January 19, 2017 § Leave a comment
My original intention was to analyze and comment on all 16 of Kurt Simmon’s Legends. The facts of each legend are different. For the most part, however, their responses would use the kind of arguments that we have already used. Consequently, there does not seem to be much point in continuing.
But to briefly summarize:
Legend 7. The teachings on “Charity in the case of the priest; Charity in the case of Governors,…Officials under them,…Judges,…the Commander of the Army, …the Common Soldier,…the Business Man,…the Workman,…the Farmers,..Ships’ Captains,…Sailors,…Servants.” (Doctrine of Charity 160ff.)
While the charity involved in these occupations are not covered in the same detail in the published works, there is nothing taught here that is contrary to any teaching in the published works
Legend 8. The teaching that “There are two foundations of truth; one from the Word, and the other from nature.” (Spiritual Diary/Spiritual Experiences 5709)
Again, there is nothing in SR 5709 and SD 5710 that is contradicted by the published works.
Legend 9. The teaching that “Unless the present little work is added to the preceding work, the church cannot be healed.” (Invitation to the New Church 25)
In this instant, there is no comparable teaching in the published works. Yet, there is no way show that it is false.
Legend 10. The teaching that Swedenborg’s revelation “surpasses all miracles.” (Invitation to the New Church 39, 43, 44, 55, Coronis, heading “L”)
Again, there is no comparable teaching in the published works. That, however, does not make the teaching false. To not see the Heavenly Doctrines as a miracle is to not see or appreciate the wondrous blessing the Lord has bestowed upon us by their revelation.
Legend 11. The term “New Christian Church” appears only in the Coronis, heading “L.”
Yet there is a “new Christian heaven” which makes one with the church on earth.
Legend 12. The Canons of the New Church aren’t, and the Invitation to the New Church isn’t.
I really cannot respond to this one. I have no idea what he means.
Legend 13. The teaching that “The Holy Spirit…passes through men to men, and in the church chiefly through the clergy to the laity.” (Canons of the New Church, Holy Spirit IV)
I think that this is just another way of saying what is taught in Divine Providence 154:
IT IS A LAW OF THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE THAT MAN SHOULD BE LED AND TAUGHT BY THE LORD FROM HEAVEN BY MEANS OF THE WORD, AND DOCTRINE AND PREACHING FROM THE WORD, AND THIS TO ALL APPEARANCE AS OF HIMSELF.
Legend 14. The teaching that there are 10 laws of Divine Providence (Apocalypse Explained 1155-1185), as opposed to the five listed in Divine Providence (71ff.).
There are often many ways to look at the same thing. One way will bring out one aspect, another way different aspect. For example, heaven is often divided into two kingdoms, and other times into three heavens. Sometimes, each heaved is divided into three degrees. Do any of the five laws in Divine Providence contradict any of the ten laws in the Apocalypse Explained?
Legend 15. The teaching that ” in the church, there must be a filleted primate, parish priests, and curates under them.” (Coronis 17)
I don’t think that point of this passage is to provide names for different kinds of priest, but to show that there should be an hierarchical order. See New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 313 and 314.
Legend 16. The name “Church of the New Jerusalem” does not appear in the Writings.
And yet we have the phrase “the Lord’s church on earth, which is the New Jerusalem” (TCR 188.13).
None of the legends are matters of faith that affect one’s salvation. In that sense, it matters not whether or not they are believed or not believed.
I am very uncomfortable with idea that these teachings in the unpublished works should be rejected simply because they are not repeated word for word in the published works.
Personally I think Kurt Simons should have attempted show us how and why these teachings are false and there they are contradicted in the published works.
