Many articles here on Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life are about how people from all different religions, and even people who have no religious beliefs at all, can go to heaven if they live a good life of love and service to their fellow human beings. Here are some of the more popular ones:
- If there’s One God, Why All the Different Religions?
- Do Atheists Go to Heaven?
- How Big is the New Jerusalem?
- Is Jesus Christ the Only Way to Heaven?
- Heaven, Regeneration, and the Meaning of Life on Earth
And yet, there are many other articles here that focus on the error of various traditional Christian doctrines, and present other doctrines that we believe to be better and truer. For some samplers with links to more articles, please see:
So what gives?
If people of all different beliefs and doctrines can go to heaven, why does doctrine even matter? Why is it important to believe the right thing? And why do we here at Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life spend so much time saying what’s true and what’s false? Isn’t that just a big waste of time? Isn’t it just a lot of argument for argument’s sake? Isn’t it sort of . . . combative? Why not just leave people alone and let them believe whatever they want? After all, they can get to heaven even if they believe the wrong things, right?
These are all questions that readers have asked. And they’re good ones!
Correct doctrine is like an accurate road map
People can believe whatever they want. And as long as they live a good life of love and service to their neighbor, they’ll go to heaven anyway. So if people are happy with their current beliefs, we don’t try to convince them to abandon those beliefs and adopt ours.
The articles at Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life are not for people who are happy and satisfied with their current beliefs, but for people who are searching for new insight and understanding on tough issues that their previous beliefs aren’t helping them with.
That’s exactly when correct doctrine and right beliefs do matter: when we’re trying to make sense of this confusing world, looking for a reliable guide to help us do the right thing, and seeking to learn and grow spiritually.
Right beliefs are like an accurate road map that we can trust to show us the best route to get us where we want to go personally and spiritually.
Wrong beliefs are like faulty, inaccurate maps that lead us to dead ends, cause us unnecessary pain and anguish as we wander around lost and confused, and lead us to waste years of our lives by sending us in the wrong direction.
Yes, even with a bad map we’ll probably get there eventually if we don’t give up, and we ask for lots of directions along the way. People with faulty beliefs do make it to heaven if they persistently seek out what helps them to live a good life, and actually do live a good life.
If our heart is on the right track, we’ll get there eventually. But if our head is also on the right track, we’ll get there a lot more quickly, with a lot less pain and confusion along the way.
Correct doctrine and right beliefs are important because they provide us with an accurate how-to guide for living a life that leads us to heaven—not to mention a much better experience of life right here on earth.
Wrong beliefs have negative consequences
We have said in many articles here that people who believe things that aren’t true can still go to heaven. Getting to heaven is not merely a matter of believing the right thing, as some Christians think. It is a matter of living a good life according to our beliefs.
And yet, even if wrong beliefs don’t send us straight to hell, they do have consequences.
Faulty doctrinal maps cause people to travel down roads that are not only a waste of time, but cause real damage.
For example, consider the huge, ongoing debate between science and religion on the topic of creation vs. evolution. This conflict has caused millions of rational, thinking, scientific people to reject religion. And it has caused millions of devout believers to reject science and reason.
And yet, that entire debate is based on a false and faulty understanding of the Creation story in the Bible. The Creation story was never intended to be a scientific treatise. Rather, it is and always was meant to be an intricate metaphor speaking of our inner, spiritual creation from the darkness and void of our natural self-centeredness and greed through various stages of spiritual growth and rebirth until we have become new, spiritually aware, kind and loving human beings. (See “Heaven, Regeneration, and the Meaning of Life on Earth.”)
If the Christians arguing that the world was created in six days had correct beliefs about the Bible and its message, the debates between science and religion would be unnecessary. But since those Christians cling to a literalism and materialism about the Bible that the Bible itself doesn’t teach, it causes much unnecessary conflict with our growing knowledge about the nature of the material universe.
Most importantly, if the true, spiritual nature of the Bible were widely known and understood, there would be no reason for rational and scientific people to reject religion, and no reason for religious people to reject science and reason. Instead of being in constant conflict with one another, the two could work together to bring about a better world for everyone.
To illustrate the reality that false beliefs have negative consequences, let’s look at the five false beliefs covered in the article, “‘Christian Beliefs’ that the Bible Doesn’t Teach”:
- There is a Trinity of Persons in God
- We are saved by faith alone
- Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins
- The Bible is inerrant
- Only Christians can be saved
1. What harm does belief in a Trinity of Persons do?
Prevailing Christian doctrine holds that God is a Trinity of Persons.
The Bible never says this. (See: “What is the Biblical basis for disbelief in the doctrine of the Trinity?”) And yet, it has become the core doctrine of much of Christianity.
What harm does it do? Hasn’t Christianity done okay believing the Trinity of Persons for well over a thousand years since the idea was first developed by Christian theologians in the third and fourth centuries after Christ?
The history of institutional Christianity is not a pretty sight. For a good 1,500 years after the emperor Constantine called the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD to adopt Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire, Christianity was more often an oppressive, greedy, and warlike institution than the religion of love, peace, and simplicity of life that Jesus preached in the Gospels. And it’s no coincidence that the Council of Nicaea was precisely the point at which the doctrine of the Trinity of Persons became the official, central doctrine of the main body of the Christian Church.
That’s the historical and institutional reality. But what harm does it do for individual Christians to believe that God is a Trinity of Persons?
First of all, it’s a confusing doctrine. No one really understands it. Not even the legions of high-powered theologians who have defended it over the centuries. In the end, even they admit that it’s a mystery beyond human comprehension. For ordinary laypeople, there’s no hope of understanding it.
This leaves individual Christians with a confused picture of God. There is supposed to be one God, and yet God is said to be three Persons. So these Christians picture God as three distinct beings: one called the Father, one called the Son, and one called the Holy Spirit. And though they may say and believe that there is one God, they’re actually thinking of three different Gods, each of which has a different personality and role.
Further, Christians who believe in a Trinity of Persons often think of the Father as an angry, punishing God, and of the Son as a loving, forgiving God. They’re both afraid of God and drawn to God at the same time—but really, to two different versions of God. So they pray to one of them to have mercy on them for the sake of the other, as if one version of God has to convince the other version of God not to send the poor, confused Christian to eternal hell.
This basic contradiction and confusion about the nature of God inherent in the non-Biblical, human-invented doctrine of the Trinity of Persons has formed the foundation for many other false, confusing, and damaging doctrines that have led traditional Christians astray for many centuries.
2. What harm is caused by Protestants believing in salvation by faith alone?
It took another 1,200 years after the Council of Nicaea for Martin Luther to develop the doctrine of justification by faith alone. And this doctrine is still held only in Protestantism, which constitutes a little over one third of Christianity.
However, it is one of the most loudly proclaimed “Christian” doctrines in the world today, and Protestants commonly believe that it is the core message of the Bible.
The reality is that not only is this doctrine not taught in the Bible, but it is specifically denied in the Bible. (See: “Faith Alone Does Not Save . . . No Matter How Many Times Protestants Say It Does.”) And though we won’t go into it here, the doctrine of justification by faith alone depends on the doctrine of the Trinity of Persons. If the doctrine of the Trinity of Persons is false (which it is), then the doctrine of justification by faith alone also falls to the ground.
But let’s get to the point.
What harm is there in believing that we are saved by faith alone?
Although Protestant theologians insist that Christians must live a good life, average Christians who hear that salvation comes 100% from believing in Jesus naturally assume that the way they live is not so important. After all, the preacher has told them over and over again that it’s their faith, and not their good works, that saves them.
Why bother to live a good life if it’s only what we believe that saves us?
Protestant theologians and ministers can preach until they’re blue in the face that the faithful must also live good lives. But the reality is that ever since Martin Luther first invented the doctrine of justification by faith alone, Protestantism has been dogged by many millions of laypeople, and even ministers, who live bad lives and think they’re still going to heaven because of their belief in Jesus.
When the rubber hits the road on the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, people hear that what’s critically important is to believe in Jesus—and that it’s not so important to love their neighbor as Jesus taught. What they hear is that you can be a total jerk and still be saved as long as you believe that Jesus paid the penalty for your sins. (We’ll get to that in a minute.)
In fact, a good trick is to indulge yourself and engage in your favorite sins and vices all your life, and then accept Jesus right before you die—which (supposedly) magically erases all of the terrible things you’ve done your whole life, and gets you into heaven.
There is another seriously destructive effect of believing that faith alone saves:
Since the key thing for salvation is (supposedly) believing the right thing, this means that everyone who believes the wrong thing is going to hell, no matter how good, loving, and kind their life has been. In other words, according to this doctrine, most of the world’s population is going to hell!
Further, those who think that right belief is the only thing that saves us often have an “us vs. them” mentality in which we are right, and everyone else is screwed. And this attitude, unfortunately, commonly leads to prejudice and bigotry against everyone who isn’t part of our church and our version of Christianity.
Ever since Martin Luther invented the doctrine of justification by faith alone five centuries ago, it has been making it much harder for Protestants to consider people of other religions and churches to be fully equal to Christians in their integrity as human beings. And this has led to much needless conflict in the world.
3. What harm is caused by believing that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins?
The idea that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, known technically as “penal substitution,” is another Protestant doctrine that is stated nowhere in the Bible. (See: “Did Jesus Really Die to Pay the Penalty for our Sins?!?”) And yet, it goes hand-in-hand with the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. And it does similar damage to people’s spiritual faith and life.
If believing that we are saved solely by our beliefs, and not at all by our good works, isn’t enough to give the impression that our evil actions don’t really matter, then the doctrine of penal substitution finishes the job.
This doctrine states that God the Father is angry with all of humankind because we are all sinners, and that the justice of God the Father requires that we be punished for our sins. The punishment is eternal death in hell. But Jesus, so the doctrine goes, suffered that punishment instead of us by dying on the cross. If we accept that Jesus’ death paid the penalty for our sins, then we no longer have to suffer that penalty ourselves.
In plain language, penal substitution means we can sin but not get punished for it as long as we believe that Jesus paid the penalty for us.
Once again, no matter how often Protestant theologians and preachers say that the faithful must repent from their sins, the average layperson naturally thinks, “Why? If Jesus has paid the penalty for all of my sins, why should I bother not sinning?” And millions of Protestants have figured that repenting from sins such as lying, cheating, and engaging in illicit sex isn’t such a big deal because, you know, Jesus paid the penalty for our sins!
