Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Like Totally Swedenborg, Dude, or The Gnarly Wipeout

Okay, I wasn't going to make anything of it but a guy who goes by the moniker "Swedenbord Dude" has been making a some comments in the combox of my post on Islam. Since Emanuel Swedenborg's a somewhat interesting guy to discuss, and I don't think anyone has discussed him (or, Swedenborgianism, or with a Swedenborgite) on T-blog before, I'll offer the first offense. Since I probably won't have time to continue this discussion, maybe other T-bloggers will join in, or T-blog commenters can join in in the comments section.

First, here's a bit about Emanuel Swedenborg:


"Emanuel Swedenborg (born Swedberg) (January 29, 1688 – March 29, 1772) was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, seer, and theologian. Swedenborg had a prolific career as an inventor and scientist. Then at age fifty-six he entered into a spiritual phase of his life, where he experienced visions of the spiritual world and claimed to have talked with angels, devils, and spirits by visiting heaven and hell. He claimed to be directed by God, the Lord Jesus Christ to reveal the doctrines of His second coming....

By 1744, in the Netherlands, Swedenborg had completed publication of his scientific works. Shortly thereafter he travelled once again to London. Around this time he began having strange dreams. It appears in hindsight as though his mind was being assaulted by the diametrically opposed powers of belief and disbelief. He was dreaming about angelic states and about demonic states, about spiritual things and material, and was often very frightened. All these dreams he analyzed and wrote down in a notebook, found a century later and published as Journal of Dreams...

In October 1744 he was instructed by the Lord to abandon his old career as a scientist and pursue a new one in which he would write about spiritual things. He soon began working on The Worship and Love of God which was published in 1745.

According to Swedenborg's own account, the Lord revealed to him the doctrine for His second coming, by means of which He would establish the New Church. God commissioned him to do this work and opened his sight to the spiritual world, permitting him to see the heavens and the hells, and to converse with angels and spirits for many years."



And now let's look at "Swedenborg dude's" post:

SD: "Swedenborg claims to have been revealed to directly by The Lord God Jesus Christ."

PM: So? So does Joseph Smith. So does the apostle Paul. They all have contradictory revelations, so how do we distinguish who's telling the truth here? What standard do we use to determine who is speaking for Jesus, and who is speaking against him? How do we know that Swedenborg was not visited by either (a) a demon or (b) his own imagination?

SD: "He claims his revelation is similar to that of all those revealed to in the Bible and for other religions down through history. He mentions a book of the Ancients of Greater Tartary as a previous Divine revelation."

PM: Problems:

1) All these religions are contradictory. Jesus says that no one comes to the Father, except through Him (John 14:6). But "other religions" deny this. Moreover, who is Jesus. The Muslim's do not believe that he is God, and the Mormons believe that he is a god, among many. The Christians believe that He is fully God, but that there are distinct persons within the Godhead. Furthermore, according the Christians, the Son took on a human nature and that the law keeping and death of a full man is required to turn away the wrath of God. But, Swedenborgianism denies this and the atonement. Thus to mix contradictory religions does not somehow, magically, take away contradictions.

2) Or, is this "similarity" so vague as to be uninteresting? That is, Swedenborg speaks of a "god" and of "heaven" and of "angels," and since other religions use these same words, never mind the concepts behind them, it's now "similar" to them. Okay, but this tells me next to nothing about Swedenborgianism.

3. Why care what he claims? Maybe he was crazy?

4. He claims to have contacted dead people. But Jehovah expressly condemns this: Lev. 19:31; Ex. ch 7-8; Deut. 18:10; Ex. 22:18; Isa. 8:19-20. Why was Swedenborg exempt? Indeed, if he's just revealing what has been revealed before him then he's showing that his religion is not of God, or, the Bible is wrong. but he says he's following the Bible. So, either Swedenborg is following the Bible, in which case he's wrong to speak to people like Plato and Augustine (assuming he even did), or, he's not following the Bible but claims he is. Either way it looks like he's wrong.

SD: "His God is not multiple -- the opposite -- he is the ultimate monotheist. That is clear from his writings."

PM: But if an all knowing "god" revealed things to Swedenborg, why this huge blunder? Christians do not believe in "multiple gods." We are "monotheists." We are "ultimate monotheists." The proper distinction is to say his god belief was a monotheistic and monopersonalistic. And so this is enough to condemn him, or, maybe his "Jesus" can reveal errors?

