Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Older Forgotten Branch of Christianity

Most people in the west are familiar with the Catholic and Protestant versions of Christianity, a little less the Orthodox Church...and fewer still the Oriental Orthodox Church. The point of confusion here is that the "Eastern Orthodox" Church is different than the Oriental Orthodox Church.  To simplify things, here is a nice chart of the main branches of Christianity:


Why do I show this chart?  Because, as explained earlier, the prophecies of Daniel which speak of the "abomination of desolation" concern the corruption of the Christian Church in the fifth century A.D.  And everything is beginning to point to the Council of Chalcedon of 451 A.D. - which divided Christ into two natures, the Divine and the human.  Ironically, this exact theology was condemned earlier in the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D.

So where does the prophesied future church of the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation lie on this chart?  Well, bits and pieces of its theology, as explained in the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg as revealed in over 25 years of visions, are scattered across the branches of the tree.  To sum this up quickly, I will mention the major doctrines of the New Church, and indicate which churches adhere to similar doctrines:
1.  There is a Trinity in one person, Jesus Christ.  The trinity of three persons is a falsehood.  The one church that also adheres to a similar doctrine is the Pentecostal church, which began independently from the New Church in the 20th century.  I do need to read up on their exact opinion, however Swedenborg explains this in better detail, as a trine of the soul, body and operation (spirit) in one person - which happens to exist in every human being.  The problem I see with the Pentecostal church is that they take a very minor spiritual gift - speaking in tongues - and make it a "requirement" as a sign of baptism. In many cases, people are encouraged to profane what is holy by pretending to speak in a foreign language, or to confuse emotional enthusiasm with the Holy Spirit.
2.  Salvation of humanity occurred when Jesus made his human Divine. The churches that adhere to this doctrine, to some extent, are the Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox churches.  Except they don't see this as a gradual process that occurred over the lifetime of Jesus.  Other churches, especially the Catholic and Protestant, follow the doctrine of "vicarious atonement", where the death of Jesus satisfied the "penalty of sin".  This theology came late in the history of the church, first promoted by Anselm.  Swedenborg spoke strongly against this kind of theology, thus he concentrates mostly on the false theology of the Protestant and Catholic churches.
3.  Although born as a human, Jesus gradually shed this human nature until it was completely absorbed into His Divinity. He has one nature: the Divine.  The only other church that holds to any sort of Non-Chalcedonian theology is the Oriental Orthodox Church.  However there are some differences of understanding, as they do hold onto the false view of a trinity of three persons. I have been reading up on some of their opinions on this issue from a Coptic Church web site.  Similar to Swedenborg, the leader of the Coptic Church explains that the Divine and the human are united in one person in one nature, just as the soul and body are united in each and every person. This was the exact opinion of some very ancient theologians of the Christian church. Their main point: what was condemned in the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. was then reversed 20 years later in the Council of Chalcedon. According to tradition, this church was founded by the Apostle Mark.
I have simplified my above assessments. Most outsiders, when trying to understand the division, will state that it is over a difference in terminology.  That is not the case.  For the doctrine of the Divine Human is the very center of Christianity, it is the reason for the ritual of the Eucharist. For by making His human Divine, the Divine can now operate in every human who seeks to repent of his or her sins: if he or she tries, and implores the Lord for help. Without understanding that, there will be no understanding of how Jesus saved humanity.

As explained before, the reason for the Council of Chalcedon to divide the nature of Christ was so that the Papacy of the Catholic Church could claim to be the Vicar of Christ, which they could not do unless Jesus retained a human nature.  And when the Pope gained the support of the Byzantine Church, the Oriental Orthodox Church in the Middle East was persecuted by the Byzantine Empire from the fifth to the seventh centuries A.D. Persecution stopped only when the Oriental Orthodox church allied themselves to the Arab Muslims against the Byzantine Empire.

THE 1290 AND 1335 YEAR PROPHECY OF DANIEL

This background is necessary to understand the 1290 and 1335 year prophecy of the book of Daniel:

And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days (Dan. 12:11-12)
The "abomination of desolation" has nothing to do with a Jewish temple, it has to do with the true temple: the body of Jesus Christ.  It is the denial that Jesus made His human Divine. For in making His human Divine, He resisted all sin and temptation, and through that means He conquered the power of hell over humanity.

As explained before, these two time periods last from 455 - 1790 A.D., and 499 - 1789 A.D.  It is no coincidence: after the Pope was successful in obtaining a favorable decision in the Council of Chalcedon to divide Christ into two natures, Rome was attacked and plundered by the Vandals in 455 A.D. as punishment. The power of the Roman Catholic Church would not be destroyed until the French Revolution which began in 1789-90 A.D.

The Vandals, Visigoths and Ostrogoths which invaded the Roman Empire followed a particular heresy which the Catholic Church fought against vigorously: Arianism, which declared that Jesus was a created being.  With the collapse of the Roman Empire in 476 an finally in 493 A.D., Italy came under the control of the Ostrogoths.  The Papacy became the religious power which succeeded the Roman Empire.  Thus it allied itself with the Byzantine Empire in the East to help it to exterminate Arianism. Another ally the Catholic Church obtained: Clovis, king of the Franks, who converted to Catholicism in 497 A.D.  This brings us closer to the year 499 A.D., which seems to be the beginning of the 1290 year period of Daniel.

