Here is a question that a reader named Lara asked in a comment on the article, “Did Jesus Really Die to Pay the Penalty for our Sins?!?”:
I was wondering why so much of your site and the large majority of your beliefs about God, heaven and hell and Jesus are based on the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg? Why do you think that he holds special precedence in knowing the mind of God? after all he was just one man who believed he had undergone a spiritual experience from God, which many many other people throughout history have also claimed. I was just wondering why your site and theology weigh so heavily on his thoughts, even almost more than what the Bible has to say? If you could give me some points on why you take his ideas and experiences as unquestionable truth that would be much appreciated!
Thanks for the great question, Lara!
Between 1749 and 1771, Emanuel Swedenborg published twenty-five books written in Latin, which was the universal scholarly language of the day. He wrote but never published almost as many additional volumes, some of which were first drafts for books he later published. These books tell about the deeper meanings in the Bible, Swedenborg’s experiences in the spiritual world, and the true meaning of Christianity as he understood it.
Ever since, readers and followers of Swedenborg’s teachings have debated exactly what to make of his writings, and how Swedenborg’s teachings relate to the Bible and to the mind of God.
Having grown up steeped in the Bible and in Swedenborg’s teachings, I have spent many years pondering these very questions. It’s not enough to believe something just because that’s what you were taught. To make beliefs truly our own, and feel that we can trust them, we must weigh them against other possibilities, consider them from a rational perspective, and measure them against our own experience of life.
Of course, Christians must also measure them against the Bible. As pointed out in the article, “Christian Beliefs that the Bible Does Teach,” Swedenborg’s basic teachings pass Biblical muster in a way that many traditional Christian teachings simply do not (see the article, “‘Christian Beliefs’ that the Bible Doesn’t Teach”).
This article will focus more on Swedenborg’s writings themselves: what they are and what they are not, how they are different from the Bible, and why Swedenborg’s teachings are worth paying attention to.
Here are some key points:
- Swedenborg’s writings are not unquestionable, inerrant truth.
- Swedenborg’s experience in the spiritual world was unique in known history.
- Swedenborg’s inspiration from God was very different than that of the Bible writers.
- Even if we don’t realize it, our understanding of the Bible depends on human teachers.
- Swedenborg’s teachings are not an addition to the Bible; rather, they help us understand the Bible.
- Only you can decide whether Swedenborg’s teachings are worth paying attention to for you.
Let’s take a closer look. It’s a lot of material to cover, and it’s going to take some time. However, it will answer the question of why this website draws so heavily on the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, and what particular perspective on his writings, and on the Bible, is behind the articles here.
1. Swedenborg’s writings are not unquestionable, inerrant truth
Let’s dispose of this one right away.
It’s true that some of Swedenborg’s followers view his writings as infallible, inerrant truth direct from God in a way very similar to fundamentalist Christians’ view of the Bible. In doing so, they are making the same mistake about Swedenborg’s writings that fundamentalists make about the Bible. (See the article, “The Bible: Literal Inerrancy vs. Divine Depths of Meaning.”)
The reality is that if any truth were to come to us direct from God, we wouldn’t be able to understand it. Pure truth as it exists in the mind of God is far beyond the capacity of our limited human minds to grasp. If we were to experience it even for a split second, it would be so powerful that it would vaporize us, body and soul. It would be like learning about the sun by flying into the middle of the sun. We wouldn’t survive the encounter.
When spiritual sages and near-death experiencers say that they had a moment in which they saw and understood everything in the universe, I’m sure they believe it. What they experienced was far beyond our ordinary consciousness here on earth. But their experience was still only a pale shadow of the pure, universal truth that is in the mind of God. We humans simply don’t have the capacity to handle the infinity of God’s mind.
The idea that any revelation or spiritual experience could be pure truth straight from God is an illusion. The reality is that all divine truth must be heavily filtered and dimmed to bring it down to a level of intensity that we humans are able to bear. This is true of the Bible. It is also true of Swedenborg’s writings. When the Bible says, “Truly, you are a God who hides himself” (Isaiah 45:15), the Hebrew could also be translated as, “You are a God who veils himself.” That veiling is to protect us from the full intensity of God’s love and wisdom, and dim it down to a level that we can handle.
How God does this is a complex process, involving many nested layers of reality. But the simplest version is that in order for God to speak to us, God must speak through human minds, and use the contents of those minds to veil, clothe, and express the divine truth that God wants to communicate to us. This means that in all forms of revelation from God, there is both a divine element and a human element.
