Watch full episode here!
Our expert panel has gathered to answer viewer questions with the help of the writings of eighteenth-century spiritual teacher Emanuel Swedenborg.
The panel members are:
- Jonathan Rose, series editor, New Century Edition
- Chara Daum, Latin consultant, New Century Edition
- Chris Dunn, community manager for Swedenborg & Life
- Karin Childs, writer for Swedenborg & Life
Questions and answers are summarized below; please follow the links for the full discussion.
Heaven was never truly at risk from hell—it was only the balance between the two that was in danger. The nature of the side of good is such that it is non-invasive, while hell tends to be aggressive. So since heaven would never use its power to destroy hell, this means that hell could potentially creep up and threaten to overcome these other realms.
There are other planets that make up the physical world, and Swedenborg contends that there are other sentient beings living out there on them. If life on earth were to come to an end, he says, our heaven would become populated by the physical inhabitants from another of these planets. While the earth is certainly part of the divine design, we have a responsibility to our planet. God is working constantly to move us toward good, but we must take action in order to become the channels for that influence.
It seems unlikely that we each have one specific task that we have to accomplish or that we are supposed to perform certain outer actions. Instead, we are here in the natural world to be useful in a more general way and to develop the skills, in no matter what the situation, that will make us into a heavenly person. Even if we do have a specific use, we won’t realize it until we’ve reached the afterlife.
While the after-death process is unique for each person, the differences are not dependent on gender identity but instead are associated with the state of one’s heart and mind. It’s described as a very loving experience that will be equitable for all people, no matter who they are.
For Swedenborg, faith isn’t faith unless it’s applied to life. So faith is a transformational process that you put into practice in every action that you take. When you act with love, you’re living in faith to the Lord, who is love.
Strangely enough, Swedenborg says that the number forty is significant because of its proximity to the number forty-two, which is equal to 2 x 3 x 7—a combination of some of the most meaningful numbers. The number forty also corresponds to the struggle and temptation that ultimately leads us somewhere on our journey (e.g., people tend to experience mid-life crises in their forties).
Anyone who wants to go to heaven is welcome to it, but people end up in a place where they can breathe and be themselves. People in hell are capable of understanding truth and they can be granted a chance to experience heaven, but they often struggle with heaven since they aren’t compatible with it. If they were, they’d be there! That being said, no one is stagnant in hell; they will have opportunities to change. According to George Dole, translator for the New Century Edition, no one’s been in hell to eternity yet.
This question demands more research, so the team will take it home with them and work on getting an answer to you in a later episode.