If you’ve encountered Emanuel Swedenborg, and you’re a bit fuzzy on what he’s all about and where to start, the Swedenborg Foundation has just released a new video especially for you!
Jonathan Rose, Series Editor of the New Century Edition of the Works of Emanuel Swedenborg, narrates the video. It provides a brief overview of Swedenborg’s astonishing accomplishments, then reviews five of Swedenborg’s most popular books.
At the end of the video there are clickable links to pages where you can either purchase print and Kindle editions or download free e-versions of each of the five recommended books. You’ll also find these links after the YouTube video description below.
Here is the description of the video from the Swedenborg Foundation’s YouTube channel:
Published on Jun 7, 2013
Emanuel Swedenborg is a fascinating historical figure. Though he was at the top of many of his fields of study in 18th century Europe, he remains relatively unknown in the world today. This may well be because of one of the most unique features of Swedenborg’s career: in his mid-fifties, he underwent a series of spiritual experiences that completely changed the trajectory of his life. He reported having extensive visions and insight into the afterlife, the nature of God, and the purpose of life here on earth. He spent the rest of his days writing down and publishing his spiritual findings in an incredibly systematic, coherent way. He ended up writing twenty-seven volumes on spirituality, which had a significant impact on many important thinkers of his century and those that followed.
You can purchase print and Kindle editions, or download free epub and PDF versions, at the following links:
Heaven and Hell
Divine Love and Wisdom
Secrets of Heaven
I believe God has a deeper meaning throughout his word like Swedenberg, but yet a very literal meaning throughout his word as well that seems to resound now more than ever!
Reblogged this on Triam Press.
Reblogged this on «Luz Sublime" and commented:
Add your thoughts here… (optional)
I found these two sources mentioning Swedenborgianism and saying that it focuses more on Swedenborg than God.
Especially when it comes to the whatsaiththescripture.com, they bring up both quotes from Swedenborg and the Bible that seem to contradict each other… What do you think of this? I take discernment and the topic of false teachings/deception very seriously and I only want to worship God in His entirety, not some other person or just worship something else in general. Thanks so much for reading, hope you have a blessed day! 🙂
Wow, you really managed to dig up some old chestnuts of anti-Swedenborgianism. I’m impressed! 😀
I’ve read through the second one. It looks like the original author of the 1917 article reproduced at that link didn’t actually read any Swedenborg himself, but rather relied on the book Swedenborgianism Examined, by Enoch Pond, which was an attack on Swedenborg and the Swedenborgian Church by a traditional Protestant Christian published in 1846. I have a copy of that book. Although Pond did read a lot of Swedenborg, he clearly didn’t understand what he was reading, but was simply looking as he read for any basis on which to attack Swedenborg. His book is therefore quite superficial and skewed in its view of Swedenborg.
The writer of the 1917 piece at your second link seems to have simply repeated various attacks by Pond on Swedenborg, and quoted a bunch of Bible passages that supposedly “seal the deal.” But from the perspective of anyone (such as yours truly) who actually has a good knowledge of what Swedenborg taught, most of what the author says is unfounded and silly, and mostly just demonstrates an ignorance of the subject he is supposedly examining.
This is typical of articles by traditional Christians attacking Swedenborg. Anyone with even a passing familiarity with Swedenborg’s life and teachings who reads these articles quickly realizes that the people who write them simply don’t know much about Swedenborg and his teachings.
But more particularly, although the author of the 1917 attack piece accuses Swedenborg of heresy and of teaching non-Biblical doctrines, the doctrines that the author of the article himself believes in are taught nowhere in the Bible, and are in fact contrary to the plain teachings of the Bible. See, for example:
It is the traditional Christian church that has adopted non-biblical and anti-biblical beliefs. It has long since abandoned not only what the Bible itself teaches, but what Christianity taught for the first thousand years of its existence.
I was rather amused to read the Editor’s Note at the end, which mentions a letter received from a Swedenborgian in India who said among other things, that there was “hardly a single statement in the article that can be allowed to pass unchallenged.” And it’s true. The whole thing is so badly written and so full of ignorance and misconceptions about what Swedenborg taught that every single thing it says would have to be individually refuted.
There’s not time for that here, nor do I think the article is really worth refuting, since it’s so obviously a product of complete ignorance and prejudice against Swedenborg’s teachings.
