Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Fallacy of Salvation and Justification by Faith Alone

The Protestant Reformation was a major event that exposed and rejected many errors of the Roman Catholic Church, and restored scripture as the authority of God's Word.  However in the process it adopted an error of doctrine that became a foundation of doctrine for that branch of Christianity: that man is justified and saved by faith alone, and in regards to works man can do nothing.  The Roman Catholic Church has pointed out this error multiple times, but Protestants tend to not listen to the Roman Catholic Church due to their other errors.  However, on this issue the Orthodox Church has pointed out the error of the Protestants as well (see How are we Saved?). This goes to show the teaching began in the 16th century, and was not part of the original Christian faith.

This is an error that many Protestants fail to see, as most who grow up in a religion cannot see the errors of their own religion.  Very few question the religion they grew up with.  When one has accepted a certain false doctrine as true, certain "blinders" go up in the mind so that when a contradictory passage is seen that goes against the doctrine, the passage is ignored, or certain false word definitions are used.

Since personally I was introduced to Christianity through the Protestant faith this is what I was taught, but only when I investigated Christianity in an objective manner was I able to see the error.  Thus I am quite familiar with the arguments on both sides of the fence, and I know how easy it is to use scripture to support the Protestant doctrine.  Within most every religion there are errors, and one can only see them when one decides to rationally investigate them instead of accepting truth on the basis of authority.

So how do Protestant or Reformed churches support their doctrine?  There are several foundational pillars by which salvation or justification by faith alone is taught:

1.  Primacy of the letters of Paul over the gospels of Jesus.
2.  Defining the word faith as "belief" instead of the original meaning, which is "living by the truth."
3.  A misinterpretation of "works of the law" in the letters of Paul.
4.  Man has freedom of thought, but in regards to action has a passive will.

So let us go through each of these pillars of faith one by one.


Protestant ministers and theologians will probably never publicly admit that they consider the letters of Paul as primary for teaching doctrines of faith over that of the gospels, but in practice this is true.  Perhaps 90% of all sermons will be given from the letters of Paul, more rarely the gospels, and for the most part the Old Testament is ignored entirely.  This is because there are large sections of scripture which goes against the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, which is the foundation of Protestant doctrine.

But what did Jesus say on this issue?  The fact of the matter is, Jesus condemned religion of faith alone or one of belief only, and he spoke against it in the harshest of terms.  These are the few passages where we see Jesus actually getting angry with the false religious teachers, and it is one of the reasons why the Jewish Pharisees absolutely hated him.  This is readily apparent in several passages, as follows:
1. Those who break the least of the commandments and so teach others will be LEAST in the kingdom of heaven. But those who DO AND TEACH the commandments, will be GREAT in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:19) 
2. Not everyone who believes and pays lip service will go to heaven, but those who do the will of the Father will go to heaven. Those who hear the Word, and do not do them, are foolish (Matt. 7:21-27). 
3. Jesus condemned the scribes and the Pharisees for teaching the law but not doing it.  Jesus called them blind and foolish, and stated they would not escape the damnation of hell (Matt. 23:3, 19, 23, 33). 
4. Those who believed the Lord and paid Him lip service, but did no act of love in their life, were condemned to hell (Matt. 25:31-46) 
5. Only those who DO THE WILL of his Father does Jesus consider his family or brethren (Mark 3:31-35, Luke 8:21). 
6. Jesus condemned the Jews for just paying lip service and following traditions of men, rather than doing God's commandments (Mark 7:6-9) 
7. Jesus asks, "Why do you call me Lord, and do not do the things I say?" (Luke 6:46) 
8. Only those who hear the Word and do it are those who bear fruit (Luke 8:15) 
9. The parable of the Good Samaritan shows doing the will of God has priority over religious belief. The Samaritans have different religious beliefs than the Jews (Luke 10:30-37) 
10. "blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it" (Luke 11:27-28) 
11. Those who heard the teaching, but continued in their sin, could not enter heaven (Luke 13:23-27) 
12. "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15, also 14:21, 15:10)


So given the above passages where Jesus condemns belief alone, how do Protestant ministers and theologians get around it?  They will quote other passages where Jesus talks about faith.  However this is where the biggest misunderstanding of Christianity has come: in the English language, faith has been taken to mean mere belief that something is true, and from that most people think if they merely believe in a certain way they will be saved.  To support this, they will mention such passages as the following:

"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16)

However the Greek word can also be translated as having faith, like this:

"Whoever has faith and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not have faith will be condemned." (Mark 16:16)

In other words, mere belief that something is true does not save, but rather living by that truth is what saves.  That this is so, one has to pay attention to the other passages of scripture.  In ancient times, if one believed what someone said was true, but did nothing according to that truth, this meant that one did not really believe it since they did not commit to any action based on that truth.  Thus one cannot simply believe what Jesus said is true, and yet follow an evil life that has nothing to do with what Jesus said.  The problem here is the same Greek word is variously translated as "belief" or "faith."  Because of this, it is a common misconception among many that religion consists of belief alone without regard to one's life, which is not what scripture teaches.

So, how do we know the correct definition?  We simply look at the Hebrew scripture where it is said "the just shall live by faith" (Hab. 2:4) which Paul quotes and makes the foundation of his argument (see Rom. 1:17, Gal. 3:11, Heb. 10:38).  The Hebrew word for faith is 'emuwnah, which is ultimately derived from "Amen" which means "so be it" or "let it be true."  Truth must be conjoined with good, and that this is so is from the word "just" which can also be translated as "righteous" - which is to do what is good.  So the passage is saying, those who do good will have eternal life by living by the truth.  Action must be guided by truth, and knowing the truth is merely a first step. But according to Jesus, those who know the truth, and do not do according to it, are foolish and will be severely condemned, perhaps more so than those who are in simple ignorance.

It should be noted, that even in the first century there was a strong debate between the apostle Paul and James, the half brother of Jesus, over the matter of what "faith" really meant (see Rom. 4:3, which is countered by James in James 2:23). For an interesting theory that this debate is mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls, see Christus Victor, Pauline Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls.  In the New Church, faith and belief is a required first step in spiritual development, but it must be conjoined with a life according to it.  The first act of belief is repentance from sin, that is, reforming one's life.  Although truth or faith is first in time, a life of love is first in end: in the New Church, love is primary, it is a life of love which saves, not mere belief.  To come to a correct understanding one must take all passages of scripture in context.


The next pillar of Protestant doctrine are the many instances in which Paul mentions "works" or "works of the law" in his letters.  The Protestant reformers took this to mean works of charity, or any active form of faith.  However historical research within Protestant theological circles has conclusively shown that this is not correct - see A New Perspective on Paul and the New Church Perspective on Paul.  This has caused some - not all - to reexamine their theology.

The problem here, is that the apostle Paul used the word "works" in three different contexts. Since he uses the same word "works" in different contexts, it has led to endless debates.  In the letters of Paul, the word "works" has the following three different meanings:

1. The word "works" is used to refer to the external Mosaic rituals of the Jewish law, which were abrogated when they were fulfilled by the coming of the Lord. Paul most often refers to the rite of circumcision, animal sacrifices, dietary laws, and Jewish feast days.
2. The word "works" is used for self-meritorious works, or things done for the sake of selfish gain.
3. The word "works" is used for works of charity, acts of love, acts of repentance, or things done out of faith.

