The Use of Those Who have Conjoined Evil and Falsity


Selection from Divine Providence ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

The Lord’s Divine providence causes both the evil and the falsity to be serviceable in the way of equilibrium, of relation, and of purification, and thus in the conjunction of good and truth in others.

The Lord’s Divine providence continually labors to unite truth with good, and good with truth in man, because such union is the church and is heaven; for there is such a union in the Lord and in all things that go forth from the Lord.

From that union heaven is called a marriage, and the church is called a marriage, and in consequence the kingdom of God is likened in the Word to a marriage. From that union the Sabbath in the Israelitish Church was the most holy thing of worship, for it signified that union. For the same reason in each and in all things of the Word there is a marriage of good and truth. The marriage of good and truth is from the marriage of the Lord with the church; and this is from the marriage of love and wisdom in the Lord; for good pertains to love, and truth to wisdom. From all this it can be seen that the unceasing object of the Divine providence is to unite good to truth and truth to good in man, for thus man is united to the Lord.

But inasmuch as many have sundered or are sundering this marriage, especially by the separation of faith from charity, since faith is of truth and truth is of faith, and charity is of good and good is of charity, and inasmuch as they thereby conjoin evil and falsity in themselves, and have thus become or are becoming opposite [to good and truth], the Lord provides that such shall still be of service for the conjunction of good and truth in others, as means of equilibrium, relation and purification.

The conjunction of good and truth in others is provided by the Lord, by means of the equilibrium between heaven and hell; for there is a constant exhalation from hell of evil and falsity together, while from heaven there is a constant exhalation of good and truth together. In this equilibrium every man is held as long as he lives in the world; and by means of it he is held in freedom to think, to will, to speak, and to do, and in this it is possible for him to be reformed.

The conjunction of good and truth is provided by the Lord by means of relation; since the quality of a good is known only by its relation to what is less good, and by its contrariety to evil. From this comes all power to perceive and to feel, since from this comes the quality of these powers; for thereby every thing enjoyable is perceived and felt from the less enjoyable and by means of what is not enjoyable, every thing beautiful from the less beautiful and by means of the unbeautiful; and likewise every good, which is of love, from the less good and by means of evil; and every truth, which is of wisdom, from the less true and by means of falsity. In every matter, from the greatest to the least of it, there must be variety; and when there is variety also in its opposite from its least to its greatest, and there is equilibrium between them, then there is relation according to degrees on both sides; and the perception and sensation of the thing either increase or diminish. But an opposite, as we should know, may take away perceptions and sensations or may exalt them; when it mingles itself it takes away; but when it does not mingle itself it exalts; and for this reason the Lord exactly separates good and evil in man, that they may not be mingled, just as He separates heaven and hell.

In others the conjunction of good and truth is provided by the Lord by means of purification, which is effected in two ways, one by temptations, and the other by fermentations. Spiritual temptations are nothing else than combats against the evils and falsities that are exhaled from hell and affect man. By these combats man is purified from evils and falsities, and good is conjoined to truth in him, and truth to good. Spiritual fermentations are effected in many ways, both in the heavens and on the earth; but in the world it is not known what they are or how they are effected. For there are evils and falsities together that do a work, when introduced into societies, like that of leaven put into meal, or ferments into new wine, by which heterogeneous things are separated and homogeneous things are conjoined, and purity and clearness are the result. These are meant by these words of the Lord:-

The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened (Matt. xiii. 33; Luke xiii. 21).

(Divine Providence 21-24)
 April 8, 2017

Two Universals of the Christian Faith

Selection from Doctrine of Faith ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

The Christian Faith in its universal idea or form is this: The Lord from eternity, who is Jehovah, came into the world to subdue the hells, and to glorify His Human; and without this no mortal could have been saved; and they are saved who believe in Him.

It is said “in the universal idea or form” because this is what is universal of the Faith, and what is universal of the Faith is that which must be in all things of it both in general and in particular.

