Fillmore's Unity Church
Issue No. 204
In the early 1900’s a new Pentecostal movement began with the outpouring of the Spirit in Topeka, Kansas. This occurred at a Bible school started by Charles Parham. The outpouring occurred on New Year’s Day 1901. Five years later (1906) the Azuza Street “revival” occurred, out of which was formed the Assembly of God denomination.
At the same time, a counterfeit movement was started under the auspices of another man named Charles. It was Charles Fillmore, who started the Unity Church. His movement was much like Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science Church. Both were metaphysical movements, and they confused metaphysics with spirituality.
Metaphysics tries to reduce all spiritual things to natural laws that can be utilized by any man without the need for Jesus Christ. All one has to do is to learn those laws. Knowledge became the key. Psychology became the path. The rule of the soul replaced the spirit as a counterfeit way of salvation. They used the biblical terms but redefined them in metaphysical terms.
Thus, they founded “scientific” religions, where God was not a Person, but an impersonal force. Nature became God, and the laws of nature became the rule of life, the path of healing and immortality. Jesus Christ was presented as the Great Teacher and Example, but His role as the Sacrifice for sin was denied. To them, sin itself was not a fact, but an illusion, and the way to deal with man’s problems was to change one’s consciousness. The mind then became paramount. Hence, the soul ruled.
To Fillmore and others, denial of all “illusions” like sin and disease was at the core of their religion. They tried not to tip their hand by actually telling people that they were denying Scripture. Instead, they simply ignored all the Scriptures that disagreed with their beliefs. They were even careful to quote as many Scriptures as they could in order to put on the appearance of being Christian.
Unity’s View of the Bible
In the Unity Church’s answer to the question, “What is the Place of the Bible in Unity Teachings?” we read,
“The Bible is Unity’s basic textbook. It is accepted as a body of history, as a moral and ethical teaching, and as a great literary work. Beyond this, Unity finds deep significance in the Bible through the metaphysical interpretation, wherein the names of places and people and their experiences symbolize the unfoldment of human consciousness.”
They claim the Bible as their textbook, but they do not use it as their authority. They try to find passages that they can use to supposedly prove their beliefs. Whatever they disagree with, they ignore.
Unity’s View of Sin
They also answer the question about sin, saying,
“Sin is our separation from God in consciousness, caused by our belief in the ‘devil’ or a power other than God, the good. This belief leads to our unwise use of God-given powers and abilities. Salvation is now—not something that occurs after death. It happens whenever we turn our thoughts (repent) from fear, anxiety, worry, and doubt, to thoughts of love, harmony, joy and peace. The ‘fall’ takes place in consciousness whenever we fall into negative habits of thinking.”
In other words, salvation is something that happens in a person when he turns from negative thinking. As long he thinks good thoughts, he is “saved.” Like Adam, he “falls” when he thinks negative thoughts. Sin is a matter of consciousness, not a violation of God’s law where we commit an act of offence against God or our fellow man.
Fillmore says on p. 60 of his book, Jesus Christ Heals,
“Sin is the result of desire manifesting itself in erroneous ways and may be compared to the errors of the child working a problem in mathematics. When the error is discovered and there is a willingness to correct it, under the law of forgiveness man erases it as easily as the child rubs out the false figures in his exercise. Thus in spiritual understanding, the I AM of man forgives or ‘gives’ Truth ‘for’ error; the mind is set in order and the body healed. The moment man realizes this he puts himself in harmony with the Truth of Being, and the law wipes out all his transgressions.
“In denying the reality of sin, send out your freeing thought to others as well as to yourself…
“The way out of this maze of ignorance, sin, and sickness is through man’s understanding of his real being, and then the forgiving or the giving up of all thoughts of the reality of sin and its effects in the body.”
In other words, sin is not real. It is only an illusion. The problem is not sin; the problem is consciousness of sin through the conscience. The problem is feelings of guilt, not actual guilt. As he says on page 59, “forgiveness is a change of mind or repentance.” There is no need to obtain forgiveness or justification in a Divine Court of law. It is only a psychological change of mind.
Thus, for Fillmore, the conscience is the problem—not the violation of law that made us guilty and activated the conscience to tell us so. Thus, conscience is not a good thing, but our enemy and the enemy of salvation. Fillmore shows us his logic on page 59, saying,
“There is no power and no reality in sin. If sin were real and enduring, like goodness and Truth, it could not be forgiven but would hold its victim forever. When we enter into the understanding of the real and the unreal, a great light dawns upon us and we see what Jesus meant when He said, ‘The Son of man hath authority on earth to forgive sins.’ The Son of man is that in us which discerns the difference between Truth and error.”
Is it true that there is no power and no reality in sin? He did not get that from the Bible, but from his own carnal mind. Paul says in 1 Cor. 15:56 and 57,
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
If God had put away His law, then certainly there would be no more power of sin, for sin is only sin where there is a law. “Where there is no law, neither is there violation” (Rom. 4:15). God did not put away the law; He paid its full penalty on the cross and thereby upheld it.
