Friday, December 14, 2012

A Biblical Prophecy predicting the coming of Jesus

I still encounter people who deny that prophecy exists. And for that reason, I wrote a book on the prophecies of Nostradamus, to demonstrate that prophetic knowledge of the future does exist: and no one can say that they were published after the fact, as we have the original documents. Here I would like to discuss a Biblical prophecy, remarkable for the fact that it predicts the coming of the Messiah 490 years in advance. It predicts the exact year Jesus was crucified. As this prophecy exists in the Old Testament, I am not sure how Jews interpret this one. Most ignore it, as they still expect a future coming of the Messiah. Daniel was a prophet in exile in Babylon, and had noted that there was a prophecy of Jeremiah where the Jews would live in exile in Babylon for 70 years:
In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. (Dan. 9:1-2)
When the 70 years were completed (ca. 604 - 534 B.C.), Babylon fell to the Persians, and king Cyrus issued a decree allowing the Jews to return to the land of Canaan where they could worship Jehovah. As with all things in scripture, such historical events are symbolic and cyclical: the Jewish nation represents the Christian Church, "Jerusalem" its doctrine, and the number "7" a complete time period. This 70 years of captivity represents the time period that the Church would come under the dominion of the Papacy and Roman Catholicism. Thus, in the book of Apocalypse or Revelation, the apostle John sees a future spiritual Babylon which would come after the Roman Empire. Despite its efforts to promote Christianity, the Catholic Church errs in that it considers the authority of the priesthood higher than that of scripture, and used religion for the sake of self-dominion. This is what ancient Babylon did: religion was a means to obtain control over others, and have religion serve the interests of the state. To be fair the Catholic Church is correct as they do not separate faith from charity as the Protestants do. It is for that reason alone that there is more promise in the future that the doctrines of the New Church will be received among Catholics more so than Protestants.

The 70 years of captivity of the Jews in Babylon not only represents the future state of the church under the Roman Catholic Church, but also it represents a longer 490 year period for the Jewish church, or 70 years times 7. This is revealed in a vision by an angel to Daniel in the following passage:
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (Dan 9:24)
The phrase "70 weeks" is literally translated as "70 sevens." Nevertheless, in Biblical prophecy, one day can signify a period of one year (Num. 14:34, Ezek. 4:4-6), so this means a period of 70 x 7, or 490 years. The "ending of sins" occurred when Jehovah became incarnate as Jesus, and was able to resist all temptation and sin, until He made His human Divine. The "anointing of the most Holy," a reference to the temple, signifies the establishment of the Christian Church. All prophecy was fulfilled with His coming, which is the meaning of the phrase "to seal up the vision and prophecy." The angel continues:
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. (Dan 9:25)
The decree to "restore and build Jerusalem" occurred in 457 B.C. under king Artaxerxes (see Ezra 7), when he issued a decree to allow the Jews to restore their worship under the leadership of Ezra. It is also under Ezra that the Biblical canon of the Old Testament became defined. "Jerusalem" does not just signify the literal city, but also the doctrine of the church, and in this case the Jewish worship was restored. The "seventy sevens" is divided into sub-periods: first, "seven sevens" (49 years), followed by "sixty-two sevens" (434 years). This is a total of 483 years, which from 457 B.C. comes to 26 A.D. This was the year in which Jesus began his ministry, and if I remember correctly it may have also been the year in which the restoration of the second temple was completed.
And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (Dan 9:26)
This predicts that soon after the public ministry of Jesus, he would be "cut off, but not for himself" - this predicts His rejection by the Jewish people, but He sacrificed Himself in order to save humanity. Forty years later, the Romans came and destroyed the Jewish temple in 70 A.D. "Desolations" refers to the complete lack of truth among the Jews, where they became rejected by God and were once again expelled from the land of Israel.
And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Dan 9:24-27)
This refers to the last "week" of the prophecy: a period of seven years from 26 A.D. to 34 A.D. Jesus confirmed the covenant by fulfilling all things of the Word, but with His coming and the revelation of the spiritual Church, the Jewish form of representative worship came to an end. It was in the middle of this seven year period (31 A.D.) in which Jesus was crucified.  All in all, a highly accurate prophecy, which shows that Jesus is indeed the coming Messiah. The Jews don't recognize Jesus as such, because they were expecting a king to establish an earthly kingdom in which they would rule over the Gentiles, not a spiritual Church.

That Emanuel Swedenborg recognized the significance of this prophecy is shown in the following passages:
The number seven, as is known, was held to be holy, on account of the six days of creation, and the seventh day, which is the celestial man, in whom is peace and rest — the sabbath. Hence it is that the number seven so often occurs in the rites of the Jewish church, and everywhere is held to be sacred. Hence both greater and less intervals of time were distinguished into sevens, and were called weeks — as the long periods to the coming of the Messiah (Dan. ix. 24, 25) (Heavenly Arcana, n. 395)
In another passage, Swedenborg confirms that the phrase "to anoint the most Holy" (the inner sanctuary of the temple was called the "Holy of Holies" or the "most Holy") concerns the establishment of the Christian church. This is the true restoration of Jerusalem:
...seventy weeks and seven weeks signify the same as seven days, namely, the coming of the Lord. But as here there is a manifest prophecy, the times are still more sacredly and certainly designated by septenary numbers. It is evident then not only that seven thus applied to times signifies the coming of the Lord, but that the beginning also of a new church at that time is signified by the anointing of the holy of holies, and by Jerusalem's being restored and built. And at the same time the last vastation is signified by the words — "Seventy weeks are decreed upon . . . the city of holiness, to consummate the transgression, and to seal up sins." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 728.2).
Swedenborg confirms that the rebuilding of Jerusalem does not mean the literal rebuilding of its physical buildings and walls. Such a literal interpretation has led some to suggesting a false start date in the time of Nehemiah (ca. 445). As the city of Jerusalem signifies the doctrine of the church, the streets signify the truths which lead to God:
That "it shall be restored with street and moat" means that there will then be truth and good. That Jerusalem was not then restored and built, is well known; and that it is not to be restored and built anew every one may also know, if he does not keep his ideas on a worldly kingdom, but on the heavenly kingdom meant by Jerusalem in the internal sense. (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2336.3, see also n. 6508.4).
One question I always had, is why are the first 69 weeks (69 x 7, or 483 years) divided into 7 weeks and 62 weeks? The meaning of this can be derived from the symbolism of the numbers themselves:
Three and seven are holy, two and six which precede, are not holy, but relatively profane (Heavenly Arcana, n. 900)
Thus the division of the 69 weeks into 7 weeks and 62 weeks seems to represent a period of time in which that which is holy, or the souls who are good, are separated from those who are evil. In the parable of the wheat and the tares, the harvest is delayed until the wheat and the tares have blossomed, so that they could be distinguished from each other. The spiritual significance of this is that before any last judgment, there must be a period of time in which the good can be separated from the evil. These last judgments do not occur on earth, but in the spiritual world, a realm that lies between heaven and hell for those who are not ready to be judged yet. This is described in more detail in Swedenborg's visions.

So if in scripture there is a prophecy predicted the coming of Jesus over 500 years in advance - should we not pay more attention to the Bible?  This particular prophecy was the main piece of evidence I discovered that shows that it is Divinely inspired, before encountering the writings of Swedenborg.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Spiritual Meaning of the Apocalypse, or End of the World

On numerous other occasions various Christian sects have predicted the Second Coming, or end of the world.... and all have failed.  And the reason for the failure?  There is no such thing as an "end of the world."  This idea comes from a misinterpretation of scripture, which is interpreted literally.  But Jesus did promise He would return, and there are numerous prophecies to that effect in the scripture.  So let's dispel misconceptions about the Second Coming and the end of the age once and for all:


The phrase "end of the world" comes from the last statement of Jesus in the book of Matthew:
And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. (Matt. 28:20)
That is the King James translation.  Lets look at the New King James translation (which I often personally prefer):
And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matt. 28:20)
The point here, is that the church passes through dispensations, or world ages. Thus you have the time from Adam to the Flood, then the time after the Flood, then the Jewish dispensation, followed by the Christian.  The Christian dispensation closely follows the astrological age of Pisces, the time when Jesus made regular fishers from Galilee "fishers of men."  And as with all dispensations, the Christian age is coming to an end.

