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With True Christianity, eighteenth-century theologian Emanuel Swedenborg presented a blueprint not just for the future of Christianity, but for all human spirituality. Join hosts Curtis Childs and Jonathan Rose as they explore our spiritual future.
Jonathan aims to embody peace and love for all humankind. He doesn’t always succeed, but he does his best to constantly work at improving. He follows the instructions he sees in the Word and trusts that those actions will move him forward. Curtis recognizes that he struggles to embody any one truth, but he’s been focusing on one idea in particular: “Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no.” This can be a hard principle to follow, but holding on to integrity is important to him.
Swedenborg Book Club
Just starting with the title alone, True Christianity is a provocative work. If you’re a Christian, you may feel challenged, and if you’re not, you might just be disinterested. But there’s a wealth of spiritual food in it for just about anyone.
In fact, Swedenborg’s actually reporting about what religion looks like in heaven! A headline for True Christianity might go a little something like this:
“Christianity’s best days are in the future, not the past”
Within that context, Swedenborg redefines many of the most common and sometimes confusing Christian ideas. In his time, his efforts were met with resistance from not only the church but from people around him.
So what’s inside?
Unlike how it’s organized in some of his other books, the table of contents in True Christianity can fit on a single page! It’s divided into such sweeping themes as “God the Creator,” “The Lord the Redeemer,” and “The Holy Spirit and the Divine Action.”
Published in 1771, this book came out about nine months before Swedenborg died, and it’s the only book that he worked on while being under assault by those who opposed his ideas.
To make things easier for the reader, he goes so far as to summarize the book in one sentence:
The main point of this book is that the divine Trinity is united in the Lord. (True Christianity §108)
But he opens the book with a paragraph that relates to his idea of “The Faith of the New Heaven and the New Church”:
The faith of the new heaven and the new church is stated here in both universal and specific forms to serve as the face of the work that follows, the doorway that allows entry into the temple, and the summary that in one way or another contains all the details to follow. I say “the faith of the new heaven and the new church” because heaven, where there are angels, and the church, in which there are people, act together like the inner and the outer levels in a human being. People in the church who love what is good because they believe what is true and who believe what is true because they love what is good are angels of heaven with regard to the inner levels of their minds. After death they come into heaven, and enjoy happiness there according to the relationship between their love and their faith. It is important to know that the new heaven that the Lord is establishing today has this faith as its face, doorway, and summary. (True Christianity §1)
To get a sense of the scope of the material, we’ll take a look at three relevant passages.
We cannot comprehend God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence unless we know what the divine design is, and unless we learn that God is the divine design, and that he imposed that design on the universe as a whole and on everything in it as he created it. . . . God is omniscient; that is, he is aware of, sees, and knows everything down to the least detail that happens in keeping with the divine design, and by contrast is aware of, sees, and knows what goes against the divine design. . . . The more we follow the divine design in the way we live, the more we receive power against evil and falsity from God’s omnipotence, receive wisdom about goodness and truth from God’s omniscience, and are in God because of God’s omnipresence. (True Christianity§49)
Through God’s eyes, everything is defined by its relation to the divine design. We have the freedom to move away from God’s will, but the closer we align with his design, the more of God’s power we will feel.
1. Jehovah, the Creator of the universe, came down and took on a human manifestation in order to redeem people and save them.
2. He came down as the divine truth, which is the Word; but he did not separate the divine goodness from it.
3. In the process of taking on a human manifestation, he followed his own divine design. (True Christianity §81)
This passage clarifies that there is an order to the divine design, that it is a process that the Lord must go through by becoming Jesus here on earth. Just as there’s a design to the process of human development, from infant to child to adult, the divine design is one that the Lord, too, must experience.
Goodwill and faith do nothing for us when they are attached to only one part of our body (meaning our head) but are not anchored in actions. This is clear from a thousand passages in the Word, of which I will cite only the following here. . . . There are thousands of other passages like these. On this basis one can clearly see that goodwill and faith are not goodwill and faith before they exist in actions. If they exist only up in the sky or in the mind above actions, they are like images of a tabernacle or a church in the air that are just strange aerial phenomena that spontaneously disappear. They are like paintings on paper that bookworms are chewing through. They are like our living on a roof with no bed rather than in a house. From all this you can see that goodwill and faith are transient entities when they are merely mental—unless, when there is an opportunity for us to do them, they culminate in actions and become embodied in them. (True Christianity §376)
As always, Swedenborg worked to provide real spiritual tools, here reinforcing the significance of our actions. At another point in the book, he even tells us that the Lord literally is the love of doing something useful for someone. To Swedenborg, we are all defined by our loves, and a love of usefulness defines the Lord.
During this live show, viewers chatted in their questions. Just click a question to see the answer:
- Why is it so difficult for our loved ones and angels to communicate with us while evil spirits can be so loud in our mind?
- What does God think when he sees us sin?
- What’s the best way to study Swedenborg’s works? Should you just read them in the order that they were written?
At the beginning of the episode, we asked which truths you embody. Here’s what viewers had to say:
- Surrender. – john barker
- A truth I have lived is that I can’t do anything on my own. – Joy Borazjani
- I have always tried to help someone and I always try to find that someone that I should help. – Mary Richards
- The truth I come with is that the remnant left over from who we are is the most beautiful part of us. – Erika Lee
- Moderation in all things. – Rebecca Rowles
- Allowing people to show me who they are. – Dawnabrat
- God can help anyone. – Jon Childs
- I’ve learned from NDES, the other side is about forgiveness and loving others so I try a lot harder in this life. – Angel Shining
- I am third. The Lord is first. My family and friends are second. – mtp358
- That we do go on in spirit which has strengthened my faith in God and has given me a genuine inner peace. – Lisa
- That the Lord is responsible for ALL the good and love EVERYWHERE. NOT ME or anyone else. – Matthew Bush
- The truth I try to embody is that helping others with no thought of gain is the best way to lift the vibration of the planet. – Pete Dawson
- Open-mindedness – I can learn something from every situation. – Kendall M.
- The truth I’ve managed to embody into my life is that I don’t have to live in mental turmoil. There is such peace that comes by surrender to the Holy Spirit. – shelly evans
- Learning to detach from negative thoughts that come up in my mind, just saying “that’s not me” and moving on instead of self incrimination. – Pamela Collins
- I am here to serve. – great grandfather
- Be good to neighbors. So learn to see the shining part from people around me and treat them with sincere care and respect being empathetic. – rainlion0
- The truth that I have been able to internalize is the LOVE of GOD for ALL people and His desire for all to experience the most peaceful existence possible. – Alesia Rico Flores
- The realization that honesty of my intent moves me in a positive and loving direction. – Jan
- Stop overthinking & stop trying to control every aspect of my life. I’ve been learning let it go and let it happen as on its own time. – Mary Lee white
- That all life comes from God and that we are nothing without him. – Daffodil
Thanks for joining us—we’ll see you next week!
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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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