Atheism – No Proof of God


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               Atheism – No Proof of God

Rev. Dr. Erik E. Sandstrom

November 2008


New Church Life

Atheism supposedly exists now also among some young people of New Church upbringing, those who have been educated in our system! We do not wish to insult anyone’s intelligence by claiming how wrong they are, or how they are burying their heads in the sand, because they are of course absolutely right! There never was, never has been, any proof of God’s existence. Why should they believe what cannot be proved? There is however a childishly simple proof of God’s existence. More of that later.

     Just think for a moment, how infinitely clever, indeed wise, God is for not leaving any witnesses for His existence. He created the universe so there is no signature! Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) called this thunderous absence of a “signature” a sign of the “anonymous author cunningly concealing himself” and no one can be “more carefully withdrawn from direct relationship [to people] than God.” Just look, he says in other words, how carefully He has concealed Himself! To the conclusion of this lack of a signature, Kierkegaard concedes that God “is not there.” But the proof, he continued in another direction, consisted in turning to one’s “inner self, and once only in the inwardness of self-activity, does he have his attention aroused, and is enable to see God.” (Soren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript).

     This inner self is also fallacious, however. This however has to avoid Ludwig Feuerbach’s (1804-1872) denial of God as worthy of discussion, since only “man himself, and nature” are proper objects of “philosophical study,” not God, a subject that “transcends human experience.” Here he is similar to his predecessor David Hume (1711-1776). The next generation from Swedenborg, Hume was an empiricist thinly disguised as a Deist. The mind alone was real, said Hume, but a miniature of God’s mind. We must therefore trust human reason. This however led to doubting that even the world was the way we saw it, a skepticism which lent fire to later naturalistic arguments, doubting God also. Biblical criticism had with Hume’s contemporaries, Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694 – 1768), and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) already used this approach to cast doubt on the historical existence of Jesus, Moses and Muhammad. There was a “ditch” between faith and history. The Bible could not be trusted as a source or description of any truth, let alone that of God. The Gospels were hence irrelevant as history because of the lack of miracles verifying the same truths today. Jesus himself was doubted as an historical figure, but was more the enthusiastic or kerygmatic projection of faith in some ancient outstanding individual.

     These are just a few strands of the arguments paving the way for atheism. Only faith has maintained the Bible as the all time best seller for all centuries. That says something about the persistent clarity of truth, both concealed in scripture, but self-evident here and there as well. Astoundingly enough, it was in this Age of Reason era of final doubt in the Word of God, that all the self-evident truth was drawn out and published for all to witness, if they willed. Atheism today is easily read out of existence in the Heavenly Doctrines (1749-1771).

     So it was up to around 1800 that everyone thought of God or the gods as controlling everything, from wind to thunder, to war and disease, to the stars in the sky. God caused everything, and His ways were often mysterious. But God was now relegated to a “god of the gaps” argued “from ignorance.” There are other explanations of everything today, and science provides them! Science has left only a few “gaps” where God might still exist, “growing smaller and smaller.” Lightning is caused by electrons, not by Thor or Zeus! Science explains and solves more things than God or faith in Him does. So they say.

     The Writings warned against this whole line of reasoning, in fact ridiculed it, just when the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment were peaking: naturalism is not willing to acknowledge the possibility of “influx from the Lord’s Divine through the spiritual world.” That is why naturalism has “overwhelmed” the Church (Apocalypse Explained 1220) and favored thinking “about Divine things from things proper to nature, that is space and time” (Arcana Coelestia 5116:3). Then, however, “one infinite God” cannot be comprehended at all, nor the entire creation of the universe, which becomes a “foolish” notion (Canons 4). The consequence would be the “worship of nature” which leads “automatically to atheism” (True Christian Religion 771). That is why “naturalism and atheism rush forth together” (Coronis XVI).