January 3, 2017 § Leave a comment
If your area are reading this post, then you (like me) believe you can see. Yet, your belief (and mine) are false! We are all blind! None us of ourselves can see. It is the Lord, and the Lord, alone who sees:
It is the very same with man: it is his spirit that sees, not his eye: the spirit sees through the eye. . . . The case is the very same in regard to this interior sight, or that of the spirit; this again does not see from itself, but from a still more interior sight, or that of man’s rational. Nay, neither does this see of itself, but does so from a still more internal sight, which is that of the internal man. And even this does not see of itself, for it is the Lord who sees through the internal man, and He is the Only One who sees because He is the Only One who lives, and He it is who gives man the ability to see, and this in such a manner that it appears to him as if he saw of himself. (AC 1954.2)
It is our egos, our propriums, that insist we can see. We do not wish to admit that we are blind. Yet our vision can only see a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Our vision is limited to things within a certain distance, and to things of a certain size. There is so much of the world we can not and do not see.
It is no different in spiritual matters. We are also spiritually blind. We only catch small glimpses of the Lord and all that He does. We do not truly see how He reforms and regenerates us.
We need to become humble and to admit to our blindness. Only then can the Lord do as He promised in Isaiah:
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them. (Isa. 42.15; NIV)
November 28, 2016 § Leave a comment
Kurt Simon’s 6th legend is:
In the spiritual sense of the Good Samaritan story (Luke 10), the teaching that “’he brought him to an inn and told them to care for him’ signifies to bring to those that are well instructed in the doctrine of the church from the Word, and who are better able to heal him than one who is still in ignorance.” (Apocalypse Explained 375: 42)
Here is the passage referred to:
Because “oil” signified the good of love and charity, and “wine” signified truth:
The Lord says of the Samaritan, who as he journeyed saw in the way a man wounded by thieves, that he poured oil and wine into his wounds, and then set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and told them to care for him (Luke 10:33-35).
In the spiritual sense these things are thus perceived: “the Samaritan” means the Gentiles that were in the good of charity towards the neighbor; “the man wounded by thieves” means those who are infested by those from hell, who are thieves because they injure and destroy man’s spiritual life; the “oil and wine that he poured into his wounds” mean things spiritual that heal man, “oil” good, and “wine” truth; that “he set him on his own beast” signifies that he did this according to his intelligence so far as he was able, “horse,” and likewise “beast of burden” signifying the intellect; that “he brought him to an inn and told them to care for him” signifies to bring to those that are well instructed in the doctrine of the church from the Word, and who are better able to heal him than one who is still in ignorance. Thus are these words understood in heaven, and from them it is evident that the Lord when He was in the world spoke by pure correspondences, thus for the world and for heaven at the same time. (AE 375.42)
This verse is also treated later in AE:
Again, the “Levite” in the Lord’s parable of the man wounded by robbers has this contrary signification; and that parable shall here be explained, because it treats of charity towards the neighbor, and because the Lord there spoke from beginning to end by correspondences, which have heretofore been unknown. In Luke:
The lawyer wishing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor? And Jesus continuing said, A certain man was going down from Jerusalem into Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and smote him, and departed leaving him half dead. And by chance a certain priest was going down that way; and seeing him he passed by. And in like manner a Levite, when he was at the place, came and saw and passed by. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to him; and when he saw him he was moved with compassion, and coming near he bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and then setting him on his own beast he led him to an inn and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed he took out two denaries and gave them to the host, and said to him, Take care of him, and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come back again I will repay thee. Which now of these three seems to thee to have been a neighbor unto him that fell among the robbers? He said, He that showed mercy unto him. And Jesus said unto him, Go, and do thou likewise (Luke 10:29-37).
This treats of charity towards the neighbor, and of good works by which charity is in its effect and in its fullness.
