Contrasting Beliefs

 

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Jesus Lives! – The Lord God Jesus Christ: Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer of Heaven and Earth

Contrasting Beliefs

From the pages ‘What the Bible Says…’, we have the following list of contrasts between the Orthodox ideas and the New Church ideas presented here:

Title: Forgiveness

  • Orthodox Idea: If you just believe, God will overlook all your sins. God punishes unbelievers, even if they are caring, good people.
  • New Church Idea: God’s mercy involves helping us become better people. God is willing to forgive everyone, and is more concerned how we live than with what we believe.
  • References from Swedenborg: Heavenly Secrets 8393,   Heavenly Secrets 9443-9454,  True ChristianReligion 611-614

Title: Who is Jesus?

  • Orthodox Idea: God is Three Persons. Jesus is Son of God, a separate Person from the Father.
  • New Church Idea: God is One Person: Jesus Christ. The Father is the Soul, the Son is the Body, and the Holy Spirit is the Activity of the One Divine Person.
  • References from Swedenborg: True Christian Religion 81-133, Doctrine of the Lord 29-36, 45-46, 55-60,

Title: The Holy Spirit

  • Orthodox Idea: The Holy Spirit is the Third Person in the Trinity.
  • New Church Idea: The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ. It is the regenerating and enlightening influence of Jesus Christ, not of some third person.
  • References from Swedenborg: True Christian Religion 138

Title: Temptation

  • Orthodox Idea: We are saved instantly just by believing that Jesus died for our sins. We don’t need to put any effort into our salvation.
  • New Church Idea: Faith alone is not enough. We must actively resist evil, while acknowledging that the effort to resist comes from God.
  • References from Swedenborg: Doctrine of Life 92-107, True Christian Religion 596600

Title: When You Are Born Again

  • Orthodox Idea: We are saved instantly as soon as we believe in Jesus, without effort or good works.
  • New Church Idea: Regeneration is a gradual process taking many years, involving effort, love, good works.
  • References from Swedenborg: Heavenly Secrets 4063, True Christian Religion 601-614.

Title: Marriage and Spirituality

  • Orthodox Idea: Celibacy is better than marriage.
  • New Church Idea: Marriage love is heavenly, spiritual, holy, pure and clean.
  • References from Swedenborg: Married Love 155-156

Title: Marriage in Heaven

Title: Sexual Equality

  • Orthodox Idea: The husband is the head of the wife.
  • New Church Idea: Husband and wife are equals before God.
  • References from Swedenborg: Married Love 125-127

Title: What Angels Do

Title: The Inner Meaning of the Bible

Title: Adam and Eve

  • Orthodox Idea: Adam and Eve were actual people.
  • New Church Idea: Adam and Eve were symbols of the Lord and His Church.
  • References from Heavenly Secrets Chapters 1-3.

Title: Sacrifice

Title: The Blood of Jesus

  • Orthodox Idea: Blood means death; Jesus saved us by dying a bloody death.
  • New Church Idea: Blood means Life and Truth; Jesus saves us by giving us life and truth.
  • References from Swedenborg: True Christian Religion 132, Heavenly Secrets 9127

Title: Why Bad Things Happen

  • Orthodox Idea: God punishes people, bad things are a result of His will.
  • New Church Idea: The Lord wills only good, but permits bad things for the sake of our freedom.
  • References from Swedenborg: Divine Providence 275-284

Title: Who Needs Works?

Title: Who Is Saved?

Title: Where Angels Come From

  • Orthodox Idea: Angels are a superior race, created before humans
  • New Church Idea: Angels are people who have died and gone to heaven.
  • References from Swedenborg: Heaven and Hell 311317

Title: Love

Title: God’s Anger

  • Orthodox Idea: God the Father is angry with sinners and condemns them to hell.
  • New Church Idea: God is always loving and merciful–the anger is just an appearance.
  • References from Swedenborg: Brief Exposition 60-63, Heavenly Secrets 588, 1093, 2447.

Title: The Second Coming

  • Orthodox Idea: This planet will be destroyed by wars and disasters, and Jesus will appear in the clouds to save the true believers.
  • New Church Idea: Jesus comes as the Spirit of Truth, bringing about spiritual change.
  • References from Swedenborg: True Christian Religion 753-791.

Title: The Rapture

  • Orthodox Idea: True believers will be caught up in the air when Jesus comes.
  • New Church Idea: Jesus’ coming will elevate our minds to a higher level, not our bodies.
  • References from Swedenborg: True Christian Religion 753-791.

Title: The Resurrection Body

  • Orthodox Idea: After death a person will remain asleep in the ground until the end of the world, when the body will rise.
  • New Church Idea: We rise into the spiritual world immediately after death, and never assume our earthly bodies again.
  • References from Swedenborg: Heaven and Hell 453-460, Last Judgment 14-27.

Title: The Devil

 

6 Spiritual Associations

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6 Spiritual Associations

“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” Hebrews 1:7

Heredity and Human Types

Nothing is more plain than the fact that men differ as to the general state of their minds. “Many men, many minds.” But there are also resemblances. All infants and adolescents are in states which are characteristic of their general age. Those of the same race incline to show a common genius. Teachers, laborers, lawyers, business men, show certain traits of mind and attitudes typical of their profession or work. And, besides these distinctions, all individuals may be classified according to temperaments, seemingly inborn yet following no known law of heredity.

Students have therefore observed that every nation or large society includes some people who are predominantly instinctive in their reactions, others who are imaginative and easily influenced by suggestion, others who possess speculative and perhaps fanatical tendencies, and some who are critical, analytic, calculating, or reflective. According to another classification, we find those who are characterized by intellect, those in whom the will is a prominent trait, and those who are action-types, whether they be dull and slow, or excitable and impulsive.

These observed types are seldom pure, and the classes overlap—fortunately. For no one type is perfect in and by itself. The Writings—amplifying the Lord’s saying that in the Heavenly Father’s house there are many mansions—teach that every type of mind is accommodated within the Grand Human Form of the Divine economy: even as many types of cells and tissues are needed to make the human body complete. These types are classified, on the one hand, as belonging to a celestial genius, a spiritual genius, and—in a sense —a natural genius: and, in addition, their diversity is made more complex as men cultivate and develop some one of the degrees of the natural mind—either the sensual-scientific, or the imaginative, or the moral and rational.

Men can modify but not essentially alter the hereditary temperaments of their natural minds. By regeneration, a man can also receive the Lord’s gift of spiritual life in a more and more interior form, and thus the Lord will open within him the degrees of the spiritual mind, which places him in the spiritual or celestial degree of his heaven. But the basic type of his natural mind, the result of heredities and of the social environment, is only to some extent modified by his choosing, and remains to qualify the general state of his spirit. His natural mind is formed, under the auspices of the Divine providence, largely without man’s help, as a vessel receptive of life. He changes its particular states, but not its general state or type. After all, it is only a vessel, a tool for a deeper life. And therefore, in heaven, the natural mind of an angel becomes as it were transparent from the spiritual within.156

If we should ask wherein lies the permanence of a racial type, such as the Chinese or the Semitic, we might receive many answers. The scientist would labor to explain about the strange process of meiosis or reductive division, whereby the hereditary factors in sperm and ovum are varied while the persistent characteristics of the species are preserved. The New Church scientist would wish to allow for gradual changes even in the germ plasm, in each generation—although he might stress that the observable changes of the cell could be responsible only for the physical and not for the spiritual inheritance, which latter cannot be traced according to any Mendelian “laws.” The New Church theologian would be particularly interested in three facts. One is, that hereditary evils, although accumulating, do not seem greatly to alter the type of face or of mind, to judge from the pictures on the palaces of ancient Egypt and the stories of the Old Testament. The second is, that our doctrines intimate that evils of heredity can be modified by a change of religion and by regenerate life. The third is, that life is not inherent in the transmitted germ-plasm, but inflows from the spiritual world.

What a man inherits from his parents is only a vessel of life: but a vessel so ordered that it receives a certain type of influx, or receives life mediated by certain groups of angels and spirits. It is in. the inflowing life that the reality of heredity lies: or, in the spirits and angels which mediate life for the receiving vessel. So far as some other type of life could be received by the germ-plasm, or by the inner organics of the child and man, so far another type of mind (and even of body) would result! This is the reason that heredities can be altered by the life of religion: for religion is the only power that can deeply reorder the spirits and angels about a man, or change such a general state as that of an inherited disposition.167

General states—states rooted in wide groups of societies in the spiritual world—can be changed only by the Lord whose Providence works through ultimate conditions in this world and thus upon all spirits and angels. And the process is slow because the deeper evils of heredity can be modified only with men who are capable of sustaining spiritual temptations. It is therefore inevitable that the general states through which the human race has passed should survive as characteristic traits of disposition, and should crop out in different combinations of hereditary types, each having their roots in different combinations of societies in the spiritual world. It is of Providence that certain forms of mind should be inclined to each other, while others should repel each other. Heredities combine, strengthen or counterbalance each other. Thus are formed races and nations and psychological groups, each receiving the gift of life in a different manner. Behind the choice of a man and the consent—or refusal—of a maid, there lie hidden invisible issues that flamed vast ages ago, and the decision involves the compatibility of the spiritual uses of societies in the other world.

