By Swedenborg Project | January 29, 2009
I have recently come to realize that a number of teachings that I had assumed from my Swedenborgian upbringing were authoritative in fact turn out not to be. On reexamination I have come to realize that they only appear in Swedenborg’s unpublished works (see Which of Swedenborg’s Books are Divine Revelation? for details on this distinction). In view of their long familiarity, I have come to think of these passages as Swedenborgian legends – familiar but not authoritative. I have, so far, discovered 16 such legends:
1. The teachings about the determinants of the time of death in Spiritual Diary/Spiritual Experiences 5002, 5003.
2. The recounting of how children are raised in heaven, perhaps most notably the story about spots appearing on their clothes, flowers and rooms when they misbehave, in Spiritual Diary/Spiritual Experiences 3327, 5601, 5664.
3. The characterization of the Biblical epistles as “useful books for the church” Apocalypse Explained 815 (and Letter to Beyer, April 15, 1766).
4. The teachings on the “pre-Adamites” (Spiritual Diary/Spiritual Experiences 3390ff.).
5. The teaching that “The universities of Christendom are now being instructed, whence will come new ministers” (Posthumous Theological Works, I: 570) (See also Letter to Beyer, February 1767).
6. In the spiritual sense of the Good Samaritan story (Luke 10), the teaching that “’he brought him to an inn and told them to care for him’ signifies to bring to those that are well instructed in the doctrine of the church from the Word, and who are better able to heal him than one who is still in ignorance.” (Apocalypse Explained 375: 42)
7. The teachings on “Charity in the case of the priest; Charity in the case of Governors,…Officials under them,…Judges,…the Commander of the Army, …the Common Soldier,…the Business Man,…the Workman,…the Farmers,..Ships’ Captains,…Sailors,…Servants.” (Doctrine of Charity 160ff.)
8. The teaching that “There are two foundations of truth; one from the Word, and the other from nature.” (Spiritual Diary/Spiritual Experiences 5709)
9. The teaching that “Unless the present little work is added to the preceding work, the church cannot be healed.” (Invitation to the New Church 25)
10. The teaching that Swedenborg’s revelation “surpasses all miracles.” (Invitation to the New Church 39, 43, 44, 55, Coronis, heading “L”)
11. The term “New Christian Church” appears only in the Coronis, heading “L.”
12. The Canons of the New Church aren’t, and the Invitation to the New Church isn’t.
13. The teaching that “The Holy Spirit…passes through men to men, and in the church chiefly through the clergy to the laity.” (Canons of the New Church, Holy Spirit IV)
14. The teaching that there are 10 laws of Divine Providence (Apocalypse Explained 1155-1185), as opposed to the five listed in Divine Providence (71ff.).
15. The teaching that ” in the church, there must be a filleted primate, parish priests, and curates under them.” (Coronis 17)
16. The name “Church of the New Jerusalem” does not appear in the Writings.
The main result I’ve had since discovering these legends is that I have stopped taking any teachings I thought I knew for granted. I check back with the published work when there’s any doubt!
I would be interested to know of any other “legend” passages.