Some may dispute the translation of "world" or "age" in the above verse.  But just to settle that, "world" does have the meaning of an age.  The Apocalypse mentions the Lamb slain "from the foundation of the world."  (Rev. 13:8) That does not mean before the world was created, it means that Jesus was crucified and rejected at the beginning of the foundation of the Christian dispensation.  And here are some other common passages that are misinterpreted:
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. (Matt. 24:35)
I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. (Rev. 20:11)
This does not mean the visible sky above will pass away, nor the earth under our feet will pass away.  "Earth" or "land" in scripture means where the church is on earth, and "heaven" the angels associated with that church in the spiritual heavens.  Many hold onto the believe that the church they grew up will always preserve the truth.  That is not necessarily true.  As Jesus said, what lasts forever is God's Word.  The churches on earth, however, have a beginning, middle and an end.  And all good things must come to an end.


This principle is harder for people to accept. No one wants to believe that the religion they were born in teaches what is false. Everyone assumes the religion that they were born in, what they were taught by their parents, is the absolute truth.  But for those who desire true spiritual understanding, they are the ones who will follow the truth for the sake of the truth, wherever it leads them.  They will make the decisions for themselves, instead of trusting some authority.  You should not believe something because someone told you so.  Investigate it for yourself. And be willing and open to accept, that you might be wrong.  Then you open your mind to receiving truth, for that which is false will block it.

That the end comes when the church becomes corrupted, can be seen with what happened in the first coming of Jesus: the Jews completely rejected Him, and crucified Him.  They were not willing to reject what was taught to them by their elders and scribes.  They had become so entrenched in their falsity, their hypocritical belief that they were better than others, that they could not see the Messiah right before their eyes.  And, they did not want a spiritual Messiah, they wanted an earthly one. So they crucified Him.

And this, readers, is exactly what will happen with the Christian Church.  Like the Jewish Church, many will follow the old way of thinking, and not even know that their church has come to an end in the eyes of heaven.  When He comes again, He will be rejected by many, because they no longer believe in what is true:
Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)
And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city! (Mark 6:11)
Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand), "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains... (Matt. 24:15-16)
The first is self explanatory: there will be very little faith when the Second Coming occurs.  And by "faith" I am not talking about belief. I am talking about living by what you believe.  Living by your belief, reforming your life from sin, that is faith. If you just go to church, and say that you believe, that is not faith.  Secondly, the day will be like that of Sodom and Gomorrah: only one family was saved out of a whole city.  Again, faith will be there among the few.  Thirdly, before the end comes one must recognize the "abomination of desolation" standing in the "holy place."  The holy place is the church, and that which it believes is corrupt, where there is no truth left.


Here is another false principle: when the Second Coming occurs, everyone will see and know it, right?  Wrong.  It will not be visible in front of our eyes.  However towards the end, when people become sensual and materialistic, they will expect something in front of their eyes that will allow them to believe.  But this is not so:
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, 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. And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them. (Luke 17:20-23)
Another false principle is people expect God to actually form a political kingdom here on earth during a millenium. Again that is false: God's kingdom on earth is the church. And God's kingdom exists inside your heart, not in an outward visible manifestation.  But before we proceed further, there is one other passage I would like to discuss concerning the Second Coming:
Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. (Rev. 1:7)
Again, many who interpret scripture in a literal manner will come to a misunderstanding that they expect to see Jesus up in the sky, somewhere in the clouds.  And since it says "every eye will see Him," doesn't that mean everybody will see it?  The answer is, no.  As said earlier, it will first be seen by few.  The phrase "every eye" does not mean everybody, it means everyone who has eyes of spiritual understanding, who have a spiritual affection for truth, they will see that the new revelation is true.  That "eyes" signifiy spiritual enlightenment, is shown by the following:
Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death. (Ps. 13:3)
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. (Ps. 19:8)
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. (Ps. 32:8)
Plus many others.  As for those who will see who "pierced Him," it means, when the truth is revealed, and people understand it, there will be sadness for how wrong they have been taught, how wrong they have believed, and there will be mourning due to a lack of truth of what is taught in the church.


This last principle is known to few, for few know that there is a hidden spiritual sense inside all of scripture. And when said, I know it will be a surprise to many who still expect a visible coming in front of their eyes.  This hidden spiritual sense, the revelation of it, is the Second Coming.  Why is it the Second Coming?  Because, it is known that Jesus Himself is the Word of God in human form:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1, 14)
The Word of God, or Divine Truth, which became incarnate in Jesus, is ever present in scripture itself.  The revelation that there is a spiritual sense inside of scripture, hidden behind the literal sense of every word, is the Second Coming: it is also the proof that scripture is Divine Inspired.  It is often said that the Son of Man will come in "the clouds of heaven."  Heaven is not the sky above, it is the spiritual heaven, and revelations from the spiritual heaven take place in visions.  Thus it is said:
I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them." (Rev. 10:1-4)
And then later it is said:
Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. (Rev. 22:10)
So what is the spiritual sense of scripture, and the Apocalypse? What are those seven thunders that were never written?  This was revealed in visions, over a period of over 25 years, in multiple volumes published by Emanuel Swedenborg.


I cannot summarize multiple volumes in a blog, showing the hidden spiritual sense of scripture. I have given you a sense of the spiritual meaning of scripture with a verse or two.  Swedenborg revealed the hidden sense of the Apocalypse in six volumes which he never published, which you can find online, or in the following work which I just published on Amazon (click here).  It has the advantage where every paragraph number is hyper-linked (Swedenborg always makes tons of references to prove each point from scripture), and in many cases updated to modern English:

Some may think I selected this cover because of its spiritual overtones, and the clouds of heaven.  Partly true. I also selected this cover, because the person has his or her back turned.  And it looks like the person is on an island, on the edge of a cliff. It reminded me of this passage:
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet...And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. (Rev. 1:10, 12)
When the spiritual sense of scripture is opened, even the smallest details has meaning. The fact that the apostle John has his back turned, and Jesus is behind him, and he has to turn around, means that at the end of the age the Christian Church will be facing in the wrong direction. They will not know who Jesus is, and instead follow a trinity of three persons.

The "Apocalypse Explained" for some mysterious reason was never published by Swedenborg, and instead opted to publish a much shorter version called "Apocalypse Revealed."  But in so doing, he left out the many discourses where he dives into other portions of scripture to explain the symbolic meaning. Some consider the "Apocalypse Explained" to be the better work, but it was still draft, and the published version at times corrects minor points, or clarifies a meaning. In one particular case "Apocalypse Explained" has the better reading. I decided to put both works together - a total of nine volumes in one work.  It is perhaps the most comprehensive interpretation of the Apocalypse ever published -- and there are many. Unlike the others, this author claims to have received the information from revelation.  You do not have to believe that, the explanations are quite insightful, and obscure passages never before known are explained in full - nothing is skipped or glossed over.  Not only that, but to make comparison and referencing easier, paragraph numbers in Apocalypse Revealed are hyper-linked to each other in the following work on Amazon (click here).

