Lately, instead of blogging I have been updating the wikipedia article on "The New Church", which explains where Christianity has fallen into error, and the doctrines of a future New Church which will replace it. The doctrines of the New Church are based on the visions and writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, a scientist turned theologian who lives in the 18th century. Swedenborg was an intellectual giant, with an IQ estimated to be over 200, and has been called the "Bhudda of the West." As he had visions of heaven and hell, and received revelations that disagree with some established theologies conceived in certain ecumenical councils, he is somewhat of a taboo subject when discussing theology with other Christians. His theology is so consistent, and backed up with so many scriptural references, that the typical response from leaders of certain Christian churches, who are often misinformed, is that he established a cult, and was misled by evil spirit. Nothing could be further from the truth. He never made an effort to establish a church, and he stated he received his revelations direct from the Lord while reading scripture. It is well documented that he had clairvoyant experiences. I decided to update the article on the New Church on wikipedia as it has been sitting there for several years after I first touched it. This time, adding entries was a lot easier as I used the e-books that I had published on Swedenborg. Not only are they searchable, but every single reference to his numbered paragraphs are hyperlinked. I can now pull up information a lot easier than I can on any online website on Swedenborgian or New Church theology.
In the process, I learned several things. How do you summarize over 32 volumes of published works? First of all, I discovered that everything in the New Church theology begins from simple principles. In certain passages Swedenborg states that there are two essential doctrines of the New Church, but in other passages he expanded it to three essential doctrines. These three doctrines are the "three pillars" of the New Church. They are:
1. Jesus Christ is the Lord of heaven and earth, in whom there is a Trinity of soul, body and spirit. This Holy Trinity came about during the incarnation. God is one person in Jesus Christ.
2. Only those who obey God's commandments, who live a life of charity, are those who are saved by faith. One must first repent of one's sins.
3. The Divine Truth is contained in the sacred scripture of the Bible, and all doctrine must be derived from it.
The first two principles are somewhat universal. Swedenborg saw that life originates from God, and flows into all human souls. So most, who are rational, believe in a supreme being or God. If one considers the order seen in all of creation, it is very unlikely that this came about due to chance. Atheism is a bit of an untenable position. The second point, most already know from their own conscience.
The third, the revelations contained in scripture, introduces people to particular truths that allow one to enter the Christian Church. Not only that, Swedenborg is the only one I know who happened to proove how and why the Bible was Divinely Inspired. Scripture provides more light on the first two principles. First, God is not an invisible essence or substance. He is a Being, and is Being itself. Although He is infinite, and beyond our comprehension, He has provided that He should appear in human form, and be worshipped in that manner. In fact, Swedenborg stated that God is "Very Man" or a "Grand Man". In Jesus, He is the "Divine Human", or Jehovah in human form. Thus He created man in His image. We become His image inasmuch we live a life in love and truth, and turn away from our selfish natures. Thus, God is Love itself, He is Truth itself. He is substance and form itself, from which all things are created. The second principle is simple: you must live by the truth that you know. Belief in the mind is not enough. You must act upon the truth, by first acknowledging one's sins. Once evil is removed, good becomes implanted in the mind via the truths learned from scripture.
So why is it a New Church? Because the older Christian churches have fallen into error. And not just small errors: these are big, fundamental, foundational errors. The first big error is that many churches have divided God into three persons. Although with the lips they say "one God", in reality, in the mind there are three distinct beings, sharing one essence or substance. Another error, is that it is believed sins are "transferred" from oneself to Jesus on the cross, which in theology is known as "vicarious atonement." Wrong. Sins are only removed by repentance. This one always bugged me: it made no rational sense. Another error: Protestants have separated good works from faith, making faith belief only. This came about by interpreting scripture in a false manner (I am covering a lot of ground here in this blog, I only have time to provide a sweeping summary.) It is so bad, the true state of the Church was shown to Swedenborg in vision, and it was not pretty, nor was it nice. A dark cloud had descended over humanity, and now it was time to shine a light and break through it.
So, when people read the revelations, either a light bulb turns on, or its OUCH, that is just not right, this goes against everything I was taught. Lets censor it, not let people know, and declare it a "cult" (why? much of theology is irrational, and cannot be defended in a logical manner). Do not trust what you have been taught. If a million people believe in the wrong thing, it does not matter: it is still wrong. In religion, it is often true, the blind lead the blind. The way I looked at it when I was young, is that people believe in the things of religions that they were born in. People assume the religion that they were taught is the right one, they mimic their parents. But follow the truth: first assume, perhaps you have born in a religion that contains false principles. No one religion is 100% right. I asked myself, what if I happened to be born in the wrong religion? It was a bit of stressful question to ask, and initially led to uncertainty. Investigate the truth for yourself, question everything. Once one assumes one is wrong, and UNLEARNS what is false, then the truth can be seen. Learning is easy. But the unlearning process, admitting to oneself that one was wrong, that is the hard part. Learning to unlearn is valuable: it teaches you to self-examine yourself, how to repent and admit one was wrong. And that is when the truth will be seen, which is a glorious moment when one experiences it.