Thursday, May 8, 2008

Why Did the Lord Give Us Commandments? He Loves Us

In a previous post I quoted a passage that talks about how loving the Lord doesn't mean just feeling love towards the Lord but must also involve following His commandments. The passage below makes the further point that the reason that the Lord gave us commandments is because He loves us.
He who believes that he loves the Lord, and does not live according to His commandments, is very much mistaken, for to live according to the Lord's commandments is to love Him. These commandments are truths which are from the Lord, thus in which the Lord is; and therefore insofar as they are loved, that is, insofar as men live according to them from love, so far the Lord is loved. The reason is that the Lord loves man, and from love wills that he may be happy forever, and man cannot become happy except by a life according to His commandments, because by means of these a man is regenerated and becomes spiritual, and in this way can be raised into heaven.

But to love the Lord without a life according to His commandments is not to love Him, for then there is not anything with the man into which the Lord may flow and raise him to Himself; because he is like an empty vessel; there being nothing of life in his faith, and nothing of life in his love. The life of heaven, which is called eternal life, is not poured into anyone immediately, but mediately.

From all this it can be seen what it is to love the Lord, and also what it is to see the Lord, or His faces, namely, that He is seen from such faith and love. (Arcana Coelestia 10578:3)

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Good Discussion of the Lord's Resurrection Body

From early on in the New Church people have been arguing about the nature of the Lord's resurrection body. I recently really enjoyed reading a series of articles from 1982 New Church Life (compiled by Rev. Grant Odhner) in which Rev. Bruce Rogers and Rev. Erik Sandström, Sr. debate the issue—particularly because at the end they articulate what the essential apparent paradox is and what they agree on.
Sandström: We are concerned with an apparent paradox. But it is not uncommon for the Writings to speak in apparent paradoxes when presenting the most profound doctrines. Indeed, I submit, they can do no otherwise, for a merely natural logic stops short at the door of the Infinite and of the Divine processes that proceed from it. ....

[O]ur immediate concern is with the apparent paradox of the Lord glorifying that which He expelled, or rising with that which He cast off. In its most succinct form we have it in Arcana Coelestia 2159: “Until He had put it off and made it Divine the human that was with the Lord was nothing but a servant.”


Rogers: I believe Mr. Sandström and I have more points of agreement than disagreement. .... We do have in common the wish to emphasize the need to think of the Lord as a Person, and the necessity of thinking of that Person from the Divine essence, not the reverse. And this, after all, is the important point. I would not want our differences over the process to obscure our agreement on the result, especially when the result, the vision of God made manifest in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, is the centerpiece of the revelation to the New Church.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Just Reading the Word is Not Enough

There are lots of teachings in the Heavenly Doctrines about the importance of reading the Word, such as the teaching that
By the sense of the Letter of the Word there is conjunction with the Lord, and association with the angels. (Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture 62)
When reading these teachings it's good to keep in mind that how people understand the Word (i.e. their doctrine) and live according to it is what really matters.
I spoke with those who placed the only means of salvation in reading the Word. .... But I told them, that this does not save, but that they must live according to the Word, and that nobody can live according to the Word except he be in the doctrine of truth from it; otherwise, they do not know how they are to live, for, from the sense of the letter of the Word, they are able to defend everything that belongs to their life, be it what it may, and this to protect falsities. ....

[T]hey knew that every single thing of the Word has conjunction with heaven. But it was replied that they have that conjunction with the man who reads it, and such a conjunction as is his quality from the Word, as they may know from the fact that the Word upon a table has no conjunction; consequently, not with one who reads it, any otherwise than according to its quality in his understanding, and affection of life from it. (Spiritual Experiences 5961)