The Scientific Meaning of Christmas
18.104.22.168.1 The Incarnation Event: God Enters the World of History and Science
About two thousand years ago an extraordinary and totally unique event took place that altered the course of human evolution in a fundamental way that is only now being discovered by science. The Universal God the Divine Human, Creator and Manager of the universe, entered history and science by the Incarnation Event (see entry for Incarnation Event in the Subject Index in Volume 18
).This event had been foretold in the most ancient Sacred Scriptures (see Section xx).
The ancient prophecy was given at the beginning of a phase of human evolution called The Fall (see Section xx). Before this, the celestial human race existed on this earth (see Section xx). At the end of this phase called the Golden Period, the new spiritual phase began on this earth. We are of this race. We are called spiritual in contradistinction to the earlier race called celestial. The human mind was created in three discrete layers — celestial, spiritual, natural (see Section xx). Hence the evolution of the race must follow the anatomical composition of the human mind. The celestial layer of the human race was evolved, developed, and completed through the lives of the individuals that lived in the early generations on this earth. When the celestial anatomical layer was complete, the celestial race was “consummated” or extinguished. A few “remnants” whose anatomical structures deviated from the norm were the carriers that insured the connection between the extinguished celestial race and the newly beginning spiritual race.
As we are part of the spiritual race we possess a functioning operational celestial layer of our mind even though nothing of its operations is conscious to us. Our celestial mind is above our spiritual mind, a discrete degree within it, and whatever is within or above, is far superior all that is below it. Our celestial mind is far superior to our spiritual mind. But even so, we only become conscious of our spiritual mind after resuscitation (see Section xx). This happens just a few hours after physical death. When we are resuscitated we at first are conscious in our natural mind, which is the layer we know ourselves in everyday life here on earth. This natural layer forms the content of who we know ourselves to be. But shortly thereafter our natural mind begins to fade like a distant memory — our identity, profession, hobbies, knowledge of history and science — all of this that is stored up in our natural mind, slowly begins to fade like a distant memory from childhood or some land we once visited.
This happens because the natural mind is totally unsuited for life in eternity which is a mental world without time, space, matter, or sickness and death. Everything now depends on our rational feeling and thinking. What kind of people we are with and what the environment and situation is like, depends entirely on our ruling loves. Not like before on earth out of which the content of the natural mind was formed. Now in eternity the laws that govern reality are purely rational laws. To try to operate with the natural mind after resuscitation doesn’t get you anywhere. You have to disregard your identity, your culture, your nominal religion, your citizenship awards, your achievements and reputation — all of these things are formed in your natural mind and are part of the natural mind. But after resuscitation you are existing in your spiritual mind.
Swedenborg reports that some people he talked to after resuscitation insisted on not letting go of the natural mind. The only way this is possible is to act insane in the spiritual mind, pretending by fantasy that you are still in your natural mind and in your physical body on earth. The result of this spiritual insanity is very sad and frightening. People in this mental state are victims of their own emotions and feelings. In the spiritual mind the environment around you is created by correspondences of your emotions and thoughts. So if you have insane thoughts and emotions in the spiritual world, the things in the environment that you exist in are correspondences to them in the natural world. For instance the intention to rob someone in the spiritual world where you are by misleading them and posing as a friend, immediately causes changes in the environment — deadly scorpions and poisonous flying snakes appear around you with an ominous darkening of the skies.
However, this direct connection does not occur while you are still in the physical world. But in the spiritual world, the intended victim can immediately recognize the stranger’s evil intentions. Nevertheless, some victims in the spiritual world who are also spiritually insane, fantasize something totally different that is going on. And so they fall victim to the machinations of others. And Swedenborg reports that no matter how clever someone is, there is one who is more clever in and endless series of the layer of the human mind called the hells.
Everyone is born into eternity with a permanent and immortal mental body and temporary physical body (see Section xx). After the celestial race was extinguished, as discussed above, what happened to those people who had been celestial and had lived on earth all those generations? Well, they were in the immortal heavens of their mind called the celestial heavens of the most ancient peoples (see Section xx). Swedenborg visited with them in their mental states, seeing the habitations they lived in that corresponded to their feelings and thoughts. So even though the celestial race died out on earth, the people of that race continued to evolve in their celestial heavens.
