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 , 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.

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


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

New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine 11

Scripture and the structure of reality

Those who have a faith-based worldview believe that God created the manifest universe. In fact, John 1:1-3 informs us that everything in the created world has its origins in the Holy Word.

If we contemplate John’s words rationally, rather than simply as a faith requirement, Scripture seems to be implying that the structure of the universe is patterned after the structure of God’s revealed wisdom.

Many physicists now believe that we live in a multi-dimensional or multi-leveled universe. As you move up this hierarchical ontological ladder, things are not only becoming more fundamental, they are becoming more abstract, expanded, non-local and non-physical.

In my upcoming book, Proving God, I argue that God’s Holy Word—which existed from eternity, was sent down from heaven, where its message found embodiment in the terrestrial words of human language. This divine order was the template for the multi-dimensional structure of the universe. Scientists call this order top-down causality.

Few theologians have considered the fact that if God’s Word came down from heaven, its original dynamics could not have been worldly, terrestrial, or physical. In other words, Scripture, on its most fundamental level, could not have described spatial qualities or physical events.

Heaven is certainly a non-spatial and non-physical realm. Therefore, for the Holy Word to exist in such a rarefied pre-space realm, before creation, it must have contained more abstract, expanded narratives with non-physical meanings. In fact, these higher meanings could ONLY treat of things referring to God’s holy qualities and the holy qualities of the Lord’s heavenly kingdom.

In the same way that energy and process can transition downwards into forms of stabilized matter, God’s Holy Word is a multi-dimensional document by which its primal sacred meaning descends into the constraints of time, space and matter, and its message takes on the appearance of a book containing literal history.

Reversing this top-down divine process through the human mind’s ability of symbolic abstraction while reading Scripture is what leads to spiritual enlightenment.

In other words, in the same way that matter and energy become more dynamic as the constraints of physical law are removed in higher levels of activity, the meanings of the stories in Scripture also become more dynamic when the constraints of the literal meanings of its words are removed.

That God intended for us to distill higher levels of meaning from the Holy Word is evidenced by the fact that Jesus spoke in parables only!

The Book of Revelation informs us that we will see the Lord in all His glory when He returns in the midst of clouds. If we remove the constraints of the literal meaning of the words “coming with the clouds” to its higher, psycho-spiritual equivalent, we will understand something deeper. Clouds symbolize mental obscurity.  God’s “return” will involve His breaking through our mental obscurity and doctrinal fog by revealing these higher levels of meaning to the human race.

The process of revealing these higher meanings is happening right now in the world. These higher meanings will shake things up for both scientists and theologians. The Second Coming is going to be an earth-shaking paradigm change.

Posted on December 6, 2008by thegodguy

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The Organic Bible

While there is a growing movement to attempt to unify science and theology there is also a healthy fear on both sides of this important endeavor. Scientists do not want biblical faith to distort science. Theologians do not want science to distort biblical faith.

Since I belong to this new movement, I would like to provide some helpful suggestions.

The universe is not static. Everything is in process. But it is a process by which change creates constancy. For instance, all the wonderfully distinct organic processes and changes taking place in the human body maintain its integrity and stability. This dynamic of change creating constancy is called a system. All systems are subordinated and coordinated through successive and simultaneous order.

The universe is unified. Existence is relationship. Everything finds its distinctiveness through togetherness. This cosmic scheme seems worthy of a God of Love.

Does Holy Scripture portray such an ecological wisdom?

The faithful hold that God created the world with all its laws and processes—from the Word. Therefore, does the Bible contain the same divine “envisagement” as there is in the scheme of the created universe?

If so, what kind of proof can there be? Current Christian theology and doctrine is hopelessly inadequate for meeting such a profound challenge. Scripture seems to only offer us historical events, some of which are farfetched and require a suspension of the laws of physics.

This is the challenge I am taking up in my next book, Proving God.

Thanks to theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, we have the necessary material for showing that the Holy Word and science are indeed one! He maintained that the Holy Word transcended historical fact.

The Bible is a multi-level document that contains higher meanings abstracted from the literal sense of the words. In the same manner in which today’s scientists understand top-down causation, these higher levels of meaning flow down and terminate into the words of ordinary terrestrial language.

Without having access to these higher meanings, it is impossible to detect the universal patterning principles of process and order hidden within the narratives of Scripture. Scripture conveys the same repeating cycles in its stories that we find in the circular progression of time and the reproductive cycles of organic life.