The Divine truth is one and indivisible. It is the one essential reality behind creation. It exists as Law, spiritual law and natural law. This law is one, the same for all, whether men differ about it or not. In the Writings, the Divine law is stated in the form of doctrine adapted to rational comprehension. But that law, the one Divine truth, is older than the Writings, older than the Scriptures. It is eternal—the Word which was in the beginning.

The Divine truth is one. Yet there have been many religions on earth. An incomplete census taken in 1956 of sixty-eight million reported church-adherents in the United States of America records one hundred and fourteen religious organizations, most of them with varied doctrines. A denomination generally represents a general state, which has taken from various sources whatever religious truth that state is adapted to receive, and has rejected any truth which it is not able to admit: and in place of rejected truth there usually come falsified truth and a contorted perception of the whole.

The same holds true of each individual man. His religious perception is according to his state. He sees only one phase of the Divine truth at a time. He is not to blame for this: although he may be to blame for some particular states in which his perception is thus obscured—states which he may have invited. He is not responsible for general states. When a child he cannot be expected to see with the mind of an adult. If he was born and raised a Protestant, or a gentile, he cannot see the truth as the New Church man sees it.

As a man grows up, he passes through many general states. His faith is at first imitative and blindly literalistic. Later, his faith becomes imaginative, emotional, perhaps enthusiastic. Afterwards, it turns critically upon itself, becomes analytic and at length rational. At each stage there are truths which cannot be received: at least he cannot see them except in a symbolic way, or only in their most general form. Religion means different things for different ages as well as for different races.

Some years ago a psychologist suggested that since each religion fills the need of some special mood or instinct, we should really, in our progression through life, change our religion at each stage. He also classified various religions as especially satisfying to certain psychological types. This man was a pessimist as to religion. He believed that creeds were only wish-thoughts, that no one could ever contact the one and indivisible Divine truth. The New Church man of course knows that human states limit the reception of that Divine truth. But he also knows that all normal and orderly human states can receive something of that Divine truth without rejecting the rest, and that a true religion has in it that which can guide and feed these normal states without encouraging what is disorderly and evil: i.e., without stooping to falsehoods or fantasies.

Universality of the New Church

The New Church is a religion of universal application. It is adaptable to the needs of all states. It must provide leadership and instruction for all normal human types, and provide uses—spiritual uses—for all and benefits for every age. Yet it does not cater to morbid states. The New Church cannot satisfy the neurotic demands of those who would feed on the sensational, or be maintained in the good life only by the thought that they are ‘chosen of God’ or by some religious frenzy or some special earthly reward. It cannot encourage the “escapers” who retreat as recluses from worldly duties or social obligations. Nor can it be content— like so many—to substitute a moral life for a spiritual! It cannot permit the individual to evade responsibility by placing the power of salvation or the prerogative of truth-seeking in the hands of priests. It cannot pretend that rituals are more than gates to the spiritual life. It avoids appealing to merely natural affections in men, although realizing their place and value. For the New Church seeks rationally to restore the balance, the normal state of mind in which truths and uses can be seen in their progressive aspects, so that there is no false sophistication which contemptuously rejects ancient truths, nor any idolatry of traditions just because they are old; no stagnation; no disproportionate emphasis which shall sidetrack the people of the Church into such temperamental eddies as are represented by the many denominations of the present day.

The growth of mankind required that there should have been true religions in the past which were sufficient to the needs of those times. The Most Ancient Church, the Ancient Church, and the Christian, were, each in their day of flower, true religions. Yet they were of a preparatory character, and do not reach to all the normal states of a mankind fully matured. It is in a manner true that our race, as it grew into new states, did change its religion. And so, in the New Church, we go back to the true religions of the past for the needs of those progressive states which every man experiences as he grows up. The body of Divine revelation through which we receive instruction and where we see the presence of the Lord, is the Word of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Writings. We teach our younger children the stories of Creation and of the Flood—symbolic truth, which is truth to them. We give the next age the Commandments and the moral truth as accommodated to the Hebrews—an adaptation of the laws of charity that they can understand, a lesson in justice and obedience. The parables and the morality of the Gospels are particularly adapted to the state of puberty. And in adolescence, the gradual introduction to the Writings commences. The internal sense, the angelic Word, is then grasped as doctrine, first as to relatively external and general teachings, but gradually as to the more interior. In the Writings heavenly truths, natural, spiritual, and celestial, are laid open, and each adult may take what serves to feed his state, according to the capacity and elevation of his thought.

Each successive stage of life thus has its religion! Yet the religions of childhood, youth, and age, are the same, comprised within the one Divine truth; indivisible, yet such that it accommodates itself to all ages and types and states.

It is for this reason that the Heavenly Doctrine, the spiritual sense of the Word which is now revealed in the Writings, can in the spiritual world become a source of light to all races and nations, that is, to spirits of all types. Yet so far as falsities of religion have been deeply impressed by accustomed life on earth, the light of truth can be received only in a very partial way. The whole spiritual world is ordered—-society after society—according to the ways and degrees in which the light of Divine truth is received in the understanding and in life. There are heavens formed from those in all nations and religions, past and present, Gentile and Christian. Such heavens are in varying degrees of spiritual light. But central to all is the New Christian Heaven, where the Word is the source of all doctrine and light. There are spirits in the world of spirits, from all types and states, whose light is relatively obscure or clear or shifting. There are also— formed out of the evil in all religions and nations—many hells where spiritual light is absent just in proportion to the evil states which they confirmed within themselves; and the light of fantasy takes its place, a sensual lumen in which all things appear distorted and confused. For evil spirits see things in the light of their ambitions and wishes; not as they really are. They see themselves as wise, they see their own states as orderly and every one else’s as insane—until the light of heaven is let in to dispel their fantasy.

Now all the life and thought that man has comes from the spiritual world, through such spirits as are with him. His mental light which should give clarity to his ideas, is obscure or bright according to his spiritual associations. He will be in a state of spiritual illustration if he is closely associated with the New Christian Heaven where the Lord is fully revealed in His Divine Human.158 But so far as he departs from the societies of spirits who communicate with this heaven, so far his mind is dimmed as to all spiritual things, although it may still be quite clear and indeed brilliant in worldly affairs.

The New Church on earth is established that it may be associated with the New Christian Heaven and partake of its spiritual illustration. Indeed, the New Heaven is the internal whence alone the New Church can increase.158 The New Church can grow only in proportion to its conjunction with the New Heaven. And therefore the Lord, who rules all things from primes through ultimates, has provided means for this conjunction. The conjunction itself is that of love and charity, for these alone conjoin. But the means of the conjunction are ultimates in the minds of men, ultimates of thought which will have meaning and special value to those spirits who are associated with the New Christian Heaven.

The Power of Baptism

The Lord has ordained two sacraments, Baptism and the Holy Supper, as the ultimates of all spiritual order with men. Order is the opposite of confusion. Order calls for distinctions. There would be no real freedom in a state of confusion. This is the reason why all in the spiritual world are distinguished according to their religions. Moreover, all of the same religion are arranged into societies according to affections of love to God and to the neighbor—and their opposites. “On the distinct arrangement there, the preservation of the whole universe depends !”159

It is of order, also, that spirits of alien religions—such as the Mohammedan and those of idolaters—should not apply themselves to the infants or children of Christians and infuse into them an inclination for such religions, and thus draw them away and alienate them from Christianity. For this would be to distort and destroy spiritual order and would create utter confusion and internal conflict in the mind of the child, preventing any orderly development of progressive states. And what holds true with infants, is true also with adults.

By Baptism a sign is placed upon a man that he belongs to the church. The experience of the baptismal rite—the promises of the man or, with the child, of his parents, the sensation of the water, the words of the sacred text, the sign of the cross, the act of benediction by the laying on of hands —enters deeply into the memory, and (whether consciously or unconsciously) remains there indelibly to color every idea which the mind later comes to entertain. This connection of ideas is seen by every spirit at his first approach to man. By virtue of the correspondence of water, and of washing, to truth and especially the truth of repentance, baptism becomes the ultimate in the mind for spirits who are being instructed in truth and who in the other life are being introduced into the doctrine and life of the New Heaven. It becomes a sign in the spiritual world, that the man is of Christians. And the spirit of man is therefore, by this sacrament, inserted among societies and congregations there “according to the quality of the Christianity in him or around him (extra illum).”160

Not the water, or the act alone, constitutes the Baptism: but the intention associated with the act. No spirit is a witness to the act itself. But spiritual beings who are with us see the associated thoughts in the minds of the one baptized and of the priest and witnesses—see all the ideas which have ever been adjoined to the idea of the ritual itself. If priest and witnesses adjoin the ideas of a Trinity of Divine Persons, of a vicarious atonement by sufferings, or of a salvation by faith only, then the act of baptism effects an introduction— in this world and among spirits—into the assembly of those who so believe. But if the ritual arouses in priest and witnesses the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the one God, and if the ideas that are associated are from the Heavenly Doctrine and thus conjoined with an acknowledgment of the Lord’s second advent, then it makes for an introduction into the New Jerusalem, into the New Church and the New Heaven. The memory of the baptism will be the lasting focus of all these suggested ideas: all will be recalled to spirits when the baptism is recalled; and all are invitations to such spirits to be with the man, a cloud of unseen witnesses: and there will be a connection established between all the new experiences that the man absorbs and the initial ideas centering around the material fact of baptism. Such spirits are a protective sphere around the man, keeping him in the general state of his own religion.