In the case of the Bible, the human element comes from Hebrew culture and history, and later from Hebrew and Greek culture and history. God used the individual and cultural experiences of the Bible’s authors to express divine truth to us in a form and a language that our finite human minds can grasp and understand. (For more on this, see the article, “How God Speaks in the Bible to Us Boneheads.”)
In the case of Swedenborg, the human element comes from Swedenborg’s northern European culture, mind, and experience. Swedenborg was a brilliant man. His IQ is considered to be among the highest in human history. He studied all the science and philosophy known in his day. He also had a practical mind. He devoted much of his life to matters of industry, business, and government. Yet as brilliant and accomplished as he was, he was still just an extraordinary human being, with a limited human mind.
In short, Swedenborg’s writings do not contain unquestionable, inerrant truth. They contain the best understanding of divine truth that one of the most brilliant minds of all time was able to grasp and express in human language, as guided by God.
Some things Swedenborg was wrong about
That’s the abstract, theoretical version. Let’s bring it down to practical examples.
During his teenage and adult years up to his fifties, Swedenborg studied all the known sciences of his day, and wrote groundbreaking books on many of them.
However, he lived two and a half centuries ago. Obviously, science hadn’t developed to the level that it has today. He did not have access to the advanced tools and techniques of science that we do now. Though some of his scientific ideas were ahead of his time, such as his theories about the formation of the solar system, the structure of crystals, and the function of the neurons in the brain, others have since turned out to be mistaken.
Here are some scientific ideas Swedenborg thought were true, which we now know are wrong:
- There are human beings living on every planet in the universe, including Earth’s moon and all of the rest of the planets in our solar system.
- Insects, rodents, and even large mammals can be created instantly by spontaneous generation.
- The child of a black father and a white mother will be black; the child of a white father and a black mother will be white.
- All plants are male; the earth supplies the female element for the germination of new plants.
- Red and white can be combined in various ways to produce all other colors.
When it comes to society and religion, Swedenborg was also far ahead of his time in many ways. Yet his writings are not free from some of the prejudices and mistaken ideas of his time.
Today we are used to living in a worldwide society composed of many different religions. In Swedenborg’s day, that wasn’t the case. Almost everyone Swedenborg knew was Christian, along with a scattering of Jews—who were heavily discriminated against. He had very little knowledge of Islam or any of the Eastern religions. As a result, some of his statements about Jews, Muslims, and the religions on the main continents of Asia and Africa are either mistaken or sound prejudicial by today’s standards.
To give just one example, Swedenborg thought that Muslims could accept Jesus as the Son of God while still holding to their religion. However, the Quran, which is the holy book of Islam, states that such a thing is not only impossible, but blasphemous.
On the positive side, unlike almost all other Christians of his day, Swedenborg believed that non-Christians could go to heaven just as easily as Christians. It all depends on whether they live a good life according to the teachings of their own religion, he said. (See “If there’s One God, Why All the Different Religions?”) Swedenborg was far from a narrow-minded bigot. But he did pick up some of the errors and prejudices about other religions and cultures that were rampant in seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe.
We could go on about other areas where Swedenborg’s writings contain social, scientific, and religious errors that were common in his day. But this should be enough to show that just as in reading any other author, we must read Swedenborg’s writings with our thinking mind switched on and in gear.
Swedenborg himself never asks us to believe anything he says just because he says so. He appeals to the Bible, to rationality, and to experience. He asks us to think it out and consider whether this or that thing he says has the ring of truth about it. If it makes sense to us, then we can accept it as truth. But we should not accept anything Swedenborg says that doesn’t make sense to us, or that we know not to be true.
2. Swedenborg’s experience in the spiritual world was unique in known history
It is true that many, many people throughout history have claimed to have had spiritual experiences.
Far from being a problem for readers of Swedenborg, this is a comforting thought.
If Swedenborg were the only one to have had experiences of the spiritual world, it would be hard to accept his reports as believable. But since not just thousands, but millions of people have had glimpses of the afterlife, or heard voices and felt influences from there, we can have much more confidence that the spiritual realm is real, and not just the fantasy of a few deranged minds. (For more on this, see “Where is the Proof of the Afterlife?”)
And yet, if we read many of the accounts people have written about their experiences in the spiritual world, we will quickly discover that they do not all agree with one another.
- Some see Jesus. Others see angels or other spiritual beings according to their own beliefs.
