7 Days of Creation


7 Days of Creation in Genesis 1

The True Meaning of the 7 Days of Creation: Spiritual Rebirth



From the literal meaning of the first chapters of Genesis, no one realizes that it refers to anything besides the creation of the world, the Garden of Eden which is called “Paradise,” and Adam, the first human to be created. Who thinks anything else? However, these things contain details that have never been revealed until now. . . . In this inner meaning, the first chapter of Genesis is about new creation of a human being.
In other words, it is about our rebirth.

It is a wonderful story to start out with in the Bible. You know how there is often a preface in a book, and the preface will tell you what the book is going to tell you. They always told us that in school: when you write a paper, first you tell them what you’re going to tell them, then you tell them, then you tell them what you told them. The Creation story is God telling us what he’s going to tell us in the whole Bible. He is summarizing the entire Bible, which is really, Swedenborg tells us, about our own spiritual growth. It’s about our process from when we first start to awaken spiritually to the time when we become angels in heaven. The Creation story is a wonderful summary, in just a little over one chapter, of the whole Bible story.

Briefest Summary:

Stages: External representation

Spiritual State: Internal
Initial state: without form and void Prior to rebirth: no spiritual form
First state: light and darkness Knowing that the good and the true are something higher.
Second state: heavens and earth Distinguishing those spiritual things from God (in the internal man), from those of oneself (in the external)
Third state: tender grass, tree bearing fruit Acting from knowledge, not from the heart
Fourth state: sun and moon Love and Insight begin in the internal
Fifth state: whales of the sea, birds of the heavens Actions to confirm oneself in truth and good: deep principles & rising thoughts
Sixth state: living soul, beast, ‘image of God’ Actions from insight, and hence from love: alive at last – ‘spiritual’
Seventh state: day of rest Actions from love, and hence from insight: ‘celestial’


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Is the Nicene Creed Biblical? Does the Nicene Creed define True Christianity?

Spirituality, Dreams and Prophecy

A Divine Revelation of True Christianity based on the revelations given to Emanuel Swedenborg. See The complete works of Emanuel Swedenborg, and come join us in the community of the New Jerusalem

Is the Nicene Creed Biblical? Does the Nicene Creed define True Christianity?

The Nicene Creed, a creed invented by men in the fourth century, is taken by the majority to be considered the foundation of Christianity. It constantly comes up to define who is Christian and who is not, and one can see its influence in most Christian churches when they define their belief in God as “three persons.” However, it was completely unknown for the first three centuries of Christianity. Historians who study early Christianity will divide it into two periods: ante-Nicene and post-Nicene. The reason: the Nicene Creed changed and altered the original truth of Christianity. Today, people just follow it without question.

But what if it was found that the Nicene Creed was not based on scripture? If it is found to be against scripture, then the Nicene Creed is not only not Biblical, but it is also not Christian.

There are two kinds of people: those who follow religious authority without question, and those who question what they have been taught to see if it is true or not. The majority follow authority without question. But Jesus warned us against the traditions and doctrines of men:

Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? (Mat. 15:3)

So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. (Mat. 15:6)

You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men. (Mark 7:8)

So let us take a close look at the Nicene Creed. There are two main variants, the original from 325 A.D., and a later version called the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed from 381 A.D. Is it Biblical or not? Is it a tradition of men that has made void the word of God? Let’s take a look.


Most people assume that the Nicene Creed defines Christianity as it always was. But this is not true. For the first time, the Nicene Creed defined a Son of God born from eternity, always existing. This was done to combat the Arian heresy, which declared that Jesus was some created being or angel who once did not exist. However to combat Arianism, they invented something new: a Son of God born from eternity. Here is the exact wording:

“And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made

Key words here are “begotten, not made.” The creed of 381 A.D. goes further:

“And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds (æons), Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made

This doctrine, a Son of God that is begotten from eternity, but not made, is not only inherently contradictory but is also a new doctrine. Such a concept was unknown to the Apostolic Church. That it was unknown, can be seen from the Apostle’s Creed which predates the Nicene Creed. In fact, the Nicene Creed is a modified version of the Apostle’s Creed (see The Nicene Creed: a distorted version of the Apostle’s Creed), which says this:

“I believe in God the Father almighty; and in Christ Jesus His only Son, our Lord, Who was born from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary

The Apostle’s Creed states the Son of God was not begotten from eternity, but rather was begotten in time to the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. And to be more clear, the gospel of Luke states that the Son of God is the human born to the virgin Mary:

“The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

The Son of God thus came into existence for the first time with the virgin birth of Mary. Jesus had no human father, and is thus known as the Son of God. In the gospel of John, the Son of God is described as the “Word made flesh”

And 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 Word of God made flesh is the Son of God, born in time, to the virgin Mary. This is the exact OPPOSITE of the Nicene Creed which makes the illogical statement of “begotten, not made.”

