God doesn’t make bad things happen

Do you wonder how God can allow so much evil and destruction in the world? When you face challenges in your own life do you wonder if God is there? Is there a reason things happen the way they do? Are you being cared for?

It is important to understand that God doesn’t punish people. God doesn’t will evil to anyone. God doesn’t hurt people. A family lost a child in a terrible accident. Two church leaders came to their door to offer their condolences. They said that they felt great pain for the family, but they also added, “This was God’s will,” and that, “we don’t always understand why God does what God does, but we must accept God’s will.” What a terrible thing to say! I’ve heard stories where this has happened to people, unfortunately more times than I can count. I don’t know where this idea came from. I’m sure it didn’t come from God.

God is pure love

God is pure love and never wishes harm to anyone. The idea that it is God’s will that bad things happen to people is not only misguided but potentially devastating. How can people love a God who wishes them ill or has hurt them? The New Church teaches that God wills only good for all his people. There is nothing more important to our Creator than for every one of us to have as much happiness and fulfillment as humanly possible. When bad things happen, God feels our pain, is very present with us, and works to bring out the best in a bad situation.

What we must remember is that God takes the long view. His goal is not to give us temporary and perhaps superficial and fleeting comfort in this world, but rather looks to our eternal welfare.

God Brings Good Out of Everything If We Let Him

bad-things-happenSwedenborg says it is impossible to see God’s Providence in the face, as it is happening, but that we can see it when we look back in reflection on the past. In other words, in times of crisis it is very hard to necessarily sense that God is present and working to bring good out of a bad situation. However, when we look back at such times we can often see the gentle hand of God at work.

Look at the horrible act of terrorism of September Eleventh, something so far from God’s will and even more horrible to be committed in God’s name. However, the love and charity that poured out of all people, not only in the United States, but around the world, was astounding!

The cynics say that this was temporary and fleeting, but didn’t a part of us change forever? Or, at the very least, did we not have that opportunity presented before us in this horrific time in our lives? God didn’t make this event happen or will it, but God didn’t abandon us. God was there in a huge way, working through the same human freedom and choice he gave those terrorists, but now the choice of thousands was love and compassion, and a resolve to rid the world of such hideous efforts.

In times of tragedy we may not be able to see immediately that God is there, leading us to peace and comfort, and so much more. However, we can rest assured that this world has been set up in such a way that all can be bent and turned toward good.

The choice for good is always present

God provides constantly that the choice for good is always present, and continually lifts us up from our pain and our doubt to freedom to live and love again. The real question is, can we trust this? Can we find the good, or at least pursue it, and allow the force of love and life to lift us up? When we do this we can heal and even grow. And this growth is eternal.

There is an invisible and gentle current in each one of our lives that can peacefully carry us to happiness and heaven. It is always there for us, whenever we want to let go and trust the way. Even in what might appear as the worst of times, that stream is flowing and can carry us to all things blessed. We can trust that we are being cared for, that our eternal happiness is the most important thing God has in mind for us, and that all of creation flows toward this end. Our choice is to believe this, accept it, and freely choose it. Wade into the stream. Relax, and enjoy the ride.


This article was edited from Grant Schnarr’s book, You Can Believe. For more on this subject, see the New Church Connection issue of “Why do bad things happen”, as well as the book Why Does God Let It Happen? by Bruce Henderson.

NEW CHURCH BELIEFS

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DAILY INSPIRATION

“[Love for the Lord] opens the deeper levels of the mind.”

Heaven and Hell 271

Agnostics Anonymous

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

The popular view of an agnostic, I suppose, is of some poor devil who simply cannot make up his mind whether God exists, or not. Most dictionaries, however, tend to offer a more positive definition. Chambers, for example, holds that an agnostic is “one who holds that we know nothing of things beyond material phenomena.” He might, therefore fervently believe that God does indeed exist, but that we have no such evidence and that we are unlikely to find any – in this world, at any rate.

The term ‘agnostic’ (in contrast to ‘gnostic’) I find, was first used by T.H.Huxley in 1869, though there is mention of an inscription “To an unknown God” in the book of Acts 17,23. The term has also been used to include the more extreme view that knowledge in general can only be applied to what is available to the senses: everything else being irrelevant. Any agnostics found lurking in our churches would scarcely go that far. Others may feel pretty sure that God probably doesn’t exist, but are nevertheless quite prepared to be convinced otherwise.

When I contemplate the immensity of infinite space with its innumerable galaxies, I may find it impossible not to think that somebody must be in control. At the same time, it may also seem equally impossible to concede that anybody is in control. Whether that ‘body’ is masculine, feminine or neuter simply defies human imagination.

Most church-goers, of course, are not plagued with such ambivalent misgivings. They have presumably long ago been totally persuaded, or have persuaded themselves that God, in some shape or form, undoubtedly exists, if not in bodily shape then maybe in some other way.

In this latter case the agnostic’s problem may be somewhat diminished. I suspect that some dubious agnostics, who are also devout church-goers, may attend in the hope that Christian conviction may rub off on them, as it were by a process of osmosis. Such aspiration, I hasten to say, is by no means the same as what a true worshipper experiences as devotion. It can nevertheless be sincere and heartfelt.