The baptismal ceremony as such is only a natural event. Our remembrance of it is centered about the material ideas of the water, the washing, the cross. But, as was noted previously, Swedenborg testifies that while a man thinks, his material ideas are as it were in the midst of a wave of such things as are adjoined in the memory—all that was ever known on the subject; and thus the full thought, not the material idea, is apparent to the spirits about him. Swedenborg likens that surrounding wave of associations to spiritual wings by which the thing thought of is elevated out of the memory, and is endowed with meaning and value.161 And something of this is interiorly meant when the Lord said to Moses, about the exodus from Egypt: “I bare you on eagle’s wings, and brought you unto Myself”; and the same is suggested when He lamented: “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not !”162

By Baptism the Lord does gather His children together under the protective sphere of the New Heaven. This sphere is a sphere of spiritual thought and affection. It guards, but does not compel. It aids, through our spiritual associates, to ward off alien spirits. At any time we are free to break away from its gentle gyres, and—by focussing our life and thought on ultimates that are opposed to it, on falsities or on things that are symbolic of evil—we can enter by degrees into other spiritual connections, if these are more accordant with our life’s delight. But so far as we freely allow the sphere of the New Heaven to be with us, there is freedom also to progress in accordance with our choice; there is a leading into greater illustration, spiritual clarity, and wisdom; there is the possibility of the more and more interior fulfilment of what Baptism involves, the realization of the meaning of the new order of the spiritual world, and of the truth that the Lord reigneth.

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A Divine Revelation of True Christianity

 

Jesus Lives! – The Lord God Jesus Christ: Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer of Heaven and Earth

Old Christianity New Christianity
God is divided into three persons, who are somehow “one” God is one Supreme Being, one Person: Jehovah. He is Being and Existence itself, and cannot be divided into separate “persons.”
The Son is the “second person” who descended and was born as Jesus Christ The human body born in time, derived from the virgin Mary, is the Son of God
Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three persons Jesus is Jehovah in human form, and simply calls God his Father as he was born of a virgin with no human father. See The False Belief of a Trinity of three beings: TRITHEISM
The Trinity of three persons existed from eternity The Trinity is NOT three persons. There is a trine of soul, body, and spirit in each human. The Holy Trinity came about When Jehovah became incarnate in a human form.
Among Catholics, when Mary was born she was free from “original sin” (known as the Immaculate Conception). Mary was like any other human person, and was born in sin. She was however highly spiritual. Swedenborg does offer explanations for the Marian apparitions within the Catholic church (hard to summarize here). Prayer should only be focused on Jesus Christ.
Jesus was also born perfect Jesus, initially, was like any other human. The body derived from Mary had sinful tendencies, by which Jesus could be tempted. But his soul was Divine and could not sin. Through Jesus, a spiritual war arose between Jehovah and all of hell.
Various Christological disputes about whether or not Jesus has one nature (Divine) or two natures (Divine and human) Jesus initially had two natures, the external human nature that had sinful tendencies, and a Divine soul. Gradually the human was absorbed and Jesus became a “Divine Human” or “God Man”.
Among Catholics, Mary is known as the “mother of God.” Mary was the mother of the human vessel of Jesus. Initially Mary was his mother, but once the human was absorbed the human became Divine. It is this human body which is the Son of God. As the human was made Divine, Mary is no longer the mother of Jesus.
God was angry and wrathful with humanity for their sin God is love itself, and can never be angry. He appears “angry” to those who turn against Him.
God seeks to punish us for our sin God created a law of Divine order where each sin contains within it its own punishment. These laws are designed to lead man back to good.
Various theological debates about the meaning of the Eucharist ritual, the body and blood of Jesus Christ The Eucharist ritual is symbolic. Symbolic rituals conjoin the human mind with heaven. The body represents God’s love, the blood his truth. The Eucharist is the central ritual because Jesus made his very body Divine
Jesus had to suffer and die as “payment” for our sins. Our sins were transferred onto him. Everyone is responsible for their own actions. Sins are removed by repentance. The sins that Jesus bore are the ones he inherited from his mother Mary
Jesus saved humanity from a wrathful God by taking on punishment to satisfy this “legal debt.” Jesus saved humanity by making his very human Divine.  Once the human was made Divine, the Holy Spirit could flow through him to other humans
Jesus saved humanity by his death on the cross where sins were somehow “transferred” to him. Jesus saved humanity by gradually making his human Divine, and resisting temptation. The cross was simply the last temptation before he made his human Divine.
Among Protestants, all one has to do is “believe” to be saved. Good works mean nothing. Protestants have misinterpreted the writings of Paul, who was talking about the external Mosaic rituals, due to Judaizers at the time. Belief alone is a “devilish faith.” Faith means “living by the truth,” not mere belief. See The Fundamental Error of the Protestant Faith
Among Protestants, sins are supposedly removed by a lip confession and belief Sins can only be removed through repentance, or turning away from them and living by God’s commandments.
Among Protestants, salvation is “free” and “unconditional.” Salvation is dependent on whether or not one lives by God’s commandments
Among Protestants, the 10 commandments are abrogated The 10 commandments are based on the two great commandments of Jesus: love God, and love your neighbor. Only the Sabbath was changed from a day of rest to a day of worship and instruction.
Certain Messianic Jews seek a return to the Mosaic rituals The external Mosaic rituals of the Jews have been abrogated. They along with the Jewish people were a symbolic representative form of the Christian Church
Among Protestants, grace means “unmerited” favor. This is false: scripture shows God has favor to those who live by his commandments. Mercy and grace describe God’s love for each person to save them. See The False Theological Definition of the word “Grace”
Atonement means somehow God will no longer see the sins you commit and will see the righteousness of Jesus God will always know a person for who he or she is.  “Atonement” describes the spiritual protection one obtains from evil temptations after repentance and obeying God’s commandments. Also see What is Blood Atonement or Vicarious Atonement?
One is sanctified by the blood of Jesus The blood is symbolic of the life of Jesus, and his outflowing spirit of Divine Truth. One is sanctified by living according to the Divine Truth
Among Protestants, man has the capacity to do nothing through their own will. Everyone is passive, God does everything Inasmuch one resists sin and turns away from evil, and lives by the truth, one will eventually desire to do good out of love. Inasmuch one approaches God with their whole heart, God’s spirit will dwell within them. All goodness and love comes from God, but each person must be an active willing participant.
Among Catholic, ultimate authority is placed in the priesthood. Among Protestants, ultimate authority is placed in scripture The Protestants are correct: scripture contains within it the Word of God and is the ultimate authority. Interpretation of scripture, however, is influenced by doctrine. A reading of scripture with an open heart opens a connection between the mind and heaven, according to one’s understanding
The Catholic Church claims that through Peter, the Papacy is the “Vicar” of Christ and there is a direct line of succession Catholics have misinterpreted a symbolic reference to Peter in scripture. Moreover, the decree of Chalcedon declaring Christ has two natures was done so that the Papacy could claim to be the Vicar of Christ on earth. However, what was revealed is that the Catholic church was allowed to be dominant for a time through Divine Providence, in order to remove various heresies from the Christian Church.
The Bible is the “literal” and “inerrant” Word of God. Hidden behind the literal sense of the Bible there is a symbolic spiritual meaning. In the literal sense there are many “appearances” of truth that are not literally true.
Among Protestants there are 66 books that are equally Divinely Inspired; Catholics also have additional “Deuterocanonical” works not found in the Masoretic. The canon of the Bible is defined as those books which contain an internal symbolic spiritual sense. The canon of the Old Testament closely follows the Jewish Canon of the Law (Torah), the Prophets (Nevi’im) and the Psalms, but many books of the writings are not inspired. In the New Testament, only the Gospels and Revelation are inspired. However the writings of Paul were included for instruction of the masses.
Among literalists, the world was created in seven days The seven days of creation are symbolic of seven stages of spiritual development
Among literalists, we are all descended from Adam and Eve The story of Adam and Eve is symbolic of how the first church established here on earth eventually turned away and lost direct communion with heaven. Mankind is much older than what Biblical chronology presents; the first 11 chapters of Genesis are highly symbolic.
We all have “original sin” from Adam and Eve (plus other types of sin from Catholic theologians.) Our evil nature is distinguished between what we have successively inherited from our parents and ancestors, and the sins we commit by choice. One will be judged by the actions one committed by choice according to the intent and one’s knowledge.
Many believe in a heaven and hell. Catholics also subscribe to the concept of “Purgatory” – an area between heaven and hell. A very detailed description of the spiritual world from firsthand visions, which includes heaven, hell, and an area in between known as the “world of spirits” which is closely associated with those still alive. This waiting area is similar to Purgatory, but different than what is described by many Catholics.
Certain denominations believe that after death, one just “falls asleep” to await a literal physical resurrection. After death, the spiritual body – human in form – withdraws and separates from its physical body. One could go to heaven or hell, but others are not ready and wait for a time in the world of spirits, some close to a state of sleep. There is no literal physical resurrection – one rises from the dead in a spiritual body. Only Jesus physically rose from the dead.
For those who believe in a “wrathful” God, he condemns sinners to eternal torment in hell We all go where we want to go, according to our desire. We are judged according to our conscience. Evil punishes itself, not God. The burning of hell is due to the burning of hatred and jealousy. The joys of heaven are according to one’s love. There is an automatic separation between those in heaven and hell, according to order.
Many subscribe to a future “end of the world” where there will be this last judgment of all mankind on earth. There is no literal “end of the world.” There is an end to each church or age or dispensation. A church ends when it becomes corrupt, and a new revelation is then given. A this time a final judgment occurs in the spiritual world – in the region of the world of spirits between heaven and hell where those who sleep are awakened and judged at this time. These “last” judgments have occurred at certain key moments in the history of spiritual development on earth. Those in heaven and hell already are not judged
One is judged according to one’s belief system or religion. One is judged according to how one lived one’s life according to your conscience. The more you know, the more responsibility you have. Those who have done good, and yet knew little, can still be taught in heaven.
There will be a kingdom of God on earth The true kingdom of God is in heaven, and in one’s heart. However there is a reflection of this kingdom of God on earth: it is the community of the Church.
Some religious people think we should just withdraw from the world and pray and worship The physical world is not evil, but can be a reflection of the heavenly life if one lives according to God’s laws. One lives a spiritual life by being practical and useful to the common good in everyday life.