This doctrine is like a get-out-of-jail-free card for Christians. It leads many Protestants to think that the way they live is nowhere near as important as what they believe, and that they can sin with impunity.
Yes, many Protestants do repent from their sins and live good lives. But these doctrines give them no help and support in doing so. Rather, they confuse the issue. They give the impression that believing in Jesus is the only really important thing, and that everything else is an optional add-on.
And yet, right beliefs are meant to lead us to right living. If they don’t do that, they’re useless.
Both the doctrine of justification by faith alone and the doctrine that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins are not only false, but damaging and destructive because they lead many people to believe that repenting from their sins and living a good life isn’t all that important for Christians. And yet, repenting from our sins and living a good life of loving and believing in God by loving and serving our fellow human beings as God commands us to do is the Bible’s whole message!
These two false, human-invented doctrines lead many Protestants to ignore the clear and overwhelming teachings of the Bible due to their mistaken notion that being a Christian is all about belief, and that living a good life is optional.
4. What’s the harm in believing that the Bible is inerrant?
Christian theologians like to make a careful distinction between Biblical inerrancy and Biblical literalism. And I have occasionally been criticized for “confusing” the two.
Yes, there are technical distinctions between these two approaches to interpreting the Bible.
And yet, for ordinary Christians, the fancy technical definitions of Biblical inerrancy and Biblical literalism add up to a distinction without a difference. In practical terms, when these doctrines reach the ears of ordinary Christians, they amount to the same thing: Everything in the Bible is literally true and without error exactly as it is written.
What’s the harm in that?
Well . . . not to put too fine a point on it, but many things stated in the Bible simply aren’t literally true and without error exactly as written.
- The universe was not created in six days.
- Humankind did not start with two individual human beings named Adam and Eve.
- There never was a flood that covered the entire earth.
- The many different languages spoken around the world did not develop because early humans tried to build a tower to heaven, and God punished them for it by confusing their languages so that they couldn’t communicate with each other.
We now know from science, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that these and hundreds of other things stated in the Bible simply aren’t literally true, and didn’t actually, physically, historically happen as described. The attempts of Biblical literalists to provide “scientific explanations” for their literalistic interpretations of the Bible are ridiculous and downright laughable to anyone who has a solid understanding of science and scientific method.
Biblical inerrancy and Biblical literalism do great harm by putting religion on a collision course with our developing knowledge of science and history. Christians who accept these doctrines must reject much of what we have learned in recent centuries about the nature of the physical universe, and our development, history, and place in it as human beings.
And yet everything science is discovering about the material universe is a discovery of what God has created. Even scientists who don’t believe in God are studying and bringing to light the wonders of God’s creation. It is unfortunate and very sad that so many Christians feel they must reject all of these wonderful discoveries, in which we can see the infinite and omnipotent nature of God reflected as if in a mirror.
Due to the false and physical-minded doctrines of Biblical literalism and Biblical inerrancy, millions of Christians are still living in the Dark Ages when it comes to science and history.
5. What’s the harm in believing that only Christians can be saved?
This one should be fairly obvious.
Since only about one third of the world’s population is Christian, this would mean that at least two thirds of the world’s population is going hell simply because they were born into the wrong religion.
That makes God look pretty bad.
It’s hard to think of God as truly loving if God has arranged things so that the vast majority of people are going to hell through no fault of their own. There are still people living in this world who haven’t even heard of Jesus, let alone having Christianity effectively preached to them. And God is going to send them to hell for something over which they have no control?
The idea that only Christians can be saved almost inevitably leads to a certain amount of callousness toward non-Christians. It leads to thinking of them as lesser beings. And historically, it has been used as a justification for terrible acts of war, slaughter, bigotry, and prejudice by (so-called) Christians against non-Christians.
Even today, this belief tends to be associated in many conservative Christians’ minds with the idea that Christians are superior to non-Christians. Even today, many Christians are still prejudiced against Muslims, Jews, and other non-Christians. If they’re all going to hell anyway, why should we worry about their rights and their wellbeing?
The idea that only Christians are saved not only makes God into a small-minded tyrant, but it pushes Christian believers into prejudice against non-Christians—and often even against the “wrong” kind of Christians, who believe differently than we do.
I know, I know. The belief that only Christians are saved is supposed to spur Christians on to evangelize and make converts for Jesus. But when people of other religions don’t become Christians after the Gospel is preached to them, this evangelistic zeal quickly turns into condemnation of all those recalcitrant unbelievers who refused to hear the message.
Since many Christian churches still teach the false, non-Biblical teaching that only Christians can be saved, many Christians continue to believe that non-Christians are lesser beings who are unloved by God and destined for eternal torture in hell—and who can therefore be used and abused at will.
Right beliefs have positive consequences
We could point out the negative consequences of many more false, non-Biblical “Christian” beliefs. But you get the idea.
On the other side of the coin, true, Bible-based beliefs do have positive consequences for those who believe them, understand them, and live by them. Let’s take a briefer look at five such beliefs from the article, “Christian Beliefs that the Bible Does Teach”:
- There is one God, and Jesus Christ is that God
- Believing in Jesus Christ leads to salvation
- We must not do evil and destructive things
- We must do things that are good and right
- We must recognize that the power to do these things comes from God
1. There is one God, and Jesus Christ is that God
This, of course, is a Christian belief. I’m not saying that non-Christians must believe it. But if you’re a Christian, obviously you should believe that Jesus Christ is God. Otherwise you’re rejecting the God of your religion. And that’s never a good thing.
But more specifically, believing that Jesus Christ is the one God who came to earth in order to save us, and to teach us and guide us on the way to heaven, makes it possible for us to believe in and picture in our minds one infinitely loving, infinitely wise, infinitely powerful God who is present with us personally. We can worship, love, and follow one God, without confusion about whether God is angry at us or loves us, will condemn us to hell or lift us up to heaven, and so on.
By believing the Biblical truth that there is one God who came to us as Jesus Christ, we can have a clear, unconfused picture of God in our minds, and we can love one God as our Lord and Savior. We don’t have to worry about what one Person of God will do to us if we don’t believe in another Person of God.
In short, by believing in a God who is fully one, both in essence and as a single divine Person, we can have a much clearer and closer relationship with God.
For more on what this God has done for us, please see: “The Logic of Love: Why God became Jesus.”
2. Believing in Jesus Christ leads to salvation
Protestant theology claims that believing in Jesus Christ is salvation.
But that’s not how it works.
Here’s how it really works:
When we believe in Jesus Christ, it brings us into a direct, personal relationship with God. And that has saving power in itself.
But where the rubber really hits the road is that when we believe in Jesus Christ, we will learn and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. And in the Gospels Jesus teaches that we must repent from our sins—meaning stop doing selfish, mean, evil, and destructive things—love God above all, and love our fellow human beings (“our neighbor”) just as we love ourselves.
Believing in Jesus Christ leads us to salvation because it causes us to listen to Jesus’ teachings and do the hard work required to stop being selfish jerks, and to instead become thoughtful, loving, kind, and caring human beings. And that’s what salvation is all about.
For more on this, please see: “Heaven, Regeneration, and the Meaning of Life on Earth.”
3. We must not do evil and destructive things
When we start out in life, we tend to be pretty wrapped up in ourselves. As babies and toddlers it’s all about our own comfort, our own pleasure, and our own toys. And as we grow through our childhood and teenage years, we still tend to think that the world revolves around us, and that its purpose is to give us happiness and pleasure.
Many of us hit adulthood thinking we’re hot stuff—or at least just a little better and smarter than everyone else. Even depressive, self-deprecating types spend much of their time focusing on their own misery, certain that of all the people on the earth, me, myself, and I are the most miserable. Either way, our focus is on ourselves.
Whichever direction our personality turns, we all do some pretty stupid and selfish things that hurt both ourselves and the people around us. Often we keep right on doing them even when we’ve discovered through hard experience that they’re getting us nowhere fast.
The first message that John the Baptist, Jesus, and Jesus’ disciples all preached in the Gospels was that we must repent from our sins. In other words, we must stop doing evil and destructive things.
Can we all agree that life is just plain better when we stop doing hurtful, evil, and destructive things?
The message of the Bible is practical. It improves our lives right now, not only in some future afterlife. For Christians, the first practical good fruit of believing the Bible’s message of repentance is that we immediately begin the work of no longer thinking, feeling, saying, and doing the evil, sinful, stupid, self-absorbed, and destructive things that cause so much harm to ourselves and to the people around us.
For more on this, please see: “Repentance: The Unpopular Partner of Forgiveness.”
4. We must do things that are good and right
The next step is that we must start doing things that are good and right instead.
- If we’ve made a habit of lying, we must start telling the truth instead.
- If we are always insulting and denigrating people, we must start treating them with respect instead.
- If we engage in callous and promiscuous sex, we must develop a sense of sexual morality.
- If we cut corners and slack off at work, we must become good, solid workers instead.
- If we bitch and complain all the time, we must learn to be grateful for what we have.
Obviously, this list goes on and on. And some of the items on it are much more serious.
Do I really need to convince you that replacing thoughtless, uncaring, evil, and sinful behavior with thoughtful, caring, loving, and kind behavior makes a huge improvement both in the quality of our own life and in the quality of life of everyone around us?
Obviously, doing what is good and right, as the Bible and every other holy book teaches, has all sorts of positive consequences for us both individually and as a society. And living in a community of mutual love, understanding, and service is heaven and salvation.
For more on this, please see: “Who Are the Angels and How Do They Live?”
5. We must recognize that the power to do these things comes from God
Now, after all of that repenting from sin and doing good works, we might start to think all over again that we’re hot stuff, and that we’re just a little bit better than everyone else. Okay, maybe a lot better than everyone else!
In other words, we might start building up a lot of pride in our own righteousness.
That’s where this last truly Christian belief comes in.
The reality, according to the Bible, is that everything we have, everything we are, everything we know, and everything we do is not our own. It all comes from God. And it is all God’s, not ours.
God created us in the first place. And God continually sustains our life and gives us the power to think, to love, and to do everything we do each day. That’s why Jesus said:
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5, italics added)
Once we realize that everything good in us comes from God, and is God’s in us, all of that pride in our own righteousness goes out the window. We realize that we can’t take any credit for anything we think, feel, or do; it is all God working in and through us.