SD: "His God is omnipotent, but cannot act contrary to His will. That is, God cannot do evil."

PM: Okay.

SD: "And God cannot take away our spiritual freedoms since His will is to provide us with spiritual freedom to choose to love Him or choose to love ourselves."


Jesus says, "No man can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" (John 6:44).

So, NO men CAN come to Jesus. This means no men are ABLE to come to Jesus.

Swedenborg believesthat all men are able to come to Jesus. Unless what? Unless they "freely choose Him?" No. Unless the Father draws that man. The Father chooses who to draw and who to leave in his rebellion. Will all men be drawn? No. Because all who are drawn by the Father are raised by the Father on the last day. Since universalism is false, the proposition that all men are drawn is false.

So, this isn't Jesus' teaching, it's Swedenborg's. Since it contradicts Jesus' teachings, how can Swedenborg claim unity with Jesus? It looks as if Swedenborg was just making this stuff up.

Furthermore, to say that God cannot take away our freedoms is plain false. We know that Jehovah determined that Joseph would be sold in to slavery. God used the choices of Joseph's brother's to accomplish His plan. Could the brothers have thwarted God's plan? We also know that it is Jehovah who hardened pharaoh’s heart. Why would he do that to neutral willed pharaoh?

Lastly, what about in heaven? Can men be evil and sin in heaven? if they always have this free will that God has willed that they have, then even in heaven they need to have the moral ability to do evil!

SD: "Taking that away compels us to love Him, or leaves us out in the cold no matter what(Calvanism) -- not a spiritual worldview that I want to be a part of."

PM: But that fact that you don't want to be a part of the biblical (Calvinistic) worldview has no bearing on whether it's true or not. Secondly, if God cannot take a nature away then you could still sin in heaven. If God is just he would have to punish that. Indeed, if you "choose" to not love Him anymore, then would he send you to hell? If so, what assurance do you have that even if you make it to heaven you'll stay there?

SD: "Swedenborg claims that The Lord revealed the solution to this as the Doctrine of Permission. God doesn't deny us the choice of evil, if that is what we want. He permits us to turn away from Him if we so desire. Otherwise we are automatons with no free will of our own - machines really."

PM: Again, it doesn't really matter what Swedenborg claims.

If your choices are uncaused are they irrational then? And, how do you have events that have a beginning that are uncaused? Indeed, if Swedenborg's god is omniscient, then if he knows that you'll do X in the future, then you will do X in the future. Is not-X a real possibility? That is, if you did not-X then Swedenborg's god didn't know it, since one can't know falsehoods. If you can't do not-X, then how are you free in the libertarian sense? Is open theism your out?

Lastly, to mischaracterize the Calvinist position seems odd, again for the reasons stated above. Why would a perfect god reveal to Swedenborg a straw man position of Calvinism? Men do what they desire to do, they are not coerced, and that's what's required for freedom. Men are "able" to do otherwise in the metaphysical sense, but not the ethical sense. For example, it was prophesied that the bones of Jesus would not be broken. Does this mean Jesus had steel has his skeletal structure? Or, did he have real human bones? If they were real human bones, then they were breakable. Likewise, men have the metaphysical ability, i.e., they "can" move their arms this way or that, but they are ethically slaves to their sinful nature and will always act in accordance with that nature. They do not have the "ability" to act contrary to this nature since they are described as "dead men." Dead men "can't" do anything. Unless, of course, they are regenerated.

SD: "Swedenborg taught that the doctrine of faith alone is what has spiritually destroyed the Christian churches. He teaches that you can NOT win Heaven on merit - on that we agree. But he also teaches that you will NOT be a Heavenly person unless you do good as of yourself, knowing that it is the Lord who is able to do good through you."

PM: Sounds like more basic theological confusions. Here, justification and sanctification are confused.

If you cannot merit heaven then why do you have to do good works in order to enter heaven?

Sola fide does not deny that works are a necessary outcome of saving faith. That is, no one will enter heaven if they don't bear fruit, but this is because all those saved will bear good fruit. Works are an evidence of true saving faith. Faith alone does not deny that works are necessary consequents to saving faith. So, it appears that, again Swedenborg has misrepresented a position. One must wonder if this was really Jesus who spoke to him? Was Jesus lying to Swedenborg?

Also, why the equivocation? We talked about "winning heaven" without works and then you said that we can not be "heavenly people" without works.