For example, unless one has a knowledge of these higher meanings (called correspondences), there would be no intelligible means for understanding how the separation of the waters on “day two” of Genesis corresponds to Lot being separated from Abram, which also corresponds to discernment in human cognition, and, the breaking up of food stuffs in the process of biological digestion. Each of these examples represents a “step two” in the divine order of some whole-part process.

My upcoming book will make these things clear and show that the reason why the laws of nature are so bio-friendly is because they have emerged from the dynamics of the Lord God’s living Word.

Is there a “defining essence” in all this similitude of coherent and interrelated process?



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God’s Holy Word vs. the Canonical Bible

During Emanuel Swedenborg’s extensive explorations of the spiritual world, he learned first hand that the Lord’s Holy Word contained discrete levels of meaning. These higher levels of divine revelation transcend the ideological abuse of literal interpretations of Scripture in many church traditions. They also allow the Lord to reveal deeper truths in ways that are accommodated to the cognitive levels of humankind and angels alike.

Terrestrial humans will have these interior levels of meaning opened up to them as a part of the Lord’s Second Coming, which represents the consummation of Christian orthodoxy and the establishment of a New Church on earth based on doctrines that will allow the mysteries of faith to be explored rationally.

The descent of the Holy City, The New Jerusalem, represents a new dispensation descending from the Lord out of heaven. The battle of Armageddon will be a battle over the acceptance or rejection of these new revelations.

Biblical stories that do not contain these special inner narratives are the writings of men, and while they may contain helpful messages, they are not the Sacred Word of the Lord God. Below is a list of biblical stories separated into columns representing the inspired Word of God and the spiritual writings of men.

The Sacred Word (Old Testament)

1 Samuel
2 Samuel
1 Kings
2 Kings
Psalms of David

Not The Sacred Word (Old Testament)

1 Chronicles
2 Chronicles
Song of Solomon

The Sacred Word (New Testament)


Not The Sacred Word (New Testament)

1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
1 Timothy
2 Timothy
1 Peter
2 Peter
1 John
2 John
3 John

How else can the authority of the Holy Word be established other than by showing it to be a unique and multi-leveled deposit of divine revelation? I have passed this information along to you so that you can begin to experience the true nature of an eschatological tremor.

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Loving Children for Heaven

An unexpected area that offers fertile ground for unifying science with religion is to be found from some relatively recent discoveries in neuroscience concerning the importance of love. Unlike the cerebrum, the cerebellum can continue to create new neurons within a child’s early life. The surprising stimulus that triggers the formation of these new neuron’s in a child is parental hugging, rocking, being picked up, and other forms of physical closeness including being fussed over.

So, as the cerebellum develops it can continue to form new connections with the emotional centers of the Limbic system, which in turn, promote alertness in the thinking brain or cerebrum of the child. Parental love therefore has a big effect on a child’s learning abilities and his or her curiosity of the world by implanting the affection for acquiring knowledge. While I am a Christian I was delighted to learn that in Hinduism a mother is called a child’s first guru. This is because they understood that love first opens the mind to learn.

Scientists believe that an infant deprived of the warmth and physical closeness of parental intimacy will suffer improper emotional development and reduced cell connections, which can lead to dysfunctional and anti-social behavior. But I want to return to the positive side of things, where parental love can help God’s ultimate goal of taking a child’s mind beyond normal worldly development and intellectual curiosity.

Eighteenth Century scientist and theologian, Emanuel Swedenborg learned from his deep spiritual experiences that hugging and the warmth of physical closeness could also play a crucial role in the inner growth and spiritual development of a child. He discovered that God carefully protects and stores these precious moments of innocent love and peace deep within the involuntary and unconscious mind (cerebellum) of the child. Swedenborg called these stored feelings remains, because they remain protected from the developing cerebrum which is influenced by the allurements of the world.

These remains are re-activated later by God where they can be used as a foundation or matrix for further spiritual growth. This divine operation is felt in an individual as a new yearning for something greater than the physical world of the senses can offer. Its commencement is represented in the Genesis story of Holy Scripture by the passage, “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep, And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2). God’s moving in this deep darkness represents the stirring up of the remains within the depths of the unconscious mind, which then bubbles up into the emotional centers of the Limbic system until it becomes a new conscious striving in the cerebrum.

The Genesis story, when translated into its higher quantum vocabulary, actually addresses our spiritual re-creation or epigenesis and the seven stages that mark our return to innocence and peace (and God’s rest). Do you believe that the Holy Word can contain a multi-leveled quantum vocabulary capable of communicating God’s infinite wisdom?