truth

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From  here.

New Truth 6 Foundations

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Jesus Lives! – The Lord God Jesus Christ: Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer of 

Heaven and Earth

Old and New Truth

What you need to know about love and truth, spirit and God, & life and salvation, that your church will not tell you: see the pages listed on the left.

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Come, Lord Jesus

Six Foundations

Jesus Christ is Now God
• Jehovah God Created Heaven and Earth (Genesis 1:1)
• Jehovah God Himself is and Always Has Been the Savior of the World (Isaiah 43:11; Hosea 13:4; Isaiah 47:4; Isaiah 63:16)
• Jesus Christ is Jehovah God (Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 25:9; Isaiah 40:3-5; John 1:1-14; Psalms 33:6; 1 John 5:20)
• Jesus was Born a Divine Soul in a Mortal Body and Mind (Luke 1:35)
• Jesus Made Himself Divine, one with His Soul, so that After Resurrection and Ascension He Was and Always Will be Jehovah God All the Way Down Even to His Body (John 14:6; Luke 24:39; John 14:9; John 3:25; Matthew 11:27; Matthew 28:18; Revelation 1:8-11)
• Jesus Christ is the Archetypal Human (Genesis 1:26-27)
• Saving Faith is Believing and Following the Example of Jesus Christ (John 3:36; John 15:4-5)
• Jesus Christ Made His Second Advent between 1745 and 1770 when He appeared to Emanuel Swedenborg and Commissioned Him as a Revelator of the Heavenly Doctrines. (John 16:12-15; Matthew 24; Revelation)
God Reveals THE Truth With Authority
• The Written Revelations Given By God are Divine Truth Itself (John 6:63; Mark 13:31; Luke 16:17)
• The Written Text of Revelation Always Contains but does not Always Explicitly State the Spiritual Message from God (John 16:12; Matthew 5:17)
• It is the Job of Every Believer to Search the Scriptures for God’s Message (Matthew 7:7-8; 21:21-22; 23:25-26)
• The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) Contain Everything to be Believed and Lived (Matthew 22:35-40; Leviticus 22:31;John 14:15; John 15:10)
Charity and Faith One and the Same in Life
• There is Only One True Faith that Saves (Matthew 16:16-18; Ephesians 4:4-13)
• Saving Faith is Complete Confidence in the Lord God Jesus Christ and Trust that a Person who Lives a Good Life and Holds a Proper Belief is Saved by Him (John 11:25)
• Doing God’s Will or Obeying God’s Commands is Imperative for Faith and Salvation Even Though These Actions Can Not Make Anyone Deserve or Merit Heaven (John 3:27; John 15:4-8; John 13:17; Matthew 13:23; Matthew 7:24-26; Luke 10:27)
You Were Created for Heaven
• Life Continues Through Death (John 14:19; John 11:25)
• Heaven is Full of People Who Love God and People (Micah 6:8; Luke 10:27)
• Hell is Full of People Who Love Themselves and Materialism (Psalms 9:17; Luke 12:5)
• Heaven and Hell are Both Eternal (Luke 16:26)
• Every Human Being is Created for Heaven (Luke 17:21)
• Angels in Heaven are Married to Eternity (Matthew 19:4-6)
God Will Renew Your Life if You Ask Him
• All Humans Have Free Will in Spiritual Matters – Otherwise the Word of God Would be Useless (Psalms 54:6; Isaiah 1:16-17; John 8:31-36; John 15:14-16)
• A Person Should Confess Their Sins to the Lord God Jesus Christ, Repent, and be Born Again to New Life in His Name (John 3:3; John 3:5; Luke 3:3-8; Mark 1:4; Mark 1:15; Luke 13:5; Luke 15:7; Matthew 10:39; Psalms 51:10)
Two Sacraments: Baptism and Holy Supper
• Christian Baptism Replaces Circumcision (Deuteronomy 10:16; Galatians 5:6; 6:15)
• Baptism is an Introduction to the Community of Believers on Earth and in Heaven (Matthew 3:13)
• Baptism is in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-19)
• Baptism is a Sign and Remembrance that a Person is to be Born Again or Regenerated (John 3:5; Mark 16:16)
• Jesus Christ is Present and Opens Heaven to Those who Worthily Approach the Holy Supper (John 6:51-56)
• Holy Supper Links the Believer with the Lord God Jesus Christ (Deuteronomy 8:3; John 6:27)
About the New Church:
The New Church is a Christian church based on the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Heavenly Doctrines. We believe that Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary, lived and taught, was crucified, and rose again so that He could conquer hell, become completely one in all respects with His Soul, the Father (Jehovah God), and restore freedom to the human race. In Jesus Christ God is Human and Human is God — He is our visible, divine, human Creator and Redeemer, the Lord God Jesus Christ.

We believe that He has now fulfilled the prophecies of the book of Revelation and come again. This Second Advent is not the bodily coming, expected by many, but a coming in the Spirit of Truth which leads into all truth (John 16:13). His kingdom is not of this world. Therefore, just as He did not come in the expected manner (as a worldly king) the first time, so He has come in an unexpected manner (in the words of a written revelation) the second time, in the truth revealed in the Heavenly Doctrines. In 1745 Jesus Christ appeared to a Swede name Emanuel Swedenborg and commissioned him to write down everything that he would be taught over the next 27 years. The resulting volumes of Christian theology, the Heavenly Doctrines, reveal truth explaining: the spiritual message written by God into the stories of the Old and New Testaments, the nature of eternal life in heaven and eternal death in hell, the character of true marriage between one man and one woman, the character of God, the structure and function of the human mind, the constant work of the Divine Providence to save all people who believe in God and live well, and much, much more. In short, they contain all of the things which Jesus referred to when He told His disciples that there were still many things to tell them which they could not yet understand John 16:12).

It is essential to the faith of the New Church that people acknowledge Jesus Christ as the one and only God, that they turn to Him alone in prayer and life, that they refrain from breaking His Commandments because evil is contrary to His will, and that they do what is good for others because charity is one of His gifts to the human race. All of this is to be done with the acknowledgement that without the Lord God Jesus Christ we are nothing, but with Him all things are possible.
From www.swedenborg-chapel.org, the summary of foundations for the church (local pdf copy).

Temptation – Giving in to it – So what?

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

temptationWho hasn’t at one time or another felt cross with him or herself for acting on some urge of the moment, giving in to temptation to do something which was enjoyed at the time but which later causes regret?

Perhaps it was overeating and now you are fearful of looking fat and becoming unhealthy: or maybe it was spending money you could not afford on a whim buying something not really needed and now you are concerned about paying off the credit card: or perhaps it was verbally lashing out at someone who angered you at the time and now you fear losing the benefits of the relationship.

Actions like these may bother you but the chances are you will be quick to forget all about such things. and any sense of embarrassment and even guilt will be short lived. Many people are probably like this. It is not that they are bad or stupid. It is simply that they saw they had been tempted to behave against their own interests. They do not consider that succumbing to the impulse of the moment would lead to any long-term serious consequences.

And perhaps they are right. So what is so bad about giving way to temptation? Why should anyone feel guilty about going against the social rules that are expected to be followed?

Temptation and social conformity

You might be tempted to harm the person who bothers you, but a society in which everyone gave in to the temptation to hurt those who made them angry, would quickly devolve into chaos. Therefore social roles are developed.

