Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Heavenly Doctrines Indicate that the Books of Chronicles Are True

The books of Chronicles are not listed among those that have an internal sense in Arcana Coelestia 10325 and are therefore not included in the New Church canon. However, if you search the Heavenly Doctrines you find that they cite the books of Chronicles over 20 times and even quote them a couple of times. Most often they cite 1 Chronicles 5:1 about why Reuben lost his birthright. It seems then that, according to the Heavenly Doctrines, the books of Chronicles are still true, even though they do not have an internal sense.

Here's one example of a passage that quotes Chronicles:
That the “land of Moriah” means a place of temptation, is manifest from Abraham's being commanded to go thither and offer up his son as a burnt-offering, and thus to undergo the extremity of temptation. That Jerusalem, where the Lord Himself endured the extremity of temptation, was in the same land, is evident from the fact that an altar was built by David on Mount Moriah, and afterwards the temple by Solomon; as is manifest from the book of Chronicles:

“Solomon began to build the house of Jehovah in Jerusalem, on Mount Moriah, which was seen by David his father, in the place which David prepared in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite” (2 Chron. 3:1; compare 1 Chron. 21:16-28 with 2 Sam. 24:16-25). (Arcana Coelestia 2775)

New Century Edition Translations For Free Online

The New Century Edition translations of the Heavenly Doctrines published so far (Heaven and Hell, Divine Love and Wisdom, Divine Providence, True Christianity vol. 1) can be downloaded for free from here as PDFs or .txt files.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Learning Truth Without the Word

Theolog Coleman Glenn commented on Making Faith Our Own - Part 2 that he wonders people [born into Judaism or Islam] get to the point where they accept the Word as true even as they're rejecting some of the things they've been taught in their birth-religion.
This is a difficult and important question. Here are two passages that provide the beginnings of an answer. Spiritual Experiences 5709, quoted in Perspective on the “Two Foundations of Truth” talks about people who are “no longer able to be convinced from the Word” and indicates that, so far as these people are in good, truth from science may be able to open their intellects.

Similarly, Apocalypse Revealed 936, explains that the leaves of the tree of life in the Holy City that “were for the healing of the nations” mean rational truths which they who are in evils and thence in falsities are led to think soundly, and to live becomingly.... [because] they who are in evils and thence in falsities cannot be healed by the Word, because they do not read it; but if they have sound judgment, they can be healed by rational truths.

Perspective on the "Two Foundations of Truth"

People often draw conclusions about the importance of scientific knowledge based on the “two foundations of truth” described in Spiritual Experiences 5709.
Afterwards, I spoke about the foundations of truth, that they are two, one from the Word, the other from nature or from the truths of nature; and that the foundation from the Word is for the universal heaven, thus for those who are in the light [lux] of heaven; but the foundation from nature, for those who are natural and in natural light [lumen], thus for those who have confirmed themselves from the letter of the Word in things not true, yea, in falsities, so as to be convinced of them. For these are no longer able to be convinced from the Word. But, still, [these two foundations of truth] agree the one with the other; which is proved by a contemplation of certain things in the Word. Since sciences have shut up the understanding, therefore, sciences may also open it; and it is opened so far as men are in good.
It is fascinating that the sciences may open the understanding if people are in good. However, it is useful to know that this passage comes under the heading, “Those Who Were Called Learned and Were Believed Because They Could Confirm Their Own Dogma Whatever It Might Be, In the Other Life” (Spiritual Experiences 5700) and that at the end of the section it says,
In brief, nothing can be founded upon scientifics except it be previously founded upon the Word. This must be first: the other is only a confirmation from man's scientifics. (Spiritual Experiences 5710)

Bryn Athyn Post Now Available Online

The Bryn Athyn Post is now available for free online.

Heaven and Hell Considered to Be a Spiritual Classic

Theolog Coleman Glenn found a book on called 50 Spiritual Classics: Timeless Wisdom from 50 Great Books on Inner Discovery, Enlightenment and Purpose. He writes,
One of the 50 classics is Heaven and Hell, and the author gives it a very positive (and accurate) assessment, neither dismissing the teachings about hell nor claiming that it must be a work of Swedenbog's imagination.
He also notes that if you go down to “Search Inside This Book” and search for 246 and then 249 you can read the chapter about Heaven and Hell.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Making Faith Our Own - Part 2

In a previous post I quoted two passages about how we make our faith our own. Another great passage on this topic is Arcana Coelestia 5432. It also indicates that we're likely to believe what we grew up with - whether true or false - and explains what we should do to try to know what's actually true.
[T]he truths of faith of the church, which are called doctrinal things, when learned in early life, are taken into the mind and committed to memory just like any other memory-knowledges, and remain as such until the man begins to view them with his own eyes, and see whether they are true, and after seeing that they are true, wills to act according to them. This viewing of them, and this will, make them no longer memory-knowledges, but precepts of life, and finally life; for in this way they enter into the life to which they are appropriated....