However, if there are any particular points you’re wondering about, please feel free to ask.
I haven’t yet read the piece at the first link, which is 63 pages long. However, I’m going to attempt to carve out a chunk of time to read it, just because I’m fascinated to see a contemporary (to the time) traditional Christian refutation of one of the great early books of “apologetics” for Swedenborg’s teachings: Samuel Noble’s Appeal, originally published in 1826.
Yes, you certainly managed to unearth some classics of anti-Swedenborgian rhetoric!
But of course, you’ll have to make up your own mind what to believe. Naturally, since Swedenborg attacked traditional Christian theology, saying that it was non-Biblical and false, traditional Christianity attacked back. That is to be expected.
Wow, people are really out for Swedenborg in a sense, aren’t they? xD
I totally understand when it comes to not being peachy at first with teachings that were the opposite of what you believed in. Like for example, I was always so used to the Trinity and God’s ‘being’ being explained in that sense that when I first read about Swedenborg and what he mentioned about that, I was like “Whaaaaat?” But all in all, like you said it’s up to the person whether they believe it or not. You do encourage people to think for themselves and don’t exercise the sort of mentality that’s like, “If you don’t believe this then you’re not following the true way and you’re going to Hell!!!!” sort of thing. Which is what I love and I wish there were more people like you out there. You tell the truth based on the Bible, however you also leave it up to the person as a sort of ‘food-for-thought’ and to keep an open mind.
That’s especially what I love about this is that it discusses Truth without the means of forcing others to ‘believe in it or else!! If you don’t believe it, then you are decieved!!’. 🙂
Yes, there have been many attacks on Swedenborg and his teachings over the years. You could say he asked for it by telling ’em all they’re wrong, wrong, wrong in their doctrines! 😉
However, what he didn’t tell them was that they were going to hell because of their doctrines. Instead, he said that it is how you live based on your beliefs that determines whether you go to heaven or hell. So even though he thought they were badly wrong, he didn’t say that meant they were going to hell.
I take the same approach. I believe there are many completely false teachings in mainstream Christianity. And yet, I also believe that most mainstream Christians are basically good people, even if they may hold to faulty beliefs. So I don’t feel the need to tell everyone they’re going to hell for believing the wrong thing, because that’s not how it works.
Along these lines, please see the article: Does Doctrine Matter? Why is it Important to Believe the Right Thing?
I did read that other, 63 page 1834 piece. It was focused on arguing against the part of Noble’s book that dealt with resurrection and the physical and spiritual bodies. Naturally, the author didn’t agree with Noble’s Swedenborgian views on the subject. Some of his arguments seemed to me to be mere word play, while others were more substantive.
However, my main impression is the same as my view of much of traditional Christianity: the author’s understanding of the Bible is colored by his rather materialistic perspective and approach. He is all caught up in the necessity of having a physical, material body, so he reads everything in the Bible on the subject from a physical and materialistic perspective, rather than from a spiritual perspective.
I’ve gradually come to the conclusion (which Swedenborg could have told me a long time ago) that most of the faulty doctrines of traditional Christianity come from looking at things from a “fleshly,” materialistic perspective rather than from a spiritual perspective. This is what Jesus was talking about when he said:
And Paul was saying the same thing when he wrote:
The doctrine of the Trinity of Persons, for example, is based on thinking that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in God must be like our human fathers, sons, and breaths. But God is not a material, biological being—even if he spent a brief time as one in the person of Jesus Christ. No, God is a divine being. And the Bible uses the words “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit” to describe different elements of God because these were the most appropriate human words to express something that we humans can hope to grasp about the divine nature of God. And to think that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in God are just like our human versions is to think materialistically about something that exists on a far higher level than our human father-son relationships.
Back to that 63 page booklet, though I found it interesting as an example of early critique of Swedenborg’s teachings, it mostly missed the point because the author was incapable of lifting his mind above the physical- and fleshly-minded perspective common to his church’s beliefs.
Very true! Everything you said made sense and what you mentioned about the two sources were very interesting and informative!