- Some say reincarnation is real. Others say reincarnation is an illusion.
- Some say there is an eternal hell for evil people. Others say everyone eventually ends out in heaven.
- Some see thousands of people streaming through the pearly gates of heaven. Others see no such thing.
With all these differing reports about the spiritual world, how can we believe any of them? And why should we pay any more attention to Swedenborg’s account of the spiritual world than to anyone else’s?
First, we should expect that those who have brief glimpses of the spiritual world will come away with very different accounts.
Consider what would happen if we blindfolded a dozen Americans, airlifted them to a dozen different places in Australia, blindfolded them again an hour later and airlifted them out, and then asked them to describe Australia. Here’s how some of those accounts might come out:
- Australia is a bustling city with a unique and beautiful opera house situated on the water.
- Australia is a picturesque community where people speak English with an odd accent.
- Australia is a lush semi-tropical environment teeming with strange animal species not seen anywhere else.
- Australia is a massive rock formation surrounded by a vast, forbidding desert in which few people could survive for long.
Now consider that the spiritual world is far vaster and more varied than Australia. In fact, it is more vast and varied than the entire physical universe.
Is it really reasonable to expect that everyone who goes there will report the same thing about what it is like?
Why is Swedenborg’s experience different?
What is different about Swedenborg than any other person in history is the length and clarity of his experiences in the spiritual world.
Thousands of people hear the voices and sense the presence of the spirits of people who have died and moved on to the spiritual world.
Swedenborg visited their homes in the spiritual world, sat down to dinner with them, attended their community events, and talked face to face with thousands of angels, spirits, and demons for hours and even days at a time.
Millions of people have had brief experiences in the spiritual world lasting a few minutes, hours, or days.
Swedenborg spent the last third of his life—almost thirty years—able to be fully conscious in the spiritual world at will. During that time he traveled extensively, and visited many different regions of the other world.
Yes, of course, this is what Swedenborg claims. However, I am not aware of anyone else in history who has even claimed to be fully conscious in the spiritual world day in and day out for nearly thirty years.
Why does this matter?
Consider the example of visiting Australia.
Whose account of Australia would you trust more:
- Someone who has had long-distance phone calls with many Australians?
- Someone who has actually visited many Australians in their homes and communities?
Whose account would you trust more:
- Someone who took a one week guided tour of Australia?
- Someone who lived and traveled extensively in Australia for several decades?
Swedenborg can offer unique insight and experience about the spiritual world because he actually lived and traveled there for nearly thirty years. This gave him enough time to get himself acclimated to that world, explore some of its many and varied regions and environments, and put together a fuller and more coherent picture of it than anyone else in history has been able to do.
Yes, Swedenborg had a brilliant and gifted mind. And he was a seasoned explorer, having traveled widely in Europe during his lifetime. These things helped to make him a sharp-eyed observer of the spiritual world.
But beyond that, the sheer length and depth of his first-hand experience in the spiritual world sets him apart from anyone else in history who has ever glimpsed the spiritual world, or heard voices from it.
3. Swedenborg’s inspiration from God was very different than that of the Bible writers
Now let’s turn to the questions about Swedenborg and the Bible.
It’s true that some followers of Swedenborg’s teachings consider his writings to be an extension of the Bible, and even give his writings more authority than they give the Bible.
Swedenborg himself never said any such thing about his books. He was very clear about what the Word of God was—and it did not include his own writings.
Beyond that, the idea that Swedenborg’s writings are an extension of the Bible, and are themselves the Word of God, completely misses the point and the purpose of both the Bible and Swedenborg’s writings.
What Swedenborg did say was that he was called by the Lord God Jesus Christ to receive and publish teachings that would play a key role in the promised Second Coming of the Lord.
This Second Coming would not take place in person. God had already done that in the life of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Gospels. There was no need to do it again. Instead, it would be “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23–24). In other words, Jesus Christ would come spiritually into people’s hearts, minds, and lives in a new way.
Swedenborg’s job was to be a witness to that Second Coming, and to deliver news of it, along with a renewed understanding of Christianity and the Bible, to people on earth. Here is his own brief published account of what the Lord sent him to do:
The Lord cannot manifest himself to everyone in person, as has been shown just above, and yet he foretold that he would come and build a new church, which is the New Jerusalem. Therefore it follows that he is going to accomplish this through the agency of a human being who can not only accept these teachings intellectually but also publish them in printed form.