[T]hey who are in the affection of truth for the sake of truth and of life... have indeed faith in the doctrinal things of the church; but still they search the Word for no other end than the truth, from which their faith and their conscience are formed. If anyone tells them that they ought to stay in the doctrinal things of the church in which they were born, they reflect that if they had been born in Judaism, Socinianism, Quakerism, Christian Gentilism, or even out of the church, the same would have been told them; and that it is everywhere said, Here is the church! Here is the church! Here are truths and nowhere else! And this being the case the Word should be searched with devout prayer to the Lord for enlightenment.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What distinguishes people from animals?

Arcana Coelestia 5302 provides a nice short explanation of what makes a person different from an animal.
Stupid people suppose that man is man from his outward form, in that he has a face like a man's; those less stupid say man is man because he can speak; and those still less stupid, that man is man because he can think. But man is not man from these things, but from the fact that he can think what is true and will what is good, and that when he thinks truth and wills good he can look up to the Divine and perceptibly receive it. It is in this that man is distinguished from the brute animals.

Change the Locks!

Rev. George McCurdy gave a great sermon about the need to make the Lord and the Word the center of our lives. He said,
You and I have come here today to listen to the Word of the Lord so that in some way we can do reparation - we can get Him back into the center - and not have Him on the circumference.
He quoted Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture 111:
[W]ithout the Word there is no rational conception of the Lord, and thus no salvation... it therefore pleased the Lord to descend from heaven; and, coming into the world, to fulfill the Word, and thus to renew and restore it, giving light again to the inhabitants of the earth....
Using Obadiah, Haggai, and Micah he demonstrated how the questions asked by the prophets were answered by the Lord when He came on earth.

He talked about how hell tries to keep us from having the Lord as the center of our lives.
What hell wants to do is have us say, “I can't read the Word. I'm not bright enough. It's repetitive.” You know all the things people say about the Word.
He also talked about how True Christian Religion 320 describes people who think nothing of the truth as being like thieves who carry keys that they can use to open the door of any house and said,
What the Lord is saying is, “Friends, there are spiritual thieves and robbers out there with keys into any house. Change the locks!”

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Comparison of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and Mormonism

I just ran across an extensive study of the similarities and differences between the teachings of the New Church and the teachings of the Church of Latter Day Saints, or Mormonism. I have not read much of it myself but, in a footnote, the author, Craig Miller, acknowledges the help of Kurt Simons, Victor Odhner, Carroll Odhner, and Rev. John Odhner, which hopefully speaks for the study's accuracy.

After a brief history of Swedenborg, Miller writes,
The similarities between LDS doctrine and Swedenborg's teachings are striking - and impossible for me to imagine as mere coincidences. Likewise, the differences are also just as outstanding and cause me to wonder how the similarities can coexist with such marked differences.

Getting More Out of a Familiar Blessing

In worship services we often hear this blessing from Numbers 6:24-26:
The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.
I just ran across a passage that helps me get more out of hearing these words. Apocalypse Explained 412:4 explains,
“To make the faces to shine and to be gracious” signifies to enlighten in Divine truth, and to bestow intelligence and wisdom; and “to lift up the faces and give peace” signifies to fill with Divine good and to bestow love. Both are necessary to make man wise....
Real faith (or truth) and charity (or love) can seem hard to come by sometimes so it's nice to know that the meaning of this blessing is, “May the Lord give you real faith and real charity.”

