Swedenborg and Reincarnation: Rebirth in the Body vs. Rebirth of the Spirit

Swedenborg Foundation

One question we’re asked frequently at the Swedenborg Foundation is, “Did Swedenborg say anything about reincarnation?”

In his writings, Swedenborg gives detailed descriptions of the afterlife—including heaven, hell, and the world of spirits in between—and the stages of development that a person’s mind and soul experience during life on earth and in the spiritual realms after death. He describes a linear process of spiritual growth in which people are born, live on earth, and then continue living and growing eternally in the afterlife.

seasons

None of this suggests that Swedenborg would be sympathetic to the idea of living multiple lifetimes on earth. And in fact, in one of his rare explicit references to reincarnation, he depicts a philosopher in the afterlife first arguing in favor of reincarnation and then, having been enlightened by the Lord, disavowing the notion as “insane” (True Christianity §79:6, 8). In True Christianity §171, Swedenborg goes even farther, comparing a particular belief about Jesus to “the absurd notion that someone’s soul can cross over into someone else.” (See the postscript to this article for more on how Swedenborg might have understood the concept of reincarnation.)

In Heaven and Hell §256, he offers an explanation for why it might appear that some people remember past lives:

Angels and spirits actually have memory just as we do. If a spirit were to talk with us from her or his own memory, then it would seem to us entirely as though the thoughts were our own, when they would really belong to the spirit. It is like remembering something that we have never seen or heard.

This is why some of the ancients were of the opinion that after some thousands of years they would return to their former life and all its deeds, and that they had in fact returned. They gathered this from the fact that sometimes a kind of memory would come up of things that they had never seen or heard. This happened because spirits had flowed from their own memory into the images of these people’s thoughts.

Clearly, Swedenborg wouldn’t have supported the idea of a person’s soul being reborn in another earthly body. However, when discussing the process of spiritual growth and rebirth, or regeneration, Swedenborg develops a complex model of how the soul travels through different spiritual states and how those states relate to each other. There are some striking parallels between Swedenborg’s descriptions of this process and Hindu teachings on reincarnation that suggest that maybe the two philosophies aren’t as far apart as they seem.

Hinduism is a religion of diverse beliefs and practices, but speaking very broadly, Hindus believe that we consist of a gross (physical) body and a subtle body. The subtle, or astral, body is defined in different ways by different sources, but it’s often divided into these common elements: the organs of perception, the organs of action, the vital breath (prana), the intellect or wisdom (buddhi), the mind (manas), and the ego (ahamkara). It is this subtle body that survives after death and goes to another spiritual world or plane of existence (loka). There are manylokas, usually divided into seven higher and seven lower; the higher ones are states of spiritual bliss, while the lower ones are states of spiritual suffering. People stay in these lokas until they have expended their good or bad karma, and then they are reborn on earth. This process repeats until a person is good or pure enough to achieve moksha, a release from the cycle of death and rebirth.

The following is a description from Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, a well-known American Hindu teacher, that appeared in the magazine Hinduism Today.

Life does not end at the death of the physical body. The body dies but the soul does not. It lives on in a counterpart of the physical body which is called the astral body. The astral body is made of astral matter and resides in a world not unlike this one, called the Devaloka or Second World. In other words, in order to perfect itself, to spiritually unfold and evolve, the soul lives on in another body after death, the astral body. At the right time, according to its karma, it is reborn into a flesh body. Thus the astral body, with the soul within it, enters a new physical body. This same cycle is repeated many times until the soul spiritually unfolds and reaches a certain state of perfection or mature evolution.

A belief in an afterlife that can offer states of joy for the good and suffering for the evil is common to many cultures. But Swedenborg describes in very similar terms to the Hindus the spirit that passes to the afterlife after our body dies: he emphasizes that we are in a human spiritual body after death (see especially Heaven and Hell §§453–454) and that our thoughts, memories, and spiritual senses remain with us (§§461–462). Like Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, Swedenborg describes the soul as living in the spiritual world and continuing to learn and perfect itself (§512).

