A Quick Overview of Some Basic Tenets of Our Theology
God is infinitely loving and at the center of every living thing. Truth is love in action; actions performed out of love are genuine expressions in a physical form of what love means.
There is one God whose essence is Divine Love and Wisdom. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three persons, but are all aspects of God just as body, mind, and soul are all aspects of one person.
The Bible contains the Word of God and provides us with inspiration and guidance to help us to lead better and more fulfilling lives. The literal sense of Scripture tells the story of the people of God, but the text also contains a deeper inner meaning that illumines the journey of the human soul.
People are essentially spirits clothed with material bodies. At death, the material body is laid aside and the person continues to live on in the spiritual world, choosing a heavenly life or a hellish one based on the quality of the life choices they made here.
The Second Coming has taken place and is still taking place. It is not an actual physical appearance of the Lord, but rather his return in spirit and truth that is being affected as a present reality.
God gives everyone the freedom to choose their beliefs and live their lives accordingly. Salvation is available for people of all religions and spiritual perspectives because salvation is an inner experience, not an acceptance of a particular doctrine.
A Bit Deeper of an Understanding of Our Theology
Who is God? Swedenborg wrote “God never hurts or punishes, for this is as far away from the nature of God as Heaven is from hell.” For Swedenborgians, God is the Creator, the source of every positive human quality and the very energy which is slowly leading humanity towards the creation of heaven on earth. The essence of God is perfect love and wisdom which draws all people to heaven so that they would enjoy the fulfillment for which we were created. God is a real, transforming force at work in your life and in the world. We honor many different approaches to God and we encourage the diversity of paths by which people are able to connect with God.
Who is Jesus? Jesus was a real person who lived and taught a path we can follow to become whole. In this person, God entered completely into the human experience as the ultimate expression of love and compassion. Jesus knew birth, growth, pain, testing, and fulfillment. In Christ we are given a comprehensible and knowable God. The Second Coming is not a physical return of Christ, but an active process that is happening within us and the world. As we increase compassion, integrity, understanding, and healing in our lives, we are helping God create a “new Heaven and a new Earth.”
What are Heaven and Hell? Heaven and hell are not rewards or punishments distributed on judgment day but the present inner experience we freely choose. We may choose to enjoy peace and openness, or to close ourselves in fear. We can discover the highest joy of a loving life by giving to others, or the loneliness of self-centeredness. Our life here on earth is an opportunity for learning and spiritual growth. As we choose between giving and taking, loving and hating, right and wrong, we participate in the creation of our own spiritual character. This spiritual self, or soul, is who we really are, and this is what lives forever. When we “die” we continue to live, creating the Heaven or hell of our choice in the next life. There is no devil tempting us, but there are angels who are always with us, leading us toward the light of heaven.
What is the Bible? The Bible is a very complex compilation of books that are far too rich to be limited to literal interpretation. The creation story is not an historical account of the origin of our world but is a description of our own stages of spiritual growth. The generations of Abraham speak of our growing complexity. The escape from slavery in Egypt, the wandering in the wilderness, and the claiming of the Promised Land recount our own spiritual journey as we truly become ourselves. The descending of the New Jerusalem described in Revelation is the completion of the spiritual evolution of the human race. The Bible is a map of our journey from the Garden of Eden to the Holy City. It is our story.
The Swedenborgian Cross and Symbol
THE CROSS: The symbol of Christ at the center
THE CIRCLE: Representing the Oneness of God—The Unity of All that Is. The circle connects the elements and encircles the cross, which further ties the elements together within the Unity of All that Is
THE FOUR SQUARES: Symbolize the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water
* Earth corresponds the physical world
* Air corresponds to the spiritual world
* Fire corresponds to love, good, and passion
* Water corresponds to wisdom, truth, and rationality
The squares are interconnected; the elements are interdependent, both on the earthly plane and correspondentially. Four squares joined by a cross under a circle symbolize virtuous lives ruled by the inflowing love of God, united by the Lord into a genuinely Christian church.