Why Faith Can Never Produce Charity

Lastchurch - The Eternal Purpose
Selection from Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
[The] will is formed out of goods, and from these man has love and affection … the understanding is formed out of truths therefrom, and from these man has intelligence and wisdom. And as truths are nothing but forms of good, it follows that the understanding is nothing but a form of its will. The only difference is that the understanding sees and the will feels. From this it is clear that such as man’s will of good is, such is his understanding of truth, or what is the same, such as man’s love is such is his intelligence. From this it is evident that although the will and the understanding are two faculties of life, still they act as one, and for this reason these two faculties of life are called one mind. This relates to the natural man.

In the spiritual man also there are a will and an understanding, but much more perfect; and these are also called one mind. This therefore is the spiritual mind, and the other is the natural mind. But these are such with the man whose spiritual mind has been opened and formed; but it is altogether different with the man whose spiritual mind is closed, and only the natural mind opened.

The same can be said of charity and faith as has been said of the will and understanding; for the will is the subject and receptacle of charity as it is the subject and receptacle of good, and the understanding is the subject and receptacle of faith because it is the subject and receptacle of truth; for charity derives all that it is from good, and faith derives all that it is from truth; and this is why it is said the good of charity, and the truth of faith. From this it follows that charity and faith act as one, like will and understanding; and that such as the charity is such is the faith. But these are in the natural mind; but in the spiritual mind there is the love of good in place of charity, and the perception of truth in place of faith.

That spiritual love, which is charity, produces faith, can be seen merely from this, that man after death, who is then called a spirit, is nothing but an affection which is of love, and his thought is from that; consequently the whole angelic heaven is arranged into societies according to the varieties of affections; and everyone in heaven, in whatever society he may be, thinks from his affection; and therefore it is affection, which is love, that produces faith, and such faith as the affection is; for faith is nothing but thinking that a thing is so in truth, while affection means love in its continuation. But at the present day man in the world does not know that his thought is from affection and according to it, for the reason that he sees his thought but does not see his affection, and as his thought is his affection in a visible formtherefore he knows no otherwise than that thought is the whole mind of man. It was otherwise of old with the ancients where the churches were. Because these knew that love produces all things of thought, therefore charity (which is the affection of knowing truths, of understanding them, and of willing them, and thus of becoming wise) was made by them the chief means of salvation. And as that affection makes one with faith they did not know what faith is.

From this it is evident not only how faith is formed with man but also that faith never can produce charity; but charity, which is spiritual love, forms faith as an effigy of itself, and in it presents an image of itself; and for this reason the nature of faith is known from charity and its goods, which are good works, as the nature of a tree is known from its fruit. By a “tree,” however, faith is not meant, but man in respect to his life; while its leaves signify the truths through which there is faith, and its fruits signify goods of life, which are the goods of charity. Besides these arcana respecting the formation of faith by the Lord by means of charity there are innumerable others; but still it is the Lord who works all these arcana, while man knows nothing about it; all that man needs to do is to learn truths from the Word and to live according to them.

(Apocalypse Explained 790:9-14)
April 18, 2017

 

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How does Jesus REALLY save?

The New Church, based on the Old and New Testaments, with insights from the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, teaches how Jesus saves, consistent with our knowledge of a loving God.

God desires for us all to go to heaven. He doesn’t judge us, or condemn evildoers to hell. Those who choose evil condemn themselves to hell by choosing to withdraw from the Lord’s love and mercy. The Lord God Jesus Christ saved us by showing us how to live our lives. His entire life on earth was about overcoming evils and temptations, and his death was the conclusion of that struggle. Just as we are faced with evils and temptations in our lives, Jesus struggled against those same temptations as a human. In overcoming them, He taught us the way to live.

We are saved when we open ourselves to the Lord and his love, and draw nearer to the Lord; and we do that by living our lives loving him. What does that mean? It means obeying his commandments (avoiding evil), being of use and loving others. We may have been taught that believing in the Lord is enough to save. But belief (or faith) without actively living that faith is not truly believing. Certainly, we cannot earn our way to heaven by our works. But we only truly believe or have faith when we actively work to do God’s will. Love (or charity) must be united with faith in order for either to be real.