This fact is of greatest importance for us to understand because our unconscious celestial mind is made up of their celestial heavens. Whatever the mental operations they experience, these are the causes of the operations in our unconscious spiritual mind. And whatever we experience here in our conscious natural mind is a consequence of the operations going on in our spiritual mind, which are connected by correspondence to the celestial mind of those who are in that state. Hence it is that the various distinct layers of the human mind are connected by the laws and operations of correspondence (see Section xx).
The Universal God the Divine Human manages the layers of the human mind through the laws of correspondences. Divine Speech or Divine Truth issues forth from God’s mind into the layers of the human mind, first into the inmost or highest layer called celestial heavens, and from there in descends or externalizes by correspondence into the spiritual layer of our mind, and from there by correspondence into the conscious natural layer of our mind where it presents itself as Sacred Scripture in a natural historical language. This process of the sequence of correspondences initiated by Divine Speech is the continuous and permanent method by which God rules the universe (see Section xx).
Until two thousand years ago the long history of evolution of the race on earth was managed by God the Divine Human in this way through correspondences. But there was a creeping mentality of materialism that came about as the natural mind of the human race on earth was becoming more scientific and more rational in consciousness, mentality, and civilization. In order to allow for democratic modernism to evolve on this planet it was necessary to develop the sensuous sub-layer of the natural mind as opposed to its rational layer. The sensuous layer of the natural mind tends to be submerged into materialism to such an extent that we start denying the existence of God or the afterlife of eternity. These concepts require a rational understanding and when people reject rational understanding as not important to them, they lose the ability to comprehend spiritual things like theistic psychology.
So materialism was strengthened while religious ideas and practices became cultural and national expressions rather than spiritual. Once people lost their rational ability to see spiritual truths and realities, they could no longer be conscious or aware of the existence of God and the afterlife. Even those who had religious ideas and practices could not understand Sacred Scripture in a universal scientific or rational sense.
What was God going to do about this? This was a serious situation where the human race could die out so that those who were already in their eternity could also be destroyed since the created order no longer worked to keep all things into one synergistic unit. Of course God had already provided for the solution since the beginning of creation, since to God all things are united into one — past, present, and all future. The solution had to be such that the natural mind could once more recognize that God exists.
God cannot exist for us in full strength or conjunction unless each individual reciprocates God’s love for the individual. We must acknowledge God’s love for us or else we cannot closely be conjoined to God. And without this there are consequences. God manages molecules, planets, animals, and all things directly by correspondences which provide for the cause-effect relation between adjacent layers of discrete degrees (see Section xx). God manages human beings in two ways. One is immediately and unconsciously across the layers of the mind. The second is mediately and consciously through the conscious layers of the mind. The celestial race is conscious at the celestial level. The spiritual race is conscious at the natural level prior to resuscitation, and afterwards at the spiritual level. When materialism took hold of the natural mind on earth, God disappeared from conscious awareness of people on earth.
The prior conscious awareness of God was replaced by a blind faith in God.
But a blind faith is not the same as a rational faith based on conscious understanding of God such as we have in theistic psychology. Blind faith only enters the natural layer of the mind. The spiritual layer requires rational faith. So while people on earth had a rational faith in their unconscious celestial and spiritual mind, they only had a blind faith at the conscious natural level.
The only way God could remedy this situation is by entering history and science.
God made Himself be born as a Divine Human Child. This Child was at first not conscious of who He was, namely the Incarnated God in the natural or physical world. God the Divine Human was always both Divine and Human. This is why He created human beings who are in His Image as the Divine Human. So God has always been in the Human Form. However, God’s Human Form was a mental body that consisted of a celestial affective organ and a spiritual cognitive organ. The affective organ is in the Human Form and the cognitive organ is in the Human Form. This is therefore also true of us. Our affective and cognitive organs are both in the human form.