  • It is a Universal of the Faith that God is One in Person and in Essence, in whom is the Trinity, and that the Lord is that God.
  • It is a Universal of the Faith that no mortal could have been saved unless the Lord had come into the world.
  • It is a Universal of the Faith that He came into the world in order to remove hell from man, and He removed it by combats against it and by victories over it; thus He subdued it, and reduced it into order and under obedience to Himself.
  • It is also a Universal of the Faith that He came into the world in order to glorify the Human which He took upon Him in the world, that is, in order to unite it to the all-originating Divine [Divino a Quo]; thus to eternity does He hold in order and under obedience to Himself hell subjugated by Himself.

And inasmuch as neither of these mighty works could have been accomplished except by means of temptations even to the uttermost of them, which was the passion of the cross, He therefore underwent this uttermost temptation. These are the Universals of the Christian Faith concerning the Lord.

The Universal of the Christian Faith on the part of man is that he believe in the Lord, for througth believing in Him there is effected conjunction with Him, by which comes salvation. To believe in Him is to have confidence that He will save, and as no one can have this confidence except one who lives aright, therefore this also is meant by believing in Him.

(Doctrine of Faith 34-36)
 April 10, 2017

Angels and Non-Physical Complexity


There are those who maintain that angels are a unique creation and are distinct from the human race. This needs to be given further thought, not just from what our faith teaches, but pondered with some scientific reasoning thrown in.

An interesting new science that is moving into the forefront of research deals with complexity—the emergence of complicated systems in nature. Complexity finds its ultimate expression in the structure of the human brain.

It is a big mystery to science why nature shows an incessant striving towards self-organization and complexity. Naturalism, which does not believe in a divine author, sees complexity as coming into existence from simple molecules, which in turn came from more simple fundamental particles, like atoms and quarks. This is called scientific reductionism.

Physicist David Bohm was one of the first to challenge the idea that things get simpler the deeper you probe nature. His version of quantum physics theorizes that elementary particles become increasingly more complex, and contain subtle inner structure. This would suggest that large systems acquire their complexity from prior or implicate orders of reality.

I find Bohm’s position suitable for theology. If God existed before the creation of the physical world, it would mean that infinite complexity was already established and functioning in a pre-space condition. Since God is infinitely alive, bio-structure started from infinite perfection and always existed.

It is easier to envision God as Infinite Love and Infinite Wisdom than equating these divine attributes to a corresponding level of bio-complexity. Furthermore, how does God’s ineffable organic structure exist abstracted from space, time, and matter?

Scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg has offered the best explanation I have yet to come across. He claimed that fundamental substance was non-physical. Even more startling, this primal formative substance was LOVE, the causal agent and first principle of the universe. Love was God’s living substance and Wisdom was the Divine embodiment, or form love takes in all its expressions.

Therefore, complexity in the physical world emerged out of complexity from a non-physical world. That LOVE is the key to agency in the universe is evidenced by nature’s ongoing endeavor towards self-organization. With organization comes unity through utility. Unity through structure is an analog of love, because the very essence of love is to unite. Everything finds coherence by mutually serving some unifying purpose. This is unity through utility. Utility is also a derivative of love. It is a physical analog of goodness.

So what does all this have to do with angels? Angels are finite beings. Therefore, in spite of all their good will, their ideas are finite as well. Finite ideas cannot be formed outside of time and space (which is a problem in heaven).

All finite reasoning must come from ideas formed from living in a world of time and space. Living in a physical world allows a finite mind to detect distances and ratios between things and distinguish the past from the present. This is why Swedenborg maintained that all angelic beings were once a part of the human race.

God’s purpose in creation was to form a heaven from the human race. Of all earth’s creatures, humans have carved out a niche as an information-gatherer. We each take this information and internalize it. That is, we take ideas from the physical world and turn it into “us” through our subjective preferences and dispositions. If love is primal creative substance, then the values we choose in life will self-organize into the bio-complexity that reflects our true spirit or innermost life.

Without living in a physical world first, where there is time and space, angels would have had no lawful means for forming mental relationships and making distinctions. From learning physical relationships, the mind can then form ideas about non-physical relationships. For instance, a person who shares different values and opinions from ours becomes psychologically viewed as being “far” from us (no matter how physically close he or she may be). It is this change from physical standards of measurement to psycho-spiritual measurement that is needed for angels to discern relationships in the non-physical realm of heaven.

