Emma Curtis Hopkins

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Portrait of Emma Curtis Hopkins from High Mysticism.
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New Thought

Emma Curtis Hopkins (September 2, 1849 – April 8, 1925 age 75) was an American spiritual author and leader. She was involved in organizing the New Thought movement and was a primary theologian, teacher, writer, feminist, mystic, and prophet who ordained hundreds of people, including women, at what she named (with no tie to Christian Science) the Christian Science Theological Seminary of Chicago. Emma Curtis Hopkins was called the "teacher of teachers" because a number of her students went on to found their own churches or to become prominent in the New Thought Movement.


Emma Curtis Hopkins was born Josephine Emma Curtis in Killingly, Connecticut, in 1849 to Rufus Curtis and Lydia Phillips Curtis.[1] She married George Irving Hopkins on July 19, 1874. Their son, John Carver, was born in 1875 and died in 1905.


Hopkins was initially a student of the Christian Science of Mary Baker Eddy, who claimed to have found in the Christian Bible a science behind the alleged healing miracles of Jesus which could be practiced by anyone. She would afterwards (see below) leave Christian Science to develop her own more eclectic form of metaphysical idealism, known later as New Thought with, like it, certain mystical traits of Gnosticism, though Hopkins felt much freer to make affinities with Theosophy and a wide variety of Eastern teachings.

Differing from Eddy's lead in speaking of God as both Mother and Father, Hopkins conceptualized the Trinity as three aspects of divinity, each playing a role in different historical epochs: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Mother-Spirit or Holy Comforter. Hopkins believed (as did Eddy, though not as parochially) that spiritual healing was the Second Coming of Christ into the world, and this was the hallmark of her early work. Hopkins also believed more specifically that the changing roles of women indicated their prominence in the Godhead, signaling a new epoch identified by the inclusion of the Mother aspect of God.

While Phineas Parkhurst Quimby is sometimes described as the founder of New Thought, he died in 1866, and New Thought did not formally organize until Hopkins brought together and focused the national movement in 1886-88 with the base in Chicago. Her first work, Class Lessons 1888, ignited flash points for organized New Thought. She later authored Drops of Gold and Scientific Christian Mental Practice (1888) as well as a prolific body of written work. She was acclaimed for the giftedness of her personal lectures. Those that heard her speak noted her charismatic oratory. Her magnum opus, High Mysticism, is perhaps best read after familiarity with the groundwork of her other writings. She authored the International Bible Lessons in the Chicago Inter-Ocean newspaper (1887–94, an apparent echo of the Bible Lessons central to Christian Science). Hopkins is often referred to as the "Teacher of teachers" or "The mother of New Thought." Those who studied with Hopkins included the Fillmores, founders of Unity; Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science; Malinda Cramer and Nona L. Brooks, founders of Divine Science; and Harriet Emilie Cady, author of Unity's cornerstone text Lessons in Truth.

Relation to Christian Science and work with Mary Plunkett[edit]

Hopkins' earliest record in Christian Science appears to be her role in the expulsion of Clara Choate for promiscuity around 1884; Hopkins would some months later become acting editor of the Christian Science Journal (though she was never a Christian Science teacher), then in just over a year be relieved of the post for an editorial syncretizing too wide an Asian influence for Eddy's identification with Christianity.[2]

Eventually won over to the influence and ambitions of Christian Science dissident Mary Plunkett, she told her original Christian Science practitioner that if Eddy did not give her the next Normal class and authority over all of Christian Science west of Buffalo, "I will sweep her off the face of the earth."[3] She had earlier criticized A.J. Swartz for plagiarism of Eddy's work but, with Plunkett's help, went on to edit Swartz's magazine for a period before going into business with Plunkett.

Hopkins and Plunkett appropriated the term Christian Science for both their magazine's and institute's names. This term was beginning to come into its early great success with Mrs. Eddy. Hopkins and Plunkett believed the term appropriately described their work, in spite of their breach with its founder and her emphasis on a Christian subjugation of the human mind to the Divine. They sought to gain adherents from Eddy's base, including Joseph Adams.

Plunkett would again ask Eddy for a division of Eddy's Christian Science movement, with Eddy to yield everything west of the Mississippi, and took offense at Eddy's rebuff.[4] Hopkins and Plunkett would in time take in other disaffected students of Eddy, such as Ursula Gestefeld, who were dissatisfied with either the teachings or Eddy's promotional schemes.[5]

Hopkins went on to teach the Fillmores, after which she would finally drop use of the term Christian Science (which the Fillmores would also use, then subsequently drop).