That the Son of God is the human born in time to the v declared by the apostle Paul:

Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared [to be] the Son of God with power (Rom. 1:3-4)

And again:

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law (Gal. 4:4)

The Son of God was the human that was born to Mary in time, thus Paul says the Son of God was “made of a woman, made under the law.” Again, this is the exact OPPOSITE of what the Nicene Creed says, which makes the inherently illogical statement of “begotten, not made.” Whereas before God spoke by prophets, it was not until Jesus came that God spoke to us through his human form, the Son:

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son (Heb. 1:1-2)

Moreover, we have this prophecy from the Old Testament:

I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. (Ps. 2:7)

This is a prophecy of the virgin birth of Jesus the Son of God (Acts 13:33, Heb. 1:5). Again it says “this day” and “begotten” – referencing the virgin birth in time. There is no such thing as a Son of God born from eternity, this is a false invention of the Nicene Creed which was invented to combat Arianism.

If, however, one understands that the human form, the incarnation, was begotten, and the soul of Jesus was Divine and thus not created, one can arrive at a true understanding of the incarnation.


So once it is seen that the Son of God is the human born in time to the virgin Mary, some may then reject it because Jesus definitely stated he had a pre-existence before his human incarnation:

And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. (John 17:5)

So does this mean that the Son is a “second person” that made a descent to become incarnate? No it does not, in his pre-existent form, Jesus was simply the Word of God:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3)

The Word of God, known to the Greeks as the Logos, is the Divine Truth that emanates from Divine Love. There is one Divine Being who is Divine Love and Divine Truth, who made a descent into human form as to the Divine Truth that emanates from Divine Love. This Divine Love and Divine truth corresponds to the will and understanding in each person, for we are made in His image (see God is Divine Love and Divine Truth).

So who is Jesus Christ?  He declares who he is in the gospel of John:

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. (John 8:58-59)

The reason why the Jews picked up stones to stone Jesus is he was identifying himself with none other than Jehovah, which we know from this passage:

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”1  And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Ex. 3:14-15)

In other words, Jesus is Jehovah Himself. More precisely, Jesus is Jehovah in human form. It is the human form, the Word made flesh, which is the Son of God. The Father is to the Son as the soul is to the body in Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus said the Father is in him, and he who has seen him has seen the Father.

The final objection one may bring: why is Jesus described at sitting at the right hand of the Father, as also described in the Nicene Creed of 381 A.D.? This is a figure of speeach which means all power, or omnipotence from the Divine. See The Spiritual Symbolism of the Right Hand.


The Nicene Creed was created in order to fight against the Arian heresy which declared Jesus was a created being separate from God. But in so doing, the Nicene Creed perverted true Christianity by postulating a Son of God born from eternity, “begotten not made.”

It is the human born to the virgin Mary which is the Son of God, and Jesus later revealed that he is Jehovah in human form. This human form was initially inferior to God and subject to temptation like all of us, but upon the resurrection the human was made one with the Father, a Divine Human. The Divine Human is the Son of God. With the creation of the Nicene Creed, endless theological disputes resulted. In the end, many were deceived to declare that Jesus has two natures, the Divine and the human. And this fit the political goal of Papal Rome who falsely declared the Pope to be the “Vicar of Christ.” The truth of the matter is that Jesus gradually put off the human from the mother, and was transformed into a Divine Human.