So, in God’s providential and ultimate scheme, when we depart from our physical bodies at the time of death, we will still retain our spiritual bio-complexity. This provides us with the proper organic vehicle to take our acquired ability to discern non-spatial and non-physical relationships with us into the other world.

I have left out many things that relate to this subject. Not everyone’s spiritual bio-complexity is properly formed for eternal life in heaven. I will touch on some of these additional topics in other posts and more completely in my next book, Proving God. I will announce on this blog when the book will be available.

Posted on September 20, 2008 by thegodguy

Posted in god, Inner growth, Life after death, love, metaphysics, psychology, Reality, religion, science, spirituality, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

External Worship and Internal Worship


One person can have two belief-systems. The reason for this is that humans are both flesh and spirit. And we are so constituted that the body and spirit can be unified in worship or divided in worship.

Few people consider that humans enjoy both external worship and internal worship.

External worship includes going to church, attending church rites, listening to sermons, putting money in the donation basket and giving praise to the Lord.

Internal worship depends on the inner quality of one’s heart and mind, and the evaluation we actually give to the Lord and His teaching.

External worship can be united with internal worship if we sincerely do God’s will, which is to love the neighbor as God has loved us. However, in spite of good outward actions and noble words coming from the lips, we can still harbor self-centeredness, envy, greed, and disdain toward others.

It is because of this unique dual nature that hypocrisy, false appearances, and hidden agendas can describe who we really are, despite what we permit the world to see.

The Lord’s spiritual salvation takes aim at our inner, hidden world of the spirit – to clean the “inside of the cup.”

This is why salvation by faith alone does not work. It allows people to believe they can be saved by faith no matter how they lived, provided that they frequently attend church, and take part in its sacred rites. In other words, we derive salvation from external worship.

Anyone can see if this faith were truth, humans could be saved even while in the act of destroying each other. Furthermore, if we believe that we are redeemed solely by the passion of the cross, and that we are gifted by the Lord’s merit so as to no longer be under the condemnation of the Commandments, we are left to live in ignorance as to whether this gift is actually in us. We are even told that any attempt to co-operate with God would ruin our chance for salvation.


Religion is instruction for the heart. The Lord plants the seeds of truth in the soil of our mind. But mere believing in Christ as Savior and Redeemer does not make these seeds sprout, grow, leaf out, blossom, and bear fruit. This happens through spiritual acts of genuine love.

Innocence and genuine love are obtained to the extent that we deprive interior and harmful motives of their power and influence. This is accomplished when we ask the Lord for help in our battle against evil inclinations. As evil is removed from the heart, our good deeds become genuine acts of goodness, because they are done from humility, innocence and from God dwelling in our hearts. This unites outer worship with inner worship.

The doctrine of salvation by faith alone was derived from misinterpreting Scripture and not listening closely to the Lord’s very words.

Posted on September 17, 2008by thegodguy


Posted in god, Inner growth, love, psychology, Reality, religion, spirituality, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments


Divine Source – How to think of it?

divineDo you feel your life is missing something? Are you interested in higher states of awareness? For example the awe and wonder you might have once felt when contemplating the world of nature. Or the sense of peace, contentment, and even joy that perhaps you had as an infant or you fleetingly glimpse in the ordinary life of work and home. Wherever you find these inspirations, the question remains what are their source? What is it that inspires? Many people intuitively feel there is a higher entity beyond themselves that is the divine source of such feelings. One that might be able to provide them with direction and purpose.

If you have this inkling, you may be interested in reconstructing the idea of ‘divine being’. Not with a view to paying homage to an angry controlling judge in the sky that has often come to be seen to do with sexism, racism, ecological exploitation, as well as the exercise of power over others. Instead you may be seeking to put your hope in a creative spirit beyond our ordinary consciousness. One that promotes equality, the natural world and freedom.

The universe came into being from a conscious, spiritual source, but that conscious spiritual source is not necessarily similar to how our cultural interpretations describe their “god.” (Emanuel Kuntzelman, spiritual writer)

Can any rational ideas help towards finding this divine source in personal spiritual experience? How can we think of a mystical origin of all that is good?

