Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Was Swedenborg a Cult Leader, and is the New Church a cult?

There are a few religious organizations out there who would have you believe that Swedenborg was the founder of a cult, and that the New Church is a cult. Nothing could be further from the truth. For one, cult leaders are ego-centric, and love to get attention from their followers. Many self-proclaimed "prophets" have not overcome their basic selfish love of the ego. Compare that kind of psychology to Swedenborg: he published his works anonymously, and he never sought to establish any church. For the New Church would be different from any other church that preceded it: it would be established by the Lord Himself.

It is unfortunate, because what was revealed to Swedenborg in his visions is perhaps the greatest revelation ever received in Christianity. Yet few Christians even know of him.  He was a well known and respected scientist, had no reason to lie - in fact, he had much to lose by publicizing his visions. He has a few clairvoyant visions, one of which was verified by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant.

So if you want to look at the opposition, they mostly come from Protestant mind sets. Why is that?  Well lets take a look at what they say.

Here is one from The Hall of Church History: the Cultists. It mentions Swedenborg, but does not dive into any details. It says simply this:

All cults have this in common: they deny the biblical doctrine of justification by faith.

So is justification by faith alone a Biblical doctrine?  Or did this doctrine appear late in church history, say 16th century A.D.?  It appears late, and is not part of the original doctrines of the church. Yet it is a foundation stone for any fundamentalist Protestant.  It is based on one verse out of the whole Bible:
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (Rom. 3:28)
And with that, everything else which states that one must live according to God's commandments is thrown out the window. For it is taken out of context: what Paul was talking about was the external rituals of the Mosaic law. NOT the ten commandments.  They ignore that Paul later says everyone will be judged according to their works. But even if they would agree to that, Protestants have a tendency to belief only, for a man cannot will to do good from himself.  Each person is a "passive" subject. However a true faith is active, and does not become faith unless conjoined with charity, or rendering good use to others. That the Protestant doctrine is false, is shown by this verse:
Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'This is the first and great commandment.And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. (Matt. 22:36-40)
To love one with all one's heart is with all one's will.  Not mind only. Anyone who says that, ignores the first and greatest commandment.

So let's move on.  Here is a statement from another Protestant website, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, run by an individual. It sums up Swedenborgianism like this:

This is a dangerous mystical non-Christian religion.  Its denial of the Trinity and the Holy Spirit, the vicarious atonement, and rejection of Acts and the Pauline epistles clearly set it outside of Christian orthodoxy.

Not exactly sure what is meant by "dangerous".  If he means "intelligent", maybe so, for Swedenborg is estimated to have an IQ of over 200. And it is encouraged for everyone to seek the truth for themself, regardless of religious authority. But even so, the theology that was revealed to him went way beyond his own intelligence and knowledge. So, lets go through this one by one:
1. Denial of the Trinity.  What Protestants and other Christians fail to admit to themselves is that although they say with the mouth that they believe in one God, they in fact worship a trinity of three persons.  It is Tritheism, plain and simple.  For they cannot say what that "one" is.  The truth of the matter: there is a trinity of soul, body and spirit in every person, and in Jesus Christ it is the Holy Trinity.  In him resides the fullness of the Godhead (Col. 1:19), in Him there is a Trinity of the Divine Itself, the Divine Human, and the Divine Proceeding. There is one Lord, Jesus Christ. Oneness Pentecostals have a similar position. Is Monotheism dangerous? I think not.
2. Denial of the Holy Spirit.  For Tritheists, there is no other understanding that when an aspect of God is mentioned it must be another person. This in fact is the origin of ancient idolatry. A man's spirit is not another person, it proceeds from the life that resides in his body. Same is true of Jesus. How else could Jesus come and reside in our heart? This accusation is plainly false.
3. Denial of Vicarious Atonement. Protestants, and Catholics, believe that Jesus saved mankind by taking the punishment for our sins, fulfilling the requirement of the law, and that our sins were transferred to Him on the cross. This again, is late theology, and originated some time in the 11th century A.D.  According to Swedenborg, the Lord saved humanity by taking on a human being and making it Divine, by resisting all sin and temptation. In such a way, He enters into us when we repent and resist temptation. When that happens, He removes it.  Thus there is no salvation apart from repentance. Protestant theology teaches differently: it is by belief alone and lip confession. But this theology is not new: it is ancient! The Orthodox Churches hold to a similar view and reject the Protestant theology. So are we to believe that the Orthodox Church is a cult?
4. Rejection of Acts and Pauline Epistles. This is a half truth. What Swedenborg said was that these writings were not Divinely Inspired in such a way where the literal sense corresponds to the spiritual sense. What he did say is that these were useful for doctrine for the general Church. And he did not deny Paul's theology, but rather, shows how Protestants misinterpret Paul. He also said that the statements contained in the writings of Paul were "Divinely influenced".  Not all Swedenborgians know that, so I will classify this as a "half-truth".  But since 90% of their sermons come from Paul, and most of the Old Testament is ignored, they get really upset by this.
So lets move on to another web site, called Jude Ministries: Contending for the Faith. Let's go through the main laundry list:

A denial of the atonement, the Trinity, the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

We already covered this accusation, except for one: a denial of the deity of Christ?  Are they serious?  No, the New Church states that Jesus Christ is Divine, He is the human form of Jehovah.  Not only that, but that He is completely Divine: a Divine Human.  I can actually turn this argument against them: it is Protestants who deny the deity of Christ by stating that He has two natures: a Divine nature and a human nature.  What they fail to realize is that the "human nature" is Divine as well, and is known in the Gospels as "the Son of God". This originated from the Council of Chalcedon, which in previous blog posts I explained that in the prophecies of Daniel this is known as the "abomination of desolation".