The other works of Emanuel Swedenborg were previously published in a multi-volume work called "The Divine Revelation of the New Jerusalem" which is described in an earlier blog entry (click here).  When I began work on the Apocalypse Explained, I did not realize how big it was, nor did I realize when starting how many references it had to his other works.  So I decided to create an expanded edition which includes the Apocalypse Explained entitled The Divine Revelation of the New Jerusalem (Expanded Edition):

But, if you are just looking for the spiritual meaning of the Apocalypse or the book of Revelation, the previous work is sufficient, and a good study tool.  Enjoy!  It took me many hours of work.  Hopefully this will dispel once and for all the popular misconceptions concerning the end of the world and the Second Coming. And maybe it will give you fuller insight into the hidden mysteries of the Christian revelation.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Spiritual Origin of Free Will

What is free will, and what is its origin?  This is something that distinguishes humans from animals: whereas animals are born with instincts, thus animals of one species all behave the same way, or have an innate knowledge, humans are not born with that but must be taught.  We, as humans, can choose our behaviour or inclination. We can choose between good and evil, and this is free will.  Aristotle thought that reason or rationality is what distinguished humans from animals.  For Swedenborg, our reason and rationality is spiritual in origin.  Not only that, but free will comes about from existing in a state of equilibrium between heaven and hell.  We are constantly faced with a choice of following the good, or following evil.  Here is Swedenborg's understanding of the spiritual origin of free will, which he was able to discover from his spiritual visions:
"That what free will is may be known, and its quality, it is necessary to know whence it is. From a knowledge of its origin, especially, it becomes well known not only that it is, but also of what quality it is. Its origin is from the spiritual world, where man's mind is kept by the Lord. The mind of man is his spirit which lives after death; and man's spirit is constantly in company with its like in the spiritual world, and by means of the material body with which it is compassed it is with men in the natural world. The reason why man does not know that he is in the midst of spirits as to his mind, is that the spirits with whom he is in company in the spiritual world think and speak spiritually; but man's spirit, so long as he is in the material body, thinks and speaks naturally; and spiritual thought and speech can be neither understood nor perceived by a natural man, nor the reverse; and it is from this that they cannot be seen. But when a man's spirit is in society with spirits in their world, he is then also in spiritual thought and speech with them, because his mind is inwardly spiritual but outwardly natural, and he therefore communicates with spirits by his interiors, but with men by his exteriors. By that communication man perceives, and thinks analytically; without it he would not think more or otherwise than a beast, as he would also die instantly if all relations with spirits were cut off. But to make comprehensible how man can be kept in the middle between heaven and hell, and thereby in spiritual equilibrium, from which he has free will, a few words shall be said. The spiritual world consists of heaven and hell; heaven is over head, and hell is there beneath the feet, not, however, in the centre of the planet inhabited by men, but under the earths of the spiritual world, which also are of spiritual origin, and therefore not in extension but in its appearance. Between heaven and hell there is a great interval, which to those who are there seems like a complete world. Into this interspace, from hell exhales evil in all abundance; and from heaven, on the other hand, good flows in thither, also in all abundance. It was this space of which Abraham said to the rich man in hell, Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that they who would pass from hence to you cannot, neither can they pass to us that would come from thence (Luke xvi. 26). In the midst of this space every man is as to his spirit, and solely for this, that he may be in free will." (True Christian Religion, n. 475).
If one looks at definitions of free will in western and eastern philosophy, it is a confusing mess.  Part of the confusion is that a spiritual world is for the most part not acknowledged when philosophers attempt to define human psychology, or do not understand the relationship between the spiritual and the natural.  Without understanding the spiritual world, one is always describing the effects rather than the causes.  A denial of free will - such as a belief in predestination or determinism - destroys the essence of religion and social and spiritual responsibility.

With an understanding of free will, one can develop the basis of a simple philosophy when it comes to religion.  Although we have free will, every choice we make puts us in alignment with heaven or hell.  That is why it is important to self-examine ourselves, to see where we fall short.  This art of self-examination is called "repentance" - to repent means to turn.  When we acknowledge our faults, and turn away from them, the Lord then releases us from the bondage of hell.  This means, do not assume you are always right, do not make the false assumption that you are better than others.  Look for ways to improve yourself, and look for ways to be useful.  The Christianity of the New Church as revealed to Swedenborg is thus utilitarian and pragmatic, and it comes from a spiritual understanding of the origin of free will.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Spiritual Symbolism of Biblical Slavery Laws

I was browsing some online posts on Christianity vs. atheists and skeptics, and was curious what arguments an atheist or skeptic had against Christianity.  I found a good argument - in the Old Testament, slavery was permitted, and there were laws given to Moses regarding slaves.  Before the American Civil War, some of these passages were used by the South to justify the horrible conditions of slavery.  Those who belonged to the New Church understood the meaning of these passages, that they should not be taken literally, thus some Swedenborgians of this time became part of the Abolitionist movement, and helped slaves escape to gain their freedom. For Swedenborg has also obtained a vision where a new revelation would be made concerning the New Church to those in Africa.
So, the argument from this atheist or skeptic went as follows, if the Bible contains commands that one is not going to follow, why follow it.  Ok, perfectly logical objection.  That is on the surface. For one, slavery was a form of economic employment, and getting out of debt as their were no bankruptcy laws in the ancient world.

On the surface, the Bible contains many things that do not make sense, and this is one of them.  There are many command that the Jews still follow and still do not understand them, but do so out of strong tradition.  So, before I discuss the commandments on slavery, there are certain overall principles or assumptions to this discussion - which many people, opening the Bible with no background, may not know:
1.  Any Divine revelation or Divine Truth revealed from heaven in visions will be adapted to the understanding of the person or people receiving it.  Revelations are progressive and come in dispensations.
2.  In most cases, many are not ready to receive the whole and complete truth.  So, a lower or temporary revelation is given.
3.  These "lower" or "temporary" truths that are given still contain spiritual truths in them, although hidden by symbolic correspondences.  Thus Jesus spoke in parables, and revealed the meaning to the few disciples but not the masses.
4.  The reason why the full truth or revelation is kept hidden from most people is so they do not profane what is holy.  To profane what is holy is to mix it with what is false, to make jest of it, or to first accept it and reject it. 
In the case of the Jews, the people of that time were prone to idolatry, and as a nation thought themselves superior to others, full of self-pride. Even to this day, some Jewish Rabbis teach that Jews are superior to Gentiles, and although these Jews read scripture, since they read it with a view of self-pride, it is a closed book even to them.  They were not ready to receive the full truth in its spiritual form - and this is signified by the fact that Moses broke the first two tablets of the commandments written by the finger of God, and then rewrote them in his own hand.  A spiritual church could not be established among the Jewish people - so instead God established a representative ritualistic church among them: in other words, not a true church, but symbolic of the church, which represented the church in their history, laws, and rituals.

Thus the Jewish laws were symbolic, and once a true spiritual church was established - the Christian Church - many of these laws became abrogated.  Some of these are known to the Christian churches, such as circumcision no longer became necessary, as that was symbolic of removing fleshly desires from one's heart. Or the Passover - Jesus died on the Passover, fulfilling that ritual.  Thus 40 years after Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead, the Jewish Temple was destroyed - it was no longer necessary to offer animal sacrifices, as the representative worship of the Jews had come to an end, its laws being abrogated by the higher revelation.

But what of the scripture containing these laws? Ignore them?  For most Christian churches, yes, the Old Testament for the most part is ignored in its entirety.  For Protestant churches, its worse, many of them dwelling on a false belief that belief alone saves, based on a false reading of the apostle Paul.  In the case of the New Church, with the revelations given to Emanuel Swedenborg, this is not the case.  Many portions of scripture, closed to many, can now be seen in full view - where it has immediate application to one's spiritual state.  This is the fulfillment of the scripture, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven (Matt. 26:64).  This refers not to the sky above, but to heavenly visions, where the spiritual sense of the Word (the "Son of Man") is fully revealed.  Thus while Christian churches know that the Jewish rituals were symbolic, they are still unable to explain many portions of scripture, or the small details which are skipped over.  So lets examine one of the laws regarding slaves:
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment.If he comes alone, he shall go out alone; if he is the husband of a wife, then his wife shall go out with him.If his master gives him a wife, and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out alone.But if the slave plainly says, 'I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,' then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently. (Ex. 21:2-6)
This is one of the laws that has been abrogated with the revelation of Christianity, as external rituals and laws were given to the Jews to represent the internal spiritual matters of the church. A clue to the meaning of this law can be found in the sayings of Jesus:
No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15)
So, when one is introduced into the Christian church, there is first a period of introduction, or servitude, where one is a "servant" or "slave."  Its used in another manner, to represent servitude towards one's lower sinful nature:
our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin (Rom. 6:6)
So, for Swedenborg, the six years in which one serves as a slave is similar to the first six days of creation (described earlier in this blog): it is a state of regeneration and reformation as one struggles against sin.  One knows the truth, but does not necessarily live by the truth, or one's life is in conflict with the knowledge of the truth.  To "buy a Hebrew slave" means to procure for oneself spiritual knowledge, after which, if one accepts it, comes a period of combat and temptation against sin.  Those who have no enjoyment in learning spiritual truths are those who come into servitude alone; those who have an internal joy or desire for the truth is represented by the slave that comes with a wife.  The reason for this is, is that in scripture a "male" represents a form of truth, and a "female" affection for the truth.  The seventh year in which a slave is released represents a state of peace, when truth is confirmed (one is no longer in doubt), and one lives according to it.