Monday, January 21, 2008

Misery and Mercy

What is mercy? Arcana Coelestia 587 says that the Lord's mercy “includes everything that is done by the Lord mankind.” It then gives some fascinating examples of things that the Lord does from His mercy, which might not seem merciful to us. At the end it includes an intriguing comment about the miserable state of human beings.
The mercy of Jehovah, or of the Lord, includes everything that is done by the Lord toward mankind, who are in such a state that the Lord pities them, each one according to his state; thus He pities the state of him whom He permits to be punished, and pities him also to whom He grants the enjoyment of good; it is of mercy to be punished, because mercy turns all the evil of punishment into good; and it is of mercy to grant the enjoyment of good, because no one merits anything that is good; for all mankind are evil, and of himself everyone would rush into hell, wherefore it is of mercy that he is delivered thence; nor is it anything but mercy, inasmuch as He has need of no man. Mercy [misericordia] has its name from the fact that it delivers man from miseries [miseriis] and from hell; thus it is called mercy in respect to mankind, because they are in such a state of misery, and it is the effect of love toward them all, because all are so.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Great Story of Coming to Believe

In “How I Came to Believe in the New Church” theolog Coleman Glenn reflects on the doubts and questions that he had and the interactions with other people and experiences with reading the Writings for himself that eventually led him to the point where he'd “just as soon doubt the existence of the physical world as doubt the truth of the Writings.”
I don’t know that I ever directly questioned the Writings - but I got to the point that I felt like the only reason I believed was that I had been raised in Bryn Athyn and it would be so devastating to me if I ever let go of the Writings.... wasn’t until I asked Andy Heilman that I got an answer that really changed how I saw things. He essentially quoted DLW, which says “Thought from the eye closes the understanding; thought from the understanding opens the eye” [Divine Love and Wisdom 46]. The point, he said, was that FIRST you had to trust the Writings; THEN you tried to see how it was true....

Blind faith vs. believing in revelation above external evidence is still something I try to figure out. Short answer: “blind faith” means believing in something that doesn’t make sense, or believing something that you don’t understand. The first is shallow, the second is impossible. Believing that Divine Revelation is Divine Revelation simply because it says so and because you just BELIEVE is something different, although it takes a process to get to it.... [T]hat process... and the tension between avoiding “blind faith” and believing something to be true apart from external evidence is one of the reasons that stories about how people come to accept something as Divine Revelation are so interesting to me....

Friday, January 18, 2008

An Unintentional Endorsement of Swedenborg

Pat David pointed out to me that Troy Brooks web page, “Emanuel Swedenborg was Definitely Unsaved,” actually does a good job of selling the teachings of the New Church.

Brooks probably got his information about what the New Church teaches from the “Contrasting Beliefs” section of Rev. John Odhner's web site, New Truth. Brooks' repeated claim is that the new ideas of the New Church “bear false witness against the Bible.” This is understandable considering that, in the literal sense, it certainly does seem that there is no marriage in heaven and that God gets angry. A good response to these sorts of claims can be found in the “What the Bible Says” section of Odhner's site.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Need to Approach the Lord in His Word

Some Englishmen who couldn't figure out what to believe about how to get to heaven prayed to God to send angels to them to help them understand. Their conversation with the angels is very useful for understanding how to read the Word. After they expressed their confusion the angels replied,
“Read the Word and believe in the Lord, and you will see the truths which must be the truths of your faith and of your life. All in the Christian world draw their doctrinals from the Word as the one only fountain.”

But two of the assembly said, “We have read, but have not understood.”

The angels replied, “You have not approached the Lord, who is the Word, and also have first confirmed yourselves in falsities....” (True Christian Religion 621:1-3

Good Definition of Good

The Heavenly Doctrine often speak of good and truth. Arcana Coelestia 6427 provides a good working definition of good.
...when the truth of faith is lived, it becomes good, and is called the “good of truth,” but in its essence it is truth in act.

UPDATE: Theolog Coleman Glenn pointed out that I misread this passage. See the comments for his correction and some other passages about good.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sharing the truth as we understand it

Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture 77
The Word is the Word according to the understanding of it with man, that is, as it is understood. If it is not understood, the Word is indeed called the Word, but with man it does not exist.
Using this as his text, in 2006 Rev. Ethan McCardell preached a great sermon about having spiritual integrity and sharing what we've learned with others.
The Word is the Word for us personally. Our understanding of it - our living understanding of it - that's what changes lives, that's what builds the church inside of you - in your heart....

We need to stop worrying that we have to look like we know everything. We need to stop believing that it's shameful to have holes in what we know - to have holes in our knowledge base or in our application of the Word. It's a journey: it's step by step, process by process. If we're unwilling to risk appearing the fool then in reality we're unwilling to learn anything....

If you haven't figured out some aspect of your life yet, great! Wonderful! That means you know you need other people in your life. That means that you're aware of the basic fact that you are not the Lord....

Now here's the common confusion: it's not arrogant to share answers that the Lord has shown you and you know actually understand and actually are using in your life. What is arrogant is to share an untested, untried, unknown theory as if it were God's absolute truth....