I testify in truth that the Lord manifested himself to me, his servant, and assigned me to this task; after doing so, he opened the sight of my spirit and brought me into the spiritual world; and he has allowed me to see the heavens and the hells and to have conversations with angels and spirits on a continual basis for many years now. I also testify that ever since the first day of this calling, I have accepted nothing regarding the teachings of this church from any angel; what I have received has come from the Lord alone while I was reading the Word. (True Christianity #779)
By “the Lord” Swedenborg means the Lord God Jesus Christ. By “the Word” he means the Bible.
What is the difference between Swedenborg’s writings and the Bible?
This quote from Swedenborg may raise more questions than answers. For now, let’s focus on what it says about Swedenborg and his writings as compared to the Bible.
In particular, Swedenborg says that God chose him for this task because he could accept these teachings intellectually and publish them in print.
The Bible writers were a diverse lot. Some of them, such as Moses and Luke, were well-educated for their time, and had a mind of their own. Others were more like simple-minded country folk who responded to God’s call. None of them truly understood that they were delivering the very Word of God to humankind.
Yes, some of the Biblical prophets realized that God was speaking to them, and they delivered God’s messages to their people. But they thought they were just speaking to their own people. They had no idea that they were speaking to billions of future people in many widely different cultures.
And none of the Bible writers fully understood the messages from God that they were delivering to the world.
For example, none of the writers of the Old Testament understood that their history, their laws of sacrifice and ritual cleansing, their poetry, and their prophecy all spoke on a deeper level of the future life of the Lord Jesus Christ. That understanding came only after Jesus lived and died. (See, for example, the anonymous letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament, and its reinterpretation of the ancient Jewish Temple, priesthood, and sacrifices as prophecies of Christ.)
In other words, the authors of the various books of the Bible were generally unaware of the true nature of what they were writing. They were not aware that God was delivering through them a book that would become the Word of God in human clothing.
By contrast, Swedenborg was clearly aware of his mission and how it fit into God’s plan for humanity. God showed him the vast sweep of human spiritual history, and the great depths of meaning contained in the Bible.
Unlike the Bible writers, for Swedenborg to do his job he had to be able to accept teachings from the Lord intellectually. In other words, he had to be able to understand what God was saying to him, and why. He also had to have the ability to publish them in printed form.
A simple way of saying this is that God spoke through the Biblical authors, but God spoke to Swedenborg. That’s because the Bible and Swedenborg’s writings have two very different jobs to do.
The Bible compared to Swedenborg
Christians tend to think of the Bible as a book of teachings about God and salvation.
For the most part, that is a misconception.
There is actually very little clear and explicit teaching in the Bible. Most of the Bible consists of mythic and cultural history, prophecies, poetry, laws, and stories. One reason different Christians and Christian churches have such a hard time agreeing on the Bible’s teachings is that the Bible isn’t about teaching. It’s about life.
The Bible is above all the story of our relationship with God. For the most part, it doesn’t teach us about God and salvation. It shows how God and salvation work by telling us the story of how God has reached out to us, spoken to us, and guided us through thousands of years of human history.
Yes, there are some explicit teachings about doctrinal things in the Bible. But if we think that’s what the Bible is all about, we’re missing the great depths of divine love and wisdom that it offers us.
The Bible is not about filling our heads with correct teachings. It is about God reaching out to our hearts, minds, and lives with the story of God’s love for us, and how we can be a part of that love. And if you can believe it, every word of the Bible contains deeper meanings that tell us about the mind and heart of God. (See “Can We Really Believe the Bible? Some Thoughts for Those who Wish they Could.”)
Swedenborg’s writings are very different.
They are explicitly intellectual writings full of teachings about God, the Bible, and the spiritual world. Swedenborg stated that in order to do his job, he must be able to accept teachings intellectually from the Lord.
Swedenborg’s writings do also contain a lot of first-hand experiences and stories about the spiritual world. But even his most famous book, Heaven and Hell, starts out with a heavy dose of teaching about the nature of the spiritual world and the way God governs it. And whenever Swedenborg gets into conversations with angels and spirits, the topics always seem to turn toward theological discussion and debate.
The whole point of Swedenborg’s writings is to teach us about God, the Bible, and how to live for heaven. Swedenborg opened his brilliant, well-trained mind to the Lord’s teachings, and did his best to deliver those teachings to us in written form, just as God commanded him to do.
