Religious Innovation and Church-Sect Theory

How Unity Developed and What is Unity's Future

The Research Study

To the right you will find links to a 2014 independent study which provides a framework for understanding how novel religious movements (sects) emerge and how they garner resources to become successful churches. It is an academic study and many readers may find it complicated and difficult to read. But it should be useful to those who do research in religious studies.

The implications for New Thought and Unity

In time you will find on this page an analysis of what the research means for New Thought and Unity. It is likely to make the following points:

  • New Thought and Unity emerged because it provided simple and effective solutions for people who were challenged by fear-based evangelicalism, incomprehensible theological liberalism and crude materia medica.
  • The development of New Thought branches has been hampered by the tendency of sects to become churches, which usually complicates and hinders the effectiveness of a religious movement.
  • The congregational model is broken because congregants have alternative means of obtaining religious benefits, such as clubs, friendships, virtual communities, counseling and coaching and personal study.
  • A new and simplified religion, based on these alternative means, will allow New Thought and Unity to break free from the the sect-church model and deliver religious benefits in novel ways. Oprah and other digital media content, combined with study group communities, will supplant much of what we have known as congregational ministry.

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