The threefold nature of God

God is Love

At heart God is love. But love cannot exist in isolation, it yearns for others outside of itself whom it can love and make happy.  This need of God to love those other than himself is expressed many times in the Bible: –

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”.
[Genesis 1:26  ESV]

Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
[John 13:1 ESV]

God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
[1 John 4:12 ESV]

But whilst love for others may be the motivating power behind the created universe and the human race, it cannot entirely account for it. A God who was love alone might have a heartfelt longing for creation but that longing could never be more than an unfulfilled dream without the means to achieve it.

Alongside his love God also has know-how, a wise knowledge and understanding of how creation might be constructed and work.  Every created form, from our whole solar system to each individual atom in it, speaks of intelligence, knowledge, and design. The psalmist in his observation of creation perceives the voice of wisdom speaking through it: Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge  [Psalm 19:2  ESV]. Like a craftsman who loves to create pleasing forms, God also has knowledge of his materials, skill in using his tools, and wisdom in putting together the finished article. Such wisdom perfectly complements God’s love and neither of them is anything without the other.

Yet even a twofold God, in whom such love and wisdom were combined, would be impotent without a vital third element. In and through his creation, God is active and useful. His constant endeavour is one of service and he is always busy working to care for others and bless them with happiness. This useful endeavour brings to full fruition all that his love desires and his wisdom plans. These three essentials combine together to make the one God. They are the trinity without which God would be nothing more than an empty notion, and the created universe with all its life forms could not exist. Emanuel Swedenborg speaks often of this trinity of essentials in God as, for example, in the following summary:

There are three elements in the Lord which are the Lord, the Divine element of love, the Divine element of wisdom, and the Divine element of useful endeavour.
[Divine Love and Wisdom 296]

When writing of these essentials in the Lord God, Swedenborg occasionally speaks of them being “distinctly one”.  By this he means that whilst each essential – love, wisdom and use – can be known and understood as a distinct thing, each is such an integral part of the others that they only have reality and existence as a unity. In every moment, in God’s work of creation, preservation and salvation of the human race, all three essentials are distinctly one. They can no more have separate existence than could the heat, light and proceeding energy which together constitute our sun; or the vegetable matter, beautiful form and scent which together are a garden flower.

Every time God touches our lives, his love, wisdom, and useful endeavour are each working in perfect balance and harmony.  In these three essentials we have an insight into the Holy Trinity which has been at the heart of God since the very beginning.  The trinity is not three separate gods or even three separate persons, but is rather one God activating all the elements within himself in every work that he undertakes.  It was in recognition of this trinity within one God that the seraphim spoke their words of praise, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory [Isaiah 6:3  ESV]. The threefold repetition of the word, ‘holy’, speaks of the three essentials, but the singular word, ‘Lord’, speaks of one Divine Person in whom those essentials exist.

Emanuel Swedenborg gives us further insight into the necessity for a trinity of essentials in God when he writes, In every Divine work there is a first, a middle, and a last; and the first passes through the middle to the last, and thereby exists and subsists [Doctrine of Sacred Scripture 27].  Love must work through wisdom to accomplish any useful endeavour.  It seems that a trinity of essentials is required if there is to be completeness in any person or thing, as is confirmed by this further passage, By three, in the Word, in the spiritual sense, is meant what is complete and perfect; also the whole together [Doctrine of Sacred Scripture 29]. A God in whom there are three essentials is a complete God both in himself and in everything that he does.

Finally, it is also worth reflecting that, as human beings, we are made in the image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1:26 above). Because we draw our life from God it is hardly surprising that in each of us there is also a trinity of three essentials, for we too are capable of love, wisdom and useful endeavour. Each of these three essentials has to be active in every loving relationship we have with others and in every useful task that we properly discharge. It is only as we receive the fullness of God’s life in its threefold form that we can be complete in all that we strive to be and do.

http://www.god-is-love.org.uk/

Involution, Evolution and Influx (a new doctrinal challenge)

Those who are familiar with scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg’s idea of spiritual causality understand that God’s influx moves as an orderly process from non-physical beginnings to physical results in the spacetime arena. This theistic model of purposeful causal process starting from higher or innermost things to lower or external things is formulated within a triune order as ends, mediate causes and effects.