I also have another question that randomly popped into my head earlier today: Does Swedenborgianism go against things like Astrology (especially astrological signs and readings), numerology, and other things of that nature? I’ve always heard other fellow Christians condemn it as very bad and make it out to be something of the Devil. I’m not very much interested in such things, but that’s just out of pure curiosity. I HAVE in fact read your article about whether Swedenborg supports the idea of trying to contact/dabble with spirits and he’s pretty much advised against it. I never have wanted to even go near a ouija board with a 50 feet pole and a 90 foot extension on it! Especially if you don’t know what you’re doing in the first place, DO NOT MESS WITH THIS SORT OF STUFF!
Swedenborgians generally don’t think astrology and numerology are as wickedly evil as traditional Christians do. But by the same token, those things aren’t all that interesting to most Swedenborgians because what we’ve already got goes so much deeper and is so much more satisfying. My general sense is that most Swedenborgians don’t even bother with these things—although we do have a mix of people, and various people get into various things.
My own attitude about these things is basically, “Meh. It’s a lot of trivial and boring stuff. Why would I waste my time with it?” Having said that, people who get all woo woo about these things can be driven off track in their spiritual life. If there are spirits involved, it’s almost certainly not good spirits. So I generally agree with you that it’s best not to mess with it.
Definitely! I also have been contemplating this other thing that others say is bad.. Yoga. From what I’ve read so far, apparently it’s from the Hindi origin and the positions that one would do in yoga are meant to worship other gods. It also encourages one to basically just program ones self to not think/empty their mind so that way whatever else sinister that’s hiding can take over. This post I found on it goes way more in depth. I think you’ll find it quite interesting! 🙂
I used to want to start doing yoga mainly to help improve my posture, especially since I have scoliosis. But of course there’s other ways to do so I guess instead of Yoga if that’s not ‘smiled upon’ by God or if it’s particularly dangerous in a spiritual sense.
Honestly, some people just get way too fixated on the evils of everything except their own beliefs.
Hinduism is not evil, and neither is yoga. Obviously we’re not to worship multiple deities. But just because yoga came out of a polytheistic religion, that doesn’t mean it’s evil. Christianity ultimately came out of polytheistic religions also. The ancient Hebrews started out as polytheists before they became monotheists, and Christianity originated in Judaism. Then Christianity had its great rise among pagan polytheists. Does this mean that Judaism and Christianity are evil? I don’t think so.
The guy writing that article is way too narrow-minded. I didn’t read the whole thing because it just started to get too silly. This guy needs to take a chill pill and focus on things that really matter instead of getting all wound up about the terrible evils of yoga.
That makes sense! Never knew that Christianity originated from Judaism.
I’ve recently come up with the guts and the glory to finally ask/tell my pastor/at least one of the youth leaders that I know there about the LGBT and how they view it. But mostly to tell them what I am in terms of sexual orientation and explain like how you mentioned in one of your articles I believe, that varying relationships can be just as faithful and monogamous and committed just like heterosexual ones. The ‘term’ that I identify most with is pansexuality. Basically, I can love someone regardless of what they identify as their gender both physically and internally. Anyone in the gender spectrum I feel like I can love, but the main thing for me is the personality/character and connection I have with said person. Though that’s not to say it’s bad if you are only preferring one gender or only cis-gendered people. That’s not what I’m trying to say at all. I love how I love and you love how you love.
What really grinds my gears though is when people make this ‘homosexuality’ or anything same-sex related as if it’s a new thing when really, it’s been around for a long time. Now it’s just a LOT more prominent. Also, even though God did make Adam & Eve, they’re mainly just representing the two separate genders of the human race and the fruitfulness one can have biologically in that sort of relationship. Marriage isn’t in just one mold. Does that make sense? I always hear a lot that “God created Adam and Eve NOT Adam and Steve so you shouldn’t be with another of the same sex.” (Girls in my case because I’m a female.) Indeed what God made with Adam and Eve was Good and you can be fruitful that way, but can’t His Goodness come in other forms as well? And of course there’s this: “Just because animals do it doesn’t mean you should do it!” While that is certainly true in cases like animals having sex with their family members (incest), I’m not an animal. I’m a HUMAN BEING and just like you, I’m looking for a HUMAN BEING to share my life with and grow spiritually with.
