The four main short works in this volume by Swedish theologian Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) form the basic foundation of his thought. Although originally printed as if they were stand-alone volumes, they have nearly always been published together, generally under the collective title “The Four Doctrines.”
The Lord discusses the nature of the man known as Jesus Christ, his divine nature, and the meaning of his crucifixion. For Swedenborg, Jesus was not simply a man, but the eternal divine that came to earth for the salvation of humanity.
Sacred Scripture is about the Word, by which Swedenborg means the parts of the Bible that he feels reflect a deep spiritual teaching. Swedenborg believes that study of the Word—which contains a wisdom that predates the written Bible and also transcends it—is the key to humanity’s spiritual development and its eventual union with the Lord.
Life discusses the nature of good and evil and the necessity of shunning sin and evil in order to experience true faith and become a spiritual person. In other words, this work is about how we ought to live.
Faith talks about faith as an acknowledgment of inner truth and the necessity of expressing such faith through good actions rather than simply holding beliefs. Swedenborg also delves into the true nature of charity and the way that it interweaves with faith to produce true goodness.
In addition to these short works, the volume includes a fifth work, which consists of two supplements to previous works by Swedenborg: a brief addition to Last Judgment and a longer addition to Heaven and Hell.