Swedenborg also, significantly, makes distinctions between the soul (vital energy), the spirit, and the mind:

The soul is nothing more nor less than our life, while the spirit is the actual person, and the body is an earthly thing we carry around in the world. It is only an agent through which our spirit, the actual person, acts in a way that is adapted to the natural world. (Heaven and Hell §602)

Our earthly mind is made up of both spiritual substances and earthly substances. Our thinking results from the spiritual substances and not from the earthly substances. These latter substances fade away when we die, but the spiritual substances do not. So when we become spirits or angels after death, the same mind is still there in the form it had in the world. (Divine Love and Wisdom §257)

Where Hindu scriptures describe an ascending series of higher worlds that a spirit can inhabit (which in some branches are also interpreted as ascending states of consciousness), Swedenborg describes the world of spirits—a plane of existence close to earth but existing on a spiritual rather than a material level—with a series of three heavens above it. These three heavens could also be perceived in terms of being closer to or farther from the center, which is God. “It needs to be quite clear that it is the inner nature of angels that determines which heaven they are in,” Swedenborg writes. “The more the deeper levels [of their minds] have been opened, the more inward the heaven they are in” (Heaven and Hell §33).

But the path of spiritual growth is not a linear one. Hindu texts say that a person can just as easily be reborn in a lower loka as a higher one: if a person incurs bad karma by pursing worldly desires and ignoring their spiritual duties, he or she must live out a lifetime as a lower being in order to learn the lessons they need to move forward. “Life’s ultimate goal is not money, not clothes, not sex, not power, not food or any other of the instinctive needs,” writes Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. “These are natural pursuits, to be sure, but our real purpose on this earth is to know, to love and to serve God and the Gods.”

Swedenborg also describes the occasional step backward as part of an angel’s spiritual life. He says that angels occasionally experience states where their love of God diminishes and they may even fall into a depression. “[The angels] go on to say that the Lord does not produce these changes of their states, since the Lord as the sun is always flowing in with warmth and light, that is, with love and wisdom. Rather, they themselves are the cause, since they love their sense of self and this is constantly misleading them” (Heaven and Hell §158).

For Hindus, the end point of all incarnations is moksha, a word that has its roots in the idea of release or liberation. Again, within Hinduism there are many views of moksha, but the Hindu American Foundation defines it this way:

Moksha is characterized by the overcoming of spiritual ignorance; the complete elimination of material desires and attachments; the perfected ability to live in the present moment and experience absolute peace; and most importantly, the awakening of pure compassion towards all.  Moksha also translates to liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth (samsara).  Someone may attain moksha during his or her lifetime or upon the death of his or her physical body.

Swedenborg describes the final state of regeneration in similar terms:

None but those who have experienced a state of peace can appreciate the nature of the peaceful tranquility that the outer self enjoys when there is an end to struggle, or to the disquiet of burning desires and misconceptions. That state is so joyful that it surpasses all our notions of joy. It is not simply an end to our struggles but a vibrancy welling up from deep-seated peace, affecting our outer being beyond the capacity of words to describe it. (Secrets of Heaven §92)

To be sure, there are significant differences between Hindu beliefs on reincarnation and Swedenborg’s concept of regeneration. But fundamentally, both systems describe a long and gradual process of self-directed spiritual development that has as its highest possible end state a release from material desires and a resulting state of deep peace and joy. Where Hinduism teaches that this process takes place through multiple rebirths on earth, Swedenborg sees our earthly life as a seed-state for a much longer and richer existence in the afterlife.

How do you see the process of spiritual growth?

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For more on Swedenborg’s concept of regeneration, see Regeneration: Spiritual Growth and How It Works, a compilation of his writings on spiritual growth from many sources, or visit our regeneration page for links to more resources. You can also explore these ideas in more depth in our videos “How to Create Heaven on Earth,” “How to Find Your True Self,” and “The Four Kinds of Love.”

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Postscript: Swedenborg’s Understanding of Reincarnation

Today, our ideas about reincarnation are largely shaped by eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Europeans were in regular contact with Asia during Swedenborg’s lifetime, and it’s possible that he was aware of these concepts from eastern philosophy. However, reincarnation was also a widely held belief in ancient Greece, and Swedenborg’s references to reincarnation suggest that this is what he was thinking of when describing this concept in his writings.

For example, in True Christianity §79:6, which contains Swedenborg’s recollection (“memorable occurrence”) of an experience in the spiritual world:

Another philosopher said, “I’ll grant you that the individual forms made out of ether in the highest realm were countless. Nevertheless the number of people born since the world was created has exceeded the number of forms. How then could there be enough of these ethereal forms? So I thought to myself that the souls that go out through people’s mouths when they die come back to the same people after several thousand years. The people go back, therefore, and live a similar life to the one they had before. As we know, many of the wise believe in reincarnation and things like that.”