The divine not a controlling deity

There is plenty of suffering in the world. Hunger, homelessness, murder, theft etc. People ask if there really were a God, then why does He allow this? Why does He permit human beings to greedily take more than their fair share of resources, to kill and steal.

But I would ask whether this is the kind of deity we really want? One who imposes social justice in everything and prevents all crime? I would suggest that if human freedom to behave badly, even wickedly, were taken away from us by a such an absolute degree of supernatural control, then the inner freedom inherent in our human nature would be destroyed.

An alternative view of our divine source

In other words I am arguing that a divine source of love is one that wants our deeper happiness. A good spiritual state can only come in the long run when we freely choose to act in humane ways. Even if this means that we might bring suffering upon ourselves in the meantime.

I would suggest one way forward in our thinking is to imagine a real presence of love and wisdom quietly acting in the world. Not controlling what is going on but nevertheless compensating to some degree for what is negative and bad. This divine image is very different from the god figure who determines all that happens that some dogmatic religious people arrogantly tell us to believe in.

People sometimes ask if there really is some spiritual reality beyond ourselves, why cannot it be obvious to all? But I would say that not being subject to proof shows its non-controlling nature. We have the freedom to believe as we wish; to follow one path or another.

In my opinion, the divine Source offers the gift of liberation from all within our minds that causes us unhappiness of heart. The gift of our inner freedom is precious.

The divine not a condemning deity

According to Christianity, mankind deserves to be punished but Jesus gets punished for us.  Unlike the traditional Christian doctrine, my understanding of our divine Source is not one that  wants to see painful suffering as atonement. You cannot conceive of compassionate love as condemning. Love wants the best for someone, not the worst.

The Divine seen as a Sun

In a state of vision, the mystical philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg reports inwardly seeing, what he thought of as, the divine Source. It appeared as a sun shining on the populace of heaven with the heat of love and the light of wisdom. He says it is the origin of all spiritual and natural things such as our natural sun which shines on the earth.

The divine not a trinity of individuals

One biblical idea is that of a tri-personal god. Taken literally, this seems to be a godhead of three male divine persons in one God, called Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Many think this has no rational logic to it. Clear thinking people thus understandably reject it.

However, if we consider these three figures as metaphors for three aspects of the divine, then arguably the picture becomes more acceptable. I’m thinking of divinity with the three-some nature of humanity. We each have a heart of feeling, a head of understanding and hands for action. Thus we can conceive of a divine heart of love, divine head of wisdom and divine hands of power doing what is loving and wise through the agency of us human beings.  Can we not inwardly experienced these as three aspects of the one divine source called the Christ-within? Or you might prefer the term ‘Christ-consciousness’. This, I feel, is the divine source beyond me, who is also present within me. I know this presence as my inner teacher, my inner comforter, my inner inspiration.


I think those who reject the Christian religion are throwing out the dirty bath water. They rightly, get rid of the old dogmas that even many good church-goers only pay lip service to these days. But are the non-religious also throwing out the baby with the bath water?  The innocent baby that I believe reveals the beautiful idea of divine love and wisdom that lies hidden behind the universe. The secret presence within my soul I can learn to better experience and follow.

Copyright 2017 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Theology – What use is it?

You might look at our troubled world feeling that life is overwhelming at times and wonder what God is doing about it. Where is he when we need him? Does he have a plan for the planet’s environment, for tackling terrorism, for curtailing run away population growth? Alternatively is he not in control? Does he love us or is he angry? Whenever we talk about God, we are actually engaged in theology – ‘theos’ meaning God and ‘logos’ meaning word or reasoning. Therefore theology means the study of concepts of God and of the nature of religious ideas.

“Theology is an aspect of thought and conversation for all who live and breathe, who wrestle and fear, who hope and pray” (Kelly M. Kapic)

theologyHowever, many people seem to be fed up with church creeds and theological doctrines telling them what to think and do. They sometimes see such writing as complicated, confusing and thoroughly irrelevant. You may just want the simple words of Jesus or the Buddha; not the head-in-the clouds religious lecturers and writers in theology with their long sentences and fancy terms. You may simply want to experience an inspiring presence deep within your soul rather than hearing about it second hand.

