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


Heaven and Hell #324

Study this Passage

/ 603  

324. As for today's non-Christians, they are not that wise; but many of them are simple-hearted. However, in the other life they do accept wisdom from others who have lived lives of thoughtfulness together. I may offer a couple of examples.

When I read chapters 17, 18 of Judges about Micah (whose idol, household gods, and Levite were stolen by the Danites), there was one non-Christian spirit who had revered an idol during his physical life. He listened intently to what happened to Micah and was deeply pained because of the idol that the Danites stole. His distress overcame him and moved him so deeply that he scarcely knew what he was thinking because of the depth of his pain. I sensed his pain and at the same time the innocence within his particular affections. There were some Christian spirits present who were surprised that this idolater was moved by such mercy and such an affection of innocence.

Later some good spirits talked with him and told him that he should not revere idols and that he could understand this because he himself was a human being. Rather, his thought should reach beyond the idol to the God who was creator and ruler of the whole heaven and the whole earth, and who was the Lord. When he was told this, I could sense his deep feeling of reverence. It was communicated to me as something much holier than what could be found among Christians. I could gather from this that non-Christians come into heaven more readily than Christians nowadays, in keeping with the Lord's words in Luke:

Then they will come from the east and the west and the north and the south and will recline in the kingdom of God; and indeed there will be many of the last who will be first, and of the first who will be last. (Luke 13:29-30)

Because of the state he was in, that is, he could absorb all matters of faith and could accept them with a deep inner affection. There was a loving mercy about him and in his ignorance an innocence; and when these are present, all matters of faith are accepted spontaneously, so to speak, and with joy. After this, the non-Christian spirit was accepted among the angels.

/ 603  

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