“Jerusalem” here signifies the church where there is true doctrine, and “Jericho” the church where there are knowledges of truth and good; so the “priest” signifies those who have no love to the Lord, and the “Levite” those who have no charity towards the neighbor, such as those were who were in Jerusalem at that time; but the “Samaritan” signifies the nations that were in the good of charity; the “man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho” signifies those who wished to be instructed in the truths and knowledges of the church; the “robbers among whom he fell” signify those in the perverted church, such as the Jewish church was at that time; “they stripped him and smote him, and left him half dead,” signifies that they deprived him of truths and imbued him with falsities, and thus doing injury to spiritual life to such a degree that scarcely any spiritual life remains; “to strip” signifying in the Word to deprive of truths, “to smite” signifying to injure the mind and spiritual life by falsities, and “to be half dead” signifying to be almost destitute of that life; “to be moved with compassion” signifies mercy and charity from within, mercy and charity also forming a one; “to bind up the wounds and to pour in oil and wine” signifies providing a remedy against the falsities that have injured his life, by instructing him in the good of love and the truth of faith, “oil” in the Word signifying the good of love, and “wine” the good and truth of faith; “to set him on his own beast” signifies according to his understanding so far as he was able, “horse” (in like manner as beast), signifying the understanding; “to lead him to an inn and to take care of him” signifies to lead him to those who are better instructed in the knowledges of good and truth, an “inn” being a place where foods and drinks are bought, which signify the knowledges of good and truth, thence spiritual nourishment which is communicated by instruction; “he gave to the host two denaries, and said to him, Take care of him, and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come back again I will repay thee,” signifies all things of charity in the measure of his ability and capacity. From this it can now be seen what “Levi,” “his tribe,” and “the Levites” signify in each sense. (AE 444.14)
One of the frustrations I have had in looking at these “legends” is that it appears that a teaching is wrong simply because it appears in an unpublished work but not in a published work. This a non-sequitur, that is, while it may be true, the conclusion does not logically follow from the premise.
If Swedenborg was truly being guided by the Lord in his Writing; then the Lord’s inspiration was not only in the preparation of the final draft. The Lord was guiding Swedenborg in his thought in the selection of subjects and topics. The was guiding his research and the notes he took. The Lord was guiding rewrites. And like any good writer, Swedenborg did not use all his material. He trimmed his material, he tighten his arguments. He left material out of his final draft because it was not serving the purpose of the book. That selection was not necessarily wrong or false.
If Mr. Simon’s thinks that a teaching in an unpublished work is wrong or false, I think he should demonstrate why it is wrong. He should show where and how it contradicts the teachings in the published works. But he does not do this, he simply rejects it because it is not restated in the published works.
Is there any evidence in the published works that this teaching true? There is, of course, no direct evidence. The story of the good Samaritan is mentioned in AC 6708 and HD 87. Both passage only cite the story to illustrate who the neighbor is, and neither gives any explanation of individual element of the story. Other than these to cases, Luke 10: 35 is not quoted or referenced in the published works.
There is, however, some indirect evidence to support the explanations in AE. In AR 255 Swedenborg experience some representations about the spiritual meaning of the Word, and afterwards he was instructed about the meaning of these representations. This instruction included:
On seeing which I was instructed, that by these was represented the sense of the letter of the Word, in which is the spiritual sense. The great purses full of silver signified the knowledges of truth and good in great abundance. Their being open, and yet guarded by angels, signified that anyone might take from thence the knowledges of truth, but that care is taken lest anyone should falsify the spiritual sense, in which were nothing but truths. The manger in the stable, in which the purses lay, signified spiritual instruction for the understanding; this is the signification of a manger, and the same is signified by the manger in which the Lord lay when an infant, because a horse, which eats therefrom, signifies the understanding of the Word. (AR 255.3, see also SS 26 & TCR 27.7)
What we learn from the above passage is that a “manger” means “spiritual instruction for the understanding” and that the manger where Lord was laid as an infant had the same meaning.
In the Christmas story, the Lord was lain in a manger because there was no room in the inn. The manger was a substitute for the inn, which suggests that they both had the same meaning. It may seem strange that a manger and an inn could mean the same thing, but this is common in the Word:
‘The host of them’ are love, faith, and cognitions of them, which previously were meant by ‘the great lights and the stars’. (AC 82)
‘A help suitable for him’ means the proprium, which, further on, is also called ‘the rib which was built into a woman’. (AC 138)
The seven lamps here have the same symbolic meaning as the seven lampstands previously, and also the seven stars. (AR 237)
That both the inn and a manger should both mean instruction makes sense as they are both palaces of feeding.
