What makes Unity different?
The following may be the best single-page introduction to Unity available today. Written by Rebecca Whitecotton in 1997, she summarizes the three key things that differentiate Unity from other Christian churches. They are:
- Who we believe Jesus was
- How we practice what Jesus taught
- Our openness to other teachings
These three items provide a framework for evaluating Unity's claim to be "a link in the great educational movement inaugurated by Jesus Christ" and our proclamation that "Metaphysical Christianity is an authentic and distinct expression of the historic Christian faith."
Unity is a link in the great educational movement inaugurated by Jesus Christ; our objective is to discern the truth in Christianity and prove it. The truth that we teach is not new, neither do we claim special revelations or discovery of new religious principles. Our purpose is to help and teach mankind to use and prove the eternal Truth taught by the Master.
— Unity Co-Founder Charles Fillmore, as quoted on page 1 of every Unity magazine
While almost any Christian church would agree to describe itself using these words of Charles Fillmore, it is the myriad interpretations of "truth" which differentiate the denominations. What makes Unity's interpretation of the truth different from other Christian churches, especially the fundamentalist churches which call Unity heretical?
The charges of heresy stem from Unity's belief concerning who Jesus was. Rather than being the only son of God, Unity teaches that Jesus was a "wayshower," one of many "sons of God" who was able to overcome his humanity by fully manifesting the Christ spirit within him. According to Unity, we are all children of God, with the same potential for manifesting our innate divinity.
In addition to teaching about the life of Jesus, Unity concentrates on what it sees as the lessons that Jesus taught. Much of what Unity teaches is built upon the creative power of the mind, in which thoughts are powerful tools which can create health, prosperity and success. Unity is focused on prayer, which can be described as a process to supercharge an individual's powerful thoughts by connecting them to the divine will. Prayer and meditation are concentrated on developing a connection to God, or a personal experience of the divine.
In addition, Unity embraces many of the "truths" found in other religions, and it looks upon reincarnation as a theory worthy of consideration. Overall, Unity aims to be a positive and optimistic religion which shuns fear, damnation and religious authority. Unity encourages people to believe its interpretation of the truth of Jesus not because the church teaches it but because they have been able to prove it in their daily lives.
Source: Seeking Unity: a sociological analysis of factors which draw spiritual seekers to the Unity Church of Christianity. Rebecca Gittrich whitecotton.