So here is the problem: most Protestant theologians may be aware of the first two definitions, but are unaware or ignore the third in their theology.  To cover all of this I will simply enumerate the instances where Paul mentions works (also translated as "deeds") for each of the three definitions:

1. Works are the external rituals of the Mosaic law: Rom. 3:20, 3:27-28, 4:2, 4:6, 9:11, 9:32, 11:6; Gal. 2:16, 3:2, 3:5, 3:10; Eph. 2:9; Heb. 6:1, 9:14
2. Works are self meritorious works, done for sake of self: 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 3:5. 
3. Works are works of charity, or acts of faith, or acts of repentance, or acts of evil, by which all will be judged: Rom. 2:6, 2:15, 13:3, 13:12, 15:18; 1 Cor. 3:13-15, 5:2; 2 Cor. 9:8, 11:15; Gal. 5:19, 6:2-8; Eph. 2:10, 5:11; Col. 1:10, 1:21, 3:17; 1 Thes. 1:3; 2 Thes. 2:17; 1 Tim. 2:10, 3:1; 5:10, 5:25, 6:18; 2 Tim. 2:21, 3:17, 4:14, 4:18; Tit. 1:16, 2:7, 2:14, 3:1, 3:8, 3:14; Heb. 6:10, 10:24, 13:21

Protestants will use verses in context #1 to support their theology, often also thinking that Paul was talking of works in context #3.  It is very subtle.  One can see how Paul switches context, sometimes in one sentence to the next (see especially Eph 2:9-10, Tit. 3:5,8).  This caused utter confusion in the mind of James and other early Christians - even Peter admitted this (see 2 Pet. 3:15-16).  If one is unaware of the context, one can be easily misled by the writings of Paul.  That works of charity are necessary for salvation (context #3) one can also prove by looking up the same word in the gospels.


Obviously Protestants cannot completely ignore context #3 in the writings of Paul.  So how do they get around it, to support the idea that faith is mere belief, and that one is saved by faith alone?  For this, they state each person as to their works really does nothing, but the Holy Spirit given by God does it.  Each person of himself does nothing.  In other words, while we have freedom of thought, we do not have freedom of will.  We have a "passive will."  But this is simply not true, we have freedom in both thought and will.  There is a reason why a body is attached to our brain, and we are not mere statues.  In Protestant theology, good works are seen as mere evidence of the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, but does not play a role in regard to salvation.  It is a mere "byproduct" of passive belief.

This theological theory is not only false, it is logically incoherent.  For scripture teaches we will be judged by out works (see Matt. 16:27, Rom. 2:6, and others).  If we are responsible for what we do, we have freedom in terms of our will.  It is true that only God is good, and all good comes from Him alone.  But our will must submit to God's commandments by obedience and a living active faith.

In New Church theology, each person plays an active role in their spiritual development, in both thought and deed.  This is described as a "covenant" - inasmuch as each person approaches God, God will fill that person with His Holy Spirit.  As God changes us within, He forms within us a new will and understanding to do that which is good according to the truth.  As we do good according to the truth, by faith we should acknowledge that all good and truth comes from God alone.  But it takes our active participation to live a full spiritual life. This active participation in word and deed is what is known as "fruits of the Spirit."  But it takes place in an active will, not a passive one, and the first spiritual act of the will is that of repentance, which is to turn away from evil.  A passive will does not do anything, just as a dead tree cannot bear any fruit.

Good and truth are spiritual in origin, and ultimately originate from the Lord alone.  To be spiritual, one must have spiritual communion with heaven.  At the time of Jesus this spiritual communion was threatened to be cut off by the rise in the power of hell over humanity, thus it was necessary for Jehovah to become incarnate to fight against the hells through his human form.  But this does not remove any responsibility on our part: to be spiritual, to enter into communion with the Lord, one must follow the commandments.


To conclude, I will simply quote from Swedenborg:
"That it may not lie hid from any one how the case is with the salvation of men after their decease, it is to be briefly told. There are many who say that a man is saved by faith, or, in their words, if he only has faith; but for the most part they are those who do not know what faith is. Some think that it is mere thought, some that it is an acknowledgment of something to be believed; some think that it is the whole doctrine of faith, which is to be believed, and others think variously. Thus in the bare conception of what faith is, they wander in error; and so of course, in regard to the means by which a man is saved. But indeed faith is not mere thought, nor is it an acknowledgment of something to be believed, nor a knowledge of all things which belong to the doctrine of faith. By these no one can be saved; for they cannot send a root down deeper than into the thought. Thought saves no one; but it is the life which he procured to himself in the world, by means of the knowledges of faith. This life remains; but all thought which does not comport with his life perishes, even to becoming none at all. Consociations in heaven are according to lives; and by no means according to thoughts which are not of the life. Thoughts which are not of the life are mere pretences, which are altogether rejected.
"In general, life is twofold; on the one hand infernal, on the other heavenly. Infernal life is from all the ends, thoughts, and works which flow from the love of self, consequently from hatred against the neighbor; heavenly life, from all the ends, thoughts, and works which are of love toward the neighbor. The latter is the life to which all things that are called faith have regard, and which is procured by all things of faith. From this it may be evident what faith is, namely, that it is charity; for, to charity all things lead which are called the doctrines of faith; in it they are all contained, and from it they are all derived. The soul, after the life of the body, is such as its love is." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2228.2-3)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The True Origin of the Angels and the Fall of Satan

There is a popular tradition that before the creation of Adam, or at the time of his creation, Satan and a third of the angels rebelled against God and were cast out of heaven.  It is thought by some that this is described in the 12th chapter of the book of Revelation, in which the dragon and his angels are cast out of heaven.  However this interpretation is problematic, as the book of Revelation concerns the final state of the Christian church, not the past.  Many will be surprised to learn that the story of the 'Fall of Satan" or Lucifer does not come from the Bible, but from traditions built over time.  It is nowhere mentioned in scripture.  The closest we get in Jewish tradition is from the apocryphal book of Enoch which was written some time in the 3rd or 2nd century B.C., which discusses a fall of the angels known as "sons of God" in antediluvian times, who mated with women and produced giants (see Gen. 6:1-4).  The book was never made part of scripture, and the notion that angels have actual physical bodies was rejected by Jewish rabbis in the 1st or 2nd century A.D.  This "fall of the angels" is different, as it does not include an individual Devil or Satan and occurred after the time of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

So where does the story of the fall of Lucifer come from?  One theory is it actually comes from an early church father Origen who lived in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D.  From Fallen Angel:
The fall of Lucifer finds its earliest identification with a fallen angel in Origen, based on an interpretation of Isaiah 14:1–17, which describes a king of Babylon as a fallen morning star (in Hebrew, הילל ). When this description was mis-interpreted as regarding an angel, not a human king, the image of the fallen morning star or angel was applied to Satan both in Jewish pseudepigrapha and by early Christian writers, following the transfer of the Lucifer myth to Satan in the pre-Christian century. Origen and other Christian writers linked the fallen morning star of Isaiah 14:12 to Jesus' statement in Luke 10:18, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven" and to the mention of a fall of Satan in Revelation 12:8–9. In Latin-speaking Christianity, the Latin word lucifer, employed in the late 4th-century AD Vulgate to translate הילל, gave rise to the name "Lucifer" for the person believed to be referred to in the text. Orthodox Judaism does not believe the name Lucifer is a reference to Satan but rather the text in chapter four indicates that it is a literal taunt against the King of Babylon. 
So from there, the "fall of Lucifer" then enters into Christian tradition, some extending it to a prophecy of the king of Tyre (see Eze. 28:13-14).  However there is a slightly older tradition from the Slavonic book of Enoch, sometimes known as 2 Enoch, which was written in the 1st century A.D.  In it, Enoch is taken up into heaven and God tests the angels by having them bow down before Enoch.  A group of angels, under the leadership of "Satanail" refuse and are then imprisoned until they obey.  Even before this, there is an ancient religious teaching of the Yazidi religion, in which one of the seven primary angels, Melek Taus, refuses to bow down to Adam and for that is rewarded by God.  He is also called "Shaytan," and thus Muslims have confused Melek Taus with Satan.  From there, a similar story found its way into the Quran in Islam, in which it is Satan himself who refuses to bow down to Adam.

