"The Practice of the Presence of God is the whole of Divine Science."
--Nona Brooks, Co-Founder of Divine Science
with Fannie B. James & Alethea B. Small
Divine Science has two roots, one in San Francisco and the other in Denver. Malinda Cramer from San Francisco, California had a revelation that preceded a similar experience to Nona Brooks in Pueblo, Colorado. Malinda Cramer stands out as a healer who turned to the Divine with the phrase: "Is there any Power in the vast Universe that can heal me?" and this began an odyssey into Divine Science which was then the commonly used expression to describe New Thought. A couple of years after her healing, she attended Emma Curtis Hopkins' classes in San Francisco and this inspired her to begin teaching on her own.
In 1885, Malinda Cramer had been an invalid for almost 25 years. Suddenly without comprehending why, Malinda said, "I will not see another physician." She was asked what she would do and responded "Get well of course." Later, through meditation and prayer she understood "that if I ever got well, it would be by the power of the Holy Spirit... There is one way out of these conditions. I must seek that way, the Truth of the presence of Spirit". This was the dawn of a new understanding of the nature of God, "an all absorbing realization of a presence and a power not before realized. This presence was more than personal, it was Omnipresence...it was real, and permanent. It was so vivifying and illumining I knew I was one with it....It was a "consuming fire" in that all things became it, and were this One Presence manifested."
In Malinda's case she was not healed instantly, but "at once saw the unreality of the condition of dis-ease and was free from the belief that they had any power or could control for either good or evil." She later wrote in Divine Science and Healing that "the ax was laid at the root of the tree and the old conditions passed away as fast as I disowned the old habits of belief."
Malinda's experience led to her becoming a teacher as well. She describes a day of treating seventeen patients and subsequently feeling "the passing from and the blending of the individual into the Universal Spirit of Consciousness" (pg. 24, Divine Science and Healing) and understanding "the true relation existing between Cause and Effect....the Unity and at-one-ment existing in the Mind Infinite, its actions and the result of action....that God never thought without producing form, that the universe of form was within Omnipresent Being. this consciousness of Being was the actualization of the Truth of the Allness of God." (pg. 25, Divine Science and Healing)
Malinda Cramer describes the "Law of Expression" as the foundation of "Unity; it proves that we are All-Good in Being, at one with God; we proceed forth in perfect action at one with him and in perfect result at one with His result or creation." She describes the Trinity as Creator, Creative Action and Creation which can enable humanity to free itself from false genetic or cultural belief in separation from God.
Malinda & Frank Cramer founded the "Home College of Divine Science" in 1888 "for educational, ethical and religious purposes; for instruction in Divine Science and its therapeutic application --Christ method of healing." Later in August of that year, Cramer founded the magazine Harmony which had on its cover, "A monthly magazine of Philosophy devoted to Truth, Science of Spirit, Theosophy, Metaphysics and the Christ Method of Healing." The Magazine carried selections from many world religious traditions and news of the developing New Thought Movement. Four years later the International Divine Science Association was founded on May 17,1892.
It is debated as to whether Malinda Cramer was influenced by the literature of the times, yet it should be noted that since 1875 Mary Baker Eddy had been teaching the principles rediscovered by Phineas Quimby. Eddy taught these principles under the name Christian Science. It should also be noted that Warren Felt Evans popular book The Mental Cure had been published in 1869 which was 19 years prior to the foundation of the "Home College of Divine Science." The idea that universal principles of healing were behind the teachings and miracles demonstrated by Jesus was an idea that was as old as Christ. Mrs. Cramer demonstrates in her memoir that she had read the Bhagavad Gita, Kabbalah, Jacob Boehme and many of the other popular spiritualist and mystic literatures of the time. Cramer's monthly magazine: Harmony presented selections from a variety of world faiths.
Turning to the Brooks sisters in Denver, it is interesting to note that they can be connected to Myrtle and Charles Fillmore (founders' of Unity) through the time the Brooks sister were living in Pueblo, Colorado where Charles Fillmore was a partner in the same real estate firm as Alethea Brooks Small's husband James.