This makes it possible for us to do great things for God and for our fellow human beings without getting all arrogant and egotistical about it.
In fact, the very definition of being a saved person is loving God above all, and loving our fellow human beings through a life of useful service, while humbly recognizing that we can’t take any credit for any of it because it all comes from God.
And don’t you agree that this world would be an immeasurably better place if each one of us learned to think and live in this way?
For more on the reality that everything we have and everything we are comes from God, please see: “Containers for God.” (Warning: contains mind-bending material!)
True doctrine and right belief do matter
Yes, people can still be saved and go to heaven even if they have false beliefs.
But those false beliefs do have negative consequences.
On the other hand, understanding the true nature of God, the real message of the Bible, and the key, essential, true teachings of Christianity has far-reaching positive consequences.
When we understand the true nature of God, we can have a direct, personal, loving, and unclouded relationship with the one God of all creation.
When we understand that the Bible was given, not to teach us about science and history, but to teach us about our relationship with God and to lead us on the pathway toward spiritual life, we can leave behind the unnecessary conflicts between science and religion, and fully engage our rational, thinking mind while fully devoting our heart to loving God and loving our neighbor.
When we understand that it is not just what we believe, but the way we live pursuant to our beliefs, that brings us to salvation, then we can set about the practical task of overcoming our wrong attitudes and destructive behaviors, and become the good, thoughtful, and loving human beings that God created us to be.
And when we recognize that everything we have, everything we are, and everything we do is not our own, but is God working in and through us, we can become angelic beings who feel God’s love, wisdom, and power flowing into us and through us as we go about a joyful life of loving and serving our fellow human beings, while gratefully accepting their love for us as well.
We here at Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life do our best to demolish false, non-Biblical doctrines and to offer true, Bible-based beliefs in their place for one and only one reason: to help you, our readers, to feel God’s compassionate love for you and to see the light of God’s truth leading you toward a better, more spiritual, more loving, and more joyful life, both here on earth and to eternity in heaven.
For further reading:
- Today’s Christianity: Vastly Void of Truth
- If Non-Christians can Go to Heaven, Why should Christians Evangelize?
- God is Love . . . And That Makes All the Difference in the World
- The Logic of Love: Why God became Jesus
- Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What about that Holy Spirit?
- Can We Really Believe the Bible?
- Heaven, Regeneration, and the Meaning of Life on Earth
Excellent article, Lee, it clears up the confusion suffered in Christianity and gives us an accurate road map to navigate our lives by. Thanks.
Thanks for your kind words! I’m glad the article is helpful to you, and I hope it will be for many other readers as well.
“Although Protestant theologians insist that Christians must live a good life, average Christians who hear that salvation comes 100% from believing in Jesus naturally assume that the way they live is not so important. After all, the preacher has told them over and over again that it’s their faith, and not their good works, that saves them.
Why bother to live a good life if it’s only what we believe that saves us?”
That is the main reason why I find Abrahamic religions the most harmful and dangerous for humanity. Imagine how different the world perhaps could have been, if we were taught that only good works could save us and that what you believe didn’t matter. Maybe the self-pride, lust for domination and murder of the homo genocidus species would have been somewhat tempered.
Thanks for your thoughts. However, to be fair, outside of the Protestant branch of Christianity, most Abrahamic religions do teach that we must do good works if we wish to be saved. Still, I do agree with you that many segments of the Abrahamic religions have gotten badly off track, and have probably caused more harm than good. And yet, other segments have contributed in positive ways to human society here on earth, and teach their people to love, value, and serve others—even those who hold different beliefs than their own. And I believe that over time, that belief and practice will grow, and the other, corrupted versions will shrink. Call me an optimist! 🙂
Great post Lee!
Sometimes you wonder why God didn’t give more comprehensive and clearer instruction through the bible but then I believe there must be some good reason for that.
For me it was a big challenge initially to believe that the bible was the inspired word of God and not the word of God.
I had always imagined the writers of the bible writing word for word from an instruction spoken by a visible spirit being just like how it is described in revelations.
Also the confusion between what is an anecdote and what was actual reality.
What instruction was only applicable to us in the past vs what applies to us now.
The contradiction between passages that require us to creatively come with some excuse to link them together (context, Greek translations, etc)
The wars, politics and anger that fills much of the book vs a plain language of unconditional love.
The excessive detail with regards to a story and the need to pick out tiny gold nuggets of information amongst this irrelevant information.
The actual need for scholars to interpret many important passages for the masses rather than a layman doing it on his own.
Many people give up because they cannot pick up the bible and understand it for themselves
Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed the article!
Yes, the Bible is a complicated book. However, I think part of the problem present-day people have in reading it is due to the idea inculcated in them that the Bible is all about doctrine and truth. And in a sense, it is. But at a much more basic level it is about love and living a good life. The Bible is designed, not so much to teach correct doctrine as to lead people to live good and loving lives. That, I believe, is why it was written as a complex and very human story, and not as an orderly, topical catechism of doctrine.
I think where some get the notion that they can be amped up sinners all their lives is from the crucifixion scene where Christ forgives the evil law breaking dying man on his right who basically has a “come to Jesus moment” and then tells him he’ll be with him in paradise that day.
So you know hey if he could pull that one off why not me albeit in a slightly different scenario? (lol?)
Hi Frankly Frank,
Yes, the story of the thief on the cross is commonly quoted with that idea in mind. But those who think they can pull that off are most likely making an eternal mistake.
If their attitude is that they can sin with impunity and erase it all by believing in Jesus at the last moment, they’ve got at least two strokes against them.
First, what if they die suddenly, and miss their chance? Then they’re really screwed! 😉
Second, according to Swedenborg, what happens to people who “repent” at the last moment when they’re really not sorry for their sinful ways, but are just scared to death of hell as they face their own death, is that once they enter the spiritual world and realize they’re not dead, nor are they standing in front of that awesome, terrifying Judgment Seat of God, but life is pretty much like it was on earth before they died, they go right back to their old sinful ways. And pretty soon they’re headed for hell.
And of course, if they made a calculated move to cheat God and judgment by “repenting” at the last minute, God and the angels will see right through their little stratagem, and they’ll fare all the worse for their hypocrisy.
I could say more about the thief on the cross, but I’ve already written a whole article about it, which you’re welcome to read here: Are We Saved in an Instant? How was the Thief on the Cross Saved?
Btw and sorta off topic, it appears that huge strides in extending human lifespans are quickly becoming reality. That said, how do you think the folks already in hell are gonna feel when they lived an average of 62.5 years on earth vs the reapers of modern science will get to live an average of 252.5 years?
I know some (many) will go, “Waaaah! That wasn’t fair. We got into hell so much quicker and they get a big postponement. Waaaah!”
So you’ll probably tell me angels will call a waahmbulance for these peeps?
I know life isn’t fair. 🙂
Hi Frankly Frank,
Yep! Call the waahmbulance! 😛
But seriously, compared to eternity, it really doesn’t make all that much difference how many years we lived on earth.
Also, the people in hell are living the kind of life they want to live, even if it does entail a few . . . . ah . . . inconveniences. They may or may not want to go back to earth.
This off of Drudge prompted the comment btw….
Hi Frankly Frank,
Interesting article. However, it’s all premised on the idea that this physical life in the material universe is the only life we have, and death is final. If, as I and many others believe, there is an eternal afterlife, attempting to live forever on this earth is just a little bit silly.
I have no particular objections to people messing with technology and the human body, especially when it corrects birth defects, injuries, and so on so that people can live a normal life here on earth. However, if these Transhumanists did manage to achieve immortality here on earth, an awful lot of us are going to be having a big laugh at their expense as we enjoy the far greater realm of heaven while they’re still schlepping around on earth! 😉
Beyond that, immortality here on earth isn’t necessarily such a great thing. We’d still be subject to accidental death. And the longer we lived, the more we’d fear that.
And what if our life partner suddenly died, and we were left alone? Do we just switch out for another model? Personally, I would have no interest in looking for someone else having spent, say, 350 years building an incredibly close relationship with my wife, only to have her suddenly die, and here I am, with perhaps another thousand years ahead of me?
Oh, and have you read any of Robert Heinlein’s “Lazarus Long” stories? After a couple thousand years, all the guy wanted was to die. He’d go back to WWII and just as the bullets were ripping through him to finally end his miserable life, his “friends” back in his own time would yank him back and heal him as he cussed ’em out! 😀
I haven’t read those but you did remind me of something that has been swirling around the back of my mind for years. The verse in Revelation about how those living during the tribulation would want to die but were unable to do so. A haunting verse IMO as to me at least it connotes something sinister in the future. Maybe it’s forced transhumanism? Also what do you or Swedenborg make of the flying scorpions tormenting man in Revelation? Seems to me both of these events couldn’t have happened in the 70AD or Nero was the anti-Christ 666 version of the end times.
Hi Frankly Frank,
Swedenborg wrote not one, but two commentaries on the book of Revelation, though he never finished or published the first one. He interprets the entire book as being, not about physical and historical events, but spiritual events, which he saw as taking place in his time in the spiritual world. Going into a full explanation of its imagery would take too much time for these comments. However, in general, scorpions represent cunning and ingenious false reasoning that deceives and inveigles people in their moral and spiritual life, causing great damage to their souls (the scorpion’s deadly sting) if they are not protected by the Lord.
So there’s the camp that think 70AD and Nero the anti-Christ is what Revelation is essentially about, then there’s the Swedenborg camp which fast forwards to his time and ends there, then there’s the future tribulationist that the events in Revelation have yet to happen anti-Christ and all.
And all these variations of interpretation because there’s so much symbolism in the bible that things described as a creature that flys like a locust with a scorpion like stinger and face of a lion isn’t what it is as described therein? So is there ANY part of Revelation that isn’t steeped in symbolism? I mean this is ridiculous IMO.
So what’s the point then again in reading the bible and not feel or think that ultimately it’s something akin to the Tower of Babel in promoting confusion because of all the underlying symbolism which in turn is subjectively interpreted? What’s wrong with saying the sky is blue and leave it at that when it also comes to things spiritual?
