God’s Word was written for angels too

One might assume that because angels live in heaven that they do not need to learn any more about God. But, if God is Infinite Love and Wisdom, you would think that the Creator would offer angels the ability to continue exercise their minds over the long haul of eternal existence.

Even we terrestrial beings of the planet earth would find it quite boring on this temporal plane if we could not learn something new each day.

Since the Lord God instructs through the Holy Word, and the Word existed prior to creation (John 1:1-3), we can assume that angels have access to the Word. However, do angels interpret its stories and narratives the same way we do?

The reason why I ask this silly question is that angels do not live in the physical world of time and space. Yet, all the stories in Scripture take place in time and space. How could they understand physical events when living in a non-material realm?

Mystic and theologian, Emanuel Swedenborg, suggested that angels interpret Scripture differently – by removing its stories from any involvement with time and space. How would they accomplish this theological feat?

Angels turn the literal sense of each word in Scripture to its psycho-spiritual equivalent. So, instead of seeing the Holy Word as a mere literal and historical account of things, they distill higher, spiritual meanings from its stories.

Angels do not interpret the seven-day Creation Story found in Genesis as an unfolding of physical events. They interpret this story as the seven steps that an individual’s heart and mind goes through in acquiring an “inner” paradise (epigenesis) from God.

Here is a brief overview of the Angelic take on the Creation Story:

LET THERE BE LIGHT – In the beginning, the human heart and mind starts off in spiritual darkness and in a complete void concerning God. God moves to enlighten us from this darkness (day one).

SEPARATING THE WATERS – Once God is recognized we can begin to separate spiritual knowledge from worldly knowledge (day two).

DRY LAND & PLANTS – By separating this information we can put our feet on firm ground, that is, on solid faith in God. From this faith grounded in the mind, new spiritual thoughts take root, grow, flower, fruit, and yield seeds (day three).

GREAT LUMIINARIES – Now humans have, from God, a faith that can serve as a beacon in times of darkness, and serve as a more powerful light when the warmth of love is added to faith (day four).

CREEPING THINGS – Our faith now becomes more animated by love, which is symbolized in the biblical story by animals that move (day five).

MAMMALS, MAN & WOMAN, DOMINION – Love increases and is exalted through the representation of warm-blooded animals appearing. True “humanness” now emerges onto the scene. God commands us through our faith to gain dominion over all the various qualities of thoughts and feelings that live in our hearts and minds. Our inner reality has now become a garden, where everything in it has been arranged according to God’s wisdom and order (day six).

REST – God’s work is finished (day seven).

So angels remove the aspects of time and space from the biblical narratives by interpreting them as symbolically addressing things taking place within the human heart and mind (which is a person’s spirit). These higher symbolic meanings allow angels to learn deeper concepts about faith throughout an eternity.

The Sacred Word would not be sacred unless it contained God’s Divine Holiness, which is infinite. Therefore, God’s Infinite nature can only be expressed in a Holy Document that contains deeper levels of meaning!

The significance for each of us about all this is that since we humans are inwardly spirits, we too, have the capacity to interpret these higher meanings from the Holy Word.

In fact, this is one of the biggest secrets concerning the Second Coming. REVELATION is the Lord’s coming back to reveal these deeper things to us!

Are you ready?

Posted on September 7, 2008by thegodguy

Posted in god, Inner growth, love, metaphysics, psychology, Reality, religion, spirituality, symbolism, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 130 Comments

 

Conscience and Armageddon

 

Conscience is the battleground where our various proclivities and compulsions fight it out with the things we know to be true and proper.

If religion and God’s tenets form our conscience, then the stakes are raised. It not only becomes a personal conflict over civil rules or ethical standards but it rises to the level of spiritual warfare – the battle between good and evil.

Anyone who reflects on the issues of living a spiritual life, according to God’s tenets, will realize that these are issues pertaining to the human heart and mind. God, through religion, wishes to win over our minds and hearts. Similarly, maleficent influences seek to rule hearts and minds.

Victory on this level means complete victory. Principles of life obtained by the human heart and mind, through conscience (or the lack of it), cannot be quashed by physical threats or by brute force.

If the ultimate battleground between good and evil is played out on the psycho-turf of the human heart and mind, why then, do people still believe God will return to earth to “kick butt?”