The passage Mr. Simons calls a legend goes on to say that the Samaritan took the man to an inn because he could be healed there better than from one “who is still in ignorance.” Again, this is not stated in the published works. The published works, however, amply testify that “gentiles are ignorant of the Word” (AC 1059, cf. AC 2023, 2708.4, 2910.4, 2986.3, 3267.3, 3519.8 7688.2, 7711.4, 9209.4, 3809.11 and TCR 215). And, of course, Samaritans were gentiles.
Circumstantial evidence from published works supports the correctness of the exposition of the story of the good Samaritan as given in the Apocalypse Explained. To the best of my knowledge, there is no teaching in the published works that argues that the explanation in the AE is wrong or false. And as usual, Mr. Simons does not offer any explanation of why this exposition is untrue or should be rejected.
November 18, 2016 § Leave a comment
Mr. Simon’s fifth legend is:
The teaching that “The universities of Christendom are now being instructed, whence will come new ministers” (Posthumous Theological Works, I: 570) (See also Letter to Beyer, February 1767).
The way this legend is cited, it sounds as if there are two sources. One from Posthumous Theological Works, volume 1, page 570; and the other a letter to Beyer dated February 1767. However the document in the Posthumous Theological Works, volume 1, page 70 is the February 1767 letter to Beyer.
Here is the relevant part of that letter:
How soon is a New Church to be expected? Answer: The Lord is now preparing a new heaven of those who believe in Him and acknowledge Him as the true God of heaven and earth, and likewise look up to Him in their lives, which means the shunning of what is evil and the doing of what is good; for it is from this heaven that the New Jerusalem is to come down (Apoc. 21:2). I see daily spirits and angels descending and ascending to the number of from 10 to 20.000 and being set in order. Gradually, as that heaven is formed, so the New Church commences and increases. The universities in Christendom are now first being instructed, and from them come new priests; for the new Heaven has no influence with the old, which keeps itself too learned in justification by faith alone. (To Beyer, February 1767; Acton)
Status of the Letter
This letter is included in the volume Posthumous Theological Works as part of the Standard Edition of the Writings published by the Swedenborg Foundation. The Swedenborg Foundation is not a church; and does not maintain that the theological works of Swedenborg are Divine revelation. So, from this perspective, it makes sense to include theological extracts from Swedenborg’s letters in their collection of Swedenborg’s theological writings.
The General Church of the New Jerusalem is a church, and it does claim that at least some of the theological writings are Divine revelation. The General Church has no official canon of those works. However, in some of its past liturgies there has been a list.
The 1908, 1916 and 1921 liturgies introduces their list with these words:
The works which contain the Doctrines of the New Church, and constitute the Second coming of the Lord, are now enumerated (1908: 324, 1916: 324 and 1921: 324)
Each of these lists include both the published works and unpublished works. Each list names 45 works.
The 1939 and 1966 liturgies simple states:
The following works contain the Doctrine of the New Church. (1939: 219; 1966:236)
The later two lists (1939 and 1946) only have 43 works listed. They drop:
- ANSWER TO A LETTER FROM A FRIEND. Containing Swedenborg’s Autobiography. London 1769.
- CORROBORATING PASSAGES OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS. Written in 1769.
The 1995 Liturgy drops the list of which contain the Doctrines of the New Church completely. And its web site, https://newchurch.org/ does not appear to have such a list either. The website does contain a bibliography of what it calls Swedenborg’s “primary theological works.” This list contains all the published theological works plus the Spiritual Diary. See: http://about.newchurch.org/about/swedenborg/swedenborgs-bibliography/
To the best of my limited knowledge, no new church organization has an official list of which of Swedenborg’s theological works is Divine revelation. Closest we get to such a list, is the list found in the older liturgies of the General Church. And as mentioned above, they do not include Swedenborg’s 1767 letter Beyer about the universities being now instructed. Consequently, this letter and it statement hardly seem authoritative; and thus I am not sure they actually qualify to be a “legend.”
All this being said, there have been and there are minsters who believe that the theological extracts of Swedenborg’s letters are Divine revelation.
