The New Thought movement is based on the teachings of a 19th-century thinker by the name of Phineas Quimby. Quimby was a self-proclaimed healer and a follower of Mesmer, the hypnotist. Quimby believed that illness in the body originated in the mind and that bodily illnesses could therefore be overcome with the “Truth.” His idea was that, if the mind was corrected of wrong thinking, the body would be cured of its diseases and problems.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, was a patient of Quimby’s, and some of his ideas appear in her theology. She shared the idea that disease in the body is caused by problems in a person’s thoughts. Another offshoot of the New Thought movement, which was mostly spread by Quimby’s writings, is the law of attraction, which is essentially the belief that thought can bring things into existence—that by thinking you are successful or rich or talented you will become successful or rich or talented.
Among the main beliefs held by followers of New Thought is the assertion that “true human self-hood is divine.” Within this we see the original lie that Satan told man: through knowledge of good and evil “you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5). Satan appealed to man on the basis of man’s desire to attain divinity and to control his own destiny. The New Thought movement appeals to people on the same basis, enchanting followers with the lie of divine potential.
New Thought ideology is directly opposed to biblical teaching. We cannot create our own reality by “positive thinking” or become healthy by declaring ourselves to be so. The reality is that disease of the body is a result of the fall of creation. Adam’s sin brought death and decay into the world (Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12). We are created beings, part of creation, and therefore the chaos brought into nature by sin also affects our natural bodies. We are susceptible to viruses, injuries, old age, auto-immune disorders, genetic and hormonal malfunctions, deformities, and death—all because of sin’s entrance into the perfect paradise God originally planned for us (Genesis 3:17–19; Romans 8:19–22). There is no escaping this curse; it affects every person who has ever lived, in one way or another. Despite the pain and illnesses we endure throughout our lives, God’s promise of redemption through Jesus Christ is our hope (Psalm 16:5–11; Romans 5:2; Colossians 1:27).