Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Need to Start With General Truths

In the New Church we can often get focussed on trying to figure out the details of the internal sense of the Word. I recently ran across Arcana Coelestia 865:1-2 which explains that before we're regenerate we need to understand and apply the general truths from the literal sense first before we can have any chance of understanding the finer details.
[The spiritual man] can know nothing of the truth of faith except from what is revealed in the Word, where all things are stated in a general way[.] [G]enerals are but as the spots of a cloud, for every general comprehends in it thousands and thousands of particulars, and each particular thousands and thousands of singulars, all generals being illustrated by the singulars of the particulars. These have never been so revealed to man, because they are both indescribable and inconceivable, and so can neither be acknowledged nor believed in; for they are contrary to the fallacies of the senses in which man is, and which he does not easily permit to be destroyed. ...

For example: that true marriage is that of one man with one wife.... The spiritual man, who knows this from the Word of the Lord, acquiesces in it, and hence admits as a matter of conscience that marriage with more wives than one is a sin; but he knows no more. The celestial man however perceives thousands of things which confirm this general, so that marriage with more wives than one excites his abhorrence.

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