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The birth of Jesus Christ. It’s a topic that elicits strong emotions and viewpoints. Some say it never happened and has no bearing on anyone’s life past, present, or future. Some say it’s the moment God became man and secured humankind’s destiny. Spiritual philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg says Jesus’s birth was historically and spiritually relevant on earth and in the afterlife—then and now. His perspectives are quite unique and may be unlike anything you’ve heard before about God, Jesus, and the significance of the two becoming one. In this episode of Swedenborg and Life, host Curtis Childs and featured guests review Swedenborg’s written accounts of why God had to take on a human manifestation of the Divine at the time and what it means for us now.
The Divine Human
To put this entire episode into context, we should take a look at God before Jesus came into this world. Who was God and how did he operate without a human form? Curtis reads an excerpt from Swedenborg’s Secrets of Heaven to take on that question. It’s a complex answer, but Curtis offers an animated explanation with diagrams to describe how God sent Divine love and wisdom through Heaven to humans before Jesus was born.
“Before the Lord’s arrival in the world, life flowing into people and into spirits from Jehovah (the Lord) came through the heavenly kingdom—that is, through angels in the heavenly kingdom. This lent the angels the power they then had.” —Secrets of Heaven 6371
As Swedenborg describes, the earliest humans were so spiritual and close to God that he was able to speak to them directly through heavenly angels in their minds. As time went on, and the human mindset began to stray from Divine love and wisdom, God needed another way to communicate.
Related Swedenborg and Life Video: The Shape of Heaven
Not long before Jesus’s birth, Swedenborg describes a war between Heaven and hell in the spiritual world, which was reflected in the physical world. As hell began to threaten its dominance over Heaven, evil gained dominance over good on earth, too.
Because the Divine design requires both good and evil, God cannot simply banish hell and make it disappear. But, he can maintain a balance between the two so that freewill can exist for every person to choose goodness, truth, love, and Heaven over evil, falsity, hate, and hell.
Related Swedenborg and Life Video: What God Can’t Do
In a fascinating six-minute clip, Curtis guides us through the layout of the spiritual world right before Jesus’s birth.
“Redemption was something only the Divine could bring about. If you knew what hell is like, and you knew how high it swelled and how it flooded the entire world of spirits at the time of the Lord’s coming, and you saw the great power with which the Lord cast hell down and scattered it and then restructured both it and heaven in accordance with the divine design, you could not help being stunned and exclaiming that all of it was something only the Divine could do…[Hell] consists of millions, since it consists of all from the creation of the world who have alienated themselves from God through their evil lives and false beliefs…The Lord uses the same divine power today to fight against hell in every one of us who is being regenerated. Hell attacks us all with diabolical fury. If the Lord did not counter hell and control it, we could not help succumbing.” —True Christianity 123
So, angels in Heaven and humans on earth were in dire need of a hero who had both Divine and human powers to restore the balance of good and evil in both the spiritual and physical worlds. Here’s what happened next…
The Big Move
Because of the threat from hell and the resulting shift in the collective human mindset, God needed a new way to reach us, a new way to show us how to live in preparation for Heaven. And so, a baby was born—full of innocence, truth, goodness, and love. Curtis introduces a series of scenes from the Nativity to reflect on the power of this bold move from God.
So who is Jesus Christ? Swedenborg’s answer:
“Jehovah means the underlying divine reality, which existed from eternity; but the human aspect that he took on in time was not that underlying reality…When we say “the Lord” we mean Jehovah in his human manifestation…The concept of the Lord has an excellence that surpasses all other concepts.” —True Christianity 81
And how can the infinite become finite? For that answer, Curtis introduces Swedenborgian scholar and Series Editor of the New Century Edition Works of Emanuel Swedenborg Dr. Jonathan Rose to explain.
Does Swedenborg think Jesus is the son of God or God himself? Swedenborg often talked about God and Jesus as father and son, but he strayed from most Christian doctrine on this matter. Swedenborg believes that Jesus is God himself, and not a son of God, which is explained further in this animated clip.
