Once upon a time the Devil was happily lying in a lounge chair trying to darken his tan from all the flames around him. Suddenly, one of his most trustworthy henchmen approached him in an absolute panic.
“Lucifer! Lucifer!” cried the evil sidekick, “the end times have arrived! An individual named Emanuel Swedenborg has been directed by the Lord God of heaven to write about the mysteries of faith to the people on earth! We will be exposed! We are doomed!”
Ha! Ha! Ha!” laughed the devil. “Relax, my faithful friend. I have already read Swedenborg’s writings very carefully and have determined that they will have a diminishing affect upon those silly humans on earth. The seeds of God’s truth will be planted in the wrong soil.”
“How can you be so sure?” asked the creepy cohort.
“I perfectly understand human psychology—after all, I helped influence it,” replied the shrewd master of deception. “Every human desperately wants to be seen as being a valuable and good person in society, thanks to a misguided principle of self-worth. So I simply let them have their way and keep them in a delusional trance whereby they will focus their attention on love, usefulness and community—apart from their inner predicament.”
“Isn’t love and compassion the opposite of what we want people to do?” asked the confused ally.
“Noble deeds are destroyed by the desire for affirmation and approval. The human need for affirmation is from the malignant principle of self-love. I am the undisputed leader of self-love, which opposes heavenly love! By helping to convince people that they will find self-importance by becoming more loving and caring, I cause the seeds of God’s teaching to be mis-planted,” said the smiling demonic leader.
“Please explain,” asked the cruel crony.
“It’s actually quite simple,” said Mr. Devil. “While I keep people’s attention on becoming more loving, they begin to overlook the actual process and lawful steps of spiritual transformation. Goodness and innocence only comes from the Lord God of heaven. Everyone born on earth has a small amount of this angelic goodness placed deep within their natural mind, during infancy. Mr. Swedenborg called this residue of heavenly innocence the ‘remains.’ I can tell you that not much attention is given to this piece of information. This convinced me that I still had room to operate and pursue my craftiness. Now listen carefully. When a person on earth learns of some heavenly truth, either from reading or attending a place of worship, these ideas of truth act like spiritual seeds. But because the average person is so hung up about being a good person and finding approval from others, these theological seeds fail to properly germinate. They never reach their intended soil.”
The Devil stops for a moment to quench his thirst with a swig from his bottle of hot sauce. Then he continues the discussion, “The misstep people take—even those who fervently study Swedenborg’s ideas—is that they rarely consider that these heavenly seeds must be planted in their God-given ‘remains’ to affect anything real.” Since genuine spiritual Love only comes from the Lord God alone, only the growth of one’s spiritual remains permits God’s Love to legitimately grow and change someone’s inner and outer life. So I put all my effort in helping push people into focusing on outward empathy and acts of charity as if this is something that can emanate from their own abilities, rather than from God’s. I have succeeded in making people believe that if they do good things, they will neither have to investigate nor directly deal with their character flaws of self-love—which, thanks to me, they all have in abundance! This oversight ensures that God’s seeds of truth have no place to germinate but in their fantasies. Only self-vigilance and self-conflict allow heavenly seeds of truth to reach a person’s remains or spiritual soil.”
The Devil then looked deeply into his associate’s eyes saying, “If you don’t believe me, ask any Swedenborgian you meet to explain the concept of ‘remains’ to you—even ask their scholars. Few can. But without grasping this important topic, all these sorrowful outward efforts of compassion by humans in the world merely become a form of hypnosis, trance and self-delusion.”
“You are brilliant!” said the Devil’s nasty devotee.
The two evil co-conspirators began laughing uncontrollably and slapping each other’s backs.