Psychologists have tested how people behave with and without being watched. It is clear that when they think they can get away with it, many will succumb to temptation to pinch things they fancy (for example from hotels), exaggerate their expenses claims, and even fabricate the contents of their CV’s.

Some people thus only follow rules because it seems to be in their interests to do so. If they believe other people are not following the rules or that other people won’t know if they break them, then they are also likely to break rules. Their conscience is one of social conformity rather than high principle.

Temptation and genuine conscience

Many spiritual writers have written that human problems can arise when one lacks a firm foundation of values. Without ethical principles you may be tempted to live a life in which “anything goes,” or be unable to discern what is right and wrong in any given situation.

A well-known moral principle is the golden rule that one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself — that is with patience, tolerance, trust, and respect. This is not just for the sake of getting back what you give but rather as a spiritual principle in itself. Another example is that of conserving nature and protecting it from unsustainable exploitation not just as a way of protecting our resources but also as a way of recognising something which is valued for itself.

Let us return to the examples given at the beginning about eating, spending money and lashing out. The impulse to eat too much tests one’s inner contentment with the inflow of the spirit rather than attachment to bodily pleasure.

“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”   (Jesus Christ)

Likewise attractive advertising of luxury goods also tests a commitment to prioritising money for what is useful: and being provoked to anger tests the ethic of forgiveness.

Consequences of spiritual temptation

A moral consciousness gives you the option of deliberately doing wrong. Having the power of rational and ethical discrimination gives you the responsibility to make the right choices.

Who doesn’t give in to temptation sometimes? Doing so can leave you feeling dissatisfied, guilty or empty because it might be suggested that you have distanced yourself a little from the spirit of goodness that had been inspiring and uplifting your life. I suspect even people of faith who have had a deep trust in their Lord, can find themselves losing confidence when circumstances are tough, becoming anxious about the future or the past, and being tempted with negative attitudes or selfish thoughts. Their faith is indeed being tested.

One idea of religion I like is that of a forgiving God who is always willing to give us another chance.

Victory in temptation

My view of spiritual growth is that it is a gradual process and that for a long time perhaps to a lessening extent your worldly orientated and self-centred habits of thought still attract you. See here for what John Odhner has written about what the new Testament describes as a conflict between the “old man” and the “new man.”  The spiritual teaching is that the more you turn away from what in your heart you know is wrong, then the more you will be transformed into a better character.

“Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.” (William Butler Yeats)

Copyright 2013 Stephen Russell-Lacy Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

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Posted on6th November 2013CategoriesEthics, Private Ethics Leave a comment

FORMS

HR90 THE SCIENCE OF CORRESPONDENCE

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FORMS

app1leblo1ssom In considering the correspondence, or symbolic meaning, of forms, we may use the word “form” in three senses, viz. : first, as the shape ; second, as the body; and third, as the organization.

In the universe there is one life, that of the Lord; and all created things are vessels, capable, in different degrees, of receiving and, using the inflowing life of the Lord.

Thus, in their origin, all forms are expressions of the Divine life, i. e., of the Divine Love, Wisdom and Power.

Each creature has its characteristic life, which we call its form of life, i. e., its organization. In the interior sense, the form- is the organization, by means of which the organism is formed. And, in a lower, or secondary sense, the form is the body, or substance, in which the creature dwells. And, in a third sense, the form is the external shape which is given to the organism, that it may carry out its kind of life. And the life, the organism and the shape, are related to each other, as the end, the cause, and the effect; for the organism is the form assumed by the indwelling life; and the shape is the external effect of the organization. And thus the organization and the shape depend on the life. A thing which is formed for a certain purpose; is organized for it, and also shaped for it. And it is so shaped because it is. so organized. The eye is formed for seeing; and it is shaped so that it can see The spirit of man is a human organism ; and so it has the human shape.

With every living thing the outward form, or body, corresponds to the inward life, as to its shape, and as to its abilities. The tiger has great teeth and claws, because it needs such weapons to exercise its kind of life and character ; but the lamb, having no fierce character, does not need such teeth and claws; and so it does not have them. And so, the different animals differ in shape, because they differ in character. The character forms the shape to its purposes. And, in symbolic representation, the shape of a thing corresponds to its qualities of character.

In the Scriptures many things were revealed to the Israelites, and to others, as to the forms, or shapes, in which various things were to be made ; as, for instance, the many details of the tabernacle, and of the temple. And these things were so commanded because of their correspondence.

Shapes are of two general classes, curves and straight lines. And these two classes represent and symbolize the two general elements of human life, love and wisdom, or, in other, words, goodness and truth. Curved lines, rounded lines, represent the things of man’s will, his spiritual heart, with its loves, its affections, its goodness. And straight lines represent the things of man’s understanding, his intellectual life, with its thoughts. And all shapes are made up of curves, or of straight lines, or of their combinations. Different geometric forms of curves, the circle, the oval, the parabola, etc., represent different conditions and qualities of goodness, i. e., of love. And the different right-lined figures, such as the square, the parallelogram, the rhombus, etc., and the triangles of various kinds, represent the different forms in which truth comes to the human mind.

We recognize this representative meaning of straight lines, when we say of a man, that he is “square” in his dealing ; i. e., he is just and right on all sides, and to every person concerned. So, in Israel, the altar of burnt-offering, and the altar of incense, and the breastplate of the high-priest, all being representative, were commanded to be made square. And the holy city of the New Jerusalem was to be square.

ILLUSTRATIONS.

In the prophecies of the Old Testament many singular things are mentioned, and their forms and shapes are especially indicated ; as, for instance, in Daniel’s vision of the four beasts : “The first was like a lion, and had eagles’ wings …. And behold, another beast, like to a bear. . . : and lo, another, like unto a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl. The beast had also four heads …. a fourth beast, . . . and it had great iron teeth;. . . .and it had ten horns.” (Daniel, vii. i, 5, 6, 7.) And in the Revelation, it is said concerning a vision, “In the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts, full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion; and the second beast life a calf; and the third beast had a face as a man; and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him ; and they were full of eyes, within.” (Rev. iv. 6-8.) These definite details of the shapes of the beasts afford definite instruction as to the mental principles, the affections and thoughts, thus represented.

Forms presented on the surface of the earth, and in the earth, represent states of human life.

DIMENSIONS.

Much is said, in the Scriptures, about forms, in the sense of dimensions, as length, breadth, thickness, height, and so forth. Spiritually, the length of anything is its measure as to goodness, i. e., as to the quality of the love which characterizes the mind”.’ Length symbolizes largeness, fulness, extension, development of character, in goodness. The Lord said of the good man, “Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him My salvation.” (Ps. xci. 14, i5.) In the spiritual sense, these things refer to spiritual conditions, fulness of love, extension of qualities, largeness of character.

Shortness represents a want of fulness of character, a cramped state^ of mind, in which the man is not in spiritual freedom, but is bound in slavery by his own evils. “Your: covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand  for the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it ; and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.” ‘(Isa, xxviii. 18, 20.) A bed, on which the body rests, represents a doctrine, on which the mind rests. But a false doctrine does not give freedom to the mind, to develop, to extend itself in fullness, because the false doctrine shortens and dwarfs the heart, and also keeps the intellect within limited bounds, and contracts the thoughts.

Thus, spiritual length refers to the state of the will, the heart, with its affection for goodness. But breadth, or width, represents the state of the understanding, the intellect, with its thoughts. And, spiritually, the measure of a thing, as to its width, is the test of its truthfulness. We speak of intelligent, clear-headed and unprejudiced men, as broad-minded; and of ignorant, selfish and prejudiced men as narrow-minded. Evil shortens the mind, as to its affections, and falsity narrows the understanding. But truth widens the mind. The Psalmist of Israel sings to the Lord, “Thy commandment is exceeding broad. Through Thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Ps. cxix. 96, 104, 105.)

STATES OF MIND.

Recognizing the fact that external forms depend upon the inward states of mind, which express themselves in outward forms, we observe how a man’s states of affection and of thought shape his body to their images. When a pleasant feeling is in the heart, and a ,broad thought is in the intellect, the countenance is formed in rounded lines, expressing goodness ; but,when anger is in the heart, an4 harsh thoughts in the intellect, the lines of the countenance are hard, angular and repulsive.

The regenerate man’s spiritual form is in the image of God, formed by Divine principles : but the spiritual form of the evil man is in the image of hell,, formed by infernal principles. The man’s ruling-love forms his whole character, and even shapes his physical countenance. “The measure of a man, that is, of an angel,” (Rev. xxj. 17), is the fulness of regenerate life, measured by Divine principles. And so, in the heavens, where the Divine principles of goodness and truth rule all things, every object is of beautiful, symmetrical and harmonious form, corresponding to the good, affections and the true thoughts of the angels. But, in the hells, where all good and true principles are perverted and falsified, all the objects are ugly, contorted and repulsive, corresponding to the spiritual deformity of evil affections and false thoughts. And, on the earth, the things of beautiful forms represent good and true human qualities ; and hideous and repulsive forms represent evil and false qualities.