All religions lead to God (pluralism!)

Yes and no.  First, it must be understood that Jesus Christ is the Divine Truth in human form.  There are many other religions that contains aspects of this Divine Truth; followers just do not know God has appeared in human form. Another way said: there are many truths that lead to God, but among all religions there is one Love. Loving others is what makes all religions common. There is one religion, however, which leads people away from heaven, and that is Arianism, the modern form of which is the Jehovah's Witnesses, for they deny the Divinity of Jesus Christ. Islam is different, because they have no knowledge of the Word.  I may have to devote a separate blog for this item. It is from God's Divine Providence that He will put bread crumbs here and there in this forest of darkness to lead us back to Him.

There is no devil

There is no such thing as an individual devil.  Every human will either become an angel or spirit, or if he or she turns against God, will become a devil or demon, depending on how selfish they were and what evils they held in their heart.  All of hell together forms one devil. There is nothing in scripture which states that there is one individual devil; Jesus fought against many of them.

The Scriptures can only be properly interpreted through Swedenborgianism

Completely false. Swedenborg said that for those who follow the Lord, and simply believe in the Word, his writings are unnecessary. It is written for those who have questions. But without Swedenborg, or knowing his method of using scripture to interpret scripture and the symbolism behind it, much of the Old Testament, and the book of Revelation, will be a closed book. Thus they stick to the letters of Paul.

One may sin in heaven

Yes. But this requires a bit of explanation concerning the afterlife. I will simply quote this scripture:
Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?If He puts no trust in His servants, If He charges His angels with error,How much more those who dwell in houses of clay, Whose foundation is in the dust, Who are crushed before a moth? (Job 4:17-19)
The only valid portions of the New Testament are the four Gospels and Revelation

Again a "half truth".  The writings of Paul were Divinely influenced, and necessary for the church.

Salvation is by good works

The Protestants ever stick with belief alone as the way of salvation. So why does Paul and Jesus say everyone will be judged according to their works? Lets move on.

There is no physical resurrection

Only Jesus rose from the dead as to the body.  Everyone else will rise in a spiritual body.  This spiritual body will be in a complete human form, of a more refined substance that does not interact with light. As Jesus said, God is God of the living, not of the dead. Which means many have already risen and dwell in heaven. Those who believe in an actual physical resurrection also believe in a more physical literal kingdom of God on earth.

Angels (and evil spirits) are not supernatural creations of God, but are rather, humans who have died

That is right. So answer this: where did the angels come from, and why do they have human form?

At death, a person’s mind falls asleep for three days in a place called the world of the spirits. Afterwards, he awakens and those spirits who have died before help him adjust. He then forms his own spiritual body in which to reside.

That is right. So answer this: why did Jesus reside for three days and nights in the tomb before He rose from the dead? Why did Jesus say that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were among the living?

And then comes this very odd statement:

I want to take a moment to add a lengthy paragraph from one of the commentaries on the place of sexual love in this group. We have already seen other cults where sex and free love are important elements (i.e., the Moonies), but these comments will also set the stage for some understanding of more extreme examples.
The predominant subject in the teacher’s mind was “conjugal love,” which was indeed in his view “heavenly love in its highest form,” and is according to him a great subject of interest, and conversation among the angels. In spite of our Lord’s denial, they do “marry and are given in marriage in heaven!” There are passages in Swedenborg’s writings so grossly indelicate, Dr Pond assures us, that they ought never to have been translated. Swedenborg gives 55 cases in which a married man may judge himself free to be unfaithful to his marriage vows; and in certain cases he permits and even recommends flagrant immorality.

This has got to be a very blatant misrepresentation of the view on sex: for sex is only proper within a marriage relationship.  But Swedenborg then discusses different degrees of sexual relationships that depart from marriage love. Just because he describes different states of love and sex does not mean he condones it, but it may be upsetting to those who have a prudish mindset. And then when they marry they don't know what to do, leading to life long unsatisfactory relationships. There is an entire book devoted to this called Angelic Wisdom concerning Marriage Love. The denial of marriage relationships comes from a misinterpretation of one of the answers of Jesus, which belongs in another blog. Rather than regard sex as "evil", sex is highly spiritual, when between one man and woman in a marital relationship.  Really, is support of marriage a sign of a cult? This is not "free love" as the author would have his readers believe, for Swedenborg said that adultery leads directly to hell.