If you are not saved by works at all, then you're saved by grace. Also, what happens to your sin? Is Swedenborg's god a just god? If so, how can he not punish sin?

SD: "He teaches that sin is loving oneself more than anything. And the opposite of sin is loving the Lord above all else and loving the neighbor as oneself. These are the two great commandments of the Bible and the basis for the Ten Commandments. So, sinning is breaking the commandments."

PM: So, if sin is violation of the law then how can a just God not punish violations of his law? What is the punishment for breaking the commandments in Swedenborg's thought? Remember, if he contradicts Jesus then he has problems, if he doesn't then he has problems since he denies the atonement.

SD: "Shunning evils as sins is the way to Heaven."

PM: Okay, so I actually do merit my way to heaven.

SD: "Unlike Calvanism, there is only a universal "predestination" to Heaven, that is, the Lord wills all to choose a life of Heavenly happiness, and has created us for Heaven. But many do not choose that. And as a result, must be separated from those who do -- Hell."

PM: Well, this is an egregious contradiction on your part! If God wills all men to enter into heaven then why do some enter hell? You had said above that God cannot act contrary to his will. And you said that he wills to give men free will, and they can choose to be with him or not. So, one "will" of God's is that all men enter heaven, but another "will" is that all men have the ability to deny heaven. So it appears that one of God's "wills" was "contrary" to his other will. I doubt you hold to the decretive and permissive wills of God as us Calvinists do, so what’s your answer?

SD: "According to Swedenborg's revelation, God cannot "save" a person who has chosen a life of sin."

PM: But "saving" them is his will, and he "cannot act contrary to his will." So, he should "save them." But, if he does then he acts "contrary to his other will." What's Swedenborg's god to do? Furthermore, it appears that the creature has sovereign control over the creator. Swedenborg's god seems impotent.

SD: "In fact, God does one better. He permits sinners to live their loves in Hell. There, these people can engage in their self love to their hearts content, as long as they do not harm another."

PM: So, he's kind of like a cosmic Disneyland?

And, what if "their love" is to "harm another."

SD: "Since this is their unwavering wish, they are restrained from doing so, and thus the Hell of Hell."

PM: What if my self love is that other's cannot have self love? Thus their self love harms another, me? So, would all people be in The Hell of Hells?

SD: "This is precisely the theology of the Bible, though."

PM: Verses please!

SD: "Back to Islam, as a Calvanist, you can only take 144,000 to Heaven."

PM: Huh? I don't know where you got that one from.

SD: "So, the questions re: Islam are moot -- they are all going to Hell in your Christianity anyway, regardless of whether they were raised up of Divine Providence or not. As well, 99.99999999% of all Christians are headed for eternal Hell fire. And 99.99999% of all Calvanists are headed for Hell Fire."

PM: Nothing happens "regardless of God's providence." The rest is based on your 144,000 view. I'm afraid you're confusing me with Jehovah's witnesses.

SD: "This is not my kind of God! Create people -- billions and billions of them -- so that He can burn them in eternal Hell fire. And your theology had to create Satan? Why the need? Your God was taking care of that already!"

PM: I don't know why you'd believe that "majority of people created will end up in hell" in my theology. I don't think there's biblical warrant for that.

But, in your theology, God is all knowing and he created billions of billions of people who he knew would deny him, and thus end up in the Hell of Hells. So, it looks like your god is not "your kind of god!

SD: "Swedenborg's theology -- claimed to be revealed by God -- is the opposite of that. Swedenborg teaches of a Heaven and a Hell that only a God of Pure Love could create. Supported by free will, God created a way where angelic people can be truly happy in Heavenly joy, and a way for evil people to be as happy as they can be, given their loves, in Hell."

PM: Again with the mere "claiming."

How is Swedenborg's god "loving." He allows rapists and murderers to not get their just deserts. They have broken the law, and they get to go to cosmic Disneyland and be "as happy as they can be." Sorry, that's not "my kind of God." And unjust god is not the God of the Bible. And unjust god cannot be counted on to always act rightly. And unjust god, then, cannot ever be counted on and thus you have no security whatsoever.


  1. Cool. Thanks for the response. I will go against my earlier vow not to post since you have graciously forged ahead. (And since I am full of contradictions, what's one more?!)