So, the tradition has a convoluted history.  Was there any fall of a primary Devil or Satan?  Swedenborg wondered about this, and in the revelations he received from heaven he was told it was not true - all angels and demons originate 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." (Heaven and Hell, n. 311, see also Origin of the Angels)
So the tradition of the fall of Satan and his angels is just that - a tradition - and it happens to not be true, or at best, a useful metaphor.  Not only that, but there is no such thing as an individual Devil or Satan, but rather these are terms of symbolic personifications of hell in general.  Thus the "fall of Satan" happens when each person of their own free will turns and rebels against God and His commandments.  The serpent in the Garden of Eden is a symbolic representation of how the ancient race of Adam fell, when they were tempted to regard themselves as gods.

After death, each individual is destined to become an angel or demon in heaven and hell, according to their own free will.  At times, angels manifest themselves when we come close to life or death.  Here is a remarkable documentary concerning a group of children who were saved by their guardian angels:

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Dream and Parable of the Mustard Seed

Dreams often come to give warnings of the future, and warnings about our health.  In the last month or so I had one dream in which I saw my car, dead stopped in the road where the front tires were turned to the left.  I was looking at the front right tire, and the focus of the attention was on the front axle for the tires which was angled to the left.  It was a definite warning, and as the tire tread was low I had all four tires replaced, hoping to prevent any fulfillment of the dream.

Before this, I had the battery replaced, and little did I know the technician did not wire the car battery properly.  So, despite my precaution, as I was driving the car, the wire to the battery short circuited and melted, and in an instant my car went completely dead while I was on the road.  I could not signal other cars, and the only safe way out was to the left.  I quickly made a hard left - and it was not easy as the power steering had gone out as well.  I was lucky as this was on the side road and not on the freeway.  Just as the dream showed the car in a position of turning left, so I had to make a hard left in order to put the car in relative safety.


As dreams will sometimes contain warnings of the future, dreams will often tell us something about our health, and give very unique information on the problem.  A friend of mine is involved in dream interpretation, and he has relayed to me many instances where dreams give unique health information.  In this particular dream I had this week, I saw a weed in a yard and I decided to yank it out.  I pull it out, but it has a very long root which leads to another weed which is much larger.  I yank that out, and part of the plant comes out with it, and underneath was revealed very yellow mustard seeds, but in the shape of pumpkin seeds.  The weed is in my hand but very much alive, moving around like a vine.  The mustard seed weed then tries to move itself to a woman I know; it was attracted to her.  The thought then came to me, "She needs to eat mustard seeds."

So later, I told her about the dream, and said she should probably eat mustard seeds for any health issues she may have.  She has two in particular:
1.  She is anemic and has trouble breathing at times, and has had an allergic reaction to iron pill supplements, and,
2.  She has a sinus infection; the cold has been going for months despite antibiotics.
I knew nothing about mustard seeds at the time.  Just as in the dream, mustard plants are a prolific weed and it is very hard to eradicate them.  So what about health benefits?  I looked at Mustard Seed Nutrition Facts, and found the following uses of mustard seeds:
  1. The seeds make an excellent remedy for treating congestion of the head or lungs by drawing blood to the lower part of the body; thus relieving.
  2. They are extremely beneficial in curing pneumonia, bronchitis, and other respiratory complaints. By making a poultice of ground mustard and applying directly to the chest and throat, this remedy alleviates all respiratory problems.
  1. Being great sources of power and bioenergy, mustard seeds boost the immune system and fight against anemia. They also help treat medical conditions, such as anxiety, psychological disorders, effects of stress and depression, bronchitis, sexual dysfunctions and symptoms of menopause.
There are other benefits as well, I just mentioned the ones that are relevant.  This goes to not only show that dreams can be useful to one's health, but also that there are many natural healing properties of plants.  While the west has placed emphasis on pharmaceutical drugs, in more ancient cultures this was not the case.  Moreover scripture confirms that for every illness, God has created a plant to cure it.  This is seen in the description of the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation:
Through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Rev. 22:2)
While that is the meaning in the literal sense, in the spiritual sense the leaves of the tree are the truths of the New Church; the nations are evils from which we suffer; and for each evil there is a truth to fight against its falsehood to have it removed.  Even in the gospels, there is a connection between one's physical illness and one's spiritual sin.  Science has uncovered some of the truth of this, and has labeled these as "psychosomatic" illnesses - for the mind has power over the body.  As we think, so we are.  This is why the only way to be liberated from sin is through Divine truth.


The mustard seed is mentioned in the gospels in the Parable of the Mustard Seed.  The mustard seed is probably the black mustard seed, which grows to a very large plant in the Middle East.  It is an odd parable which at first does not seem to mean any thing:
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.  It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is greater than all the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” (Matt. 13:31-32)
So, what does this mean?  In a general sense, most can point out that a small amount of faith put into practice will grow into a life of eternity in heaven.  However, what many do not know is that every single word in scripture has spiritual significance.  Biblical literalists completely miss this, and skip over the details thinking they are merely "figures of speech."  As with many other scriptural passages, Swedenborg was given the spiritual meaning of the Parable of the Mustard Seed in the revelations of the New Church:
"The kingdom of the heavens is like unto a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; which indeed is less than all seeds, but when it is grown it is greater than all herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the heaven come and make their nests in the branches thereof (Matt. xiii. 31, 32). The grain of mustard seed is the good of man before he becomes spiritual; which is the least of all seeds, because he thinks that he does good from himself. What is from himself is nothing but evil; but, as he is in a state of regeneration, there is something of good, yet the least of all. Afterward as faith is being conjoined to love it becomes greater, and an herb. At last when it is conjoined it becometh a tree; and then the birds of the heavens — which here also are truths, or things of the understanding — make their nests in its branches, which are knowledges." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 55.3-4)
Thus the growth of a tree from a small seed represents the growth and development of each person into a spiritual angelic being.  The seed is the initial truth of faith planted in the mind.  In one's initial state, one thinks that all that one does and thinks is from one's self.  In the revelations of the New Church, it is revealed that what we regard as the "self" or "ego" is nothing but an illusion, and that nothing but evil comes from our own ego.  Rather good and truth come about in us through conjunction with the Lord.  When we start to live by the truth, the seed becomes an herb.  In the next stage, love and truth become inverted where love becomes primary, and truth secondary, and this is represented by a tree bearing fruit.  From love one automatically knows the truth, and this is represented by birds nesting in the branched of the tree.  In the spiritual sense, birds are not birds but rational truths, and one's rational rests upon one's knowledge, represented by the bird's nest.

Thus when the truth is explained to others, each idea of truth becomes a seed planted in the mind, with the potential to grow and change things for the future:

Sunday, December 6, 2015

CIA Mind Control Over American and Foreign Media

There are many Americans who are under the illusion that we have a free press, and that we have freedom of information.  They think this is true because all Americans are taught that Freedom of the Press is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  Thus sometimes I cover certain topics, and the argument against it is sometimes, "Surely this will be all over the media."  This is simply not true.  Major media corporations are under the control of large corporations.  Media serves for entertainment, and thus helps in brainwashing people to constantly buy things to support a consumer economy.  Thus materialism is valued over spirituality.  But here is one thing many people do not know: the CIA has well placed assets within major media corporations.

Thus we should be wary in accepting what the government says, or what the media says, as an "absolute source of truth."  This is a logical fallacy: it is called Argument from Authority.  This logical fallacy is not only used by the media as a means of brainwashing, but it is also the means used in religion to keep the minds of the people under control.  It is a method that is as old as Babylon.  It affects the way we think about government, and the way we think about religion.  It effectively places our minds in a prison.