     We of course cannot condemn outright all that science does, nor the scientific principles which have “created” the world of technology we all enjoy, deemed to be the most advanced and civilized since the world began. We count “civilized” by such modern standards as electronic equipment and new model cars. What is denounced is eliminating God and heaven, just because they cannot be seen from the natural “lumen” of science (cf. Divine Love and Wisdom 69)! Just because the scientific method which is now a norm to all learning throughout the world, absorbs information just as easily as a sponge absorbs water (Interaction 9) does not mean that science is only harmful. It just should not deny God! For natural theology can never enter into “spiritual theology,” while the reverse, however, cannot be said. For spiritual theology easily enters into the natural scientific techniques (De Verbo 6:4). From spiritual things, all natural things can be seen in order, while from natural things, nothing spiritual at all is witnessed. There are indeed two foundations of truth, the Word and Nature (Spiritual Experiences 5709), yet from the foundation of truth based on nature, nothing of the foundation of truth based on the Word can be seen. “Nothing can be founded upon Scientifics except it be previously founded upon the Word” (Spiritual Experiences 5710). This is repeatedly given as the method:

     “When a person’s basic assumption is to believe nothing until he sees and understands it, he cannot possibly believe; for spiritual and celestial things are neither visible to the eyes nor comprehensible in mental images. But the true order is for a person to become wise from the Lord, that is, from His Word. In that case everything follows as it should…. the premise of belief in the Lord’s Word and of confirming spiritual and celestial truths by means of natural truths, using as far as is possible the terminology of the learned world” (Arcana Coelestia 129).

     Some have seen the need to see God from a premise of prior existence, as Barth, for example, who thundered “Let God be God.” There is no “regenerative soteriology” i.e. human approach to God that generates its own view of Him. This is because “God sought humanity, not the other way around,” he said. Similarly, to the extent that atheism is based on lack of proof of God’s existence, it is just declaring that the method of discovering reality obviates spiritual reality. You can no more prove that God exists than prove that the “idea of God” is itself real. After all how real is an idea? And so it goes.

     It is supremely ironical that the Lord Himself on earth addressed the impossibility of proving God’s existence. Can you guess where? It is of course where He says, “Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe” (John 20:29) He was talking to Thomas, who had just fallen on his knees and said, “My Lord and my God.” Thomas having earlier witnessed the Lord’s crucifixion and death, had here witnessed the resurrected Lord. Here was the proof, the nail marks, he asked for. Still, the risen Jesus rebuked him: “Because you have seen Me, you believe.” Part of the irony, is that Thomas “saw” the Lord with his spiritual eyes. He was seen only with the spiritual eyes after the Resurrection, saying “their eyes were opened” (True Christian Religion 777, Conjugial Love 30, Apocalypse Revealed 36). Only when they are opened, is there any “proof” of spiritual reality. And every single night, that proof of spiritual reality is supplied to practically all human beings, as quickly and quietly as the earth turns from light into darkness. We dream. Where does the “light” of a dream come from? The room is dark, yet the dream has light! That is seeing with our spiritual eyes. Besides this “proof” which we leave you to ponder, the Lord when He said, “Blessed are those who do not see yet believe,” meant the very fact that no one can prove God’s existence: “They are blessed who do not see the Lord with their eyes, as Thomas did, and yet believe that He is; for this is seen in the light of truth from the Word” (Faith 10).

     “Believe that He is.” That is God’s existence. The Only “proof” of God comes from the Word of God, which is the “light of truth.” Only the Word can “prove” God’s existence. Only revelation can tell us of God (Sacred Scripture 114). Well, does the Word of the Lord exist? Yes. The Word of God exists: Ergo, God its Author exists. We too “are because God is” (Divine Providence 46e)…

     Another argument: How can such a majestic universe exist without proof of a cause or Maker? Who is clever enough to create a universe without leaving a trace, but God? And as if to have the last laugh, the Lord made His Advent by the same method: spontaneous germination in the womb of Mary: “Only by means of conception from His Divine and by birth from a virgin…” (Divine Love and Wisdom 234, Lord 29) To think the Lord could have come any other way is insane. (True Christian Religion 502)

      Still, people ask “Where is the evidence? Unless I see it for myself…” However, because the “reaction appear[s] as though it were a property of the thing created because it occurs when the thing is acted upon,” (Divine Love and Wisdom 68) the spiritual acting on the natural is so subtle that it escapes empirical detection. Yet ever since paleo-history, man has known God was behind it all: wise people knew the land was “impregnated by the most subtle substances (which can have no other than a spiritual origin), and through this they have power to conjoin themselves to use, from which comes their prolific principle” (Divine Love and Wisdom 310). “There is present both the spiritual which provides a soul and the material which provides a body. Also within everything spiritual there is a conatus to clothe itself with a body” (Divine Love and Wisdom 343). People have known that for ages, as part of the wisdom and lore of culture.