That Jehovah would become incarnate in human form, and make the human Divine, is the central message in all of scripture. By inventing a Son born from eternity, the Nicene Creed lost sight of the original Son of God: the Word made flesh, born in time. It is the union of the Divine with the human form by which salvation was effected. And this is declared by Jesus himself:

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. (John 17:17-19)

This shows that the Word of God is indeed the Divine Truth (see God is Divine Love and Divine Truth). To “sanctify” is cleanse onself from evil and falsehood through the truth. But notice this: Jesus says he must sanctify himself. Jesus could be tempted by all of hell from the imperfect human form he inherited from his human mother Mary. In this manner, a spiritual warfare arose between Jehovah and all of hell, it is through the human form that Jesus could be tempted. It is in this way that he “bore our sins.” By making his human form Divine upon the resurrection, the Lord could reach all humanity that had been cut off from heaven through the Holy Spirit.
This salvation from Jesus Christ is available to all who decide to shun evils as sins, and to walk down the path of repentance.
That the human form was made Divine, or one with the Father, is shown from Jesus’ statement after the resurrection:

All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (Matt. 28:18)

This is not power being handed from one person to another, but rather, the human form was made Divine. God now had an external form by which He could reach all humanity through the Holy Spirit which proceeds from his human form. That the human form was made Divine is also declared by Paul:

God was manifest in the flesh, made righteous in the Spirit (1 Tim. 3:16)

Peter has a similar statement:

For Christ also suffered  once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit (1 Pet. 3:18).

Both passages contain the same word for “righteous.” But Jesus could not suffer for our sins unless he had inherited a body that had sinful tendencies from Mary. This he completely resisted until he made the external human form Divine. The Divine Human also explains the central ritual of Christianity: the Eucharist, or Communion, in which all of the church partake in the body and blood of Jesus Christ. This obviously does not mean the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ, but rather, we partake of Jesus inasmuch as we receive good and truth from Him (see The Symbolism of Communion and Salvation by Blood).

That the human born to the virgin Mary in time is in fact the Son of God, can be seen from the epistles to John. In these epistles, the apostle John fought against a form of Gnosticism which declared that Jesus was never born in the flesh with a human body:

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. (1 John 4:2-3)


For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. (2 John 1:7)

The flesh, or the human form, is in fact the Son of God, and was made Divine upon the resurrection.


In true Christianity, there is one God who is one personal being, who became incarnate in human form, and this human form was united with His Divinity. The Nicene Creed created a Son of God that was begotten from eternity yet not made, which not only is a self-contradictory statement, but it creates a second person. The true Trinity resides in the soul, body and spirit of Jesus Christ, there is no such thing as three persons.

The Nicene Creed also adds the phrase “light of light, and God of God” and this kind of statement is nowhere found in scripture.  I won’t even attempt to analyze it as its meaning is not clear.  Why not use scripture:

With the Nicene Creed, a false theology then developed. It leads to several falsehoods which pervades the theology of modern Christianity.

  • It was by making the human form Divine that salvation for humanity was effected. This is why the resurrection was a necessity. Without knowledge of the Divine Human, which is the Son of God, a new theology later developed in the west known as “vicarious atonement” or “substitutionary sacrifice,” which no theologian can logically explain.
  • The Nicene Creed forces one to create a second person from eternity, which is a falsehood. It leads to dividing God into three persons, each of them god, thus hidden within the facade of modern Christianity is a form of tritheism.
  • Many who pray the Lord’s prayer, when praying to the Father, pray to Him as another person bypassing Jesus Christ, without realizing prayers should be directed to Jesus Christ alone, for he is the Father in human form, the visible image of the invisible God.
  • As the theology is not based on scripture, nor on rational logic, much of theology became enshrouded in the “mysteries of faith” a form of blind belief, in which rational thinking is suspended (see Truth by Religious Tradition & Authority vs. Spiritual Truth).
  • In the modern age, in which the public is no longer blinded by religious authority, an irrational theology leads many to a loss of faith, to a form of atheistic naturalism.
From the Nicene Creed the anonymous Athanasian Creed later arose in the west. To see a corrected version of the Athanasian Creed which removes the falsehood of the Nicene Creed, see The Corrected New Athanasian Creed.


Hopefully this will lead some to re-examine the false traditions of men which Jesus warned against. Practically every church will list “three persons” as the top thing of what they believe in, which is an erroneous assumption invented by the Nicene Creed.

All should examine if the Nicene Creed is Biblical, instead of using the Nicene Creed to evaluate if one is Christian or not. Because if the Nicene Creed is in itself not Biblical, it in itself does not define true Christianity, and in fact perverts it. If however, one understands that Jehovah was begotten in time in human form, but as to the soul is Divine and not created, one can arrive at a true understanding of Christianity. And this would mean there is a need for true Christianity to be restored to its original form, by acknowledging God as one personal Divine being: Jesus as Jehovah in human form.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

God is Creator and Sustainer

God is Love

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
[Genesis 1:1 ESV]

It was a common idea in the past that God created the heavens and the earth at the beginning and then, as it were, sat back and watched his creation evolve. In such a view of creation God was likened to a watchmaker, who having made a beautifully engineered watch simply wound it up and set it going. But such a view of God and creation places God outside his creation and not involved within in it – can this be true?