The interesting part of the law is that if during those six years the master gives a slave a wife, who bears children, in the seventh year they should stay with the master and not the freed slave.  So what is the meaning of that portion of the law?  According to Swedenborg, this means an affection for spiritual truth that is acquired when one is in combat against sin.  This represents a temporary affection for truth, which only stays for a period of time, but towards the end it does not become a living affection in one's heart for spiritual truth. The way I would explain it is that one's intention determines the outcome of the act.  If one begins with good intentions at the start, the goodness stays with you. If you do not have good intentions in your act, but later you realize you were wrong in your intentions and change mid-way, you did the right thing and confirmed the truth but there is not as much enjoyment in what you did, as you started off with a bad intention.  What I just described in abstract form, is represented in an external visible form in this law regarding Hebrew slaves.

Another state is described by the slave who acquires a wife during his years of servitude, and instead of going free, decides to stay, and has his ear bored through with an awl on a door or doorpost.  One can guess some of the meaning from the common symbolism of the ear, or to listen: to hear is to obey.  The ear representing obedience.  This represents those who decide to submit their will to God.  Permanent Hebrew slaves represent those of the church who do things out of obedience, and not out of love or the affection from the heart:
"They who suffer themselves to be regenerated act from affection according to the precepts of faith; but they who do not suffer themselves to be regenerated, but only to be reformed, do not act from affection, but from obedience. The difference is this. They who act from affection act from the heart, and thus from freedom, and they also do truth for the sake of truth and good for the sake of good, and thus they exercise charity for the sake of the neighbor; but they who act from obedience do not thus act from the heart, consequently not from freedom." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 8987).
The reason why the ear is pierced on a door, is that a door represents an introduction to the truth.  So, I hope this has served for a good introduction into the truth: Biblical scripture is highly symbolic.  And when the spiritual sense is opened, it is more abstract and universal.  It is also immediately applicable to one's life.  Without the spiritual sense of scripture being opened, much of the Bible is a closed book.  One can also see different psychological states that one passes through at different stages of life. And what becomes apparent is that the outward form of one's act is not nearly as important as one's intention in the act.  Much of this is described in the book Heavenly Arcana (aka, Arcana Coelestia), where the spiritual sense of scripture is revealed.  Without knowing the spiritual sense of scripture, one just superficially sees an obsolete law on slaves, and closes the book, and in so doing close their minds to the potential of a deeper spiritual awakening.  One can say this internal spiritual awakening is a sort of Second Coming.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lord, Liar, Lunatic...or Angel?

When it comes to Jesus, most outside the Church would prefer to view Him as a good teacher or a prophet. And Jesus did take on this role...until some began to question his true identity:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets."He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 16:13-17)
So, He is not just a prophet, but Christ, the Son of the living God.  Christ or Messiah means "Anointed", meaning from conception He was anointed with the Spirit of God.  That is, the Spirit of God Himself dwelled inside of Him.  This is why He was born of a virgin, for that is how Jehovah Himself could become incarnate.  That He was Jehovah, is shown by many statements He made about Himself, including this one:
All power has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (Matt. 28:18).
By this is meant that He glorified His human body, and made it Divine.  For those who follow a Tritheism of three persons, if indeed that is true, that there are three persons: if Jesus has all power, then what does God the Father have?  That simply does not make sense.  What does make sense is the Father was inside of Him, as the soul is inside the body.

Many who were outside the inner circle of disciples considered Jesus to be a good teacher.  Was He just a good teacher?  Consider this passage:
Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?"So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." (19:16-17)
Later he says to this man, who had followed the 10 commandments:
If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. (19:21)
The 10 commandments begin with "I am the Lord your God."  This man, who thought he had followed all the commandments, did not recognize Jesus as Lord, or Jesus as Jehovah in human form.  But some may take the answer of Jesus as stating He was not God.  This is not true...consider these statements that Jesus made:
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. (John 10:11)
I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. (John 10:14)
A shepherd is one who guides and instructs...a teacher.  So Jesus' question was somewhat rhetorical...He was gently leading the man to think of who he was speaking to.  It is not enough to simply live a moral life.  Morality must be spiritual, for all good originates from God.  We appropriate that to ourselves by living by it, and that becomes conjoined to our soul.  As God's Spirit begins to live in us, it is that spiritual influx which causes us to have eternal life.

So, when reading the Gospels, one has this odd choice to make about Jesus: He is either Lord, or He is a Liar, or He is a Lunatic.  The Liar theory falls apart quickly, when one considers that Jesus was crucified for not backing off from the claims to Divinity He made about Himself.  This "trilemma" was made popular by C.S. Lewis who said the following:
"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. ... Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God."
The Jews did not escape the trilemma: they simply held the view that this guy was insane, or had a demon inside of him.  They went with the "Lunatic" theory and stuck with that, despite the miracles He performed.


Given the dilemma of the Trilemma of Lord, Liar or Lunatic, there are two popular escapes from this logical conundrum:
1.  The Biblical scriptures were falsified.  Jesus did not say those odd things about himself, and did not make any claim to Divinity.  This is also called the "Legend" theory.
2.  Jesus did make those claims about Himself, but was some lesser being, an Angel or Avatar, created after the existence of God.
For theory #1, also known as the "Legend" theory, for it to hold true it must be shown that the Gospels were somehow falsified later in time.  Some modern scholars hold to this view, but it is also popular among Muslims.  For those who have studied Biblical criticism, there is no evidence to support this theory.  There are literally thousands of old manuscripts and fragments, distributed geographically, where it becomes quite easy to identify modifications to scripture.  One would have to throw out large portions of the Gospels to show that Jesus was just a prophet -- and this is something that Thomas Jefferson did with the Bible.  He edited the Gospels, took out all the statements concerning Jesus' claims to Divinity, and removed all references to the end, Jesus becomes an ordinary man, who remains quite dead after the crucifixion.  There is no manuscript evidence to support this view...and one is left with the historical problem of how Christianity could have begun with a prophet who made no claims about himself, and died an ordinary death.  One would also need to explain the early martyrs who died for their beliefs -- and the oral traditions of the apostles.  In short, it is an untenable historical theory.


In the 3rd century A.D., a heresy arose known as "Arianism", named after Arius, who stated that Jesus was the first created being before God made creation.  This is theory #2 - that Jesus was an angelic being or avatar, through whom all things were created.  It is for this heresy alone that the doctrine of the Trinity of three persons was invented in the fourth century.  The church successfully counteracted the heresy, but in so doing jumped from the frying pan into the fire: the doctrine essentially is a form of Tritheism.  Instead of recognizing Jesus as Jehovah in human form, a second person of a Trinity of beings was created in this doctrine.  Swedenborg stated that the reason why God allowed the Catholic Church to gain as much power as it did was to eliminate the heresy of Arianism, as using religion for the sake of dominion due to the love of self could not be entirely eliminated.  Among the different Christian heresies, any form which denies the Divinity of Jesus in His human form is the worst kind - as there is conjunction between God and the human race through His Divine Human.  That is the meaning of the Eucharist or the sacred rite of the communion meal.


Out of curiosity, I wanted to see if anyone could come up with some logical defense for a trinity of three persons, and joined in on a conversation concerning the Trinity.  I could find no one who could provide a logical defense. The only explanation I got is that God decided to "divide" Himself into three persons.  Thus if there is one God, what is that One?  Instead of One Divine Being or Person, the One God becomes a substance.  This substance is shared among three divine persons.  In other words, when looked at more closely, the Trinity is nothing more than a form of Tritheism.  However, most Christians will not even seek to explain it, content that it is a "mystery of faith".  There are mysteries of faith, but this is no mystery - the "mystery of faith" is used to hide the logical inconsistency of the doctrine.  Most Christians will not question it, as they have not been taught to question their beliefs, but just accept it on the basis of church authority or tradition.  So the discussion on this topic on the usenet groups reached a dead end.