So lets move on. Here is a website called Emanuel Swedenborg was Definitely Unsaved.  First, very bad choice in title, for scripture forbids condemning one to hell or saying one shall go to heaven. Only God is in a position to judge one's spiritual state.  But lets go through the list, probably one of the more detailed I have seen:
  • Bible: If you believe, God will forgive all your sins and give you power over sin. God has a hell for those that are called good yet call Jesus a liar.
  • New Idea: God's mercy involves helping us become better people. God is willing to forgive everyone, and is more concerned how we live than with what we believe.
Since when does God only concern with how one believe, and not how one lives?  Well since the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, if you believe their theology, and not scripture. What about Matt. 25? What about how it is not those who hear God's Word, but those who hear and obey?  Should not God's truth be life changing?  Belief alone will die with you when you die, for you will be examined according to how you lived your life. Belief alone is a dead religion.
  • Bible: God is 3 Persons. Jesus is Son of God, distinct Person from the Father.
  • New Idea: God is One Person: Jesus Christ. The Father is the Soul, the Son is the Body, and the Holy Spirit is the Activity of the One Divine Person.
See: internally, Christian theology is that of Tritheism. Which is why that old church must die and a New Church will begin anew. Similar to what happened to Judaism. For the statement that they believe in one God is on the lips only, in the thought there are three gods. Did not Paul state that the fullness of the Godhead resides in Jesus bodily? Did not Jesus say the Father resides in Him? That He and the Father are one? Does He not call God His Father because He was born by the Holy Spirit of a virgin? And so on.
  • Bible: The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity.
  • New Idea: The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ. It is the regenerating and enlightening influence of Jesus Christ, not of some third person.
No, that comes from the Nicene Creed of the fourth century A.D., decided by a church council, which corrupted the Christian Church. There is no reference to a "third person" in the Bible. In fact, this "third person" never appears. The Holy Spirit is that which proceeds as spirit from the body of Jesus Christ. That is why it is said "the Holy Spirit was not yet, for Jesus was not glorified".
  • Bible: We are saved instantly just by believing that Jesus died for our sins. We don't need to put any effort into our salvation.
  • New Idea: Faith alone is not enough. We must actively resist evil, while acknowledging that the effort to resist comes from God.
See how the Protestant theology has corrupted Christianity: it has become a matter of belief alone. Who cares if one lives an evil life?  One just confesses to a belief, one is saved. Done.  No repentance necessary. Flip-flop these statements: for it is faith alone that was a new idea introduced in the 16th century. What about loving God with all our heart?  Can you love by putting in no effort?  Can you love and disobey the commandments? Can children just believe what their parents say and not do them? There is no such thing as instantaneous salvation: it is a life long process, and continues to eternity.

This time I will skip the statements on marriage and sex. For some reason that's an issue. Actually, maybe I will blog a bit more about sex since some find this to be a "disturbing" subject. Lets move on:
  • Bible: Heaven is a place of praise and activity.
  • New Idea: Heaven is a place of usefulness.
This is the biggest misconceptions about heaven: that we will just stand around "praising".  That is, lip service.  For the Protestant theology does not understand that a spiritual life is one of usefulness.  If you follow the Protestant theology, you will probably get fired from your job. Or you will forget about your beliefs until you return back to them once a day in the week. There is actually a funny story that Swedenborg describes of people newly entered into the afterlife after their bodily decease, where they thought heaven was just praise, lip service, and talking with each other. The angels locked them in some rooms together to talk until they could not stand it any more, and realized there was much more to heaven than just plucking harps. In the New Church a spiritual life is an active life, a useful life, a practical life: a utilitarian life of love and service.

