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After almost a year apart, our expert panel has come back together to answer viewer questions about the writings of eighteenth-century spiritual teacher Emanuel Swedenborg.
The expert panel members are:
- Curtis Childs, host of Swedenborg & Life
- Chara Daum, Latin consultant for the New Century Edition
- Jonathan Rose, series editor for the New Century Edition
- Chelsea Odhner, writer for Swedenborg & Life
Throughout this episode, they work together to answer questions from viewers. Questions and answers are summarized below and you can follow the links for the full discussion.
1. Everyone born to this planet is here for a purpose through God. If we are given free will, how does God know we’re going to make the decisions to lead to the purpose that he put us here for?
It’s unlikely that we have just one purpose. Though God doesn’t force us onto any one path and gives us the free will to choose our own purpose, in his infinite wisdom, he does know what we want and what we will choose. And we should always remember that through divine providence, everything moves toward good.
2. How do Swedenborgians answer fundamentalist, very restricted readings of the most exclusivist readings of the New Testament? None shall come to the Father but through me etc.?
Swedenborg actually answers this question head on in some of his writings. Basically, Jesus was a revelation of God’s love on earth, and it is this quality of love, no matter what name we use for it, that really matters. The nature of what it takes to get to heaven is the same for us all. Jesus is God and God is love and love is the only route to heaven.
3. Interaction between heaven and hell are required for equilibrium. But why does God allow some to be so open to overwhelming voices and influences from hell, like schizophrenics, pushed to suicide?
We’re all connected to heaven and hell, and while the Lord is protecting us all from hell, some do seem more vulnerable to it than others. It’s important to recognize that the relationship between heaven and hell exists so that we have the opportunity to choose between them, so even the most vulnerable of us are open to heavenly influence. While our thoughts are always affected by both good and evil spirits and there is a host of factors that can influence our way in the world, the whole universe is moving toward love.
4. If we are all at different spaces in our journeys in the afterlife, how do we live with family or loved ones if they are in a very different space in their journey?
First of all, we should remember that our concepts of space and time on earth are not the same as they are above, so such issues may be moot. But even though it can be difficult to live with people who are in a different place than we are, it doesn’t need to be. We’re all fundamentally on the same path striving for the same things, and most of what divides us on our journey are the names we use to describe it. In the spiritual world, while there may be differences between us, we can be in community with those who share our loves.
5. What’s a good “test” you can do on yourself to see if you’re on the path to heaven or not?
One quick test is to just see what you think about when you’re by yourself and are not preoccupied with what other people are thinking about you. The thoughts that bubble up should give you some idea of what it is you really care about. If you notice that you’re looking for love and positivity and are making efforts to turn away from choices that align with evil, that’s a good sign. Merely trying to be a better person is a path to heaven.
6. How does Swedenborg view enlightenment?
Our capacity for self-reflection allows us to better understand not only ourselves but also the world around us, and according to Swedenborg, it’s the light of the Lord that lets us see things in a completely new way. Enlightenment is a way to determine what is good and what is true, and many of Swedenborg’s ideas are useful tools for doing just that.
7. When dark spirits cause pain or haunt a person and that person calls on his guardian angels, what exactly happens to the dark spirits as the guardian angel approaches but is not quite there yet?
We might be holding on to dark spirits more than we think we are. But since the dark spirits and guardian angels cannot really coexist, the spirits will flee when we get right with the angels, so there may not even be a “not quite there yet.”
8. Did Swedenborg ever write about God having a sense of humor?
If God doesn’t have a sense of humor, then where does it come from? God is the source of all good things, and laughter is a good thing. Swedenborg doesn’t write about God’s humor, though he does distinguish between angelic humor and cruel humor.
9. If a family member goes to hell and you go to heaven can you visit and have a rational conversation with that family member?
Even in hell, people are still themselves and can carry on rational conversations. Swedenborg spent a fair bit of time dialoging with evil spirits. So you can have those conversations—the only possible result is growth.
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About Swedenborg & Life
In a lighthearted and interactive webcast format, host Curtis Childs from the Swedenborg Foundation and featured guests explore topics from Swedenborg’s eighteenth-century writings about his spiritual experiences and afterlife explorations and discuss how they relate to modern-day life and death.
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When we wake up in heaven, Swedenborg tells us, angels roll a covering from off of our left eye so that we can see everything in a spiritual light. The offTheLeftEye YouTube channel uses an array of educational and entertaining video formats to look at life and death through an uplifting spiritual lens.
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