However, God did not have a physical body. This was completely unnecessary in the prior generations because people could see spiritually, and therefore they could see God’s Human Form replicated in their own mental body. People were able to look upon the human form they had and see God’s Human Form. But after the Fall, the spiritual race was no longer able to see God’s Human Form in their own body and mind. Whenever God wanted people to have a communicative exchange with Him He would “possess” or take over the conscious mind of an individual in the celestial or spiritual race in their heavens. They were called “angels” when they appeared to people’s natural consciousness. God spoke through the angels and everyone could see and hear that.
But once materialism crept into the mind, people were no longer able to even believe that there are angels, let alone see and hear them through their internal mind. In the past God could communicate with people’s internal mind and thereby influence them and protect them. But this path of communications was destroyed by materialistic thinking which denied God and taught the negative bias in science. This is what you and I were taught in our generation. Hence we no longer had the ability to hear God, to recognize Divine Speech in Sacred Scripture.
But when God entered the physical world, this suddenly changed. The Divine Child grew into an adult male and He declared Himself to be Divine. God’s life on earth as a citizen of a small mid-eastern nation created a historical biography, which makes God’s presence on earth a historical fact. This was His mission, to make Himself once more visible to humankind on earth. Now people had a choice as to whether to acknowledge God or not. People did not have that choice before God’s Incarnation.
Furthermore, by entering history, God entered science.
It is true that the literal sense of the New Testament Sacred Scripture is used as a religion by various groups who disagree with each other on almost everything about God and the afterlife. It is the literal sense of the New Testament Sacred Scripture that gives the historical account of God’s Incarnation and its details.
Quoting from the Writings Sacred Scripture:
AC 2803. (…) But the Divine Human which was born from eternity was also born
in time; and what was born in time, and glorified, is the same. Hence it is that
the Lord so often said that He was going to the Father who sent Him; that is,
that He was returning to the Father. And in John: [New Testament Sacred
In the beginning was the Word (the “Word” is the Divine Truth
itself), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; the same was in the
beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not
anything made that was made. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,
and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father, full of
grace and truth (John 1:1-3, 14; see also John 3:13; 6:62). (AC 2803)
Doc. Lord 1. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His
glory, the glory as of the
Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and
truth (John 1:14). The light is come into the world and men loved the darkness
rather than the light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19). While ye have
the light, believe in the light, that ye may be sons of light. I am come a light
into the world, that whosoever believeth in Me should not abide in the darkness
(John 12:36, 46).
From these passages [in the New Testament Sacred Scripture] it is evident that the Lord is God from eternity, and that this God is the selfsame Lord who was born in the world; for it is said that the Word was with God, and God was the Word, and also that without Him was not anything made that was made; and it is added that the Word was made flesh, and they beheld Him. (Lord 1)
TCR 3. (…) Jehovah God is Love itself and Wisdom itself, or Good itself and
Truth itself. He came down in the form of Divine Truth, which is the Word and
which was God with God, and took upon Himself human form, so as to reduce to
order everything in heaven, in hell and in the church. For at that time the
power of hell was stronger than the power of heaven, and on earth the power of
evil was stronger than the power of good, so that utter damnation stood
threatening at the gates. This impending damnation was removed by Jehovah God by
means of His Human, which was Divine Truth, and thus angels and men were
redeemed. Afterwards He united in His Human Divine Truth with Divine Good, or
Divine Wisdom with Divine Love, and so returned into the Divinity which was His
from eternity, together with and in His glorified Human. This is the meaning of
the passage in John: [New Testament Sacred Scripture]
The Word was with God
and the Word was God; and the Word was made flesh. John 1:1, 14.
Here there is an explanation about the New Testament Sacred Scripture saying that “the Word was God … And the Word was made flesh.” The Word” = Divine Truth or Divine Speech = God the Divine Human. “Was made flesh” = incarnation in a physical body on earth. That this was God who incarnated is clear from the statement that “the Word was God’ and that the Word was made flesh. Hence it was God who incarnated in a physical body on earth. This is the Divine Child (see Section xx).
The literal sense of Sacred Scripture is always used by religion, not science. Hence there are disagreements according to culture and interpretation. But the correspondential sense of Sacred Scripture reveals its scientific sense, which is universal because it does not mention culture or anything in the natural mind, but only the spiritual and celestial mind. Theistic psychology is based only on the correspondential sense and hence cannot be identified with any religion. The Incarnation Event is therefore not only an religious event but an evolutionary scientific event.