As I was cross-posting on this usenet discussion, another side discussion developed with another group, who sought to prove that Jesus was an angel.  They were quite an intelligent group, one of them a trained theologian.  I don't think I ever encountered a group that was so well versed in scripture - so the conversation went back and forth, each side using scripture to support their arguments.  Here is one verse, I don't remember if I used this one:
You, O Jehovah, are our Father; Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name. (Isa. 63:16)
Here we have Jehovah, who is One Divine Being, who declares Himself to be both Father and Redeemer.  Father and Son are not two separate beings: they are different aspects of One Being, Jehovah.  In human form, He is the Son, who redeemed humanity.  Thus in the New Testament, Jesus is known as "Lord", just as Jehovah is called "Lord" by the Jews, and Jesus is known as the Redeemer.  But this group, who I am pretty sure were Jehovah's Witnesses, were quite keen on proving that Jesus was just an angelic being who became incarnate.  They used proof texts such as these:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (Col. 1:15)
Despite the fact that the above verse mentions that Jesus is the visible image of the unseen God, the phrase "firstborn over all creation" is taken to mean that Jesus is the first created being.  The "firstborn" is a highly symbolic phrase, and was used in ancient times to represent love or charity.  The word "creation" can either refer to all of creation, or the creation of a new spiritual man as each person is reformed, becoming a new creation in the eyes of God.  In other passages, Jesus states that He is "The First and the Last" - He is the first in all things.  Swedenborg had much to say on the meaning of the word "firstborn":
"It has been disputed from the most ancient times, which is the firstborn of the church, charity or faith; for the reason that man is regenerated and becomes a church by means of the truths of faith. But those who put faith foremost and made it the firstborn, all fell into heresies and falsities, and at length extinguished charity altogether; as we read of Cain, by whom such faith is signified, that at length he killed his brother Abel, by whom is signified charity; and afterwards of Reuben, the firstborn son of Jacob, by whom likewise faith is signified, that he polluted his father's couch (Gen. xxxv. 22; xlix. 4); wherefore he was held unworthy, and the primogeniture was given to Joseph (Gen. xlviii. 5; 1 Chron. v. 1).
"From this source were all the contentions, and also all the laws, respecting primogeniture in the Word. The cause of there being such controversy was, that it was not known, as even at this day it is not known, that a man has only so much of faith as he has of charity; and that when a man is being regenerated, charity presents itself to faith, or what is the same, good presents itself to truth, and insinuates itself into it and adapts itself to it in every particular, causing faith to be faith; and thus that charity is the very firstborn of the church, although to man it appears otherwise (see also n. 352, 367)." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2435).
When the text is used where Jesus states that He is the Light of the world, that is, He is the Divine Truth, Jehovah's witnesses will respond with this text:
Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. (Gen. 1:3)
Which was an interesting and odd use of scripture.  They asked why did God create light on the first day of creation?  My response was:

1.  The first 11 chapters of Genesis are written in symbolic form, and cannot be taken literally.
2.  The seven days of creation are not seven days in which the world was created, but are symbolic of seven states in the regeneration of a person, in which they become a new creation.  The first state is when one receives the Divine Truth, or becomes aware of spiritual truth. This is why on the first day God says, "Let there be light."

There is another subject that people are mostly unfamiliar with in this conversation, that there are two main aspects of God:  Divine Love, and Divine Truth.  In regards to the Divine Love, He is known as "Jehovah", in regards to Divine Truth, He is known as "God".  Thus in scripture, He is often referred to as "Jehovah God" or "Lord God."  God is also known as the "Light" when it comes to Divine Truth, and "fire" is used to refer to love. But by making Jesus a created being, Jehovah's Witnesses are separating these two aspects of God into two beings.  That this is not the case, is discussed in detail by Swedenborg in the work, Angelic Wisdom concerning Divine Love and Wisdom.


Another proof-text Jehovah's witnesses use is this one:
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. (1 Thes. 4:16)
Since the "voice of an archangel" is mentioned, some suppose that Jesus is the archangel Michael.  But in this argument, there is a preexisting assumption I recognized.  What is the origin of the angels?  Many assume that before man was created, there existed a body of angels in heaven.  So where do the angels come from, where did they get their human form?  In the visions of Swedenborg, the origin of the angels was revealed: all angels, and all demons, who exist in heaven and hell, originated from the human race:
"In the Christian world it is quite unknown that heaven and hell are from the human race, for it is believed that angels were created from the beginning and of them was formed heaven; and that the devil or satan was an angel of light, but because he became rebellious he was cast down with his crew, and of them was formed hell. Angels wonder exceedingly that there should be such a belief in the Christian world, and still more that nothing at all should be known about heaven, when yet that is the primary thing of doctrine in the Church; and because such ignorance prevails, they rejoice in heart that it has pleased the Lord now to reveal to mankind many things respecting heaven, and also hell, and thereby as far as possible to dispel the darkness which is daily increasing, because the Church has come to its end. They wish for this reason that I should declare from their mouth, that in the whole heaven there is not one angel who was so created from the beginning, nor in hell any devil who was created an angel of light and cast down; but that all, both in heaven and in hell, are from the human race; in heaven those who lived in the world in heavenly love and faith, in hell those who lived in infernal love and faith; and that hell taken as a whole is what is called the devil and satan. The hell which is behind, where are those called evil genii, is called the devil, and the hell which is in front, where are those called evil spirits, is called satan. What the one hell is and what the other, will be told in the following pages. They said that the Christian world had gathered such a belief regarding those in heaven and those in hell, from some passages in the Word, understood only according to the sense of the letter, and not illustrated and explained by genuine doctrine from the Word; when yet the sense of the letter of the Word, unless genuine doctrine throws light upon it, draws the mind in various directions, begetting ignorance, heresies, and errors." (Heaven and Hell, n. 311).
Once the origin of the angels becomes known, the entire argument of the Jehovah's Witnesses, or Arianism, falls apart.  One cannot become an angel until one was once born as human.  As Jehovah became incarnate as a human, after the resurrection He essentially became an angel, as all humans do, except that in His case He rose as to the body, and made His human Divine.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Science vs. Creationism

In recent news, and this is still news apparently, Bill Nye "the science guy" stated that Creationism was unfit to be taught to children.  He created the following youtube video, which went viral:

He stated that Creationism was not appropriate to be taught to children, because it will hold us back from science.  It is not based on any facts.  And you know what?  He is right.  The evidence for evolution and the age of the universe is just overwhelming.  As to how life is still struggling with that one.  Swedenborg stated that organic life forms always act upon inorganice forms, and not the other way around.  Whereas base matter derives from the Big Bang and the itself is spiritual in origin.  That is still compatible with evolution.

Unfortunately, Creationism will get taught to children in families with religious backgrounds, because they still read the Bible in a literal manner.  They do not understand the symbolism and the allegory that is constantly at play in the literary expressions of scripture.  Scientists such as Bill Nye, however, do not have a background in the Bible, so it would have been more appropriate to educate people on the proper spiritual understanding on how the Bible begins, then talk about the science...unfortunately he did not do so, which caused the sensationalist uproar.