To attempt to tackle this question we need to consider what it is that creates in God and indeed in ourselves because we often talk about people as being creative. What really drives us in life to do things, to make things, to change things, whether it is the simplest everyday task or a major activity? Surely it is our determination, our drive, our desire our love!

We may not think about it this way but it is love that creates in our lives just as God creates from Love. Over the centuries many people have put forward the idea that God created the world out of nothing. But Emanuel Swedenborg saw it differently, commenting that God created the universe, not out of nothing, but out of Himself [Divine Love and Wisdom 285] and he summarised the concept that love creates in God with these words:

The universe as a whole and in every detail was created out of Divine Love,
by means of Divine Wisdom.
[DivineProvidence 3]

Now reflect for a moment on some activity or project in your life that you wanted to achieve. Did it start well? How did it continue? Did it achieve what you had hoped for in the beginning?

Sometimes we start something new with a real desire or love to see it through. But as time progresses we start to lose interest in it and finally we stop our involvement with it because our heart isn’t in it anymore.

Such experiences may show us that not only do we need love to create some new activity in our lives we also need love to sustain that activity. Love is needed to create but love is also needed to sustain.

When we turn to the Bible to see how God sustains his creation we can find many examples, although the word sustain is not frequently used by translators except notably in the New International Version as in these quotations:

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.
[Psalm 55:22 NIV]

My hand will sustain him; surely my arm will strengthen him.
[Psalm 89:21 NIV]

Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.
[Psalm 119:116  NIV]

But the idea of God continually sustaining his creation can also be found expressed in similar words like uphold, preserve, support, carry and bear.

And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day.
[Deuteronomy 6:24 ESV]

Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to grey hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.
[Isaiah 46:3-4 ESV]

In our modern day world we have begun to get used to the idea of sustainability, the concept that the resources we regularly use should have the capacity to endure and not become exhausted. This concept implies the long term stewardship, management and maintenance of these resources by mankind so that they can continue to be used without damaging environmental and ecological side effects. A very good example is the use of wood from sustainably managed forests – a process promoted by the international Forest Stewardship Council which ensures that wood sources are preserved despite ever increasing demand.

Sustainable forests are first created by planting and then as the trees mature and are felled new ones are planted to take their place in such a way that the forest is preserved and trees for logging are perpetually available.

A similar process can be seen to take place in our bodies where human cells continually die but are replaced by new ones to maintain and preserve the person. Some cells apparently die in as few as 5 days, others last 100 days or more and some for years. It is also thought that the human skeleton is replaced every 10 years or so.

We can perhaps use both of these examples to get some idea as to how God is Creator and Sustainer not a God who just creates and walks away but one who, from Love, is continually creating, re-creating and sustaining all he creates.

Here are two further quotations from Emanuel Swedenborg:

These properties of the divine love were the reason the universe was created, and are the reason it is preserved in existence.
A thorough scrutiny and examination of these three essentials of the Divine Love can lead us to see that they were the reason for creation. The first essential, loving others outside of himself, was a cause.
The second essential, wishing to be one with them, was also a cause.
The third essential, devoting oneself to their happiness, was also a cause, as is clear from the heaven of angels, which has been provided for every human being who receives the love of God; all there are made happy by God alone. These three essentials of God’s love are also the reason why the universe is preserved, because preservation is perpetual creation, just as remaining in existence is a perpetual coming into existence; and the Divine Love is from eternity to eternity the same. So as it was in the creation of the world, such too it remains in the created world.
[True Christian Religion 46:3 extracts]

The Divine from itself and through that which proceeds from itself created all things, so it sustains all things; also sustaining is perpetual creation, as subsistence is perpetual existence. 
[Apocalypse Explained 1215:4 Extract]


Divine Good Cannot Do After the Manner of Truth Separated from Good

Lastchurch - The Eternal Purpose

A Portion of a Passage from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

… there are two things which constitute the order of the universal heaven, and thence in the universe, namely, Good and Truth. Good is the essential of order, all the things of which are mercies. Truth is the secondary of order, all the things of which are truths. The Divine good adjudges all to heaven, but the Divine truth condemns all to hell; and therefore unless the Lord’s Mercy, which is of good, were eternal, all men, however many, would be condemned.This is what is signified by the statement that the Divine good cannot do this after the manner of truth separated from good.