This one thing will always stick to me, however. I do have this one close childhood friend. I remember we were talking on the phone one day and homosexuality/LGBT+ topic came up. I distinctly remember her saying something like, “You can certainly respect/be friends with them, but you can’t be like them and worship/love God.” Something along those lines. She made it like this ‘one or the other’ thing and I felt so torn as if my very soul ripped in half.. It hurt and I remember crying during nights I couldn’t sleep because there was always this question at the back of my mind: “Would God just turn away and send me to Hell just because of the fact that I’m not open to having relationships with JUST men?
By the way I just wanted to thank you so much for all your responses. I enjoy talking with you and I hope you continue to add to this website as I find joy in it! I hope you & your wife are having a good 2016 so far! 🙂
Wow! We’ll keep you in our prayers on that one. I’m afraid you’re probably in for a firestorm. However, you can’t hide yourself away forever. If it turns out that your church can’t accept you for who you are, that’s very painful but very valuable information to have.
And if that is their attitude and perspective, I would suggest that you not try to argue with them. They are not going to change their mind, because they believe they must believe the way they do in order to be faithful to the Bible. And they will not listen to anything that I lay out in the main homosexuality article here. Unfortunately, if they cannot accept non-straight people as equally creations of God and loved by God, your coming out to them is likely to be the beginning of the end of your relationship with that church.
Of course, I don’t know your church, so I don’t know if my surmise about their perspective is correct. I just want you to go in with your eyes open, prepared for what is probably coming next.
I hope you have some close friends or family members who know and love you for who you are, whom you can fall back on and go to for support if the going gets rough. And of course, Annette and I will be thinking of you and keeping you in our prayers as you take this fateful but necessary step. (Necessary, that is, if you decide it’s necessary. It is 100% your choice if, when, and whom you come out to.)
Yeah, I won’t bother to argue with them if that’s the case. There’s no point as I probably wouldn’t convince them anyway if they’re so strong in that sort of belief/attitude/perspective. From all the times I’ve gone there, so far I think that they’re really nice and welcoming. However, I wonder if they’ll treat me differently when I do eventually tell them. My family and I have recently bought and moved into a new house so we haven’t gone to said church in a while. My parents just wanted to rest a bit after all that stress that they have gone through and I definitely don’t blame them, haha! It was a long grueling process, but thank the Lord we finally were able to get a house to call our own. No more rent!
Thank you so much, that’s seriously so nice of you! 😊💛 I literally didn’t expect that let alone think about anyone praying for me, but that really warmed my heart and made me smile. God bless you and your wife & family! I do definitely have close friends (2 of which i know are pansexual as well) and family. Though I haven’t exactly told my parents yet, I don’t think they’d react negatively to it. My mom may be a little taken aback because she’s mainly just envisioned me just marrying a good Christian boy, but I know that she’d love me regardless. My step dad I think would really support me. I remember one time he said something really positive about the transgender community (something about this famous transgendered girl we’ve seen on tv) and he supported her as well, so I have nothing but good feelings about him. And there was this one time when I was away for a week in Florida with my Aunt and 2 cousins (as well as one of them bringing her husband and little adorable daughter). I remember one time during the week I was telling my Aunt something, I forget what it was but it was really funny. Instead of saying ‘my boyfriend’, I accidentally said ‘my girlfriend’ and everyone started laughing as I got flustered. xD But in the end, my Aunt said something along the lines of, “Well I mean either way, however you roll I’d still love you!” and my other family members here agreed. I feel so blessed and thank the Lord that I have this family!
I do feel like a firestorm could be coming, but I pray to God that I’ll keep going. And to remind me that I am loved and that He loves me, because I do need reminding sometimes. 😉
That’s all good. If you’ve moved away from that church, perhaps you won’t even have to take it up with them at all. Anyway, do keep me posted. And good luck!
I definitely will!
I also have a question that’s perhaps on a more personal level and one that I’m very curious about. I always find it interesting to learn other people’s experiences! 🙂 You’ve grown up into the Swedenborgian faith, right? Growing up, did you have any struggles and/or doubts along the way?
Of course, like everyone else, I have had and continue to have many struggles along the way. This life can be hard. And though I’ve had a fairly good life, there are parts of it that I would certainly not care to repeat!
