their times.
Affirmative prayer is understood, in Unity, as the highest form of creative
thought. It includes the release of negative thoughts and holding in mind statements of spiritual truth. Through meditation and prayer, we can experience the presence of God.
Prayer and meditation heighten our awareness of truth and thereby transform our lives. Prayer is valuable not because it alters the circumstances and conditions of your life, but because it alters you. Unity teaches that it is helpful to pray with the belief that we have already received all that we need. In this view, through prayer the mind is renewed and the body transformed. The awareness that we are conscious creators of our lives, has the power to make the bridge between the old Christianity where we are "sinners" to the new understanding that we are "learners." The Unity school of Christianity holds that prayer is not a way to inform God of one's troubles or to change God in any way, but rather, prayer is properly used to align with the power that is God.
RELATIONSHIP TO CHRISTIANITY
Although Unity is not a traditional Christian teaching, the foundations are based on the teachings of Jesus and the Bible. Unity stresses its agreements, not differences, with other Christians.
Unity considers itself to be a nonsectarian educational institution although Unity ministers do complete a prescribed program of courses and training. Due to the interdenominational nature of Unity, its influence extends beyond its membership.
Well known persons affiliated with Unity include Betty White, Eleanor Powell, Wally Amos, Licensed Unity Teacher Ruth Warrick, Barbara Billingsley,Theodore Schneider, Erykah Badu, Matt Hoverman, author Victoria Moran, Patricia Neal, Holmes Osborne and Esther Williams. In March 2008 Maya Angelou stated that she planned to spend part of the year studying at the Unity Church. In 2005 she attended a Unity Church service in Miami and decided that day to "go into a kind of religious school and study" on her 80th birthday. Author Marianne Williamson is an ordained Unity minister, and served a Unity church in Detroit in the 1980s and 90s.