[There are two things which are predicated of the Lord, namely, that He is King, and that He is Priest. A king, or the royalty, signifies the holy which is true; and a priest, or the priesthood, signifies the holy which is good; the former is the Divine spiritual, the latter the Divine celestial.  The Lord as King governs each and all things in the universe from Divine truth; and as Priest, from Divine good.  Divine truth is the very order of His universal kingdom, all the laws of which are truths, or eternal verities; Divine good is the very essential of order, all things of which are of mercy.  Both of these are predicated of the Lord. If Divine truth alone were His, no mortal could be saved, for truths condemn everyone to hell; but Divine good, which is of mercy, uplifts from hell to heaven. These are what the kings and priests in the Jewish Church represented and these likewise Melchizedek represented, as king of Salem, and priest to God Most High. (Arcana Coelestia 1728)]

That the evil are nevertheless condemned to hell, is not because the Divine good is separated from the Divine truth, but because the man separates himself from the Divine good.  For the Lord in no case sends anyone down into hell, but the man sends himself….

In the following respect also the Divine good is conjoined with the Divine truth: that unless the evil were separated from the good, the evil would do harm to the good, and would be continually endeavoring to destroy order: thus that the good may not be harmed, is of Mercy. This stands just as in the kingdoms of the earth. If evils were not punished, the whole kingdom would be infected with evils, and so would perish; for which reason kings and judges show more mercy in punishing evils and in expelling from society those guilty of them, than by exercising in their behalf an unseasonable clemency.

(Arcana Coelestia 2258)
January 16, 2015

The Magical Power of Prayer

Swedenborg Foundation

By Jeremy Simons

It is not hard to spot the flaw in the idea of intercessory prayer.

God is going through his day, making plans, running the universe. Suddenly, he receives a message. Someone is praying, asking for his help. He hears the prayer, decides the petitioner has a good case, and makes the requested change. Or maybe he just ignores it.


So what is the flaw in this scenario? Well, if God knows everything, then a prayer tells him nothing that he doesn’t know already. Would he really change the course of events based on a request, as if he did not already understand the situation? Swedenborg says no. That is not the way that it works. The omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God never changes. He never changes his mind. He never reverses direction.

Since no one can influence God, such prayer is pointless.

In Swedenborg’s system, however, prayer is not pointless. It just isn’t about influencing God.

Regarded in itself, praying is talking with God, while taking an inward view of the things we are praying about. In answer we receive a similar stream of speech into the perceptions or thoughts of our mind, so that our inner depths open up to God, in a way. The experience varies, depending on our mood and the nature of the subject we are praying about. If we pray from love and faith and focus on or seek only what is heavenly and spiritual, something resembling a revelation emerges while we pray. It discloses itself in our emotions in the form of hope, comfort, or an inward stirring of joy. (Secrets of Heaven §2535)

The point of prayer here is not to influence God. The point is “hope, comfort, or an inward stirring of joy.” The way that this works is that “our inner depths open up to God” (Secrets of Heaven §2535). In this setting, God is always the same; it is we who change. Prayer plays a role in this. But there is more to it. True prayer entails a person’s whole life.

Truths with [a person] are what pray, and [a person] is continually in such prayers when he lives according to truths. (Apocalypse Explained §493:3)

And the essence of prayer is that God’s will be done.

When prayer has a divine origin, it always contains the thought and belief that the Lord alone knows whether the object of the prayer is useful or not. The person praying therefore submits the hearing of the prayer to the Lord and immediately adds the plea, “Lord, let your will be done, not mine,” in keeping with the Lord’s words during his heaviest trial, in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39, 42, 44)(Secrets of Heaven §8179)

The message is that prayer is not just a ritual, an aspect of our devotional life, but is key to a person’s whole life.

This may seem to take the magic out of prayer. But in Swedenborg’s system, there is something else that puts the magic right back in.[1]

There are those who think they deserve heaven because of their earnest prayers, and yet who pray, not for others, much less for all, but for themselves alone. Their prayers, therefore, are not heard. (Spiritual Experiences §1850)

People, of course, do not just pray for themselves. It is human nature to care for other people. This is surely what religion is all about. One thing that people may not know, however, is that the emotions involved in that caring and the prayers that naturally spring from them do not remain contained within the person who feels them. They are communicated without our even being aware of it.