Forms, dimensions, etc., have a bad meaning, when they refer to things which have been abused and perverted; as, for instance, it is said of certain hypocritical Jews, “all their works they do for to be seen of men : they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.” (Matt, xxiii. 5.)

THE DIVINE HUMAN FORM.

When Jehovah appeared to men on earth. He came in a human form, in Jesus Christ. God is a Divine Man, having infinite human qualities. And finite man, as a creature, was formed in the image of God, in the sense that he was made capable of receiving human qualities in a finite degree. And because man is the highest form of created being, and nearest to the Lord, therefore the human form of his spirit takes upon it, in physical nature, a material shape the most beautiful of all created bodies.

And, in the spiritual world, the spiritual form of the regenerate man grows more beautiful, for ever. And, even in the physical world, regenerate men grow more expressive of love and wisdom, even in their natural faces.

Author: Edward Craig Mitchell From Scripture Symbolism 1904

ALL USES, WHICH ARE ENDS OF CREATION ARE IN FORMS,
WHICH FORMS THEY TAKE FROM SUBSTANCES AND MATTERS SUCH AS ARE IN LANDS.

All things treated of hitherto, as the sun, atmospheres, and lands, are only means to ends. The ends of creation are those things that are produced by the Lord as a sun,  through the atmospheres, out of lands; and these ends are called uses. In their whole extent these are all things of the vegetable kingdom, all things of the animal kingdom, and finally the human race, and the angelic heaven which is from it. These are called uses, because they are recipients of Divine Love and Divine Wisdom also because they have regard to God the Creator from whom they are, and thereby conjoin Him to His great work; by which conjunction it comes that, as they spring forth from Him, so do they have unceasing existence from Him. They are said to have regard to God the Creator from whom they are, and to conjoin Him to His great work, but this is to speak according to appearance. It is meant that God the Creator causes them to have regard and to conjoin themselves to Him as it were of themselves; but how they have regard and thereby conjoin will be declared in what follows.  Something has been said before on these subjects in their place, as that Divine Love and Divine Wisdom must necessarily have being and form in other things created by themselves (n. 37-51); that all things in the created universe are recipients of Divine Love and Divine Wisdom (n. 55-60); that the uses of all created things ascend by degrees to man, and through man to God the Creator from whom they are (n. 65-68). [DLW307]

FC1Who does not see clearly that uses are the ends of creation, when he considers that from God the Creator nothing can have form, and therefore nothing can be created, except use; and that to be use, it must be for the sake of others; and that use for the sake of self is also for the sake of others, since a use for the sake of self looks to one’s being in a state to be of use to others? Who so considers this is also able to see, that use which is use cannot spring from man, but must be in man from that Being from whom everything that comes forth is use, that is, from the Lord. [DLW308]

But as the forms of uses are here treated of, the subject shall be set forth in the following order:

(1)          In lands there is a conatus to produce uses in forms, that is, forms of uses.

(2)          In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of the creation of the universe.

(3)          In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of man.

(4)          In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of the Infinite and the Eternal. [DLW309]

(1) In lands there is a conatus to produce uses in forms, that is, forms of uses. That there is this conatus in lands, is evident from their source, since the substances and matters of which lands consist are endings and closings of atmospheres which proceed as uses from the spiritual sun (as may be seen above, n. 305, 306). And because the substances and matters of which lands consist are from that source, and their aggregations are held in connection by the pressure of the surrounding atmospheres, it follows that they have from that a perpetual conatus to bring forth forms of uses. The very quality that makes them capable of bringing forth they derive from their source, as being the outmosts of atmospheres, with which they are constantly in accord. Such a conatus and quality are said to be in lands, but it is meant that they are present in the substances and matters of which lands consist, whether these are in the lands or in the atmospheres as exhalations from the lands. That atmospheres are full of such things is well known. That there is such a conatus and such quality in the substances and matters of lands is plain from the fact that seeds of all kinds, opened by means of heat even to their inmost core, are 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. Then through conjunction with matters from a natural origin they are able to produce forms of uses, and thereafter to deliver them as from a womb, that they may come forth into light, and thus sprout up and grow. This conatus is afterwards continuous from the lands through the root even to outmosts, and from outmosts to firsts, wherein use itself is in its origin. Thus uses pass into forms; and forms, in their progression from firsts to outmosts and from outmosts to firsts, derive from use (which is like a soul) that each and every thing of the form is of some use. Use is said to be like a soul, since its form is like a body.  It also follows that there is a conatus more interior, that is, the conatus to produce uses for the animal kingdom through vegetable growths, since by these animals of every kind are nourished. It further follows that in all these there is an inmost conatus, the conatus to perform use to the human race. From all this these things follow: (1) that there are outmosts, and in outmosts are all prior things simultaneously in their order, according to what has been frequently explained above; (2) that as there are degrees of both kinds in the greatest and least of all things (as was shown above, n. 222-229), so there are likewise in this conatus; (3) that as all uses are brought forth by the Lord out of outmosts, so in outmosts there must be a conatus to uses. [DLW310]

Still none of these are living conatus, for they are the conatus of life’s outmost forces; within which forces there exists, from the life out of which they spring, a striving to return at last to their origin through the means afforded. In outmosts, atmospheres become such forces; and by these forces, substances and matters, such as are in the lands, are molded into forms and held together in forms both within and without.  But the subject is too large to allow a more extended explanation here. [DLW311]

The first production from these earthy matters, while they were still new and in their simple state, was production of seed; the first conatus therein could not be any other. [DLW312]

(2) In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of creation. Forms of uses are of a threefold kind; forms of uses of the mineral kingdom, forms of uses of the vegetable kingdom, and forms of uses of the animal kingdom. The forms of uses of the mineral kingdom cannot be described, because they are not visible to the eye. The first forms are the substances and matters of which the lands consist, in their minutest divisions; the second forms are aggregates of these, and are of infinite variety; the third forms come from plants that have fallen to dust, and from animal remains, and from the continual evaporations and exhalations from these, which are added to lands and make their soil. These forms of the mineral kingdom in three degrees represent creation in an image in this, that, made active by the sun through the atmospheres and their heat and light, they bring forth uses in forms, which uses were creative ends.This image of creation lies deeply hidden within their conatus (of which see above, n. 310). [DLW313]

In the forms of uses of the vegetable kingdom an image of creation appears in this, that from their firsts they proceed to their outmosts, and from outmosts to firsts. Their firsts are seeds, their outmosts are stalks clothed with bark; and by means of the bark which is the outmost of the stalk, they tend to seeds which, as was said, are their firsts.  The stalks clothed with layers of bark represent the globe clothed with lands, out of which come the creation and formation of all uses. That vegetation is effected through the outer and inner barks and coatings, by a climbing up, by means of the coverings of the roots (which are continued around the stalks and branches), into the beginnings of the fruit, and in like manner through the fruits into the seeds, is known to many. An image of creation is displayed in forms of uses in the progress of the formation of uses from firsts to outmosts, and from outmosts to firsts; also in this, that in the whole progression there lies the end of producing fruit and seeds, which are uses. From what has been said above it is plain, that the progression of the creation of the universe was from its First (which is the Lord encircled by the sun) to outmosts which are lands, and from these through uses to its First, that is, the Lord; also that the ends of the whole creation were uses. [DLW314]

It should be known that to this image of creation the heat, light, and atmospheres of the natural world contribute nothing whatever. It is only the heat, light, and atmospheres of the sun of the spiritual world that do this, bringing that image with them, and clothing it with the forms of uses of the vegetable kingdom. The heat, light, and atmospheres of the natural world simply open the seeds, keep their products in a state of expansion, and clothe them with the matters that give them fixedness. And this is done not by any forces from their own sun (which viewed in themselves are null), but by forces from the spiritual sun, by which the natural forces are unceasingly impelled to these services.  Natural forces contribute nothing whatever towards forming this image of creation, for the image of creation is spiritual. But that this image may be manifest and perform use in the natural world, and may stand fixed and be permanent, it must be materialized, that is, filled in with the matters of that world. [DLW315]