In the 1950s, certain events began taking place and the U.S. government and military wanted to keep them hidden from the public.  This led to the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA).  Nominally they are only supposed to act against foreign countries, but that is also simply not true.  In the 1950s, the CIA decided to take control over the media and the free press.  This is known as Operation Mockingbird:
Operation Mockingbird is a secret campaign by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to influence media. Begun in the 1950s, it was initially organized by Cord Meyer and Allen W. Dulles, and was later led by Frank Wisner after Dulles became the head of the CIA. The organization recruited leading American journalists into a network to help present the CIA's views, and funded some student and cultural organizations, and magazines as fronts. As it developed, it also worked to influence foreign media and political campaigns, in addition to activities by other operating units of the CIA.
So how do they do this?  They place key operatives in each media corporation, or simply just bribe journalists.  Does it still happen?  Yes it does.  From German Journalist Blows Whistle On How The CIA Controls The Media:
“I was bribed by billionaires, I was bribed by the Americans to report…not exactly the truth.”

- Udo Ulfkotte, a former editor of one of Germany’s main daily publications, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Key people were recruited to work unofficially for the CIA, beginning in the 1950s:
In 1948, Frank Wisner was appointed director of the Office of Special Projects (OSP). Soon afterwards, OSP was renamed the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), which became the CIA's covert action branch. Wisner was told to create an organization that concentrated on "propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world". Later that year, Wisner established Mockingbird, a program to influence foreign media. Wisner recruited Philip Graham from The Washington Post to run the project within the industry. According to Deborah Davis in Katharine the Great, "By the early 1950s, Wisner 'owned' respected members of The New York TimesNewsweekCBS and other communications vehicles."
So how does this affect the way we think?  In many ways.  The media will want to do the following:
1. To trust the financial system without question, and prevent proper oversight of world finance.
2. To increase monetary profits for corporations, and prevent corporate oversight.
3. To support U.S. sponsored wars without question.
4. To create a fear of enemies, such as terrorists, in order to justify wars and implement laws for population control.
5. To have unquestioned support for the State of Israel, and to completely blackout the genocide they commit against native Palestinians.
6. To completely blackout any objective reporting on UFO sightings, and make it an object of ridicule.
7. To create hatred against Islam and Muslims, in order to implement political control over the resources of the Middle East.
The list goes on and on.  It is a documented fact: for important topics we do not have a free press.  The internet has begun to break this control, as well as smaller independent organizations. Note that television has the potential to become a very useful educational tool.  And yet it is filled with absolute junk.  Whether we like it or not, humans are suggestible, and few question what they are told unless they educate themselves.  The methods are simple: control the agenda, control the questions and answers, and when necessary, keep repeating a lie over and over until people believe it.


Spiritual and personal power comes from the power of truth.  In the revelations of the New Church, this is repeated over and over, for there are two aspects of the Divine: Divine love and Divine truth. It is through Divine truth, knowing, learning, and living it, that one's personal faults and sins become exposed. When truth is perverted and mixed with falsehood, this is known as spiritual profanation.  It destroys the power of truth.  When people use the truth for their own selfish purposes, that again becomes a profanation of the truth.

In ancient times, some of these methods of mind control were well known, and became secret arts of the priesthood and false prophets to control and manipulate people.  In the revelations of the New Church, there is something that is a surprise to many: these methods of mind control and propaganda is called witchcraft, enchantments and sorcery.  In the dark ages, and in modern times, the definitions of these words has been perverted to such an extent, that sometimes an actual spiritual gift is labelled as "witchcraft."  But that is not the meaning of the word.  It is a form of perverting the truth.  In the book of Exodus, there is this following commandment:
You shall not permit a sorceress to live (Ex. 22:18).
This is seen by many as primitive and out of date, and was perhaps used in the Dark Ages for witch hunts.  But that is not the meaning of the word.  It is for those who pervert the truth with falsehood, and then teach and manipulate others by perverting the truth.  Swedenborg, who is focused on the spiritual side of things, always relates his statements to the church, but in reality it is applicable to everyday life, even to those outside the church:
"A sorceress" signifies those in whom something of the church is conjoined to the falsities of the evil of self-love; "thou shalt not cause to live" signifies the deprivation of spiritual life. (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9187)
Thus in the spiritual church this commandment is no longer a justification for the death penalty, but rather in the spiritual sense it means those who engage in such activities will lose something in their spiritual life.  For spiritual life is dependent on good and truth.  When one perverts the truth towards falsehood, it becomes a justification for evil.  So methods of propaganda and mind control fall under this commandment.  It is a universal spiritual law:
"A sorceress. That this signifies those in whom something of the church is conjoined to the falsities of the evil of self-love, is evident from the signification of sorcery, as the falsities of the evil of self-love conjoined with such things as are of the church. There are two things which make heaven and thus spiritual life with man, truth of faith in the Lord and good of love to Him. And there are two things which make hell and thus spiritual death with man, the falsity of faith and the evil of self-love. The two latter are conjoined in those who are in hell, and make the infernal marriage; but the two former are conjoined in those who are in heaven, and make the heavenly marriage." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9188)
Some may wonder, why are women targeted in this commandment?  In the spiritual sense, women and the female sex represent affections of the will, the emotional side.  Men and the male sex represent the truth, the intellectual side.  Together they make a marriage, for love and truth must be conjoined.  When the truth is perverted, one can engender hatred and fear in the will.  They way "sorcery" works is to repeat a statement over and over and over, until someone takes it to mind and commits to a course of action.  When looked at objectively, it can be completely illogical.  When the truth is perverted, this logical side of things is disabled, and one can get people to do very evil things.  As religion in itself is persuasive, thus religious brainwashing can cause people to commit very stupid terrorist acts.

The other reason why women are targeted in this, is that many women use it to control their husbands when they wish to dominate them.  They will suspend any discussion of what is true and false.  They then engage in repeating the same thing over and over, until consent is obtained and the course of action is committed.  It is something women do not wish men to know about.  It can be used for both good and evil, as wives are needed to moderate the men.

The persuasive power of perverted truth, combined with the desire for power, is what is known as sorcery:
"This conjunction it is which is signified in the internal sense by sorceries. The reason why these falsities are falsities of the evil of self-love, is, that all evil springs principally from that love, and falsity as well as evil, since they cohere together. Thus it is plain that in such persons there is no spiritual life, because it has been destroyed by falsities of evil; and so far as they have conjoined these falsities to truths, so much of spiritual life have they extinguished in themselves; and since instead of being alive they thus have become dead, it is said, Thou shalt not suffer them to live." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9188.2)
The Divine opinion on matters such as propaganda and media control, or using false religion, is not favorable:
"That sorceries or witchcrafts are such falsities, is also plain in Micah: I will cut off the cities of thy land, and will throw down all thy strongholds: I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand; and thou shalt have no more soothsayers (v. 11, 12) — where the cities of the land stand for the false doctrinals of their church, which are called witchcrafts, because they destroy the truths of faith. In Nahum: Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the well-favoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts (iii. 4) — where whoredoms are perversions of truth, and witchcrafts falsities therefrom." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9188.5)
So, from a heavenly perspective, the methods of the media for propaganda and mind control is known as a well favored harlot and whoredoms, which are "sold" to nations.  In the spiritual sense nations are those who are in good, thus the whoredoms in effect pervert even what is good in people, to get them to consent to evil.  Thus we can conclude:
"By sorcerers and enchantments in the Word, where they are mentioned, is signified the art of presenting falsities so that they appear as truths, and of presenting truths so that they appear as falsities, which is especially effected by fallacies." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 7297)
So beware of logical fallacies, such as argument of authority, and appeals to emotion and pride, especially those that engender fear and hatred.  Always check the facts, and ask if something you are told is true.  Avoid generalizations.  Educate yourselves to know the truth, for in truth there is power, and in ignorance there is evil.