What was the purpose of Jesus’s life?
“By means of his human manifestation, which was divine truth, Jehovah God lifted this pending damnation and redeemed both people and angels. Afterward, in his human manifestation, he united divine truth to divine goodness, or divine wisdom to divine love. In this way he returned to the divine nature that he had had from eternity, together with and in the human manifestation, which had been glorified.” —True Christianity 3
In short, he was here to unite and join the puzzle pieces that would help people choose Heaven over hell.
Why did God choose to be manifested as a human which in comparison to the infinite is a weak, flawed form? Because God is goodness and love itself, becoming human was the only way he could have access to hell to fight against it.
Related Swedenborg and Life Video: The Spiritual Battles of Jesus Christ
How did God become human? Simple. He followed the same Divine design we all live by. This animated excerpt from Swedenborg’s True Christianity explains the phenomena in depth.
Curtis ends this segment with a final excerpt from True Christianity that perfectly sums up the results of the Lord’s coming.
The Coming of the Son of Man
Does the salvation Jesus provided for us mean the world and life are now perfect? Unfortunately, no. Then are we in need of a second coming of Jesus Christ? Here’s Swedenborg’s answer:
“The reason he will not be appearing in person is that ever since he ascended into heaven, he has been in his glorified human manifestation. In this he cannot appear before any human beings unless he has first opened the eyes of their spirit. The eyes of the spirit cannot be opened in people who are engaged in evils and falsities – in any of the goats, whom he placed on his left [Matthew 25:33]. Therefore whenever he showed himself to his disciples, he first opened their eyes. We read, “And their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he became invisible to them” (Luke 24:31). A similar thing happened with the women who were by his tomb after he had risen; this is why they were able to see angels sitting in the tomb and hear them speaking with them. No one can see angels through physical eyes. Even before the Lord rose, it was not the apostles’ physical eyes but their spiritual eyes that saw the Lord in his glorified human manifestation; after they came out of that state, they appeared to themselves to have been asleep. This is clear from the Lord’s transfiguration in the presence of Peter, James, and John and the fact that they were then “heavy with sleep” (Luke 9:32). Therefore it is foolish to believe that the Lord is going to appear in person in a cloud of heaven; instead he is going to appear in the Word, since the Word is from him, and he is the Word.”—True Christianity 777
Swedenborg asserts that God will not come to earth in the physical form again. However, God will come again through the hearts and minds of each of us as we come to know him through the Word or Scripture. One of our past videos called The Christmas in You might help you understand Swedenborg’s unique spiritual interpretation of the Bible and God.
Do you have Christmas in you?
Questions from Viewers
In the last segment, Curtis answers these questions from our viewers:
- Why did Jesus say he would come on a cloud and his footsteps would be heard along with the trumpet?
- Does Swedenborg say anything about why Christ died on the cross?
- Why does it say when two or more are gathered, there is Jesus. Why can’t it just be one?
- Can you explain to me: when Jesus went back to himself (God the father), how did he wake himself three days later?
- When Jesus returned to God, was the nature between Jesus and God changed at all? Are they separated at all?
- We as flesh clearly have a spiritual advantage. Can you tell me what my most powerful weapon to fight and work for God is?
- Did Swedenborg ever talk about the Quran?
- Jesus balanced the pull between Heaven and hell, and before him the world was in a time of distress. Will there ever be a time Heaven will have a greater pull on spirits?
- Does Swedenborg say anything about the Magi or Wisemen and the Star?
- Some say Jesus wasn’t a person, and that we have Christ consciousness when born. What would you say to that?
- If hell was threatening the existence of humanity at the time before Jesus was born, how about the present times?
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About Swedenborg and Life
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 in a lighthearted and interactive live webcast format.
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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 help others look at life and death through an uplifting spiritual lens.
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