Fillmore, of course, puts away God’s law, making Christ’s death on the cross unnecessary. His logic is that if sin were real, then it would be eternal. He does not recognize Jesus’ work on the cross by which He dealt with sin and made it temporary. Jesus had the authority to forgive sins because He paid for them with His life—not because the “Son of man” in all of us has the power to dispense with wrong thinking.
If one denies the reality of sin, then this completely changes one’s concept of atonement. Fillmore writes on page 40, “Realization means at-one-ment.” In other words, atonement is a mental process called “realization,” that is, becoming aware that there really is no sin at all. Atonement is not something accomplished for mankind at the Cross; it is “at-one-ment”—something that has always been there and only needs to be remembered or realized.
On page 55 he explains it further,
“I now fully identify myself with my body even as with my soul and spirit, thus making the at-one-ment.”
It makes no difference what the “atonement” means in the English language. We must define the word by its Hebrew concept as it is used in the Bible. The Hebrew word is kaphar, which means “to cover (sin).” The Day of Atonement has to do with the blood of the goat (i.e., Christ) sprinkled on the mercy seat to COVER our sin. This is in contrast to the work of the second goat, whose job was to REMOVE sin. (See Lev. 16.)
Fillmore has no concept of covering sin, because he does not think sin even exists or has any reality. Sin is all an illusion, so for him there is nothing to cover. The first goat represents Jesus Christ in His first work on the Cross. Thus, Fillmore denies the entire purpose for the Cross, the blood of Jesus Christ, and His sacrifice for sin. Fillmore has faith in Christ as Teacher, but he has no faith in Christ as Sacrifice for sin. Thus, he was no Christian, for he was not justified by faith in the blood of the Lamb.
And yet he was one of the most influential religious teachers of the twentieth century. Yet he is largely unknown, because his influence is indirect. Others have made his teachings their own without mentioning his name, and most do not know where these Bible teachers received the prosperity doctrine.
Faith and Positive Thinking
To us, prayer is a conversation with the Creator of the universe—a real and personal God. To Fillmore, God is impersonal, a set of scientific laws which any man may learn and utilize, regardless of what religion he professes. He says many times that there are no miracles. What appears to be miraculous is only the power of the mind in one who has learned to control the laws of the universe.
Since prayer requires faith, we must see how Fillmore defined faith. He does this in Jesus Christ Heals, p. 101,
“God must have had faith in order to ideate the universe before it was created; and man, being like God, must base his creations on faith. Faith is innate in man…It is by works of faith that we develop our consciousness and heal ourselves…
“That is what faith is. It is the consciousness in us of the realities of the attributes of mind. Before we can have the substance of faith, we must realize that the mind creates realities.”
In other words, faith is positive thinking. Strong faith is strong positive thinking—even to the point of demanding what one desires. To Fillmore, such demands were made to an impersonal God who is more like a field waiting to be plowed, sown, and reaped. There is nothing wrong with manipulating a field. Farmers do it every time they sow and reap a field.
The problem comes when we use that method with a personal God. Then we end up manipulating God, trying to make Him do our bidding. Faith then becomes a matter of us telling God what He ought to do for us, according to our soulish idea of “good.” Men usually start with the idea that God wants us to be healthy, wealthy, and wise, and then they demand all of these things from God. They do not realize that God is primarily interested in causing us to grow spiritually. He is only secondarily interested in making us healthy, wealthy, or wise.
Self-Deification: Commanding God
I have often heard people quote Isaiah 45:11 to prove they are supposed to command God to do things for them.
11 Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, “Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons, and concerning the work of My hands, command ye Me.”
Fillmore quotes this on page 28 of his book, Teach Us to Pray. The way it is worded in the KJV, it looks like we are told to give orders to God, and this is how Fillmore interprets it. But this is entirely wrong. The context shows that this is a question, not a statement. God was telling us precisely the opposite. In the context, God is establishing His sovereignty, saying in verse 9 that men should not strive with their Maker.
9 Woe to him that striveth with his Maker; let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioned it, “What makest Thou?” or thy work, “He hath no hands!”
In other words, potsherds should strive with potsherds. And the clay (man) should not question God or insult Him by saying that he is handicapped, having no hands.
In that context, God asks a question in verse 11: “concerning the work of my hands, command ye ME?” In other words, God says, “I am the Creator, and these are the work of My hands. What gives you the right to command Me or tell Me how to govern the universe?”
We are the clay. We have no right to tell God how to fashion the clay. We have no right to tell Him how to govern the universe. Who do we think we are?
Thus, the meaning of Isaiah 45:11 is precisely the opposite of what some say it means. God indignantly questions men’s pride in thinking that they can command Him in matters concerning His creation. Men like Fillmore turn this verse around and say that this is precisely what God wants us to do! This is unbelievable. It is the height of man’s pride. It is the soul exalting itself above God Himself. It is Babylon exalting its throne above the stars, as in Isaiah 14:13, 14,
13 But you said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.
Fillmore turns the Creator into an impersonal, dead god and then exalts man to the position of commanding this dead god, as if man were the only god of the universe. It is the spirit of Babylon, a counterfeit religion that overthrows the Creator and places man on the throne.