Below is an old song, Video Killed the Radio Star by the Buggles.  If stars are knowledges of truth, and video is media propaganda, then it is quite relevant.  What prompted this blog post is I was talking to a repair man, who is from Palestine and his family is back there.  The State of Israel is committing genocide against them, and this is completely blacked out in American media.  Young people there are dying every day.  There is a motto from the Mossad, By way of deception you shall make war.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Symbolism of Animal Sacrifices and the Lamb of God

In certain passages of scripture, Jesus is declared to be the "lamb of God" (John 1:29, 36, 1 Pet. 1:19, Rev. 5:6). What is the symbolic meaning of this?  Some may guess it represents His humility and innocence, and they are very close to the truth, for each of the animals in scripture represents a different aspect of our humanity.  In general, in scripture animals are symbolic of affections of the will, while plants are representative of thoughts of the mind.  Under Moses animal sacrifices were instituted for the Jews, and each specific animal represented a different affection of the will.  To separate the blood from the animal, and to burn the flesh, in general is representative of separating oneself from one's lower natural desires, in order to preserve what is spiritual and holy represented by the blood.  This symbolism of animal sacrifices was explained in detail in revelations of the New Church. This was kept hidden from the Jews, who only followed the rituals given them without understanding them.  Christians know that animal sacrifices were representative of the sacrifice of Jesus, but most (not the Orthodox) have interpreted the Jewish rituals to support their doctrine of vicarious atonement (see What is Blood Atonement or Vicarious Atonement?).  So lets take a look at animal sacrifices, and why Jesus is called the lamb of God in the New Testament.


The Jewish religion, at least before the destruction of the temple by the Romans, was a representative worship where everything holy is in the rituals.  Animal sacrifices were given for three reasons:
1.  To adapt a religion to the understanding of the Jews, who could only have an external form of worship in visible rituals.  These rituals are symbolic.  It was also given to prevent human sacrifices.
2.  Animal sacrifices were given to symbolically represent the purification of evils from man.
3.  In the highest sense. they represent the glorification of the Lord's human, who united it to His Divinity and made it Divine.
The first reason is the most obvious and is the one known about by most Jews.  I remember talking to an animal rights activist, and she could not understand how the Old Testament could be the word of God since it condoned the sacrifice of animals.  However what most people do not understand is that religions come in phases, and are always adapted to the understanding of the people at the time.  If animal sacrifices were not given, they would have resorted to human sacrifices.  Yet they are not just haphazard laws: the rituals of animal sacrifices are highly symbolic, and made the Jews become a representation of the spiritual church that came after it.

The other reasons for animal sacrifices are hidden.  The regeneration of man (#2) and the union of the Divine with the Human in the Lord (#3) are actually closely related:
"That sacrifices and burnt offerings in the supreme sense signify the glorification of the Lord's Human, is because all the rituals of worship instituted with the Israelitish and Jewish nation regarded the Lord alone, and sacrifices and burnt offerings thus especially regarded Him, since by them in general was represented the all of worship, as has been shown above. Also the regeneration of man is from no other source than from the Lord (n. 9486, 9487, 9506, 9715, 9809, 10019); therefore where in the Word the regeneration of man is treated of, in the supreme sense the glorification of the Lord's Human is treated of; for the regeneration of man is an image of the glorification of the Lord (n. 3138, 3212, 3296, 3490, 4402, 5688). To glorify the Human is to make it Divine, but to regenerate man is to make him heavenly, that the Divine of the Lord may dwell in him." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 10042.6)
This is the difference between the New Church and the older Christian churches.  The older Christian churches have only a superficial understanding of the symbolism of animal sacrifices, and can't explain all the details of the Jewish rituals, nor the different animals.  Moreover, some of them will make use of animal sacrifices to support the doctrine of vicarious atonement.  In the revelations of the New Church, the symbolism of the animal sacrifices are shown to represent the purification from evils by repentance.  This is effected in each person by the Lord alone, who had made His human Divine.  For God is Very Man, and we are but his images, and His spirit pervades through all of humanity through the angels. Only God can do what is good and resist evil, and we conjoin ourselves to Him by following the commandments.


None of the Jewish laws are haphazard or insignificant.  Thus all the rituals, even the ones describes in the book of Leviticus, are symbolic of eternal and universal realities.  But to understand what each animal signifies in the human personality, one has to recognize that there are different spiritual and psychological levels to the human personality.  In each human, there are three levels, which are known as the celestial, spiritual and natural:
"There are three things with man which follow in successive order. These three are called the celestial, the spiritual, and the natural. The celestial is the good of love to the Lord, the spiritual is the good of charity toward the neighbor, and the natural thence is the good of faith, which, being from the spiritual, is called the spiritual natural. For with man it is as in the heavens: in the inmost heaven, which is also called the third, is the celestial, in the second or middle heaven is the spiritual, and in the first or outmost heaven is the natural therefrom, or the spiritual natural." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9992)
Science tends to only regard the lowest aspect of humanity, the external natural (the physical body), but there are certain psychological theories that postulate the higher levels but these are harder to discern without revelation.  The middle or second level is often called the rational, above that is something commonly called conscience.  It is the higher levels of the human personality which survives after death, and since modern science is not aware of these higher levels, they tend to discount life after death.  Different animals correspond to each of these levels of the human personality:
" the sacrifices and burnt offerings of the bullock, the ox, and the he-goat were represented the purification and regeneration of the external or natural man; by those of the ram, the she-goat, and the he-kid were represented the purification of the internal or spiritual man; and by those of the he-lamb, the she-lamb, and the she-kid were represented the purification or regeneration of the inmost or celestial man." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 10042.8)
These three levels correspond to three levels of spiritual development, as explained in The Three Steps of Spiritual Development as well as The Golden Rule of Love of the New Church.  One first starts to live by the truth, in a sort of state of obedience or servitude; the second level is one of service to others; and the third level is acting out of love.  This process proceeds from external visible things to more spiritual internal things.

To cover the spiritual symbolism of each animal is beyond the scope of this article, one would have to examine each passage of the Bible in detail which mentions each sacrifice and delve in depth into Swedenborg's work Heavenly Arcana (aka Arcana Coelestia).  However I will mention one passage in particular as an example:
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left."  (Matt. 25:31-32)
This describes the last judgment of the Second Coming, which is an event that takes place in the spiritual world - not the physical.  It is a general judgment upon the souls in an area of the spiritual world between heaven and hell, who have not been judged yet.  The righteous are represented by sheep, and the wicked by goats.  This is not a random "figure of speech" as literalists will commonly say.  The sheep are those who are in charity and thence in faith.  Thus shepherd and sheep is a common image throughout scripture.  The goats are similar to the he-goats mentioned above, and represent those who are in appearances of truth with no charity.  These are religious people who are in the literal sense of scripture, but who do not apply what they know to their own lives and dwell upon lip service.


The highest state a human can achieve is a celestial state of love, in the good of innocence, and as Jesus achieved this state, he is called the "lamb of God":
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)
Now, most in the old Christian churches will look at this verse and believe since Jesus "took" their sins away from them on the cross 2000 years ago, everything is done and they are saved.  However sins are not automatically transferred to Jesus on the cross, as proponents of vicarious atonement state.  The way Jesus took away the sin of the world is that although his soul was Divine, the human he inherited from his human mother Mary had evil tendencies by which he could be tempted.  Through his human body, he was tempted and spiritually attacked by all of hell (see The Last Temptations of Jesus: the accounts of Swedenborg and Emmerich for a vivid description of this).  However, he successively conquered these temptations and removed them - this is how he took away the sin of the world.  He first did this in a natural state, then in a higher spiritual state, and finally in the highest state of the good of innocence.  The highest and final state is symbolized by a lamb - that is why John the Baptist mentions the lamb of God in conjunction with taking away the sins of the world.  Those who believe in vicarious atonement have no understanding of how Jesus saved humanity.  Thus the lamb of God, in the highest spiritual sense, represents how Jesus made his very human Divine, a Divine Human.  This is the reason for the ritual of communion, centered on his body, which few understand.  By uniting his human with the Divine, good and truth now flow from the body of Jesus, which is represented by the bread and wine. Instead of wine one could also say blood, and this is what being saved by the blood of Jesus means - from the Divine truth that flows from him.