Needless to say, most theologians have never had visions or revelations concerning the afterlife. Many will actually deny them outright, similar to the Sadducees of old.
  • Bible: The Bible should be taken literally unless otherwise indicated.
  • New Idea: The Bible has an inner meaning.
If we take every statement of the Bible literally, including the metaphors and parables...one is going to completely miss the spiritual meaning, and it will lead to some very false heresies.  Not sure what he means by "otherwise indicated", nor where he got this rule of thumb. It is simply an assumption.
  • Bible: Adam and Eve were actual people.
  • New Idea: Adam and Eve were symbols of the Lord and His Church.
An example of literalism.  There is much symbolism contained in the stories of Adam and Eve, and even he does not get the symbolic meaning right. Many Jews - such as Philo - interpreted things symbolically. So is this idea new? No, it is very old.
  • Bible: Jesus saved us by receiving the punishment that was meant for us atoning for our sins.
  • New Idea: Jesus saved us by overcoming evil and glorifying His Human form.
Show any Orthodox person this statement, and they will tell you it is blatantly false. The Orthodox Church preceded the Catholic and Protestant churches, did it not? Flip flop the statements, and it is the Protestant doctrine which is new.
  • Bible: Blood means life; let us drink of his blood and eat of His flesh.
  • New Idea: Blood means Life and Truth; Jesus saves us by giving us life and truth.
Not sure what the issue is here. Again, the spiritual meaning of "blood" in scripture is either life or truth, and it it the Divine Truth which sanctifies and give life.  The "bread" is symbolic of love.  The spiritual truth here is that this salvation could not happen until Jesus made His human Divine. Why else would His body and blood become the center of Christian worship.
  • Bible: God punishes people, bad things are the result of sin.
  • New idea: The Lord wills only good, but permits bad things for the sake of our freedom.
Of course only God wills what is good for humanity! For God is love itself.  In order to protect the good from the evil, evil contains within it its own punishment. And bad things do happen to help lead us back towards the proper path. Nothing new here.  Author probably misunderstands Swedenborg's explanation for the existence of evil in Angelic Wisdom concerning Divine Providence.
  • Bible: We are saved by faith (that is new birth) alone apart from the works of the law.
  • New Idea: We are saved by the Lord through love, faith and good works.
See how the Protestant theology leads people to the idea of salvation by belief alone, by misinterpreting Paul's statement concerning the external rituals of the Judaic laws.  And love is a new idea???  Do they not know what are the two greatest commandments of Jesus?
  • Bible: Christians are saved and those who have not heard of Christ are saved if they accept the Creator for if they were introduced to Christ they would accept Him.
  • New Idea: Good people from all religions are saved.
Again, people who are narrow minded like to believe that only people who believe as they do will be saved. This comes from a religion of belief alone. When it is recognized that love is what is important, and that God is love itself, those who have lived a life of love will learn who God is after they die: for God is the source of all love.
  • Bible: We are saved by faith alone. When you commune with God, He will increase the fruit of His love in your life daily.
  • New Idea: The most important command is to love God and others.
The Protestant church teaches people that it is belief alone that saves. That you do nothing, you are a passive subject. And that good will "spontaneously" come up on its own.  This is a false teaching, which destroys the essence of religion: for true religion is one of repentance, following God's commandments, and loving others. Notice how the idea of belief alone has become the primary doctrine over the two great commandments of Jesus: that we should love God and love others. Is this a new idea? No, Jesus taught it!
  • Bible: God the Father has a Holy anger and wrath that punishes sinners and condemns them to hell for calling His Son a liar.
  • New Idea: God is always loving and merciful--the anger is just an appearance.
Here the difference is remarkable. Is God one of anger and wrath, seeking to punish us, or is He Love itself, and we are His children? Should we live in fear, or in freedom out of love?  Since when is love a "new idea"? The 16th century perhaps?

So I could go through other websites, but they essentially repeat the same points above...so what religion is true: one of Tritheism, where the Father God seeks to punish us in His wrath, but those who simply believe or make a lip confession in His son will not go to hell...or is it one where God is Love itself, and He Himself has appeared to us human form, so that He might save us?  Which leads to a more spiritual life: a religion of belief alone and lip service, which tells you your sins are covered or taken away with no repentance, or one that tells you you should examine yourself, repent of your specific sins, to remove the evil and lead a good and useful life?

Should we believe this new doctrine of the 16th century, or go with the more ancient teaching of the first century?


  1. Thanks Doug. As a New Church/Swedenborgian minister I'll be using this blog post as a great answer to the cult question!

  2. Hi Matthew. Another reason why I put this out there is to demonstrate the fact that the New Church cannot be inter-denominational. It just won't work. Its like putting a snake together with a bird in a cage. On this Swedenborg wrote:

    "the faith of the new church cannot by any means be together with the faith of the former church, and that in case they be together, such a collision and conflict will ensue as to destroy everything of the church in man. The reason why the faith of the new church cannot by any means be together with the faith of the former or present church, is, that they do not agree together in one third, no, nor even in one tenth part." (Summary Exposition, n. 102-103)

    He then describes the former church as the dragon in the book of Revelation which seeks to devour the child of the woman of heaven, which represents the New Church. Long before these web sites appeared, Swedenborg predicted their behavior.

  3. Doug,

    Amazing job of dispelling many false ideas about Swedenborg and more importantly the New Church. It's tricky business pointing out the falsities in Christianity as it exists today. Yet, this is what John did by way of the book of Revelations on the isle of Patmos, long before Swedenborg. Even pre-catholic Christianity ( I believe this is what you are referring to as "orthodox" Christian ) had already begun to introduce false ideas into "Church" teachings (reverence letters to the seven churches). It's no wonder how or why this continued through the centuries.

    The point is that so long as we think of the Church as a human institution there will be falsities included. The "New Church" is not intended to be a human institution per se . . . Even though there are institutions that have adapted this name, which I belong to.

    The New Church is first a spiritual concept and is revealed one mind at a time. Therefore, when we talk about the Catholic or Protestant religions, it's important to clarify that the falsities described in your blog are in the teachings, not necessarily in the minds and hearts of the many wonderful people (and friends and family of mine) who adhear.

    In other words, we can't and don't stand in judgement of any person . . . As I'm sure you would agree . . . But certainly can and do call out false teachings for what they are and the damage that has resulted in the world.

    Thank you for your excellent work here.