One example is W. F. Pendleton who said in the 1912 issue of New Church Life:
The letters of Swedenborg to Dr. Beyer, as well as other letters written by him during the same period, are to be regarded as a part of the inheritance given to the New Church, as a part of its teaching, its doctrine, its revelation. In them some things are set forth that are not given in the same form elsewhere in the Writings. (p 262)
They are entitled to their beliefs about this, just we are entitled to ours.
What about the factual accuracy of what Swedenborg said in his letter to Beyer?
Swedenborg’s opening observations:
The Lord is now preparing a new heaven of those who believe in Him and acknowledge Him as the true God of heaven and earth, and likewise look up to Him in their lives, which means the shunning of what is evil and the doing of what is good; for it is from this heaven that the New Jerusalem is to come down (Apoc. 21:2). I see daily spirits and angels descending and ascending to the number of from 10 to 20.000 and being set in order. Gradually, as that heaven is formed, so the New Church commences and increases.
These observations are beyond our ability to verify. They do agree with other statements about the growth of the new Church.
Swedenborg goes on to say:
The universities in Christendom are now first being instructed, and from them come new priests.
First, I am not sure what Swedenborg means by the universities are now first being instructed. Is he referring to the books of the Heavenly Doctrines that he gave to various universities, clergy and scholars? Is he referring to some kind of revelation or Divine providence such as the Africans have received (TCR 840)?
The Rev. F. E. Gyllenhaal asks similar questions in his 1946 New Church Life article:
Is Swedenborg’s statement about the universities surprising? Did he mean that the New Church on earth would be begun by new or young ministers prepared in the universities of Christendom, by being instructed there in the Heavenly Doctrines of the New Jerusalem, and that then both the universities and the new ministers were the mediums of influence from the New Heaven? Did the New Church begin by the work of such new ministers, and was its increase for some time due to others following them, who likewise were prepared in the universities of Christendom?
The history of the New Church shows that this was true to some extent, but we shall not present any part of that history now. However, in order to make our subject clear, two further questions must be answered. How were the universities instructed? Undoubtedly by the copies of the Writings freely given to them by Swedenborg. We know that Swedenborg presented copies of many of the Writings to many universities in Europe, and to many bishops and some others of the clergy, and doubtless they were read by some of the young divinity students. But was there ever any formal instruction in the Heavenly Doctrines by lectures in any university? I do not know of any, but it is possible that there was. However, we may be sure that no teachers or students ever were instructed apart from the books of the Writings. (p. 33)
The Rev. Gyllenhaal acknowledges New Church history shows that to some extant new church ministers had come from the universities. I sure wished he had presented that history. The Rev. Gyllenhaal recognizes that the “some extant” is not the fulfilment that most people want to see when he says:
But, if what Swedenborg wrote to Dr. Beyer was not done in his time, nor in the years that have since elapsed, it may still be done. (1946 NCL 33)
This is, of course, true. But a normal reading of Swedenborg’s letter would not lead you to think that the fulfillment of his remarks were in the distant future.
W. F. Pendleton argues that Swedenborg did not mean that many ministers would come from the universities:
Now what does Swedenborg here mean by the universities of Christendom? The first and most obvious meaning is that out of these institutions called universities will come “new ministers” who will labor for the establishment and increase of the New Church. If we may interpret what Swedenborg says by the result, as well as by the teaching that the New Church is at first to be confined to a few, we may safely conclude that Swedenborg did not have in his mind any idea of a large number of new ministers coming from the source of which he speaks. It is well known, however, as a fact of New Church history, that a few of its prominent ministers and scholars have come from the universities of Christendom. (1912 NCL 262, 263)
W. F. Pendleton also argues that we need broaden our understanding of the term “universities”:
It would, however, be a view too limited and narrow, if we confined our thought to those institutions that are literally called universities. Broadly considered, therefore, the schools of Christendom are meant, the education of the Christian world, and in a still broader view an education in the natural truth of the world, which, in some degree, even the uneducated have. Since, however, all natural truth among men is from the Word, we would say, taking a still broader view, that education in the natural truth of the Word is essentially what is meant by the new ministers who will come from the universities of Christendom, and this wherever and by whatever mode or instrumentality that education and preparation may take place. (1912 NCL 263)
This to my mind is not a fair reading of the text. But even without this broadening of the meaning of “universities” W. F. Pendleton believes that Swedenborg’s expressed hopes to Beyer had been fulfilled.