God compels no one towards having religious faith or belief, otherwise he would have come down from the cross and asserted his divinity and authority, right there and then. Compelling belief accomplishes the opposite, for it destroys free will, which is a gift from God and a derivative of love. God wants to be accepted from the principle of love not from the tip of a sword, unless that sword symbolizes the power of divine truth (as opposed to polished steel).

I have maintained throughout many posts that the Sacred Word contains deeper levels of meaning by which physical things can communicate higher, spiritual qualities. When these deeper meanings are applied to the “end times” as recorded in Revelation, including the great battle of Armageddon, we will find that these scenes pertain to events taking place within the inner lives of people. This is where God makes His ultimate and final stand. This is the only “place” where true spiritual warfare can take place and allow the Lord to make all things new – from the inside out.

Even a careful reading of the literal meanings of the words used in the New Testament back this up this thesis. When the Lord speaks about the end times, he states that the current generation will not pass until all these things are fulfilled (Matt. 24:34). Well, the generation the Lord addressed has long passed. Elsewhere, the Lord states that “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation” (Luke, 17:20). One will not point to anything unusual and say, “Look here,” or “Look there” (Luke, 17:21). So, what gives here?

The only place left to look is WITHIN us. This new wrinkle on biblical interpretation certainly allows God to fulfill his promise within a generation – anyone’s generation. The caveat is we have to take part in the fight.

Posted on August 27, 2008 by thegodguy

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How does God squeeze infinite knowledge into a finite book?

The Bible is a ponderous book. But in no way can its 1,000+ pages contain God’s Infinite Wisdom.

Why is this an issue?

Because, everything God does, must be done from an infinite and eternal perspective. Otherwise, divine action would be dissimilar to God’s actual infinite character and nature. Dissimilarity means imperfection.

If God is the ultimate author of Scripture then it must somehow contain infinite knowledge within its numbered pages. This would also give us a more effective way to verify the sanctity, authority, and inerrancy of the Holy Word – beyond our having unshakable faith or some corroborating archeological evidence.

Even if we were to find archeological evidence for every story in Scripture this would only prove that God was accurate with the historical facts.

Accurate time lines do not portray Infinite Wisdom. Furthermore, the accuracy of biblical events, like the creation story and the age of the universe, are called into serious question by scientific discovery. So how are we to take seriously the claim that all things in the created universe were created from the Word? (John, 1:1-3) That would mean the Holy Word contains scientific as well as moral laws!

Does Scripture give any reference to relativity theory, quantum physics, or superstring theory?

And, what are we to think of God being depicted as angry, starting wars between nations, supporting slavery and polygamy?

Theologian Emanuel Swedenborg had an answer to these problems. He discovered that the Holy Word was a multi-dimensional document. This gave Scripture the depth to contain God’s Infinite Wisdom through levels that contained deeper meanings and revelations within its narratives.

Once this scaffolding of the biblical architecture is recognized and grasped, the mysteries of faith become accessible to the human rational mind – especially concerning the dynamics of salvation and the secret behind the Lord’s return. And more. Much more.

Universal patterns will begin to emerge out from our careful reading of the biblical stories, displaying God’s design in scientific matters as well. Because hidden within the sacred narratives are the patterning principles for holistic process in the universe. By elevating our minds above the literal meaning of the words, Scripture addresses quantum discontinuity, top-down causality, and reveals how every detail of its stories is non-locally connected simultaneously, that is, perfectly oriented to God’s eternal goal and Infinite Wisdom.

These are a few of the issues I will be addressing in my next book, Proving God.

Do these ideas seem strange to you? Does this possibility shake up your current world-view?

Well then, my friend, welcome to the Lord’s Second Coming!

Posted on August 22, 2008by thegodguy

Website: http://www.provinggod.com

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Is the Second Coming a Physical Event or Spiritual Event?

Jesus promised his disciples and those who followed Him that He would come again. This is known as the Second Coming. There are several “mainstream” interpretations of the Second Coming which has formed some false expectations in the minds of many. With these false expectations, many will not see the reality of the true Second Coming. False expectations can blind people to the truth – for example, the Jews expected a literal Messianic King, who would lead them to conquer the world. This false expectation is diametrically opposed to the spiritual truth of the Word, and because of it, the Jews completely missed recognizing the identity of Jesus Christ.

