Handbook of Today's Religions



The Unity School of Christianity was founded by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore. Charles Sherlock Fillmore was born near St. Cloud, Minnesota in 1854. He married Mary Caroline Page (or "Myrtle") in 1881.

The early years of their marriage recorded many financial ups and downs until they finally established a modest real estate office in Kansas City, Missouri. Myrtle's family had a history of tuberculosis and she herself was eventually stricken ill with the dreaded disease. She also contracted malaria and was given, by her doctor, only six months to live.

In 1886, the Fillmores went to a lecture which was to change their lives dramatically. The speaker, E. B. Weeks, said to the crowd that night, "I am a child of God and therefore I do not inherit sickness." Myrtle believed the statement and continued to recite it over and over again. Eventually she was healed.
At first, Charles refused to accept his wife's new technique but he was willing to investigate it, along with other religions. After an extensive study of the science of mind and Eastern religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism, he decided to try his wife's meditation technique. After continued meditation, his withered leg was healed, and he joined Myrtle in founding a new religious system, later called the Unity School of Christianity.

Borrowing heavily from Christian Science and New Thought, (a 19th century metaphysical healing movement developed from the system of mental healer Phineas Quimby), the Fillmores added their own interpretations, including the Eastern concept of reincarnation, and presented their teachings first to the people of Missouri and then to the world. Under pressure from Christian Science founder, Mary Baker Eddy, the Fillmores stopped using terms common to Christian Science.

They did enjoy a long relationship with the New Thought movement, but eventually chose independent status as a religious movement not affiliated with any other religion. The movement went through several names; Modern Thought (1889), Christian Science Thought (1890), and Thought (1891), and eventually took the name Unity in 1895.

Myrtle Fillmore died in 1931 whereupon Charles married Cora Dedrick, his private secretary. Charles Fillmore died in 1948. The leadership of Unity was taken over by the Fillmores' two sons, Lowell and Rickert, and subsequently experienced a rapid growth. Today, Unity has some two million adherents worldwide, with its headquarters at Unity Village, in Lee's Summit, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City.

The Beliefs of Unity

Unity claims that beliefs and belief systems are not important. What matters is that the Unity system works, even if the practitioner doesn't believe everything Charles and Myrtle Fillmore taught. However, in actual practice Unity is a strict religious system with clear-cut beliefs to which all long-term members eventually subscribe.

It was 30 years before Charles Fillmore drew up a statement of faith which was qualified with the following: "We are hereby giving warning that we shall not be bound to this tentative statement of what Unity believes. We may change our mind tomorrow on some of the points, and if we do, we shall feel free to make a new statement" (James Dillet Freeman, What Is Unity?, Lee's Summit, Missouri, n.d., p. 5).

Contrary to Fillmore's statement is the Bible's continued assertion that what a person believes is important. "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36 NASB. See also Hebrews 11:6. [For further documentation on why right belief is vital to the Christian faith, see our work, Answers to Tough Questions, pp. 149-1511].

The basic world view of Unity is that of gnosticism. Gnosticism is a theological term referring to a system of belief that qualitatively separates the spirit from the material. It also believes knowledge is secret and only obtainable by a select few. Gnostics generally believe that what is spiritual is good and what is material is bad. Christian Science, another gnostic cult, goes so far as to say that the material world doesn't even exist!

According to gnosticism, God is impersonal and one's eventual goal is to reach oneness with this impersonal God. Gnostics view Jesus Christ as a human being who possessed, in some great way, the expression or presence of God. To them, Jesus refers to the man and Christ refers to the divine influence. Rather than agreeing with the Bible by declaring that Jesus is the Christ (1 John 5:1), gnostics, including Unity, separate Jesus from the Christ.
Unity is not as interested in theology as it is in prosperity and happiness. A survey of the literature of Unity will clearly show that the stress is on material and worldly happiness, not spiritual happiness.

The Bible

"We believe that the Word of God is the thought of God expressed in creative ideas and that these ideas are the primal attributes of all enduring entities in the universe, visible and invisible. The Logos of the first chapter of the Gospel of John is the God idea of Christ that produced Jesus, the perfect man. We believe the Scriptures are the testimonials of men who have in a measure apprehended the divine Logos but that their writings should not be taken as final" (Unity's Statement of Faith, part 27).

The Scriptures testify to the fact that it is God who is their ultimate author, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Timothy 3:16), " …. When you received from us the Word of God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the Word of God". (1 Thessalonians 2:13 NASB).


The doctrine of God in Unity is similar to that of Christian Science and other gnostic cults. Rather than believing in the Bible's infinite and personal creator, Unity adheres to the belief that God is impersonal.

This can be readily seen by a statement from Myrtle Fillmore. "Though personal to each one of us, God is it, neither male nor female, but principle" (Myrtle Fillmore, How to Let God Help You, 1956, p. 25). The Metaphysical Dictionary, a work of Charles Fillmore states, "The Father is Principle, the Son is that Principle revealed in creative plan, the Holy Spirit is the executive power of both Father and Son carrying out the creative plan' '(Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, p. 629). One Unity publication states, "God is all and all is God" (Unity, August, 1974, p. 40).

