What Is Swedenborgianism? -- By: James Reed

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 038:152 (Oct 1881)
Article: What Is Swedenborgianism?
Author: James Reed


What Is Swedenborgianism?

Rev. James Reed

The term “Swedenborgianism,” though commonly applied to the belief of those who accept as true the doctrinal system contained in the theological writings of Swedenborg, is not regarded by them as a name which correctly defines their position. Swedenborg himself lays claim to no personal leadership. The truth which he was instrumental in revealing is to him, as much as to any one, the object of reverent wonder. He deduces it, in all its essential points, from the Sacred Scriptures; and he avers that the reception of it among men will have the effect not of adding a new sect to the many already existing in Christendom, but of reforming and renovating Christianity itself. The future to which he looks forward is a time when a new Christian church will take the place of that which was established at the Lord’s advent. Nor is there any vagueness or uncertainty in his expectations. He associates them with the definite fulfilment of Scripture prophecies. He declares that the second coming of the Lord is already accomplished; that a new aeon or dispensation of divine truth and influence has even now begun; and that we are living in the period foreshadowed by the holy city, New Jerusalem, which John saw descending from God out of heaven.

The doctrines taught in Swedenborg’s writings are radically different from all others, and cover every conceivable point of religious belief. He invariably calls them the doctrines of the New Church signified by the New Jerusalem. The idea of personal proprietorship in them is wholly alien from his thought. Out of Holy Scripture, when he was diligently reading it, they came to him, as the Lord’s own truth

revealed for all men. Those also who under his guidance have been led to accept the same doctrines regard them in like manner. The man Swedenborg passes out of view; and they use the term “New Church” as the only designating title which is at all adequate to the greatness and importance of the thing expressed. Still, it is but natural that others should by name associate them with the distinguished author whose writings are the chief enunciation of their principles, and the proximate cause of their organic existence. With these preliminary explanations, I will endeavor to answer, as concisely as possible, the question assigned me.

The Internal Or Spiritual Sense Of Scripture

I have said that the Scriptures are the fountain-head of New-Church doctrines. But, viewed in the light of those doctrines, the Scriptures themselves are seen to possess a depth and fulness of meaning unknown before. Since they are the word of God — the very utterance and expression of divine truth, — their whole significanc...

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