This top-down order is fine when contemplating God’s order in the process of creation—from spirit to matter. However, when considering the process of evolution and the emergence of bio-complexity there is a change in the order of action and influx—because effects more closely resemble ends or first principles.

For instance, when Swedenborg describes the growth of a human fetus the process is from innermost things to outermost things—then to mediate things! So instead of the top-down order of 1-2-3, we get 1-3-2! This “switcheroo” even happens between the relationships of the three essentials in the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Scripture first offers us the 1-2-3 order of divine process. God the Father is first. God the Son (Jesus) is second. And the Holy Spirit acts last—that is, the Holy Spirit manifests last. This sequential order is confirmed by the fact that in John 7:39 the “Holy Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” But when we consider Swedenborg’s statement that the Holy Spirit is the Divine Proceeding it becomes the mediating force and causal link between Divine Love (innermost essence) and Truth (form finding existence in externals). In other words, when all three elements are in their proper cosmic arrangement (simultaneous order) they manifest a different relationship.

So the order of action, once the Holy Spirit enters the equation, is 1-3-2. This is because although it acts last in time, it has a greater (higher) degree of holiness than the “lower” flesh and blood of Jesus, which consists only of physical matter (externals).

Glorification is the evolutionary process by which Jesus perfected and unified His human nature and human form with His Divine Nature. Through humiliation and acts of service the Holy Spirit transformed Jesus’ physical body into a perfect conductor of heavenly order and Love—until all its operations were purely holy. This is why Jesus ascended into heaven with His body because it became the Holy Spirit in the fullness of time!

We see this change of order in the operation between the human soul, the human body, and the resulting action, which proceeds from the conjunction and mediation of the two. Here, the spirit (and its aim) first flows into the body through mediate causes and structures (1-2-3) but when the body produces a useful action (corresponding to the wishes of the spirit) the proceeding or mediate cause which harmonizes the two takes the third or outward position (1-3-2) because usefulness comes forth from the body’s actions and therefore becomes the new external or outermost effect.

The direction of God’s influx is not simply from heaven into physical forms but into forms of dynamic uses. It is usefulness that first mediates between inner and outer realities (1-2-3) and later manifests (1-3-2) in the outer.

It is through the order 1-3-2 that utility and usefulness ascends back to heaven and evolves. But I will stop here for now.

http://www.provinggod.com

Posted in god, love, metaphysics, Reality, religion, science, spirituality, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

7 Days of Creation

 

7 Days of Creation in Genesis 1

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

WordMeaningsFirstSecondThirdFourthFifthSixthSeventhSummariesMore

Introduction

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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Finding new meaning in the Bible

Is the Bible still relevant?

Over the last two thousand years, millions of people have turned to the Bible for guidance, for wisdom, for hope, and for answers. Even today, millions look to it as God’s holy Word. But there are an even greater number who see it and have questions: “Is the Bible still relevant?” “If this is God’s holy Word, why does it contain so many stories involving violence and conflict?” “How am I supposed to understand such a confusing book?” These are all reasonable questions for which many different groups have many different answers. I’d like to share with you my own understanding, as a New Church person and pastor, of what I believe God teaches about His Word.

Look first for the simple answers

Some parts of the Bible are straightforward and easy to grasp quickly. For instance, when Jesus says, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12), it’s quite clear what we are supposed to do. Other parts are more complicated, especially when we start to compare them with one another. For example, sometimes it talks about Jesus and Jehovah as if they are the same person: “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). At other times, though, it seems as if they are two different people: “I am going to My Father, for My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).

Sometimes it can be hard to get more than even a general idea of what is being described, as in some of the more confusing prophecies and in some of the stranger visions. There are also the parts that are not hard to understand, but which seem incompatible with our modern ideas of science and history.

So, what are we to do?

The New Church teaches that the Bible has multiple layers of meaning. The more significant meanings are the deeper ones. These deep, previously-hidden meanings are now unlocked for anyone to see, in the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. Does this mean that we should ignore the more plain “surface” meaning of the text of the Bible? No way! In fact, the book True Christian Religion says that there are places in the Bible where the deeper meaning rises to the surface of the plain text, where anyone can see it:

“…The Word in that sense resembles a person wearing clothes, but whose face and hands are bare. Everything needed for a person’s faith and life, and so everything needed for his salvation, is there uncovered, though the remainder is clothed. In many passages where it is clothed it still shows through, like a woman’s features through a thin silk veil over her face. Moreover, since the truths of the Word increase in number as they are loved and this love gives them shape, so they show through and become visible more and more clearly” (True Christian Religion 229).