The lamb of God thus represents the Divine Human, which is how Jesus saved humanity.  But in modern Christianity, over time this has been completely lost and forgotten, except perhaps among a few in the Orthodox church.  That this doctrine would be forgotten, was foreseen in the book of Revelation:
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. (Rev. 5:6)
Most recognize that the lamb having been slain represents Jesus, and most presume this refers to the crucifixion of Jesus by the Jews.  However what is hidden from Christians here is that this is stating that the doctrine that the human of Jesus is Divine, which is how He saved humanity, is lost and rejected in the modern Christian churches.  To reject something is to kill or slay in the spiritual world.  Thus rarely do they mention how Jesus made his human Divine, instead preferring the teaching of vicarious atonement, and even the Orthodox refer to it as a mystery and do not explain it well.  Swedenborg explains this in the passage below:
"A Lamb standing as if slain, signifies the Lord as to His Human not acknowledged as Divine in the church. By the Lamb in the Apocalypse is meant the Lord as to His Divine Human; and by the Lamb slain, that His Human is not acknowledged as Divine in the church; the same as in chapter i. vers. 18, where it is said, I was dead, and behold, I am alive for ever and ever, by which is meant that the Lord has been neglected in the church, and His Human not acknowledged as Divine" (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 269)
For the lamb to be slain is for the Lord's Divine Human to not be acknowledged, or even denied as to its Divine nature:
"As if slain, signifies as yet acknowledged by few. This is evident from the signification of "slain," as being, in reference to the Lord, that He has not been acknowledged; here that few have acknowledged His Human to be Divine, for it is said "a Lamb standing as if slain," a "lamb" signifying the Lord in respect to the Divine Human... The meaning here is similar to what was said of the Lord (chap. i. 18), "and I became dead," which signifies that He was rejected... In the spiritual or internal sense, "slain" does not mean slain in respect to the body, but in respect to the soul; and man is slain in respect to the soul when he is no longer in any good of faith, for he then has no spiritual life, but death instead, which is called spiritual death. But this is not what the term "slain" signifies when applied to the Lord, since the Lord is life itself, and gives spiritual life to every one; but it signifies either that He is rejected or that He is not acknowledged; for with those who do not acknowledge, and still more with those who deny, He is as nothing. The Lord Himself, to be sure, and also His Divine, is acknowledged in the church, but in respect to the Human as a mere man and not as God; thus it is that His Divine Human is not acknowledged; this, therefore, is what is meant by "a Lamb standing as if slain." (Apocalypse Explained, n. 315)
The book of Revelation predicts that a false Christianity would arise, signified by the false prophet.  Those who follow the false prophet would not acknowledge the Divine Human:
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev. 13:8)

The phrase "slain from the foundation of the world" is interesting, and some may suppose this means the sacrifice of the Lord foreseen from eternity.  However this is not the meaning: the "foundation of the world" is the foundation of the Christian Church:
"Slain from the foundation of the world, signifies the Lord's Divine Human not acknowledged from the first establishment of the church. ...From the foundation of the world signifies the first establishment of the church, as well the Jewish as the Christian. It is known that the Jews did not acknowledge the Lord's Divine Human. That the Roman Catholics do not, is also known: and that neither do the Reformed, see above (n. 294). The creation of the world is not meant here by the foundation of the world, but the establishment of the church" (Apocalypse Revealed, n. 589)
In brief, the corruption of the church began with early heresies until the Nicene Creed, which invented a Son of God "born from eternity."  Next came the Chalcedonian Council, which divided Jesus into two natures, a Divine and a mere human, for the sake of the Papacy to claim to be the Vicar of Christ, and finally by the anonymous Athanasian Creed which specifically mentions three persons.  Anyone who examines early Christian history can readily get confused, and one would fail to understand the meaning of these early Christological debates.

The importance here is to acknowledge the union of the human with the Divine, for that is how Jesus saved humanity, for from that He continues to operate in each person as they resist sin and temptation.  This is how Jesus saved humanity, and every Christian who understands this will experience a change from a blind faith to a more rational and thus spiritual faith. This is the promise of the revelations of the New Church.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Golden Rule of Love of the New Church

The Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have done to you, is practically universal among all religions.  This is also true of the New Church, but with the difference that there are many doctrines concerning love and charity on how to apply it.  The main mistake people make is when they try to apply it, they apply it equally to everybody, and they quickly find out it cannot be applied in this way.  For the doctrine of the New Church states that love must be guided by truth and discernment.  In fact, all doctrines of the New Church concern the marriage or conjunction between love and truth.  Love with truth becomes adulterated, and truth without love quickly dies out.

The New Church is different from the older Christian churches, in that the older Christian churches tend to be focused on belief or faith alone.  This leads to narrow minded and dogmatic tendencies, and religions that emphasize belief or faith alone will tend to condemn anyone who does not believe as they do or follow their organization.  In the New Church, love is primary in end or purpose.  However in order to reach a state of love, one must first follow the truth.  The truths of faith that one learns is first in time, but they are not first in one's goal.  Many get stuck in faith as the primary goal, and do not proceed to living a life of love, of service to others, of usefulness.  For when love and truth become conjoined, one becomes useful to oneself, to others, and to the society.

In the end God cares about love, how we live our life, for God is Love itself.  Moreover, faith without love is not faith:
"They who have separated faith from love do not even know what faith is; some in their notion of faith know it as a mere thought; some as thought concerning the Lord, a few as the doctrine of faith. But faith is not merely the knowledge and acknowledgment of all things that the doctrine of faith embraces; but is chiefly obedience to all that it teaches. The first thing that it teaches, to which men ought to yield obedience, is love to the Lord and love to the neighbor. Whoever is not in this love is not in faith, as the Lord so clearly teaches in Mark that it cannot be doubted: The first of all the commandments is: Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord. Therefore thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first commandment, and the second, like unto it, is this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these (xii. 29-31). In Matthew. He calls it The first and great commandment, and says that On these commandments hang the Law and the Prophets (xxii. 35-40). The Law and the Prophets are the whole doctrine of faith, and all the Word." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 36)


In the New Church, emphasis is placed on the gospels of Jesus, which emphasize love and service, over the writings of the apostle Paul, which emphasizes faith.  So let's take a look at the greatest commandment, and see how the New Church doctrines bring further light to it:
Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets
. (Matt. 22:36-40)
Notice, Jesus states that on just these two commandments hang "all the law and the prophets."  In the literal sense, the law is the Torah, or the first 5 books of Moses, and the prophets are all the books after that.  Anyone who reads the Bible knows it contains some very odd stories, genealogies, and other seemingly irrelevant data.  But in the revelations received in the New Church in the 18th century, it is shown how each and every word of scripture is Divinely inspired, which is especially spelled out in a massive work known as "Heavenly Arcana" or "Arcana Coelestia" or "Heavenly Secrets" depending on the publication.  Through symbolic correspondence, every word becomes abstracted from space and time, and concern the universal principles of love and truth.  No one has ever been able to demonstrate how truthful Jesus words were when He explained the Golden Rule, or the greatest commandments.

Contained in the spiritual sense of Jesus' discourse on the greatest commandment, there are three levels of spiritual development, which are actually also revealed in the three main Jewish festivals (see The Three Steps of Spiritual Development);
1.  Knowledge of good (the "Law" containing commandments) and knowledge of truth (the "Prophets")
2.  Living by the truth, in loving others
3.  Acting out of love, seeing God in the love in other people.
Note here, that the spiritual steps of development are in reverse order in time from the order of priority.