The first 11 chapters of Genesis are written in a style quite different from the rest of the Bible - one that is best described as "mythical". By myth many understand today a story that is false, but in the ancient world myths were based on a universal symbolism that described ever-eternal truths. The seven days of creation, the story of Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, the Flood, the Tower of Babel...are all constructed in the form of a historical narrative, but actually describe in parable form how in ancient times an ancient race of people in the Middle East had the minds open to have direct communication with heaven...and how this was eventually lost.  That it is not literal, but symbolic, was stated in the late 18th century, in the visions that were received by Emanuel Swedenborg.  He wrote:
"...all the events arranged historically from the first chapter of Genesis to Eber in the eleventh chapter, signify quite different things from what appear in the letter, and the historical series is only composed history, after the manner of the most ancient people." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1020)
It should be noted that there are four main styles of the Word, and the first 11 chapters of Genesis are different than the rest:
"It has been stated already that there are four different styles in the Word. The first, which was that of the Most Ancient Church, was such as that from the first chapter of Genesis to this chapter. The second is historical, as in the following books of Moses, and in the rest of the historical books. The third is prophetical. The fourth is intermediate between the prophetical style and that of common speech." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1139)
The mode of expression in the first 11 chapters of Genesis was derived from a more ancient way of thinking, closer to the literary style of ancient myths:
"Their mode of expression was such that when they mentioned terrestrial and worldly things they thought of the spiritual and celestial things which these represented. They therefore not only expressed themselves by representatives, but also formed these into a certain historical series, as it were, that they might be the more living; and this was to them in the very highest degree delightful." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 66)
Much of what Swedenborg wrote back then was later confirmed in the 19th century when archeaologists began uncovering ancient cuneiform tablets written in Sumerian and Akkadian - which in fact contained myths that mirrored the stories found in the first 11 chapters of Genesis. Among these stories are Enuma Elish and The Epic of Gilgamesh. However the original myth has not been preserved in these tablets - they have been modified by religious priests of the ancient world, who sought to use religion to gain control over people. Even they found ancient king lists which declared that there were 10 kings before the coming of the Flood - just as there are 10 patriarchs that lived before the flood of Noah. I read and studied some of these cuneiform tablets when I was in college...but Swedenborg knew that these were inherited and borrowed stories long before archaeologist uncovered this evidence.

So, lets take a look at the seven days of creation.  In a symbolic sense, the days are not days, but represent seven stages of spiritual development.  "Earth" is the body, "Heaven" is the soul: the seven days of creation describe the creation of a spiritual man.  Swedenborg describes these stages in detail.  So it has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with science.  If one just thinks about what is created from one day to the next, one may conclude how symbolic in nature the seven days are.

Seven is a sacred and holy number.  But where did the seven day week come from?  Most likely, it came from observing the four quarters of the moon during the month.  Each quarter lasts about seven days, but varies from month to month.  In the ancient Middle East, there were sometimes celebrations on the seventh and fourteenth day of the month. These astronomical observations denigrated into star worship over time.  An ancient priesthood, recognizing the significance of the number 7, established a seven day religious week completely divorced from the original astronomy that originated it.  In the book of Jasher, it is recorded that Moses asked Pharoah for a seventh day of rest to give the slaves respite from their work in Egypt.  Creation is a human cycle, of work, rest, work, rest.  Spiritually, we pass through stages of conflict, and when these conflicts are resolved, we reach a spiritual state of rest and comfort.

As for the patriarchs from Adam to Noah, Swedenborg stated that these were not individual people but represented different stages of history in the spiritual decline of the Most Ancient Church.  This is a bit contrary to a literal understanding of the Bible, thus some may oppose such an interpretation.  But in support of this view I discovered that the numbers used in the ages of the patriarchs are not arbritrary - they were chosen based on particular astronomical cycles.  For an overview of that, see an older blog entry called The Ancient Astronomy of the Bible.  I had forgotten to mention that this is exactly what the priests did with the ancient king lists of Egypt.

The Flood concerns the final destruction of the Ancient Church, when direct communication between heaven and man was cut off...afterwards, spiritual development would happen a different way, by learning spiritual truths first.  The Tower of Babel is a symbolic representation of how this was then distorted by an ancient priesthood who wished to gain control over others by means of religion.

So lets move on about this debate between Science and Creationism...the only way to move on is to have an understanding of the spiritual layer of meaning hidden behind the literal words of the Bible.  God evidently foresaw this development and provided the answer in the writings of Swedenborg, long before science would confront the literalists.  Once that is out of the way... I would like to know, what is propelling, what is the driving force, for a single cell organism to evolve into something so complicated as the human being?  Is it possible that the code for the potential to develop into a human can be found in single celled organisms?  I heard one interesting fact, not sure if this is correct:  we share 50% of our genetic code with the genetic code of a banana.  Now that's food for thought.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Miraculous Circle of Light

For this blog post, I was looking for a circle of people holding candles at night, and found this one, from SynchroSecrets, a blog on unusual coincidences which Carl Jung called "synchronicity."  Synchronicity is a meaningful coincidence.  Was it a coincidence I found that blog?  I don't know, but here is an image of a circle of candles lighted for a healing vigil:

In ancient times, in the Middle East there was an ancient religion which preceded Judaism which saw synchronicity in everything: for everything material is a symbol of the heavenly form.  Such was the origin of symbolic rituals, for these rituals seek to recreate the symbols seen in visions, offering a link between this material world and the spiritual world beyond it.

So why was I looking for a circle of people holding candles?  A long time ago, as a child I was sent to a summer camp for a week which taught the Christian way of life. It was in a forest in California, and we slept in wood cabins.  In California I used to go on walks through the Redwood forest:

If you haven't been there, there is just no way to describe the mystical beauty of that forest.  The trees are huge, perhaps the largest trees in the world.  Anyway, at that Christian camp in the forest, towards evening they decided to hold a prayer vigil, and everyone was to stand in a circle holding candles.  However, I could not participate - I had caught a cold, and I was told to take a rest in the cabin.  I was a bit sad and disappointed, so I returned to the cabin. I was the only one who could not participate.  There was still light, it was towards the end of the day. I opened the cabin door to lie down on my bunk - but when I looked in, what I saw took me by surprise.

The cabin surrounded by trees had a window, and light was streaming into the window sort of like you see in the picture of the forest above.  It was a narrow band of light, which formed an elongated rectangle in that dark cabin.  But there was something odd about that band of light. It was moving. And it was moving in a circular pattern, so that there were these bands of elongated rectangles - not just one - rotating in a circle along the walls of the cabin.  I didn't know what to make of it: it was as if there was a light source, outside the cabin, moving in a circle around the cabin.  So I looked outside the cabin.  It is surrounded by trees, in the middle of a forest.  There are no light source other than the waning sun.  Ok, I open the door again. Yep, moving bands of light inside the cabin, still going around and around. As I looked at it, and there was no rotating light outside of the cabin, I concluded that something was bending the light to move in a circle.  I think I stood in the doorway for several minutes just staring, wondering what to do. I then realized this was happening at the same time everyone else was away, who had formed in a circle holding candles.  Then I got a bit scared - this should not be happening. I closed the door, wandered among the trees for a while, and came back later when all returned to normal.  I never told anyone about it, as I was puzzled by it.  It is one of those things that "should not happen" - and it is something I pushed back in the recess of my memory until I almost forgot about it. Not sure how I remembered it just now.  I still have no explanation for it, I have never seen light behave that way.

A candle, light, or lampstand is symbolic of truth, and the oil that lights the candle is symbolic of love.  Love and truth must walk together hand in hand.  A lampstand or candle is symbolic of the church:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;Nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. (Matt. 5:14-15)
So, maybe I was wrong to hide and forget this event?  I do not know. I think that over time I would have found a rational explanation for it, but there just isn't one. John, who saw a vision recorded in the Apocalypse or Revelation, recorded this event:

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands;And in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a Son of Man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. (Rev. 1:12-13)
Each lampstand or candle in this vision signified seven different types of churches, and Jesus had a message for each one.  All Christian churches - even the remote ones - is signified by one these churches in the book of Revelation.

