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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 universal church (2)


"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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Why Swedenborgians Need to Pay Attention to the Emergent Movement or Similarities Between New Church and Emergent Church

Bronwen became aware of the Emergent Movement in 2010. She brings the reader up to speed on what this movement is and then draws connections between it and the New Church. There is a lot to learn by engaging in this conversation. -Editor.

Being the church is an emphasis found in the emerging church that strongly speaks to me. It reminds me of the passage Divine Providence 101 whereupon arriving in the next world after death “one is not asked ‘What church were you were a member of?’ But ‘How have you lived your life?’” At the same time I find the theological conversations in the Emergent Village to be especially thought provoking and interesting in the context of the impact of the New Church in the world and on Christianity.

In the summer of 2010 I read the book, The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier by Tony Jones. I swallowed this book whole. I read with speed and enthusiasm about an emerging theology that transcended organized and institutionalized religion, and spoke to a Christianity that emphasized being the church. The parallel between this new Christianity and the New Christianity that I had grown up with were impossible to ignore. For the first time I felt that New Church theology was being accepted by other Christians. Is this emerging theology/Christianity a product of the New Church movement?

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