The correspondential sense of the Old and New Testament Sacred Scripture reveals that the Divine Child created a new layer in His Natural mind that did not exist before in the human race. This new layer is called the spiritual-natural layer or the interior-natural layer. Once this layer was created in the Divine Child’s mind, it became available to every human being, past, present, and future. This was the momentous new evolutionary step that was taken by the human race about two thousand years (see Section xx).
From then on we would be able to be consciously aware of spiritual truths. This fact then restored the race to its celestial level, though in a totally different way. Now we would be able to receive a new mind that was not contaminated by inherited evils. This new mind then could form the basis for our heavenly eternity. This new mind was constructed within our natural mind, so that we could be conscious of it. But this ability would be dependent on our regeneration. Only when we are willing to undergo character reformation, can we see anything with this new spiritual-natural capacity (see Section xx). This requires the positive bias and theistic psychology.
There remains a logical puzzle about the Incarnation Event. The New Testament Sacred Scripture records few biographical facts about God’s life on earth as a citizen of the Ancient Holy Land. Almost all the facts reported about Him are external, belonging to His social and political life. Almost nothing is recorded about His state of mind, what He thought of as a Divine Man on earth, or what He was busy doing in the universe while He was growing up as a Divine Child. But these biographical facts about God’s inner life while on earth are revealed in the correspondential sense of the Old Testament Sacred Scripture, written hundreds of years prior to the Incarnation Event! For instance, the Psalms of David, one of the Books of the Old Testament Sacred Scripture, records the thoughts and feelings that King David had when he was stressed under attack from his political enemies from whom he was forced to flee for awhile.
By Divine Providence David was allowed to think, compose, and write down only those thoughts and emotions, that corresponded to what the Divine Child would undergo mentally when stressed under the attack of the hells. And similarly with the histories of the the patriarchs and their families that make up a large portion of the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament Sacred Scripture. Every recorded detail fits by correspondence all the developmental stages that the Divine Child went through in order to create the new human organ called the interior-natural organ within the conscious natural mind (see Section xx). This new creation was one of the central purposes for God’s Incarnation, as explained above.
So we have all these biographical details of the thoughts and feelings of the Divine Child during the Incarnation Event. So the puzzle is this: What explains the strange history of God, portrayed as a political problem to the authorities of the land and was put to death by them at age 33? What happened to God on earth so that these events could befall Him? After all He was God, and so He was still omnipotent and running all things in the universe. He was of course running the details of His Own Incarnation. He was running the minds of the authorities who tried and condemned Him, and He was running the Roman soldiers who executed Him.
After the execution and His death, He caused Himself to be resuscitated in His physical or natural body.
This was a unique event in the history of the human race. God the Divine Human was now equipped with a Natural Body, born and grown on earth in time-space, in history and science. God’s relationship to the human race took a whole new turn, that was not possible before. Now God could be seen in the conscious awareness of the natural mind. It is easy to picture and see in one’s mind the event of God as a Man with a Natural Body, a Face, Hands, Feet, Heart, Lungs, Liver, etc. God was always in the Human Form, as explained above, but now in addition to the mental human form, God acquired the natural human form.
Note carefully this detail: human beings do not resuscitate in the physical body.
We resuscitate in the mental body in the afterlife of eternity (see Section xx). The physical body or corpse, disintegrates. But with Himself, God caused His resuscitation with the physical body. Swedenborg confirms that He often saw God’s Natural Body in eternity , and in fact, we will all be able to confirm this with our own observation when we are resuscitated. All those who were in their heaven in eternity could also see God’s Natural Body there.
God’s Natural Body in eternity is not physical but substantial. This is described and explained under the topic of “glorification” (see Section xx).
Note that without the idea of God’s Natural Body born on this earth it is not possible to picture God in any way since He is infinite and we cannot picture something that is not in the human form. The religions based on the Old Testament Sacred Scripture, including the Koran Sacred Scripture, created the rule that it is not permitted to picture God in human form. And this is understandable for it is not possible to picture an infinite God who is not in the human form. Now if you allow the Incarnation Event as part of theistic psychology, it is permitted to picture God in the human form. Now we know what God looks like in the Natural Form, namely like we do. And this is why it is said in Sacred Scripture that we were created in God’s Image and Likeness.