As it was then, so it is now. There are several false expectations that have been formed regarding the Second Coming. To be specific:

  1. There will be a visible appearance of Jesus in the sky, seen by everyone.
  2. At some point in time, Jesus will descend upon the Mount of Olives.
  3. Related to #2, there will be a third temple established in Jerusalem.
  4. There will be a rapture of Christians into the clouds of the sky.
  5. There will be a literal physical resurrection of the body.

So lets examine expectations surrounding each of these subjects, and look at what the New Testament actually has to say on this.

IS THE SECOND COMING A PHYSICAL RETURN OR A SPIRITUAL REVELATION?
Let’s start with a verse may indicate that there will be a physical return, visible to everyone:

Behold, he comes with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. (Rev. 1:7)

There is a similar passage in Matt. 24:30. This at first seems that He will make a visible appearance, and that every eye shall see Him. But Jesus counters this argument in what at first seems to be a conflicting statement:

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:20-21).

This is important, the word “observation” means “visible evidence” or “outward show” – something that can be seen with one’s literal eyes. This means there will not be outward visible evidence of the Second Coming.  So what does it mean that “every eye shall see him”? What it means is that those who have spiritual sight, that is spiritual understanding, will be able to see the truth of the Second Coming. That this is the spiritual meaning of “eye” can be seen from the following passage:

And if your right eye offend you, pluck it out, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell. (Matt. 5:29)

This Jesus commands after stating one should not look upon a woman lustfully, for even the thought of it is considered adultery (Matt. 5:28). It’s one’s internal thought or intent that counts. Thus he is of course not literally stating that we should pluck our eye out, but rather, that one should correct how one sees things. These false thoughts should be searched out and removed. Thus “eyes” in the spiritual sense signify one’s spiritual understanding in a good sense, or a false understanding in the bad sense.  Correcting how one sees things falsely is again portrayed as removing a “beam” out of one’s “eye” before removing a speck of dust out of another person’s “eye” (Matt. 7:3-5).

So let’s pick out another passage, which causes problems to many:

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Truly I say unto you, There be some standing here, who shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. (Matt. 16:27-28)

Some early Christians had interpreted this that the Second Coming should have taken place in the lifetime of the disciples. That the early Christians had this expectation, can be seen from the following passage, where Jesus singles out the disciple John after Peter asks what would become of him:

When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
So the saying spread abroad among the brothers  that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” (John 21:21-23)

And, in the literal sense, it was John who literally saw the Second Coming take place, in a spiritual vision as recorded in the book of Revelation.  That Jesus is talking about one’s spiritual vision is easily proven in the book of Revelation. Before John’s grand vision, John states this:

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day (Rev. 1:10)

Which means he was in a spiritual visionary state. That “in the spirit” means one was in a spiritual visionary state can be seen from Ezekiel:

The hand of Jehovah was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of Jehovah (Eze. 37:1)

After which Ezekiel sees a vision of a valley of bones coming to life. John would later mention he was caught up into heaven “in the Spirit” (Rev. 4:1), that he was carried away to a wilderness “in the Spirit” (Rev. 17:3), and he was taken to see the New Jerusalem “in the Spirit” (Rev. 21:10).

Combining Jesus’ statement of His Second Coming, with the fulfillment of it by John seeing it in a spiritual vision, we can infer that John is a type of the future, where the Second Coming will be seen in spiritual vision.

THE MOUNT OF OLIVES PROPHECY

There are a couple of passages that are used as proof that Jesus will return in physical form upon the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem. One is the scene of the ascension of Jesus at the Mount of Olives. After Jesus commands his disciples to return to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit, He then ascends into heaven. There is unfortunately a mistranslation here in most English translations, I will select the NASB:

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)

This is stating that Jesus will return “in just the same way” or as other translations have it, “in like manner” (KJV).  The problem here is this phrase is added by the translators, the Greek simply has “as.”  So the last sentence should read as follows:

This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)

It simply says He will come again from heaven.  It does not say “in just the same way” or “in like manner.”  This phrase was added by translators.  I double checked this with an online Greek interlinear tool, you can see the entire chapter here: Greek Interlinear of Acts 1. The same Greek word (Strongs #5158) is simply translated as “as” in Acts 7:28, 15:11, 27:25.

Another point, when Jesus appeared to others after the resurrection, in many cases He manifests Himself by opening up their spiritual vision:

And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. (Luke 24:30-31)

With the corrected translation of Acts 1:11, it is saying Jesus will come “as you have watched” or “as you have seen.” If they were seeing Him with their spiritual vision opened, then this means He will return in a manner that is seen in spiritual vision.