True Prayer by the Holy Spirit
Many years ago (about 1980) I realized that most of my prayer life was either telling God something that He already knew or asking Him for something that He may not want to give me. It occurred to me that my prayer life sounded a lot like a child begging his parents to buy him toys and candy. As a parent, I knew how destructive it would be if I gave my children everything they wanted. In their immaturity, they had little idea what was actually good for them and what was not. God is a good parent, and He is raising up children.
There is certainly a place for letting our requests be made known to God (Phil. 4:6). But to pray without first knowing the will of God is the most childish manner of prayer. If we do not know God’s will in a matter, we ought to pray, “Thy will be done.” In this way we make it clear that our will is subject to the Divine Will, and that we are not exalting ourselves above Him.
When I first began to realize that my prayer life was like an immature child begging my Father for things, I suddenly did not know how to pray any more. So I asked Him, “Father, teach me to pray.” He answered. And what an answer it was!
He took me out of the ministry (1981) to teach me how to pray, and by 1982 I discovered that He is the God who still speaks to man. See my book, Hearing God’s Voice. During the next decade I learned about idols of the heart which cause us to hear our own carnal mind rather than the true voice of God. I learned that heart idolatry is the biggest problem in prayer. In our spiritual immaturity, we simply do not know what is best for us. I learned that I had enrolled in God’s school where He trained many people in the Bible.
Then in the early 1990’s I learned one of the most important prayer lessons of all—the Amen Principle. I learned that most prayer time ought to be spent in seeking to know the will of God—and then claiming that by faith. Faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10:17). If we “name and claim” that which God promises, then we may lay claim to it by a genuine faith.
True faith is simply saying Amen to what God says first. Man initiates positive thinking. God initiates faith. When man thinks he knows what God ought to do, he names it and claims it by the power of positive thinking. But when God gives a man a revelation of His will, and man believes what God has revealed, he says “Amen” to it and claims it by true and genuine faith.
Unity’s View of Prayer and Affirmation
Fillmore redefined prayer as “affirmation.” It is not petition; it is commanding God to do something. Or rather, it is commanding the universe, the impersonal Divine Mind, to obey our commands and make us prosperous.
After all, how can one pray to a non-Person? One cannot really pray to an impersonal God. Belief in an impersonal God means that one must simply command nature to do his bidding. And if we have enough “faith,” nature will do our bidding. Men will be healed. We will get rich. We will become popular with others. All these good things will happen to us, because we command nature (“God”). We are gods.
In the Forward of his book, Jesus Christ Heals, Charles Fillmore says that his religion is. . .
“…based on universal mental and spiritual laws that anyone can utilize who will comply with the conditions involved in these laws. This inquiry has led to the conclusion that man and the universe are founded on mind and all that changes for good or ill are changes of mind.”
Fillmore honors Jesus as the great Teacher who knew how to use these laws of nature. Fillmore says on page 5 of Jesus Christ Heals,
“Although the Bible repeatedly refers to the creative power of the Word, men have not dared to think that the creative law is universal and could be taught to any man who would discipline his thoughts and words and center them on God-Mind. Jesus gave His whole attention to God, so much so that He claimed He did not even originate the words that He spoke; they came from the Father. By careful thinking and wholehearted concentration on God, Jesus made such complete union with creative Mind that His body was transformed in the presence of His disciples.”
Fillmore would have us believe that any man can learn these laws and achieve the transfiguration without faith in the blood of the Lamb of God.
Fillmore uses the term “God” and “Father,” but he defines them impersonally here as “God-Mind.” On page 25 of the same book, he defines God:
“God is power; man is powerful. God is that indescribable reservoir of stored-up energy that manifests no potency whatever until set in motion through the consciousness of man…”
Thus, to Fillmore, God is just a reservoir of energy, and it has no power at all except “through the consciousness of man.” This is the root of the proposition that God is dead. It really means that God is non-personal. Fillmore goes on to tell us on page 29,
“Spirit is not matter, and Spirit is not person. In order to perceive the essence of Being we must drop from mind the idea that God is circumscribed in any way or has any of the limitations usually ascribed to persons, things, or anything having form or shape.”
He then quotes the second commandment about not making any graven images, as if to say that if God is a person, then we are making a graven image of Him! That is utter nonsense. On page 34 he says,
“The fundamental basis and starting point of practical Christianity is that God is principle. By principle is meant definite, exact, and unchangeable rules of action.”
This is Fillmore’s clearest definition of “God.” His god is simply an unchangeable rule of action. This is not the God of the Bible. It is another god, a soulish counterfeit that confuses soul with spirit. As Fillmore says on page 49 of Jesus Christ Heals, “the mind is the seat of perfection.”