Plunkett, however, tried to borrow visibly from her own past ties to Eddy to build a following in New York City. She fell into public disgrace after the scandal of her parting with her husband John, who had fathered neither of her children, in favor of a free love relationship with A. Bentley Worthington. Within a month after her adoption of his name Worthington was exposed as an embezzler and multi-state bigamist. Plunkett moved to Australia, where she committed suicide.[6]

Hopkins went on to found the Emma Hopkins College of Metaphysical Science, which focused on training women as spiritual leaders. Hopkins believed that mankind was supposed to live through three spiritual ages, corresponding with the Holy Trinity. God the Father represented the patriarchies of the past. God the Son represented Jesus Christ and the freeing of human thought. The present age of God the Holy Spirit would place women in charge. Hopkins thought of the Holy Spirit in terms of the Shekinah, the Mother Comforter.[7]

Her ideas about spiritual healing and the soul's relationship with God have been adopted by some mainstream religious movements including the International Order of St. Luke the Physician which was founded by an Episcopal priest. She wrote many books on these subjects. Her last student was Ernest Holmes. She died at her home in Connecticut in 1925.


Among those who studied with Emma Curtis Hopkins were:


(This is a partial list of her work. References from www.worldcat.org and Google Books )

  • A golden promise. Publisher: Pittsfield, Mass. : Sun Print. [192-]
  • According to thy faith. Baccalaureate address. Bible ...
  • All is divine order. Publisher: Pittsfield, Mass. : Sun Printing, 1925.
  • Awake thou that sleepest. Publisher: Pittsfield, Mass. : Sun Print. [192-?]
  • Bible instruction series.
  • Bible interpretations. These Bible interpretations were given during the early nineties at the Christian Science theological seminary at Chicago, Illinois. Publisher: (Pittsfield, Mass., Sun Printing Co., 1925) (Available online)
  • Bible interpretation from the book of Job : in three lessons. Publisher: Roseville, Calif. : High Watch Fellowship, [19--]
  • Bible Interpretations Series 1–14; available online: (Series 1–3) (Series 4–6) (Series 7)
  • Bible lesson 1-35.
  • Bible Lessons 1925.
  • Bible lesson 1927.
  • Bible lesson, no. 1. Publisher: Pittsfield, Mass. : Sun Printing, 1925-1927.
  • Bible lessons. Publisher: Pittsfield, Mass., Sun Printing Co., 1925
  • But one substance. Publisher: Pittsfield, Mass. : Sun Print. [192-?]
  • Christ at Samaria. Publisher: Pittsfield, Mass. : Sun Printing, 1925.
  • Christian mysticism and the victorious life : first study, the sacred edict and estoric discipline. Publisher: Baltimore : Williams & Wilkins Co., 1914.
  • Class lessons, 1888. Publisher: Marina del Rey, Calif. : DeVorss, 1977.
  • Continue the work. Publisher: Pittsfield, Mass. : Sun Print., 1925.
  • Drops of gold. Publisher: Roseville, CA : High Watch Fellowship, 1970. (Available online)
  • Emma Curtis Hopkins 2011. This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923.
  • Esoteric Philosophy Deeper Teachings in Spiritual Science. ISBN 0945385218, 2009
  • Esoteric philosophy in spiritual science.
  • First lesson in Christian Science. Publisher: [S.l., 1888]
  • For unto us a child is born. Publisher: Marina Del Rey, CA : DeVorss & Co. Publishers, [199-?] (Available online)
  • God and man are One. Publisher: Pittsfield, Mass. : Sun Print. [192-?]
  • High mysticism. Publisher: New York : E.S. Gorham, 1924.
  • High mysticism : a series of twelve studies in the inspirations of the sages of the ages. Publisher: Philadelphia, Harper Prtg. Co., 1920-22.
  • High mysticism : studies in the wisdom of the sages of the ages. Publisher: Cornwall Bridge, Conn. : Emma Curtis Hopkins Fund, 1928-35.
  • High mysticism : a series of twelve studies in the wisdom of the sages of the ages. Publisher: Santa Monica, Calif. : DeVorss, 1974.
