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New Church Perspective
is an online magazine with essays and other content published weekly. Our features are from a variety of writers dealing with a variety of topics, all celebrating the understanding and application of New Church ideas. For a list of past features by category or title, visit our archive.

Entries in church (8)


An Interview with Frank Rose, Part 2

Here, in the second section, Frank and Alanna discuss the limited role of women in the church, which is a potential stumbling block for newcomers. Frank then shares two scenarios that the Theological School could take to enrollment. Each attracts a different student body to dramatically different ends. Where does the church want to go? Read the first part here. -Editor

F: So what’s another question you might have?

A: Well, one thing I’ve been thinking about is gender equality. I went to two different weddings recently. One was a Lutheran service led by a young female minister, who was my age, and another was a Jewish wedding led by a female Rabbi. I talked at both places to people about the structure of their churches, asking when women were welcomed into those positions and how that took place. The responses I got from each were similar - the shift took place in the 1970s and 80s. It felt odd to see that the church that I identify with is thirty or more years behind where I see other churches. I realized that if I brought someone new to the church it would be hard for me to explain to them why a woman couldn’t be a minister.

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An Interview with Frank Rose, Part 1

This is a lightly edited transcript of an interview with Frank Rose. In this, the first of two sections, they discuss systems that encourage church growth. Frank's experience provides evidence of what works and what doesn't. This culminates in a vision for the future success of the church, if it is willing to lead with its weakness. The second piece is here. -Editor


A: Welcome

F: Thank you.

A: So, your name is Frank Rose, and you have been a minister in the General Church for—how long? Sixty...

F: Sixty years, yeah.

A: Sixty years. So, before we begin our conversation, I think it would be helpful to make it clear that when we are speaking about ‘the church,’ we are referring to the General Church specifically, as opposed to a universal church within the minds and hearts of people worldwide.

F: Yes.

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"Quod ecclesia in specie sit ubi Verbum, et per id Dominus notus." A Church Specific or The Lord’s Church....Specifically?

Fran examines the use of the phrase 'the church specific' in New Church publications and weighs whether this concept is represented in Swedenborg's writings. In brief, it's not. What brought people to bolster this concept, given that a broader vision of the one Lord and his one universal church pervades Swedenborg's theological works? Fran's clear treatment of this issue imparts a loving clarity that may put this notion to rest for good. -Editor

For many years an idea or a doctrine concerning 'the church specific' has been in common thought among General Church members and leaders. Indeed, much has been written on the topic and published in many articles in New Church Life. Using the search feature at and inputting the words “church specific” returns 256 results from the New Church Life archives. A cursory scanning (speed-reading) of the articles reveals that although most acknowledge the universality of the Lord’s church, one also finds many statements about a ‘church specific’ defined in terms which indicate a distinction from the Lord’s universal church. Below are some samples extracted from various articles.

  • The Divine Truth revealed in the Heavenly Doctrine is new. It is utterly distinct from the religious theories and beliefs of the Christian world. In the measure that this truth is recognized as the Word of the Lord in His Second Coming, given for the instruction and guidance of the Church; in the measure that it is regarded as the actual source of authority; it cannot but create and establish with us a distinct kind and quality of religious life. The depth of our faith in the Writings is reliably reflected in the strength of our determination to mould our own life, and the life of the Church as an organization, into a form receptive of, and responsive to, the Divine Law revealed;1
  • We must be profoundly convinced of the need for [the establishment and preservation of that which is called in the Writings] the "Church Specific," and must clearly understand the relation which exists between this and the "Church Universal;”2
  • The way to heaven is kept open by the Lord to everyone, whether he belongs to the Church specific or not;3
  • The church which has the Word is called the church specific; those who are in good, but lack truth, make up the church universal;4
  • In this lies the difference between “the universal church” (Apocalypse Explained 331) and “the specific church” (Apocalypse Explained 252);5
  • The Lord is equally present with both of these churches;6
  • It is imperative that we preserve clearly in our minds the nature of the church specific and of the church universal—recognizing the distinction between the two;7
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A Church That Appeals to Young People

Sasha shares her perspective on what drives young people to reject religion. She believes the solution lies in our living the religion we embrace with our lips, wedding truth to compassion and forgiveness. -Editor

It seems to me that the passion driving any church is the sense of having a body of truth that the rest of the world needs. Some privileged understanding of who God really is, and what God really wants from us.

So wouldn't it seem natural for young people—who are driven to find something real, true, and just—to feel drawn to churches?

Maybe so. But after talking with many disheartened teenagers who’ve given up on religion, I think it may come down to an essential component they find missing in their church’s message: compassion.

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Other Revelations

Stephen brings our attention to how the Lord is revealing himself to us, and to others, in the present. He challenges the notion that the Bible and Swedenborg's writings are the exclusive and static emanations of a God who only wanted to speak twice. The water is still moving under the bridge. -Editor.

This is a New Church perspective on other revelations. Other revelations meaning: revelations from God through human beings other than those who wrote down the Bible and the Heavenly Doctrines.

The great thing about the New Church doctrines is that they allow for the validity of other religions and place all value in the embodiment of faith through action, good will and love.

But what about revelations? Don’t we consider the Word, including the Writings of Swedenborg, as the Divine Truth? We do. And sometimes those words “Divine Truth” get to have overtones that make it sound like “Final Truth,” or even “the Only Truth.” But that would be ridiculous, don’t you agree? That would be similar to asserting that the Hindu, Muslim or Native American religions are invalid, and they are not.

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1. Ramifications of an All-Male Priesthood

Over the next two weeks, Brian Smith and Kristin Coffin offer a dialog-style collaborative piece on the subject of the ordination of women in the General Church. Brian presents arguments in support of an exclusively masculine clergy while Kristin argues for the inclusion of women. The dialog ranges over 5 subtopics as follows:

  1. The ramifications of an all-male priesthood.
  2. Systemic sexism in the Church.
  3. The burden of proof and the status quo.
  4. Doctrinal arguments.
  5. The role and purpose of the clergy.

They have also chosen to ignore material that Swedenborg did not publish himself in order to side-step any additional argument related to the validity of these posthumously published theological works. This is the fourth (set of) essay(s) in the series: Women as Ordained Priests (or Not). -Editor.

Kristin, speaking on the ramifications of an all-male priesthood in the General Church

Before we discuss anything else, I think it’s important to establish that the General Church’s policy of the all-male priesthood comes with some very serious consequences. Among these consequences, I see

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