Now, there is the case of a prophecy of Zechariah which speaks of the Lord standing on the Mount of Olives:

Jehovah shall go forth, and fight against the nations. . . . His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before the face of Jerusalem . . . and the mount of Olives shall cleave asunder, that a part thereof shall remove toward the east, and [a part] toward the sea, with a great valley; and a part of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and a part of it toward the south (xiv. 3, 4).

This many have taken to be a prophecy of the Second Coming. But that is not the case, it is a prophecy of the First Coming, foretelling how a new church would be established that would withdraw from the Jews and go out towards the Gentiles. The spiritual sense of this prophecy is explained by Swedenborg in Heavenly Arcana:

“Here the Lord and His coming are the subject; by the mount of Olives is signified the good of love and of charity and thus the church, for these goods make the church. That the church would remove from the Jewish nation, and would be established among the Gentiles, is signified by the mountain being cleft asunder toward the east, toward the sea [the west], and toward the north, and the south; in like manner as by the words of the Lord in Luke: Ye shall be cast forth without. And they shall come from the east, and the west, and from the north, and the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God (xiii. 28, 29). In a universal sense by Jehovah going forth and fighting against the nations, and by His feet standing upon the mount of Olives which is before the face of Jerusalem, is meant that the Lord from the Divine love would fight against the hells; for the nations are the evils which are from the hells (n. 1868, 6306), and the mount of Olives, on which were His feet, is the Divine love.” (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9780.13)

The massive work Heavenly Arcana goes through several passages that prove that in the spiritual sense, mountains signify love (or in the opposite sense selfish pride), and nations in a bad sense signify the evils of hell. It is also known to some that Jesus made a descent into hell between his death and resurrection and effected a last judgment. In these spiritual judgments, this is portrayed in the spiritual world as the upheaval and upturning of mountains (see Rev. 6:14-16). The upturning of mountains in the spiritual world is further described in Swedenborg’s vision in the work The Final Judgment. That “mountain” has a spiritual meaning can simply be seen from the gospels:

For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20)

Jesus is obviously not literally speaking of a literal mountain. Following the description of the splitting of the Mount of Olives, Zechariah then describes a river that proceeds out of Jerusalem toward the west, and toward the east through the split Mount of Olives, which again has a spiritual meaning:

In that day living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; part of them to the eastern sea, and part of them to the hinder sea (xiv. 8).
“Living waters from Jerusalem” signify truths from a spiritual origin in the church, which are the truths that are received by man when he is illustrated by the Lord while he is reading the Word. “Jerusalem” is the church in respect to doctrine, the “sea” signifies the natural man, into which those things that are in the spiritual man descend; the “eastern sea” signifies the natural man in respect to good; and the “hinder sea” the natural man in respect to truth; and as the natural man is in the generals of truth, “sea” also signifies the general of truth.” (Apocalypse Explained, n. 275.20)

This river is again described in the vision of a new temple in Jerusalem in Ezekiel, which literalists interpret as a future third temple. However it is symbolic, and it spiritually signifies the Christian Church that would be established. This is shown in detail in the blog post The Spiritual Symbolism of Ezekiel’s Vision of the Third Temple. There are several items in Ezekiel’s vision which show that it cannot be taken literally, but should be interpreted in a spiritual manner.

IS THERE SUCH A THING AS A RAPTURE?

Next, associated with many Christians’ expectation of a physical Second Coming of Jesus is the idea of a rapture, where they will suddenly be caught up in heaven to be with the Lord. This mainly comes from the letters of Paul:

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thes. 4:7)

The original prophecy of this was probably taken from the gospel of Matthew:

And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matt. 24:30-31)

The original does not even mention the word “rapture” but instead “gather together.” Nevertheless, from the letter of Paul he mentions that those who are alive and remain will be “caught up” and from this Greek word we have the word “rapture.”  There are two interpretations of this. It can indeed mean a sudden physical transportation, as in the case of Philip:

And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea. (Acts 8:39-40)

The word “caught away” is the same as “caught up” in 1 Thes. 4:7 where we get the term rapture. So from this, many assume there will be an actual physical ascension into the sky. However there is another, perhaps more interesting interpretation. The same word is used by Paul in a completely different context:

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. (2 Cor. 12:2-4)

Some surmise Paul had this near death experience when he nearly died from being stoned to death. The word “caught up” or “rapture” is used twice in this verse. Here it does not refer to a physical ascension, but rather the rapture is to be caught up or enraptured in a spiritual visionary state.  And this is exactly what happens to John in his vision of the Apocalypse:

After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. (Rev. 4:1-2)

With the apostles and select individuals throughout history, such visions took place on a limited individual basis. But the promise of the future is that such a visionary state will become more widespread:

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. (Joel 2:28)

In parallel with that, the majority of cases have been of those who are false prophets. So in each case they should be tested to determine if what they are stating is valid. But the point here is this: the expectation of a “rapture” can be fulfilled by a widespread outpouring of the Spirit, allowing people to enter a visionary state. At the moment, this is not permitted for most everyone, as most people’s minds have been lowered into material and carnal desires away from the love of the Spirit.

IS THE RESURRECTION OF THE PHYSICAL BODY, OR THE SPIRITUAL BODY?

So somewhat related to all this is the doctrine of the resurrection. There are many, at this day, who expect a literal physical resurrection, where people will rise out of their graves. This view is related to a literal appearance of the Second Coming, where everyone assumes all things take place in this material physical world. But this is not the case: one is resurrected in the spiritual world, in a spiritual body. One can take the same passages and interpret them either way. For example:

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (1 Cor. 15:51-53)

This would indicate we will be raised in a spiritual glorified body. Will it be visible in this world? Not necessarily. And then there is this one:

Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28-29)

To interpret these references to a resurrection, one must have spiritual knowledge of the afterlife. In the spiritual world, midway between heaven and hell, there is an intermediate state where souls gather, good and evil, who were not judged right after death. Many enter into a state of sleep. John sees them in one of his visions of the Apocalypse, where souls “under the altar” are told they must rest or sleep a little longer (Rev. 6:9-11). There are three heavens signified by the three divisions of the temple; the lowest heaven is represented by the outer court and this is where the altar was located. Those “under the altar” are those in this intermediate state between heaven and hell.

It is in this intermediate state, where many are unaware or asleep, is where the last judgment takes place. One is judged after death, some immediately who go to heaven or hell, but many will gather in this intermediate spiritual world. Thus, it is in the spiritual world where last judgments take place. And indeed, the Second Coming is this event – a judgment of souls in the spiritual world:

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. (Matt. 16:27)

At this time, there is a separation between the good and evil. This is described in the parable of Matthew 25, where the righteous are signified by “sheep” and the evil by “goats” –

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (Matt. 25:31-32)

As this is a common misconception, one of the primary revelations given to Swedenborg is a complete explanation of the afterlife, the spiritual resurrection there, and how people are judged according to their works in a complete life review. For further information on this see Heaven and Hell as well as The Final Judgment.  This is becoming more well known among those who study the Near Death Experience from a variety of witnesses who have been brought back to life.

IF THE SECOND COMING IS “NONE OF THE ABOVE” THEN WHAT IS IT?

So its not a literal physical return, there is no literal physical resurrection, there is no rapture into the sky… all I have said so far is what it isn’t, and that one must look for a higher spiritual explanation.  It is very simple: in the First Coming, the “Word was made flesh.” The Word, or Greek Logos, is the Lord as to Divine truth made manifest in human form. In the Second Coming, the Word or Divine truth has been made manifest in the spiritual sense of the Word itself. This spiritual sense has been made manifest in the many volumes of revelations given in waking visions to Emanuel Swedenborg in the 18th century. It is a more internal revelation, not an external visible revelation.

That this is so, is indicated by Jesus, who always describes the Second Coming as the coming of the “Son of Man.”  In the New Testament, “son of Mary” is used to refer to Jesus in His ordinary human form, “Son of God” is used to refer to Jesus in His glorified Divine Human form, but “Son of Man” is used to refer to the Lord as to the Divine truth. To appear “in the clouds of heaven” does not mean He will appear in the sky, but rather He will appear in spiritual vision. The “clouds” is the obscure truth that appears in the literal sense of the Word; for the Son of Man to “appear in glory” signifies the revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word. This He did in the 18th century to Emanuel Swedenborg over a period of 27 years of continuous waking visions, where incorrect doctrines of Christianity have been corrected, for there are many false teachings that have corrupted the core of Christianity where very little truth means. And that is the other point: the Second Coming will take place when there is little or no faith left on earth:

When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8)

And there will be a general falling away from Christianity, where a false religion will come to take its place:

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (1 Thes. 2:3-5)

This particular prophecy is probably taken from Dan. 11:45. A “falling away” is an apostasy from the true faith, a “man of sin” indicates that the falling away is where sin is disregarded, and to show oneself as God is to have an incorrect understanding of God Himself. Thus to see and recognize the Second Coming, one has to first recognize the falsehoods that are propagated in one’s own religion. Very few question what they are taught to believe. Falsehoods from within is what causes a true church to come to its end:

“A church is brought to an end by various means, especially by such as cause falsity to appear as truth; and when falsity appears to be truth, then the good which in itself is good and is called spiritual, is found no more.” (True Christian Religion, n. 754)

Thus what to expect? A true revelation of Jesus Christ and Christianity, a revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word, revealed through spiritual vision. This will establish a New Church, which will be among the few and opposed by the many. This is signified by the 2 witnesses (Rev. 11), the sealing of the 144,000 (Rev. 7 and 14), and the woman who flees to the wilderness (Rev 12) which signifies a state of truth in obscurity known to few. This will be opposed by a false form of Christianity, signified by the dragon, beast and false prophet (Rev. 13) as well as the whore of Babylon (Rev. 17-18). That the Second Coming is a heavenly revelation of the spiritual sense of the Word, can be seen by the coming of the Lord on a white horse, where we have this statement:

And his name is called The Word of God (Rev. 19:13)

As for the hidden spiritual sense of the Apocalypse, see further in the works Apocalypse Revealed and Apocalypse Explained. The good news here, is the Second Coming has taken place, to reveal a more spiritual Christianity where further heavenly secrets are revealed. This was revealed in spiritual vision by Jesus Christ to Emanuel Swedenborg in the 18th century:

“We read in many places that the Lord will come in the clouds of heaven (as in Matt. xxiv. 30; xxvi. 64; Mark xiv. 62; Luke xxi. 27; Apoc. i. 7; xiv. 14; Dan. vii. 13; see also Matt. xvii. 5; Luke ix. 34, 35). But hitherto no one has known what was meant by the clouds of heaven; they have believed that He is to appear in them in person. But that by the clouds of heaven the Word in the sense of the letter is meant, and by the glory and power in which also He is then to come (Matt. xxiv. 30) the spiritual sense of the Word is meant, has been heretofore concealed, because hitherto no one has even by conjecture reached the conclusion that there is a spiritual sense in the Word such as this sense is in itself. Now because the Lord has opened to me the spiritual sense of the Word, and it has been granted me to be together with angels and spirits in their world as one of them, it has been disclosed that by the clouds of heaven is meant the Word in the natural sense, and by glory the Word in the spiritual sense, and by power the Lord’s power through the Word.” (True Christian Religion, n. 776)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Scripture – Is it uncivilised dogma?

scriptureOn the face of it, much of the Bible and Qu’ran is dogmatic and sometimes unintelligible. Scripture contains scientific misconceptions. Also it has outmoded rules of living for example about food consumption and animal sacrifices.

There are references to historical events that seem unrelated to being alive today. One also notices all sorts of horrible things. In parts of the Bible, we can find a punitive deity and barbaric acts of inhumanity .

So, you might wonder what kind of divine authorship is supposed to be behind this scripture?

Myth in scripture

scriptureOne point of view is that just because a book is old it doesn’t have to be outdated. Philosophers read Aristotle and Plato and find lots of contemporary human interest in them. There’s no reason why the moral insights of religious texts like the general commands about honouring one’s parents, not killing, or not stealing should be any different. The so-called Golden Rule is that you should treat others as you want to be treated yourself. This you find in all sorts of religious texts. You see versions of that in Aristotle.

For many people the creation story in Genesis is a myth. But I would like to suggest that the word myth should not be understood as meaning something that is not true. Doesn’t a myth convey something of a deeper truth about the human condition – something not supposed to be taken literally?

One can likewise wonder whether there is also wisdom beneath the surface of other parts of scripture: – its historical narrative, visionary material, prophecy, and poetry. If present, it has usually remained hidden to many.

Attitude to reading scripture

My own experience is that when I have try to focus my mind on a text and slowly reflect on its possible meaning, only then can I start to sense a deeper message. I feel a personal relevance.

