The legal name for our branch is The General Church of The New Jerusalem
We can be happy that that such promotional threads as this usually results in in the cult being exposed. Such was the case recently with Roy Masters, as seen here (which even resulted in the advocate asserting that i fabricated quotes from Google books and Master's own writings), and this offers a like opportunity.
And note that FR is a strange place to promote a church which ordains homosexuals, as the but the oldest denomination of Swedenborgism, the Swedenborgian Church of North America, apparently does.
The text that comes to mind in regards to Swedenborg, with his theology of angelic revelation and imagined encounters, is Colossians 2:18: "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.
A long time ago I had written an expose of Swedenborgism, which I think was based on Walter Martins research in his classic, the Kingdom of the cults (some of which you can read here), as well as that of The Watchman Expositor, but i will post excerpts from research here.
I see the use of the term Borg as somewhat fitting in referring to Swedenborgism, as like the scifi Borg, Swedenborgism is an amalgamation of sorts by a entity which, like Roy Masters, claimed highly esoteric revelation and which is held as supreme, and which exaltation is a typical mark of cults, which the highly allegorical hermeneutic of Swedenborg allows most anything to be supported.
The first section here contains excerpts from The New Church Wikipedia, and which is pretty much an infomercial, evidently mainly written by members of the Borg, but it is well referenced to Swedenborg material. The second section contains parts of The Watchman Expositor.
The Word of God is contained in the Bible, which has a symbolic spiritual meaning hidden in its literal sense. Swedenborg's visions primarily explain how and why the Bible is Divinely Inspired, and it is methodically delineated word by word in his massive multi-volume work, the Arcana Coelestia (meaning Heavenly Secrets). The symbolic language, where each passage follows the other in a coherent logical series, is what Swedenborg called "correspondences." This inner meaning was kept hidden, and could only have been discovered through revelation, which was made available when mankind was ready to receive it....
According to Swedenborg,...books of the Old Testament, which are not believed to be divinely inspired, include those that are generally grouped by the Jews under the "Writings" (Ketuvim). ..
The New Church regards the words of Jesus as divinely inspired, and thus the canon of sacred scripture, and among the books of the New Testament includes only the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and the Book of Revelation. Only these books contain an internal symbolism in a series, and are thus divinely inspired.
Although this leaves out the Book of Acts and the letters of the apostles, the New Church holds them in esteem similar to that of the Jews for the Writings of the Old Testament. Swedenborg stated that these books were included as an act of divine providence, as books explaining Christian doctrine were needed for the general public....
Swedenborg stated that there were a set of sacred texts among an "Ancient Church" in the Middle East which preceded Judaism, but the texts became lost over time. Some of these are quoted in the Bible, such as The Wars of Jehovah (Num. 21:1415) and another book similar to those in the Prophets (Num. 21:2730). Another work that Swedenborg said belonged to the Ancient Church was the Book of Jasher, which is also quoted in the Bible (Josh. 10:1213, 2 Sam. 1:1718), which Swedenborg stated was still extant in Tartary.
In the doctrines of the New Church, there is a complete review and assessment of the doctrines of the former churches. Before the New Church can be received, the doctrines of the older churches must be exposed in the open and rejected. This is because the faith of the New Church is so opposite to the doctrines of the older Christian churches that they cannot coexist.
There is no "end of the world" where the visible heaven and earth will disappear. Instead, the church has passed through different ages or dispensations, each ending with a Last Judgment that occurs in the spiritual world. The last of these took place in the year 1757. Previous last judgments had occurred at the time of Noah's Flood, and at the passion of the cross by Jesus Christ. The purpose of these last judgments is to separate the good from the evil in the intermediate spiritual world, which lies between heaven and hell. As a result of these periodic judgments, a new age or New Church begins among the people on earth. The Second Coming of the Lord is not a coming in person as the Word incarnate, but His coming is the revelation of the spiritual symbolism in the Bible, and the formation of a New Church as a result of this revelation.
Swedenborg held that God is one person revealed in Jesus Christ, which was later independently expressed by modern day Oneness Pentecostalism....the Divine Trinity is defined as "the three essentials of one God, and they make one as soul, body, and operation make one in man. Before the world was created this Trinity was not; but after creation, when God became incarnate, it was provided and brought about; and then in the Lord God the Redeemer and Savior Jesus Christ." As a trinity of soul, body and spirit exists in every man, so in Jesus this became the Holy Trinity.