     Well, if so, is there in fact any tangible evidence of God being the source of life? What could constitute “empirical evidence” of God’s Creative hand? Can we see when life began? Was it suddenly? Would evidence of a sudden beginning of life constitute a “smoking gun” for Creation, a finger-print of the Intelligent Designer? Is there any hard evidence of a SUDDEN beginning? Well, ahem, ahem:

The period of biological innovation occurred at virtually the same instant in geologic time all around the world….evolution at supersonic speed.” (Time, When Life Exploded, Dec.4, 1995, p.68)

Life did explode “instantly,” no not on Dec. 4 1995 but from 543 to 510 million years ago. That is a mere 33 “eons,” called by Time “virtually the same instant.” Now the current estimation of the age of the universe is 13.7 giga-years, i.e. billions of years. Dividing 543 million minus 510 million equals 33 million, into 13.7 billion, equals ca. one 400,000th.

     The “instant” of 33 million years when measurable organic life began all over this planet, is one 400,000th of the total time elapsed since creation. That is awfully quick.

     So does that do it? Is this proof? “Life” began suddenly, everywhere, simultaneously! Is this not only God’s signature, but entire palm-print in creation? What else could cause such a sudden arrival of life all at once all over the planet? It is scientifically verifiable evidence. The Lord made His Advent only on this planet (Earths in Universe 113) just because here it can be known that God is Man both from the Word and from experience (Spiritual Experience 4782). God the Creator of the universe was born onto our planet, but 543 million years ago, He left His mark already. Now we can appreciate why the Lord “loves this earth more than others” because here “heavenly truths can be rooted in truths of nature.” (Spiritual Experience 1531) Fossils and mathematics match revelation, the foundation of nature matches how creation happened as revealed in Divine Love and Wisdom, published by Swedenborg in Amsterdam, at the print-shop of Fran ois Changuion, in 1763. “I AM” acts and the time and space universe began.

     If Theists and Atheists met and discussed belief, no solution would likely ensue. There just is no proof. The decision to believe, however, is in the New Church dependent on reading the Writings or not. When Theists are also New Church members, the discussion would revolve around what proof there is that Heaven and Hell or all of the Writings are, in fact, so? However, that is one question that can only be answered by reading for oneself! As Swedenborg himself advised, “Read my books and see for yourself.” After reading them, another question can be asked: who has any shadow of a doubt left that everything said there is so? There is no doubt left whatever. “Life after death is a dead certainty.” Generations of New Church people have faced death content with the certainty of what is said about the afterlife. It is true.

     The same goes for God’s existence. After the Lord is studied in all the Doctrines, the question of God’s existence becomes pass . God is the Divine Itself, the Father, acting as the soul to the Divine Human, the Son, who is the risen Lord. The Holy Spirit comes from Him when He, as the visible God, One both in Person and Essence, speaks. That Divine speech is the “Spirit of Truth leading to all truth,” the source of the Writings, the Heavenly Doctrines. The only proof of God comes from all that He has now said, namely the Word of God in the Heavenly Doctrine.

     We close with the childishly simple proof of God.  There have been so many proofs of God put forward that they become frivolous. But there is some substance to them.

  • The Transcendental Argument says (1) If reason exists then God exists, (2) Reason exists, (3) Therefore, God exists.

  • The Cosmological or first cause Argument says, (1) If I say something must have a cause, it has a cause. (2) I say the universe must have a cause. (3) Therefore, the universe has cause. (4) Therefore, God exists.

