The New Church bases its doctrine on the Bible, with insights from the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, an eighteenth century theologian and scientist. This theology is founded on the belief that the Lord used Swedenborg as a vessel through which to spread His teachings to people on earth. During a process of divinely inspired revelations, Swedenborg wrote thirty-five volumes of theological books, referred to as the Writings or Heavenly Doctrines, addressing questions about human life which had previously gone unexplained or been misunderstood.
One of the prime purposes for his work was to reveal the inner meaning in the Bible, thus uncovering new relevance and hope for mankind. Within the Writings, Swedenborg describes the nature of the Divine, the function of creation, and the life which awaits us after death. He also provides practical guidelines for having a relationship with the Lord and bringing religion into everyday life.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poet (1803-1882)
“The most remarkable step in the religious history of recent ages is that made by the genius of Swedenborg.
“One of the mastodons of literature, he is not to be measured by whole colleges of ordinary scholars. His stalwart presence would flutter the gowns of a university. Our books are false by being fragmentary…but Swedenborg is systematic and respective of the world in every sentence. All the means are orderly given; his faculties work with astronomic punctuality, and this admirable writing is pure from all pertness or egotism.
“His writings would be a sufficient library to a lonely and athletic student; and the Economy Of The Animal Kingdom is one of those books which, by the sustained dignity of thinking, is an honor to the human race.”
Helen Keller, Author
I acknowledge my profound indebtedness to Emanuel Swedenborg for a richer interpretation of the Bible, a deeper understanding of Christianity, and a precious sense of the divine presence in the world. “His message has meant so much to me. It has given color and reality and unity to my thought of the life to come; it has exalted my ideas of love, truth and usefulness; it has been my strongest incitement to overcome limitations. Swedenborg’s Divine Love and Wisdom is a fountain of life I am always happy to be near.”
Calvin Coolidge, American President
“I desire to express my deep interest in the work and life of this advanced scientist and thinker Swedenborg, who was a pioneer two hundred years ago in much of the progress and advancement in mechanical, biological and medical science of the present day, and whose great learning and deep understanding of the mysteries of life was supplemented by the strong religious faith which has had devout followers many generations after the founder’s death.”
Dr. Carl Gustav Jung, Psychologist
“I admire Swedenborg as a great scientist and a great mystic at the same time. His life and work has always been of great interest to me and I read about seven fat volumes of his writings when I was a medical student.”
Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850), Author
“Do you know, I have come back to Swedenborg after vast studies of all religions, and after reading all the works published within the last sixty years? Swedenborg undoubtedly epitomizes all the religions – or rather the one religion – of humanity.
“Men no less distinguished by their learning than by their worldly rank have publicly adopted Swedenborg’s beliefs, which are indeed more consolatory than those of any other Christian communion.
“Swedenborg’s creed is the only acceptable one to superior souls.”
Elizabeth Barret Browning, Poet
“To my mind the only light that has been cast on the other life is found in Swedenborg’s philosophy. It explains much that was incomprehensible.”
The Herald Tribune – New York, New York
“The extraordinary versatility of Emanuel Swedenborg runs counter to current practices of research, not to say current conceptions of human nature… This Swedish giant was plainly, first of all, a powerful mind and a great seer in the realm of science before ever the world of spirit took charge of him. The world-wide celebration in his honor is as welcome for its deserved tribute to a fine mind and spirit as for a sign of the time. If man was (sic) only a little more aware of his threefold nature how much of current grief and confusion might we not be spared!”
The Times – New York, New York
“Swedenborg bridges the gap between the Renaissance and the era ushered in by Newton… What is it in science that causes a man of his exalted type to stretch out intellectual tentacles from the tangible to the intangible, to interpret the cosmos as a divine creation with an ability that even leaders in theology find it hard to match? Apparently there comes a time in the evolution of a profound mind when the science is only a method of approaching the cosmos, that it gives no more than a skeleton of what we call reality. To clothe that skeleton with living tissue, to give it meaning, to answer the question, ‘Why am I here?’ is the business of the poet, the priest, the mystic. Swedenborg was all three. No wonder that in middle life he became a seer. It was but an aspect in the natural evolution of a man who was at once a great scientist and a great spirit.”
Hiram Powers, American Sculptor
“Swedenborg is my author. All other writers (in comparison) seem moving in the dark with tapers in hand, groping their way, while he moves in the broad daylight of the sun.”
Walter M. Horton, Professor of Philosophy of Christianity (Oberlin College)
“In the age of ‘one-eyed’ reason, as it has been called, Swedenborg was among the very few who kept both eyes open, the eye of the soul and the eye of the senses. By sheer devotion to scientific research he discovered the limitations of science two centuries before Einstein and Eddington; but unlike many prophets of the soul, he never disparaged reason in the name of faith, or nature in the name of grace. For him, the material and spiritual universes were joined together by multiple correspondences, and an unbroken chain of discrete degrees.”
Thomas Carlyle, Clergyman
“Swedenborg was a man of great and indisputable cultivation, strong mathematical intellect, and the most pious, seraphic turn of mind; a man beautiful, lovable and tragical to me. More truths are confessed in his writings than in those of any other man. One of the loftiest minds in the realm of mind. One of the spiritual suns that will shine brighter as the years go on.”
William Butler Yeats, Poet
“It was indeed Swedenborg who affirmed for the modern world, as against the abstract reasoning of the learned, the doctrine and practice of the desolate places, of shepherds and midwives, and discovered a world of spirits where there was a scenery like that of the earth, human forms, grotesque or beautiful, senses that knew pleasure and pain, marriage and war, all that could be painted upon canvas or put into stories.”