Holmes, Ernest Shurtlett (1887–1960)
Ernest S. Holmes, the founder of Religious Science, was
born January 21, 1887, in Lincoln, Maine. His poor family provided
little incentive for education, and at the age of 15 he left
home for Boston to make his way in the world. He pursued a
course in public speaking and discovered that one of his instructors
was a Christian Scientist. He was given a copy of Mary
Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. This
basic Christian Science textbook fit easily into Holmes’s reading
of philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson.
In 1912 Holmes moved to Southern California where his
brother Fenwicke had become the pastor of a Congregational
church. Shortly after his arrival he discovered the Metaphysical
Library in Los Angeles, which had become the center for the
distribution of New Thought metaphysical literature. He avidly
devoured the works of writers such as Thomas Troward, William
Walker Atkinson, and Christian Larsen. In 1916 he gave
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his first public lecture at the Metaphysical Library, and the following
year he and his brother opened the Metaphysical Institute
and began issuing a magazine, Uplift. Within a short time
he was lecturing regularly in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California,
and began to travel nationally. His first book, Creative
Mind, appeared in 1919. A final step in his mature development
occurred in 1924 when he briefly settled in New York City
and became the last student to be accepted by Emma Curtis
Hopkins, the founder of New Thought.
In 1925 Holmes returned to Los Angeles and finished writing
his major work, The Science of Mind (1925), a summary of
his thought and the textbook embodying his own perspective
on New Thought. The ‘‘Science of Mind’’ was the study of spirit,
the reality underlying the visible cosmos. Mastery of the Science
of Mind led to happiness, health, and prosperity. He also
developed a simple technique of healing prayer. In 1927 he
founded the Institute of Religious Science and School of Philosophy
and began to train people in his methods. They in turn
established themselves as Science of Mind practitioners in a
manner similar to Christian Science practitioners.
The movement Holmes began prospered over the next several
decades. He continually had to move his Sunday lectures
into larger facilities. In 1949 he began a radio show, ‘‘This
Thing Called Life.’’ New books appeared regularly.
Holmes resisted attempts to see Religious Science as a
church movement. However, in 1949, giving in to requests
from some of his closest associates, he oversaw the formation
of the International Association of Religious Science Churches.
In 1954 Holmes moved to reorganize the very loosely organized
association directly under the institute, whose name was
changed to the Church of Religious Science. While most congregations
went along with the plan, some, including those led
by several of Holmes’s closest colleagues, saw the move as a
power grab and continued the association as a separate movement.
Holmes died April 7, 1960, in Los Angeles. The Church of
Religious Science continues as the United Church of Religious
Science and the association continues as Religious Science International.
Sources
Armor, Reginald C. Ernest Holmes The Man. Los Angeles
Science of Mind Publications, 1977.
Holmes, Ernest S. How to Use the Science of Mind. New York
Dodd, Mead, 1948.
———. The Science of Mind. 1925. Rev. ed. New York R. M.
McBride, 1938.
———. This Thing Called Life. Los Angeles Institute of Religious
Science and Philosophy, 1943.
———. What Religious Science Teaches. Los Angeles Church
of Religious Science, 1944.
Holmes, Fenwicke L. Ernest Holmes His Life and Times. New
York Dodd, Mead, 1970.