Jesus saved us, not through his death, but through his life. He overcame evil and restored a sense of balance in the world, leaving us in freedom to choose good or evil. He taught us how we should live our lives; in fact he showed us how to do it. It is only by so doing that we can be truly happy. When we die, we continue to make these choices, which determines whether we live in heaven loving God and doing his will, or turn away from him to hell. Jesus set the stage so that we are free to choose. We must do our part to choose good, which will draw us closer to the Divine. This is how Jesus saves.

This website contains a wealth of information about the New Church, and a practical, spiritual path to happiness.

newchurch.org

 

School discipline – how should it operate?

school disciplineOne view expressed in The Times newspaper in relation to the 2011 English riots is that “these disgraceful scenes were perpetuated by people who have not experienced any meaningful consequences for misbehaviour at school ” And so the spotlight is falling on school discipline.

Some teacher unions are saying that badly behaved pupils are running wild as staff feel  powerless to discipline them. In relation to school discipline, teachers complain that their authority is undermined both by government and by parents. Sometimes the latter have been known to aggressively come into the school to complain about teachers who dare criticise their children let alone try to discipline them.

Polarised attitudes to school discipline

Attitudes to responding to misbehaviour seem to have polarised between the hard conservative right and soft liberal left. Those on the right of politics bemoan about school discipline in what they see as a breakdown of authority. They would probably like to see a return to Victorian values such as shown in the phrases ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child.’ ‘The little savages need civilising.’ Harsh draconian remedies may chime with a mood of resentment and anger. This is an unashamedly punitive attitude, components of which can be seen in the tabloid press, who scream for a blaming, punishing, labelling approach to misbehaviour.

The opposite attitude and one that historically has been probably a reaction against it, is one of ‘hands-off’ often accompanied by feelings of guilt regarding punishment which is seen as a violation of human rights. It is characterised by an expectation that children will thrive and behave in socially acceptable ways if they are given support and trust because of an innate goodness in their makeup.

According to this view the emphasis should be on support involving being reasonable, finding excuses, and trying to rescue the person from their problematic pattern of behaviour.

Psychologists on school discipline

However, psychologists tell us that acceptable behaviour needs to be consistently rewarded and unacceptable behaviour consistently earn disapproval, if social learning is to take place. In other words children are not born socialized. They find out how to behave properly. They have to learn to co-operate with others. They need to be trained to respect other people’s rights.

But to achieve this, teachers need to combine control with support, firmness with kindness. Control, means boundary-setting, discipline, and firmness; and  support involves nurture, encouragement, and kindness. These two things, control and support, are not actually opposites but two different dimensions of social correction.

School discipline from a spiritual perspective

From a spiritual perspective, Swedenborg writes about support in terms of a charitable heart. However, for him a charitable heart is not one at all unless it is informed by good sense of the head. This is his philosophy of the ‘heavenly marriage of good and truth’. One without the other lacks spiritual life. In his book Doctrine of Charity (section 163) he writes about those administering rules fairly are behaving charitably even when inflicting penalties. He compares this with a parent who from love firmly corrects bad behaviour.

School discipline as supportive control

Showing supportive control is entirely possible. It means exhibiting kind firmness. When this ethos is present within the school culture, teachers do not noticeably yell at the children. This combination of control and support tends to result in students acting in an orderly rather than an unruly way both within the school and whilst leaving it at then end of the day.

Such a teacher will be authoritative rather than authoritarian, responsible rather than negligent, empowering rather than only caring, and will foster a cooperative environment.

It doesn’t mean telling pupils that things are wrong in a self-righteous or over-severe manner, for in this circumstance the youngster will probably treat what the teacher says with scepticism or hostility, and especially if the adult is not following the rules him or herself. Neither does it involve failing to notice what sanctions are available.

Pupils need to be obliged to face the consequences of their actions.  What kids take for granted might be viewed as privileges that can be withdrawn rather than rights to be respected regardless of conduct.

Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Do You Know How To Do Good?

Doing good is not a cinch, nor is being good as straightforward or as easy to understand as one might first think. It is actually a complex subject and demands our serious contemplation and brainpower.

I will try to share with you the main issues that thwart our being genuinely “good” in this short post.

The first issue concerns procedure. We know that we each carry selfish motives. So it is generally felt that we can offset this by merely starting to be good to others. Then hopefully, we next consider being on guard so as to not be hurtful or causing any harm.

This order is actually backwards and is not the gate to the Christian doctrine of charity.