According to Swedenborg, angels are able to “communicate to another the goodness, blessedness and bliss that they themselves have received” (Secrets of Heaven §6478)Goodness in heaven is thus “communicated from one to many by means of a real transferring that is remarkable” (Secrets of Heaven §1392). This communication happens by means of the spheres that surround everyone, both in heaven and on earth (Secrets of Heaven §§8794:5, 10130:3)—for a person’s sphere “deeply affects other people” (True Christianity §433).

The communication of love has tremendous power, whether it is expressed in tangible or intangible ways, for love carries all good fortune, success, and healing within it. When people—whether many or few—love and pray for someone, that love is communicated through heaven to that person. While it may or may not have any tangible physical effect, the spiritual and emotional effects can be like the moving of a mountain. The collective love and prayers of large numbers of people exert a tremendous societal force, something that people are only beginning to understand.

So, according to Swedenborg, prayer does not influence God. But prayer is not pointless: it has the power to literally change the world.


Jeremy Simons is former Senior Pastor at the Bryn Athyn Cathedral and today in retirement serves as the Cathedral Chaplain.


[1] See also Spiritual Experiences §§1300, 5976; Secrets of Heaven §§452, 952.


New perspectives: artistic expression

We asked readers of New Church Connection: “How has art positively impacted your spirituality and vice versa?

Here are some of the answers we received. Tell us your experience by commenting below.

  • I only feel creative if I’m humble, which only happens if I’m open to the flow of love from The Lord. (Glen, artist)
  • The Word is the impetus behind our music. Sharing the stories in scripture brings healing and comfort. (Lori, singer-songwriter)
  • Great question. To me art and spirituality are tied very closely together. Music is the art medium that resonates most with me personally. It can capture an emotion or a state of mind in such a powerful way. When trying to write a song, I almost always start with a feeling, and from there I just try to express it. I guess to really answer that question, I also have to define what spiritually is. I’m going to say that spirituality is the state of one’s heart. With that definition I would say that creating art is often about expressing my current state of spirituality. You might say that; as a selfie captures the state of one’s face, art captures the state of one’s heart.

    I have also tried writing songs based on Bible stories, which was a really cool project for me. There’s this idea in education that a really good way to learn something, is to try teaching it to someone else. I felt there was a really similar principle happening while writing these Biblically based songs. It made me learn the story, internalize the meaning of the story, and then express that feeling. I could still tell you every tiny detail of the stories I wrote songs about.

    I’ve been talking about writing songs, but I also get a lot out of listening to music. Everyone knows it can enhance whatever mood you are in, or bring you into a different mood. It can bring such joy, and I also love sad music. To me there’s a beauty in sad music. There’s an honesty in it that I find so powerful. It can help you realize what you are lacking, and what you really want. I think it also helps you empathize with people’s pain – which everyone has some of, even though we often hide it.

    Another thing that comes to mind with this question is the Bible itself. I’ve been listening to Jonathan Rose’s “Spirit and Life Bible Study” and I’ve been realizing that the Bible is the coolest piece of art ever created. I almost feel like reading the Bible is an art in itself as well. There is so much imagery, so many connections and references throughout, and so much meaning behind it all. (Ethan, singer-songwriter)

  • I do my best work when I don’t focus on the outcome but get into enjoying the process. (Serena, artist)
  • Singing is when I feel closest to God, especially singing with a group of people. There is something about lending my voice in harmony with others that is just so sacred and special. Music is my go-to. If I’m happy, I’ll sing about it and share my joy with others. If I’m sad, I’ll sing about it and gain clarity about the situation. Without the use of words, God can tell me the most amazing things through music.(Michelle, musician)
  • Painting is a time I feel close to the Lord. It is a time for fully dwelling in the present. It is a time of prayer for me. When I get stuck or frustrated painting, it’s because I’ve focused on critical and negative thoughts instead of on the divine flow and the blessing of creating beauty. (Bronwen, painter)
  • For me there is almost no distinction between Art and Spirituality. When one creates purely from one’s Heart, there you may find likeness of the creator. Just as the Great Artist, Our Father God, The Almighty Creator is found within all of his creation. Art is a gift from God. It is a way of meditation. A way of bringing the internal to the external, so that others may seek & understand the meaning for themselves. As such, it is almost a parable, but the story is visually told, and not put into words. At times, I’ll get an idea for a visual story, to find out it was all in all there waiting for such expression. My intent is put aside as realization unfolds and manifests it’s self. When I find myself lost & found in my creation, these are indeed my best works. To let go & let God flow through me as a messenger is an Awesome Blessing. I have the notion that I ought to share my message of Love with the World. (Holly, artist)
  • I was raised in a non religious home but learned about the Bible stories through art history, so I came into study of the bible and the writings with some knowledge of biblical events, poetry, and symbolism found in historical depictions a spiritual nature. (Debra, art historian)
  • The art of photography requires many skills, all of which may be applied to the regeneration of our spirit. God creates each and every moment captured in a photograph as well as all the subject matter within an image which is the likeness of God. Awareness of all of our connection to God is strengthened through the perfection of regeneration. (Jared, photographer)
  • My spirituality has brought me a sense of connection and hope with God, which has led me to create art classes for those living with Alzheimer’s. I believe what Swedenborg has revealed, that we are all angels in the making, even if a person has apparently lost their memories. Their memories are not lost, only needing to be brought back through music, storytelling, and art-creating. It is my favorite thing to create such a space for these experiences to happen. (Tryn, musician and storyteller)