  4. Hello Rob,
    Most church goers are actually quite nice people, but most do not question their own religion. So my comments are directed at the ones who attack the theology of the New Church - or of monotheistic Christianity. It has to be done. Theologians and ministers are taught the same false doctrines, and they propagate it to the congregations. If the false teachings within the Christian churches are not exposed and brought out to light, people will continue their merry way in darkness. In the Islamic world, Christianity is rejected because of this false doctrine of the trinity as three persons. If there is no belief in one God as one being or person, and if there is belief alone with no application to one's life through repentance, there is no church. The New Church tends to just emphasize the universal aspects of religion, without addressing the false theology of the older churches, and then people just don't get it. And since this false theology is ignored like the big elephant in the room, people are leaving churches altogether to find their own independent spirituality. I grew up Protestant, recognized the errors, and left for the same reason....and there was no one there to point the way or answer questions. The trinity confused the heck out of me - exactly who am I supposed to pray to? Essentially, many pray to the Father, and bypass Jesus. In the New Church, it is revealed that one should always pray direct to Jesus Christ. In the phrase, "Our Father, Hallowed be Thy Name" - His "name" is Jesus Christ, for He dwells inside of Him, as He is the image of the unseen God. I almost did not publish this entry on the "cult" issue, but for some reason it has become one of the most popular entries on this blog.

  5. Hello: I have been reading True Christianity this past week. I am interested in the Swedenborgian view of the passage in Ephesians 2, v 8,9 that says we are saved by grace and created to good works. Also I am interested in gospel writings in which at Jesus's baptism, a voice said this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased, and the spirit descended like a dove. Were these mass halucinatory type symbolism in your point of view.

  6. Hello Mary,
    Swedenborg once said that our understanding of scripture is based on doctrine, and that doctrine must be received from enlightenment and confirmed by scripture. So that is why churches will take the same passage and see it in different ways.

    So, lets take the example of the word "grace". I remember multiple Protestant ministers stating that it meant "unmerited favor". But if you look at the original Greek and Hebrew for that word, it simply means "favor". "Unmerited" is added to the definition to support their theology, which is based on belief alone, and that works of charity are unnecessary. As for love and charity, Swedenborg makes it very clear it should not be done for sake of self gain - that would be selfishness - but out of love for the sake of love and usefulness. Thought and action must always be conjoined, otherwise the thought dissipates, and does not survive to good effect after death.

    So, on the meaning of "grace", Swedenborg notes that the word "grace" appears in conjunction with the word for "mercy". Those who tend to act out of love and are in more humiliation will ask for God's mercy, while those who act from the truth will tend to ask for God's grace. Here is what Swedenborg says:

    "But there is a distinction in the Word between mercy and grace, and this in accordance with the difference of those who receive. Mercy is applied to those who are celestial, and grace to those who are spiritual; for the celestial acknowledge nothing but mercy, and the spiritual scarcely anything but grace. The celestial do not know what grace is; the spiritual scarcely know what mercy is, which they make one and the same with grace. This comes from the kind of humiliation of each, which thus differs. They who are in humiliation of heart implore the Lord's mercy; but they who are in humiliation of thought beseech His grace; and if these implore mercy, it is either in a state of temptation or is done with the mouth only and not from the heart." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 598.2)

    And then after that, as always, he then goes through a whole series of scripture to prove his point. Theologians who disagree with Swedenborg always disregard these points he makes from scripture.

    Now in Ephesians 2:8 Paul says "not of yourselves; it is the gift of God...". Swedenborg clarifies this: we must act as if from ourselves, but acknowledge that the good that we do, and the truth that we know, originates from God. Only God can fight against sin, but He does that as long as we act with our will according to the truth. Humans were not intended to be passive subjects.

    As for "works" - sometimes Paul talks about the ritual ceremonial laws of Moses, other times he speaks of the good works of the will. Even Paul states that everyone will be judged according to their works. So you have to look at the context. In this case, he is talking about the works of the Jewish ceremonies, which is shown from verse 2:11. This is the main misinterpretation of Paul by Protestant theology.

    As for that passage on the Holy Spirit, it is a description of a vision seen by John the Baptist. Since you are reading "True Christian Religion", it is explained in more detail under the section concerning the Holy Spirit. I remember when I first read that book in a college library, and it was the first thing I read that explained the Trinity in a logical and rational manner.

  7. Doug,

    I have been reading the Gospel of John this last week and came across a verse that struck me as vital to a Christian's understanding of God. Throughout this Gospel, Jesus explains time and tme again the he and the Father are one. That he who has seen Me has seen the Father. The Father is in me and I am in the Father and so on ( see ch 14). But this verse drives it home for me . . . Ch. 8 v58.

    "most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was I AM"

    He was sparring with the Scribes and Pharisees, as usual, and wanted to leave no doubt in their minds (and through extension our minds) that Jesus's soul is Johovah . . . The same I AM, that was in the burning bush with Moses. The same I AM, that was with and befor Abraham.

    Jesus is the face / image of the divine God. Swedenborg refers to this as the Divine Human. In Revelations, chapter 1, this same image is given to us in correspondence, explained in detail by Swedenborg.

    So, I support you in your clear and vital message of monotheistic Christianity!

  8. Swedenborg stated that a new Christianity would not dawn until the falsities of the older Christian churches were brought to light. The main false doctrine is that there is a trinity of three persons - Tritheism - but the truth of the matter is that there is One Being, who became incarnate in human form, and this form is the Son - not a second person. Thus Swedenborg says that only in the New Church does one realize the true meaning of the Lord's prayer: that it should be directed to Jesus Christ. When Jesus says "I AM", He is stating He is the one with Jehovah who told Moses "I AM WHO I AM". Jehovah is one being, not three.