Here's the secret to talking about your church: talk about your church. Talk about your relationship to the Lord God Jesus Christ. Talk about the truth from His Word that you have discovered and that's working in your life....

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Learning to teach from the angels

Rev. Dan Goodenough's 1975 address to the council of the clergy, “Angelic Methods of Instruction - A Survey of Memorabilia,” is one of the best pieces I've read about a New Church approach to teaching.
Angels... do not try to force learning on anyone.... Spirits, like Swedenborg, and like men on earth, learn an enormous amount from experience. But it is significant that in the memorabilia, when experience results in learning, it is nearly always accompanied by instruction from angels.... Experiences, then, are of enormous value in instruction, but not by themselves.... Thus experiences serve to arouse interest, to confirm teachings, and to illustrate them by living examples. In the memorabilia they seem to be not a mere adjunct of learning, but an essential element....

The angels concern for their learners affections is perhaps best illustrated by the very frequent use of questions.... One period of instruction was introduced by some angels inviting, “Let us have an exchange of speech by questions and answers; for where a subject is taken in solely from hearing, the perception of that subject does indeed flow in, but unless the hearer think of it from himself and ask questions, it does not remain” (Conjugial Love 183:2)....

[T]he angels purpose in posing questions in this way is to have the learners themselves face the complexity of the problem at hand and realize they need to be instructed.... In other words, the questions and discussion often are used not so much to get right answers, but to arouse a desire for the truth....

Affection of the truth does not mean just getting excited about it, and the angels encourage learners to be patient and take their time in learning. “Think about what we have said,” they say. “Wait until later to learn about some things.” ....

Evil, Punishment, and Mercy

Are we going to be punished after death for all the bad things we've done while we were alive? Heaven and Hell 509 describes the merciful way it really works.
Every evil carries its punishment with it, the evil and the punishment being connected; therefore whoever is in evil is also in the punishment of evil. And yet no one in the other world suffers punishment on account of the evils that he had done in this world, but only on account of the evils that he then does; although it amounts to the same and is the same thing whether it be said that they suffer punishment on account of their evils in the world or that they suffer punishment on account of the evils they do in the other life, since everyone after death returns into his own life and thus into like evils; and the man continues the same as he had been in the life of the body (470-484)....

But good spirits, although they had done evils in the world, are never punished, because their evils do not return. Moreover, it is granted to know that the evils they did were of a different kind or nature, not being done purposely in opposition to the truth, or from any other badness of heart than that which they received by inheritance from their parents, and that they were borne into this by a blind delight when they were in externals separate from internals.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Good Definition of Wisdom

In his weekly inspirational reading email Rev. Chris Bown quoted Arcana Coelestia 10227:3, which provides a great definition of wisdom.
By the capacity to be wise is not meant the capacity to reason about truths and goods from memory-knowledges, nor the capacity to confirm whatever one pleases; but the capacity to discern what is true and good, to choose what is suitable, and to apply it to the uses of life. They who ascribe all things to the Lord do thus discern, choose, and apply....

Active Patience

Rev. Brian Keith gave a great sermon about patience.
In each of us [the Lord] sees the potential angel, or at least the potential for some productivity and happiness. We might look at ourselves and see all the faults, all the evils, but He does not. As the Writings note: “A person sees nothing of this universal providence, and if he were to see it, it could appear to his eyes only as do scattered heaps and assembled piles of materials to passers-by, the materials of which a house is to be built. But to the Lord it appears as a magnificent palace constantly being built and enlarged” (Divine Providence 203:2)....

Patience, the patience which the Lord leads us to find, is not passive. It is not a meekness that invites abuse, allowing evil to go unchecked. When the word “patience” is used in the Sacred Scriptures, its internal sense is perhaps different from what one might expect. It does not mean peace, or meekness. Rather, it means spiritual conflict: temptation (See Apocalypse Revealed 185, 593; Apocalypse Explained 813:2f)....

Genuine patience is the confidence that all power to save comes from the Lord alone, the recognition that we cannot change everything all at once, and the effort to resist the influence of evil in our life. Our patience here is preserving what we have seen as true in spite of the persecution of our own faults.

Works of Charity

At the Sunday Night Thing vespers service last night Rev. Ray Silverman talked about acts of charity, quoting Isaiah 58.
Is it a fast that I have chosen, A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, And to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, And an acceptable day to the Lord?
Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. (5-11)
He also quoted from Heaven and Hell 535 which says that angelic joy
...discards merit and consists in active labors and practical services, and in a blessedness resulting from the good thereby accomplished....