“Since the angels who are in heaven are in goodness from the Lord, they desire nothing more than to perform useful services. These bring delight to their life, and it is according to useful services that they enjoy bliss and happiness.”

Arcana Coelestia 6073.2

John at Patmos

Once upon a time the Apostle John found himself on the island of Patmos. Geographically, this island could be said to be located in the middle of two great civilizations—east and west.

But John also found himself in an unusual but similar mental place as well. He was meditating equally with both hemispheres of his brain. He needed all his brainpower to make sense out of the things he had personally witnessed and was told by his Lord Jesus Christ.

He was aware that as one of the Lord’s twelve disciples and closest followers he had received special teachings, teachings that were not given to the multitudes. Because of this intimate relationship, He was given deeper insights into the Lord’s parables. He had witnessed the Lord’s transfiguration at the top of a mountain. He saw the Lord perform miracles. He had personally witnessed the empty tomb. He also traveled with the Lord on the four-hour journey to Emmaus—after the crucifixion.

But even these amazing things were not the full reason for his amazement.

In each case the Lord had taken his brain to places where human feet could not go. It was as though the Lord was concerned with opening the minds of his disciples to new revelations. These revelations challenged the worldly belief that the Scriptures referred to mere physical events. John had experienced rarified moments where his mind caught glimpses of the Lord as the Word Incarnate, and not simply as a combative Messiah sent to squash Roman oppression. The stories contained in the books of Moses and the Prophets miraculously conveyed special details of the Lord’s life and His more important divine combat over the spiritual oppression that was taking place within the souls of men and women.

At these special meditative times, John no longer felt that he was in his physical body. He experienced this wonderful elevation of his mind when he walked up the steps to the second floor of the room in which the Lord had His Last Supper. It was as though the Lord was cleverly using the physical world to convey symbolic and spiritual meaning! He marveled that humankind was not ready for such a deep and unexpected teaching. And he himself, like the other disciples, did not fully grasp the full significance of all this. Many of the Lord’s teachings about the Holy Word and the heavenly kingdom were still obscure and remote to his normal way of thinking.

John now turned his attention and meditative power to the Lord’s words that some of his disciples would see the Kingdom of Heaven before their deaths. John wondered about this. Suddenly he felt his mind elevated from the physical world and was now in his spirit. In this state of heart and mind the obscure ideas he had about Holy Scripture became like clouds forming above his spirit. These were the same clouds that appeared to him after he, Peter and James saw Jesus transfigured atop a mountain.

Suddenly, with the eyes of his spirit, John saw Jesus appearing out of the clouds of his mental obscurity. He had witnessed the first coming of the Lord with his physical eyes. Now he was witnessing the Lord’s Second Coming with his spiritual eyes. The Lord now was about to give John an inside look at the deepest heavenly secrets contained within Scripture. This deeper look was the real revelation behind what John had witnessed and was told to write on a scroll.

Now let us fast-forward two thousand years.

Today, Jesus is also returning to clear up the clouds of mental obscurity for all those individuals who are willing, like John, to be taught new things. But such an earth shaking (paradigm changing) “event” will require humility, sincerity and an openness of the human spirit to learn from and experience the truly miraculous.


Posted in god, Inner growth, psychology, Reality, religion, spirituality, symbolism, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Saying sorry — when should I do this?

