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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 the Word (6)


Why Read the Word/Bible? 

Reading the Word can be confusing, but this week Helen offers a way of reading it to enjoy the mystery and the pieces to be puzzled over and put together in an effort to understand our loving creator. -Editor.

Many of us love mysteries and knowing something deeper is meant, then trying to ferret out what the meaning is. An example for those who are older is 'Rosebud' in the movie, Citizen Kane, or, for middle aged people, the symbolism and powers of the ‘Ark’ in Raiders of the Lost Ark. A movie fraught with symbolism is Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In it a man and woman are inexplicably lured to a volcano-like mountain in Wyoming. In its time this movie was spellbinding to the public, and when the meaning was finally revealed, it turned out that extra-terrestrial beings were trying to talk with people on earth.

It’s easy to place God into that story, because he is an extra-terrestrial being communicating with people here on the Earth, or at least trying to. He did for many thousands of years in pre-history, but failure in the lines of communication kept occurring and eventually they became fully blocked. Way back when, his wisdom showed that he needed to come here on the Earth and talk with people directly. But before he could do that, he symbolically represented that he was going to do it, which helped hold open the lines for the centuries between the Fall of Adam and his birth here on Earth.

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Using the Letter of the Word to Fight in Temptations, Part 1

Malcolm is developing his capacity to use the Word skillfully to fight in temptations. Part one of this essay addresses the power in the letter of the Word, and provides some doctrinal context. Part two? Well you are just going to have to wait! - Editor


Some time in the last couple of months I read a statement in the teachings of the New Church about spiritual combat and it’s stuck with me. I’ve been chewing on it since then—trying to think through the ramifications and possible applications of it.

Here’s the statement (preceded by a statement from a few numbers before that gives some context).

[T]here are both evil and good spirits with every man; the evil spirits are in his evils, and the good spirits in his goods. When the evil spirits approach they draw forth his evils, while the good spirits, on the contrary, draw forth his goods; whence arise collision and combat, from which the man has interior anxiety, which is temptation...

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Meditate | Trusting the Word

“And Jehovah God commanded the human concerning it, saying, ‘From every tree of the garden you are definitely to eat’” (Genesis 2:16).

To eat from every tree is to depend on perception in order to know and recognize what is good and true; a tree is perception” (Secrets of Heaven 125).

“If we do not rely on the world for our wisdom, on the other hand, but on the Lord, we tell ourselves at heart to believe in the Lord, that is, in all that the Lord has said in the Word, because those are reliable truths. This is the principle in which we base our thinking. We use rational argument, factual knowledge, sensory evidence, and physical phenomena in confirmation, but whatever fails to confirm the Word we put aside” (Secrets of Heaven 128).

Definitely eat of every tree in the garden; depend on perception from the Lord to know and recognize what is good and true. For me I read, “TRUST;” trust the perception I get from the Word.

In Secrets of Heaven 128 it teaches that we should use worldly knowledge to confirm perception and not the other way around; and if something doesn’t confirm our perception, to put it aside. So often when I read the Word, the loving, true ideas in it directly oppose false ideas I’ve been holding onto (…go figure). It’s almost laughable how hard it is to cast these false ideas aside and let myself believe something more loving and promising of my eternal happiness: like the simple message that I don’t need to worry! The Lord’s thoughts are not my thoughts. I want to trust the Lord’s thoughts, which are available in the Word. So I’ll work on trusting for now and maybe eventually my trust will turn into a continual reliance on what I hear the Lord telling me through the Word. 


Meditate on the Word of God

Alanna Rose shares a beautifully simple practice for enjoying and engaging with the Lord's Word. Revelation can often feel intimidating in length or confusing in content but Alanna describes an approach to taking small, bite-sized pieces at a time. This method offers the opportunity to cherish and delight in the Lord's truth. -Editor

Among the things Swedenborg charged himself with was “diligently to read and meditate upon the word of God” (Documents Concerning Swedenborg, R. Tafel, p 26). This idea has been oft repeated from the pulpit. I recall being encouraged many times to go to the Lord’s Word. This is a simple instruction.

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Does God Have a Sense of Humor?

Do you have to be boring in order to be good? This week Coleman Glenn wonders if God has a sense of humor... and what God's sense of humor might imply about human joking. Coleman acknowledges some gray area in distinguishing appropriate and inappropriate humor but works towards his own conclusion. -Editor

A person may frequent places of amusement, talk about the affairs of the world, and need not go about like a devotee with a sad and sorrowful countenance and drooping head, but may be joyful and cheerful. (Heaven and Hell 358)

Some persons from habit, and some from contempt, make use in familiar conversation of the things contained in Holy Scripture as an aid or formula for jokes and ridicule, thinking that doing so makes these more pointed. But such things of Scripture when thus thought and spoken add themselves to their corporeal and filthy ideas, and in the other life bring upon them much harm; for they return together with the profane things. (Arcana Coelestia 961)

Does God have a sense of humor? In the New Church we worship a Human God – and it seems hard to imagine someone who is truly human lacking a sense of humor. On the other hand, there is no story in the Word where the Lord tells a joke or laughs at one; there is nothing that explicitly says He does have a sense of humor.

That’s the first question I want to address in this article. The second is related, but not identical: if God does have a sense of humor, does that mean it’s okay to make jokes about Him or about the Word? Maybe you can tell from the tone of the question that I think the answer is “no.” But I’ll get to that in a bit.

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The Hidden Influence and Relevance of Swedenborg 2: Egypt, Assyria, and Quantum Mechanics

This is the second of three sections of an essay by Curtis Childs on the significance of Emanuel Swedenborg's work. Start with Section 1: Why We Are Here. Finally, turn to Section 3: Swedenborg's Influence. - Editor.

Perhaps one of Swedenborg’s most striking revisions of Christian thought centers around what is today called the Holy Bible. While Jesus Christ’s use of parables to teach is well documented in the New Testament, Swedenborg lays out, especially in his multi-volume work Secrets of Heaven, an extremely thorough, systematic, and extensive exegesis illustrating the belief that the entire Bible is, in fact, an allegory. Swedenborg’s interpretation relies on “correspondences,” the idea that the places, characters, and even the words appearing in Biblical text simultaneously represent aspects of God, humanity’s relationship to the divine, and a map of each of our personal spiritual journeys. The actual concept, though consistent, is quite complex, as one scholar studying Swedenborg’s Secrets of Heaven noted, “unfortunately, any straightforward definition of correspondence fails to capture the incredible richness of the Swedenborgian concept” (Woofenden 47).

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