But how is it that there is more hope of the universities than of the clergy in active work? The reason seems to be that the clergy who are meant here are men of maturer years, and thus more confirmed in falsities of doctrine and of life than the young men who are studying for the ministry in the universities. Experience has shown that the men and women who come into the New Church from the old, take this step in their earlier years. After the age of thirty, states of affection, habits of thought, and practices of life, become, for the most part, confirmed, and a radical change of state is seldom made after that time. This seems, therefore, to present the reason why Swedenborg saw more hope in the students of Theology in the universities than in the ranks of the clergy, who were older men, already in the practice of their profession, already confirmed in their ways of thought and life. But even this hope was relative; it was not a large hope; there was no prospect of the accession of numbers even from the universities. For Swedenborg had already been informed, as he records in the Writings, that not many of the former church, after reaching adult age, would come into the New Church. There would, however, be a few, a sufficient number to make a beginning, and he tells Dr. Beyer substantially that this beginning would be made in the universities with a few young men studying for the ministry, who would become the teachers and leaders of the infant church, now about to be born into the world.
The words to Dr. Beyer have been fulfilled and a number of those who have been the teachers and leaders of the Church in the past have come as young men from the universities, from the schools of the world, young men who have received their education without a knowledge of the New Church, but who, while still young men, have undergone the great change of mind and life which is involved in coming from the old to the near.
What has happened in this way in the past will doubtless happen again in the future from time to time. But call the New Church, as it grows and increases, continue to depend on this source of supply? (1912 NCL 265)
Personally, I favor W. F. Pendleton’s last suggestion, that Swedenborg saying that it is through Beyer and others like him that the church would begin:
The answer is involved in a close scrutiny of the words of Swedenborg to Dr. Beyer. What he says is an answer to the question of Beyer, “How soon may a New Church be expected?” The New Church had not yet come into existence as a visible institution on earth, and the beloved Beyer was anxious to know when it would be expected to begin. The answer of Swedenborg was directed to this question, When would the New Church begin? and Beyer was told that as soon as the New Heaven was formed, the New Church on the earth would begin in the universities. This had already been fulfilled in Beyer himself. He was a professor in a university, and had, as we are told, been introduced as to his spirit into the New Heaven; and Swedenborg Probably had Beyer himself in mind as a striking example and illustration of the truth he was communicating to him in this remarkable letter. Swedenborg was telling him how and where the New Church was to begin, that this would be with some others as it had been with him and by such men would be effected the early institution of the Church; nor does it appear that Swedenborg was speaking otherwise than of the church in its infant beginnings, such beginnings as were made shortly after his death in Sweden, in England, in the United States, and such beginnings as may be made even now in any nation where the New Church has not yet been established. But it does not appear that Swedenborg intended, in what he said to Beyer, to indicate to him how the New Church is to be continued, where it has been once established, and has increased in numbers. (1912 NCL 266)
Where I stand
Personally, I am not inclined to view this letter as Divine revelation. This being the case, I am not concerned with the factual accuracy of this letter. That being said, I would prefer that the letter be factual accurate.
I don’t know if the letter is factually accurate. It is hard to judge the accuracy of the letter when one is not sure what letter was saying.
November 11, 2016 § 1 Comment
Here is Mr. Simons 4th legend:
The teachings on the “pre-Adamites” (Spiritual Diary/Spiritual Experiences 3390ff.).
Aside SD 3390-3394; pre-Adamites are also mentioned in SD 3397, 3399, 3455 and TCR 466.
Unlike Mr. Simons’ earlier legends, I think with some effort, he could have made a case for there being legends about the pre-Adamites — not because the teachings are mostly in the Spiritual Diary, but because there has been so much speculation about them.
