MB writes: “A friend is in a ‘prayer group’ called Mastermind. Do you know anything about it? She describes it as a discernment and self-discovery group.”
A Mastermind group is something like a 12-step program in that it involves reliance on a higher power – in this case, the “Master Mind,” in order to surmount obstacles to success in business and/or other areas of life.
The concept is deeply rooted in the New Age. It originated with Napolean Hill, author of the enormously successful bestseller, Think and Grow Rich. A founding member of the New Thought movement, which is the forerunner to today’s New Age movement, Hill believed in the so-called “law of attraction” which is based on the belief that a person can create their own reality just by thinking it into existence.
Hill first introduced the concept of the “master mind alliance” in his 1920 book, The Law of Success, which preceded Think and Grow Rich. In it, Hill described the mastermind group principle as “The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose in the spirit of harmony.” He continues, “No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind [the master mind].”
In other words, the “Master Mind” is a kind of god that is created by the fusion of the thought of two or more people.
This is in keeping with the pantheistic theology of the New Thought movement which posits that God is a Universal Mind (not a personal being) which manifests itself equally within all of creation. There is no such thing as original sin, Satan or evil, which is why there is no need for Jesus Christ. Followers of this philosophy also believe that true human selfhood is divine, that sickness originates in the mind, and that “right thinking” has a healing effect – a belief system that forms the basis of a plethora of New Age self-help and motivational programs today.
Enter Jack Boland (now deceased), a Unity minister from Warren, Michigan, who condensed the main principles of Hill’s idea into a form more useful for today.
However, before I go any further, it’s important to note that Unity is not a Christian church regardless of the way it presents itself. It was founded by Charles Fillmore (1854-1948), who dabbled in spiritualism, Eastern religions and the occult. Together with his wife, the two became involved with the Church of Divine Science which was also part of the New Thought movement. The two were healed of physical maladies and became convinced that the use of prayer and other methods was what cured them. They eventually founded a new “church” – called Unity – which teaches no particular creed and believes that people can improve the quality of their lives by the power of thought.
It’s not surprising that Boland, who came from this background, would be the person to take Hill’s “master mind alliance” and synthesize it into what he believed was a “scientific method of focusing the power of thought for the specific purpose of establishing a direct connection with the Master Mind,” according to this website.
“Through the Master Mind Principle, you combine your own strength with that of at least one other person – as well as that of a Higher Power. . . . The Master Mind Principles also teaches that other like-minded individuals can believe for you – AND ACCEPT AS TRUE FOR YOU – things you may find difficult to conceive or believe for yourself. Some churches have incorporated the Master Mind prayer into their Sunday services in order to grow the church or bring about other positive changes.”
Many Mastermind groups appear to be more concerned with helping people to succeed in business, but the spiritual component is present even in these groups.
“We hold masterminding as a spiritual – not religious – endeavor as it definitely involves a recognition of a power greater than ourselves – the power of the Mastermind. Somewhat like a 12-step group – there is an element of surrender to the process,” explains Jan Carothers, who has been a member of a weekly breakfast mastermind group for 14 years.
Some groups are more prayerful, such as those that are run by Rev. Sherri James who ends all meetings with a series of prayers such as, “I come to believe that a power greater than myself – the Master Mind – can change my life” and “I realize that erroneous self-defeating thinking is the cause of my problems, unhappiness, fears and failures.”
Regardless of the Christian veneer, these groups are steeped in classic New Age thought mixed in with a little 12-step reliance on a “higher power” – and are not compatible with Christianity.