So by creating a Natural Body for Himself God changed His relationship to the human race. In this way He repaired the loss suffered by the race called the Fall (see above). The race had already completed the celestial and spiritual layers of the mental world of eternity, and now it was necessary to complete the last layer called the spiritual-natural or interior-natural layer of the mental world. This required that God obtain for Himself a Natural Body on earth.
The sad and ignominious details of God’s short life on earth was constructed by God for the sake of correspondences. In Sacred Scripture God’s incarnation is called “the Word made flesh” (as discussed above). He is Divine Speech, He is Divine Truth, He is Sacred Scripture or “the Word.” Written Sacred Scripture had been given to people since the Fall, but with the rise of materialistic thinking people lost the spiritual meaning of Sacred Scripture and interpreted all its meanings with materialistic ideas. For instance, they pictured the afterlife as happening here in the physical world. They rejected the idea of an afterlife in mental eternity. They could not comprehend such a thing.
As a result, they reinterpreted Sacred Scripture to suit their pet philosophies and political lifestyles. Hence Sacred Scripture lost all its spiritual value and it became useless for the purpose of preparing oneself for a life in eternity. In other words, they “killed the Word.” Since God was “the Word” or Sacred Scripture, He enacted in physical life by correspondence, what people had done to Sacred Scripture over the generations. They perverted Sacred Scripture for their political gain, thus killing God in their own mind. When God incarnated, He created those details in His biography on earth that corresponded and represented the details of how Sacred Scripture was killed in the minds of people.
Henceforth people would no longer be able to kill Sacred Scripture in their mind because it is now known in history and science that God is a Man, and that His Divine Speech is Sacred Scripture. The human race is now on a permanent rise in evolution so that any individual regardless of cultural or religious background, can have a living relationship with God the Divine Human born on this earth. In theistic psychology this living relationship is called the Divine Psychologist (see Section xx).
It is important to have a rational understanding of God (see Section xx). This understanding requires knowing about correspondences, that is, knowing how God has formed all things in discrete non-overlapping layers of existence. The only connection between the layers is that they operate together by correspondences. The layers have no independent existence of functioning. It is that the human mind, or the world of eternity, was created by God in corresponding layers so that all the layers react to each other as cause and effect. In this way the entire creation is held together as one in God’s Mind.
Further, you need to remember the distinction between “God as He is in Himself” and “God as He is Outside of Himself” (see Section xx). God as He is in Himself is changeless from eternity to eternity, is infinite, incomprehensible, and cannot be approached directly. Because of this, God created the mental world of eternity, and then the physical world of time linked to it by correspondences. God’s creative activities are rational and developmental. When the human mental world evolved sufficiently in the course of numerous generations, it reached a phase where God could reveal Himself in a Natural Body taken up from earth. So God made Himself be born a Divine Child in the land that had been entrusted by Him centuries before, to study and protect the Old Testament Sacred Scripture. This Sacred Scripture was a theistic psychology textbook on what the Divine Child is going to do, what thoughts He is going to have, and how He is going to change the psychobiology of the mental world in eternity. Every human being past, present, and future will therefore be directly affected by this change.
God’s Natural Body is Divine because it is made of Divine substances. All the substances of earth or matter that formed His inherited physical body had been replaced by the death and resurrection process. Now God had a Divine Natural Body along with His Divine Natural Mind He constructed for Himself on earth. This is the Body that can now be seen by anyone from the spiritual and celestial layers of their mind (see Section xx).
But it is necessary to think of this Natural Body as Divine, and therefore infinite. This is a difficult idea to comprehend rationally and without the idea of space, time, or place (see Section xx).
God’s Natural Body can be seen by anyone, regardless of where they are or which way they turn. Swedenborg confirmed this amazing phenomenon. He observed with the people who live in the third heaven or celestial mind, that whichever way they turn or face, the Spiritual Sun in which God’s Natural Body appears, remains in front of them at the same altitude of height on the horizon, and, equally brilliant in light. God can now appear in this Natural Body in every individual’s mind. This is why the Incarnation Event had to happen. This Divine Human Natural Body is in every place but apart from space (see Section xx). It is therefore omnipresent. That is, God the Divine Human is omnipresent and omnipotent in this Divine Human Natural Body.