- The Bible is a collection of books about our human experience of God’s presence, which also contain some teachings about God and salvation. It gains its greatest power from the deeper meanings within it, and the spirit of God flowing through it.
- Swedenborg’s writings are a collection of books teaching us about God, the Bible, and salvation, which also contain some experiences of God and spirit. Its meaning and message are explicitly spelled out right in its plain words and teachings.
The Bible has great depths of spiritual and divine meaning hidden within it, reaching all the way to God. With Swedenborg, what you see is what you get.
It should be clear from this that the Bible is far greater than Swedenborg’s writings.
- The Bible is the very Word of God in written, human form. There is no end to the divine love and truth contained within it. It surpasses every other book in the world.
- Swedenborg’s writings are a message about God, spirit, and the Bible delivered by the mind of a brilliant human being who was willing to serve as God’s messenger when God called him to perform that task.
4. Even if we don’t realize it, our understanding of the Bible depends on human teachers
Now let’s deal with the idea that this website is based on the teachings of Swedenborg rather than on the Bible.
This is a common charge made by traditional, evangelical, and fundamentalist Christians against those who have accepted the teachings found in Swedenborg’s writings.
The irony is that the beliefs of the people who make these charges are also based on the teachings of human beings, and not simply on the Bible itself. It’s just that they usually don’t realize that.
Years ago I spent an entire day sitting down with a fundamentalist Christian and debating our different views of Christianity, the Bible, and salvation. When I mentioned to him that his belief in salvation by faith alone came from Martin Luther (1483–1546), he denied it. He said that this teaching was from the Bible.
However, when I asked him to show me a passage in the Bible that says we are saved by faith alone, he couldn’t do it. That’s because it simply isn’t there. And when I showed him James 2:24, which specifically denies salvation by faith alone, he argued that in that case the Bible doesn’t really mean what it says. James is a real problem for those who claim that the Bible teaches that faith alone saves.
This young man did not even know where his own beliefs came from.
Salvation by faith alone was one of the teachings that Martin Luther came up with in order to distinguish the Protestant Church that he was founding from the Roman Catholic Church from which he came. For 1,500 years before Luther, faith alone was not part of Christian teaching.
And yet, Protestants who believe in salvation by faith alone think it comes from the Bible.
It is a human teaching and interpretation originated by a specific human being: Martin Luther.
The same can be said for almost all of the major teachings that Christians of most churches and denominations believe are the teachings of the Bible:
- The idea that there is a Trinity of Persons in God was developed by various Christian leaders, probably starting with Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 225) over a century after the last books of the Bible were written, and gaining strength with the first Council of Nicaea in the year 325 and the Athanasian Creed a century or two later.
- The idea that Jesus died as a substitute for us in order to atone for our sins (called “satisfaction theory”) was developed by Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033–1109) a thousand years after the Bible was written, and further refined by Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) into the doctrine of atonement and salvation that has been taught by the Roman Catholic Church ever since.
- Salvation by faith alone, and the idea that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins (called “penal substitution”), was developed primarily by Martin Luther and his protégé Philip Melanchthon (1497–1560) in the 1500s, and became the basic doctrine of atonement and salvation in Protestantism.
- The idea that we are predestined by God either to heaven or to hell was initially proposed by Augustine (354–430), and developed into a full-fledged doctrine by John Calvin (1509–1564) over a thousand years later.
- The idea that the Bible is literally true and inerrant was developed by various evangelical and fundamentalist Christian leaders in the 1800s and 1900s.
These are just a few of the many teachings that millions of Christians believe they get from the Bible, which in fact come from various human theologians and church leaders throughout history. In fact, most of the key teachings that have been accepted by the world’s Christians simply aren’t in the Bible (see “‘Christian Beliefs’ that the Bible Doesn’t Teach”).
Unfortunately, most Christians have not studied the history of their own religion. They have never learned where their beliefs actually come from.
We need human teachers in order to understand the Bible
The reality is that the Bible is a very complex book. What else would we expect from a book that expresses in human language the infinite mind of God?
The reality is that none of us is capable of understanding the Bible by ourselves. To learn what it means, we all rely upon others who have read and studied the Bible. No one reads the Bible in a vacuum. Everyone who reads the Bible also reads or listens to teachings about it from various ministers, teachers, authors, and theologians in order to gain a better understanding of it.
The reality is that no matter who we are and what particular religious doctrines we believe in, those doctrines came from human beings who were more or less inspired and enlightened, and who taught their understanding of the Bible to others—who eventually taught it to us.