No wonder contrary guys like Aron Ra make some valid skeptical points about what’s written in the bible. Can you truly blame him for thinking a lot of this is BS? lol
Look symbolism I agree has it’s place but when just about everything isn’t plainly spoken to reflect that’s it’s actually literal then what the hell was the point of penning something that would be so symbolic that only those that understand biblical symbolism would benefit the most?
Sorry I’m not buying all this symbolism. I’m thinking that if indeed someday there are swarms of flying scorpions stinging people there’s gonna be a whole lot of explaining to do! Ok well I know it doesn’t happen until it happens. But the ultimate point remains that just maybe not everything is as “symbolic” as the experts in biblical interpretation believe! Maybe literalism applies in many cases and symbolic interpretation occurs AFTER it actually happens. Wouldn’t that be a riot.
Hi Frankly Frank,
Of course, you’ll have to make up your own mind what these things mean. The Bible is a complex book. It has many different styles. If you think the stuff described in the book of Revelation is going to happen visibly in this physical world, then join the crowd that’s been waiting for it to happen for the last 2,000 years!
And since you’ll have plenty of time to twiddle your thumbs while you’re waiting, you might as well read this article: Is the World Coming to an End? What about the Second Coming?
There is no twiddling of thumbs. We have extinction level events relative to large swaths of earth happening right now. Have you been keeping up to date on the catastrophe that Fukushima is having on especially the Pacific Ocean since the meltdowns? These are scientific facts unfolding and it’s deadly.
So when Revelation says to paraphrase that a huge portion of our oceans will die then I take this now as very much literal potential fact in view of the foregoing. Anyone can take something out of the bible and symbolize it and make it sound like it’s not what it means.
IMO this biblical symbolism trend has gone way too far and instead is ignoring what’s literally occurring right now in front of our faces which to me frankly is incomprehensible.
Hi Frankly Frank,
Is that what you think the Bible is talking about?
Ok tell me first what YOU think I should think here. Then I’ll tell you. It’s your blog however. lol
Hi Frankly Frank,
Nice evasion! Now what do you think?!? 😛
Hi Lee, can you say a bit more about Swedenborg’s objections to the Trinity? Did he actually see and condemn it a polytheism or tritheism? The Trinity may be understood to be an ultimately incomprehensible mystery, but any basic understanding of the doctrine can see that it is neither polytheistic or tritheistic. While I know you feel a defense of the Trinity of persons as Biblical does not succeed, surely these defenses have succeeded in at least demonstrating that the doctrine is not an essentially polytheistic or tritheistic one.
So while the Trinity is not conceptually polytheistic, does Swedenborg see it instead as being, as you say in this article, as *practically* polytheistic, in that the human mind cannot abide by such a doctrine without inevitably thinking of it in terms of three separate gods?
Thanks for your question.
Yes, Swedenborg did actually condemn the Trinity of Persons as polytheistic—as being, fundamentally, a belief in three gods. But since I’ve already written a piece on this in the form of a self-answered question on Christianity StackExchange, instead of repeating it here I’ll link you to it: Why do some Christian groups view the most common concept of God in Christianity (the Trinity) as a belief in three gods rather than in one God?
Perhaps this one would be worth importing onto Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life, as I have with some of my other answers there.
I believe that the Trinity as understood in traditional Christianity is, in fact, polytheistic. But trinitarian Christians are not allowed to say “three gods,” per the Athanasian Creed, so they say “one God,” while actually thinking of three gods. In both actual belief in the minds of trinitarians and in practical application, the Trinity of Persons is tritheistic, which is a form of polytheism.
Hi Lee, thanks for your reply. I was reading over your question and response over on the StackExchange, and I notice in your reply to one of the readers you remark that the Trinity is *tantamount* to polytheism in the minds of the people who believe in it.
So, sorry if I’m causing you to repeat yourself or repeat what you’ve already written, is Swedenborg therefore accusing the Trinity- as a concept- as being polytheistic? I admit to having a bit of difficulty in getting my mind around the doctrine of the Trinity (which I suppose is the point, according mystery), but one thing that helped was the explained difference between being and person. If a person can be described as a ‘center of self consciousness,’ we can see how human beings have one person, and God, while one being, has three persons, each one fully Divine.
I would be much more open to the accusation that the Trinity is a type of psychological polytheism, but on paper, as a concept or formula, I guess I just don’t see how it all crunches down to three gods.
Don’t be sidetracked by that “tantamount.” It’s really quite simple:
What is actually in the minds of people who believe in a Trinity of Persons? Are they picturing one God? Or are they picturing three Gods?
If I hold a fish in my hand, and I say, “This is a bird,” all the while both seeing a fish with my eyes and picturing a fish in my mind, which is it, a fish or a bird?
Hi Lee. I guess I just don’t think I can accuse Christian theology of developing a doctrine that is, incidentally, theologically polytheistic with a straight face.
But, again, psychologically, I might be able to get on board with that. To run with your analogy in a different direction: if you were to hold a fish in your hand, but the tactile sensation it produced was one that felt like you were holding a steak…it can be a fish, you can know and believe it’s a fish, but your mind can’t help but make the connection between the feel of it and the image of a steak. That might better support the idea of a kind of psychological polytheism.
But philosophically and theologically? I don’t see how it necessarily is so. Joe, Frank, and Mike are all separate persons, and all three and Steve. I would have no idea how to explain how this is possible, but at the very least I don’t see how it means that there are there separate Steves. Each one is Steve, and the same Steve.
It may seem like I’m splitting hairs between theological and psychological here, but it’s actually important, because it’s one thing for Swedenborg to reject the Trinity because it is unbiblical and results in a polytheistic mindset, but another to reject it because he misunderstood it as a polytheistic concept.
One thing about Swedenborg was that he called a spade a spade.
And on that, you can either agree with him or disagree with him.
He did indeed accuse Christianity of developing a polytheistic doctrine of God. And he’s either right or wrong about that.
I think he’s right, as I’ve already explained. You’re going to have to make up your own mind about it.
The reality is that Joe, Frank, and Mike are three separate people, even if you call them all “Steve.” And the fish is a fish, not a steak. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck, not an orangutan.
The reality is that trinitarians are thinking and picturing in their mind three gods, all the while saying, “There is one God.” And that has been the case ever since Tertullian first invented the doctrine in the third century, and Constantine’s state church of Christianity adopted a modified version of Tertullian’s doctrine in the fourth century.
So what happens if I am to disagree with Swedenborg here? Is that the end of the road for me? Is being a faithful Swedenborgian out of the question now? Because, yeah, to critically appraise the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity as something to the effect of ‘actually fellas, 1+1+1=3’ strikes me as far too simplistic a rendering of a far more nuanced doctrine that has been so vehemently expressed as ‘1x1x1=1.’
A doctrine that instead is perhaps incompatible with a monotheistic mindset? Okay, maybe. But a doctrine whose internal logic amounts to polytheism? That’s a pretty serious charge, and one that’s very difficult to accept (and I’m pretty sure Rome would have caught that one by now). It’s also worth mentioning that the Trinity of persons is an admittedly a-logical doctrine, which we ought to remember so as to avoid falling into idolatry by defying human reason.
Anyway, so where does this leave me? Seems hard to disagree with Swedenborg on this matter without calling into question the authenticity of his experiences. Are we just done here now?
Yes, it’s a very serious charge. And it’s precisely the charge that Swedenborg is making.
Once again, you’ll have to make up your own mind whether or not you believe in the Trinity of Persons. If you do, you’re going to have a tough time being a Swedenborgian, if that’s what you want to be. Swedenborg’s theology is integrally based on a “Trinity” in a single Person of God. His theology doesn’t work with a Trinity of Persons, just as Catholic and Protestant theology doesn’t work without it.
You can’t both believe and not believe in a Trinity of Persons at the same time. Ultimately, you’re going to have to decide which you think is right. And since our concept of God is the central, guiding idea in our entire religion and theology, that decision will effectively determine which way you go if you want to be a Christian.
I can’t make that decision for you. But I can say that if you come to the conclusion that Swedenborg is wrong about the core doctrine of Christianity, then it seems inevitable that you’ll reject his theology as a whole, even if you may like some of his ideas.
Obviously, I think it would be better for you to reject the Trinity of Persons and accept the truly and thoroughly monotheistic theology that Swedenborg articulated, along with the rest of his theology, which I consider to be far superior in every way to the old Catholic and Protestant theologies. But of course, I can’t make up your mind for you. You’re going to have to do that for yourself.
I would only suggest that in making that decision, you not be overly swayed by human authority and erudition. You seem to be awed by all of the high-powered theologians who support the Trinity of Persons. But they are only human beings. And human beings make mistakes. Sometimes huge mistakes that roll on for hundreds or thousands of years. The truth is not a democratic institution. It is not based on what most people think. Nor is it an academic institution, based on who has the most degrees from the fanciest, most well-respected seminaries.
Keep in mind that Jesus Christ himself overturned centuries, if not millennia, of false, human-derived teachings. He opposed the entire edifice of the existing religious institutions. He said they were wrong. Clearly Jesus did not think that the weight of prevailing human opinion was greater than the weight of the truth.
I’m not necessarily opposed to Swedenborg’s rejection of the Trinity and the alternative he brings- but it’s his rationale that I have qualms with.
I’ve seen it remarked here and elsewhere that the Trinity is illogical…but what rules of logic is it breaking, exactly? If the doctrine states that there are three gods who are somehow one, sure, but that’s not what it’s stating; it’s talking about three persons who are one being, and what rule of logic says one God can’t be three persons? If anything, it is, as I mentioned earlier, a-logical, in that we have no logical construct to account for what is in essence a Divine mystery.
You’re right (and thank you), I don’t want to base my beliefs on the mere authority of prestigious scholars and their prestigious universities, but I also (and I’m not referring to you) don’t want to settle for shallow arguments and superficial reasoning because we’re starting with the assumption that Swedenborg’s visions were real. It’s like believing that the Earth is round and putting up shoddy arguments in defense of your belief or misrepresenting flat-Earth arguments. The world may be round, but bad arguments are bad arguments, and we need to do better than that of we are to he active thinking persons (which should be possible if the truth really is on our side).
So I’m open to entertaining the belief that the doctrine is unbiblical.