And in True Christianity §171:

The concept of an eternally begotten Son of God who later comes down and takes on a human manifestation is like the ancient nonsense about human souls created at the beginning of the world that enter bodies and become people. It is also like the absurd notion that someone’s soul can cross over into someone else.

The references in the above passages to “ethereal forms” that came into being at the time of creation and become the souls of human beings were most likely drawn from Swedenborg’s reading of Plato. Plato’s work The Myth of Er contains his most extensive references to reincarnation, although he also mentions reincarnation in his works Phaedrus and Timaeus. While modern scholars question whether Plato himself believed in reincarnation, the concept of reincarnation reappears in both Greek and Roman literature up until the advent of Christianity

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How Does One Burn In Hell?

For one thing, there is no physical fire in Hell because it is not a physical realm. So this is a question for physics as much as it is a question for theology.

What does it really mean to “burn” in hell?

First of all, we should consider what damns a person in the first place? Cruelty, hatred, avarice, revenge, adultery, deceit, hypocrisy and impiety can all do us in. These “evils” are all derived from the love of self.

Everything an individual thinks and does is ruled by their intentions – that is what one ultimately seeks and loves. We often describe a person’s excitement as getting all fired-up. Perhaps hell is a realm where an evil person is consumed by the “flames” of his or her own self-love.

Anger is often described as a “smoldering” from within. It usually is ignited by some frustration, whereby something important to us is thwarted or foiled. Those with evil leanings often smolder when others do not do their bidding and promote their personal goals and self-interests. Inwardly, such individuals harbor a burning hatred for others.

Therefore, hell would be a “place” where evil souls go and are eternally frustrated by not being able to dominate over others or hurt others. Does not such a punishment fit the crime? How would justice be better served?

The idea that God would burn people in a culinary fire, and miraculously keep them alive to have their flesh cooked to an eternity is barbaric, and, contradicts the idea that God is Infinite Love and Infinite Wisdom.

Even on earth, we mortals have the sense to create a system of justice whereby the punishment fits the crime. Is God less rational and fair than we are?

Goodness is its own reward and evil is its own punishment.

Heaven and Hell are psychoscapes. That is, not existing in time or space, they are reflections of the qualities of our hearts and minds. The Lord’s heavenly kingdom is a kingdom of mutual love. Those who put themselves first cannot endure such a realm and seek to remove themselves from God’s influence, where they can worship themselves.

Such individuals are eternally thwarted by the self-interests of others, who also constantly seek their own prominence in all things. In such an infernal society, happiness can never be attained. This is what is meant by, “burning in hell.”

Does this make sense to you?

Posted on October 21, 2008by thegodguy

Website: http://www.staircasepress.com

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Ten Crappy Christian Ideas (and one bonus bit of baloney)

  1. The Trinitarian Doctrine that God is three Persons but one substance. This widespread Christian teaching requires us to throw reasoning out the window. Artificial terms, like “consubstantiality” and “hypostatic union,” were invented by theologians to get themselves out of their doctrinal pickle of dividing God into three Persons.

If we are to love God (as the first commandment dictates), which God are we to love? It was Jehovah God who assumed a human form on earth and fulfilled Scripture.