The Colorado Branch of Divine Science began with an encounter with the "teacher of teachers" Emma Curtis Hopkins by a friend of one of the Brooks sisters, Mrs. Bingham. Bingham had journeyed to Chicago for a medical consultation and was told she needed an operation. She rejected this and found her way to Emma Curtis Hopkins who was teaching High Mysticism. This led to her healing and when she returned to Denver she began to teach what she had learned in Chicago. The Brooks sisters attended her classes and on the third day Nona was healed of a severe throat ailment. Nona said "the room was filled with light and thought that everyone shared her vision." When she told everyone that she was healed they thought she was simply doing an affirmation but in fact, Nona had been healed. Other healings deepened her awe and faith in the power of the God as related through the teachings that she was learning. Her faith found a solid foundation when she witnessed the healing of an old miner in front of her eyes. Nona had found unshakeable proof of the Divine Power of God and thus began her healing ministry through the same New Thought principles that later inspired mystic Ernest Holmes to write Science of Mind. In contrast to Religious Science which draws heavily on the teachings of Christ but does not call itself a Christian denomination, Divine Science, like Unity, is a Christian denomination that teaches practical, reasonable living based on the omnipresence of God. Divine Science is a love based teaching based on the premise that God is Spirit, omnipresent, the one and only Spirit behind, in, and through all things, visible and invisible. Divine Science teaches that as we apply our spiritual understanding to our daily needs, God will provide the answers to any challenges we face.
The Brooks sisters were enthusiastically greeted by the laity of Denver but the hierarchy of their local church became concerned with this demonstration of the power of Divine Healing and thus rejected the sisters despite the evidence. This caused some to say that the same reaction was given to the Brooks Sisters which had been given to Jesus almost 2000 years before them and to many mystics since Jesus.
Nona's sister Fannie began teaching classes at her home and corresponding with Malinda Cramer.
Nona Brooks and her two sisters Althea Brooks Small, and Fannie Brooks James were enthusiastic about the fact that Malinda Cramer's teachings were basically the same as their own and asked if they could share the name Divine Science which was the name that Cramer was using. Thus in 1898, ten years after Cramer founded her school in San Francisco, the Brooks Sisters incorporated the Divine Science College in Denver to educate teachers and practitioners, organize churches and ordain ministers. Thus began a collaboration which lasted until Cramer's death in 1907.
When Malinda Cramer and the Brooks sisters came together, there was a spirit of unity, harmony and cooperation in Divine Science. Today we have at least three factions within Divine Science. There is the Divine Science Federation which has its main school in Washington D.C., the Brooks Divinity School which is still in Colorado and United Divine Science in Texas. The latter two factions do not currently belong to the Divine Science Federation and neither accepts credits from the other school.
Divine Science is part of the New Thought movement. Divine Science emphasizes that God/Good exists in every person and through understanding and focusing on God/Good a person can transform his or her self and life.
New Thought is a term that comes from the mystic teaching, most perfectly embodied by Christ that as we renew our thoughts we transform ourselves. ("As you believe, so shall be done unto you.") New Thought is a Practical Spirituality which is rooted in the timeless traditions of the mystic paths that are universally found throughout the world. New Thought in America emerged in the 1800's with the work of Phineas Quimby and the Transcendentalist movement. New Thought is an inclusive tradition that is united in the understanding that there is only one power, this power is God. God is all Good and the manifestation of evil comes from the acts and choices of individuals and groups of people who have gone astray from the truth of our unity with God and each other. Christ taught there are two commandments "Love God with all your heart and soul and love your neighbor as yourself." This is rooted in the understanding that we are all one and what we do to another being we are ultimately doing to ourselves.
This basic premise of New Thought, that God is Good and Omnipresent is based upon principles of Universal Law as demonstrated and taught by historical figures such as Buddha, Danika, Lao Tzu, and embodied most perfectly in the person and teachings of Jesus the Christ and Wayshower. As mentioned above, New Thought is inclusive and draws on the wisdom of all traditions that teach the truth of our Unity with God/Good and the omnipresence of God/Good.
New Thought teaches that as we embrace the truth of the omnipresence of God, we become conscious that we are in Unity with God and begin expressing this through love and creativity. The goal of New Thought is to bring ones body/mind/emotions into harmony with the ideals of loving kindness and peaceful resolution of any situation. Each individual has the choice to transform his or her consciousness and through this to find the way to peace and happiness. This is achieved through personal responsibility and awareness of Gods Presence through the development of a personal Spiritual Practice rooted in the understanding of our Unity with God.
In New Thought, the appearance of disharmony is considered to be demonstrative of the manifestation of an inner belief of separation from God or a distraction from focusing on the presence of God. When we maintain a focus on God and Good then disharmony dissipates and wholeness is restored.
New Thought is an ancient tradition that has been deepened and illuminated through teachings of mystics throughout the World.
New Thought offers all spiritual seekers the means to achieve inner peace and transform outer circumstances through the understanding that as "we change our thinking, we change our lives."
~We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of Charles Braden's Spirits in Rebellion for some of the material used in this history.