Commentary

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

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Footnotes:

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

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

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

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

5. Divine Love and Wisdom 44, 45, 55.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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From Swedenborg's Works

True Christianity #19

True Christianity (Rose translation)

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19. 1. The one God is called Jehovah from "being," that is, from the fact that he alone is [and was] and will be, and that he is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. "Jehovah" means "I am" and "to be," as is generally known. We know from the Book of Creation, or Genesis, that God was called "Jehovah" from most ancient times. In the first chapter he is called "God," but in the second and subsequent chapters he is called "Jehovah God. " Later on the descendants of Abraham through Jacob forgot the name of God owing to their long sojourn in Egypt. Then in the event recorded in the following passage it was recalled to memory:

Moses said to God, "What is your name?" God said, "I Am I Who Am. So you will say to the Children of Israel, 'I Am sent me to you. ' And you will say, Jehovah, the God of your fathers, sent me to you. This is my name to eternity, and this is how I will be remembered from generation to regeneration. " (Exodus 3:13-15)

Since God alone is "I Am" and being, or "Jehovah," therefore nothing exists in the created universe that does not derive its underlying reality from him. (How this happens will be discussed below [21, 75-76, 78].) The same thing is meant by these words: "I am the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega" (Isaiah 44:6 and Revelation 1:8, 11; 22:13). This means that on every level of existence he is the one and only entity, the source of all things.

[2] God is called the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, because alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet and omega is the last; so together they mean all things as a whole.

In the spiritual world, every alphabetical letter has a meaning. A vowel, because it carries tone, means a feeling or some kind of love. Spiritual and angelic speech, and also writing, depends on these meanings - but this is a mystery that has not been known until now. There is in fact a universal language shared by all angels and spirits. It has nothing in common with any human language in our world. After death everyone inherits that language, because it is latent in everyone from creation. In the spiritual world, then, everyone can understand everyone else. I have often been allowed to hear that language. I have compared it with languages in the physical world and have ascertained that it has not even the least thing in common with any earthly language. It differs by its very origin, which is that every letter of every word has a meaning. This is why God is here called the Alpha and the Omega, meaning that on every level of existence he is the one and only entity, the source of all things. (For more on how this language and its written form flow from angels' spiritual thought, see the work Marriage Love 326-329; see also what follows in this work [280].)

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