As for doubts, of course when I’ve been at my low points the thought has crossed my mind that perhaps everything I’ve ever believed is just plain wrong. But those times don’t usually last very long. I was brought up with a religion that made so much sense, and had so much depth and breadth to it, that it didn’t require me to turn off my brain and accept things that just didn’t make sense. So really, the doubts have been fairly minimal for me compared to the crises of faith that many people face in their lifetimes.
When I was in my older teens I realized that I could either accept or reject God and the beliefs I’d been taught, and that my life would go in two very different directions depending on which way I jumped. Basically, I chose to accept God and the reality of spirit because I believed then and continue to believe now that this is what leads to the most good in life. That’s putting it a bit simplistically, but that’s the basic idea. Since then, I’ve never looked back.
Mind you, along the way I’ve modified in my mind some of the things I was taught growing up. Life is complex, and we humans are always gaining new knowledge. It’s not good to get stuck in one place, unwilling to learn and grow in new directions. And yet, my core beliefs and principles have stood the test of time, and have only become stronger in my mind and heart over the years. I do feel blessed in that way.
I don’t speak a lot about myself here on the blog because I don’t consider my life to be any more special or important than anyone else’s. I’m just here to do what God sent me to do. However, here are a few articles in which I express some of the thoughts that are especially meaningful to me in my own journey of faith:
Perhaps these posts will give you some sense of what sustains me and overcomes any doubts I may feel along the way.
Cool! Thank you so much. 🙂 Also, someone has asked me a very interesting question in a youtube comment! It’s mainly about praying and God’s plan. I’m not sure if what I said made sense. At the same time, I just don’t really know what else to say because there’s only so much I know right now. I’d hate to disappoint! Are there any articles that you’ve written that I can read to help convey a little more understanding??:
His original comment: I’ve always felt there was a little bit of hypocrisy in Christians praying for people. If something bad happens, you say it was god’s plan. If something good happens, you think that the prayers worked. If god has this master plan, then by praying for someone, aren’t you asking god to change his plan? If god knows best, why would you ask him to change?
(Please keep in mind that I am in no way trying to be a jerk, just trying to understand). So if you don’t expect what you pray for to have any impact on the plan, then why are you doing it? I can understand prayers that are basically “I’m with you god, do what you gotta do”, but almost any prayer asking god to do something or change something would seem like either a waste of time or an implication that you know better than god.
My response is like this:
You’re not at all jerk-sounding! I guess it would relate to the faith aspect, however silly that may sound. Though of course, say for example, you pray for some form of a job. It’s good to have faith, but you also have to do your part to the best of your ability. We can’t just sit there and do nothing. Though yes technically one of the main idea of God is that he can do anything if he wanted to, but he doesn’t necessarily interfere that directly in our lives in a sense.. It’s the whole point of the freedom we have in making our choices in life. Though just because humans can make our own choices, it doesn’t exactly say that God likes it when people make not so good ones like taking another’s life.
I guess praying is just sort of like how you would maintain a relationship with another human being or when you practice something repeatedly and get better at it. Faith and hope, though people may express that faith and hope in different ways. Like I do with praying!
I get it though if it seems silly to those who don’t believe in it, though! Even with things such as these, I won’t fully understand it as God is said to be waaaaaaayyy more than the human can understand. All we can really do I guess is to learn the most we can and make the best of life! My apologies if I didn’t exactly answer your question. xD I don’t know everything so please, please, PLEASE do not rely on me, haha! 😛
Sounds like you gave a pretty good response.
As I see it, prayer is not about changing God’s mind. That’s definitely not something you want to do, because God’s mind is already perfectly loving and wise. It’s more about changing our own mind, and opening ourselves to God’s presence within us. It’s also about helping to create openings and pathways for God to flow through into this conflicted world.
I have yet to post a general article about prayer here. However, this article offers a few points that you might find helpful: “Pray to God, but Row Away from the Rocks.”
Hi, if Swedenborg was wrong about there being human life on mars, Jupiter, and other planets in our solar system, how can you be confident in everything else he has to say that has to do with theology, And human life after death?
Because spiritual revelation is given, not to tell us about science and the things of this material universe, which we can figure out for ourselves, but about God and spirit, which we would never figure out on our own.