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Represent vs. Signify

Apocalypse Explained 405:24 provides a statement of what seems to be the main difference between representation and signification:
...whatever the Lord did in the world was representative, and whatever He spoke was significative.

How historically accurate is the Word?

In “True Historicals” Rev. Stephen Cole explores what the Heavenly Doctrines say about the historical accuracy of the Old Testament.
How should the New Churchman regard the historical accuracy of the Old and New Testaments? .... With the twelfth chapter begin the true historicals (historica vera) while the tenth and eleventh chapters are said to be in a style intermediate between the made-up and the true history. But how true are these true historicals? Are they faithful only to the general historical setting while being modified as to particulars for the sake of the internal sense? Or are they an accurate account in each and every particular? ....
The statements in the Writings that do assert the truth of the literal story are, then, usually only of an incidental nature. Any number of such instances would probably not convince the skeptical mind. There is a much more fundamental reason, though, that the true historicals must be regarded as accurate....
The accuracy of the true historicals, then, does not depend on the inherent probability or improbability of the events recorded or upon comparisons with extra-Biblical evidence, although such evidence can be useful in determining what the historicals are speaking of. This accuracy depends, rather, upon the representative nature of these historicals.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Making Faith Our Own

Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture 59 describes how doctrine that we grew up with can become our own.
Those however who do not procure doctrine for themselves, first make investigation as to whether the doctrine delivered by others and received by the general body accords with the Word, and they assent to what accords, and from what does not accord they dissent. In this way it becomes to them their own doctrine, and through doctrine their faith. But this takes place only with those who not being taken up with worldly affairs are able to exercise discernment. If these persons love truths because they are truths, and make them of use for life, they are in enlightenment from the Lord.
Apocalypse Explained 190 takes it a step further, saying that people who do this right don't just compare what they've heard from other people with the Word, they look at the Word "as if they were separated from that doctrine."
[W]hen [those who are in the spiritual affection of truth] read the Word they do not look at it from the doctrine of the church in which they are born, but they look at it as if they were separated from that doctrine; for their wish is to be enlightened, and to see truths inwardly in themselves, and not from others.

Justice and Judgment Needed for True Charity

Rev. Mac Frazier discusses good works. He writes,
When doing good works, it is important that we do them justly and from good judgment.
He then quotes True Christian Religion 459:13-17, a great memorable relation in which people discuss what charity is. When the people are done giving their opinions Swedenborg asks for the chance to speak. He discusses some great examples of good works done without judgment and justice and then concludes,
[Charity] is morality with faith breathed into it, piety with pity breathed into it, doing good to the upright and to the wicked, looking after one's relatives and friends in every way, giving to the poor and helping the needy, building hospitals and supporting them with gifts, endowing places of worship and doing kindnesses to their ministers, that it is the Christian brotherhood of old, or forgiving everyone his faults - all of these are splendid examples of charity, when they are done out of a love of justice combined with judgment. Otherwise they are not charity, but only like watercourses cut off from the spring that feeds them, and like branches torn from a tree. True charity consists in believing in the Lord, and acting fairly and righteously in every deed and employment. Anyone therefore who at the Lord's bidding loves justice and executes it with judgment is an image and likeness of charity.

The Need to Constantly Prepare for Death

On New Years Day 2006 Rev. Christopher Smith preached a great sermon in Kempton about why it is necessary for things to die and how Apocalypse Explained 193:5 teaches that
[I]f man knew the hour of his death he would get himself ready, not from a love of what is true and good, but from a fear of hell; and whatever a man does from fear does not remain with him, but what he does from love remains; therefore he should be getting ready all the time.

New Web Site for the New Church in England

There's a new web site for the General Church congregations in the United Kingdom. Nice colors, innovative design, and information about British Academy Summer School.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Why Do We Call the Lord, "the Lord"?

On page 12 of the December 2007 issue of Bacon Bits, theolog Coleman Glenn discusses why we call the Lord "the Lord" in the New Church.
There’s a pretty straightforward answer: we call the Lord the Lord because the Writings do. But there’s more to the story than this....

Why don’t we talk about Jesus as often as other Christians do? The answer is, we do - we just use another form of His name....

[I]t is important still to keep in mind that when we say “the Lord” we should be picturing the Lord Jesus Christ, even when we read the Old Testament.

Good Response to Claims that the Heavenly Doctrines are Anti-Semitic

Rev. Erik E. Sandström has a good response to claims that the Heavenly Doctrines are anti-semitic:
The Old and New Testaments are far more anti-semitic than the Heavenly Doctrines.