I’m open to entertaining that the human mind simply cannot adopt the Trinity without conceiving three distinct gods (‘tantamount to tritheism’).
But to argue that the doctrine- in theory, if not just in practice- adds up to three gods is just factually incorrect.
If that’s what Swedenborg is arguing, then I guess I would have to find that rationale unacceptable to me, and that’s about as far as I can go here.
Does theory matter if in practice it is correct?
Does theory = facts?
It is nonsensical to say that a theory is “factually correct” or “factually incorrect.” Theories are mental constructs. Facts have to do with how things work out in practice.
What does the theory matter if in practice trinitarians think of and worship three gods?
The Athanasian Creed itself acknowledges that trinitarians must think in terms of three gods, but are forbidden by the church to say that:
I don’t see how it could be any clearer that trinitarians are to think in terms of three gods, but say that there is one.
And that, in fact is how trinitarians operate in practice.
Hi Lee, and happy Fourth! Hope you’re having an pleasant and eventful holiday (from one introvert to another).
Looking back, ‘theory’ may be an inappropriate way to describe ‘doctrine’, though the term does provide some insight into how we formulate doctrines that have no explicit terminology or even expression in the Bible. As you mentioned, and as is accepted by all Biblical scholars, the term ‘Trinity’ exists nowhere in the Bible, and yet, a Trinity of persons is, according to its proponents, the only way to make sense of and explain the statements and events that are detailed in the Bible. So in that respect we can see how doctrine involves a bit of theorizing, but the term ‘principle’ might be more appropriate.
As for the tension that can exist between the facts of a doctrine and its practice, I think a good example is the veneration of Mary in Catholic theology. Catholic theology elevates Mary to an exalted and venerated position, but is very careful to add that she is not be worshipped. Unfortunately, many Catholics, not properly informed about the details of their faith, go too far with this veneration and wind worshipping Mary as though she were the fourth person of the Trinity, and Protestant criticism of Catholicism’s doctrines on Mary actually mirrors Swedenborg’s criticisms of the Trinity of persons, in that ‘you say one thing, but you’re really believing in another.
So I think we can see here an example of how the internal logic of a doctrine isn’t mirroring it’s practice, and we have to ask ourselves why. Is it simply not possible to believe in some doctrine without practicing it to the effect believing something else? Or are we just talking about human shortcomings and a lack of education? And if Trinitarians are envisioning three gods, which of the two possibilities does that result from?
I don’t have any answers to that question, as I am not a Trinitarian, and so have not attempted to worship one God through the understanding of three separate persons, but it doesn’t strike me as at all impossible.
I think one way to see the Trinity’s monotheismline it up with polytheism. I think a polytheist might have a very hard time accepting the Trinity, for while it envisions three separate persons, it nevertheless maintains one unifying essence, and I can totally see a reverse version of the argument you gave going something like ‘you say you believe in three gods, but you’re really only seeing one.’ In fact if you tried to import the Trinity into a polytheistic system, I imagine you’d get a lot of people angrily denouncing it as just disguised monotheism!
Now maybe I’m demanding an unfair level of precision from Swedenborg. Maybe, when he rejects the Trinity as polytheism, he’s thinking and speaking in a way that holistically describes its principle and practice. In that respect, it may not be necessary for his credibility to have properly understood that the Trinity, in principle, is three separate persons existing as one being. But I have a hard time taking seriously any rejection of the Trinity that doesn’t do proper justice to what it actually says.
I think we’ve covered enough ground here such that I don’t see the need to press on with this issue, so I think I’ll hand it back to you before moving on to something else (is it okay to start new conversations on some of your older articles?).
If you want to wind this conversation down, that’s fine with me. I’ll respond to what seems to need a response in this latest comment of yours, and you can leave it there if you wish.
First, the Trinity of Persons is not the only, or even the best, way to make sense of and explain the various statements in the Bible about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As I outline in the last three subheadings of the article, “What is the Biblical basis for disbelief in the doctrine of the Trinity?” Swedenborg offers a far superior way that doesn’t involve inventing an illogical and self-contradictory doctrine.
Second, if a doctrine inevitably leads people to misinterpret it and do things that the doctrine supposedly isn’t meant to lead them to do, then there is probably a serious problem with that doctrine. I’ve covered this fairly extensively with the doctrine of justification by faith alone (notably in the above article), which inevitably leads believers to think that their actions don’t matter all that much to their salvation. What good is doctrine if it doesn’t lead people in the right direction, but misleads them instead? The Catholic doctrine about Mary is a perfect case in point. Given the high pedestal they put her on, not to mention the rest of the Catholic saints, it’s inevitable that many ordinary, rank-and-file Catholics are going to worship them. That’s bad doctrine.
Third, you’ve put your finger on the problem of the Trinity of Persons. It’s neither fish nor fowl. It’s effectively polytheistic, but claims to be monotheistic. So which is it? It’s really not acceptable either to firm monotheists, such as Jews and Muslims, nor to polytheists. If anything positive can be said about it, it’s that it was a way for pagan polytheists to become Christians without having to entirely give up their ingrained polytheism. And I believe that those who framed it in the third and fourth centuries had not yet fully transitioned over to monotheism, so that the idea of three “persons” of God was not a problem to their still rather polytheistic minds. But polytheists are few and far between in today’s world. It’s time we abandoned this relic of early Christian/pagan polytheism.
Fourth, Swedenborg did properly understand the Trinity. He had a very precise in his knowledge of it. Remember, he grew up as the son of a Lutheran priest who later became a bishop. And Swedenborg was prepared to call foul on the Trinity in a way that those who establish their reputation and make their living defending it cannot. What the doctrine of the Trinity “actually says” is self-contradictory, irrational, non-Biblical, and wrong. Swedenborg simply pointed that out.
You say you’re not a Trinitarian. Yet you feel the need to defend it from Swedenborg’s attack. Why? If you don’t believe in the Trinity, that implies that you think it’s wrong. Yet you seem not quite ready and willing to take your rejection of the Trinity to its logical conclusion, and accept the reality that it is a polytheistic doctrine masquerading as monotheism.
Speaking of which, I will soon be posting here a somewhat edited and expanded version of the Christianity StackExchange Q&A on the Trinity as polytheism that I linked for you earlier. And I’ll mention this thread as the thing that sparked me to re-post it here.
I did have a nice, quiet, July 4th, thanks. Watched the fireworks from a distance, away from the madding crowds. 🙂
To follow up on my last, here is the re-edited and re-posted article I mentioned: Is the Doctrine of the Trinity Polytheistic?
Before you answer though if you haven’t already read plenty of this and then corroborate it through other channels to verify it.
All I’m saying here is that not ALL physically described things in Revelation are symbolic in nature. This is one of those. So yeah I tipped my hand. This is what I think. lol
To further accent this do know that at present the release of Fukushima’s “fall out” is on the order of at minimum equal to 11 Hiroshimas PER DAY into the environment plus plutonium since 3/11. Not even the vastness of the Pacific Ocean can absorb all that without bio-accumulation major impact. There has never in history been ANYTHING that approaches this in scale or ramification, save perhaps a monumental asteroid impact or super volcano eons ago. The kicker here is that it’s happening TODAY.
Afterall Lee, wasn’t Revelation written principally as a PROPHESY of just not that era but also future ones? How then does “symbolism” all of a sudden magically negate the future to unfold as it was written? IOW if John saw into the future and warns that 1/3 of an ocean becomes so polluted that it literally becomes deadly to human beings to ingest food from it who gives anyone the authority to say that John didn’t mean exactly what he said?
Understand that the “star wormwood” he mentions is in effect the 600 tons of fissioning material which even today they can’t locate where it’s glowing like a star (sun) in its own right.
They can’t even get hardened instrumentation anywhere near enough because it fries everything first. And it’s buried doing its thing into the water table and then into the ocean. You as a body could not stand within 1/2 a mile of the plant without being fatally irradiated within 30 minutes. Think about this.
John saw into the future alright. And this is proof of it. No symbolism necessary.
Hi Frankly Frank,
Of course I am concerned about nuclear disasters such as Chernobyl and Fukushima. And I’m generally skeptical of nuclear fission as a good and reasonable energy source. However, the things you describe really don’t look all that much like the prophecies in Revelation. I’ve read a number of such attempts to stretch the descriptions in Revelation to make them fit various current events. All of them strike me as rather far-fetched. This one is no exception.
Further, I simply don’t see any statement anywhere in the book of Revelation itself saying that these things are going to happen in the material world. It’s all described as taking place when heaven was opened to John, and while he was in the spirit. It’s a leap of logic to say that all of these things that John saw taking place in the spiritual world are going to take place in the physical world.
And practically speaking, it’s been nearly 2,000 years now, and the apocalypse still hasn’t come. The original apostles believed it was going to happen in their lifetimes, as did Paul. But it didn’t. And you could point to events in every single century since then and interpret them as “signs of the end times.” But the world just keeps on turning.
There is simply no reason, either based on the text of the Bible itself or on the history of the world since then, to think that any of these things are going to take place literally, physically, in this world. Once again: Is the World Coming to an End? What about the Second Coming?
Ok let me get this straight. You think massive unprecedented ongoing radioisotope poisoning of the Pacific Ocean (it’s literally dying) and John stating that he specifically saw this happening ON earth in the future isn’t prophesy but rather he’s describing a spiritual event through symbolism? This is absurd IMO.
If so, I don’t know what else to say. Except that it appears that prophesying doesn’t exist when symbolism neatly Legos to solve what one doesn’t understand. I don’t think you truly grok what’s happening in Japan and that it will be going on for thousands of more years because we don’t have the technology to stop it. It’s monumentally catastrophic LITERALLY right at this moment, Lee. Unlike anything else in the past 2,000 years. And yes coincidentally you and me were alive when it happened.
Let me ask you something else. This is sensitive but I have to ask it. You have stated that without theTrinity intact as followed by Protestant doctrine that their entire house of cards must collapse.
So, if that’s the case for Protestant doctrine would you likewise agree that Swedenborgism’s house of cards if what I just told you above becomes vivid earthly reality would also collapse?
Hi Frankly Frank,
If the Apocalypse happened literally as described in Revelation, that would certainly be fatal to Swedenborg’s interpretation of the Bible, and by extension, to his entire theology.
But it isn’t happening, and it’s not going to happen. That is my firm view and prediction.