0224 In the forms of uses of the animal kingdom there is a similar image of creation, in that the animal body, which is the outmost thereof, is formed by a seed deposited in a womb or an ovum, and this body, when mature, brings forth new seed. This progression is similar to the progression of the forms of uses of the vegetable kingdom: seeds are the beginnings; the womb or the ovum is like the ground; the state before birth is like the state of the seed in the ground while it takes root; the state after birth until the animal becomes prolific is like the growth of a tree until it reaches its state of fruit-bearing. From this parallelism it is plain that there is a likeness of creation in the forms of animals as well as in the forms of plants, in that there is a progression from firsts to outmosts, and from outmosts to firsts. A like image of creation exists in every single thing there is in man; for there is a like progression of love through wisdom into uses, consequently a like progression of the will through the understanding into acts, and of charity through faith into deeds. Will and understanding, also charity and faith, are the firsts as their source; acts and deeds are the outmosts; from these, by means of the enjoyments of uses, a return is made to their firsts, which, as was said, are the will and understanding, or charity and faith. That the return is effected by means of the enjoyments of uses is very evident from the enjoyments felt in those acts and deeds which are from any love, in that they flow back to the first of the love from which they spring and that thereby conjunction is effected. The enjoyments of acts and deeds are what are called the enjoyments of uses. A like progression from firsts to outmosts, and from outmosts to firsts, is exhibited in the forms most purely organic of affections and thoughts in man. In his brains there are those star-like forms called the cineritious substances; out of these go forth fibers through the medullary substance by the neck into the body; passing through to the outmosts of the body, and from outmosts returning to their firsts.  This return of fibers to their firsts is made through the blood vessels.  There is a like progression of all affections and thoughts, which are changes and variations of state of those forms or substances, for the fibers issuing out of those forms or substances are comparatively like the atmospheres from the spiritual sun, which are containants of heat and light; while bodily acts are like the things produced from the lands by means of atmospheres, the enjoyments of their uses returning to the source from which they sprang. But that the progression of these is such, and that within this progression there is an image of creation, can hardly be comprehended fully by the understanding, both because thousands and myriads of forces operating in act appear as one, and because the enjoyments of uses do not appear as ideas in the thought, but only affect without distinct perception. On this subject see what has been declared and explained above, as follows: The uses of all created things ascend by degrees of height to man, and through man to God the Creator from whom they are (n. 65-68). The end of creation takes form in outmosts, which end is that all things may return to the Creator and that there may be conjunction (n. 167-172). But these things will appear in still clearer light in the following Part, where the correspondence of the will and understanding with the heart and lungs will be treated of. [DLW316]

(3) In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of man. This has been shown above (n. 61-64). That all uses, from firsts to outmosts and from outmosts to firsts, have relation to all parts of man and have correspondence with them, consequently that man is, in a kind of image, a universe, and conversely that the universe viewed as to uses is in image a man, will be seen in the following chapter. [DLW317]

(4) In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of the Infinite and the Eternal. The image of the Infinite in these forms is plain from their conatus and power to fill the spaces  of the whole world, and even of many worlds, to infinity. For a single seed produces a tree, shrub, or plant, which fills its own space; and each tree, shrub, or plant produces seeds, in some cases thousands of them, which, when sown and grown up, fill their own spaces; and if from each seed of these there should proceed as many more, reproduced again and again, in the course of years the whole world would be filled; and if the production were still continued many worlds would be filled; and this to infinity.  Estimate a thousand seeds from one, and multiply the thousand by a thousand ten times, twenty times, even to a hundred times, and you will see. There is a like image of the Eternal in these forms; seeds are propagated from year to year, and the propagations never cease; they have not ceased from the creation of the world till now, and will not cease to eternity. These two are standing proofs and attesting signs that all things of the universe have been created by an Infinite and Eternal God. Beside these images of the Infinite and Eternal, there is another image of the Infinite and Eternal in varieties, in that there can never be a substance, state, or thing in the created universe the same as or identical with any other, neither in atmospheres, nor in lands, nor in the forms arising out of these. Thus not in any of the things which fill the universe can any thing the same be produced to eternity. This is plainly to be seen in the variety of the faces of human beings; no one face can be found throughout the world which is the same as another, nor can there be to all eternity, consequently not one mind, for the face is the type of the mind.[DLW318]

THE FORM OF HEAVEN WHICH DETERMINES AFFILIATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS THERE.

What the form of heaven is can be seen in some measure from what has been shown in the preceding chapters; as that heaven is like itself both in its greatest  and in its least divisions (n. 72); that consequently each society is a heaven in a lesser form, and each angel in the least form (n. 51-58); that as the entire heaven reflects a single man, so each society of heaven reflects a man in a lesser form, and each angel in the least form (n. 59-77); that the wisest are at the center, and the less wise are round about even to the borders, and the like is true of each society (n. 43); and that those who are in the good of love dwell from the east to the west in heaven, and those who are in truths from good from the south to the north; and the same is true of each society (n. 148, 149). All this is in accord with the form of heaven; consequently it may be concluded from this what this form is in general.{1} [HH200]

It is important to know what the form of heaven is, because not only is all affiliation there in accordance with it, but also all mutual communication, and in consequence of this all extension of thoughts and affections, and thus all the intelligence and wisdom of angels. From this it follows that each one there is wise just to the extent that he is in the form of heaven, and is thus a form of heaven. It makes no difference whether you say in the form of heaven, or in the order of heaven, since the form of any thing is from its order and in accordance with its order.{1} [HH201]

0197a  Let us consider first what is meant by being in the form of heaven. Man was created both in the image of heaven and in the image of the world; his internal in the image of heaven, and his external in the image of the world (see above, n. 57); and in the image means the same thing as in accordance with the form. But as man by the evils of his will and consequent falsities of thought has destroyed in himself the image of heaven, that is, the form of heaven, and in place of it has brought in the image and form of hell, his internal is closed up from his very birth; and this is why man is born into pure ignorance, while animals of every kind are not. And that man may have the image of heaven or form of heaven restored to him he must be taught the things that pertain to order; since form, as has been said, is in accord with order. The Word contains all the laws of Divine order, for its precepts are the laws of Divine order; therefore to the extent that man knows these and lives in accordance with them his internal is opened and the order or image of heaven is there formed anew. This makes clear what is meant by being in the form of heaven, namely, that it is to live in accordance with those things that are in the Word.{1} [HH202]

So far as any one is in the form of heaven he is in heaven, and is, in fact, a heaven in the least form (n. 57); consequently he is to the same extent in intelligence and wisdom; for as has been said above, all the thought of his understanding and all the affection of his will extend themselves on every side into heaven in accord with its form, and wonderfully communicate with the societies there, and these in turn with him.{1}

[2] There are some who do not believe that thoughts and affections really extend themselves around about them, but believe that they are within them, because whatever they think they see within in themselves, and not as distant; but such are greatly mistaken. For as the sight of the eye has extension to remote objects, and is affected in accordance with the order of the things seen in that extension, so the interior sight, which is that of the understanding, has a like extension in the spiritual world, although not perceived by man, for the reason given above (n. 196). The only difference is that the sight of the eye is affected in a natural way, because it is affected by the things in the natural world, while the sight of the understanding is affected in a spiritual way, because by the things in the spiritual world, all of which have relation to good and truth; and man’s ignorance of this is because of his not knowing that there is any light that enlightens the understanding; and yet without the light that enlightens the understanding man could not think at all (of which light see above, n. 126-132).

[3] There was a certain spirit who believed that his thought was from himself, thus without any extension outside of himself and communication thereby with societies outside of him. That he might learn that this was not true his communication with neighboring societies was cut off, and in consequence, not only was he deprived of thought but he fell down as if lifeless, although tossing his arms about like a new-born infant.  After a while the communication was restored to him, and then as it was gradually restored he returned into the state of his thought. [4]

When other spirits had seen this they confessed that all thought and affection, and in consequence, everything of life, flow in in accordance with communication, since everything of man’s life consists in his ability to think and be moved by affection, or what is the same, in his ability to understand and will.{2} [HH203]

But let it be understood that intelligence and wisdom vary with everyone in accordance with this communication, those whose intelligence and wisdom are formed out of genuine truths and goods having communication with societies in accordance with the form of heaven; while those whose intelligence and wisdom are not formed out of genuine truths and goods, and yet out of what is in accord therewith, have a broken and variously coherent communication, since it is not with societies that are in a series in which there is a form of heaven. On the other hand, those that are not in intelligence and wisdom, because they are in falsities from evil, have communication with societies in hell; and their extension is determined by the degree of their confirmation. Let it also be known that this communication with societies is not such a communication with them as is clearly perceptible to those there, but is a communication with what they really are, which is in them and flows from them.{1} [HH204]

There is an affiliation of all in heaven in accordance with spiritual relationships, that is, relationships of good and truth in their order. It is so in the whole heaven; so in each society, and so in each house. Because of this angels who are in like good and truth recognize each other, as relatives by blood and marriage do on the earth, precisely as if they had been acquainted from infancy. The good and truth in each angel, which constitute his wisdom and intelligence, are affiliated in like manner; they recognize each other in like manner, and as they recognize each other they join themselves together;{1} and in consequence those in whom truths and goods are thus joined in accordance with a form of heaven see things following one another in series, and how they cohere widely round about; but those in whom goods and truths are not conjoined in accordance with the form of heaven do not see this. [HH 205]

ALL CREATED THINGS HAVE RELATION IN A KIND OF IMAGE TO MAN.

This can be seen from each and all things of the animal kingdom, from each and all things of the vegetable kingdom, and from each and all things of the mineral kingdom. A relation to man in each and all things of the animal kingdom is evident from the following. Animals of every kind have limbs by which they move, organs by which they feel, and viscera by which these are exercised; these they have in common with man. They have also appetites and affections similar to man’s natural appetites and affections; and they have inborn knowledges corresponding to their affections, in some of which there appears a resemblance to what is spiritual, which is more or less evident in beasts of the earth, and birds of the air, and in bees, silk-worms, ants, etc. From this it is that merely natural men consider the living creatures of this kingdom to be like themselves, except in the matter of speech.