The 499 A.D. falls into the middle of a period known as the "Acacian Schism" which lasted from 484 to 519 A.D.  This was a period of time during which the Byzantine Empire sought to become reunited with its "Monophysite" (or "Miaphysite") subjects, now known as the Oriental Orthodox church, which held to the true doctrine that Jesus has one nature: the Divine.  The Catholic Church fought against this.  There was one point in time, however, where it seems that it came close where the Catholic Church could have turned against the Council of Chalcedon: that was when two Popes were elected in 498 A.D.: Pope Symmachus, and an "anti-Pope", Laurentius.  Ultimately a synod was held in 499 A.D. in which the fate of Laurentius was sealed, and would never seek the Papacy after that time.  Symmachus, as it turns out, had bribed voters with money in order to secure his election. It was Laurentius who favored reconciliation with the Byzantine Empire over the issue of the Council of Chalcedon, and the Monophysites of the Oriental Orthodox Church who held to the belief that Jesus had one nature, the Divine.

So, this is why 499 A.D. is the year selected as the beginning of the "abomination of desolation" in the prophecy of Daniel.  It was not a political event, but a spiritual event within the Church, in which the standard theology was decided for future generations of the Christian Church. The ones who were against it, and are still against it, belong to the forgotten branch of Christianity.  It is this forgotten theology of the Divine Human which was revealed again in the visions of Emanuel Swedenborg.  Thus the New Church, or the New Jerusalem, technically is not "new": it is a new revelation of a very old and forgotten truth of Christianity.

A RESTORATION OF TRUE CHRISTIANITY

Seeing this is a popular post, let this not be the "forgotten" branch of Christianity. We should seek to restore it.  And indeed, that is what God intends to do.  In the revelations given to Emanuel Swedenborg, True Christianity should be restored based on two simple principles:
1. There is one God who is one being, one person, who is Jesus Christ.
2. That would should repent of one's sins and live a life according to the 10 commandments.
From these two principles, all the other doctrines of a restored Christian Church can be derived. In fact, all principle doctrines of this restored Christianity can be found in The Doctrines of the New Jerusalem and True Christian Religion, published by Emanuel Swedenborg in the 18th century. And this came by way of revelation. Everything else is not important, in fact, God loves variety in worship. He did not tell us everything in the way we should worship Him, and has given us free will to discover him. Thus we have this passage:

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. (Prov. 25:2)

Yes, God hides things, and is waiting for us to discover it. This restoration of Christianity is prophesied in the book of Revelation: the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea - is in fact a letter to all the Christian denominations of the present day. Jesus points out their errors - including those of the Protestant and Catholic churches.  Once the revelation is given, it will be opposed by established denominations who subscribe to faith alone and vicarious atonement: this is signified by the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet.  The beginning of the New Church, first established among the few, will be very hard, and initially rejected: this is the symbolism of the two witnesses. But in the end, a New Church is established on earth: this is the New Jerusalem that descends out of heaven. You do not need to look up in the sky and wait for it. It is here. Now.

2 comments:

  1. JESUS CHRIST SAID--- ''i AM THE WAY--THE TRUTH--AND THE LIGHT---nO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER--EXCEPT THRU ME....--GOD SAID---''EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW--AND CONFESS THAT JESUS CHRIST IS LORD...........AND JESUS SAID''''PETER---YOU ARE MY ROCK---AND ON THIS ROCK WILL I BUILD MY CHURCH---THAT EVEN THE GATES OF HELL WILL NOT PREVAIL.....

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    1. As for those quotes, there are some hidden meanings behind them. The first is, God is Truth itself, and Love itself, and Life itself which originates from that love:

      "That the Lord is doctrine itself as to truth and good, and thus that it is He Who alone is regarded in doctrine, He teaches in John: Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life (xiv. 6, 7); where the Way is doctrine, the Truth all that is of doctrine, and the Life the good itself which is the life of the truth. And that love to Him or faith in Him is what receives, He teaches in John: His own received Him not; but as many as received Him, to them gave He power to be children of God, to them who believe on His name; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (i. 11-13). Those are born of God who are in love and thence in faith." (Swedenborg, Heavenly Arcana, n. 2531.4)

      The other hidden truth here, is that the Lord himself is the Father, and no one can approach the Father except through him as He is the visible form of the invisible God. Thus all focus and prayers should be on Jesus Christ alone:

      "Here let it be said merely that it is never granted to any man of the church to approach God the Father immediately, and to pray to Him for the Son's sake; for it is the Lord who must be approached and prayed to, since no one comes to the Father except by the Lord and in the Lord; and the Lord equally as the Father is God, infinite, eternal, uncreate, omnipotent, and neither of them is first nor last, nor greater nor less, but they are altogether equal. That no one comes to the Father except by the Lord He teaches in John:—

      No one hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath brought Him forth to view (i. 18).

      In the same:—

      Ye have never heard the Father's voice nor seen His form (v. 37).

      In Matthew:—

      No one knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son willeth to reveal Him (xi. 27).

      In John:—

      No one hath seen the Father save He who is with the Father[*], He hath seen the Father (vi. 46).

      In the same:—

      I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one cometh unto the Father but through Me (xiv. 6).

      No one cometh to the Father except in the Lord, is because the Father and He are one, as He also teaches in John:—

      If ye know Me ye know My Father also; he that seeth Me seeth the Father. Philip, believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? Believe Me, that I am in the Father and the Father in Me (xiv. 7, 10, 11).

      In the same:—

      The Father and I are one. That ye may know and believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me (x. 30, 38).(Swedenborg, Apocalypse Explained, n. 805.4)

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