The soul is the recipient of life from God, and the body its natural clothing. The beginning of life, or the origin of one's soul, comes from the seed of the father, and the external body comes from the mother....
Associated with each person during their life are spirits and angels by which one obtains conjunction with heaven or hell, depending on how one lives their life. Generally, communication between spirits and man is not permitted, however in ancient times this communication was more open. Angels and spirits do retain their memories, and under certain mental states when communication is opened, a person may remember that spirit's memory as if it was one's own.
..Those who are good and at the same time in truth pass immediately to heaven, and those who are in evil and the same time in falsity pass to hell. Otherwise, one gradually withdraws from exterior appearances and fallacies into one's interior intentions and affections in the world of spirits.
...God casts no one to hell: as hell is the internal state of evil, and heaven is the internal state of good, each person enters a state that matches his or her internal nature.
In heaven there are innumerable societies each fulfilling a particular office, each arranged according to one's love. Altogether the form of heaven is that of a human form. Each angel has a spiritual body also in human form, and is a heaven in its least microcosmic form. All angels and demons in heaven and hell originated from the human race, and this is why angels have human form. There is no individual spirit known as the devil or satan: "in the whole heaven there is not one angel who was so created from the beginning, nor in hell any devil who was created an angel of light and cast down; but that all, both in heaven and in hell, are from the human race; in heaven those who lived in the world in heavenly love and faith, in hell those who lived in infernal love and faith; and that hell taken as a whole is what is called the devil and satan."
...Inasmuch as one does good one becomes conjoined with angels, and inasmuch as one does evil one becomes conjoined with evil spirits. ..
before the time of Jesus, the spiritual equilibrium between heaven and hell had become imbalanced, and hell began to gain control and influence over humanity: more people began to choose evil, and an eternal damnation threatened the entire human race. By becoming incarnate in human form, Jehovah could fight directly against all of hell, as Jesus suffered enormous temptations from the body He inherited from His human mother. This process continued until Jesus conquered all temptations, and thus all of hell, even to the point where His physical body was made one with the Divine. From His body the Divine proceeded forth as the Holy Spirit, by which He can directly operate through each person's will for reformation, so that each person can become conjoined directly with the Lord.
Remission of sins is nothing more than their removal after repentance. This is the other point where the New Church differs from the older Christian churches. "The belief that the passion of the cross was redemption itself is a fundamental error of the church; and that error, together with the error concerning three Divine persons from eternity, has perverted the whole church, so that nothing spiritual is left in it." The passion of the cross was simply the last temptation that was endured before the human was made Divine. There is no such thing as vicarious atonement, where sins are transferred from one person to another. Passages from scripture that refer to the body and blood of Jesus refer to the Divine Good and Divine Truth which proceeds from his Divine Human; and these are imbibed or imputed by a life of charity and faith.
As of 2000 the most recent membership figures for the Four Church Organizations were:
General Conference of the New Church (Great Britain): 1,314
Swedenborgian Church of North America, also known as The General Convention (USA): 2,029
Membership in the New Church has always been small, and the different organizations have been heavily involved in publishing activities. In terms of doctrine, there is a striking similarity between the New Church and the Oneness Pentecostalism movement of the 20th century, which developed quite independently of the writings of Swedenborg. Although the movement is completely separate, some members make some acknowledgement of Emanuel Swedenborg, who preceded the foundation of their church by over 150 years.
Researcher D. Michael Quinn suggests that Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism, was influenced by the writings of Swedenborg. Like Swedenborg, Mormons believe in eternal marriage, but require that the ritual be performed in a Mormon temple (see Celestial Marriage). Also Joseph Smith's idea of three heavens is similar to Swedenborg's view that there are three heavens (see Heaven and Hell (Swedenborg)). Both Swedenborg and Joseph Smith refer to the highest heaven as "celestial", in concert with the usage of the apostle Paul (see 2 Corinthians 12:2) when he described a visit to the "third heaven". Other historians, including William J. Hamblin, seriously doubt whether Joseph Smith, living in rural upstate New York, could have had access to Swedenborg's book and so find Quinn's assertions problematic. However, Edward Hunter, a Swedenborgian who later became a Mormon, reported that in 1839 Joseph Smith told him he was familiar with the writings of Swedenborg.
Since Emanuel Swedenborg's theology is divided into several different sects, it will not be possible to cover all of them. Hence, the theology covered herein will be limited to Emanuel Swedenborg's writings, and that of the General Church of the New Jerusalem.
Swedenborg taught that some books in the Bible had a "spiritual sense" to them that the others did not have.15 The spiritual sense refers to his concept of correspondences, defined as speaking "spiritually while speaking naturally."16 The natural meaning is the plain meaning communicated in the writings of the scripture. The corresponding spiritual truth in the scripture, however, could not be found by normal rules of interpretation. These truths were discernable only to Swedenborg himself, based on his many encounters with angels and Jesus. Correspondences have a one-to-one relationship with a truth in the spiritual realm. For example, within the story of the earth's creation in Genesis chapters one and two, Swedenborg taught that the correspondences point to the development of the Christian's spiritual character.
The first dawning of light is our ability to see truth in our minds. The water vapors, as clouds in the sky above the seas, show the separation and distinction between the waters above (heavenly truths) and the waters below (truths about natural things). . . .The dry land which then comes forth, ready for vegetation, pictures man's mind ready for planting of spiritual ideas.17
Not all books in the Bible have correspondences. Hence, the books that do not have correspondences are not regarded as Scripture. Since Swedenborg's works are regarded as revelatory by the New Church, only Swedenborg himself could define which books have correspondences. Despite the lack of canonicity in the New Testament books that are not inspired, Swedenborg taught that these are still useful for the church. Below is a list of the Biblical books with correspondences:
The five books of Moses, the book of Joshua, the book of Judges, the two books of Samuel, the two books of Kings, the Psalms of David, the Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi; and in the New Testament the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the Revelation.18
It is not that only some portions of scripture have correspondences, but "there is a spiritual meaning in every single word that the Lord spoke."19 Swedenborg wrote many volumes describing the spiritual corresponding truths that are in the books he regarded as scripture.
Although Swedenborg used the word trinity, he defined it modalistically. "These three, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are the three essentials of the one God, which make one, like the soul, the body, and operation in man."20 ...
When Jesus referred to God as a person Who was different from Himself, He was speaking of "His indwelling Divinity - as though separate from, and greater than Himself."22 ...
Instead of a person, the Holy Spirit is described as "breath, typifying the life giving influence which proceeds form the Lord," (p. 7). He is described as "divine truth" and the "proceeding divine" that comes from Jesus.23 The Holy Spirit proceeds from Jesus "as heat and light from the sun."24
Humanity's foremost problem before Jesus came was that humans lost the ability to do good. Christ's redemption restored humanity's ability "to shun evil, and to do the Lord's will in a life of holiness and righteousness."25 Since humanity now can overcome sin, they are obligated to do so. They must be "resisting and overcoming every inclination to evil, [then] he may lose his life of sin, and gain an eternal life of holiness."26 This process of shunning evil and following the Lord is the experience of being born again. It is not a one time event, but a process in which "the heart and mind become freed from evil affections and thoughts, and filled with holiness, purity, and love from the Lord."27
Humanity and Angels
The purpose for the creation of humanity is so they "may be prepared to become an angel, and thus be useful and happy in heaven for ever."28 Hence, an angel is merely a human being after death. Swedenborg arrived at this conclusion by having many conversations with angels.29 From these encounters, he discerned that they are exactly like humans, having "faces, eyes, ears, bodies, arms, hands, and feet, that they see and hear one another, and talk together, and in a word lack nothing whatever that belongs to men."30 The only difference is that angels do not have physical bodies. The identicalness of angels to humans even allows for men and women to continue to have marital love for each other after this life. Since marital love continues, there will be marriages in heaven.
Swedenborg taught through correspondences that the New Jerusalem, spoken of in Revelation chapter 21, referred to a new church that was to be established on earth. Swedenborg started this new church with his own writings. This New Church was necessary because the churches in his day had become destitute. They were depicted in Revelation as false prophets, the dragon, the harlot, and the beasts. Since wickedness had perverted the Christian church, the truth needed to be reestablished. It was done so through the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.
Biblical Response: See The Watchman Expositor