Philosophy and theology have so much to tell us about God, but people today want to experience God. There is a difference between eating dinner and merely reading the menu. (Dada Vaswani – Indian spiritual leader)

Influence of knowledge of theology

Eating the spiritual food is crucial. Nevertheless, selecting a dish from the menu is necessary before receiving the food; otherwise, you may end up with the wrong meal. Likewise I would suggest that the way you think about what goes beyond the material world – what has been called the transcendant realm of divine spirit – will affect what you feel.

How you think about God is bound to affect whether you have confidence and hope in a merciful and wise divine providence or dread of a powerful figure who dishes out harsh judgments. It will shape the personal image of whom you pray to. In addition it will influence your idea of the divine plan for your life.

If you do not listen to theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones— bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas. – C. S. Lewis

Bad theology

I would say that there is some mistaken theology still very much around.  I realise that bad theology has justified terrible folly and horrible behaviour. How can I for example feel a divine presence that will gives me hope and confidence when I come across those Christians who still write about a punitive ‘Father’: one who required the terrible suffering of his innocent ‘Son’ Christ on the cross. Or for that matter those Islamist extremists who justify the death of masses of people in a so-called ‘holy war’ in the name of Allah.

Usefulness of knowing theology 

I want to say that I have benefited from knowing about what religion has to say. I have learned from inspired sacred writing. Not having lots of information but rather what I have heard and read that has been illuminated deep within my mind. I’m trying to write about a deeper truth that goes beyond the ideas of the world.

Theologians write a lot about ‘salvation’ – some good and some, I believe, mistaken ideas. Nevertheless I’m concerned about theological ideas because I feel I need to be freed from the grip of self-interested thinking and some bad habits which I find difficult to shake off by my own efforts alone. If one questions how a higher power can save one from oneself, one is asking a  theological question.

Talking of sacred writings, I think most readers would agree that there are many parts of the Bible which don’t make immediate sense. Yes, specific verses of the Bible are often obscure and even misleading. For example where a passage speaks of God being inflamed with hot anger and wanting to be destructive.  One theological view is to say that God has a bad as well as a good side. However a more satisfactory interpretation in my view is to do with human projection. This can happen when we turn way from the God’s way and do what is selfish or cruel.  We imagine that God is judgmental and angry with us because we ourselves get angry and judgmental with someone who goes against what we say.  I think a correct theological view of God is one of wise love. Such a God would never feel angry or judgmental.

It is easy to misunderstand any one bit of the Bible when taken literally. For me general theological principles taken from the Bible as a whole illuminates the inner message.

…It may be recognized how many errors those people fall into who think of nothing beyond the literal sense when they read the Word, thus who read it without the aid of teachings drawn from the Word which show them what the real truth is.” (Emanuel Swedenborg – European 18th century theologian)

Enlightenment of knowledge of theology

I would suggest that theological knowledge is no use by itself. I feel that it is the actual application in daily life that brings about benefit as well as further depth of understanding.

There are … many among the inhabitants of hell who have been more expert in matters of doctrine than anybody else. But those who have led charitable lives are all in heaven. (Emanuel Swedenborg)

Using religious knowledge by keeping life as the end in view means for those who know about Swedenborg’s theology :

  • Not just thinking about God as the Lord Jesus Christ – but developing a relationship with him person to person in honest prayer
  • Not just reading about the delightful state of angelic life after death – but trying to live in that unselfish heavenly state whilst alive in the body.
  • Not just inwardly acknowledging what is good and true – but actively seeking God’s help to follow this conscience.

Probably every culture in history has theologically distorted what has been claimed to be God’s word. Nevertheless in my opinion higher principles found in religious writing often do show a divine inspiration that transcends mere human prudence.

Copyright 2015 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author Heart, Head & Hands

Posted on30th November 2015CategoriesLatest post, Meaning of life, ReligionTags, , , , ,