First, let us look at what we are actually taught about the pre-Adamites:
- They were regenerated by the Lord and called Adam (SD 3390)
- Speech was not rapid or distinct
- Characterizes their life
- It had little life interior life
Second, let us look at some examples of the speculation about the pre-Adamites:
- The internal-historical sense of the first chapter of Genesis treats of the reformation and establishment of the celestial church from the posterity of the pre-Adamites (1892 New Church Life 40). This might be true, but it is not taught anywhere that I know of.
- Ormand Odhner applied the teaching in SD 2591 (about how the Lord led the first men when there was no Grand Man) to the pre-Adamites (1974 New Church Life 551); but AC 4 and 1013 identify Adam as the first man. Again, what is said in SD 2591 may well apply to the pre-Adamites; but it is not certain.
- The High School Church History Notes, written by Ormond DeC. Odhner says that the pre-adamites had internal breathing and cites AC 607 (p. 12) which is about the people of the Most Ancient Church. He also says they “walked, stooped, and bent, helping themselves along with their hands” (p. 12) and cites SD 567 which is about the inhabitants of Jupiter. These statements may be true (who knows), but they don’t necessarily follow from the teachings cited.
It is said that nature abhors a vacuum; human nature also abhors a vacuum. We like to fill in the blanks where we are missing information; rather than going around not knowing. The above examples of speculations about the pre-Adamites are a prime example of this. Honest theology, however, sometimes require that we leave unanswered questions unanswered. Speculation to fill in the gaps in our knowledge is not necessarily advancing our understanding of what the Lord is teaching us.
What Mr. Simon’s means by a “legend” is a teaching in the unpublished theological works of Swedenborg which is not repeated in the published works. And it is true that the teachings on the pre-Adamites that he refers to (and others as well) are not found in the published works. Yet, pre-Adamites are mentioned in the True Christian Religion.
A little history of what Swedenborg’s beliefs were about the existence of pre-Adamites might be useful.
In April of 1717 Swedenborg appears to have denied the existence of pre-Adamites. In his first manuscript (of two) in preparation of a paper (On the Motion and Position of the Earth and Planets) published in 1719, he writes:
Before such a time, no Preadamites could arise, nor any large animate thing, because of the great heat; and after that time, none could arise by reason of its cold; but only during the period was a constant spring–a ver temporis or ver mundi, as the poets call it. 1950 New Philosophy p. 46. ( translation Hugo Lj. Odhner and based on the Swedish text found in Opera quaedam, volume III, pp. 271-82.)
Personally, I find the explanation to be saying that the pre-Adamites could only have existed with the earth was a paradise. This would be the only time that it was not too hot or too cold for them to have arisen. But the heading seems to say flat out that there were no pre-Adamites. This was written in a first draft and pre-Adamites are not mentioned in the work that was published.
The first time that Swedenborg encounters a pre-Adamite spirit in the other world, he is not absolutely certain of his identification:
Whether, he was a pre-Adamite cannot be known, because the pre-Adamites [lived] so many ages before, and at this day there are very many of such a character; otherwise there would be no correspondences to have reference to that hair. (SD 3390)
Later, his doubts about this identification appear to be removed:
From what has been said of the pre-Adamites . . . (SD 3397)
When the pre-Adamites, and [those who are] like the pre-Adamites . . . (SD 3399)
In the one place in the published works that the pre-Adamites are mentioned, Swedenborg says:
It is believed by many that by Adam and Eve in the book of Moses the first created persons are not meant, and in proof of this, arguments respecting Pre-adamites have been brought forward, drawn from the computations and chronologies of some heathen nations, and from the saying of Cain, Adam’s firstborn, to Jehovah. . . (TCR 466)
If this were the only time Swedenborg mentioned the pre-Adamites, we would have no idea of what he believed about them. He mentions them only to illustrate how many people’s belief in the pre-Adamites causes them to misunderstand the opening chapters of Genesis. Swedenborg’s statement says nothing about whether not pre-Adamites actually existed or not. Judging from what is said in the Spiritual Diary, I would have to conclude that Swedenborg does believe that there were pre-Adamites.