    The main argument that the older churches use against this is that they will mention the fact that Jesus prayed to the Father. What they do not realize is that in incarnate form, the Divine was in a limited state of being, and in this state, He could be tempted. The Father and Son are not two beings, but two states of one Being. The lower state is one of separation and humiliation, or "exinanation". Swedenborg discusses these two states in more detail in the Doctrine of the Lord, and in True Christian Religion. In "Heavenly Arcana" Swedenborg discusses the progression of Jesus Christ through various spiritual stages, which are not revealed in the gospels. The doctrine of the trinity of three persons does not understand this, taking scripture to a very low literalist level.

    The only other Christian denomination that proclaims the oneness of God are the Oneness Pentecostals, which developed quite independently from Swedenborg, but only Swedenborg is able to explain the theology in detail.

  9. Hi Doug,

    I was particularly struck by this "charge" against Swedenborg's teachings by Troy Brooks in his page claiming that "Emanuel Swedenborg was Definitely Unsaved" (as if Mr. Brooks can speak for God):

    "Bible: We are saved by faith alone. When you commune with God, He will increase the fruit of His love in your life daily.
    "New Idea: The most important command is to love God and others."

    The irony is that in fact, in the one place that the Bible mentions faith alone (James 2:24), it specifically rejects it.

    Meanwhile, Jesus Christ himself teaches that the most important commandment is to love God and love our neighbor (Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-28).

    To be fair to Mr. Brooks, he is not rejecting the latter. But he makes the false claim that Swedenborg claims this as his own "new idea," and based on this accuses him of "bearing false witness," when in fact Swedenborg gives full credit to Jesus Christ and to the Bible for this teaching.

    It amazes and amuses me that Mr. Brooks could accuse Swedenborg of violating the Bible's teachings and being a false Christian when in fact Mr. Brooks is the one who flatly contradicts a plain statement of Scripture, while Swedenborg accepts and upholds Scripture and the direct words of Jesus Christ himself.

    Most of the people and organizations who accuse Swedenborg of being a cult leader, and readers of Swedenborg of being a cult, do so, not on the basis of the organized Swedenborgian bodies acting like a cult (which they don't), but purely on the basis of supposed "doctrinal error." And yet, on every point that they make in accusing Swedenborg of making doctrinal errors, their own beliefs contradict the Bible, while Swedenborg's teaching agrees with the Bible.

    Furthermore, the organizations of many of those accusing Swedenborgians of being part of a cult are themselves far more cult-like than the organized Swedenborgian Church--which exhibits *none* of the organizational characteristics of a cult.

    1. Hello Lee,
      It is close minded attitudes like this which cause many to leave the church - and thus increasingly we are becoming a secular society. There are actually worse things on the internet but I am not going to even link to them. Very few question, very few do their research, and just accept what they have been told.

  10. But didn't Paul say that being freed from the law allowed him to obey the law? Further, Paul said that trying to obey the law by one's self-will (the flesh) leads to failure to do that very thing. Check out Romans chapter seven.

    1. Unfortunately, Paul was a bit liberal in his usage of the words such as "law" and "works" - which I have discussed in other blog posts here. Sometimes he uses "works" for works of righteouness, for which we are judged, at other times he uses "works" for works of the external rituals of the Mosaic law. The same goes for the word "law" - for the word "law" even in scripture could refer to the 10 commandments, in a wider sense the first 5 books of Moses, and even wider all of scripture itself. In Romans 7, Paul is using the word "law" for the laws of one's conscience, which is in conflict which the desires of the flesh, the "law" of the carnal man:

      "I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." (Rom. 7:21-22)

      This conflict is known as a period or state of temptation, when one fights against the lower carnal desires from the truth of the law that one knows internally. This period of temptation is a necessary process in spiritual regeneration, and Swedenborg talks about this state of temptation in many passages. In the spiritual world, during the time of temptation the angels of heaven are at war with the evil spirits of the lower man, creating this internal conflict. As Jehovah conquered all of hell during the time of his incarnation, so during this process Jesus helps us under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

      So, that's the meaning of the latter part of Romans 7. But the beginning is different. He is speaking of the abolishment of the external rituals of the Mosaic law. For once Jesus revealed their internal spiritual meaning, they no longer became necessary.

      When one passes the spiritual period of temptation, and one conquers the evils one was dealing with, the Holy Spirit can act within us more accordingly through our will, and this is a period of peace and happiness. Out of happiness one does good works out of love, whereas formerly one did them simply out of obedience. It is a spiritual process: we all begin through a period of obedience, symbolized by Hebrew slaves, then we start to refuse evil because we feel an aversion to it, then after that, one starts to refuse evil out of love for what is good, or a love of God. These spiritual stages of development Paul discusses in an obscure way, but they are clearly dilineated in Swedenborg's writings, describing each progression of state.

      Ultimately, all good comes from God, none from self. Any good that one does cannot be good until evil is first removed. And when one starts to do good out of love, one must acknowledge that this good originates from God, through his Holy Spirit operating through our will and mind. But man must participate. He/she cannot be a passive participant.

  11. Emanuel Swedenborg was an ockultist.
    He communicated with devlis and believed their lies.
    Leviticus 19:31
    “‘Regard not those who have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.