We must concentrate on evil FIRST because it is seated in our heart. When our negative traits are not addressed first, they remain hidden in the heart and continue stain or taint our good deeds. As a result, we often miss the subtlety of our own hypocrisy and hidden agendas that lie beneath acts of kindness. It is much easier to detect these tainted actions in others – like when coworkers kiss up to the boss or politicians kiss babies.

Doing good deeds first does not remove our negative side. It covers it up!

To the extent that negative traits are not identified and consciously removed, they do not let the principle of mutual love enter deeply into the fabric of our character. This sets up the dynamic by which goodness becomes simulated in outward gestures.

Our physical actions can appear to the world as practicing the good works of charity. And while such actions do indeed accomplish some good, they are simply the rudiments of charity and are merely ways by which we are first initiated into goodness.

It is also not wise to provide assistance without discernment. You do not want to make your donations payable to the devil or to anyone who will turn such charity into harm.

Some people may indeed point to Scripture where it states that we are to help those in need, but from God’s eternal viewpoint we are poor judges of what people need most. Spiritually speaking, the poor in God’s eyes are those who have little knowledge of divine love and truth (spiritual currency). Therefore, if our acts of generosity do not go beyond giving money to the poor, helping the needy and less fortunate, these deeds will do us little good in the afterlife, where the true quality of our inner nature will come to the surface. The Lord wants us to love others from a deeper spiritual principle.

We are created by God and are therefore “organs” receptive of life from God. The important point to be made here is that although God loves each individual equally, God is not equally received by each individual.

We cannot increase our receptivity to God’s love merely by acts of goodness. We increase our receptivity to God in proportion to our efforts to resist negative impulses and ask for the Lord’s help to root them out.

It is by the removal of our bad tendencies that we can return to innocence. There is no other way to be “really good” and obtain the kingdom of heaven.

My source for these “elevated” views on doing good comes from Emanuel Swedenborg’s great theological work, “True Christianity.”

Posted on July 22, 2008by thegodguy

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How do you live spiritually?

If we were to cultivate the habit of positive thinking, I feel it could transform our world.

To me, finding a reconciliation for all our past suffering and pain, anger and rage means that we would not be risking the chance of spoiling the future by staying locked in the past.

I believe there are no rigid route maps in life for us to follow. Are we not all on unique journeys? And so is it not best to have faith in your chosen direction and do the best that you possibly can?

There is a lot to be said for neither wasting your time nor depleting your energy over things you cannot possibly change. Instead, why not switch your focus to the things you can affect, the things that can make a difference to your life, and others?

If you think your health is the most important thing you will want to nurture and cherish it. It’s the agent /medium that you have to get through this beautiful life.

I feel it is good to always give some of our income, as much as we can, to a favourite charity. People need hope and support in their lives and arguably one’s gift would be a definite contribution to this goal.

I would suggest that one should never undervalue the power of a kind word or deed which has the potential to reap the richest of rewards.

Who would disagree that without love we have nothing? And that love is the only thing that makes our lives meaningful and valuable and if love is not present in our life then we must seek it out.

I tell myself to be kind to everyone – this is a spiritual practice that must be carried out with determination and resolve.

Adversity visits everyone and I think it is our duty is to analyze it, understand it and learn from it. Then we can let go and move forward in a new life.

I enjoy good humour because there is nothing so nourishing for the mind and body as laughter.

We do not have to be constantly seeking to be right for is there not a deep humility to be sought in letting go of this pride?

Many find time for rest and relaxation. They realise it’s important to strive for the things they believe in but this can only really be sustained in the long run if they take time out to recharge their batteries.

The unexpected, the unpredictable always surfaces in our lives so perhaps we need to get used to this reality. However, with an open heart and reflective mind we can still move forward positively and this will always bring comfort.

Why not slow down your life for a better life?

I would suggest life can be reinvigorated by always being open to making new friends.

Rather than criticising others I believe it is best to try to understand their point of view, even if it clashes with yours. This way you will save energy to undertake better things.

Bringing reconciliation and resolution to any broken relationships helps to stop the past festering within us.

Never taking anything for granted make sense to me because I believe everything is a gift, even our pain which tells us we are alive.

Is all the behaviour we find objectionable in others, at the deepest level, not really a plea to be understood?

I believe that purifying the mind, in an ongoing act of forgiveness and compassion is an act of worship.

Copyright 2011 Michael Lewin