Swedenborg’s science was no better than the best science of his day—much of which we now know to be mistaken. Based on that science, he believed that every planet, including all of the then-known planets in our solar system and even their moons, must be inhabited by intelligent, human life. (In Swedenborg’s day Jupiter was known to have four moons, and Saturn five.)
But I’ve already written and posted a whole article about this, which you can read here:
Aliens vs. Advent: Swedenborg’s 1758 Book on Extraterrestrial Life
If, after reading it, you still have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Swedenborg also claimed a new church was coming, it’s been over two hundred years since he wrote that. Shouldn’t it be here by now? If it does exist where is it? I’m not trying to be confrontational, I would really like to believe Swedenborgs claims because most sound reasonable, and sound like they make sense. But certain things he claimed seem out there. Why do you yourself believe he had these spiritual experiences? I don’t think he lied, but he could have gone crazy thus believing he really did talk to god.
These are all good questions. It is good to satisfy yourself about Swedenborg before giving him too much credence. And even if you do satisfy yourself, it’s still best, I think, to read Swedenborg (and everything else) with a thinking, critical mind, and accept only what makes sense to you. That was Swedenborg’s own view and practice.
You can read about my view of Swedenborg and why his writings are valid and worth paying attention to in this article, written in response to a reader who had similar questions about him:
Do the Teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg take Precedence over the Bible?
About the new church that Swedenborg said was coming, he said nothing at all about a new church institution, such as a distinctive religious body or sect, nor did he make any effort to start one. It was fifteen years after he died that a group of people who had become convinced of the truth of Swedenborg’s writings organized the first Swedenborgian denominational body, in London, England. And one of the very first conflicts among “receivers of the doctrines” was over whether it was better to remain in the existing church institutions or to form new ones. This was the “separatist vs. non-separatist” controversy.
The new church that Swedenborg describes in his writings is a spiritual entity rather than an institutional one. Swedenborg himself seemed to think it would take hold within the existing Christian denominations. He sent copies of his writings to various theological seminaries and Christian clergy hoping that the teachings in his writings would catch on there—which, for the most part, didn’t happen. Really, what Swedenborg was talking about was not a new denominational institution but an entirely new religious paradigm, which he believed would over time suffuse human society here on earth.
And my belief is that this actually is happening all around us. You can read more about it this in these articles:
How can we trust what Swedenborg says about the spiritual if it seems he is consistently wrong about the natural (see Earths In The Universe)?
Swedenborg was not consistently wrong about the natural. Most of what he says about the natural world is generally recognized as true. However, he was sometimes wrong about the natural because he was limited to the science of his day, some of which we now know to be mistaken.
However, the purpose of Swedenborg’s theological writings is not to teach us about the natural world, but about God, the spiritual world, and the human spirit. The science and history in those writings is meant to illustrate divine and spiritual truth. For the most part, it doesn’t matter whether it is entirely true, just as it doesn’t matter if some of the science and history in the Bible is mistaken, because the Bible, also, is meant to teach us moral, spiritual, and divine truth, not physical truth. The science and history in the Bible is simply meant to illustrate deeper truths. It can do that even if not all of it is entirely true.
For example, we use the sun’s rising in the morning as a metaphor for new beginnings. It doesn’t matter that strictly speaking, the sun doesn’t actually rise in the morning, but instead the earth turns on its axis making the sun appear to rise for us at a particular time as we stand on the earth’s surface. Regardless of the accuracy of the science, the metaphor still holds true.
Besides, Swedenborg himself advised against accepting anything on mere authority. He said that we should consider from various angles anything that presents itself as true, come to an understanding of it, and believe it only if it makes sense to us. We are not meant to accept anything Swedenborg says on mere authority either, but should subject it to the same test in our own mind that we would subject anything else to that makes a claim to be true. If it makes sense, believe it. If it doesn’t make sense, don’t believe it. This maintains our freedom of thought and action, which is an essential part of our humanity. The existence of some error in Swedenborg’s writings requires us to use our thinking mind and our freedom of thought rather than accepting everything Swedenborg says on blind authority.
Of course, these are big topics. For more about Swedenborg and why I think we should pay attention to what he says, please see:
Do the Teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg take Precedence over the Bible?
And about Earths in the Universe in particular, please see:
Aliens vs. Advent: Swedenborg’s 1758 Book on Extraterrestrial Life