In other words, the most critical, soul-saving, life-giving teachings in the Bible are the ones that are easiest to understand: for example, the ten commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), the two great commandments (Mark 12:29-31), the new commandment (John 13:34-35), and the Lord’s prayer (Mathew 6:9-13). What’s more, there are places where the deeper meaning is only thinly veiled; once you know to look for it, it isn’t very hard to find. But what’s perhaps most exciting is the final implication of the above paragraph: once you realize that the Bible has this deeper truth in it, you become more and more attuned to it the more you read!

So, with the help of the explanations in the Writings of the New Church, along with prayer to the Lord for enlightenment along the way, you will find the deeper meaning of the Bible becomes gradually less and less hidden the more you read. And what you will find is that underneath the plain text of the Bible are new living, spiritual ways of understanding the Lord’s Word. Every story in the Bible contains within it deeper truths that relate to God, the church, and your own personal spiritual journey.

Remember, the most basic and the most important ideas in the Bible are the clearest and most obviously relevant ones. So don’t worry that the more complicated parts of the Bible may take time to decipher. God loves you and is merciful to you, and so He has already given you enough to live by, in the parts that don’t need further interpretation.

Now, once you start to really get this idea of there being deeper layers of meaning within the stories of the Bible, you can begin to find answers to other questions. For instance, there are parts of the Bible which seem no longer relevant because modern science has proven them “wrong.”

What about the creation story?

One example is the story of the creation of the world in seven days as told in Genesis. But in the first volume of the book Secrets of Heaven we discover that the literal statements in this story are vessels for deeper ideas. The inner truth of this story is all about the series of internal steps God takes people through as they develop spiritually. The Bible and science become compatible once we realize that the Bible is not really concerned with scientific facts, but instead uses ideas suited to illustrate important truths about humanity’s inner, spiritual reality. God’s primary focus is not to teach us science. What God wants to do is use the Bible to tell us about deep, eternal, unchanging truths that will have a much greater impact on us than our mere understanding of the physical world.

What about the violence in the Bible?

Likewise, this explains why so many of the stories in the Bible are full of violence and brutality. The deeper truth of the Bible is all about the inner life we each face, with all of the temptation, suffering and striving that we inevitably face. Our spiritual lives are full of conflicts between our lower, selfish natures and the higher, loving selves that God created us to be. If the Lord is going to talk to us about how to face spiritual battles, then it makes sense that he uses stories of natural conflict as the foundation and container for these lessons. But don’t take my word for it. I invite you to investigate this for yourself. Start reading the Bible, and when you have questions, look for the deeper truth behind the plain text of the story. To aid you in your search for meaning, turn to the Writings of Swedenborg, and reach out to someone in the New Church. There are many New Church members and ministers who would love to help you find your way as you begin this new journey of exploration. Email us at outreach@newchurch.org , and we will be happy to put you in touch with someone to answer your questions.

As is taught in Corinthians: “The letter kills, but the spirit gives life.” Go to God’s Word and seek out the spirit, and you will find that it gives the Bible new life and new meaning.

https://newchurch.org/

by Rev. Mac Frazier
from an article from New Church Connection

DAILY INSPIRATION

“Everything in the universe that is in harmony with God’s plan relates to goodness and truth.”

New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine 11

divine nature

divine nature

sun

If there is a God – a creative Divine Source to our life – then surely the Divine nature must contain within itself, at the very least, qualities of what is highest, purest and best to be found in the Divine design of creation: Love, Wisdom, Goodness, Truth etc. Otherwise, we would be looking still higher for the source of such qualities.

The search for the true or actual God is then the search for what we can conceive of as being the highest, purest and best in life, followed by an intuition that the Divine Source itself must be the measure of that perfection, and have unlimited potential for expressing aspects of that perfection in countless creative ways. We can then say, for example, that God is Love.

Use the links below to explore the Transcendent/Personal nature of the Divine, the Oneness of God, God as a Parent, Pathways to God and what is meant by Providence and much more.

honenessgod our parentpathways to god

Divine Image in Creation

spiritual wisdom home page

Divine Image in Creationspiritual wisdom logo

The whole of God’s creation supports the development of spirituality and so brings forth angels of heavenThe purpose of creation is for individual people to be linked with God; that is, for individual people to become angelic beings eternally experiencing peace, love and active usefulness in a state of heaven.

