Unity co-founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore considered the Bible to be the basic text of Unity. Some Unity folk read the Bible, others do not. You are not required to read the Bible! Developing an open mind and heart towards it might allow you to encounter some wisdom which could be very helpful in your life. So many of us have "issues" with the Bible because we find it to be confusing, frightening, inconsistent, and downright vicious in places. A case is easily made for each of those charges, so why on earth would we claim it?
We do not accept that the Bible is the literal word of God. We teach that the Bible is a collection of texts written by humans about their relationship with Source. It is an attempt to put into words that which is wordless, so parables, myth, poetry, and other texts have been collected and passed down through the generations. We believe that the Bible is best understood as a collection symbolic wisdom. Charles Fillmore taught that the Bible is the story of our journey from forgetfulness of our True Identity through our journey back into awareness, and on to the creation of the New Earth.
The symbolism of the Bible is very important to us: thoughts are represented by people, earthquakes can represent those times when we feel like everything is shifting underneath our feet, wandering in the desert represents our own times of not-knowing, and birds can represent Divine Ideas. Metaphysically interpreting the Bible can seem daunting, yet we start simply, and learn to listen and read in a contemplative manner, developing "eyes to see and ears to hear."
If you are interested in learning more about metaphysical Bible interpretation, you might start by reading "The Ten Commandments" or "The Sermon on the Mount" by New Thought author Emmet Fox, or by reading "Discover the Power Within You" by Unity minister, Eric Butterworth. At this time, we recommend the New Revised Standard Version, and many of us also utilize the Scholar's Version of the Five Gospels, by the scholars of the Jesus Seminar. Some of us have found the version of the Bible translated by George Lamsa from the Aramaic to be very helpful.
An Example: The Beatitudes
As an example of how we might look at the Bible metaphysically, the following is taken from "Your Hope of Glory", by Elizabeth Sand Turner, presenting Fillmore's ideas on the Beatitudes:
'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
This is the first of the eight great statements called the Beatitudes. Each statement says that we shall be blessed when we attain certain attitudes of mind. The "poor in spirit" are people who relinquish their human concepts that they may learn from God. The intellect of humankind is marvelous indeed; yet, if we are to attain divine wisdom we must be humble (poor in spirit) toward Him and willing and eager to hear His words and follow them. This is the only way that our minds can expand Godward. As our minds develop, we come into the realization of the omnipresent good (the kingdom of heaven).
''Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. "
Trials and tribulations cause us to mourn. Yet it is true that "man's extremity is God's opportunity," and when woes beset us we turn to Him and receive comfort.
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
Meekness, spiritually considered, is an attitude of receptivity to the divine will. Jesus was meek when He said, "Not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Mt. 26:39). Meekness is a willingness to surrender to God and a confidence that His way is the better way. When the Christ expresses through us, we have power over external conditions (the earth).
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."
Righteousness is the right or spiritual use of mental, physical, and spiritual faculties, which are manifested as right action. When our desire to express the Christ is more powerful than our desire for personal gain or for personal power, we are hungering and thirsting after righteousness The promise is that we shall be filled that is, our desire shall be satisfied by divine love and divine life.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
The merciful are those who are kind in thought and in deed. On occasion we may feel impelled to help someone but we do it reluctantly. Such acts fall short of true mercy because thought and deed are at variance. We are only merciful when we realize that we are all brothers and sisters and that the good of one is the good of all, and act accordingly. We always receive mercy in proportion to our being merciful.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Pure means unmixed, chaste, and free from defilement. A person whose heart is pure directs his whole attention to God, to good. Purity is one-pointed vision, the "single" eye. Impurity, in a spiritual sense, implies double vision, seeing good and evil. When the consciousness is so purified that we perceive only one Presence and one Power, we are, in reality, seeing God.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shalt be called sons of God."
The peacemakers are those who make peace outwardly because they have attained an inner peace. Since they are at peace with God they are also at peace with others, and they bring peace to all the conditions in which they are involved. We are sons and daughters of God, but our kinship is merely an inherent potentiality until we gain peace of mind and express it. Then we are His sons and daughters in actuality.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven."
Those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake are ones who have spiritual ideals and yet encounter within themselves states of consciousness that oppose their ideals. These adverse states of consciousness belong to the race thought, much of which is still in each of us These states are tenacious and unyielding and resist or persecute the ideals that we are endeavoring to maintain. Not only is there an inner conflict; there may be an outer one also: "men shall reproach you, and persecute you." When people do not understand our spiritual convictions they are apt to misjudge and condemn us. This beatitude promises that we shall be blessed if we maintain our ideals in the face of inner and outer persecution. We should actually rejoice and be glad, for our steadfastness will bring great spiritual advancement. This is our "reward in heaven," and heaven is the spiritual kingdom within all people.