Now Featured in the Patheos Book Club
The History of New Thought:
From Mind Cure to Positive Thinking and the Prosperity Gospel
By John S. Haller, Jr.
What People Are Saying
Haller's work on New Thought history is an engaging and welcomed addition to a recent trend of new books on the subject. The tapestry that is the history of New Thought is as varied and eclectic as the nation in which it was born. Haller pulls these threads together in a compelling fashion that gives the reader a deeper appreciation for the unique cultural context that gave rise to New Thought. Haller provides more than a historical review of where we emerged from; he also takes an honest look at how it happened. As such this book, more than any other in this genre, provides valuable insights into what the New Thought movement has become as it has both shaped and been shaped by the American psyche. I believe The History of New Thought will quickly become required reading for anyone who wants to know not only where New Thought came from, but also where it might go and grow from here.
—Rev. David F. Alexander, senior minister, New Thought Center for Spiritual Living, www.newthoughthistory.com, www.revdavidalexander.com
The popularity of the so-called "Prosperity Gospel" in modern American evangelicalism and the proliferation of exponents of this adaption of Christian teachings have fascinated religious researchers for decades. But are there antecedents to this phenomenon that can help us understand its methods and motivations? Indeed, there is a long and complex history behind this movement, and in this fine work, author Haller (Swedenborg, Mesmer and the Mind/Body connection: The Roots of Complimentary Medicine) takes us into the heart of the uniquely American set of spiritual doctrines known as "New Thought" and shows how such thinkers as Emanuel Swedenborg, Mary Baker Eddy, and Norman Vincent Peale have affected the way we view religion and, indeed, God. Haller concludes that "New Thought marked a triumph of voluntarism, a vindication of religious freedom, and scorn for all forms of authoritarian creeds." As such, it synthesizes the individualistic impulses of centuries of ecclesiastical radicals and serves it up in a distinctly American religious tradition. Haller, a historian at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, artfully and persuasively pulls together a complex history and shines a much needed light on a seductive and popular religious movement.
—Publishers Weekly, October 8, 2012