Charles Fillmore is, along with his wife Myrtle, the founder of the Unity movement, or Unity church, a movement within the New Thought movement. It was back in the 1880s, and he became known as an American mystic for his contributions to spiritualist interpretations of Biblical scripture.
Charles Fillmore was born on August 22, 1854, in an Indian reservation near St. Cloud, Minnesota, where his father was a Chippewa trader. When he was ten he broke his hip in an ice skating accident, and that left him with lifelong disabilities.
When he was young he studied Shakespeare, Tennyson, Emerson and Lowell as well as works on spiritualism, Eastern religions, and metaphysics, although his formal education was modest.
Mary Caroline Page, known as Myrtle, was born in Pagetown, Ohio on October 6, 1845. They met in Denison, Texas in the mid-1870s, and married in Clinton, Missouri on March 29, 1881. Charles was a railroad freight clerk, and Myrtle was a school teacher suffering from recurring tuberculosis. They had three sons.
In 1884 they came to Kansas City; they invested what little money they had in real estate, and they lost it. In 1886, Charles and Myrtle attended New Thought classes held by Dr. E. B. Weeks. Subsequently Myrtle recovered from her tuberculosis, and Charles began to heal from his childhood accident, and they both attributed their recoveries to use of prayer and other methods learned in Weeks’s classes.
Charles became a student of philosophy and religion, and in 1889, he left his failed real estate business to focus entirely on a prayer group that would later be called ‘Silent Unity’. The same year Charles and Myrtle launched the Modern Thought Publishing Company, and the Unity School of Christianity was established in 1914.
They started a magazine called Modern Thought, and Unity Magazine was first published in 1891. Their preaching, printing and broadcasting were combined with their Unity Inn’s vegetarian meals; Charles had no intention of making Unity into a denomination, but his students wanted a more organized group, so he and Myrtle were among the first ordained Unity ministers in 1906.
In 1929 Unity moved to Lee’s Summit, Missouri, to what eventually became over 1300 rolling acres named Unity Village in the 1950s, and the name remains today. It became their world headquarters, with a landmark Unity Tower.
Myrtle died in 1931. Charles later remarried, and he died in 1948, but the Unity Churches continued, growing into a worldwide movement.
Teachings and Philosophy
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore’s beliefs are centered around two basic propositions: that God is good, and that God is available; in fact, God is in you.
According to the official website of the Unity, they studied the Bible as history and allegory and interpreted it as a metaphysical representation of humankind’s evolutionary journey toward spiritual awakening. Their philosophy is that all religions teach truth:
The “Christ” is that part of God that is in every person. There is a spark of divinity within all people, just as there was in Jesus.
Charles Fillmore wrote: “It is not necessary that you despise the scriptures of the Jews, of the Hindus, or of any people, but you are to take them for what they are: the records of men as to what their experiences have been in communing with the omnipresent God.” He also stated that the Holy Spirit was not a personal being, but rather only an impersonal force. He wrote: “The Holy Spirit in Divine Mind corresponds to our thought in our minds. So we can ideate the unlimited Divine Mind, but when this Mind is brought into our world or consciousness it is limited to our conception of it”.
In his book Christianity Healing, Charles wrote these quotes at the end of the chapters, meant as summarizations and points of meditation:
- God is the name of my good.
- God is the name of the everywhere Principle, in whom I live, move, and have my being.
- I am the son of God, and the Spirit of the Most High dwells in me.
- I am the only begotten son, dwelling in the bosom of the Father.
- I am the Christ of God.
- I and my Father are one.
- I am one with Almightiness.
- God is good, and God is all, therefore I refuse to believe in the reality of evil in any of its forms.
- My perfection is now established in Divine Mind.
- Holding continuously to the reality of things spiritual establishes them in mind — they become mental substance.
- I see the light of Christ consciousness always.
In his other, better known book, The Twelve Powers of Man, he says that the subconscious realm in man has “twelve great centers of action, with twelve presiding egos or identities”, and each of them has control of a certain function in soul or body. The list of the Twelve, the faculties that they represent, and the nerve centers at which they preside are:
- Faith -Peter – center of brain
- Strength – Andrew – loins
- Discrimination or Judgment – James, son of Zebedee -pit of stomach
- Love – John – back of heart
- Power – Philip – root of tongue
- Imagination – Bartholomew – between the eyes
- Understanding – Thomas – front brain
- Will – Matthew – center front brain
- Order – James, son of Alphaeus – navel
- Zeal – Simon the Cananaean – back head, medulla
- Renunciation or Elimination – Thaddeus – abdominal region
- Life Conserver – Judas – generative function.
Essentially, these are the 12 abilities that everyone possesses, and the Unity relies on them to this day to help their members feel more fulfilled, centered and in charge of their life.
- The Twelve Powers of Man
- Christian Healing: The Science of Being
- Atom-Smashing Power of Mind
- Mysteries of Genesis
- Dynamics for Living
- Mysteries of John
- Talks on Truth
- Keep A True Lent
- The Revealing Word
- Teach Us to Pray
- Jesus Christ Heals
Imagination gives the man the ability to project himself through time and space and rise above all limitations.
The Inexhaustible Resource of Spirit is equal to every demand. There is no reality in lack. Abundance is here and now manifest.
The one and only formative power given to man is thought. By his thinking he not only makes character, but body and affairs, for “as he thinketh within himself, so is he”.
All causes are essentially mental, and whosoever comes into daily contact with a high order of thinking must take on some of it.
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