sciences, as most writers and healers called the New
Thought movement, meant demonstrable results could be
obtained by personal practice.
Fox went on to write about a dozen books and
pamphlets, his most famous being Sermon on the Mount:
The Key to Success in Life (Harper & Row, 1934), which sold
more than 600,000 copies.
Fox felt a natural affinity for practical Christianity and
expressed a desire to become a Unity minister. He regarded
Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore as one of the great
prophets. Yet despite Fox’s considerable success, Fillmore
wouldn’t ordain him because Fox hadn’t attended the
ministerial training program at Unity. However, Rev. Nona
Brooks, cofounder of Divine Science, was quite willing to
waive the formal requirements, so Fox ultimately became
a minister of Divine Science. He went on to become one of
the luminaries of the New Thought movement, his works
regularly studied in Unity churches to this day.
Many of us in Unity consider Fox “the one who
got away.” In fact, the old “Exceptions” review team,
which considered applications for Unity ministry from
otherwise qualified folks who had not graduated from
Unity Institute (including me), was irreverently dubbed
the “Emmet Fox Committee.”
Fox’s journey to New Thought took a circuitous route.
As a young boy, he discovered he could heal using the
laying on of hands (although he didn’t continue this after
becoming a minister). His father, a surgeon and member
of the British Parliament, died before Fox was 10. Born an
Irish Catholic, Fox was educated at the Stamford Hill Jesuit
College near London and became an electrical engineer.
The Jesuit Order has a much-deserved reputation for open-
mindedness, systematic thinking, and academic rigor,
tools Fox applied to his speaking and writing for the rest
of his life. He encountered New Thought in his teens and
began a lifelong study of practical Christianity, although he
struggled with the call of full-time ministry and seriously
considered remaining an electrical engineer.
Yet after the success of his first metaphysical talk in
London in 1928, he decided to go ahead and make the
switch to teaching and writing. He originally had the
idea to move to Russia to work, but when he received the
guidance through prayer to travel to America, he went
west. Truth teacher Florence Scovel Shinn (whom he’d met
previously in London) invited him to substitute for her
regularly scheduled talks in New York City while she was
on a six-month vacation. He accepted the offer and soon
became a sensation.
In rather short order, he was asked to become the
successor to James Murray as the minister of the Church of
the Healing Christ. Although audiences would have stayed
for hours to hear his enthralling lessons, Fox’s sermons
and meditations were models of British tidiness, never
exceeding 20 minutes.
His frequent traveling companions Herman Wolhorn
and his wife Blanche Wolhorn witnessed how Fox once
unknowingly captivated diners at a restaurant, as Herman
Wolhorn described in his book Emmet Fox’s Golden Keys to
Successful Living and Reminiscences (Harper & Row, 1977).
Fox was enthusiastically describing the popular Broadway
play Green Pastures to the couple during dinner, Herman
noted, when people from the other tables began gathering
closer to Fox so they could hear what he was saying. Even
the waitresses became totally absorbed in the story and
momentarily stopped serving to listen. When Fox finished,
Herman remarked that there were enough people around
them paying attention to Fox to start a metaphysical
meeting. As Fox turned around, everyone applauded.
South African scholar Maré Venter, who wrote her
doctoral dissertation about Fox, notes that although
he never married, he had progressive opinions about
women’s equality, especially for the time. “He thought
highly of women,” she writes, “and said that ‘the more
women were emancipated, the more civilization and
Fox also found a strong following in the members
of Alcoholics Anonymous. His secretary’s son worked
with AA cofounder Bill Wilson, and as a result of this
association, many AA members in the early days of the
organization would go to hear Fox speak after AA meetings.
Emmet Fox served New Thought Christianity by raising
people from the darkness of self-doubt to the bright
sunlight of God’s one presence/one power. He wanted to be
Unity, and serving as a Divine Science minister and author,
he did great work for all humanity. He never stopped giving
people their golden keys to better living.
ABOUT THE DIFFICULTY,
WHATEVER IT IS, AND
THINK ABOUT GOD
INSTEAD. THIS IS THE
COMPLETE RULE …”