It is possible that one of many who falsely mistook the references to Adam and Eve to be about the pre-Adamites was the preacher he interacted with in SD 3455, of whom he wrote:
He then scraped together whatever he could from the Word, – some things respecting David, and others respecting the Pre-Adamites, – which I had not before heard. . . SD 3455)
The Spiritual Diary records Swedenborg’s thoughts about his interactions with spirits whom he understood to be pre-Adamites. To my mind, it is hard to toss these out without casting doubt on the whole of Swedenborg’s spiritual experiences, and thus on his Divine mission.
November 6, 2016 § Leave a comment
At the end of True Christian Religion the Lord reveals information about the spiritual character of various nationalities and where they are located. In TCR 806 in regard to the British it says:
Human beings have two modes of thinking, external and internal. In the natural world they use the external mode, in the spiritual world the internal. These two modes act as one in the case of the good, but not in the case of the wicked. It is rarely possible in the natural world to see what a person’s interior is like, since he has learned from childhood to behave well and rationally, and he likes to seem to be so. But in the spiritual world everyone’s nature is plain to see, for then he is a spirit, and the spirit is the internal man. Now because I have been allowed to be in that world and see there what internal men from different kingdoms are like, it is my duty, because of its importance, to make this generally known.
My question is, why is it important for us to know this? I don’t know the answer. If, as I continue to read I discover the answer, I will comment on this post.
November 3, 2016 § 8 Comments
Kurt Simon’s third legend is:
The characterization of the Biblical epistles as “useful books for the church” Apocalypse Explained 815 (and Letter to Beyer, April 15, 1766).
Here are the passages Mr. Simon’s refers to:
As passages from the Word have been cited above (n. 785) in which “works,” “deeds,” “working,” and “doing” are mentioned, I will now cite passages where “faith” and “believing” are mentioned, but only from the Gospels, and not from the Epistles of the Apostles, and for the reason that the Gospels contain the words of the Lord Himself, all of which have concealed in them a spiritual sense, through which immediate communication with heaven is granted, while the writings of the Apostles contain no such sense, although they are nevertheless useful books for the church. (AE 815.2)
As regards the writings of the Apostles and Paul, I have not quoted them in the Arcana Coelestia for the reason that they are doctrinal writings, and so are not written in the style of the Word as are the Prophets, David, the Gospels, and the Apocalypse. The style of the Word consists wholly of correspondences, and therefore they effect immediately communication with heaven, while in doctrinal writings, there is another style, which does indeed have communication with heaven but mediately. The reason why they were so written by the Apostles, was that, by them, the New Christian Church should have its beginning, and therefore doctrinal matters could not be written in the style of the Word but only in a way which could be understood more clearly and intimately. The Apostles’ writings are nevertheless good church-books and maintain the doctrine of charity and the faith thereof, just as strongly as does the Lord Himself in the Gospels and the Apocalypse, as can be clearly seen and discovered if one has his mind thereon when reading them. (Letters 2; Letter to Dr. Beyer, April 15, 1766)
The letter to Beyer is particularly interesting. It was written in mid-April of 1766. Prior to that time not only had Swedenborg not quoted or cited the apostles in the Arcana, he had not (to the best of my knowledge) quoted or cited them in any published work prior to that date! But that was about to change. Shortly after Swedenborg’s letter to Beyer, Swedenborg published the Apocalypse Revealed. Apocalypse Revealed quotes or cites 6 of the works of the apostles; Conjugial Love 3; Brief Exposition 2; and True Christian Religion 11!
It should be noted, that while the apostles are not quoted to cited prior to 1766 in the published works, they are alluded to:
- 1 Cor. 14. 34 in AC 8994.4
- Acts 17: 28 in AC 2892, 5605.3, 10774; SS 28; DLW 301
Again, Mr. Simons is correct, these teachings are not repeated in the published works. Apparently what makes these teachings “incorrect” is the characterization that these books of the Bible are “useful.” I do not understand this. The Lord apparently found them useful enough to quote and cite in most of works published after 1765!