  1. God is pissed off with the whole human race. The idea that God is angry with humans comes from a mere literal interpretation of the narratives within Sacred Scripture, especially the Old Testament. God is Infinite Love and Mercy. The idea that God’s “wrath” has to be appeased by His Son’s suffering and death on the cross is barbaric and falls way short of INFINITE Divine Love and Wisdom. God never judges or punishes. It is those who turn away from God that damn themselves. Evil punishes itself. What greater justice is there than that?
  2. Salvation is by Faith alone. If you don’t want to bother with repentance or cleaning up your act, then you must place all your faith, hope, and trust that Christ is sticking up for you (interceding) and convincing the “Father” why you ought not burn in Hell. Christ’s death on the cross was not redemption itself, nor did it remove our personal responsibility for following the Commandments. Christ did overcome the power of sin while on earth. However, this saving power is offered to us when we approach the Lord and ask for His help in uncovering and removing our egocentric compulsions. Salvation is through cooperating with God – not in mere belief or crossing one’s fingers and hoping that things are well. But if you are of a lazy disposition, I can see why the doctrine of “Faith Alone” would be so attractive.
  3. The Sacraments save. Sacraments and rituals are simply outer signs and formalities representing deeper things of internal worship. For example, Baptism signifies the cleansing of one’s spirit. This “inner cleansing” is done from introspection and repentance. Repentance is what is essential to worship – not the splashing of water. Nor does praying to Saints help either – they are not told in heaven that they have been pronounced saints by earth-dwellers, because it would be a negative influence to a humble and heavenly life.
  4. Going to church saves. This, too, is simply external worship. True worship is to live one’s life according to God’s tenets. Going to church, participating in sacraments, hearing sermons, praying, and enjoying potluck dinners are all fine as long as we use religion to make real changes in our lives. Duh!
  5. We will get new physical bodies at the “end times.” Death is a continuation of life. We enter into the spiritual world after the death of the physical body. The spiritual world consists of spiritual substances – not natural substances. Our soul forms a spiritual body based on the choices we make in life. We become who we really are! So we end up where we really belong!
  6. God judges, rewards, and punishes. Nope! I touched on this in #2. The Lord God continuously seeks our salvation and eternal happiness. Heaven is not a reward or entitlement, nor is it a “place” that you go to. Heaven is something you become.
  7. Heaven is a place one goes to. Pure bunk! This has been covered above, but I need to throw in some scientific reasoning as a further support. Heaven is NOT a physical place in time and space. Therefore, it is not some place we need permission to gain access to. It is a quality of one’s heart and mind. Our thoughts and values are real spiritual substances and they grow into the bio-structure of our spiritual bodies, which are adapted to either a life in heaven or a life of self-centeredness. Religion is God’s strategy to extend the evolution of the biosphere into a non-physical realm. The purpose of creation is to build a heaven from the human race.
  8. The Holy Word is to be taken as historical truth. There are parts of Scripture that represent real events that involved real people. However, the Sacred Word is a multi-dimensional document. Even the real events and real people of the Bible are used to represent the deeper spiritual dynamics of salvation and various qualities of worship.
  9. Heaven is a retirement destination. Inactivity and uselessness is not tolerated in heaven. Eternal happiness and blessedness are the enjoyments of those who practice mutual love toward each other—through service. Life and love is fully expressed through  productive activity. Heaven would become hell without such a commerce of caring.

Baloney Bonus – The Second Coming is yet to come. It is taking place at this very moment! Did you miss it? It is not a physical event. It is a new dispensation from the Lord concerning deeper revelations within Scripture. This new knowledge from heaven is the descent of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem INTO OUR HEARTS AND MINDS! These new teachings from the Lord God will be a new HABITATION for our spirit.

Posted on October 3, 2008by thegodguy

Website: http://www.staircasepress.com

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Heaven’s Biosphere

For science to be unified with religion, heaven will need to be understood and explored from both a scientific and faith-based perspective.

If heaven really exists, what kind of place can it be? Artwork depicts heaven as high up in the sky, above the clouds. This depiction of heaven does not pass scientific muster. No angels have been observed flitting about the clouds over earth. If you take the position that these are heavenly clouds, then angels live in a boring world of unending sensory deprivation.

Even on earth, paradise is described in Scripture as a beautiful garden, with trees, flowers, fruit, and animals of great variety. Without such things to behold and enjoy, the human mind suffers and languishes.

This has caused some to believe that when the Lord returns He will create a new heaven and new earth, and restore our physical bodies in a way that will be immune to the ravages of time. This is also seemingly confirmed by the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, descending from heaven.

But how can something from heaven float down as a fully-built city? How will we all squeeze into this one city and prime real estate, made of precious stones and pearls? How could such a city function without a sun or moon overhead? Are we talking about a Las Vegas-type of city here, with plenty of nightlife and lots of electric lights?

This is also in contradiction to the Lord’s ascending into heaven for the purpose of preparing many mansions for us. What building materials are at hand in the non-physical realm of heaven? Are there trees and stones in heaven? What resources would the Lord use to build such splendid places for out eternal habitation?

Perhaps, heaven is not a place at all! Perhaps its buildings, trees, and gardens are all psycho-topological. What would that mean?

It would mean that everything in the spiritual world is a holographic reflection of the various qualities of our heart and mind—our spiritual reality. Can our ideas, thoughts and feelings find their equivalence in non-physical flora and fauna?

Yes!

The knowledge of religious faith is like a heavenly seed planted by God that takes root in the soil of our mind. Faith then grows, branches and leafs out, blossoms, and finally bears fruit. Heaven’s landscape would then be the result of God’s gardening our inner world, producing a spiritual environment that mirrored one’s religious belief-system.