22.214.171.124.1.1 Completion of the Creation of the Human Race
The Writings Sacred Scripture reveal many historical and scientific details about the earlier stage of evolution of the human race called the celestial race (or “Most Ancient Church”). We are part of the subsequent phase of evolution called the spiritual race, that started with “the Fall.” Compared to the celestial human race we are called a “fall” because the spiritual character is lower than the celestial character in the human mind. When our consciousness is in the celestial mind, our human potentials are incomparably greater and more wonderful, than the potentials we have in the spiritual layer of our mind. Right now, in the consciousness of our natural mind here on earth, we function incomparably lower in potential than we do in our spiritual mind.
Nevertheless there is an immense difference between the natural mind when it is ordered by the celestial mind, in comparison to the natural mind when it is ordered by the spiritual mind.
With the generations of the celestial race on earth, the natural mind was the foundation and basis for the celestial mind. When this is the case, the natural mind is angelic and the physical environment on earth is a paradise, since the physical is a reflection of the mental. In the course of time and further evolutionary changes, this celestial human race died out on earth, though not of course in their eternal habitations in heaven, where they were visited by Swedenborg in the eighteenth century. But after the Fall, the spiritual race began out of a few transitional people from the celestial race.
With the Fall, paradise earth started changing to reflect the mental character of the spiritual race. You know what that character is, since we are part of that spiritual race of humanity. We are a mixture of heaven and hell so that we alternate between heavenly traits and hellish traits. For instance, one minute we are happy and having a good time, the next minute someone insults us, and we feel like hell. Or, one minute two people are happy and nice with each other, and the next minute they start disagreeing, fighting, and injuring each other. One minute we steal something when no one is looking, the next minute we buy someone a birthday present. One minute a child is happy, agreeable, cooperative, and the next minute the child is throwing a temper tantrum and breaking things.
So we are a mixture of heaven and hell in our mind while we are here on earth. So now the question arises: How is the spiritual race being regenerated by God so that we can prepare for heaven in eternity? Since we are a mixture of heaven and hell, how do we make sure that heaven prevails, and not hell, when we are resuscitated? This is where the Incarnation Event comes in.
In the era of the celestial race on earth, the environment was a paradise in reflection of the peaceful and spiritual love they all felt for each other as human beings. After the Fall, the spiritual race had a ferocious character when hellish, and a peaceful character when heavenly. To reflect this ambivalence, the physical environment split into diverse zones and climates, some extreme, harsh, and inimical to survival, reflecting the hellish traits, and some favorable and moderate, reflecting the heavenly traits. Poisonous species of animals and plants, and natural disasters reflect the spiritual race’s hellish traits. Useful animals and plants, and the beauty of nature, reflect their heavenly traits.
God manages the spiritual race’s regeneration on earth by means of Sacred Scripture. Every civilization and tribe in the spiritual race has received some form of oral or written revelation. These revelations contain spiritual truths. When these are memorized and rationally understood, it elevates the mentality and consciousness of the individual. With the reasoning process based on truths from revelation, people of the spiritual race are able to look objectively at their hellish traits, to identify them, to condemn them, to resist them, and finally, to get rid of them so that the hellish traits are no longer loved and enjoyed, but the opposite. This is the sole method by which God regenerates the spiritual race.
This process worked for many generations until people began to deliberately falsify the truths in revelation. They taught the people to acquire a form of relationship to God called blind faith. Instead of studying the sacred texts of revelation, the people turned to interpretations of revelation written by various people who wanted to exploit them for their own gain. As a result, a diverse religious culture of blind faith evolved throughout earth and the rational understanding of God was no longer honored or valued. This brought about an evolutionary crisis in the spiritual race on earth. Because the truths of Sacred Scripture were cut off from the people, they were no longer able to be regenerated by God.
At that point in time, God entered the physical world. The instant that God was born as s Divine Child and citizen of a country on earth, everything about the universe and the human race was forever altered in a most profound way.