A relation to man arising out of each and all things of the vegetable kingdom is evident from this: they spring forth from seed, and thereafter proceed step by step through their periods of growth; they have something akin to marriage, followed by prolification; their vegetative soul is use, and they are forms thereof; besides many other particulars which have relation to man. These also have been described by various authors.

A relation to man deducible from each and every thing of the mineral kingdom is seen only in an endeavor to produce forms which exhibit such a relation (which forms, as said above, are each and all things of the vegetable kingdom), and in an endeavor to perform uses thereby. For when first a seed falls into the bosom of the earth, she cherishes it, and out of herself provides it with nourishment from every source, that it may shoot up and present itself in a form representative of man. That such an endeavor exists also in its solid parts is evident from corals at the bottom of the seas and from flowers in mines, where they originate from minerals, also from metals. This endeavor towards vegetating, and performing uses thereby, is the outmost derivation from the Divine in created things. [DLW 61]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)

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Copyright © 2007-2013 A. J. Coriat All rights reserved.

 

Discovering the True Significance of Mary Magdalene: An Easter Surprise

Swedenborg Foundation

 

By Soni Soneson Werner, Associate Professor Emerita of Psychology at Bryn Athyn College

 

“Mary Reaching for His Garment” by Soni Soneson Werner

With Easter Sunday soon upon us, my thoughts turn to the role and nature of Mary Magdalene in the gospel Easter story. In modern times, she has emerged as one of the most intriguing figures in the New Testament. When my interest in Mary Magdalene piqued years ago, I began collecting and critically analyzing evidence about whom she really was. I have gone to France, England, and Israel in search of stories about her and have found illustrations in stained glass, architecture, statues, paintings, and mosaics.[1] I have reviewed literature from both ancient and modern theological scholars and have studied contemporary Broadway plays, novels, and movies that engage Mary Magdalene in some way. I visited two chapels where their followers were worshipping her relics. At this point in my quest, I have come to the conclusion that she has been misrepresented by the conventional Christian traditions, by French politicians, and by artists. People have rewritten her story to fulfill their own needs and desires.

For my reading of Mary Magdalene, I look to Emanuel Swedenborg, who provides clues about her significance that are more profound than what is said about her by any of the other legends. First, let’s review what is not in Swedenborg’s works about Mary Magdalene. There is nothing about her:

  1. sex life as an adulterer or prostitute;
  2. using the ointment from the alabaster jar;
  3. being married to Jesus or being pregnant;
  4. traveling to France to spread the good news;
  5. being a saint;
  6. representing a divine feminine spirit;
  7. holding a red egg when preaching;
  8. being represented by a rose or “V”;
  9. relics being involved in spiritual practices; and
  10. in relationship to the Holy Grail.[2]

Swedenborg’s works focus on the events of Easter morning and furnish an internal sense of the importance of Mary Magdalene’s role. In the four canonical Gospels, we find stories in the plain sense of the text that describe aspects of her Easter role:

  1. Coming to find Jesus in the burial tomb/sepulcher;
  2. Seeing brightly clothed angels at the tomb;
  3. Talking to the angels and Jesus (who had not yet ascended);
  4. Witnessing the earthquake.
  5. Going to tell others the good news.

Swedenborg provides an interpretation of these remarkable events that I have not found anywhere else in either scholarly or popular literature about Mary Magdalene. Throughout his works, Swedenborg’s approach is to describe the internal sense of the biblical stories. For instance, that Mary came to the tomb (sepulcher) and “met brightly clothed angels” corresponds to her spiritual sight being opened by God. At that moment, she was ready to receive and perceive the deeper truths being shown to her:

That . . . angels appeared clothed in garments is evident from [those] who sat at the Lord’s sepulcher, and were seen in shining white garments by Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James . . . and especially is the same thing evident from the Lord himself when seen in his glory by Peter, James, and John, in that his [clothing] was then white and glistering, and was like the light . . . by which [clothing] there was also represented the Divine spiritual, that is, the Divine truth which is from him. (Arcana Coelestia §9814:2)[3]

The earthquake Mary beheld refers to an enormous change that was about to happen in the state of the church and to the fact that Christianity was being born with the new awareness of the afterlife as demonstrated by Jesus’s ascension:

Concerning the earthquake which took place when the angel descended and rolled away the stone from the mouth of the sepulcher, it is thus stated:When “Mary Magdalene came and the other Mary to see the sepulcher; and, behold, there was a great earthquake; for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled away the stone from the mouth, and sat upon it” (Matt. xxviii. 1, 2). Those earthquakes took place to indicate that the state of the church was then being changed; for the Lord, by His last temptation, which He sustained in Gethsemane and upon the cross, conquered the hells, and reduced to order all things there and in the heavens, and also glorified His Human, that is, made it Divine. (Apocalypse Explained §400:14)

That Mary met Jesus as he was ascending and was instructed not to touch him signifies that she was brought into the spiritual understanding that Jesus’s human aspect was being united with his divine aspect and was becoming the Divine Human:

In heaven, by [the Lord’s] death and burial, are not meant death and burial, but the purification of His Human, and glorification. That this is the case, the Lord taught by the comparison with wheat falling into the earth, which must die, in order that it may bear fruit. The same is also involved in what the Lord said to Mary Magdalene:“Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father” (John xx. 17).By ascending to His Father, is meant the [union] of His Human with His Divine, the human from the mother being completely rejected. (Apocalypse Explained §899:14)

The unity of the triune God lies in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is only one God, and Mary felt confident in this truth and that he was the promised Messiah.
Then Mary was urged to tell what she had seen to the Lord’s brethren, signifying that she must go back to all of his followers and tell them what happened so that she might encourage goodness in everyone she met:

Jesus said to Mary, “Go to my brethren, and say to them, I ascend to my Father” ([John] xx. 17). Similarly here the disciples are called brethren, because the disciples, equally as brethren, signify all those of His church who are in the good of charity. (Apocalypse Explained §746:8)

What an astounding significance for the role, nature, and purpose of Mary Magdalene in the biblical narrative![4] In my search to better understand Mary Magdalene, I have sorted through many of the resources and in turn have come to appreciate the following:

  1. the Eastern Orthodox Church, which never followed along with other traditions that conflated the name of Mary Magdalene with unnamed sinful women;
  2. the artists of the Medieval and Renaissance eras who created remarkable images of the Easter story;
  3. scholars, such as Karen King (see Suggested Readings, below), who have analyzed the non-canonical Gospels that mention Mary Magdalene;
  4. the Russian Romanov family, who built my favorite Magdalene shrine in Jerusalem;
  5. Swedenborg, who provided readers with a powerful and penetrating spiritual interpretation of the Easter story; and
  6. Mary Magdalene, herself, who bravely followed Jesus and spoke up even when it was against the custom of the times for women to have a voice regarding spiritual matters.

If we sort through the legends, conflations of characters, politics of religion, and fanciful tales, we are left with the simple essence of Mary’s role in the Easter story. Then, if we consider the internal sense of those powerful, biblical accounts of her experiences (based on the writings of Swedenborg), we are given a great gift: the chance to vicariously sense the Lord Jesus Christ ascending to heaven and urging us to share the Easter story. Both men and women have been writing and speaking about this story for centuries; but I am particularly appreciative of Mary Magdalene, who found her voice and blazed the trail for female scholars like myself.

[1] For a more in-depth summary of this pilgrimage, see my book entitled Searching for Mary Magdalene: Her Story of Awareness, Acceptance, and Action.

[2] Soni Werner, Searching for Mary Magdalene: Her Story of Awareness, Acceptance, and Action (Rochester, MI: Fountain Publishing, 2011), 81.
[3] Secrets of Heaven is the New Century Edition translation of Swedenborg’s Arcana Coelestia.
[4] Werner, 180. See also Emanuel Swedenborg, Arcana Coelestia §§720, 5063, 6472, 9263; Apocalypse Explained §§198, 586; Conjugial Love §100; Heaven and Hell §257; True Christianity §§443, 508.

Suggested Readings

Currie, Susannah. “Mary Magdalene, companion of the Lord.” Unpublished manuscript (see http://www.bridgewaternewchurch.org).

Ehrman, Bart D. Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine. NY: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Haskins, Susan. Mary Magdalen: Myth and Metaphor. NY: Riverhead Books, 1995.

The Holy Bible: Matthew 28:1–10; Mark 15:1–11; Luke 24: 1–11; John 20:1–18. 

King, Karen L. The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle. Santa Rosa, CA: Polebridge Press, 2003.

Swedenborg, Emanuel. Apocalypse ExplainedWest Chester, PA: Swedenborg Foundation, 1997.

_____. Arcana CoelestiaWest Chester, PA: Swedenborg Foundation, 1997.

_____. Charity: The Practice of Neighborliness. West Chester, PA: Swedenborg Foundation, 1995.

_____. Conjugial LoveWest Chester, PA: Swedenborg Foundation, 1998.

_____. Heaven and HellWest Chester, PA: Swedenborg Foundation, 2010.

_____. True ChristianityWest Chester, PA: Swedenborg Foundation, 2010.

Werner, Soni. Searching for Mary Magdalene: Her Story of Awareness, Acceptance, and Action. Rochester, MI: Fountain Publishing. 2011.

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