The truth that what you will find in the text depends on your commitment you show to the text, why you’re reading it and what you want to find in it.” (Anonymous teacher of Judaism – British Library website)

A danger lurks here. I can find myself proudly claiming I now know what scripture says and I want to tell others what to think.

“Our understanding of God’s word will be fallible because we are finite beings. It is arrogant to raise our interpretation to infallible truth and thus start to deny the truth that other people hold in their interpretation.” (anonymous Muslim speaker – British Library website)

If there is a God – an infinite Being beyond full human understanding – then a bit of humility from me is called for. Perhaps I have only partly had a glimmer of the truth and what is true for me works a little differently for you.

Spiritual Teaching

Mind you, I’m not saying scripture is the only source of wisdom. We value what we have learned from parents and teachers who have been part of our upbringing and education. They can convey deep guiding principles. For example the ideas that:

  • A realm of consciousness of spirit exists that is not limited by space or time.
  • There is a divine spark of love present with us which is the source and foundation of all reality.
  • The improvement of one’s moral character is the biggest aim of one’s human existence.

I feel these ideas help me to find some sense in scripture.

Nasty side of scripture

The Old Testament prophets are good at threatening punishments of the people. Applied to myself, I feel these to be a warning about the troubles I can bring on myself if I were to stray from the right path in life.

The people of Israel fought gory battles against various tribes living in the land of Canaan. I wonder whether these battles are symbolic of the inner conflicts within myself in my daily life. Generally speaking, there is a clash between a selfish thought and considering the needs of someone near me.

What about animal sacrifices urged upon the people of the Old Testament? To my mind these mirror the things I need to give up, or at least cut down. What seems like a personal sacrifice at the time however can later become something of no matter.

Correspondence and scripture

There is one big idea I find useful in understanding sacred writing. This is the concept of correspondence.  The philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg wrote about a deeper level of meaning within the literal sense of scripture. Each object, person, and event depicted in scripture is said to correspond to this spiritual sense. Sometimes this is clear but often it is hidden. One has to employ one’s deeper perception to notice it.

 “The spiritual sense …  does not appear in the sense of the Letter: it is within it, as the soul is in the body, as the thought is in the eyes, and as affection is in the countenance. ” (Emanuel Swedenborg, philosopher)

Enlightenment and scripture

Some religious believers say one shouldn’t criticise sacred writing but should take it as final authority. However, there is another attitude to scripture which I think is a little bit different. It is one that does involve a questioning and searching attitude. Such an approach involves reflection and a sense of responsibility for applying what is learned.

According to Swedenborg enlightened people are :

Those who love truths because they are truths, and who apply them to the uses of life.”

Conclusion about scripture

In Hinduism and Buddhism there isn’t the same tradition, as in the Western world, of an infallibility of one particular religious text. Rather, believers draw upon a whole body and collection of spiritual writing. They use these in order to understand their religion better.

I feel no individual writers of scripture of themselves could have infallibly grasped what is eternally true. After all they were only finite human beings. Nevertheless, I do sense a divine inspiration in their writing that has universal application.  Could they not have been instrumental in revealing the wisdom of an infinite loving Being? A message that is the Word of God?

I would suggest there is only one way for you to answer this question to your own satisfaction. Why not try to read parts of scripture you have never visited,  and look for what you had never previously suspected was present?     

Copyright 2016 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

 

The pregnant woman standing on the moon

woman on moonOne of the most ultra-fantastic scenes portrayed in Holy Scripture is in the Revelation chapter (Apocalypse) where a pregnant woman is standing on the moon and a Great Dragon is threatening her (see Rev 12: 1-3).

Here, faith runs up against reasoning. Such a situation seems impossible to our rational minds, and therefore the Bible cannot be inerrant (always true).

Why would the Creator promote such nonsense? Perhaps this scenario (and all the others in the Lord’s Word) is designed to address a higher spiritual mind, which angels enjoy, but terrestrial humans only have as a potential ability.

Scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg proved this was indeed the case, and with the Lord God’s guidance, was able to interpret the Bible’s narratives from higher, corresponding meanings, which were contained within the literal words and used to communicate its stories.

Nothing new about religious doctrine will ever be distilled from Scripture without penetrating beyond our literal thinking.