In the spiritual sense the Law and the Prophets refers to knowledge of good and truth, which in the material world we receive from the Bible.  But in the most universal sense, it simply refers to knowledge of good and truth.  Good itself, is the more internal form of the Truth which represents it.  Thus instead of "law and prophets" scripture sometimes phrases this as "Moses and the prophets."  Moses represents the most internal revelation, that concerning love, which is hidden at first to many who are at a lower level of understanding.  Thus Moses could not speak well, and Aaron represents Moses.  Moses alone could ascend the mountain, representing love, which is hidden in obscurity to those at a lower level of understanding, represented by the clouds that surrounded the mountain.  When Moses descended from the mountain, the people could not look directly at his shining face, so he covered it with a veil.  This represents how internal spiritual truths are hidden in the literal sense of the Bible.

So, when one enters the first state, of learning knowledge of good and truth, this is a state of servitude and obedience.  One is in the truth, but one's life may be one of sin and evil.  In this state, a conflict arises within oneself: if one has a desire to follow the truth, it will come into conflict with one's desire for sin or evil.  Then one can enter into a period of temptation, internal conflict, sadness and depression.  This internal conflict, in reality, is a conflict that plays out between good and evil spirits associated with one's spiritual soul, who influence everything that you do or think.  But it is the Truth which cleanses, if one follows Truth, from the Truth one can achieve salvation.  In the literal sense, Truth is symbolized by blood.  This is the spiritual meaning of the blood of Jesus, but few Christians know this.  Thus Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."  And "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."  And, "Sanctify [cleanse] them through Your Truth, Your Word is Truth."  Temptation is overcome in repentance, but one must be in conjunction with Divine Truth and ask for Divine aid when one does this, for one must acknowledge that sin and evil originate from one's selfish ego.

The second stage is one who loves and desires the truth, and enjoys doing it.  This becomes a life of service and use to others, to one's neighbor.  But it is not indiscriminate love.  Love guided by truth, loves each person according to need and use.  You can't give a hug to someone who is about to hit you.  You can't talk nicely to someone who is stealing or gossiping about others.  You can't agree with someone engaged in jealousy.  Love must be according to use, according to what is good and true.  This is known as the principle of DISCRIMINATE CHARITY:
"It is a common opinion at this day that every one is a neighbor in the same degree, and that good must be done to every one in need. But it is the part of Christian prudence to explore well the quality of a man's life, and to exercise charity accordingly. The man of the internal church does this with discrimination, thus with intelligence; but the man of the external church, since he cannot exercise such discernment, does it without discrimination." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 6704)
This is the principle that most people miss.  I have seen some highly intelligent people reject Christianity just because of this, loving everybody indiscriminately they know is not going to work.  In the ancient world, the doctrine of charity was the primary doctrine, but since everyone knew it they didn't write it down:
"The ancients reduced the neighbor to classes, and gave each class the names of those who appear in the world to be especially in need; they taught also how charity was to be exercised to those in one class, and how to those in another; and thus they reduced the doctrine and the life according to it into order. Thus the doctrine of their church contained the laws of life, and from it they saw the quality of every man of the church, whom they called a brother, but with distinction in the internal sense according to his exercise of charity from the genuine doctrine of the church, or from doctrine changed by himself; for every one, because he wishes to appear blameless, defends his own life, and therefore either explains or changes the laws of doctrine in his own favor." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 6705)
In other words, one has to discriminate among people according to their state, do they need help because they are lacking something, or should they be restrained because they are committing evil?  These different states that a person is in, is signified by those who are blind, by the lame, those who are sick, or those who in prison, etc.  The blind are those who are in ignorance, and need the light of truth.  The lame are those who are lacking in ability to do good.  The sick are those suffering from evil they have committed.  Those in prison are those who have imprisoned their mind due to a false persuasion.  The doctrines of the New Church on these matters, are endless.

At some point, few reach the third stage, which is acting out of love.  Instead of loving others, one loves the love within them. In other words, one loves God who is love itself.  In this kind of state, one does care about debating or learning the truth any more, but acting out of love.  When one acts out love, one gains a secondary perception of truth automatically.  It becomes a matter of intuition, or inner knowing.  This is what Jesus meant when he said not to take an oath (following the truth), but rather let your yes be yes and your no be no.  For in love, the perception of truth is immediate, and comes within.  This third and final stage is explained in the following passage:
And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matt. 25:33-40)
One last point, living the Golden Rule comes from effort, and it is not immediate: one must follow the three steps.  Inasmuch as we approach God, God will approach us.  Thus it is said, you shall love the Lord your God with all your HEART, with all your SOUL, and with all your MIND.  The heart represents one's will, one's intent, one's desire.  The soul here is one's spiritual understanding of the truth.  The mind is our lower level mind, which seeks ways on how to apply love and truth in one's life.  One's will is not passive, as some religious philosophies teach.

The other secret, as revealed in the New Church, is that love in its external from is represented by the woman, and truth in its external form is represented by the man.  The spiritual conjunction of love and truth is the origin of marriage love between a man and woman.  In fact, forms of love and truth can be seen and experienced in all levels of reality, and in all walks of life.  It is always within you, and becomes your kingdom in heaven in the afterlife.

For those interested, here is a French version of La Vie en Rose, followed by an English version:

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The New Church Prophecy of Juneteenth, or St. John's Day

In the New Church there are very few prophecies, as the doctrines deal with the universal principles of love and truth and how to live by them.   The more important teaching is not to be worried about the future, for this is the state that angels are in.  Nevertheless, angels are able to have perception of future things to come:
"I have spoken with the angels concerning the memory of things past, and anxiety thence for things to come; and have been instructed that the more internal and the more perfect the angels are, the less they care for past things, and the less do they think of things to come; and that thence also is their happiness. They say that the Lord gives them every moment what to think, and this with blessedness and happiness; and that they are thus without cares and anxieties. Also, that this was meant in the internal sense by manna being received daily from heaven, and by the daily bread in the Lord's Prayer [see The True Spiritual Meaning and Interpretation of the Lord's Prayer]; also, by the instruction not to be solicitous about what they may eat and drink, and wherewith they may be clothed. But that though they do not care for things past, and are not solicitous about things to come, they still have the most perfect recollection of past things, and the most perfect intuition of things to come; because in all their present there is as well the past as the future." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2493)
This perception of future things to come can sometimes flow into our mind during a precognitive dream, which if we forget, we sometimes will have a deja vu experience.  During our physical time in our material bodies, we prepare ourselves for the angelic life by living a life of love and charity:
"When men who are in love to the Lord and in charity toward the neighbor are living in the world, they have with themselves and in themselves angelic intelligence and wisdom, but stored up in the inmosts of their interior memory; which intelligence and wisdom can in no way be apparent to them, before they put off corporeal things. Then the memory of outward particulars, which has been spoken of, is put to sleep; and they are awakened into the interior memory, and successively afterward into the angelic." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2494)
So at the moment, our minds our dense, and we are sort of like a fat caterpillar munching on leaves, preparing to morph into a butterfly.  But in those mundane simple acts of love, or performing use towards others, there is hidden our future angelic state.  As it is important to always act according to free will and reason, it is important not to fall into a "fatalistic" attitude where the future is determined:
"As a knowledge of future events takes away the human itself, which is, to act from freedom according to reason, a knowledge of the future is therefore given to no one; but it is allowable for every one to form conclusions about the future from reasons; reason with all that belongs to it is in its life from this. It is for this reason that a man does not know his lot after death, or know any event before he is in it; for if he knew, he would no longer think from the interior self, how he should do or how he should live so as to come to it; but only from the exterior self, that he is coming; and this state closes the interiors of his mind, in which the two faculties of his life, liberty and rationality, have their chief seat. The desire to know the future is born with most people; but this desire has its origin from a love of evil; it is therefore taken away from those who believe in the Divine Providence, and there is given them a trust that the Lord is disposing their lot; and consequently they do not wish for a foreknowledge of it, lest in some way they should interfere with the Divine Providence." (Angelic Wisdom concerning Divine Providence, n. 179)
Because of the importance of free will, and developing one's own rationality, prophecies often come in symbolic or obscure form, and it is not known what the prophecy means until the event has taken place.  I would like to discuss one of these, and this concerns the New Church as foreseen in the visions of Emanuel Swedenborg.


