Modern Spiritualist Movement; Spiritualist Church:
What's It All About?
Today, many are confused over
all this talk about Spirit and Spiritualism. We have terms such as: Spiritualism;
Modern Spiritualism; Modern Spiritualist Movement; Spiritualist Church.
Are there really any differences amongst these various terms? We think
there are; significant differences at that. So, let us briefly explain how
we perceive and distinguish these various concepts.
The First Spiritual Temple was founded before any organized
Spiritualist Church body came about in the United States. When it did, the
Church leaders approached our founder, Marcellus Ayer,
and requested -- in fact, they insisted -- that he join forces with them.
He chose to remain independent, in order to assure that our Church remain
free to pursue Spiritualism and the New Dispensation
in Spiritualism in a totally open environment.
all: What is Spiritualism?
Spiritualism is a way of
looking at and living life which accepts the reality that we were created,
first and foremost, in God's image as SPIRIT; that underlying all which
appears to be material, there is a spiritual foundation. In other words,
Spiritualism is the opposite of Materialism.
Conan Doyle, in "The New Revelation," says of
"The question which faces us, then, is how will
this influence (Spiritualism) bear upon older organized religions and
philosophies which have influenced the actions of men.
"The answer is, that
to only one of these religions or philosophies is this new revelation
absolutely fatal. That is to Materialism."
Therefore, any religious or
philosophical movement which accepts the reality of the Spirit can be said
to be Spiritualist in nature. One would be very hard pressed to find any religious
movement that does not accept some type of spiritual force and
consciousness underlying and vitalizing the Human person. Therefore,
Spiritualism can be said to be the foundation upon which most faiths and
denominations are built.
Spiritualism -- or
"Spiritual-ism" -- represents any teaching or "ism" of
If this is so, then the
logical conclusion would be that, once a person sheds the body -- through death -- what remains is the
human Spirit. That Spirit
must, then, be free to go somewhere and continue to exist in some manner.
In other words, the material world and its body are temporal, while the
Spirit is eternal. Again, most, if not all, religions preach this basic
tenet of life and death. Many of Saint Paul's letters revolve around this
seeming dichotomy between material/temporal and spiritual/eternal. Jesus
Christ and many other prophets came to help show us this basic truth.
Yet, despite this common
ground amongst the world's religions, we have much confusion and controversy
over the following points:
Where is that "somewhere" to which the Spirit goes,
What type of existence does the Spirit have, once it gets there?
Is there any contact between those of us here, in bodily form, and those
who have passed out of bodily form, through death?
What is a
A Spiritualist is a person who
answers these three basic questions as follows:
At death, the Spirit goes to another realm -- dimension, level of
consciousness, whatever you wish to call it -- of life and existence,
known simply as Spirit or the Spirit world (as opposed to the Material
Once the Spirit passes into the Spirit world, he or she continues to
grow (not physically), mature, learn, relate with others, evolve
spiritually, etc. In other words, what motivates the Spirit while in
earthly form continues to motivate the Spirit in the Spirit world.
This makes perfect sense, if we agree that life continues, unbroken,
sometimes here and sometimes there.
Yes, there is contact between those of us, here, and those in Spirit.
This contact happens primarily -- but not always -- through
A Spiritualist -- and here is another source of
confusion -- can be of any faith or denomination. In fact, Spiritualism
does not belong solely to Modern Spiritualists, any more than Christ
belongs solely to Christians. Christ came to show us all the way back to
God, our Father! Spiritualism helps show us all the truth concerning
Spirit, Soul, and Body.
what is the Spiritualist Religion?
The Spiritualist religion
emerged from a philosophical and spiritual movement which commenced -- in a
more objective form -- in the middle of the nineteenth century;
specifically, March 31, 1848. This movement is called the Modern
Initially, it began in pockets
of light and mediumistic activity throughout the planet. It proclaimed, in
no uncertain terms, the answers to the three questions posed above. And it
did so through the demonstration of Spirit communication -- or mediumship
-- both of the physical and of the mental kind.
Was this movement widely
accepted? No, because it threatened the deeply ingrained Victorian sense of
Materialism. Yet, if you consider what was emerging through such writers as
Thoreau and Whitman, along with such religious movements as Unitarianism
and Universalism, the advent of Modern Spiritualism really should not have
been such a cultural or theological shock. But, it was! Why might that have
The blame must fall, in part,
upon Spiritualists themselves. Something happened to detract the Modern
Spiritualist Movement from its intended course: the medium became the
message! The message of Spiritualism became lost amidst all the phenomena
and hoopla surrounding the medium. The medium -- and what he or she could
do or demonstrate -- became, for all practical purposes, the focal point
around the Movement and its religion. Or, as so eloquently expressed by
Eileen J. Garrett, the mediums became the "High Priests and Priestesses" of
the Modern Spiritualist Movement.
In addition to this, modern
Spiritualists -- in order to affirm their religion -- tended to attack
other religions, especially Christianity and the Christian Church. Even to
this day, there seems to be a rather strong anti-Christian or anti-Church
sentiment amongst many Spiritualist organizations.
is a Spiritualist Church?
A Spiritualist Church is a
church which professes, as its faith and driving force, the religion of
Spiritualism, as manifested through the Modern Spiritualist Movement. Such
churches can be independent, or they can be affiliated with Spiritualist
Church bodies such as this country's National
Spiritualist Association of Churches or England's Spiritualists' National Union.
The degree of religiosity and
Judaic-Christian teaching varies greatly amongst Spiritualist Churches.
Some prefer not to be called Churches at all; rather, centers or societies.
Others shy away from any sense of religiosity or theology. Regardless of
how church-oriented each may be, most Spiritualist Churches have one thing
in common: the focal point of their worship service or meeting is the
demonstration of mediumship; claiming that mediumship represents the proof
of their religion.
does the First Spiritual Temple fall in all of this?
Our Church was founded, first
and foremost, as an Interfaith Church of the Spirit, with strong Christian
links. As an Interfaith Church, we embrace the basic tenets of Spiritualism, rather than
those of the Modern
Spiritualist Movement. We embrace the wonder and mystery of Spiritualism,
from ancient times, along with its modern advent, rather than the religion
which emerged from this advent. Finally, we fully embrace the New
Dispensation in Spiritualism, then and now. We believe that
Spiritualism should never have become its own religion. God and Spirit
intended it to be a gift of the Spirit, and we are all spirit. Thus,
Spiritualism belongs to all religions and faith.
To us, there is absolutely no
conflict between Christianity and Spiritualism; or, between Spiritualism and
and any faith.
Our founder believed that Spiritualism represents the missing link in
Christ's Resurrection, and we agree.
Again, let us quote from Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle's "The New Revelation":
"As to other creeds, it must be admitted than an
acceptance of the teachings brought to us from beyond would deeply modify
conventional Christianity. But these modifications would be rather in the
direction of explanation and development than in contradiction."
Later, he says:
"There are many higher spirits with our departed.
They vary in degree. Call them 'angels,' and you are in union with old
religious thought. High above all these is the greatest spirit of whom they
have cognizance -- not God, since God is so infinite that He is not within
their ken -- but one who is nearer God and to that extent represents God.
This is the Christ Spirit. His special care is the earth. He came down upon
it at a time of great earthly depravity -- a time when the world was almost
as wicked as it is now, in order to give the people the lesson of an ideal
life. Then He returned to His own high station, having left an example
which can still be followed."
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