In the same way plants and trees create a perfect environment for animals, such an inner landscape of the spirit would attract new emotions and feelings, representing a new movement and animation within our hearts. We certainly describe the characteristics of people by using different animals. One can have the heart of a lion, act like a snake in the grass, be as sly as a fox, as gentle as a lamb, as strong as a bull, or as innocent as a dove.

Since our thoughts and emotions are who we REALLY are, these are the materials the Lord would use to create a heavenly environment and non-physical abode for us. Our spirit’s habitation would be formed out of the building materials of our faith—because this is where we inwardly live!

The fact that we organize our experiences and knowledge points to the reality of non-physical structure. The human race has evolved an intelligence and consciousness to internalize the world, and reconstitute its information according to our values. Religion is God’s strategy for extending the biosphere into a non-temporal and non-spatial world.

Religion offers the appropriate values for ensuring that one’s spiritual bio-complexity is organized according to heavenly order. What we love forms our spiritual bodies and our spiritual landscapes.

No one is sent to heaven or hell. We go inwards—where our heart is.

Posted on September 25, 2008by thegodguy

http://www.provinggod.com

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Angels and Non-Physical Complexity

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on September 20, 2008 by thegodguy

http://www.provinggod.com

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Salvation Gobbledygook

The understanding of how people are saved and go to heaven was turned into gobbledygook at the Council of Nicea, where God was first divided into three Persons.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with early Christian history, let give you some of the background that led the Church to make decisions that rendered the process of salvation unintelligible.

A man by the name of Arius was challenging the Church’s claim that Jesus was divine, and insisted that the Lord was inferior to the transcendent Father. To stop this new, heretical movement from growing, a synod of bishops got together in the year 325 in the town of Nicaea to mount a counter attack. These bishops were faced with the complicated task of explaining their affirmation of one God, but consisting of three distinct Persons.

The bishops invented new, high-sounding words (not found in Scripture) to explain their Trinitarian doctrine in a way that would preserve the Lord’s divinity, such as “hypostatic” union, which allowed the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to be distinct, yet be of one personal divine substance.

According to theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, while the bishops endeavored to escape a wolf, they “ran into a Lion.” Now, the dynamics of salvation had to be described by giving each distinct God a special duty. If each divine Personage requires the help of the other in saving humankind, then they cannot – by any stretch of the imagination – represent the fullness and perfection of the Godhead individually. There is also a problem of logically explaining how the Son was begotten from the Father when each existed from eternity (begotten suggests a sequence in time). But don’t worry – we can simply say that such illogicality is a great and beautiful “mystery” of faith. Things do not get any better when the different duties belonging to each particular God are seriously explored.

First, God the Father is pissed-off with humans. So the Father sends the Son (who apparently had nothing of value to do up to this time) to be slaughtered on the cross and take upon himself the sins of the world.  The Lord defeats death and emerges in righteousness. But this victory over sin (through bloodletting) has no direct benefit to us. The Lord’s merit and righteousness is merely transferred to a divine “credit card.” The Father does not impute this merit and righteousness of His Son (the Redeemer?), until those who by grace, obtain faith. Then the Father sends the Holy Spirit to use His divine credit so as to actually implement salvation for those who have the proper faith.

This is redemption. It is given to only the elect.

There are two big problems here. First, God cannot be seen as having Infinite love and mercy for all people – only for a select few. He hates some and accepts others (the Son and Holy Ghost simply follow orders from the Father). Second, we have absolutely no say in the process.

As a result of this spiritual “limbo,” we are put in a schizophrenic state of panic in which we try to acquire the proper FAITH. We rush to church, take part in its rites, listen to sermons, then cross our fingers (because the final outcome is still up to the judgment of the Father).

The strength of one’s faith is in the strength of one’s belief that the Lord is our Savior and Redeemer through His vicarious death on the Cross. We must believe, believe, and believe – until our eyes pop out of our sockets. And, during all this believing, we should overlook our transgressions, since we wouldn’t dare take merit for becoming a better Christian and person.

This dismissal of personal responsibility in matters of salvation is why some church leaders believe that Christians are above the Law (God’s Commandments), since through the crucifixion we now need only approach Christ. Yet even Christ states that we should approach the Father when He taught us the LORD’S PRAYER. The whole thing is a mess!

But change is coming. The New Jerusalem will usher in a more adequate theology for today’s world. In fact, it is yours for the taking.

Posted on September 14, 2008by thegodguy

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Does Faith Threaten Cosmology?