    I'm a layman, and so not as well versed in the specifics. Bear with me. (I'll make symantic and other mistakes -- that is not Swedenborg. You'd have to read his works to form your own opinion -- forming them ONLY from my blog comments isn't great.)

    (Forgive my JV vs. Calvanism mistake. I was merely honing in on the Puritanical view of the elect.)

    Swedenborg's theology begins with a deeper meaning to the Bible -- through what he calls the science of correspondences. You can dismiss this, and no doubt will. But you should hear it to "understand" Swedenborg.

    In the "internal sense" of the New Testament, the Father represents the Divine Love and the Divine Essence. (The same thing, in ES theology.) Jesus/the-son represents Divine Truth and the Divine Existence. (Again, the same thing.) So, to ES, the statement, "No one can come to the Father except through the Son" means that no one can become one with the Divine Love, that is have the Divine Love work in operation through you, except in so far as the person reforms his/her life via Divine Truth.

    (The Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost -- the Paraclete, or helper -- is the Divine Love proceeding into this world and is the "helper" of humans in that it is the vehicle by which the Divine gets into this world, in terms of enlightenment and use. Scientifically, ES discusses a structure of influx through discrete degrees in many places.)

    (Similarly with Pharoe. The internal sense is consistent. We can discuss later.)

    Jumping around, ES's theology states that would like (my words) to have everyone go to Heaven, but He WILLS that everyone be free to live their loves to the extent possible. So, this is not a contradiction (my error, not ES's).

    There is no Hell of Hells. What I was referring to was the "hellish nature" of Hell. There are many levels of Hell, depending on how far removed a person is from the Divine, but no specific place, or really state, called the Hell of Hells. (My editing error.)

    What there is is a state where a person who is in a state of love of the sel can exist and pursue their love. But they cannot be permitted to harm another, remove another's "self love" as you put it. ES discusses how they are physicall punished and restrained from doing so. That becomes the hellish state then -- they can think all they want, and plot and scheme, but they cannot act. And ES discusses how they have to perform a use (or job) and that is not something they are interested in - but they are compelled to do so.

    In Heaven, ES discusses the opposite scenario. Everyone there is free as well to pursue their loves. But in Heaven, their loves are aligned with the Divine Love and so they can think and then DO them. They also engage in uses, and love those uses.

    For those who have sinned, it is not an accounting leger. In ES theology, sin is a stain, but it is the love behind it that matters. Reformation is recognizing the sins, and the underlying love and shunning them (that is turning away, the Lord does all the work in removing the influence and thoughts about those sins). This can be accomplished here or in the spiritual world. If you wait until then, it becomes harder, but if one is essentially good (that is his/her primary love(s) are love of the Lord and love of the neighbor), then the person will go through a process ES calls vastation where these evils are removed by the Lord. It can be grievous.

    ES's theology does not have a God of punishment. We punish ourselves, so to speak, by choosing evil. And our punishment is living with that evil. Not some kind of externally-administered whipping from God.

  2. Interesting. You know John Wesley thought Swedenborg was a loony? I mean really.

  3. The problem with finding 'deeper meaning' in the Bible ('corresponsences') is that it makes the text a 'nose of wax', which can be twisted according to the imagination of the reader. It is almost (perhaps fully) gnostic, in that unless one possesses the 'key' revealed to Swedenborg, Joe Smith, or 'Seven Star Hand', one can never understand the text.

    One of the gains of the Reformation understanding of the Bible was that it rejected the medieval idea of multiple 'senses' of Scripture (including allegorical, which is what Swedenborg's 'internal sense' seems to have been) for one sense, namely the grammatico-historical - what the text meant when it was written. In other words, in this sense the Bible is to be read 'like any other book' - the plain meaning is the true meaning.
    Thus all heirs of the Reformation, both John Wesley (who wrote seriously against Swedenborg, as well as saying what the Girl in Grey notes) and John Calvin, would deplore any method of interpretation that leaves the church prey to some extrabiblical authority.

  4. John Wesley? He first said, presumable sarcastically upon hearing of ES's death, "We may now burn all our books on theology. God has sent us a teacher from heaven, and in the doctrines of Swedenborg we may learn all that is necessary for us to know."