    1. The question for you is: have you even read any of Swedenborg's writings? Can any evil spirit or demon declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, and through him alone is salvation? The answer to that is no. Swedenborg did not draw any teaching or doctrine from any spirit or angel, but his internal vision was opened by the Lord alone:

      "That the Lord manifested Himself before me His servant, and sent me to this office, and that He afterward opened the sight of my spirit, and so has admitted me into the spiritual world, and has granted to me to see the heavens and the hells, also to converse with angels and spirits, and this now continuously for many years, I testify in truth; likewise, that from the first day of that call I have not received any thing which pertains to the doctrines of that church from any angel, but from the Lord alone while I read the Word." (True Christian Religion, n. 779)

      So what is the issue here? The issue here is that the revelation given to Swedenborg is a threat to the 16th century theology of the Protestants, which misinterpret the writings of Paul who spoke of the works of the Mosaic rituals. Those who separate faith from charity state that salvation cannot be earned by any works of charity. The teaching thus promotes the idea that it does not matter how one lives, but it only matters how one believes. This is the theology your video is promoting. It is based on the idea of "vicarious atonement" - which states that the punishment of sin was transferred to Jesus on the cross, satisfying God's "anger." This is the teaching of the Protestants, which they inherited from the Catholics. It is not the teaching of the Orthodox Church. Jesus saved humanity by conquering all of sin and hell in his human, making his human Divine and one with the Father. Sins are not automatically "transferred" through belief alone. Salvation comes through Jesus only through repentance, which is to repent of any sin done against the 10 commandments (see Matt. 5:19, 16:27, 19:17, John 14:15,21)

      And yet your video, which probably represents your teaching, is that the 10 commandments are unnecessary. This despite the fact that Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord, and then to love the neighbour (Matt. 22:37-40). And if one examines the 10 commandments, the first table is related to love of the Lord, the second table to love of the neighbour. By works here we are not talking about self-meritorious works, nor works of Jewish rituals, but works done out of love for others and the Lord. For this can only happen through God's spirit in our heart.

      The False Theological Definition of the word "Grace"

      What is Blood Atonement or Vicarious Atonement?

      The Error of Vicarious Atonement

      Also take a look at the theology of "Christus Victor."

    2. For an examination on whether or not Swedenborg was a "spiritualist" or "occultist" as some claim, see a discussion on the gifts of the Holy Spirit vs. spiritualism, and how to know the difference here: Was Emanuel Swedenborg a Spiritualist or Occultist?

  12. Since publishing 'Ordained - a novel,' the story of my ordination experience in the New Church (Bryn Athyn), helpful people have been sharing links with me that discuss the problematic aspects of the NC.

    Needless to say my book is full of 'problematic aspects...' But I was lucky. I came across Swedenborg from a background that did not include religion, I went through theological school without a deep commitment, and so the indoctrination never set. Now it's no surprise to find stories of people who had their own problems with the Swedenborgian communities.

    I won't repeat what's already written in the novel. This particular blog writer seems to think that the cult accusation refers to books and theology. When it of course refers to people and their behavior, as Mary Thompson eloquently points out on Coleman Glenn's blog patheos.com. I have to say I'm scratching my head about the ministerial response of Coleman Glenn, Doug Webber and Derrick, as well as Jeremy Simons on a recent 2015 Facebook thread. They are like people standing ankle deep in mud and loudly proclaiming that there is no mud. Why is it so hard to just look down and around and acknowledge, yes, there seems to be a bit of mud here, about 8 inches of it?

    Mary Thompson wrote: "It’s time to ask ALL the questions."

    Yes, but that's not allowed. I am an ordained New Church minister, got fired in 2013, and I can say this without any doubts: it is not allowed. It wasn't allowed in theological school, and it wasn't allowed in the community of people that call themselves New Church. There was an internal no-no. That's what makes it a cult.

    I could write so much more, but it feels useless here. Anyway, the book 'Ordained' already contains that story. It's available from Amazon. Info on my website: https://muires.wordpress.com/

    The direct Amazon link is: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1517335922?ref_=cm_rdp_product

    1. Hello Stephen - just one point here, I am not a minister of the New Church, and grew up outside of it and had a short background attending Protestant churches. Mary Thompson may have a point and it looks like a problem that should be addressed. Whenever humans are involved, there will be mud, and it is good to bring it out in the open. The problem I perhaps see with the New Church is that is has become too insular or "boxed in." So this is one of the reasons for this blog, because the principles revealed are too extraordinary to be ignored. As I am not officially part of any ecclesiastical governance I can sort of say whatever I want in this blog, but I am always open for corrections.

      The principles of the New Church state that all true religion must be born in freedom, and the New Church encourages rational thought in matters of spiritual revelation, something that was not previously permitted in former Christian churches. While that is the principle, actual manifestations may not follow that in practice.

      The bigger problem I see, is that in the majority of churches the divisions of God into three has destroyed true spirituality, and has led to secular naturalism in the West. Justification by faith alone has led people to believe one way and yet live in another way. It is more important to expose the falsehoods of the older churches which affect many more people in how they live, for in the west it has all become a matter of living for money and nothing more.