However, our benighted agnostic may already have made up his mind that church-goers, though possibly on the right lines, are much too glib altogether. He will seek his evidence elsewhere – in the wonders of the natural world perhaps. Do they speak of God?

The world is full of remarkable things and contains great mysteries – but they prove nothing. Nature might, after all, well, have just happened – sort of emerged ever so slowly all by itself as Darwin and Dawkins eloquently suggest. Then there is the notion that maybe it all stands for something else. Perhaps our planet is a great treasure-chest full of symbols, all of which hold-hands and spell out some almighty ‘spiritual’ story. One day the divine story-teller himself will explain it all – that would surely clinch the matter.

Agnosticism is a perilous addiction, for which no cure is infallible: it requires excellent balance like learning to ride an unswerving holy bicycle: it is so easy to fall for a religious faith on one side or slide into atheism on the other. Such are the perils of uncertainty, the demands of honesty can make for a bumpy passage.

There are many perfectly good and virtuous reasons for regular church-going, not all of which are necessarily theological. A love of church music can be a powerful incentive, especially where there is a good organ and an impressive choir. Tradition and liturgy can impart great comfort in a changing – often threatening – world. The discussion of moral problems helps to stimulate the brain and maintain a caring social conscience. Some of us enjoy holy theatre, and are moved by ritual. Some like to keep up with the local news: the church may often be the best social club in town, and the incumbent an ever-present comfort in times of trouble. But, I wonder, though it is none of my business, may not some of these good people perhaps harbour the guilty secret that they are not always, absolutely certain that God exists?

Sitting on fences is never an easy stance to maintain, since it is, I suppose, an intellectual position without a great deal of support. A true religious faith, on the other hand, is altogether more heartfelt, arising from emotional springs deeply grounded in the human soul. The agnostic needs all the help he can get: fortunately, he gets along very happily with others of a like disposition.

Christian agnostics, being scarce and hard to identify, probably pose the greatest challenge and problem to the believer. But the mysteries of Incarnation are much too deep to fathom here.

Copyright 2010 G Roland Smith

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

Posted on31st October 2011CategoriesMeaning of life, ReligionTags,, , , , , ,, , , , , Leave a comment

Freedom or Free will

New Christian Bible StudyNew Christian Bible Study

By Mr. Joseph S. David

Freedom or Free Will

Free will is the quality that distinguishes humans from animals. Animals cannot be either good or evil = they are what they are – but humans can choose. The Lord protects this freedom of will to the extent that He allows evil, because only loves that are freely chosen can be appropriated to an individual. Because we are all free to choose to do what we believe is right in the Lord’s eyes, or choose to do what we want, we can be formed into an image of the love we choose. The image may be heavenly or hellish, it’s our choice. No animal has such a choice.

The Lord has always given mankind a choice. Adam had a choice in the garden of Eden, Noah had a choice to obey about the ark or not, Abram had a choice to travel to Canaan or not, and the children of Israel had choices galore.

They all had received revelation of one kind or another, culminating in the Word from Moses, the prophets and the Gospels – what we now call the Bible. (You will find short explanations of the Most Ancient Church, the Ancient and Israelitish churches elsewhere on this site.) The writings for the New Church are a continuation of the Lord’s revelation. The knowledge that they had, and that we have today, from those revelations opens up the ability to make good choices, or bad ones.

We can’t change our loves ourselves. We can’t flip back our skull and throw a switch in our brain that makes us love our neighbor – but the Lord can do something like that over time. And without even opening up our skull! But He won’t do that unless we want Him to. We show Him that we want it to happen by acting as if He’d already done it. If we force ourselves to act as if we love our neighbor even though we don’t feel it yet, we will one day realize that, all unknown to us, He has reached in and changed us a bit. We may have forced ourselves, but free will means that we are free to force ourselves – it’s our choice.

Some people may believe that they can’t change. Maybe they try for a little while and don’t notice anything, so they lose heart. This is a lifetime project. All during our life in the natural world the Lord keeps us in a state of equilibrium between the influences of heaven and hell, just so that our will can move us a little bit one way or the other, so that we can remain in control. This is our freedom.

The Lord wants everyone born to come to His heaven, it’s what we are born for, but we are all free to decide for ourselves if we will do so or not.

(References: True Christian Religion 475, 483, 498, 500)

http://newchristianbiblestudy.org/


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Atheist Richard Dawkins: Is he right?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

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atheist Dawkins
Richard Dawkins

Britain has lost its church-going heritage. There is a growing voice of the atheist in society such as Richard Dawkins author of The God Delusion, attacking what is seen as religious superstition. If Christianity is thought to be judgmental, hypocritical and blindly accepting irrational dogma, why should anyone still believe in God?

Although many these days, like the atheist, dismiss organised religion, not everybody has rejected the possibility of there being something deeper to life beyond what is apparent to their senses and beyond what science can discover. They have a dim awareness that there is more to human existence than material reality.

A red rose may be a physical thing but when you are presented with one by the person you love, you might experience a range of feelings, memories and associations which give that natural object a symbolic meaning and thus make it in some sense supernatural. It transcends its material reality to communicate something of beauty, hope and love.