    A couple more:

  • The Argument from Beauty or Design (Teleology): (1) Isn’t that baby/sunset/flower/tree beautiful? (2) Only God could have made them so beautiful. (3) Therefore, God exists.

  • Finally a rather cynical argument from the Bible: (1) [arbitrary passage from OT] (2) [arbitrary passage from NT] (3) Therefore, God exists.*

    All of these can be stated more philosophically, but also easily be disproved and so discounted.


         But there is a new argument we mentioned at first: How can people for thousands of year, all over the world, without contacting or even knowing of each other, all reach the same doubt over God’s existence, unless there does indeed exist a God as the object of all such doubt? You just cannot doubt something that actually does not exist, not for that many millennia, in so many scattered locations. In any case, if God actually did not exist, then the doubt of His existence would not even arise. There would be no belief to begin with. This is proved by children who are taught nothing, ending up believing – nothing! However, if God really did not exist, then there would be no universe nor people who could believe, either! But doubt of God has persisted. God has become the permanent object of human doubt. The very persistence of human doubt thereby makes God’s existence permanent! One could put this in Cartesian terms, using Dubito, ergo sum. Transposing, we have, Dubito Deum longeque per orbis terrarum, Ergo Deus est. I doubt God over time and through all the earth, therefore God is.

         However, the only proof of God is found from the “light of truth from the Word.” There is also an influx into the souls of all people that there is a God and that He is one (Canons 4). This influx can only reinforce a true belief when this is expounded from the Word. You can’t see it in your inner self, as Kierkegaard postulated, since the inner self has no answers which have not entered through the senses. There too there is a proof of God, since the idea of God has to enter through the senses. That means God has to reveal Himself in order for anyone to see and then believe in Him. Once the Word has come about through such experiences, the Word of God stands in for the original personal presence and revelation of God. And the existence of the Word of God cannot be denied, however strongly anyone is confirmed in Atheism or not. If the Bible’s existence cannot be denied, neither can God’s existence be denied, since only the Word shows God to be. For God’s existence, His nature, Advent, Salvation of the human race, all this must be revealed from the Word of God alone (Sacred Scripture 114, 115). No one can come up with this information on one’s own, by natural deduction. “No one can see from below the things which are in the heavens” (De Verbo 6:4). They must be revealed. With the Second Coming having taken place in the revealed Writings, the conclusion that “God is” and that “we are because God is” (Divine Providence 46e), is almost a foregone conclusion, but apparently not with 100% of witnesses. Therefore, “Blessed is the man who has not seen, yet believes” (John 20:29, Faith 10)

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< Chapter XVIII. Man at Birth. ^ Discrete Degrees ^ Chapter XIX. Growth During Infancy. >


As a Supplement to the foregoing and a Preliminary to childhood preparation for regeneration we add that even at birth the very initial of this preparation has already been taken, by influx of innocence and peace from the LORD through heaven into the infant during the entire period of gestation. The prenatal state qualified by celestial innocence and peace is the essential in every subsequent state and progression. In Arcana Coelestia we read, –
“The internal man with every one is of the LORD alone. There the LORD stores up goods and truths with which He gifts man from infancy. By these He flows into the interior or rational man and by this into the exterior [or natural man], thus it is given to man to think and to be a man.”-AC 1707.

In this passage the internal man is the inmost A, the interior or rational man is B, the exterior is C D E F which together are called the natural or external man.

That this inmost is stored with heavenly principles from man’s very conception is evident from these considerations:

(1.) The inmost is the primordial degree of man’s structure into which the LORD first enters by influx of good and truth as one. From this degree He forms the will and understanding and flows into them when formed. (Inf. 8.)

(2.) The LORD conjoins Himself to man at first conception and forms in him two receptacles to be habitations for Himself in man, one for love the other for wisdom. (D. W. in AE III.)

(3.) Did not the LORD flow into this first degree He could not flow into the degrees below or even form them. Thus from conception this highest degree is filled with the Divine Love and Wisdom from which the LORD operates to form the faculties below and prepare them for the work to be accomplished after birth.