Good Definition of Lust

Apocalypse Explained 1021:2 provides a good definition of lust:
Lust is love continually willing, for what a man loves, that he continually longs for. But lusts belong to the love of evil, while desires and affections belong to the love of good.

Joseph's Example of Forgiveness

Theolog Alexander Zikic pointed out in theological school chapel today that when someone does something evil to us we can feel that, in order to forgive that person, we need to decide, as if we were God, that what the person did actually wasn't evil. But Joseph provides a good example of how we should actually approach forgiveness; he said,
Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. (Gen 50:18-20)

"The Secret" Compared With New Church Teachings

Solomon Keal provides a detailed examination of the popular self-help book The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, in light of the secrets of heaven revealed in the Heavenly Doctrines.
As a Christian, you may have had people warn you NOT to read the book or watch the movie The Secret. It’s certainly not a Christian book, or written by a Christian author. Therefore, it takes a certain amount of translation to glean the truth from it. But I am a firm believer in the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” There’s plenty of “bath water” in The Secret, but underneath all the bath water, there’s a beautiful little baby of truth....

[Bath Water]
1. There’s an apparent focus on loving one’s self above others.
2. There’s an apparent focus on worldly things such as monetary wealth.
3. There’s an apparent contradiction with the way the 10 Commandments are worded.
4. There is also an apparent lack of focus on God as our Creator, and His Word as our guide.
5. There’s an apparent lack of focus on the redeeming quality of struggle in one’s spiritual path.
6. There’s an apparent lack of explanation for why bad things happen to good people....

1. The Secret has a focus on love.
2. The Secret has a focus on active prayer, and active faith.
3. The Secret has a focus on trust and gratitude.
4. The Secret has a focus on looking for the good (or looking for God) in all things.
5. The Secret has a focus on the reality and presence of the spiritual world.
6. The Secret has a focus on changing one’s life for the better, which is essentially spiritual re-birth.

New Church Sermons on YouTube

Rev. Mac Frazier has posted a couple of videos of his sermons on YouTube.

New General Church Vision Explained

Bishop Tom Kline describes "A Bold New Vision" for the General Church. Agree or disagree with it, it's good to have it clearly communicated.

Abstract Terminology is Necessary

Arcana Coelestia 4585:4-5 explains why the Heavenly Doctrines need to use abstract terms like "natural," "interior," and "rational."
These things have indeed already been occasionally unfolded, nevertheless they who have previously had no idea about them in consequence of having no desire to know the things of eternal life, find it impossible to have any such idea. Such people say, "What is the internal man? Is it possible that it can be distinct from the external? What is the natural, and the rational? Are they not one? Moreover, What is the spiritual, and the celestial? Is not this a new distinction? We have heard of the spiritual, but that the celestial is something else we have not heard." ....

Nevertheless as they are such things as are contained in the internal sense of the Word, and these cannot be explained without adequate terms, and we have no terms more adequate for expressing exterior things than the term natural, for interior things than the term rational, for those things which are of truth the term spiritual, and those which are of good the term celestial, it is absolutely necessary to make use of these terms, for without terms adapted to the subject nothing can be described.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Welcome to New Church Thought

The goal of New Church Thought is to collect good passages, good sermons, good articles, good posts, and good news, and to present them in short posts.

This will not be a journal of my own reflections but rather a regularly updated collection of links to other people's thoughts.

From what I hear, a successful blog must be self-serving. If it becomes a chore to maintain it, you won't; if you enjoy maintaining it, you will. Therefore, New Church Thought will be a record of the New Church thought that I wanted to keep track of anyway. I just heard a good sermon about the still small voice. I just read a cool passage about terminology used in the Heavenly Doctrines. I just ran across an interesting blog post about enslavement. Right now I remember where to find those things; in a year, I won't. Therefore, I want an easy way to keep track of them. Therefore, New Church Thought.

I am not interested in this turning into a place for argument. However, “one tone does not produce any melody, still less harmony, so neither does one truth” (Arcana Coelestia 4197:7). I would love it if each thing I posted had a string of comments after it with links to other passages, articles, etc. that provide more New Church thoughts about the topic.

I mean what I say about short posts. Something may come up, but my current rule is that all posts will be shorter than 300 words. This means that I have to quote very sparingly. If something I quote seems interesting but not complete, follow the link and read the full thing.

Any feedback you have is much appreciated. Comment on this post or send me an email.

Thanks for reading!