John couldn’t possibly have prophesied the Fukushima disaster and the radioisotope poisoning of the Pacific because none of its elements (besides “poisoning”) were known in the Biblical world. Nuclear power was unknown, radioactivity was unknown, and even the Pacific Ocean was unknown. “The sea” in the Bible refers to the Mediterranean.
Yes, what’s happening today is unprecedented. Chernobyl, Fukushima, and other nuclear disasters are terrible events. Believe me, I know what it’s about. When the Three Mile Island accident near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, happened in 1979, I was living about 100 miles east of there near Philadelphia, well within the nuclear radiation wind shadow if that accident had become catastrophic. I could have been heavily irradiated, or even dead if the worst had happened, and we had to sweat it out, constantly following the news to learn our fate. My brother and I drove by the plant after the disaster. His laconic statement was, “You are now being irradiated.” So yes, I’m very much aware of the catastrophic nature of nuclear disasters.
But read the book of Revelation, and then tell me if all of the prophecies in it are literally taking place. It’s easy to pick catastrophes out here and there, and say, “That’s it!” But the book of Revelation describes a specific chain of events leading to apocalyptic battles and so on. A nuclear disaster simply doesn’t qualify.
If the actual events described in Revelation start happening, and we see Michael and his angels fighting the dragon up in the sky, then I’ll have to rethink my theology. But until that sort of stuff starts happening, I’m sorry, but the Apocalypse isn’t here.
And I’m very glad to say that it ain’t gonna happen. Not in our lifetime. Not ever. Not as a literal, physical event. That’s not what the book is talking about.
You’re wrong about certain key things here. John saw into the future through a vision. It is possible to do so. Seeing into the future is prophesy. He described what he saw as best as his mind could handle akin to what Swedenborg claims he saw and interpreted. Swedenborg essentially also saw into the future by describing what people will experience after they die. Again to the best of his ability to intellectually process that experience and then define it subject to the limitation of words as were known during his time. His descriptions of life on other planets is a case in point. He just didn’t have the scientific ability to accurately describe what he saw in context to what we scientifically know today. However this does not mean he saw symbolic images. He likely DID see actual life forms on other planets.
Swedenborg’s retelling of his experiences were not event specific ala Nostradamus yet nonetheless it is still seeing an overall future state of things. You and many learned others confuse John’s visions as symbolism simply because the words available to him at the time to describe what he saw were inadequate. Just like they were for Swedenborg.
The death of life within an ocean would be very difficult for John or anyone to accurately describe without scientific words as we know them today. Simply said they didn’t know for instance about the immense importance of plankton in an ocean’s ecosystem that without it much of an ocean’s life forms will eventually die. I am now certain that John did SEE some form of death of an ocean. A death of any of our ocean’s (including “just” the Mediterranean “Sea”) key life forms would have a huge impact on earth’s ecosystem. In the case of “just” the Mediterranean Sea a more localized catastrophe vs the global implications of the Pacific Ocean. This does not mean that he actually saw only the Mediterranean Sea as dying simply because that’s the only ocean he knew. He saw an ocean he just didn’t know that Japan existed nor that the Pacific Ocean is next to it.
Fukushima is apocalyptic. It’s apocalyptic specifically to the Paciic Ocean and therefore it is apocalyptic to the entire world. And yes it took 2,000+ years for this prophesy to start unfolding into reality just as it took 2,000 years to prophesize about Christ. If you have an insurmountable intellectual and spiritual problem with the duration of how long prophesy should take before what it foretells will happen then you also already have a problem with many other things about the bible as well. I don’t think you have that problem. I just know that you like many others have overemphasized symbolism when it is convenient to support one’s own beliefs and theology.
John literally saw into the future. Fukushima unfortunately proves that without a shadow of a doubt now. And since this now is scientifically proven as true that there is monumental irreversible damage on an immense and unrelenting scale of hyper-toxic radioisotopes being released into the Pacific Ocean is occurring right now and will continue for thousand’s of years to come if we don’t find a technical solution very soon. It can’t go on like this. As the Pacific Ocean’s key life forms goes so does implications for the rest of the world especially concerning it’s impact on climate and food production beginning with the first key underpinning of it’s ecosystem which is plankton.
Hi Frankly Frank,
I could reply to many things here. For example, everything Swedenborg saw in the spiritual world he described as happening in the present or the past. Future states may be inferred from this, but that’s not the same as Swedenborg seeing the future.
But let’s focus on the main issue. I’m not disputing that John saw visions that foretold the future.
I’m also not disputing that Fukushima is a major nuclear disaster, which will have destructive consequences for thousands of years. The same is very likely true of the entire nuclear fusion power program, in my view.
But you’re saying something more specific. You’re saying that Fukushima is a fulfillment of John’s vision in the book of Revelation, and that it “proves beyond a shadow of a doubt” that John’s visions are meant literally, and are unfolding literally right now.
So tell me, please: Which prophecy in the book of Revelation is being fulfilled by Fukushima? Please be specific, and provide the chapter and verse.
I’m startled that you think just because “John was in the spirit” that when he says “earth” he means something else besides the earth he lived on and moreso always meant that throughout the book.
I’m not nor will I ever be a bible expert at your level so take that FWIW.
That said, focus on Revelation 8:9-11 and relieve your mind of unearthly “symbolism” for a moment.
Again, the scale of Fukushima IS apocalyptic. I’m not just saying this out of opinion. Even Tepco execs, the Japanese Gov’t to a certain highly restrained extent, plus a myriad of its top private and state scientists are now saying this. It IS unprecedented. And even out of all of these people who once tried to hide the enormity of Fukushima are now forced to admit its enormity publicly because of all the cancers, birth defects, and just plain radioactive hot particle contamination that is now covering the globe. Chernobyl in comparison even as significant as that is, is still incomparable in total scale to Fukushima. And that is principally due because there is no technology that is capable of shutting this disaster down fast enough to save the Pacific Ocean and potentially the existing fresh water that is potable. When I say fresh water I mean truly potable fresh water which believe it or not consists of less that .03 of all water on earth.
Understand that one of the main reasons of Fukushima’s apocalyptic enormity is that there are 3 ongoing fissioning cores (essentially they’re Suns) interacting with ground water tables which not only affect all of Japan but also the Pacific Ocean entirely as their deadly radioisotopes flow back into it unabated. Understand the scale of these flows. These are not leaks. They are rivers.
So if you still believe that Fukushima and all of its reality TODAY isn’t apocalyptic then I’d truly hate and shudder to see what you think apocalyptic truly means.
You and me are inconceivably here in this stage of earth’s history. It’s amazing I know but it never meant that it could never have happened during our lifetime because such things are so unbelievable. That is vanity.
Hi Frankly Frank,
I’ve already agreed with you that Fukushima is a major disaster. The jury is still out on whether it will become a global catastrophe.
Even if it does, you can’t just take a global catastrophe of any sort, plug it into Revelation, and say that the prophecies in Revelation have been fulfilled.
If a massive asteroid struck the earth and wiped out all life on our planet, that would an apocalyptic event. But it would not be a fulfillment of the apocalypse predicted in the book of Revelation because that’s not what the book of Revelation says is going to happen.
Revelation makes specific prophecies about what will happen. Those prophecies follow in a sequence from beginning to end, culminating in the descent of the New Jerusalem. Just any old global catastrophe doesn’t fulfill the prophecies. It must be the specific catastrophe predicted.
To keep this to some reasonable length, let’s look only at the verses you refer to:
This passage makes specific predictions. Have these predictions been fulfilled?
Just these few verses you point to make many specific prophecies that haven’t happened and aren’t happening.
So how can you say that Fukushima fulfills these prophecies?
You ask me to “relieve my mind of ‘unearthly symbolism’” while focusing on Revelation 8:9–11.
I have done so.
And what I read there in the plain, literal meaning of the text sounds nothing like what is happening as a result of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Frankly Frank, you must pay attention to what the text actually says. You’re not doing that. You have an idea firmly lodged in your mind that Fukushima = the Apocalypse of Revelation. But the fact of the matter is that the Fukushima nuclear disaster doesn’t look anything like what the text of Revelation says is going to happen. There is no water turning to blood. There are no angels blowing trumpets. There are no huge stars falling from the sky. There is no water turning into absinthe.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster is a major catastrophe. But it is not the catastrophe predicted in the book of Revelation.
Time will tell.
And I will also tell you what he saw that is confusing you…..
1. A third of the Pacific Ocean turns red due to plankton die off. Essentially a monumental red tide.
2. The Pacific’s ecosystem is exponentially dying off right now. As to a third of its life it will match the red tide third.
3. Ships traversing the Pacific Ocean will eventually become so radioactively contaminated that their electronics will be nullified. Their intakes will also become brittle along with all metals salt water comes in contact with. Essentially ships will begin to disintegrate from the radioactivity.
4. I doubt if even you would know what the hell an angel is doing up in heaven with his trumpet. (lol)
5. The “star” he saw was actually a nuclear cores (which became corium). Fukushima is about 34′ above sea level. When the cores melted through their containment concrete foundations they appeared to drop into the shoreline or what looked to him as into the sea. The cores as they dropped looked like “stars” so intense was their brilliance. They were fissioning “torches” basically.
6. Scientists to this day don’t really know the origins of water on earth. The fresh ground water tables throughout the earth which in turn replenish as fresh water rivers however are intricately interlaced throughout the globe. The contamination of these fresh water channels in Japan will eventually also contaminate other ground fresh water tables and rivers as connected. Since the red tide equates to a third of what he saw covering the “sea” ( it was really the Pacific he just couldn’t know it because the pacific was unknown to him) it stands to reason that he extrapolated that somehow to also mean rivers and springs.
7. The absinthe star correlation is so ridiculous I’ll just skip it. But suffice to say that HE himself coined the “star” absinthe because it caused the waters to taste bitter. Uncontrolled nuclear fissioning will do that.
8. See 7.
9. For most not immediately from ingesting or inhaling hot particles. Anywhere from 5 to 10 years before cancer rates begin to mushroom (no pun intended). We are at a bit more than 5 years since the melt downs or China Syndromes. Cancer spikes (and severe birth defects) however are really escalating in Japan right and unfortunately the rest of the globe will soon follow. Just one microscopic hot particle lodged in your lung is eventually almost a 100% cancer death sentence. On average each of us has a sufficient number of these already lodged into our lung tissues. Each one of us has varying degrees if bio-radiation resistance due primarily to genetics. But in the long run most of us will die from the various cancers these particles will initiate. Inhalation of a Plutonium hot particle is the worst.