Fillmore also said, "God is not loving ... God does not love anybody or anything. God is the love in everybody and everything. God is love ... God exercises none of His attributes except through the inner consciousness of the universe and man" (Jesus Christ Heals, Unity School of Christianity, 1944, pp. 31,32).
The Fillmores and other Unity writers confuse the attributes of God with God Himself. God is more than attributes such as love. He is personal (Exodus 3:14). He is not to be equated with the impersonal "everything" for He has a separate existence apart from creation (Isaiah 44: 1-28; Romans 1:18-25). Unity would deny Him His rightful position as creator, sustainer, and Lord of the universe.

Jesus Christ

"The Bible says that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, but the Bible does not here refer to Jesus of Nazareth, the outer man; it refers to the Christ, the spiritual identity of Jesus, whom he acknowledged in all his ways, and brought forth into his outer self, until even the flesh of his body was lifted up, purified, spiritualized, and redeemed, thus he became Jesus Christ, the word made flesh.

"And we are to follow into this perfect state and become like Him, for in each of us is the Christ, the only begotten Son. We can, through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and example, bring forth the Christ within us, the true self of all is perfect, as Jesus Christ commanded his followers to be" (Unity, Vol. 57, no. 5, 464, and Vol. 72, no. 2, p. 8).

The Bible states however, "Who is the liar, but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ. . ." (I John 2:22). Jesus was called the Christ from the time of his birth (Luke 2:11, 26). The only way one can be born of God is to believe that Jesus is the Christ (1 John 5:1).

Unity teaches that within all of us there is an "inner Christ," equated with perfection, a divine awareness (Elizabeth Sand Turner, What Unity Teaches, Lee's Summit, Missouri, n.d., p. 9). All of us are capable of attaining that "inner Christ," that divine awareness and perfection.

The New Testament maintains that Jesus is different from us by the fact that He is God by His very nature: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). Jesus Christ is the unique Son of God (John 1:14). No one else can be the Son of God as Jesus Christ is the Son of God (John 5:18-23). He alone is the "image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15), the "radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature" (Hebrews 1:3).


In Unity, salvation is unnecessary: "There is no sin, sickness or death" (Unity, Vol. 47, No. 5, p. 403). There is no need for the death of Christ on the cross to take away sin. Unity said of the atonement of Christ, "The atonement is the union of man with God the Father, in Christ. Stating it in terms of mind, we should say that the Atonement is the At-one-ment or agreement of reconciliation of man's mind with Divine Mind through the superconsciousness of Christ's mind" (What Practical Christianity Stands For, p. 5).

Here again we have Unity in direct contradiction to the Bible that acknowledges sin as a reality, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Furthermore, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). If a person does not come to Christ for salvation he will be lost in his sin, "For unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins" (John 8:24 NASB).


Unity's statement of faith shows that they believe salvation involves reincarnation. "We believe that the dissolution of spirit, soul, and body caused by death, is annulled by rebirth of the same spirit and soul in another body here on earth. We believe the repeated incarnations of man to be a merciful provision of our loving Father to the end that all may have opportunity to attain immortality through regeneration, as did Jesus. This corruptible must put on incorruption" (Unity's Statement of Faith, Article 22).

Reincarnation teaches that only through many lifetimes can one rid himself of the debt for all of his sins. However, the Bible teaches that through Jesus Christ we can be rid of all of our sins at one time (1 John 1:8-10). His purpose for dying on the cross was as a sacrifice for our sins (Acts 3:18, 19).

Jesus Christ is the only Savior we ever need because "He abides forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:24, 25). We have the promise of God Himself that our salvation has been guaranteed through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross (I Peter 1:2-6).


Another major tenet of Unity is that no one need be poor. Charles Fillmore, in his book Prosperity (p. 69), perverted the 23rd Psalm in expressing this belief.

"The Lord is my banker, my credit is good. He maketh me to lie down in the consciousness of omnipresent abundance; He giveth me the key to His strongbox. He restoreth my faith in His riches; He guideth me in the paths of prosperity for His name's sake. Yea though I walk in the very shadow of debt, I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me: Thy silver and Thy Gold, they secure me. Thou preparest a way for me in the presence of the collector; Thou fillest my wallet with plenty; my measure runneth over. Surely goodness and plenty will follow me all the days of my life; And I shall do business in the name of the Lord forever."

The message of the Bible concerns our spiritual prosperity, not our material prosperity. As Christians, our desires are to be transformed spiritually by faith in Jesus Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The greed and self-centeredness exhibited by Fillmore's poem is in direct contradiction to the humility and God-centeredness the Bible teaches. If one's central desire is to serve the Lord and to express His love to others, one's material needs diminish and material prosperity doesn't even matter.

The Apostle Paul put it like this:

Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who Strengthens me ... And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:11-13,19 NAS).


The Unity School of Christianity has no right to use the name Christian to describe its organization, for it is decidedly not Christian. Unfortunately, many Christians read the publications of Unity without realizing it is a non-Christian cult denying the basic beliefs of Christianity. in the first publication that proceeded from the Fillmores, the non-Christian basis was revealed when they said, "We see the good in all religions and we want everyone to feel free to find the Truth for himself wherever he may be led to find it" (Modern Thought, 1889, p. 42). In contrast to this, Jesus of Nazareth said, "I am the Way, and the Ruth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but through me" (John 14:6 NASB). It is clear that Unity and Christianity are opposed to each other on the basic issues with no possible way of reconciling Unity as being part of Christianity.

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Handbook of Today's Religions