Until that instant, no one of the human race, either in eternity or on any of the countless earths in the universe, was able to form a direct substantive idea of God, but only an indirect abstract idea. The instant that the Divine Child was born, everyone in the human race, past and future, would be able to form a direct and substantive idea of God.
The immensity of this difference, achieved in one instant of existence, is somewhat like the difference between a paradisal garden and a burning inferno, or like the difference between a fleet of new cars in perfect running condition and a heap of rusted metals in a cemetery for discarded cars. This immense and incomparable difference is reflected by the human race before the Incarnation Event and the after. It is the difference caused by an indirect abstract idea of God versus a direct substantive idea of God.
How can this be explained?
In its literal sense the Old Testament Sacred Scripture presents an indirect abstract revelation of God, while the New Testament Sacred Scripture presents a direct substantive revelation of God. The collection of sacred books that make up the Old Testament Sacred Scripture were all written hundred of years prior to the Incarnation Event. The collection of sacred books that make up the New Testament Sacred Scripture was written after the Incarnation Event. So you can see why the Old Testament Sacred Scripture must necessarily present an indirect abstract understanding of God, while the New Testament Sacred Scripture is able to present a direct and substantive relationship with God. Even more so, the Writings Sacred Scripture are able to give a substantive view of God because it is written through the mind of Swedenborg, a modern scientist with a modern perspective on the universe. The most advanced and substantive definition of God is possible in theistic psychology, which is based on the correspondential sense of Sacred Scripture.
A scientific or rational definition and explanation of God is the most concrete and substantive relationship human beings can have with God.
It took the Incarnation Event 18 centuries to complete itself — from 1 AD to 1771 AD when the last book of the Writings Sacred Scripture was published by Swedenborg.
It takes some knowledge of mental anatomy and physiology to be able to explain rationally the evolutionary difference between BC and AD dates. The Incarnation Event marks the switch in calendar from “BC” (“Before the Christian Era”) to “AD” (“After the Christian Era”). Historically, in the literal sense of the New Testament Sacred Scripture, the Incarnation Event is contextualized as a Christian religious event that occurred within the Jewish religion, which for many centuries had had historical possession of the Old Testament Sacred Scripture.
But the Writings Sacred Scripture prove that the correspondential sense of the Old Testament Sacred Scripture is theistic psychology, and likewise, that the correspondential sense of the New Testament Sacred Scripture is the same theistic psychology, continued where the other left off.
By studying theistic psychology you are in fact studying the correspondential sense of Sacred Scripture given in prior centuries of revelation.
When the truths of the Old Testament Sacred Scripture were falsified, and thus rendered inoperative for regeneration, the New Testament Sacred Scripture was given. Now God was revealed in a different relationship to the human race. Prior to God’s embodiment or incarnation, God did not exist on the plane of the natural world, and hence, the natural mind where we are conscious here on earth. This was equally true in the heavenly layers of eternity were countless number of humanity had congregated from the endless earths in the universe (see Section xx). No one in heaven was able to see God!
God did not exist for humanity at the sensorimotor level of perception or visualization. The closest human beings were able to imagine God is to think of God like themselves. Some people imagined that God was an immense giant. Others imagined that God was not localized in one place, so could not be a person like we are. Others were afraid to imagine God because their religious beliefs made it a taboo to try to picture God. All these imagined ideas about God are called abstract because they are not real. They are made up constructions with one’s imagination.
What happens when it comes to fighting our hellish traits using as a crutch this abstract, empty conception of God?
For many generations the answer was believed to be offering animal sacrifices to this abstract God, to appease the forces of vengeance for braking the commandments. This was accompanied later with the performance of elaborate worship rituals. Sacrifices and rituals were two ways in which people tried to strengthen their idea and relationship to a silent indivisible God. This was a dangerous God, sometimes vengeful and always scary and unknown and unknowable, hence inapproachable. This was the abstract idea people have of God when it is based solely on the Old Testament Sacred Scripture in its literal sense.