Hi Frankly Frank,
If these massive stretches of the text make sense to you, then there’s probably not much I can say to you, except what you said to me: Time will tell.
But here goes:
Once again, you can’t just plug any old global disaster into the book of Revelation, and stretch the meanings of the text all around to make it fit.
The fact of the matter is that the Fukushima nuclear disaster simply doesn’t fit what the text says. If you’re going to accuse me of spiritualizing the text, then it at least behooves you to pay attention to what the literal text says. You’re stretching it every which way to fit your scenario.
And as for “Time will tell,” I am now confidently predicting that as the effects of the Fukushima disaster unfold, it will become clear even to you that it is not the disaster predicted in the book of Revelation. Unfortunately, the hundreds, if not thousands of people over the centuries who have said that the Apocalypse is happening now have all had to learn the hard way that they were wrong. The history of Christianity is littered with their carcasses.
Meanwhile, I’m wondering what you think of all the beasts described in Revelation. Do you think we’re going to see them all? Seven-headed dragons and such? And what about the four horsemen that were supposed to have already appeared in Revelation 6, two chapters before the events in chapter 8 that you say are being fulfilled by Fukushima? Did we manage to miss seeing the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse do their thing?
I’m sorry, Frankly Frank, but it’s all just too ridiculous and far-fetched to take seriously.
However, you’ll have to see how things unfold before you realize that. And then you’ll be one more person who shouted, “The sky is falling!” only to have the sky stay firmly in place, as life goes on and the Second Coming still doesn’t happen.
Yes, time will tell.
And just to get it out of the way, I’ll say “I told you so” now, before the fact! 😛
If you don’t believe the PU hot particle correlation and Fukushima exist here’s something that’ll open those lids. Enenews has mentioned these experiments too.
So if this isn’t apocalyptic right now enough for you I hope I’m already dead for the version you think is still a coming. Of course this is assuming symbolic replacements turn out to be false.
Hi Frankly Frank,
Concentrated Plutonium is horrible stuff. Fukushima is a terrible disaster. It simply doesn’t match what’s described in Revelation.
It’s not as though Fukushima is the first huge disaster in history since the book of Revelation was written. There have been many other candidates, some of which actually did kill up to 1/3 of the human population of a given area. But none of them has turned out to be the apocalypse predicted in the book of Revelation.
For some documentation, see the various Lists of disasters at Wikipedia. For many of these, people at the time said that this was the end times predicted in Revelation. And yet, the earth kept right on turning, nobody was raptured, and Jesus did not return.
Fukushima will be no exception. Only the latest in a series of incorrect invocations of the Apocalypse that have been made hundreds of times ever since the book of Revelation was first written nearly two thousand years ago.
Nothing LIKE Fukushima has ever happened. Understand this. It’s reality and it appears it hasn’t really sunk in what this means to you, me, and everyone else including future generations if there will be any. All the other disaster candidates come to an attenuated ending and life went on. Either they subsided on their own or man dealt with it. Fukushima doesn’t and won’t short of an outside force intervention. We ourselves can’t deal with it. That’s the difference and that’s why it’s part of the end of days apocalyptic visions John saw as I tried to explain to you. Again, he just didn’t have the tools to adequately describe scientifically what he saw. But anyone with a deepening understanding of this situation knows that this is John’s prophesy.
In effect indeed the seals are now being opened and the trumpets are starting to blare. And like Fukushima whose effects are tasteless, invisible, and odorless, so are congruently the opening of those seals and trumpets – you do not see them being opened nor do you hear their blare.
Btw I don’t even begin to understand your four horsemen and other beasts attempt to prove your point. The four horsemen as I understand them are spiritually originated and created to illustrate their roles in this drama – they’re not expected to be seen literally galloping around the globe like Paul Revere for Gad’s sake! As far as the other “beasts” like dragons and such the same applies. What happens in heaven stays in heaven as it were.
You are now amidst the beginning of the apocalyptic end times, Lee. Fukushima without a shadow of a doubt proves it.
I so wish you were right. But unfortunately you’re not.
Hi Frankly Frank,
So even though the Fukushima disaster is nothing like what’s described in Revelation, because you expect it to be bigger than all the other disasters (so far it’s a pygmy in terms of total deaths), that means it must be what Revelation is talking about?
And as for those pesky horsemen and seven-headed dragons, those can be symbolized, because obviously they’re not really going to happen! That’s precisely what you were criticizing me for doing.
Frankly, Frank, I’m having a hard time taking all of this seriously. It’s riddled with contradictions, and with cherry-picking of those few parts that fit your scenario, while ignoring the remaining 95% of the book that doesn’t fit.
You might as well just ignore the book of Revelation altogether.
It leaves me wondering if you’re even serious about all this.
If you are serious, then the proof is in the pudding. You’ll see over time, just as every other end-times scenario-spinner has, that you are mistaken, and that the end has not come. And even if we do destroy ourselves with our own technology, there will be no rapture, no battle in the sky, and no 1,500 mile high city descending onto earth—and incidentally, throwing the entire earth off-axis and shaking it apart in the process. See: “How Big is the New Jerusalem?” and its comments section.
Now for some humor…..
As I understand it after the 7th seal is opened there will be 30 minutes of complete silence in heaven.
Consequently many men have concluded that in heaven there are no women or children.
Hi Frankly Frank,
And many women can’t wait to finally get half an hour of peace and quiet . . . . 😛
Well without us they’d go crazy if all they had was to focus on each other’s nails and hair and not have us around to correct all our flaws. It really gives them something to do. 😜
And . . . they keep us men from living in caves. 😉
Not back to the talk. I’m not saying that Fukushima is THE final say into defining the end of time. All I’m saying is that it’s truly the beginning of when things go globally awry with sustaining vigor. Big difference. As to symbology, there is symbology meant for heaven and there’s symbology meant for earth. The four horsemen is symbology meant for heaven’s eyes, but the result of their actions affects us on earth. Same with the crazy dragons, etc.
As a bit of a stretch though: those pesky locusts. I take it you already are aware that huge scientifically controlled strides have been made in creating chimeras, correct? Not at all inconceivable that they are a man-made creation. Essentially a flying biological nightmare but one that I can see nonetheless would be useful for certain arenas of warfare.
Beyond the biology, tiny drones already exist that can put major hurt to you in various ways as well. Again, picture poor John trying to grok what he’s seeing in context to the marvels of technology 2,000 years in the future. What did you expect? That he talks about Silicon Valley and Hyperdyne Corporation ala a Terminator? Advances in AI combined with nanotechnology is the elephant in the room you seem to also overlook. I’m kind of surprised that you haven’t connected the dots noting your Star Trekish expertise.
Fukushima right now is far far and away from being a Pygmy to anything that’s occurred in the past 2,000 years. And I’m not cherry picking things to make it fit Revelation. You’re just overemphasing certain things to try and discount its immense significance.
Hi Frankly Frank,
I’m just reading the text, and paying attention to what it says.
You’re trying to shoehorn the text into all sorts of current events that really don’t fit it.
People have been doing the very same thing for nearly two thousand years now. And every time, they’ve said, “THIS is truly UNPRECEDENTED!!!! It MUST be the end times!!!!!!!”
And then life keeps on going, and Jesus does not return.
It will be no different this time even though now, through our advanced technology, we have the capacity to bring greater destruction on ourselves than we have in the past.
And I still call foul on your cherry picking and re-interpreting anything in the book of Revelation that doesn’t fit your latest end-times scenario.
At least Swedenborg’s interpretation is fully consistent, and takes into account every single verse, and every single word, in the book, without leaving out or ignoring “inconvenient” parts. His interpretation does not require taking some parts literally and other parts figuratively in order to fit it into events that simply don’t fit what the text describes.
Yours is not the only end-times scenario I’ve read, Frankly Frank. And all of them do the exact same thing, in endless variations. They pick out the parts that fit, and ignore or symbolize the parts that don’t.
It’s a shoddy, sloppy way of interpreting the Bible.
Once again, it’s quite possible that we’ll destroy ourselves through misuse of technology. But if it doesn’t match what’s described in the book of Revelation, it isn’t a fulfillment of the prophecies in the book of Revelation.
As another example of things that don’t fulfill or validate what’s in the Bible, in my article, “The Mother of All the Living,” I mention two scientific theories dubbed “Mitochondrial Eve” and “Y-chromosomal Adam.” Now, biblical literalists might get excited and say, “See! Science is proving that the Bible is right!!!” But if you actually read what those theories say, it is nothing like the Adam and Eve story told in Genesis 2:4-5:5. So no, science does not support a literal interpretation of the Adam and Eve stories in the Bible.
And the Fukushima disaster does not match what the book of Revelation prophesies is going to happen, no matter how much you want it to. Even if it becomes a terrible, global catastrophe as you believe it will, it still does not fit what is described in the book of Revelation.
But it’s clear you won’t listen to me.
You’re just going to have to be proven wrong by events themselves as they unfold, just as every other end-times scenario-spinner for the last two thousand years has been proven wrong by unfolding events.
About that, see: List of dates predicted for apocalyptic events. At least you have plenty of company in your wrongness! 😛
Ok I can see you see the trees but not the forest. A very common deal. Time will tell indeed that I was right.
Anyway, back to those pesky locusts because well so many have taken some truly extraordinary flights of imagination with them. But here’s a reality check. They have already created swarms of bug like looking micro drones that can carry payloads of lethal things. One of those things is a hypodermic needle – in effect a stinger.
Now picture you’re John having this vision of aggressive stinging flying locust like creatures.
Now fast forward to 3 years ago…..and what do you have but now what is a plausible explanation of what he saw but also now a real creation today that is even much more advanced than in 2013.
My point is that not every detail in John’s expectedly distorted futuristic visual interpretations must therefore be mirrored in absolute down to the last detail earthbound realities of today. You make the mistake of holding my feet (and his) to the fire when it’s convenient to support your views and even Swedenborg’s (because Swedenborg’s observations are what they really are, observations, and not Gospel), but when I put forth that for instance when John saw the sea SURFACE turn to “blood” what he really meant is blood-like in color which is precisely how red tides appear.