  • How to attain your good. Publisher: Kansas City, MO. : Unity Tract Society, [1898-1914]
  • Jesus and Judas. Publisher: Pittsfield, Mass. : Sun Print. [19--]
  • Judgment series in spiritual science. Publisher: Alhambra [Calif.] : School of Christ Teaching Sanctuary of Truth, [19--]
  • Justice of Jehovah. Publisher: Pittsfield, Mass. : Sun Printing [19--]
  • Magic of His name. Publisher: Pittsfield, Mass. : Sun Printing, 1927.
  • Pamphlets. Publisher: Cornwall Bridge, Conn. : High Watch Fellowship, [1945]
  • Résumé : practice book for the twelve chapters in High mysticism - first sent forth in 1892. Publisher: Cornwall Bridge Conn. : Emma Curtis Hopkins Fund, 1928.
  • Scientific Christian mental practice : founded upon the instruction of Emma Curtis Hopkins : lesson two, "Denials of science.". Publisher: [S.l. : s.n., 19--]
  • Scientific Christian mental practice. Publisher: Santa Monica, Calif. : De Vorss, 1974.
  • Scientific Christian mental practice, founded upon the instruction of Emma Curtis Hopkins. Lesson one "The statement of being." Publisher: [Seattle, Metaphysical News, 193-?]
  • Scientific Christian Mental Practice. Publisher: Cosimo Inc 2009.
  • Self treatment. Publisher: Roseville, Calif. : High Watch Fellowship, [19--] (Available online)
  • Sixth lesson in Christian Science : from the private lessons. Publisher: Chicago : Purdy Pub. Co., [1887?]
  • Spiritual law in the natural world. Publisher: Chicago, Purdy Pub. Co., 1894.
  • Studies in high mysticism : the magia Jesu Christi. IV. Faith. Publisher: Baltimore : Williams & Wilkins, 1924.
  • Teachings of Emma Curtis Hopkins. Publisher: Cornwall Bridge, Conn. : High Watch Foundation, [19--]
  • Tenth lesson in Christian science. Publisher: Chicago : Christian Science Publishing Co., 1891.
  • The bread of life Publisher: Pittsfield, Mass. : Sun Print., 1925.
  • The chief thought. Publisher: Pittsfield, Mass. : Sun Print., 1925.
  • The gospel series in spiritual science : an uncovering of the mystic connection that underlies your own true relation with God as Christ, your own eternal self, through these lessons, you come into a fuller, richer, expression of life not dependent upon the accident of opportunity. Publisher: Alhambra, CA : School of Christ Teaching, Sanctuary of Truth, [1976?]
  • The Gospel Series: Uncovering the Mystical Connection That Reveals...
  • The key to power. Publisher: Kansas City, MO. : Unity Book Company, 1895, 1894.
  • The ministry of the Holy Mother. Publisher: Cornwall Bridge, Conn. : Emma Curtis Hopkins Fund (Available online)
  • The radiant I am. Publisher: Cornwall Bridge, Conn. : High Watch Fellowship (Available online)
  • The real kingdom. Publisher: Pittsfield, Mass. : Sun Print., 1925.
  • The resurrection of Christ. Publisher: Kansas City, MO. : Unity Book Company, 1893.
  • Two great lessons. Publisher: Alhambra, Calif. : Sanctuary of Truth, 1977.
  • Who are drunkards. This Bible interpretation was given during the early nineties at the Christian Science Theological Seminary at Chicago, Illinois. Publisher: Pittsfield, Ma., Sun Printing Co. [n.d.]
  • Your idea of God. Publisher: Pittsfield, Mass. : Sun Printing, 1927.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harley (2002), p.7.
  2. ^ Robert Peel, Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Trial, pp. 177-79.
  3. ^ Peel, p. 354 note 77.
  4. ^ Peel, p. 227.
  5. ^ Peel, pp. 231, 234-235.
  6. ^ Peel, p. 260-262
  7. ^ Gail Harley, Emma Curtis Hopkins: forgotten founder of New Thought, p. 82.


  • Gail M. Harley, Emma Curtis Hopkins: Forgotten Founder of New Thought (Syracuse University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-8156-2933-8)
  • Gail M. Harley, Women Building Chicago 1790-1990: A Biographical Dictionary (Indiana University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-253-33852-2).
  • Robert Peel, Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Trial, 1876-1891, The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1971, ISBN 0-87510-117-8.

External links[edit]