The Big Ideas

A girl gazes into a lighted globe, showing the solar system.

Here we are in the 21st century. We know that the universe is an enormous place. We're just bursting with scientific knowledge. But how are we doing with the even-bigger ideas? Our human societies seem to be erasing them, or ignoring them - maybe we think we're too busy for them.

Here on the New Christian Bible Study site, we'll buck the trend. We want to explore the big ideas that give us a framework for living better lives. Here's a start on a list of big ideas from a New Christian perspective. For each idea, there is a footnote that lists some references in Swedenborg's theological works:

1. God exists. Just one God, who created and sustains the entire universe in all its dimensions, spiritual and physical. 1

2. God's essence is love itself. It's the force that drives everything. 2

3. God's essence comes into being, that is, it exists, in and through creation. 3

4. There are levels, or degrees, of creation - ranging from spiritual ones that we can't detect with our physical senses or sensors, to the level of the physical universe where most of our awareness is when we're alive here. 4

5. The created universe emanates from God, and it's sustained by God, but in an important way it is separate from God. He wants it to be separate, so that freedom can exist. 5

6. God operates from love through wisdom - willing good things, and understanding how to bring them about. 6

7. The physical level of creation exists to provide human beings with an opportunity to choose in freedom, with rationality, whether or not to acknowledge and cooperate with God. 7

8. God provides all people everywhere, regardless of their religion, the freedom to choose to live a life of love to God and to the neighbor. 8

9. God loves everyone. He knows that true happiness only comes when we're unselfish; when we're truly motivated by a love of the Lord which is grounded out in a love of the neighbor. He seeks to lead everyone, but will not force us to follow against our will. 9

10. God doesn't judge us. He tells us what's good, and what's evil, and flows into our minds to lead us towards good. However, we're free to reject his leading, and instead opt to love ourselves most. Day by day, we create habits of generosity or of selfishness, and live out a life in accordance with those habits. Those habits become the real "us", our ruling love. 10

11. Our physical bodies die eventually, but the spiritual part of our minds keeps going. It's been operating on a spiritual plane already, but our awareness shifts - so that we become fully aware of spiritual reality. 11


1Divine Love and Wisdom 4, 15, 16, 23, 301, Divine Providence 46, True Christian Religion 11, 19.

2Divine Love and Wisdom 4, 29, 30,Apocalypse Explained 297, Heaven and Hell 13, 545.

3Divine Love and Wisdom 31, 32, 57, 59, 84, 169-171, 329, 330, Divine Providence 3, 27.

4Divine Love and Wisdom 65, 179, 180, 213, 230, 363.

5Divine Love and Wisdom 44, 45, 55.

6Divine Love and Wisdom 42, 43, 52, 154, Divine Providence 3, 5.

7Divine Providence 27, 71, 72, 75, 129, True Christian Religion 459, 490.

8Divine Providence 145, 322, 324, 325, 328, Apocalypse Explained 986, Heaven and Hell 522, True Christian Religion 457.

9Divine Providence 67, 322, 333, 334, Heaven and Hell 312, 319, 324.

10Apocalypse Explained 986, Heaven and Hell 479, 481, 525, 598. The True Christian Religion 795.

11Arcana Coelestia 168, 1854, 3016, 5078, 6008, 8939, Heaven and Hell 445, 461, 493, 498, Divine Love and Wisdom 90, Last Judgment 25.


From Swedenborg's Works

Apocalypse Explained #986

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)

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986. And they repented not to give him glory. That this signifies that they were not willing to turn by living according to the Lord's precepts, is evident from the signification of repenting, as denoting to turn from evils and the falsities therefrom; in the present case, before the Last Judgment comes upon them, and also condemnation and punishment; and from the signification of giving glory to the Lord, as denoting to live according to His precepts (concerning which see above, n. 874).

Continuation concerning the Sixth Precept:-

(References: Revelation 16:9; The Apocalypse Explained 874)

[2] Because all the delights which a man has in the natural world are turned into corresponding delights in the spiritual world, so are the delights of the love of marriage and the delights of the love of adultery. The love of marriage is represented in the spiritual world as a virgin, whose beauty is such as to inspire the beholder with the delights of life; but the love of adultery is represented in the spiritual world by an old woman, whose hideousness is such as to inspire the beholder with coldness and torpor in every delight of life. This is why, in the heavens, the beauty of the angels is according to the quality of their conjugial love, and that, in the hells, the hideousness of the spirits is according to the quality of their love of adultery. In a word, with the angels of heaven, according to conjugial love, there is vitality in their faces, their bodily gestures, and in their speech; but with the spirits of hell, according to the love of adultery, there is deadliness in their faces. The delights of conjugial love in the spiritual world are sensibly represented by the fragrance of fruits and flowers of various kinds. But the delights of the love of adultery are there sensibly represented by the foul smells exhaling from dunghills and putrid substances of various kinds. The delights of the love of adultery are also actually turned into such things, because all the delights of adultery are spiritual filth. This is why the brothels in the hells exhale stenches that excite vomiting.

(References: Revelation 16:9)

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From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 980

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.

 Heavenly Flowers
Project | Ages up to 10

Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.