Here is a series of quotations from the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg through which a person may find it possible to contemplate experiencing the Divine in creation in every step he or she takes.

For example, with the system revealed to Swedenborg, pure water can be experienced as cleansing, thirst-quenching, a medium for preparing food and, through harnessing its power, a means of energy. Subsequently, it is possible to appreciate a link or correspondence between a physical manifestation and concepts to do with a person’s spiritual nature. That is, a person can experience the flow of genuine enlightenment as refreshing the spirit, as correcting or altering attitudes towards life – the result of which may feed into a more wholesome appreciation of inner energy and fulfilment.

Now because every single thing remains in being from the Divine, that is, is constantly coming into being from Him, and every single thing from that source is inevitably a representative of the real thing by means of which it has come into being, the whole visible universe is therefore nothing else than a theatre that is representative of the Lord’s kingdom. And this in turn is a theatre representative of the Lord Himself.   Emanuel Swedenborg in Arcana Caelestia 3483

waterfall

This mighty system which is called the universe is a single unit coherently organised from beginning to end, because God had one end in view in creating it, to create from the human race a heaven of angels. The means to this end are all the things of which the world is composed; for he who wills the end, wills also the means. The man therefore who contemplates the world as a piece of work containing the means to that end can contemplate the created universe as a single coherent unit, and he can see that the world is an assemblage of services structured for the benefit of the human race, to form a heaven of angels.   Emanuel Swedenborg in True Christian Religion 13:1-2

The following quotations offer a concept of usefulness, rather than forms, showing images of the Divine in creation. A visit to the countryside can bring a person into touch with the created universe in a way quite different from exposure to a man-made environment of a large town or city. For example, a person could reflect on:

– Various herbs being for the use of healing the body.

– Timber serving various uses from relaxation (willow for cricket bats) to building material (oak).

– Leaves of trees being a means of purifying the air people breathe.

– Grasses as staple foods.

– A chemist or botanist could delve deeper into the forms and penetrate into the wonders of uses revealed through the

microscope.

From these examples and your own experience reflect on the uses provided in the world of nature. How far a step is it to contemplate that what the Creator can provide as necessary for the physical body can also be provided on a level of spirit? Further, in what way may you then be able to make links between uses in the natural world and parallels mirrored within the needs of your spirit?

That love and wisdom are the origin of all things of nature cannot be seen unless nature is regarded in terms of the uses it serves in their series and succession, and not in terms of some of its forms, which are objects only of the eye. For useful endeavours spring only from life, and their series and succession from wisdom and love, while forms are the vessels serving those uses. Consequently if one regards only the forms, it is impossible to see anything of life in nature, still less anything of love and wisdom, and so neither anything of God.   Emanuel Swedenborg in Divine Love & Wisdom 46

timber yard

… even though the Divine is present in each and every constituent of the created universe, still there is nothing of the Divine in their being. For the created universe is not God, but from God. And because it is from God, it has in it His image, like the image of a person in a mirror, in which the person indeed appears, but which nevertheless has nothing of the person in it.   Emanuel Swedenborg in Divine Love & Wisdom 59

The universal end of creation, or the end in all its constituents, is for an eternal conjunction of the Creator with the created universe to take place, and this is not possible without vessels in which His Divinity can exist as though in itself, thus in which it can dwell and abide. For these vessels to be His dwellings or abodes, they must be recipients of His love and wisdom as though of themselves, thus recipients which will as though of themselves elevate themselves to the Creator and conjoin themselves with Him. Without this reciprocity, conjunction is not possible. These vessels are human beings, who are able as though of themselves to elevate and conjoin themselves. … By that conjunction the Lord is present in every work created by Him. For everything was created ultimately for the sake of mankind. Consequently the uses of all that He created ascend by degrees from the lowest created forms to mankind, and through mankind to God the Creator from whom they originate, … Emanuel Swedenborg in Divine Love & Wisdom 170

wildflower meadow

http://www.spiritualwisdom.org.uk/spiritual-principles.htm

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Angels and Non-Physical Complexity

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on September 20, 2008 by thegodguy

http://www.provinggod.com

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