For instance, a pregnant woman standing above the moon represents a love for truth from its source (God). This orientation “stands” above the more external or reflected knowledge of one’s intellect and memory (the moon reflects the sun’s light—which she is clothed in, thus elevating her quality).

The reason for her pregnancy is that the quality of such an affection and love will give birth to a new understanding of spiritual matters. Her pregnancy pain represents that this new spiritual offspring will meet big resistance among the status quo thinking of the world. The Great Red Dragon represents this big resistance. The Dragon symbolizes a population of people who feel threatened by this birth (a new spiritual dispensation) and who want to put an end to it, before it changes the world’s current institutions and paradigms.

So, the shocking revelation here is that the Great Red Dragon could be represented by our life’s actions! So be on your toes. Because it also seems that this new, more dynamic thinking about spiritual realities will be coming to a neighborhood close to you!

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The Deep Science of Scripture

While not the Orthodox view, there has been a strong Christian tradition of biblical interpretation that goes beyond the literal sense of its words. I have maintained through various posts that to truly understand the significance of the covenant with God, the literal sense of Holy Scripture is never adequate (and often divisive as the numerous Christian denominations attest to).

Paul explained in the Corinthians: “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives Life.”  (2 Corinthians 3:6)

Later, Origen and Augustine spoke of being inspired by Christ to an understanding of the hidden content in the Holy Word. In spite of this Orthodox Christianity choose to embrace only a literal interpretation of scripture.

Thankfully, Emanuel Swedenborg entered the scene. He not only revived the idea of hidden content, he took it even further. As a result he has given to humankind the most systematic approach to a multi-layered exegesis (exposition) of the Sacred Word.

This hidden content is evidenced by the Lord’s exclusive use of parable (stories that don’t express literal, historical fact but contain eternal truth on a deeper level). This is why it is stated in the New Testament that:

He opened their minds to understand the scriptures. (Luke 24:45)

If the words of scripture were only meant to be taken literally (the sense of the letter), then such a divine jolt by the Lord to the cognitive function His disciples would not have been necessary. So there must be more to God’s revealed wisdom then meets the eye.

Swedenborg claimed that the literal sense of scripture served as a foundation upon which more elevated meanings rested. Above the lower, literal level is a spiritual level, which conveys the inner story that each one of us experiences on our spiritual journey. The Lord actually provides evidence that biblical events are meant to represent events that are to take place within human hearts and minds. The big clue is given when he responds to the demands of the Pharisees to tell them when God’s kingdom will come.

“The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20, 21).

So the Lord is giving a powerful hint to the Pharisees that the coming of the kingdom will not be a physical event. The coming of the kingdom is also identified with the Lord’s Second Coming in Revelation. So the New Jerusalem will be a new dwelling place in our hearts and minds for the Lord. This Holy City represents a new teaching descending from heaven.

The third or highest level of meaning in Scripture deals with high Christology. In other words, interpretation now regards the events in Scripture as dealing solely with the Lord. This includes events in the Old Testament. The Lord also alludes to this highest level of interpretation on His walk to Emmaus when He reveals to his disciples new things about the Sacred Word.

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:27).

What possible way could the story of Moses address Christology, that is, have something to do with the interpretation of the person and work of Christ unless it contained a more elevated meaning? The Lord is now making these higher-level meanings available to the world.

So what does all this deep theology have to do with science?

In quantum physics the deeper you look at the fabric of reality, the more topologically astounding and active things get. Scripture also becomes more intricate and dynamic at its deeper levels of meaning. In the same way quantum events become more expanded, non-local, and act like non-physical waves, biblical events can also take on more expanded and non-physical meanings (so the laws of physics have their origins in spiritual patterning principles).

For instance, the word “light” can be taken beyond its literal meaning to represent the higher, non-physical meaning of “understanding.” That is why the Lord is described as the “light and the way” and that His life was the “light of men.” The Lord influences human minds in the same way light influences our physical eyes. When He opens our minds to understand Scripture, it is to reveal its hidden content.

Each and every word in Sacred Scripture offers a similar metaphysical interpretation (but not every story in the canonical Bible is the true Word of God – see my post entitled “God’s Holy Word vs. the Canonical Bible”).

These are just some of the topics I will be addressing in my next book, Proving God, which seeks to unify science and theology. This unity is not achievable without having access to the hidden content of the Sacred Word

Posted on June 8, 2008by thegodguy

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