In contrast, the New Testament Sacred Scripture no longer presents an abstract or general idea of an invisible and incomprehensible God, but points the fingerprints and birth certificate of a man, saying this is God. This is the furthest you can be from an abstract idea of God. This is a new reality, a new condition. God has entered history, and therefore science. That God entered history was acknowledged immediately by many h people, but that God entered science had to await the revelations of the Writings Sacred Scripture 18 centuries later. The New Testament Sacred Scripture could not exist without the Incarnation Event since it is the story and explanation of it. The Writings Sacred Scripture could not exist without the New Testament Sacred Scripture and the Old Testament Sacred Scripture since the Writings derive all their topics from the earlier two revelations. The three together, in their correspondential sense, constitute one coherent rational series called theistic psychology.
When we have a substantive idea of God as a real person in history and science, we are prepared to undergo regeneration, thus, preparation for our eternal life in conjugial heaven. God can regenerate us and prepare us for heaven only to the extent that we are willing to cooperate. The psychology of cooperation with God is the most important and critical reason for studying theistic psychology (see Section xx).
God regenerates our character from hellish to heavenly, by arranging our daily life to present particular challenges that we are to handle and overcome. In these challenges we are faced with temptations (see Section xx). People believe that God “tests” them with calamities to strengthen their character and their faith in God. This theme recurs in the literal sense of the Old Testament Sacred Scripture. However, in the correspondential sense of these themes, we are actually being informed about how temptations work.
The first step in the process is for God to bring spiritual truths to your attention, expecting you to memorize them, reflect on them, understand them, make them the basis of your thinking and reasoning. This first step is called reformation of your thinking and reasoning with regards to God’s role in your daily life. Now you are equipped with spiritual truths that are in your thinking and reasoning.
The second step is for God to bring things to your attention in your willing, thinking, and doing. For instance, you may lose something you are attached to. This suddenly exposes you to the temptation of enjoying and expressing hellish traits: e.g., blaming somebody, breaking something in anger, being in a bad mood and making friends suffer, etc. These are inherited hellish traits that are called forth from your character. God arranges for these types of experiential challenges on a minute by minute basis, or a second by second basis, from your birth to your endless eternity.
The third step is for you to face the temptation with the spiritual truths already in your understanding and reasoning process from step 1. You have to talk yourself so that you are willing to inhibit the hellish reactions because they are contrary to your heaven in eternity.
The fourth step is for God to immediately remove the challenge. You suddenly realize that you have victory in your spiritual combat. God gives you a feeling of heavenly peace and closeness to Him. You are now prepared to repeat step 1. After victory God enlightens you so that now you can see deeper spiritual truths. As a result, God can now bring you to face still more spiritual and even celestial temptations. When you are resuscitated, your are immediately ready for the second death, during which you shed all contact with any remaining hellish traits. This elevates you to your conjugial heaven.
These four steps of regeneration can best work when people have a direct and substantive idea of God. In contrast, abstract or indirect ideas of God allow types of reasonings about God that are not spiritual, but natural. Our relationship to God, instead of being based on rational understanding, is based on blind faith. This means that they accept the literal sense of Sacred Scripture without inquiring into its correspondential sense. The problem with this is that various people at various times present their imaginative ideas and interpretations of what the literal sense means. This kind of confusion is possible because of the abstract idea of God. This kind of idea limits God’s ability to enlighten the person. Hence there are limits to how much God can regenerate that person. But when one’s idea of God is direct and substantive, that is, historical and scientific, then God’s ability to regenerate us is effective and thorough.
Swedenborg reports that after resuscitation every human being is instructed in various ways about the spiritual truths in Sacred Scripture. People are are then either willing or unwilling, to receive this instruction, to examine it and understand it rationally. Those who are willing, are enlightened and they are able to see spiritual truths. Now God can elevate them to heavenly life. But those who are unwilling to examine and receive the instruction, are at liberty to go off and live their new life. Through a series of experiences they are stripped from their social and philosophical pretenses, and nothing is left except what is fully compatible to their ruling love and willing to be in its service. The person now becomes a caricature of the former self, since anything that is heavenly is gone, and what’s left is something partly human and insane.
An abstract idea of God is not real. It is empty or spurious. It does not last in eternity.
The recognition is now beginning in twenty-first century science that a substantive definition of God makes it into a scientific concept (see substantive dualism, Section xx).
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