    He then learned that Rev. Samuel Smith had begun reading the theological works of ES and this sent JW into a tizzy. He began his own investigation into the works and concluded that ES's work "Heaven and Hell" contained many sentiments that were essentially and dangerously wrong, the affirmation, for instance, that "God is only one Person." ES's ideas of heaven Wesley found to be "low, grovelling, and just suited to a Mohammedan paradise." His ideas of hell, on the other hand, left nothing terrible in it. "First he quenches the unquenchable fire, assuring us that there is no fire there...and secondly he informs us that all the damned enjoy their favorite pleasures..."

    Further he wished "those pious men, Mr. Clowes and Mr. Cookworthy, would calmly consider these things before they usher into the world any more of this madman's dreams." (from Wesley's journals, 1779)

    In his "Arminian Magazine" for January, 1781, and 1783, JW then proceeded to publish "an authentic account of the very great man," given to him by Swedenborg's own countryman, a man who sparred with ES on many occasions, the inimical Pastor Mathesius. This piece described Swedenborg's as having suffered an attack of insanity during his stay with the Moravian Brockmer 1744. One evening, says Mathesius, Swedenborg was found to be insane, proclaimed himself to be the Messiah, undressed and rolled himself in the mud, and threw pocketsful of money to the crowd, and much more to the same effect.

    All this was a falsehood completely refuted by noted investigators, both from within his circle of believers and from the Swedish government, immediately afterward.

    To this day, JW is the only one who ever published a claim that ES was insane.

    So, what about those who didn't think him insane and have been influenced by him or followed his teachings?

    The poet Czelaw Milosz once wrote: "In the history of the rebellion of man against God, Swedenborg stands out as a great healer who wanted to break the seals on the sacred books and thus make rebellion unnecessary."

    Jorge Luis Borges wrote, "Voltaire said that the most extraordinary man in recorded history was Charles XII. I would disagree: the most extraordinary man - if we admit such superlatives - was that mysterious subject of Charles XII, Emanuel Swedenborg."

    He was surprisingly influential in the late 18th century and early 19th century. Kant attacked his ideas a great deal, despite later admitting many similarities between his own revolutionary ideas and those of Swedenborg. Also he was an influence on Schelling, Jung, Coleridge, Whitman, Blake, H. Keller, and others. Some believe his works formed the basis of Joseph Smith's revelation (a plagary of sort), except it cannot be proved that Smith had or even knew of ES's works.

  5. Mr. Highland,

    Good points. And hard to over come. Here is what ES says:

    DSS 112. It was foretold that, at the end of the present Church, darkness would arise from want of a rational conception and acknowledgement of the Lord as the God of heaven and earth, and from the separation of faith from charity. Lest therefore the genuine understanding of the Word should perish, it has pleased the Lord now to reveal the spiritual sense of the Word, and to show that the Word in that sense and from that in the natural sense, treats of the Lord and of the Church, and indeed of these alone, such that the almost extinct light of truth from the Word may be restored. That the light of truth would be almost extinguished at the end of the present Church is foretold in many passages of the Revelation, and is also meant by these words of the Lord in Matthew:

    Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
    And then ... they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with glory and power. Matt. xxiv 29, 30.

    The sun there means the Lord as to love; the moon, the Lord as to faith; the stars, the Lord as to the cognitions of good and truth; the Son of Man, the Lord as to the Word; a cloud, the sense of the Letter of the Word; glory, the spiritual sense and its transparence in the sense of the Letter.
    It is a claim. It cannot be proven. But, remarkably, it is completely consistent throughout ES's works. So much so that people have put computers to the task of discovering discrepancies and errors of inconsistency and cannot find any. That doesn't mean it is true, just that it cannot be proven to be a fabrication.

  6. As an example of the internal sense, take the quote at the top of the Triablogue page:

    From ES:

    In the Apocalypse of John the Word is thus described as to its spiritual or internal sense:

    I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse, and He that sat upon him was called faithful and true, and in justice He doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire; and upon His head were many diadems; and He hath a name written that no one knew but He Himself. And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and His name is called the Word of God. And the armies which were in the heavens followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen white and clean. And He hath upon His vesture and upon His thigh a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:11-14, 16).

    No one can know what each of these expressions involves, except from the internal sense. It is manifest that every expression is in some respect representative and significative: as when it is said, that "heaven was opened" and that there was "a white horse" and that "there was One sitting upon him" and that "in justice He doth judge and make war" and so on.

    It is expressly said, that it is "the Word" which is here described, and the Lord who is the Word; for it is said, "His name is called the Word of God;" and afterwards, "He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords." From the interpretation of each expression, it evidently appears that the Word is here described as to its spiritual or internal sense.