That man at birth is imbued with the beginnings of innocence and peace which are the inmost principles of good and truth of every degree appears from the Writings:

“The LORD through the inmost heaven insinuates conjugial love, the angels there being in peace above others. Peace in the heavens is like spring in the world which gives delight to all things, it is the celestial itself in its origin. The angels who are there, are the wisest of all, and from innocence appear to others like infants; they also love infants far more than their fathers and mothers do. They are present with infants in the womb and by them the LORD takes care that infants are nourished and perfected, thus they preside over those who carry in the womb.”-AC 5052

“Love truly conjugial is derived from the love of the LORD toward the Church and from the love of good and truth which love is the love of the angels of the third heaven, wherefore love truly conjugial which thence descends as the love of that heaven, is innocence, which is the very esse of all the good in the heavens; hence embryos in the womb are in a state of peace, and infants after they are born are in a state of innocence. “-AE 985.

“This celestial love flows in out of heaven with mothers while they carry in the womb as also with the embryos, hence exists the love of infants with mothers and innocence with infants.”-AE 710[a].

“By the womb is signified inmost conjugial love and thence celestial love in every complex…. The embryo in the womb derives more from the good of innocence than after it is born.”-AE 710[a].

These embryo states of innocence and peace being first in order are related to the following states as the seed is related to that which grows from it.

Previous: Chapter XVIII. Man at Birth. Up: Discrete Degrees Next: Chapter XIX. Growth During Infancy.



A Sermon by Rev. Daniel W. Heinrichs
Preached in Boynton Beach, Florida February 9, 1992

“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

The Lord claimed to be the promised Messiah. The leaders of the Jews the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees disputed His claim. We would note that those who denied His claim and rejected Him based their case on an erroneous interpretation of the Scriptures. They claimed repeatedly that His teaching was contrary to the law given through Moses. Time and again the Lord showed them that His doctrine was not contrary to the law, but its fulfillment gave it deeper meaning a spiritual meaning to the law. But because the Lord refused to be bound by the rigid, self- serving interpretations which the scribes and Pharisees placed on the law, they branded Him an imposter, and continually attempted to discredit Him.

Because their minds were so warped by their sensualism they totally failed to see the true nature of the Lord’s teaching. What were their primary concerns? Ceremonial washings, the observance of feast days and sacrificial offerings. They were utterly blind to the weightier matters of the law: judgment and mercy (see Matt. 23: 23). Therefore the Lord advised them: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (text).

The Lord has revealed that everyone during infancy and childhood is sensuous. One’s thoughts during that period of development are formed solely from bodily and worldly sensations entering through the five senses (see AC 5126:2, 5497). These physical sensations are stored up and form a physical plane in the mind called the corporeal memory, or the memory of material ideas. As the child grows up and begins to reflect on the things in this plane of the memory and forms conclusions from them, a reorganization takes place and a new plane is established called the natural memory, or the memory of immaterial ideas. If one matures and cultivates the rational faculty, he then reflects on the things in this plane of the mind and so is able to perceive the truth which is in that which has been learned (see AC 5497).

The things of sense are one thing, knowledges in the memory another, and truths another. They are formed successively, the higher from the lower. These planes of the mind are distinct in their formation and they remain distinct. A person can be thinking at one time in one plane and at another time in another (see AC 5774:2). Thought from the lowest plane is called sensual thought, from the middle plane, natural thought, and from the third plane, rational thought. There are thus three distinct degrees or types of thought: sensual, natural and rational. Every thought that we have emanates from one of these planes and derives its quality from it.

Like the Jews referred to in our text, all of us are prone to think from the lowest or sensual plane of our minds. Since it is the first plane formed it requires no effort of the will or intellect to think in this manner; it is, as it were, spontaneous. Yet if we are to perceive and understand truth we must rise above both sensual and natural thought to rational and spiritual thought.

Truth is above nature. Because it is from God, it is in its essence spiritual. In its descent from God the Divine truth is successively clothed, or finited, and in this manner creation took place. That creation took place by a successive finition of Divine truth is clear from the first chapter of John’s gospel. There God is identified with the Word, or Divine truth, and it is declared that the world is made by Him, that is, by the Word or Divine truth proceeding from Him. Thus the objects of nature are appearances of truth on the material plane. The laws of nature which govern the objects are appearances of truth on the plane of nature and are thus called natural appearances of truth.