When it comes to miracles, skeptics will always question, believers will see confirmation.  As miracles these days tend to not change anyone's former opinion, I see no harm in relating this story.  Here is Swedenborg's opinion regarding miracles:
"It is asked at the present day, why miracles do not take place as formerly; for it is believed that if they were to take place, every one would make hearty acknowledgment. For miracles are not now wrought as formerly, because they compel, and take away free will in spiritual things, and from being spiritual make man natural. Every one in the Christian world, since the coming of the Lord, may become spiritual, and he becomes spiritual solely from the Lord through the Word; and the capacity for this would perish if man were led to believe through miracles; since they, as before said, are compulsory and deprive him of free will in spiritual things; and every thing compelled in such matters betakes itself into the natural man, and shuts up the spiritual as with a door, the spiritual being truly the internal man, and deprives this of all power to see any truth in light; therefore he would afterwards reason about spiritual things from the natural man alone, seeing every thing truly spiritual inversely. But miracles were wrought before the coming of the Lord, because they of the church were then natural men to whom the spiritual things of the internal church could not be opened; for if opened, they would have profaned them. And all their worship therefore consisted in rituals which represented and signified internals of the church; and they could not be brought to observe those rituals properly except by miracles." (True Christian Religion, n. 501).
As Jesus once said:
Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed. (John 20:29)
It is more important to reach internal spiritual understanding by reading scripture and living by it, than paying attention to external visible confirmations. Spiritual growth can then take place from that inner spiritual light in one's own understanding.

Well, back to working on that book for Apocalypse Explained...  maybe that's how I remembered this particular event.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Divine Procession of the Trinity

One time, when researching information for a wikipedia article, I tried to find a logical defense for the Trinity, how three divine beings are not three but one.  If they are one, one what?  Typical arguments will then answer one "essence" or "substance."  Which would mean, when one says one worships the one God, God is not a personal being, but a substance.  This conclusion, of course, is contrary to all revelations He has made about Himself: He is One Being. and has declared there is no other god besides Him.  The best answer to a description of the Trinity, before Emanuel Swedenborg, I found in the work of Thomas Aquinas, who is considered a "Doctor of the Church" in the Catholic Church.  He noted that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is a procession of the Divine, as the three are always listed in that order.  Swedenborg would agree, as the Divine soul, body and operation is one Trinity in Jesus Christ. Thus rather than positing a separate being for the Son, Swedenborg simply states that the "Son" is the human form by which Jehovah became incarnate.  At the resurrection, this human form was made Divine.  The Catholic Church states that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, while the Orthodox Church states that the Holy Spirit proceeds directly from the Father.  In this case, the Catholic Church is the one that has the correct doctrine, according to the revelations from Swedenborg.  It is also stated in scripture:
But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:39)
The "glorification" or "exaltation" of the Son means to make the human form Divine.  The Holy Spirit, which existed solely in Jesus, then was made available to all of humanity to those willing to receive it. Swedenborg stated that the operation between the soul and body in each and every person has a "sphere of influence" around the person's body. This is one's spirit, and among those familiar with New Age terminology it is known as one's "aura", whereby one can perceive internal states of the soul. Jehovah in human form was made Divine, thus this spiritual sphere of influence became infinite.  Thus after his resurrection, Jesus stated:
All power has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (Matt. 28:18)
Does this mean that a Father being gave up his power and handed to another being, His Son?  No it does not mean that. It means that the human body in which Jehovah incarnated was made Divine.  Also Jesus was asked directly to show the Father:
Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us."Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? (John 14:8-9)
Jesus then proceeds to describe how the Father exists inside of Him, and He exists inside the Father. The two were interacting as one, just as the soul and body act as one.  Thus Jesus always spoke of the "will of the Father."  But never the "will of the Son."  In fact, Jesus stated He could only do what He sees His Father doing:
For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 6:38)
Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:19)
Well, what about this - if we are talking about one Divine Being who chose to become incarnate in human form, then why does Jesus pray to the Father?  The answer to that is in His incarnate form, He was in a finite state like us.  He had to grow and progress like any human being.  In His external form, his body had inherited evil tendencies from the virgin Mary -- despite what the Catholic Church states on this matter. It is in this manner that Jesus could be tempted. Although his external natural form was imperfect and could be tempted, his internal soul was Divine and could not sin.  By becoming incarnate, Jehovah launched a direct attack against all of hell.  And hell launched back as hard as it could with temptations no human could imagine. These are described briefly in the Gospels, but they are described in more detail by Swedenborg in his work Heavenly Arcana, and in the visions of the mystic Catherine Anne Emmerich.  Any other human would have broken and become insane. Thus we read Jesus healing a lot of the mentally ill and the demoniacs. By overcoming all temptation, God can now interact directly with each and every human being to help them resist temptation. Only God can overcome evil, not man. But man must put in effort by repentance.

So, when Jesus said the following statement, what did the original apostles understand from it? -
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19)
What is "the name" of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?  It is the name: Jesus Christ.  Observe how the apostles baptized in the name of Jesus:
Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike...they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 8:12, 16)
And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 10:48)
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 19:5)
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? (Rom. 6:3)
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Gal. 3:27)
So, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not three persons. They are titles or aspects of one Deity, describing how the Divinity proceeds from God to humanity through His incarnation. This Trine exists in one person, Jesus Christ. This is how the Oneness Pentecostals arrived at the correct conclusion, without even knowing of the previous revelation given to Swedenborg.  You can see it in His name:

CHRIST ("anointed one") = HOLY SPIRIT

So what happened? The early baptismal formula was changed.  I found this from a Pentecostal site:

Britannica Encyclopedia, 11th Edition, Volume 3, page 365 – Baptism was changed from the name of Jesus to words Father, Son & Holy Ghost in 2nd Century.
Canney Encyclopedia of Religion, page 53 – The early church baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus until the second century.
Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion, Volume 2 – Christian baptism was administered using the words, "in the name of Jesus." page 377. Baptism was always in the name of Jesus until time of Justin Martyr, page 389.
Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 2, page 263 – Here the authors acknowledged that the baptismal formula was changed by their church.
Schaff – Herzog Religious Encyclopedia, Volume 1, page 435 – The New Testament knows only the baptism in the name of Jesus.
Hastings Dictionary of Bible, page 88 – It must be acknowledged that the three fold name of Matthew 28:19 does not appear to have been used by the primitive church, but rather in the name of Jesus, Jesus Christ or Lord Jesus.

That in Jesus is the fullness of the Godhead is recognized by Paul: For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form. (Col. 2:9)


There are other hidden Trinitarian statements in the Bible, but they are often not are a few:
You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:16)
Paul would later state that Jesus is the image of the unseen God. And this one, which is important:
Pray, then, in this way: 'Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed [Holy] be Your name. (Matt. 6:9)
Ask yourself the question: what is the Father's name?  "Father" is a title.  What is the Father's name?  It is none other than Jesus. When the Catholic Church teaches people how to pray, they add the words "In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit" before the Lord's prayer. This is superfluous and unnecessary, because the first line of the Lord's prayer already says that in a different way. From the Father, through Jesus, proceeds the Holy Spirit: all holiness is from Him, because He has made His human Divine.  So when you pray, do not pray to a separate being other than Jesus. Acknowledge one Divine Being, who has become incarnate and visible in Jesus Christ. When I realized it, all confusion went away.  I was a bit sad for not having realized this earlier.  When asked what difference does the revelation given to Swedenborg make in my spiritual path, I would say it was this: the acknowledgment of the One Divine Being in Jesus Christ. If you know this, you belong to the New Church, the New Jerusalem. This is the revelation: that Jesus is Jehovah in human form. We have not acknowledged Him properly, but have relegated Him to a second person in a trinity of three beings. Sort of like how He was crucified, with two thieves on each side. That historical event was actually prophetic of the thievery of a trinity of three persons. Acknowledgement of a Trinity of three beings is crucifying Jesus, and when you know this, you see what harm it causes to the understanding of the Divine truth:
Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. (Rev. 1:7)
"Those who pierce Him" are those who crucify Him: those who do not properly acknowledge who He is.  Most interpret this as a visible second coming in the clouds of the sky, but this is not true: it concerns a spiritual revelation made from the spiritual heaven, not in the sky above our heads.  "Every eye" does not mean visible to everyone, but it means understanding to those who can see this spiritual truth.  And the mourning is the sadness that ensues, when one realizes one has lived under a false teaching. Thus it is said,
When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Error of the Protestant Churches

One good thing the Protestant Reformation did: it exposed certain errors of the Catholic Church, whereby they tried to make use of religion to extend their authority, and they stated that authority and doctrine should be based on the Word.  But they made one basic fundamental error: they made faith alone saving.  In other words, all one has to do is believe and confess, and one obtains immediate mercy and salvation.  All done! Boy that was easy.