    By "heaven being opened" is represented and signified that the internal sense of the Word is seen in heaven and thence by those in the world to whom heaven is opened.

    "The horse," which was white, represents and signifies the understanding of the Word as to its interiors.

    That "He that sat upon him" is the Lord as to the Word, thus the Word, is manifest, for it is said, "His name is called the Word of God;" who, from good, is called "faithful and judging in justice;" and from truth, is called "true, and who maketh war in justice;" for the Lord Himself is justice.

    "His eyes, as a flame of fire," signify the Divine truth, from the Divine good of His Divine love.

    "The many diadems upon His head," signify all the goods and truths of faith.

    "Having a name written that no one knew but He Himself," signifies that the quality of the Word in the internal sense is seen by no one but Himself at that time.

    "Clothed in a vesture dipped in blood," signifies the Word in the letter, to which violence has been offered.

    "The armies in the heavens which followed Him upon white horses," signify those who are in the understanding of the Word as to its interiors.

    "Clothed in fine linen, white and clean," signify that the same persons are in truth from good.

    "Upon His vesture and upon his thigh a name written" signifies truth and good, and their quality.

    From these particulars, and from those which precede and follow in that chapter, it is evident, that therein is predicted, that about the last time of the church the spiritual or internal sense of the Word would be opened.
    So, an interesting quote you all have chosen, and quite relevant to this discussion.

  7. You still haven't even attempted to address my basic question regarding what standard we're to use to determine whether Swedenborg, Joseph Smith, or the apostle Paul had the "correct" message from Jesus.

    If Swedenborg's theological ideas were from a devil, or a disturbed mind, then it doesn't really matter what he "says," now does it?

    I further pointed out soem contradictions, if those are not resolved then it doesn't matter what else you say because if you have a contradiction in your system you can deduce anything, even the falsity of your system.

  8. Thanks Paul for getting us back on track.

    First (and I'll address other charges later), we really have to acknowledge that no one has any facts. Just beliefs. This is a hard one for some to face. Even some Swedenborgians. But none of us know FOR A FACT anything about the Bible, its authors, its literal stories, whether there can be interpretations, and whether parts of it are Divinely inspired, influenced, or not.

    We have the history of the Bible to contend with. There are elements of that that can be proven to be historically factual. But, we cannot make anything of whether there were Hebrews in captivity in Egypt, or whether there was a temple in Jerusalem, or what the nature was of a carpenter's son named Jesus. While we think we know that a person named Jesus walked the byways of ancient Israel, we don't have scientific validation of the details that appear in the Gospels.

    Further, the Bible is a political document as well. The Greek Septaugint was abandoned in favor of the Masoretic text; yet some still use the Septaugint. Other changes have been made by humans down through the years. Was the Bible not valid before, but now is? Which is valid, the Vulgate? The KJV? The various Jewish documents which are foundational to the OT, but which differ, somtimes substantially, to the KJV/NIV? Who's wrong?

    The Third Synod (Council) of Carthage in 397 AD secured what essentially is the version of the OT and NT we know today. It was reiterated in the Council of Trent to respond to "

    But along the way books were left out. One hundred and fifty years after the birth of Jesus, a man named Marcion decided that a Christian Bible was needed to replace the Hebrew Bible. Church leaders opposed Marcion's banning of the Hebrew books, but they did agree that Christians should have a Bible to call their own. It wasn't until Constantine that a serious effort was made to compile a Christian Bible, one that included both the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament) and Christian manuscripts (the New Testament). Many of the most popular books were excluded including: The Life of Adam and Eve, The Book of Enoch, The Book of Jubilees, The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Mary, The Apocalypse of Peter, and the Gospel of Nicodemus.

    There are those who still believe in these books as the word of God. Are they wrong because the Councils of Carthage and Trent said they were? Were the people at Carthage and Trent inspired by God to make sure the right books got into the Bible we have today?

    That would be a belief. No one can KNOW this.

    Much of a person's or a faith group's theology follows naturally from their beliefs about the inerrancy of their revelation and whether their holy book should be interpreted literally. Many of the intra-religious and inter-religious conflicts can be traced directly back to beliefs of inerrancy and literal or other interpretation.