With this in mind we can see that when we think from the two planes of the mind based on, and formed from, the realms of matter and nature, we are not thinking from truth, but from appearances of truth sensual and natural appearances of truth. Such thought tends to obscure and obliterate a perception of spiritual truth. It drags the mind down.

The Writings state: “Unless man’s thought can be elevated above sensuous things so that these are seen as below him, he cannot understand any interior thing in the Word, still less such things as are of heaven … for sensuous things absorb and suffocate them” (AC 5089:2). For this reason, we are told, those who abound in worldly learning alone have greater difficulty than the simple in understanding spiritual truths, for their minds are immersed in material concepts to such a degree that the mind cannot be elevated to perceive spiritual realities (ibid.).

To illustrate the truth of this, Swedenborg relates the following experience: “It has sometimes happened that I was earnestly thinking about worldly things, and about such things that give great concern to most persons, namely, about possessions, the acquisition of riches, about pleasures, and the like. At these times I noticed that I was sinking down into what is sensuous, and that in proportion as my thought was immersed in such things, I was removed from the company of angels. By this means it was also made plain to me that they who are deeply immersed in such cares cannot have association with those who are in the other life. For when such thoughts possess the whole of the mind, they carry the lower mind downward, and are like weights which drag it down; and when they are regarded as the end, they remove the man from heaven, to which he cannot be elevated except by means of the good of love and of faith. This was made still more manifest to me from the fact that once when I was led through the abodes of heaven, and was at the same time in a spiritual idea, it happened that I suddenly began to sink into thought about worldly things, and then all that spiritual idea was dissipated and became nothing” (AC 6210).

That reliance on, or trust in, sensual appearances obscures truth is apparent even on the natural plane. The record of history bears witness to this fact. Basing their conclusions on the evidence of the senses, people believed for centuries that the world was flat. Until very recent times matter was believed to be solid. These are appearances which, on the evidence of the senses, are very convincing. However, when the mind is elevated to the realm of causes to a consideration of immaterial ideas and the operation of laws then these appearances are seen to be fallacious, and as a hindrance to a true understanding of the natural world in which we live.

If there must be an elevation of thought in order to rightly understand the truth behind, or within, natural phenomena, how much more must this be the case if we are to understand the truth about spiritual things. For this reason the Writings continually urge us to raise our minds above the senses and think spiritually if we wish to understand spiritual truths. In the words of our text we are not to “judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment”(John 7:24). That is, we are not to think from the appearance of the senses but from revealed Divine truth, for judgment is predicated of Divine truth and the thought derived from it (see AC 9857).

We are privileged, as was no former church, with a revelation in which spiritual truths in abundance are laid open to the sight of the understanding in clear rational language. As a church and as individuals associated with that church, we have the opportunity, if we will, to think spiritually.

What do we mean by thinking spiritually? Many people associate the word “spiritual” with what is vague and incomprehensible. This is not the kind of thought which we have in mind. The Writings apply the term “spiritual” to that which is living and eternal, to that which is real and substantial though not material. To think “spiritually,” therefore, is to think from that which is real, living, substantial and eternal; that is, from Divinely revealed truth.

We would note here an important distinction one that is frequently overlooked. It is one thing to think about spiritual truth and quite another to think from it. All of us do the former when we listen to sermons or doctrinal classes and read the Lord’s Word. This is not spiritual thought. We do not wish to belittle it, for it is a very important means. The fact is, we cannot arrive at the end except through the means. We must first learn the truth before we can think from it. All too often we go no further.

Because of our hereditary nature, there is a strong tendency for us to think of religion and life as being two separate, distinct things. On Sundays, and on other occasions when we are engaged in worship, we focus our attention on spiritual matters. When this is over, we tend to recede from thought about spiritual things. In our day-to-day living we are apt to allow ourselves to a great extent to be predominantly influenced by the attitudes and thought of the world around us.