So now because Fukushima hasn’t LITERALLY yet turned one third of the pacific into literal blood (which scientifically is impossible short of a miraculous parting of the Red Sea or water turned into a literally fine and fruity Cabernet sort of thing) it therefore accordingly doesn’t “fit” into what Revelation is “precisely” saying but the scientific impossibility of the Pacific turning 1/3 into literal blood does fit. Doesn’t make any sense and you can’t have it both ways! I will lay my manhood down that the odds of Fukushima turning 1/3 into a red tide is VASTLY more possible than 1/3 of it turning into red corpuscles!
But hey eventually I predict this all will fall in line for you and you’ll understand things better. I have to be patient because you have many years of thinking in only a certain way under your belt. But I have hope. 🙄😛
Hi Frankly Frank,
Clearly only time will settle this debate.
I was unable to access the video at the link you provided. Here it is from YouTube for anyone interested:
Thanks Lee for correcting the link. The developmental technical strides since this vid was made are most likely exponential now. Nanotechnology combined with AI has made this possible. I will say this though, I wouldn’t discount advances in bio-mechanical applications nor even near total chimera either. IMO there are at least 3 developmental avenues currently being vigorously pursued in the halls of science and technology. They are: predominantly purely mechanical in nature as this vid perceivably indicates, secondly a hybridization of mechanical and chimera (literally muscle tissue being lab grown), and thirdly almost entirely chimera except for the “brains” or computerized aspects therein. We are now technically capable of creating all three simultaneously.
Coming soon to a planet near you: The Borg!
This question is just something I’ve been wondering. I’ve run into this thing while searching ‘Swedenborgianism’ (sorry if I spelled that wrong) and this source I found: http://www.gotquestions.org/Swedenborgianism.html describes it as a ‘cult’ and doesn’t base their teachings on the Bible but on heresy, confusion, and sometimes lunacy.
However from what I’ve seen on your website, it doesn’t fit the description of a cult at all. In their post, they obviously don’t believe in the Trinity not existing, which is fine. However as you’ve mentioned in one of your other articles, the Bible doesn’t exactly express God as three separate beings or persons..
I’ve been wondering, have you ever encountered during your lifetime someone calling what you believe in a ‘cult’ and how do you respond to such things? Also, (I haven’t gotten too far into Swedenborgianism or the New Church in order to tell 100%) isn’t this sects’ teachings solely based on the Word? From what I’ve seen from your articles and what you’ve learned from Swedenborg, it doesn’t seem like it excludes it at all really…
Yes, I’ve run into the “cult” charge many times. It is always made by fundamentalist and evangelical Christians. There are many websites run by fundamentalists that call Swedenborgianism a cult. But then again, they call any religious group that disagrees with their particular doctrines a cult. In fact, some of them even call the Catholic Church a cult. So I’m not too worried about their opinions.
The reality is that these fundamentalist groups themselves are much more like cults than is the Swedenborgian Church. They commonly instill great fear in their members that if they leave, or disagree with the doctrines they are being taught, they are in danger of eternal torture in hell. It’s a classic case of “psychological projection,” in which people accuse others of the very things they themselves engage in.
Don’t get me wrong. There are groups that really are cults. And they can be quite dangerous. But the Swedenborgian Church is a pretty ordinary bunch of people with a pretty standard Congregational form of church government in which leaders are elected by the members, hold their offices for a few years, and then step down when the next group is voted in. Some of the other Swedenborgian organizations are more conservative, but none of them look anything like the standard cult with a charismatic leader who holds his (or her) people in thrall and distills fear in them if they ever were to leave the group.
If you’re a real glutton for punishment, you’re welcome to read the archived message boards of an anti-Swedenborg site that was active in 1999 and 2000 and is now defunct, but some of whose threads I saved and posted on my personal site in order to keep the material available: Discussion Archive from the New Testament Revival Outreach Website.
Click on the “NTRO Cult & Swedenborgian Discussion” link, and see especially these threads:
If nothing else, you’ll see that indeed I have run into the cult charge. In the first forum thread linked in the list just above, I provide a detailed rebuttal to the cult charge. Some of the other threads there may be of interest to you as well. But only, as I say, if you’re a real glutton for punishment. 😛
For the most part, the fundamentalists who call Swedenborgianism a cult don’t know very much about Swedenborg and his teachings. I once spent many hours correcting false statements about Swedenborg and the Swedenborgian Church on a fundamentalist Christian site that called us a cult. When I provided clear documentation showing that many of the things he was saying were simply false, he grudgingly fixed them . . . and then added several more false statements. At that point I decided it was not worth any more of my time. He was just plain ignorant about Swedenborg and the Swedenborgian Church. And he ran a well-known Christian apologetics site.
These Christian “cult sites” function largely to scare their people away from any people or groups that might call their beliefs into question. In this way, they are themselves very cultlike.
Thanks so much! I’m definitely interested in reading the other threads. 😉 From what I’ve seen so far, the Swedenborgian Church and it’s teachings don’t seem to fit the ‘cultish’ description at all. Also, I’ve come to a belief that God doesn’t necessarily cancel out science. I feel like both can intertwine. Does Swedenborgs teachings ever mention that sort of thing? I’ve always heard other people just shove off and sweep science under the rug like it’s nothing and that if you study it, you’re ‘straying from God’ and that it’s evil, etc etc..
As a matter of fact, Swedenborg himself was a heavy-duty scientist before he began writing about religion. He wrote and published many scientific and philosophical books before he turned his mind to religion in his mid-50s. See the video here: Who was Swedenborg? What Should I Read?
The Swedenborgian Church sees no conflict between science and religion. We don’t think that the story of Creation in Genesis, for example, was never meant to be taken literally as a description of how the earth was created. Rather, we see it as a poetic and symbolical account of our spiritual creation as future angels. For more on this, see this article—especially the second half: Heaven, Regeneration, and the Meaning of Life on Earth.
Personally, I love science! My view is that we should look to science to learn about the material universe, and we should look to religion to learn about God and spirit.
Hmmm. I’ve never looked at the story of Creation in that way.. Very interesting! Thank you so much, I will definitely read the article and watch the video you’ve brought up. 😀
When it comes to the religion & science thing, I was never settled with both conclusions: 1. What happened in the Bible is how the world was created!!! Everything else is a lie! or 2. Everything in that book is ridiculous… Only science is correct. etc etc.. However else people may word those statements. I just always felt like there was something more than that. Now I believe I found my answer and I understand things a lot more! 🙂
There’s a whole new world of ideas just waiting for you! Here are a few more about the Bible along the same lines:
And back to how the universe was created, see: How did God Create the Universe? Was the World Really Created in Six Days?
It’s been about a year since I first discovered this blog. At the time, I was struggling with some of the doctrines of mainstream Christianity, which were causing me so small amount of emotional turmoil. The idea that billions of kind and well-meaning people would suffer eternally because they didn’t belong to the right religion sickened me, and it didn’t resonate with the idea of a loving God I’d always believed in. I wondered if I could still believe in a faith with such cruel notions of justice. I remember searching the Internet to see if there were any alternative views of salvation. After going through pages of fire-and-brimstone pieces and a handful of vaguely encouraging statements from the Pope, I eventually found your article “Do Atheists Go to Heaven?” It was a great comfort to me, especially because it was supported by far sounder evidence-based arguments than those offered by traditional Christians. Reading your articles, studying the Bible, and praying more often have given me great peace of mind and clearer ideas about the nature of God. The doctrines outlined in this article, among others, have done my spiritual life a world of good. Thank you for everything you do through this site. It really means a lot to me.
Also, congratulations on passing 2 million hits!
Thanks for your kind words. It does our heart good to know that our humble website is helping you, and many others as well, to find a truer and more loving and merciful view of Christianity, and of Creation in general. That’s why Annette and I do this.
I’ve watched with interest and a bit of amazement as you’ve “liked” one article after another here. I figured that if you are reading that many articles, some of them quite long and involved, you must be getting something out of it! 🙂
Wow, I totally agree with Griffin’s earlier comment. That was the same thing which made my heart ache: the thought of so many kind, loving people going to hell just because they don’t believe a certain thing just made me so sad. I had to let go of the mainstream views and search for deeper answers. And I’m so glad I did!
I’m glad you found our humble (and sometimes not-so-humble!) blog.
The thing is, the Bible doesn’t even teach that kind, loving people go to hell just because they don’t believe a certain way. In fact, it says just the opposite: that non-Christians who have good hearts and live good lives are saved by Jesus Christ, and go to eternal life. See, for example, what Paul writes in Romans 2:
Jews, “Greeks” (pagan polytheists), and Gentiles are not Christians. But here Paul tells us how God, through Jesus Christ, will save those of them who do good, and live a good life, according to their conscience. In teaching that all non-Christians go to hell, the so-called Christian Church is denying and rejecting the plain teaching of the Bible. See also Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:31–46 about who, from all the nations (not only the Christian nations) will go to eternal life, and who will not.
What we teach here on Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life about who is saved is what the Bible teaches about who is saved.
Exactly, that’s right. I’ve been reading some of what Jesus actually taught and said, and it’s totally different from what a lot of the mainstream Christians teach. Jesus was always about doing what was right, not just saying it. That’s why he said not everyone who cries, “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s really more about how you treat others and how you live your life, not just what you say. So I’m glad you’re teaching what the Bible actually teaches! 🙂
Yes, yes, and yes! It’s all right there in the plain words of Jesus in the Gospels.
That’s right! 😀
“We here at Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life do our best to demolish false, non-Biblical doctrines and to offer true, Bible-based beliefs in their place for one and only one reason: to help you, our readers, to feel God’s compassionate love for you and to see the light of God’s truth leading you toward a better, more spiritual, more loving, and more joyful life, both here on earth and to eternity in heaven”
every christian says this. Not one of you can show that your version is the right one.
At least I now know that you have read the end of one of the articles here. But since you clearly have very little knowledge or understanding of what we teach on this website, your reaction to the statement you quote is just atheist dogma. It’s a weak generalization based on ignorance.
And yet again, more false claims from you, Lee.
Since there is no content here, I won’t bother responding.