The culminating work of Emanuel Swedenborg was True Christian Religion, in which he describes the true future form of Christianity: one that worships God in one person in the human form of Jesus Christ, and one where people live by God's commandments.  This is the future state of Christianity, for in the present state the old churches have divided God into three, and many emphasize belief alone over service to others, or a life according to God's will.  True Christian Religion offers a simple and rational view of Christianity.  When Swedenborg completed it, he was given the following vision:
"After this work was finished the Lord called together His twelve disciples who followed Him in the world; and the next day He sent them all forth into the whole spiritual world to preach the Gospel that the Lord God Jesus Christ reigns, whose kingdom shall be for ages of ages, according to the prediction by Daniel (vii. 13, 14), and in the Apocalypse (xi. 15); and that Blessed are they who come to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Apoc. xix. 9). This took place on the nineteenth day of June, in the year 1770. This is meant by these words of the Lord: He will send His angels, and they shall gather together His elect from one end of the heavens even to the other (Matt. xxiv. 31). (True Christian Religion, n. 779)
The prophecy of Daniel 7 is as follows:
"I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed
." (Dan. 7:13-14)
This is the prophecy of the Second Coming.  Most take it literally, and expect Jesus to appear riding on the clouds of heaven.  But this is from a false appearance based on the literal sense of the scripture.  In the hidden spiritual meaning, the "clouds of heaven" are visions revealing the spiritual sense of scripture.  The "Son of man" is Divine truth, which appears in the literal sense of scripture, which is signified by clouds.  For the literal sense of scripture hides the spiritual sense, just as the clouds hide the stars, moon and sun.  This spiritual sense of scripture is the proof that the Bible is Divinely inspired, and was the main purpose of Swedenborg's mission.  Whereas in the first coming the Divine truth appeared in human form, in the Second Coming the Divine truth has now appeared in the literal sense of scripture, for anyone who cares to look and examine the revelations received in Swedenborg's visions.

As for the kingdom, in the spiritual world a new heaven was created for the new Christians who follow God in one person and obey His commandments.  That kingdom is gradually manifesting itself here on earth as the New Church.  It is among the small and few at the moment, but in the future it is destined to grow, and it will not fall and go away as the previous churches will.  In the old churches, faith or belief is primary.  In the New Church, love is the first principle.  Notice the following the phrase of the above prophecy:
And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom
Compare this with the Doxology of the Lord's Prayer, which some churches have falsely removed [see The True Spiritual Meaning and Interpretation of the Lord's Prayer]:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
The Doxology of the Lord's Prayer was not added later.  It is actually based on the prophecy of Daniel, and looks forward to it.  The New Church revelations are the fulfillment of the Lord's Prayer.  For the Lord's Prayer should not be prayed to a being separate from Jesus, but rather to Jesus Christ Himself.  For when it is mentioned "Hallowed be Thy name" - the name here is that of Jesus, who is Lord of all.  The prophecy of Daniel is another proof that the Lord's Prayer should be directed to Jesus alone.

Perhaps many will doubt that the revelations given to Swedenborg are the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy.  But there is actually a strong proof for this, for we have a time period given in the prophecy of Daniel:
And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. (Dan. 7:25)
The phrase "time, times and half a time" is a bit odd, but scholars of Biblical prophecy, especially in the 19th century, were able to determine that this phrase refers to a 1260 year period.  I have discussed this at length in previous blog posts, and have come to the conclusion this ended in the latter half of the 18th century, between 1759 and 1789.  The Seventh Day Adventists have analyzed this prophecy in detail, and have come to the conclusion that it refers to the dominion of the Papacy of the Catholic Church, which they regard as having ended in the 18th century during the time of Napoleon.  But that is as far as they get.  Swedenborg was given a vision of the Last Judgment that took place in the 18th century, at around the same time as predicted in the Bible.  In the New Church, this time period of spiritual captivity of the Christian Church includes both the Catholic and Protestant churches, for in reality the Protestant churches inherited most of their theology from the Catholic Church.

That Swedenborg was allowed to have full continual visions of heaven and hell, for a period of 27 years in the latter half of the 18th century, to explain the spiritual sense of scripture, was no accident.  It was foreseen in Biblical prophecy, but no one imagined it would be fulfilled this way.  Prophecies are always given in symbolic and obscure form, until the event is realized.


The date of June 19, 1770, is the only special date that Swedenborg mentions in all of his writings.  Thus there is a tradition within the New Church to call this "New Church day" (see New Church Day (June 19, 1770) for it represents the time when the angelic realm started to prepare for the formation of the New Church, which would be gradual.

So, its this obscure little tradition that hardly anyone knows about.  The first New Church was accidentally established on June 19.  I would have thought if any special day was chosen, it would have fallen on a Jewish festival. But no, it falls on a day that is completely unrelated to any of the Jewish festivals.  This is perhaps because the Jewish festivals were already fulfilled during the life of Jesus - the feast of Tabernacles was fulfilled by his birth, the feast of the Passover by his death, and the feast of firstfruits by Pentecost.  So why June 19, is it indeed significant?

June 19 is indeed very significant.  As New Church day is known as a day of spiritual liberation, among African Americans it is known as Juneteenth celebrations, to celebrate their liberation from physical slavery.  From History of Juneteenth:
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.  Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.
If that is not enough, on June 19, 1862, the U.S. Congress prohibits slavery in United States territories, nullifying Dred Scott v. Sandford.  Exactly three years before slaves were declared free on June 19, 1865, "Juneteenth" day.

Wow, is that just a happy coincidence?  I think not.  For in one of Swedenborg's visions, he saw that the doctrines of the New Church were being relayed by angels to those in Africa.  Evidence that this is taking place surfaced in the year 2012, with some heavenly visions being given to a young woman from Congo - see A Divine Revelation from Africa, concerning Heaven and Hell,  It was because of Swedenborg's vision that many early Swedenborgians pushed for the abolition of slavery, and participated in the Abolitionist movement to free them.  As Europe and the U.S. is still under the influence of the older churches, those in Africa have the potential to be more receptive to New Church teachings.  Thus it is no coincidence that the largest New Church contingent in the world is in South Africa.

The New Church should take note, and African-Americans in the U.S. should take note of this as well.  For even though physical slavery has ended, racial prejudice has not.  Divine Providence has a habit of extending salvation to those who have been enslaved and been put down by others, thus we have the story of the Israelites being saved from the bondage of the Egyptians in the book of Exodus.

June 19 happens to be around the time of Midsummer celebrations that has a strong tradition in Europe as well as in the U.S.  From Midsummer:
Midsummer, also known as St John's Day, or Litha, is the period of time centred upon the summer solstice, and more specifically the Northern European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice or take place on a day between June 19 and June 25 and the preceding evening.
Midsummer celebrations are ancient, as they celebrate the summer solstice.  It is also known as St. John's Day, which is traditionally the birth of John the Baptist.  John the Baptist, in the New Testament, was a symbolic representation of Elijah, who was to come before Jesus declared Himself openly.  Perhaps that is also the symbolism for New Church day, except in place of John the Baptist we have the revelations given to Emanuel Swedenborg, to prepare people to receive the truth of the Second Coming.

I am not exactly familiar with this ancient Midsummer ritual, so to educate myself I found this enlightening and weird video entitled, "Swedish Midsummer for Dummies."  June 19, is definitely an interesting yet odd choice for New Church day.