Saying sorryYou can hear people saying sorry at funny times. I thoughtlessly knocked into someone in the supermarket the other day and she apologised to me even though it wasn’t her fault! Actually, I have noticed that British people do tend to say sorry over the least thing. It seems to be an unthinking response in the presence of strangers. Perhaps we do it as a way of trying to be polite to cover up any embarrassment.  Yet, is it not the case that we can hesitate before saying ‘sorry’, in more important matters, for fear of getting all the blame, or of being punished?

Need to hear people saying sorry

I have found that when you really have let someone down like forgetting to do a job or keep a social arrangement, the other person does need an apology and also receive some indication of why. Without these two things, it really is more difficult for them to let go and move on without harbouring resentment. One example is the resentment of a house seller after the purchaser pulls out of the deal at the last moment without giving any meaningful reason — this despite the vendor having invested much time, money, and emotion in the preparations for house change.

No one is perfect and in our personal lives inevitably we make a few thoughtless mistakes from time to time and sometimes are even careless of other people’s needs. Pouring oil on to troubled waters is so important. How often do you hear about so-and-so not talking to someone because of something he or she had done or failed to do. And of course the longer this failure of communication goes on the more difficult it is to heal the rift. Sadly a family feud can last for years.

Fear of punishment if saying sorry

Sometimes all it needed was an apology. But has there ever been a time when you failed to say ‘sorry’? Perhaps it was because you had no excuse to offer and was uneasy about the other guy getting cross with you.

Most truths are so naked that people feel sorry for them and cover them up, at least a little bit.
(Edward R. Murrow)


There are of course a few people you might happen to offend who love to play the blame game. Once you recognise this person as someone who takes delight in putting others down then you might be a bit cautious in how you apologise even when you are at least partly in the wrong. This overcritical person can need careful handling. There is a technique taught by assertion skills coaches called ‘fogging’. The idea is to disarm the verbal bully by not defensively justifying one’s mistakes — not getting into a fight that the bully knows all too well how to win.

Taunt: “This is some real sloppy work!  You’ve really gone downhill since we’ve employed you!”

Response: “I am sorry that this is not my best work. I guess there were some problems that can be fixed next time.”

Taunt: “What you did was no good at all.”

Response: “I imagine some people might say that. We will have to wait for the customer feedback to be sure.”

Taunt: “You were either careless or lazy.”

Response: “I guess I will be able to be more careful with more realistic time constraints on the next job.”

Fogging, in essence, is giving an apology without appearing to be defensive about it whilst at the same time not necessarily accepting all the blame. In other words agreeing with a small portion of what the bully says that happens to be true, without agreeing with the general point he or she is making, and without agreeing with all the implications.


You may be the sort of person who just finds it very hard to be saying ‘sorry’  to anyone including to those who are ready to forgive. It can be difficult to acknowledge when you are in the wrong because of anxiety associated with fragile self-confidence: or perhaps when you just can’t bear to feel the guilt: or are too proud to admit you are in the wrong. Self-protection can be more important than the truth and can work at an unconscious level. And so this ego-defensiveness is much more noticeable in others than in yourself.

The result for people like this is that they are not really in touch with themselves. They don’t really know themselves and are unaware why they really are doing things.

Spiritual teaching

But even if you do know in general terms about your weaknesses and failings, it is quite another thing to acknowledge where and when you are in the wrong, and yet another to deeply regret what you have done.

According to Emanuel Swedenborg genuine apology is when you both acknowledge what you have done wrong and resolve to change what you do so the error is not repeated. Saying sorry is otherwise meaningless.

I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means – except by getting off his back.
(Leo Tolstoy)

Swedenborg is concerned with the right religious attitude. A few people who you have offended against may be taken in by an insincere apology but he points out you cannot fool the divine spirit of truth who many call God and who sees all things.

He criticises those Christians who believed that a general confession of sin is  sufficient for their personal salvation. Instead, he maintains it is a waste of time for the religious believer to confess their sins to God unless their apology is heartfelt and leads to an attempt at personal change. Only in this way can they hope to gradually receive new spiritual life.

So, if he is right and if you want your personal life to be spiritually transformed, I would suggest you really do need to listen to your inner conscience, humbly acknowledge where you are specifically going wrong, say sorry in your heart to your image of God, and sincerely resolve to try to change your ways.


Copyright 2013 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

17th July 2013CategoriesEthics, Interpersonal EthicsTags,, , , , , , ,, , , , , ,, , , Leave a comment