We might ask ourselves: How many of the decisions we make are arrived at after a careful consideration of Divinely revealed principles of truth? Some might suggest that this is carrying religion too far! If we think like this, then we too are thinking from worldly appearances.

All religion is of life. That is, the truths of religion are applicable to all phases of life. Indeed they were given for no other purpose than that they may be applied to our lives every aspect of our lives. In the minds of some the question may arise: “How can we be expected to know what truths or principles apply to a given situation?” The answer to this question is simple: If we seek to be enlightened by regular reading of the Lord’s Word, and avail ourselves of all the means provided by Him for our instruction, both public and private, we will learn those truths which apply directly to our lives. And if we pray to the Lord, He will enlighten us to see those truths we need to know in order to live well.

The truths revealed by the Lord in the Writings especially should be the principles from which we think about all things. As New Church people we should always be willing to examine the attitudes and opinions we hold to see if they are in agreement with the principles of truth which the Lord has revealed. And let us remember: a thing is not true or right merely because many people believe it, nor is it true and right because we have always believed it. It is true and right only if it is in agreement with what the Lord teaches. We would also note that because of our hereditary nature, we are inclined to favor those ideas which are in agreement with our own ideas, ideas which further our own selfish interests. It is therefore of great importance that we always be willing to re-examine our thoughts and attitudes.

The truths which the Lord reveals should, little by little, become the fabric of our thought. When we approach the problems of daily living, we should ask ourselves questions such as these: In what way does the thing I am considering contribute to the Lord’s end in creation? How does the doctrine of use apply to the situation under consideration? What relation has this problem to the degrees of the neighbor? Does the course of action I am considering come under the laws of Divine providence or under the laws of permission? What laws of Divine providence are applicable to the problem I am wrestling with?

If we are serious about living the life that leads to heaven we will seek to formulate our opinions, thoughts and attitudes from the truths of Divine revelation. We will cultivate the habit and practice of thinking from spiritual principles about all things. We are told that when what is spiritual reigns in a person, it affects and as it were tinges all that the person thinks, wills and does, and causes the thoughts and the actions of one’s will to partake of the spiritual, until at last these become spiritual in him (see AC 5639:2).

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3). Amen.

Lessons: I Samuel 16:1-13, John 7:14-31, DLW 248, 249

Divine Love and Wisdom 248, 249


It was shown above that there are three degrees of the human mind, called natural, spiritual, and celestial, and that these degrees may be opened successively in man; also that the natural degree is first opened; afterwards, if man flees from evil as sins and looks to the Lord, the spiritual degree is opened; and lastly, the celestial. Since these degrees are opened successively according to man’s life, it follows that the two higher degrees may remain unopened, and man then continues in the natural degree, which is the outmost. Moreover, it is known in the world that there is a natural and a spiritual man, or an external and an internal man; but it is not known that a natural man becomes spiritual by the opening of some higher degree in him, and that such opening is effected by a spiritual life, which is a life conformed to the Divine precepts; and that without a life conformed to these man remains natural.

There are three kinds of natural men; the first consists of those who know nothing of the Divine precepts; the second, of those who know that there are such precepts but give no thought to a life according to them; and the third, of those who despise and deny these precepts. In respect to the first class, which consist of those who know nothing of the Divine precepts, since they cannot be taught by themselves they must needs remain natural. Every man is taught respecting the Divine precepts, not by immediate revelations but by others who know them from religion, on which subject see The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Concerning the Sacred Scriptures (n. 114-118). Those of the second class, who know that there are Divine precepts but give no thought to a life according to them, also remain natural, and care about no other concerns than those of the world and the body. These after death become mere menials and servants, according to the uses which they are able to perform for those who are spiritual; for the natural man is menial and servant, and the spiritual man is a master and lord. Those of the third class, who despise and deny the Divine precepts, not only remain natural but also become sensual in the measure of their contempt and denial. Sensual men are the lowest natural men, who are incapable of thinking above the appearances and fallacies of the bodily senses. After death they are in hell.