  13. Sounds like there is a lot of fudge factoring in the explanations. Because one person in their blog states something, he does not speak for all of Protestant Theology. The examples cited and the explanations for many of the items listed are simply not ture about Protetestism in the first place. Secondly, how is Swedenborism differ from Universalism? The issue I had with the response is here: All religions lead to God (pluralism!)

    Yes and no. First, it must be understood that Jesus Christ is the Divine Truth in human form. There are many other religions that contains aspects of this Divine Truth; followers just do not know God has appeared in human form. Another way said: there are many truths that lead to God, but among all religions there is one Love. Loving others is what makes all religions common" This is not true...Jesus said, 'the second one is LIKE IT..the first is to Love the LORD YOUR GOD with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. How can they who love not the LORD with all they are, 'you must be born again'..love others 'like it'? It's impossible. But will mention something that is not mentioned, The Faith itself. I do get what is written here and can 'somewhat' agree with several of the arguments which is why I don't see anything gained ANYWHERE (though I highly reject Catholicism)...how does one have The Faith? It is by FAITH we are saved and not by works. What Faith is That? The one given of God, that is the self same Faith of Abraham , Isaac, and Jacob...muslims include Ishmael...and Jesus stated: Abraham waited to See My Day, he Saw it and was Glad'...and how is then that David Spoke to The LORD if the LORD would be his son? The Faith is that of God which is in His Christ. The issue with the works I see it as what Jesus was saying (and Paul) is that 'the works' are a naturally produced by those who remain in the Vine..even said Jesus: "if you give one of these little ones even a glass of water IN MY NAME you will not lose your reward"...that is the point I think he is making...actually, I think the reasons to justify 'Swedenborgism' gave me more reasons to run in the other direction. In the End.. "And this is Eternal Life, they they Know you Father, And Jesus Christ Whom you have Sent" -- that he was very intelligent and a high IQ is not a qualifier, and might actually be a problem...oh well..back to the drawing board. As for the TRINITY....The SOn was with The Father in the BEGINNING AS WAS the Holy Spirit..yet I see this right here which is not true: " There is no reference to a "third person" in the Bible. In fact, this "third person" never appears. The Holy Spirit is that which proceeds as spirit from the body of Jesus Christ. That is why it is said "the Holy Spirit was not yet, for Jesus was not glorified". That is not what it says: It says the Spirit had not be GIVEN for Christ had not yet been glorified".

    1. Well first, Universalism is the belief that all will eventually be saved and go to heaven, which is not what the revelations of the New Church states - they confirm that there is indeed a heaven and hell, and all humanity is destined to one of those two places based on how they live their life.

      As for other religions, simply read the post What did Jesus say about other Religions?. The debate is not new. At the time the Jews thought they were "superior" to everyone else and condemned all Gentiles and looked down upon them. Bottom line: God cares more about how your live your life.

      There is, however, a big difference between those who do good out of ignorance and those who do good knowing the truth. The worse lot is for those who know the truth and yet live an evil life. There are also distinguishing factors depending on one's intention: some do good for sake of appearance, some do good for the sake of loving others, and some do good for the sake of Good itself, or the Lord.

      There was, indeed, the Divine God Man before the incarnation. His incarnate form in the physical is known as the Son, which did not exist until conceived by the Holy Spirit. This is declared in the gospel of Luke.

      As for John 7:39, the word "given" is added by the translators. The principle here is that Jesus needed to make His human form Divine, and once that was done the Holy Spirit could flow from Him to all mankind. This was needed as contact had been broken off between angels and men, thus His coming was necessary.

      There is of course different opinions among Protestants, so the point I argue against is that man on his part is supposed to do nothing, or that any good work somehow comes with no effort. In the New Church, there is clear theology on ones intellectual and one's will. One is first introduced into spirituality by knowledge planted in the intellect, living by that is faith, and that eventually leads to a life of love in the will. There is clearly a "covenant" relationship, where man must do his part and God will do His.

  14. What this comes down to, is whether or not Swedenborg was lying. From everything I've read so far, it doesn't seem like he was lying. But, I think it is wrong to label this as the "New Church" That sounds very culty. I don't know if you've read the Great Divorce but C.S. Lewis kind of touches on this in a conversation he has with George Maconald in the book where we aren't supposed act like this is something that all humans don't know in their hearts. If this is true, and Swedenborg would probably agree, the worst thing we could do is call this Swedenborgism or other labels.

    1. the New Church label is very generic, and I prefer it to "Swedenbogism" which I think ties it to the person. A cult tends to be personality centric, and we should keep in mind that Swedenborg published his works anonymously, and at the time hoped that existing ministers in their churches would just study the writings. And in fact, this does happen, especially among Oneness Pentecostal ministers.

      Also if one reads the spiritual interpretation of the Apocalypse, the letters to the seven churches is an invitation to all churches of all beliefs to come to the New church. It does not have to be a new denomination.

      The main error is the older Christian churches have moved away from one God to the worship of three, and have moved away from repentance in the life to mere belief. Thus in the old church nothing of truth remains in their doctrines, they are Christian in name only.


Comments, questions, corrections and opinions welcome...