The Rise of Secular Religion in America
May 30, 2008
In the late 1700's there arose an interest in science. The invention of the cotton gin in the 1790's single handedly made slavery profitable again in America and ensured that slavery would continue for decades. Then in the 1820's the steam engine was invented, and the Industrial Revolution began. Napoleon's army in Egypt had brought home the Rosetta Stone with strange writing on it, and they finally cracked the code to reading hieroglyphics in the 1830's. The Age of Archeology was born.
Men began to think of science as the answer to the world's troubles. Science might be the path to utopia.
In the mid-1800's Darwin's theory of evolution offered people a "scientific alternative" to creationism. This view was seized upon by the secular Socialists of the day. Religion came under serious attack, not by guns but by competing ideologies. It was not long before the "scientific method" began to be applied in religious seminaries, and many professors began to question the validity of Scripture. If towns or people mentioned in Scripture had not yet been found in secular accounts through archeology, these professors proclaimed that the Bible was mythological. They confidently assumed that archeology had already unearthed everything of any importance without finding any evidence to substantiate the Bible. Most of these early assertions, of course, were disproved in later years, but nonetheless, the damage was already done by the time the science caught up to the Biblical assertions.
Out of this came a strange marriage between religion and secular science, promoted largely by men in the secret societies who were already oriented toward the religious pursuit of immortality and world religion.
Thus arose new "scientific religions," which based their religious belief systems upon secularism and upon "science." Jesus Christ was reduced to a mere historical figure. The NT stories of miracles were said to be myths and propaganda for the superstitious. His death on the cross had nothing to do with paying for the sin of the world, but was merely a historical tragedy or, at best, an example of how a hero might have the courage to die for the sake of "truth" or "freedom."
Mary Baker Eddy published her book, Science and Health, in 1875, proposing the idea that the physical creation is really only spirit, and our view of the physical is mere illusion, or error. By denying the reality of physical matter, they attempted to create a spiritual science. Out of this came the idea that sickness could be healed by the power of spiritualized thought, known today as "positive thinking."
In this, they deviated from pure secular science, which denies the spiritual realm altogether. But her theory of spirit laid the groundwork for one of the most pernicious counterfeits in the Christian world today. In denying the existence of the physical, she laid the foundations for proclaiming God's creation as illusory. Though she started with the basic assumption that God is good and God is spiritual, her theories of physical illusion and spiritual reality undermined the relevance if not the very existence of God in the earth today.
From the idea that matter was all an illusion, it was very easy for men to recall the ancient Greek view that said matter was evil. Thus, her very theory of matter, supposedly based upon all things being good, actually had an opposite and unintended effect.
The next major religion coming out of this stream of thought was Charles Fillmore's Unity Church, which taught "scientific Christianity." His Church was founded in 1889, and he attempted to redefine biblical words and concepts to make them more "scientific" (actually, atheistic). Like Eddy, he recognized the realm of spirit, and taught that all ills are the result of wrong thinking. He denied the existence of sin as an offense against God and man, and defined sin as mere "error" in thinking. The solution, then, was not that Jesus Christ would come to be the Sacrifice for sin, but that Jesus Christ would come to teach us how to stop thinking of ourselves as sinners.
Fillmore died in 1948, and his Metaphysical Dictionary was published in 1959. Under the heading of "Sin," we read this:
"Sin (error) is first in mind and is redeemed by a mental process, or by going into the silence. Error is brought into the light of Spirit and then transformed into a constructive force. 'Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind' (Rom. 12:2).
"Through the Christ Mind, our sins (wrong thinking) are forgiven or pardoned (erased from consciousness). When we have cast all sin (error thought) out of our mind, our body will be so pure that it cannot come under any supposed law of death or corruption."
The comments within the parentheses are his, not mine. So he clearly taught that sin was "wrong thinking" and "error thought." The idea of being forgiven or pardoned for sin is not a judicial act, but rather a personal act of forgetting it, or pretending that it does not exist, or treating the sin as if it can be transformed into a good thing by the power of positive thinking.
Fillmore does not deny the existence of "God," but he redefines God out of existence. Science itself had already elevated the human mind to the position of a god, replacing the Creator Himself. Fillmore turned the carnal mind into the only true spiritual power in the universe. Thus, he replaced God with the human mind, which Paul calls the carnal mind.
By the power of the mind, he taught, a man can find forgiveness. All he has to do is suppress any "sin consciousness" that might afflict his conscience with guilt. The solution to "sin" is not to right the wrong, but to suppress the guilt to the point of forgetting that it ever happened. The final result of Fillmore's teaching was that the problem of sin was not sin itself, but "sin consciousness." The solution was then to "renew" (manipulate) the mind by treating the sin-offense as if it were all just a big illusion, which can be erased from one's conscious memory by positive thinking.
Of course, any victims of the crime (sin) might not be able to forget the offense quite so easily.
To Fillmore, faith was just positive thinking. Though he couched his teaching in biblical terms, his Metaphysical Dictionary redefined those terms in a "scientific" atheistic manner. In essence, Fillmore was an atheist in that he cast the Creator off His own throne and replaced Him with the human mind.
Fillmore wrote the original book on the Prosperity Doctrine. In the Foreword to his book, Prosperity, he wrote the purpose of his religion: " . . . [W]e shall be able to reconcile the discoveries of modern science with the fundamentals of religion."
He taught the old Greek view of mind and matter, where the human mind was spiritual and good, and matter was carnal and evil. The Greeks did not distinguish between the carnal mind and the spiritual mind, because they did not understand the difference between the first Adam and the Last Adam. In recognizing only a single mind within us, they ended up worshiping the mind as if it were spiritual. So also with Fillmore.
The Apostle Paul taught the Hebrew view of creation. The Hebrew view, as expressed in Genesis 1, is that God is the Creator of all things, including "matter." Matter is not evil, nor is it an illusion. It is, of course, an expression of spirit, and ultimately is made of "God-Particles," but that makes it real and good, NOT an illusion that is evil. It does not glorify the Creator to teach that His creation is all an illusion, or that man must arrive at truth by refusing to recognize what He has created.
To be continued.
Dr. Stephen Jones