I was born and raised in the New Church. As a church, at times it is called “Swedenborgian” because of our use of the theological works of Emanuel Swedenborg as part of our religious canon. The term is used in a similar way to the way “Lutheran” churches reference their church. Both are clearly Christian with a unique “twist” presented by a central theologian.
I subscribe to the belief that Swedenborg’s theology is inspired revelation. That does not make it “perfect” – a dangerous standard I believe for any form of revelation, one that gives rise to fundamentalism. That being said, the core is “perfect” in the spiritual sense of the word – a perfection centered around a consistent view of God, this life, and the next.
The ideas that I find incredibly important ….
- God: God is a loving being who took on a human body and lived as we lived. Therefore there is not a separation of God and Jesus. The two are one and the same, a unity Jesus lived into more and more in this life, culminating with His complete glorification on the Cross and with His resurrection.
- This Life: So what is this life about? This life is about “ceasing to do evil, learning to do well.” We are born flawed AND with infinite potential. God helps us to live into that potential. That will call us to repentance (rethinking) and reformation (restructuring). God then can do His work which is changing loves focused on selfishness and materialism into loves that are focused on serving others and God, loves which in the end bring us the greatest amount of happiness (A process called “regeneration”). Restated, we do the best we can to cooperate with God in pushing the bad stuff out of the way so the good stuff can come front and center. His Word, others, science, our own experience etc… are all in place to help us. Important to note, that all are given a “path” by God. We do not make exclusive Christian claims that only those who are Christian can come into heaven. Any faith, well lived, can lead you there.
- Next Life: We are angels-in-training in this life. In the next life, we will live more and more into that angelic mindset. We will find ourselves living in communities who share that basic orientation. We likewise will find ourselves sharing our eternal lives with our beloved spouses in a state called “conjugial love” or “true love in marriage.” We will be useful, productive individuals learning and growing to all eternity.