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 #5

Study this Passage

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5. 3. There is some image of this unity in everything that has been created. We can tell from what is presented throughout Divine Love and Wisdom that in everything created there is some image of the divine love and wisdom that are a whole in the Lord and that emanate from him as a whole. See especially Divine Love and Wisdom 47-51, 54-60 [Divine Love and Wisdom 55-60], Divine Love and Wisdom 282-284, 290-295, 316-318 [Divine Love and Wisdom 313-318], Divine Love and Wisdom 319-326, 349-357. I have explained in these passages that Divinity is present in everything that has been created because God the Creator, who is the Lord from eternity, brought forth the sun of the spiritual world from his actual self, and by means of that sun brought forth the whole universe. This means that that sun, which is from the Lord and is where the Lord is, is not only the first but the only substance of which everything is made. Since it is the only substance, it follows that it is present in everything that has been created, but with infinite variety depending on function.

[2] In the Lord, then, there is divine love and wisdom; in the sun that comes from him there is divine fire and divine radiance; and from that sun come spiritual warmth and spiritual light, with the two making a single whole. It follows, then, that some image of this whole is present in everything that has been created.

This is why everything in the universe is based on what is good and what is true and in fact on their union, or (which amounts to the same thing) everything in the universe is based on love and wisdom and on their union, since goodness is a matter of love and truth is a matter of wisdom. Love in fact calls everything of its own good, and wisdom calls everything of its own true.

We will see now that this union is present in everything that has been created.

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