People often say “I’m spiritual but not religious. We all need ideas to be expressed in words, yet much of what passes for what is called spiritual seems to go beyond mere words and thus difficult to get a handle on. Nevertheless here are seven things about the spiritual dimension that can be expressed in words to help answer the question about whether it really is sensible to be an atheist.

1. Life and the atheist

For many people being alive is more than a material thing: it is due to a life force within biology that animates and restores one’s physical body and gives growth. No atheist can claim that science can put together a living thing from lifeless matter.

2. Ethics and the atheist

The entertainment industry, fantasy books and computer games often meet a popular interest in fantasising about a conflict between supernatural forces. A way of seeing reality the atheist denies. The industry have cottoned on to an awareness that no only do we need power and energy to protect ourselves from harm and malevolence but that human existence is about ethical choices between good and evil.

3. Synchronicity and the atheist

Some people notice fortunate coincidences that have occurred in their lives. Events that have gone together in a meaningful manner. Such a synchronous happening seems to go beyond what might be due to human prudence or to what might be randomly due to chance.

4. Nature and the atheist

There seems to be a renewed interest in nature. Not only in terms of wanting to protect the environment but also in respect for an inherent harmony of nature and the place of human beings within it. There is interest also in learning from nature as a potential source of wisdom. No atheist accepts creation. Yet the world of nature can be seen to be created to reflect the mind’s inner appreciation of life.

“As above, so below; as below, so above” (Saying of the medieval alchemists)

For example: Flowers echo the tender loving thoughts that are so beautiful while they last. A storm with torrential rain and hail reflects what is fierce and cruel.

5. Mystical experiences and the atheist

It is not uncommon to have had a mystical experience that appears to come from outside of oneself. For example feeling at one with the universe, in harmony with nature and being connected to all life. Individuals find it hard to talk about such moving personal experiences.

6. NDEs and the atheist

You might put down NDE’s (near death experiences) as hallucinations triggered by exceptional circumstances. People often tell of the following: the appearance of a bright light, encountering others such as deceased relatives and friends and being taken back – like in a video replay – through all the important incidents in their life. In other words there is a common pattern seen by many people rather than different individual fantasies. The atheist rejects the notion of the supernatural but do NDE’s mean some people have been in contact with a universal supernatural reality?

7. ADCs and the atheist

Likewise there is the evidence of ADC’s (after death communications). Experiencing messages from dead love ones might be thought just to be the wish fulfilling dreams of grieving people. However when read with an open mind such accounts are found to have credibility. One’s confidence in life after death is increased when one realizes that often the receiver is not in a state of grief or that unknown information is heard.

Source of a spiritual dimension to life

Having a sense of a spiritual dimension to life raises the question about its source. What is the cause?  Alcoholics call this origin a higher power without which they cannot find the strength to resist temptation. Others think of it as a divine mind. Those who identify with what used to be called The New Age refer to the source as the Self. It is what I like to call the Divine within each of us. In Hindu philosophy it is referred to as Atman.

Swedenborg identifies the inner spiritual life as the presence of God and says we can receive this Divine presence as part of ourselves.

“God is the Self, the only One and the First, called Being and existing in Itself, the Source of all things which are and which exist…… the Self and only One which is in itself, and thus the Beginning” (Swedenborg TCR 22)

There are those who want proof of God’s existence. But I would say that God is not a thing that can be scientifically proven any more than one can prove someone is truly loving, or a painting is beautiful or the universe gives hope. What one can find however is spiritual perception. For Swedenborg, spiritual perception is to be able to see through the illusions of the naturally-minded person, to a deeper reality within.

Copyright 2012 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

More than Presence: Conjunction

From Conjugial Love ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

There are two things which make the Church and thence heaven with man – the truth of faith and the good of life.  The truth of faith effects the Lord’s presence, and the good of life according to the truths of faith, effects conjunction with Him and thus makes the Church and heaven. That the truth of faith effects the Lord’s presence is because it pertains to light, spiritual light being nothing else. That the good of life effects conjunction, is because it pertains to heat; nor is spiritual heat anything else, for it is love, and the good of life pertains to love.
It is well known that all light, even that of winter, effects presence, and that heat united with light effects conjunction; for gardens and flower-beds are seen in all kinds of light, but do not blossom and bear fruit except when heat conjoins itself to light.  The conclusion is evident, that not those who merely know the truths of the Church are endowed by the Lord with love truly conjugial but those who both know its truths and do its goods.

(Conjugial Love 72)
 March 31, 2017

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
 http://lastchurch.blogspot.ca/

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Welcome to the website of the Swedenborgian Church. We’re glad you stopped by! The Swedenborgian Church is an open-minded, forward looking Christian church drawing its faith from the Bible as illuminated by the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). If you have serious questions about traditional Christian theology, yet wish to explore the deeper aspects of the Bible and the Christian faith, we may be what you are looking for. We worship a God of unconditional love, whose warmth and light can deepen your inner life and give direction to your spiritual journey.

We invite you to explore our growing website to learn more about our church and its ministries. And may God bless you on your spiritual journey!

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