    So, to answer the question on authority, Swedenborg has made his case. He documents the Bible's books that he says are both Divinely inspired and contain a continuous internal sense. He also says he was revealed to directly by the Lord God Jesus Christ. He says the books of the Bible (that he identifies) have an internal sense, and he provides a lot of it.

    Which authority are we to use? Only an individual can determine that -- for themselves. Since it rest solely on a belief. So, one can choose Swedenborg, one can choose Paul, etc.

    And in the end, maybe we are all wrong and there is nothing but this. Or maybe only one of us is right, and the others are out of luck (having bet wrong). Or maybe all are right to an extent, and The Lord will shape and guide each one of us into as good a life as we choose.

    Arguing that only YOU have the authoritative theological documents makes no sense. Professing that you do is fine.

  9. so you don't know any of what you wrote.

    your position is reduced to radical skepticism.

    your belief in the teachings of swedenborg are completely arbitrary.

    anyway, we can know things. here's one thing. anything that is self-contradictory is false. I can know that something cannot be red and green all over, with its shape a squared-circle. i pointed out *contradictions* in your post and you never resolved them.

    anyway, i think you've pretty much sown the seeds of your own refutation.

    now, you can continue to *believe* in swedenborg's teachings, but don't pretend that it's for intellectual reasons.

    thanks for your time.

  10. Nothing is without contradictions for someone who is looking for them. And nothing is without unified thinking for someone willing to believe.

    For example, Swedenborg says there are marriages in Heaven. In fact, he wrote a whole book on how the marriage of a man and a woman is a fundamental aspect of creation and marriage continues after death. (The nature of a particular marriage may be that one partner is headed for Heaven and the other for Hell, or both partners are headed to Heaven, but different societies, and so their earthly marriage won't continue -- they will see that and separate. And then new marriages would be given for those going to Heaven.)

    Hogwash someone would say. If Swedenborg believes in Jesus, then he is inconsistent. For Jesus said, "At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven." Quite clear.

    But, Swedenborg says the following:

    The Lord taught two things by these words. First, that a person rises again after death. And secondly, that people are not given in marriage in heaven. He taught that a person rises again after death by saying that God is not God of the dead but of the living, and that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are still alive. So likewise in the parable about the rich man in hell and Lazarus in heaven (Luke 16:19-31).

    Secondly, He taught that people are not given in marriage in heaven by saying that those who are held worthy to attain the second age neither marry nor are given in marriage. The only kind of marriage meant here is spiritual marriage, and this clearly appears from the words that immediately follow, that they cannot die any more because they are like the angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.

    By spiritual marriage, conjunction with the Lord is meant, and this is achieved on earth. And when it has been achieved on earth, it has also been achieved in heaven. Therefore in heaven the marriage does not take place again, nor are people given in marriage. This, too, is meant by the words, "The children of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are held worthy to attain the second age neither marry nor are given in marriage." Such persons are also called by the Lord, "children of the wedding"* (Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19), and here, "angels," "children of God," and "children of the resurrection."

    In the internal sense, to marry means to be conjoined with the Lord, and to go to a wedding means to be received into heaven by the Lord. This appears from the following references:
    The kingdom of heaven is like a man, a king, who arranged a wedding for his son, and sent out his servants (with invitations to a wedding). (Matthew 22:2,3, to verse 14)
    The kingdom of heaven is like ten virgins, who...went out to meet the bridegroom (five of whom were prepared to go to the wedding). (Matthew 25:1ff.)

    --End of Quote--

    So, this is perfectly consistent in the Swedenborgian system. Marriage between a man and a woman exist in Heaven. But the marriage of good and truth in a person is not. That occurs on earth -- and so in Heaven -- prior to death and resurrection.

    So, just like you cannot know that one thing is true or not -- and are forced to fall back on belief -- so too, you cannot rely on consistency or inconsistency to prove your point.

    Swedenborg is the most consistent framework.

    Let's look at one other item; the Genesis chapters on creation. Light and darkness created before the sun and moon? Ok, you could resolve that with a primordial glow that later coalesced into a ball of gas. Then there is Gen 1 and Gen 2 -- many aspects of creation are reverse order in Gen 2.

    Are these inconsistent? A literalist has to admit so. A interpretists can come up with an interpretation of Gen 2 that resolves the inconsistencies. And that is what Swedenborg did. He has an internal sense of all -- both 1 and 2 -- and they make the whole -- the external/literal sense and the internal sense completely unified and consistent.