It’s a catch-22, isn’t it?
In order to understand the Bible, we must rely upon other human beings who read the Bible in order to understand it.
So how can we know what the Bible itself teaches? Even if we read the Bible for ourselves, we still read it through the lens of the things we have been taught about the Bible.
The reality is that there is no such thing as pure Biblical teaching, without human interpretation. The Bible itself was written through human beings, in particular human cultures. And it has been read and interpreted by many different human beings in many different ways throughout the thousands of years of Judeo-Christian history.
Christians simply cannot turn off their brains and blindly believe whatever is presented to them by their ministers as “Biblical teaching.” And yet, anyone who tried to read the Bible cold would not be able to understand it very well.
We must use the thinking minds God gave us to study the Bible and the various human interpretations of it, and decide for ourselves what is the best way to understand the Bible.
The question is not whether to follow Swedenborg or the Bible. Everyone follows some human teachers. If you say I’m just following Swedenborg, I’ll say you’re just following Tertullian or Anselm or Luther or Calvin.
It’s a useless argument.
The real question is which human beings we think were most enlightened in their interpretation of the Bible?
That is something each one of us must decide for ourselves.
For my part, I am willing to put the depth and power of Swedenborg’s interpretation of the Bible and the teachings of Christianity up against any of those other Christian theologians. I believe Swedenborg came closer to understanding the true nature of God, the Bible, Christianity, and salvation than any other human being in the two thousand year history of Christianity.
You may believe differently.
But please understand that your beliefs, just like mine, are influenced by particular human beings and their interpretation of the Bible. We’re all in the same boat that way.
There is nothing wrong with paying attention to Swedenborg’s teachings as we seek to understand the mind of God. It is part of God’s plan for us to teach one another about God, the Bible, and the life that leads to heaven until that beautiful day dawns when “they will no longer teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:34).
5. Swedenborg’s teachings are not an addition to the Bible; rather, they help us understand the Bible
By now I hope it is clear that the articles on this website are not based on the idea that the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg take precedence over the Bible.
The Bible is the Word of God. God is personally present in it, speaking to us, reaching out to us from infinite, tender divine love, and guiding us toward a more loving, more enlightened, and more spiritual way of life with our fellow human beings.
In particular, the Gospels contain the story of God coming to us here on earth as the Lord Jesus Christ, fighting against the evil and falsity that engulfs our world, and offering us a pathway toward the light and warmth of God’s presence and salvation.
Swedenborg’s writings can never do what the Bible does. Nor do they need to. We already have the Bible. It is a complete Word of God in itself, from Genesis to Revelation.
What Swedenborg’s teachings do offer is to help us understand the Bible more fully so that we can experience the Lord’s presence for ourselves more powerfully as we read its pages.
Swedenborg’s writings do not replace or add to the Bible. They are like an amazingly detailed tour guide to the Bible written by someone who has experienced its depths for himself, with the Lord as his guide.
For Christians, the center of everything is the Lord Jesus Christ. Swedenborg’s writings are like a series of road signs guiding and directing us through a complex and confusing tangle of conflicting beliefs—all of which claim to be the truth—toward our true destination, which is God’s presence in the Bible and in our own hearts, minds, and lives.
6. Only you can decide whether Swedenborg’s teachings are worth paying attention to for you
Obviously, everything here is my own understanding of things. I am not asking you to believe it just because I say so, any more than Swedenborg asks people to believe what he writes just because he says so.
There is ultimately only one true teacher, and that is God. For Christians, it is God’s presence in us as the Lord Jesus Christ. We humans can only offer one another thoughts and ideas that provide raw materials for God to work with in teaching and guiding us from within.
All I ask is that if you are interested and willing, you approach Swedenborg’s teachings with an open mind, explore them for yourself, and consider whether the beliefs and interpretations they offer have the ring of truth about them for you.
Swedenborg himself turned to the Bible, and to the Lord as his guide, when he delivered to the world the teachings contained in his writings. As you read the articles on this website, I encourage you to do the same.
Read the Bible for yourself, and see whether the things we say here ring true to its words. Listen to what God is whispering to you in your heart, and see if it is supported by the thoughts we offer here.
If you find something here and in the teachings of Swedenborg that helps you to understand God and the Bible better, and to turn your life more and more toward loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself as Jesus taught (Mark 12:28–31), then the thoughts and ideas presented here on Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life will have done their job.
For further reading: