The Big Ideas

By New Christian Bible Study Staff

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


From Swedenborg's Works


Divine Providence #325

Study this Passage

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325. 2. Consequently, under divine providence everyone can be saved; and everyone is saved who believes in God and lives a good life. What has just been presented shows that everyone can be saved. There are people who think that the Lord's church exists only in the Christian world because only there is the Lord known and only there is the Word found. Still, there are a good many people who believe that the church of God is wider, spread out and scattered through all regions of the world, even among people who do not know about the Lord and do not have the Word. They say that it is not these people's fault and that they cannot help being ignorant. It would fly in the face of God's love and mercy if anyone were born for hell when we are all equally human.

[2] Since many Christians (though not all) have a belief that there is a wider church called "a communion," it follows that there must be some very general principles of this wider church that comprises all religions, so that they do make up one communion. We shall see that these most general principles are belief in God and living a good life, in the following sequence. (a) Belief in God brings about God's union with us and our union with God; and denial of God brings about severance. (b) Our belief in God and union with him depend on our living a good life. (c) A good life, or living rightly, is abstaining from evils because they are against our religion and therefore against God. (d) These are the general principles of all religions, through which everyone can be saved.

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