The error of the Protestants comes from a single verse, and a misinterpretation of this single verse then blinds people to multiple other passages of scripture:
For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. (Romans 3:28)
Martin Luther, and the founders of the Protestant churches, decided that "works of the Law" means anything that you do from the will.  Faith is belief only.  Internal changes in the heart, and the desire to do good, will come spontaneously through no human effort.  This is not only false, it is a belief that destroys the essence of all religion.  One of the reasons why Emanuel Swedenborg is so unknown is that he spoke out against this.  If the revelation he received had confirmed it, more would know about him.  He stated:
In Paul's words in Romans 3:28, "faith" does not mean faith in God the Father, it means faith in his Son, and "the works of the Law" do not mean the works of the law of the Ten Commandments, they mean the works of the Mosaic Law for the Jews (as you can see from the verses that follow Romans 3:28, as well as from similar words in Paul's Epistle to the Galatians 2:14, 15). The foundation stone of the modern-day church crumbles, then, and so does the shrine built on it, like a house sinking into the ground until only the top of the roof remains visible. (True Christian Religion, n. 338)
The "works of the Law" thus refer to Jewish rituals, such as animal sacrifices, circumcision, washings, etc.  These were external rituals so that the Jews could represent or be symbolic of the Christian Church that would come after it.  Thus the Passover ritual was symbolic of the crucifixion which would occur on the Passover.  Pentecost the coming of the Holy Spirit...and Paul states as much in the following passage:
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day--things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. (Colossian 2:16-17)
In my first introduction to Christianity, I went to Protestant churches, and this is what was taught: the 10 commandments had been "abrogated."  The purpose of it was to show how perfection could not be reached.  God then waits 1500 years or so, and then changes the message and states that only one has to believe.  Any passage in the Bible that mentions good works, means that it will be the Holy Spirit  that does it, and man may continue to be a "passive subject."  Is this true? No, it is false:
One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?"Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' (Mark 12:28-30)
And this one:
Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
"Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'
"And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'
(Matt. 7:21-23)
Unfortunately, for most religion is just lip confession and belief only.  This is not true: religion is in how you live your life.  I can go through passage after passage in scripture, but unfortunately for Protestants "faith alone" is the foundation of salvation.  Unfortunately, that foundation happens to be resting on a very false premise of one verse falsely understood.  The doctrine is so prevalent that it gives people a blind eye when it comes to seeing these passages from the Bible which command good deeds. I do remember coming across those passages, and I was puzzled by the discrepancy.  Even Paul himself said so:
it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. (Rom. 2:13)
Wait! That is exactly the opposite of what Paul said above!  No, the problem here is the word "Law" is used by Paul in different ways: sometimes the Mosaic law of the Jews, and sometimes for God's commandments.  Are God's commandments important?  Well, Jesus sort of thinks so:
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (John 14:15)
He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him. (John 14:21) 
For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother (Matt. 12:50)
Are the 10 commandments prescribed in the New Testament?  Yes, every single one of them.  I can list them but I will leave that as a exercise for people who are willing to find them.  As for the Sabbath, under the Jews this was a day of no work, but this was a symbolic ritual: under the spiritual Church it became a day for instruction in spiritual matters. In the revelation of the New Church, it also represents the highest spiritual state that one can reach, where one lets go of the self and allows the Divine to flow in every thought and deed.  In an even higher sense, the Sabbath is symbolic of how Jesus made His human Divine and rose from the dead after the Sabbath.

Protestants, in defense of their understanding of scripture, will call any opposition to it as "legalism."  Or they will mention how it is wrong to make works "meritorious."  The first charge is generic, as they do not make a distinction between the ritualistic laws of the Jews and God's commandments for everyone, but on the second they are correct: no one should do something good for the sake of a future reward. Good works are done out of love, for the sake of love, and the reward is in the enjoyment of doing itself.  It is that internal happiness which leads to salvation: the happier one becomes, the closer one becomes to God.

I occasionally go and visit a Protestant church now and then, but this is a faith I no longer follow. Once one sees the error, it is hard to go back to something that is false. It just pains me when a minister glosses over a verse, and fails to see how scripture goes against the foundation of what they have been taught. Can I ever go back?  No I cannot:
But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved. (Matt. 9:16-17)
This Jesus spoke of the Christian Church, which would break out and separate from the old Jewish church...what was true then is true today. If I go to a church that would be to start some dialogue, but that does not happen often. The New Church is incompatible with the faith of the old Christian churches, which have become gradually corrupted over time.  It took me a long time to figure this out, but knowing that the beliefs had been corrupted allowed me to search for the truth until I finally found it.  If one sees the problem of their faith in their Church, do not depart from the love of God.  Jesus foresaw this:
Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.. (Matt. 24:15-16)
This Jesus spoke of the last state of the Christian Church: it would be so corrupt, that something false would be at the center of its worship: the worship of three divine gods, instead of the one Lord.  This is the "abomination of desolation."  An abominable idolatrous worship, so corrupt, that all truth is absent in utter desolation.  What to do?  Leave it.  Where to go?  The "mountains of Judea" - that is, towards the love of God. Practice it in your daily life. Start a home church.

This departure from organized religion is already happening.  It was noticed with "alarm" among several news sites.  One columnist, Danny Tyree, wrote an article for the Daily World entitled:

The Protestant decline: Forever versus whatever

He goes to church with a bit of uncertainty:
The uncertainty arises because of the results of a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, revealing that for the first time in its history, the United States does not have a Protestant majority...The Protestant decline comes not from a sudden upswing in Catholic citizens but from the Americans who say they have no religious affiliation at all. (This group, dubbed the "nones," has increased from 15 percent of the adult population to 20 percent in just the last five years. One-third of adults under age 30 are uncommitted, often citing their religious affiliation as "nothing in particular.")
Wow!  This is in fact good news.  I was very disappointed to have been misled for several years.  Hooray for the whatevers and the nones!  But for those who are can lead to a period of doubt and distress...what is the truth?  What way should I follow?  Why does not God reveal the correct way?  Wait a minute...God does reveal Himself.  It just so happens when He does reveal Himself He states He does not like what the churches have been teaching...time to start a new one.  Religious leaders do not like to hear this, and will tend to shove it under the rug.  The lack of actual teaching and the poetic digressions of the ministers just drove me nuts. soon as I had time on my hands, time to publish the works of Emanuel Swedenborg and make them available as cheaply as possible...and start blogging about it in the hopes someone chances to come across this.

So why the Protestant decline?  Well that leads to some speculation.  I will quote the same article again:
I have friends and associates who are forthright atheists and agnostics, but I have a hard time wrapping my unenlightened mind around the fence-straddlers who fancy themselves as "spiritual but not religious." people who like to "sleep in," people who like to spend Sundays at the stadium and people who don't like heavy reading miraculously stumble upon a spiritual regimen that resonates with them, meets their needs and pleases A Vague Higher Power To Be Named Later.
The truth is, when religion becomes "belief only", when it has no applicability to daily life, and life is not part of's thoughts depart from those beliefs to become more in line with how one lives.  This is an inherent problem with Protestant theology.  I am currently working on a book Apocalypse Explained (taking a break from the footnotes with this blog) and this is the warning given to the church of Ephesus which placed all emphasis on doctrine and belief but not by living by it:
But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place--unless you repent. (Revelation 2:4-5)
In the book of Revelation, seven churches are symbolized by a lamp, and each church signifies a particular Christian church of our time.  For those who depart from the commandments of love and charity, and go with belief only...that church will cease to exist.  So we have...the Protestant decline.  That is a lamp whose light is going out.  And now....

To the Vague Higher Power To Be Named

His name is Jehovah...and He has appeared in human form, incarnate in Jesus Christ.  Jesus, the Lord of the the New Testament, is the same Lord that appeared in the Old Testament.  There is no need to divide God into multiple persons.  Such happened with the ancient churches that preceded Judaism, and those religions no longer exist.  The doctrine concerning the One God for the New Church is described in The Doctrines of the New Jerusalem...which includes the work, Doctrine of the Lord.  Start with that.