 

Not only does religion and science disagree about how the universe began, or how life emerged, but they also disagree on how it will all end.  Since most of the debate has focused on creation and evolution I would like to address the “end times.”

Currently, astrophysicists tell us that because the universe is expanding (with increased speed) and its stars will eventually burn up all their fuel, everything will run down and we will be left with a cold, dismal, and lonely universe.

Christian doctrine offers a more positive and hopeful view. The Christian concept of the end times (eschatology) is that the Lord God will return and create a “new heaven and new earth.”

Cosmology and eschatology are at odds. Is there any room for a rational dialog between the two?

I believe there is. However, we cannot expect that there will be any success in such a profound endeavor without institutions crumbling – both scientific and religious. In other words, success will require a major shake up and paradigm shift. Everyone’s ox may get gored in the process.

But be brave. History has shown us that both science and religion has already undergone many paradigm shifts. What is needed requires bold new information and insights into the true nature of the ultimate reality, offering a framework broad enough that will permit science and religion to adopt a similar and unified worldview.

There are signs that this is happening – even if both sides of the issue may be unaware of it. For instance, science is quickly coming to a dead end in trying to explain the richness of the universe, its order, and mathematical rationality from reductionism or by any physical principles. The singularity of Big Bang theory and the probability waves of quantum physics points to a non-physical beginning of the universe.

If the God of heaven created the world, then it certainly had its beginning in a non-physical realm. Unfortunately, religion offers no further rational insight into this process other than God “wished it” and “made it so.” Science needs more than faith to work with, it wants LAWS. This is especially important concerning the physics involved that would both improve the current cosmological model and back up the theological premise that God will eventually reconstitute the universe so that humans can escape the tyranny of time and live in eternal happiness.

After studying these issues for more then three decades I have come to the conclusion that science must change many of its assumptions about physics, and, religion must change many of its assumptions about theology. So I will seem heretical to the standard beliefs of both truth systems. But the Lord God will make all things “anew.”

Since science will always maintain that the burden of proof must fall on religion, then that is where I shall start. In John 1:1-3 of the New Testament, it is claimed that all things created in the universe were created from the “Word.” Theologically speaking, the Word of God is the same thing as Sacred Scripture. Therefore, for this biblical statement to make any scientific sense, the Holy Word must somehow contain similar dynamics, laws, and patterning principles of the universe within the very architecture of its narratives.

This is the position that scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg took in his systematic interpretation (exegesis) of Scripture. He believed that the Holy Word was a multidimensional document. This has immediate signification for scientists working on string theory, who propose that the universe consists of higher dimensions, called hyperspace.

The big difference between Swedenborg’s approach to the multidimensional nature of reality portrayed by Scripture and that of the current scientific models is that his model ascends from physical qualities to non-physical qualities. In current physics, everything stays physical – no matter how many new dimensions are added.

This is also of significance to scientists who are working with the idea that time and space has emerged from a pre-geometric condition, whereby dynamics and topological features are abstracted from their involvement with time and space.

Swedenborg claimed that through the science of correspondences, the narratives of Scripture could be transformed into their non-physical and psycho-spiritual equivalent.

Therefore, when you apply these rules of abstraction to Scripture, the biblical phrase that the Lord will “create a new heaven and a new earth” has nothing to do with cosmology. It represents our rebirth or spiritual re-creation. That is, the Lord’s return will not be a physical event but a spiritual one that will take place in our hearts and minds. A new heaven and new earth represents a profound change that will take place within one’s inner and outer realities (our spirit and its manifestations in the physical world).

So, will the physical universe still fizzle out despite humanity’s eventual success in becoming more spiritually focused? I would ask scientists to look into whether there is a way to determine if more stars are being born then are burning out. If more stars are being born than are dying, then this would suggest that the universe is growing, and that God is making more space and matter (from an Infinite prolific principle).

Of course, there is much, much more material that could be shared concerning this topic but it goes well beyond the scope of this humble post. This material includes how scientific laws can be found in the stories of Scripture, such as top-down causality, quantum discontinuity, spacetime structure, and what kind of dynamics are involved in our salvation and eternal life. If these ideas intrigue you, they will be flushed out in my next book, Proving God.

I will keep you posted concerning its completion on this blog.

Posted on September 13, 2008 by thegodguy

http://www.provinggod.com

Posted in god, Inner growth, Life after death, metaphysics, psychology, Reality, religion, science, spirituality, symbolism, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments