5. The plurality of gods in ancient times, and nowadays as well, has no other source than a misunderstanding of the underlying divine reality. These points need to be clarified one by one.

In Section 8 I showed that the oneness of God is written into each human mind at the deepest level, since it is central to all things that flow from God into our souls. It has not yet come down from there into our intellect, however, because we have been lacking concepts we need in order to go up toward God. Each of us needs to make a pathway for God [Isaiah 40:3], meaning we need to prepare ourselves to receive God, and this preparation requires certain concepts.

The concepts we have been lacking are listed below. Their lack has deprived our intellect of the penetration to see that there is one God, that there can be only one underlying divine reality, and that all things in the material world come from that underlying reality.

(a) Until now, no one has known anything about the spiritual world, where there are spirits and angels and where we go after we die.
(b) The spiritual world has a sun that is pure love from Jehovah God, who is within that sun.
(c) The heat from that sun is essentially love, and its light is essentially wisdom.
(d) As a result, everything in that world is spiritual and affects us in our inner selves, forming our will and our intellect at that level.
(e) By means of that sun, Jehovah God produced not only the spiritual world and all the countless spiritual things in it, which are substantial, but also the material world and all the countless material things in it, which are physical.
(f) Until now, no one has known the difference between “spiritual” and “earthly,” or even what “spiritual” essentially means.
(g) No one has known that there are three levels of love and wisdom that have been used to structure the angelic heavens.
(h) No one has known that the human mind is differentiated into the same number of levels so that we can be lifted to one of the three heavens after death, depending on our life and faith.
(i) Lastly, none of the above would be the case for one instant were it not for the underlying divine reality—the Absolute in itself; the First and the Beginning from which all things exist.

Even though these are the concepts we need in order to go higher and recognize the divine reality, they have been lacking until now.

I say that we go higher, but I really mean that we are taken up by God. We have free will; we can use it to gain religious knowledge. When we exercise our intellect and gain religious knowledge from the Word, we smooth a pathway that God can use to come down and lift us up.

The concepts that can lift our intellect higher, and let God take us by the hand and lead us, can be compared to the steps on the ladder that Jacob saw. It was set up on the ground but the top of it stretched into heaven. Angels were climbing up on it and Jehovah was standing above it (Genesis 28:12–13).

When we lack these concepts or reject them with contempt, the situation is quite the opposite. Under these conditions, the reach of our intellect can be compared to a ladder on the grounds of a magnificent mansion, but the ladder extends only to a window on the first floor, where people are staying, and does not reach the windows of the second floor where there are spirits, let alone the windows of the third floor, where there are angels.

If we lack or reject these concepts, we are limited to the atmospheres and matter in nature that we experience with our eyes, ears, and noses. From these sources we get only atmospheric and material ideas about heaven and about God’s underlying reality and essence. Thinking on the basis of them, we will never decide anything about whether God exists or not, or whether there is one God or many, much less what the underlying reality and essence of God are like. As a result, in ancient times, and nowadays as well, people have come to believe in a plurality of gods.

from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 24

Advertisements

4. The intrinsic, underlying divine reality and intrinsic capacity to become manifest cannot produce anything else divine that is intrinsically real and has an intrinsic capacity to become manifest. Therefore another God of the same essence is impossible.

Up to this point I have shown that the one God, the Creator of the universe, is the intrinsic underlying reality and capacity to become manifest. Therefore he is intrinsically God. From this it follows that a god from a god is not possible, because such a god would necessarily lack absolute and essential divinity in the form of intrinsic underlying reality and capacity to become manifest. It does not matter whether that god is said to be “born” of God or to emanate from him, he would still be produced by God, which is scarcely different from being created by him.

To introduce into the church the belief that there are three divine persons, each of whom is individually God, although they share a single essence, and to say that one of them was eternally begotten and the third has been having an effect from eternity, is to destroy completely the concept of one God. Along with that it is also to eradicate the whole notion of divinity and to drive all reasoned spirituality into exile. No longer truly human, human beings are becoming earthly in every respect. The only difference between them and wild animals is that they can talk. They are against anything and everything spiritual about the church—the earthly self calls all that delusional.

These hideous heresies about God have poured out of one source alone: the earthly self. Dividing the divine Trinity into persons has brought about not only nighttime in the church, but also death.

The concept of three divine essences that are the same is an offense to reason, as I learned from angels. They said that even pronouncing “three equal divinities” is impossible for them. They said that if someone came to them and tried to say it, that person would automatically turn away. After saying it the person would become like a human log and would be thrown away downward, headed for those in hell who do not acknowledge the existence of any God.

Truly, to implant in toddlers, children, and teenagers the idea of three divine persons—which inevitably entails the idea of three gods—is to take away all their spiritual breast milk, and then all their spiritual solid food, and later on all the spiritual food for their reason, and, in the case of those who convince themselves of that point of view, to cause their spiritual death.

On the one hand, those who direct heartfelt, faithful worship to one God alone as Creator of the universe, and as Redeemer and Regenerator as well, are comparable to the city of Zion in the time of David, and the city of Jerusalem in the time of Solomon after the Temple was built. On the other hand, the church that believes in three persons and views each person as an individual god is like Zion and Jerusalem after they had been destroyed by Vespasian and the Temple there had been burned down.

Those who worship one God in whom there is a divine trinity and who is therefore one person become more and more alive, and become angels on earth. Those, however, who convince themselves to believe in a plurality of gods because there is a plurality of divine persons become more and more like a statue with movable joints, inside which stands Satan, talking through its hinged mouth.

from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 23

3. The underlying divine reality is intrinsic reality and is also an intrinsic capacity to become manifest. (Continued)

Using its own reasoning, the earthly self has no way of knowing that God is the Absolute and the first and only thing that is called the intrinsic underlying reality and the intrinsic capacity to become manifest from which come all things that exist and take form. Under its own power of reasoning the earthly self cannot draw on anything other than what belongs to nature. Earthly things fit with the earthly self’s essence because from our infancy and childhood onward nothing but what is earthly comes into the self. Nevertheless, we were created to be spiritual as well as earthly, since we are going to live after death and will then be among spiritual people in their world. Therefore God has provided the Word.

In the Word God has revealed not only himself but also the existence of heaven and hell, and the fact that every single one of us is going to live in one or the other realm to eternity, each of us according to our life as well as our faith. God has also revealed in the Word that he is “I Am” or the underlying reality, and is the Absolute and the only one to exist in and of himself; he revealed therefore that he is the First or the Beginning from which all things come.

This revelation makes it possible for the earthly self to rise above nature, even above itself, and see what belongs in the realm of God. It appears to be far away. Yet God is actually close to each of us, for God is in us with his essence. Because he is, he is near to those who love him—people who live by his instructions and believe in him. In a sense they see him.

What else is faith except spiritually seeing what is real? And what else is living by God’s instructions except an actual acknowledgment that he is the source of salvation and eternal life?

But people whose faith is earthly and not spiritual and consists of mere factual knowledge, and who have an earthly but not a spiritual way of life, do indeed see God, but from far away, and then only when they talk about him.

Spiritual people compared to earthly ones are like people who are standing in broad daylight, seeing others near themselves and touching them, compared to people standing in a heavy fog that makes it difficult to tell whether the objects nearby are people or perhaps trees or rocks.

Spiritual people compared to earthly ones are like people in a town on a high mountain, walking around and talking to their friends in the town, compared to people who look down from that mountain and cannot make out whether they are seeing people or animals or statues below.

Spiritual people compared to earthly ones are also like people standing on a planet and seeing their friends and loved ones right there, compared to people looking at another planet through hand-held telescopes. People in the second group look at the planet and say they see people there, when in fact all they have is a vague impression of landmasses, like the moon’s lighter areas, and bodies of water, like the moon’s darker patches.

The same difference exists between people who are in faith and also live a life of goodwill, who see God and divine attributes that emanate from him in their mind, compared to those who have nothing more than knowledge about these things. This is the difference between spiritual and earthly people.

Those, however, who deny the divine holiness of the Word but still carry their religion around in a pack on their back do not see God at all. They only sound out the word God, not much differently from parrots.

from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 22

3. The underlying divine reality is intrinsic reality and is also an intrinsic capacity to become manifest.

Jehovah God is intrinsic reality because from eternity to eternity he is the I Am, the Absolute, and the first and only thing from which comes everything that exists and to which everything owes its existence. Because of this and nothing else he is the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, and the Alpha and the Omega.

One cannot say that his underlying reality comes from himself, because coming from himself implies before and after, and therefore time, and time cannot apply to the infinite underlying reality that is described as existing from eternity. Coming from also either implies another god who is the real god, and then you have a god from a god; or it implies that God formed himself. In either case God would not be uncreated or infinite, because he would have boundaries and limitations that were imposed either by himself or by some other god.

From the fact that God is the intrinsic underlying reality, it follows that God is love in itself, wisdom in itself, and life in itself. It also follows that God is the Absolute from which all things come and to which all things are connected so that they may exist. God is God because he is life in itself, as the Lord’s words in John 5:26 make clear. Likewise in Isaiah: “I, Jehovah, am the maker of all things. I alone stretch out the heavens. I extend the earth by myself” (Isaiah 44:24); and he alone is God, and there is no God except him (Isaiah 45:14, 21; see also Hosea 13:4).

God is not only the intrinsic underlying reality but is also an intrinsic capacity to become manifest. For unless the underlying reality is capable of manifesting, it is nothing. It is equally true that the capacity to become manifest is nothing without the underlying reality. Neither one can exist without the other. The same is true for substance unless it takes a form. A substance without a form has no properties or attributes, and something that has no quality is in fact nothing.

I speak specifically here of underlying reality and capacity to become manifest, not of essence and actual manifestation, because the relationship between underlying reality and essence is the relationship between something that comes before and something that comes afterward; the same goes for the capacity to become manifest and actual manifestation. What comes before is more universal than what comes afterward. The underlying divine reality has the attributes of infinity and eternity, but the divine essence and manifestation have the attributes of divine love and divine wisdom, and through them, omnipotence and omnipresence, which I will get to when it is their turn.

from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 21

2. The one God is substance itself and form itself. Angels and people are substances and forms from him. To the extent that they are in him and he is in them, to that extent they are images and likenesses of him.

Because God is the underlying reality, he is also substance. Unless the underlying reality becomes substance it is a figment of the imagination; but as a substance it becomes an entity. And one who is substance is also form, for substance without form is another figment of the imagination. We can attribute both of these to God, provided he is seen as the sole, the only, and the archetypal substance and form.

The work Divine Love and Wisdom, published in Amsterdam in 1763, demonstrates that God’s form is the human form itself, that is, that God is the Human Being, and all God’s attributes are infinite. That work also shows that angels and people are substances and forms that have been created and arranged to receive divine qualities flowing into them through heaven. In the Book of Creation they are called images and likenesses of God (Genesis 1:26–27). Elsewhere they are called God’s children and people born of God.

As the sequence of topics in this book will show in many ways, the more we live under divine guidance, meaning the more we submit to God’s leading, the more and more deeply we become an image of God.

If human minds do not form an idea of God as the archetypal substance and form, and of God’s form as the Human Form itself, they render themselves highly susceptible to delusions and speculations about God, about the development of the human race, and about the creation of the world. Their thought of God is restricted to a thought of the expanse of nature underlying the universe, or else a thought about emptiness or nothing at all.

The development of the human race they think of as a lucky coincidence—elements just happened to come together in this form. As for the creation of the world, they see its substances and forms as originating in geometry’s points and then lines; and because these are nondimensional and one-dimensional they are actually nothing. In such minds, everything that has to do with the church is like the river Styx or the thick darkness in Tartarus.

from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 20

1. The one God is called Jehovah from “being,” that is, from the fact that he alone is [and was] and will be, and that he is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega.

“Jehovah” means “I am” and “to be,” as is generally known. We know from the Book of Creation, or Genesis, that God was called “Jehovah” from most ancient times. In the first chapter he is called “God,” but in the second and subsequent chapters he is called “Jehovah God.” Later on the descendants of Abraham through Jacob forgot the name of God owing to their long sojourn in Egypt. Then in the event recorded in the following passage it was recalled to memory:

Moses said to God, “What is your name?” God said, “I Am I Who Am. So you will say to the Children of Israel, ‘I Am sent me to you.’ And you will say, ‘Jehovah, the God of your fathers, sent me to you.’ This is my name to eternity, and this is how I will be remembered from generation to regeneration.” (Exodus 3:13–15)

Since God alone is “I Am” and being, or “Jehovah,” therefore nothing exists in the created universe that does not derive its underlying reality from him. (How this happens will be discussed below [Sections 21, 75, 76, 78].)

The same thing is meant by these words: “I am the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega” (Isaiah 44:6 and Revelation 1:8, 11; 22:13). This means that on every level of existence he is the one and only entity, the source of all things.

God is called the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, because alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet and omega is the last; so together they mean all things as a whole.

In the spiritual world, every alphabetical letter has a meaning. A vowel, because it carries tone, means a feeling or some kind of love. Spiritual and angelic speech, and also writing, depends on these meanings—but this is a mystery that has not been known until now. There is in fact a universal language shared by all angels and spirits. It has nothing in common with any human language in our world.

After death everyone inherits that language, because it is latent in everyone from creation. In the spiritual world, then, everyone can understand everyone else. I have often been allowed to hear that language. I have compared it with languages in the physical world and have ascertained that it has not even the least thing in common with any earthly language. It differs by its very origin, which is that every letter of every word has a meaning. This is why God is here called the Alpha and the Omega, meaning that on every level of existence he is the one and only entity, the source of all things.

from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 19

The Underlying Divine Reality or Jehovah

First I will discuss the underlying divine reality, and afterward the divine essence. These two might seem to be one and the same thing, but underlying reality is even more universal than essence. Essence presupposes an underlying reality and arises from it. The underlying reality of God, the underlying divine reality, cannot be described. It is beyond the reach of any idea in human thought. Everything human thought can conceive of is created and finite; it cannot conceive of what was not created and is infinite. Therefore it cannot conceive of the underlying divine reality.

The underlying divine reality is the reality itself from which all things exist, and which must be in every thing in order for that thing to exist.

Some further notion of the underlying divine reality may, however, be gained from the following points:

1. The one God is called Jehovah from “being,” that is, from the fact that he alone is and was and will be, and that he is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega.

2. The one God is substance itself and form itself. Angels and people are substances and forms from him. To the extent that they are in him and he is in them, to that extent they are images and likenesses of him.

3. The underlying divine reality is intrinsic reality and is also an intrinsic capacity to become manifest.

4. The intrinsic, underlying divine reality and intrinsic capacity to become manifest cannot produce anything else divine that is intrinsically real and has an intrinsic capacity to become manifest. Therefore another God of the same essence is impossible.

5. The plurality of gods in ancient times, and nowadays as well, has no other source than a misunderstanding of the underlying divine reality.

These points need to be clarified one by one.

from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 18

Non-Christians, or People outside the Church, in Heaven (Continued)

I have talked with some people who were in the early church. (By “the early church,” we mean the religious culture [that prevailed] after the flood over many kingdoms, throughout Assyria, Mesopotamia, Syria, Ethiopia, Arabia, Libya, Egypt, Philistia as far as Tyre and Sidon, and the land of Canaan on both sides of the Jordan.) People then knew about the Lord who was going to come, and they absorbed the good qualities of faith; but nevertheless they did fall away and become idolaters. They are in the front toward the left in a dark area, and are in a sorry state. They have piping, monotone voices, and practically no rational thought. They said they had been there for centuries and that sometimes they were let out in order to be of some menial service to others.

This led me to reflect on the many Christians who are not idolaters outwardly but are inwardly because they actually worship themselves and the world, and at heart deny the Lord. This is the kind of lot that awaits them in the other life.

It has been explained in Section 308 that the Lord’s church is spread throughout the whole world. It is universal, then, and consists of all individuals who have lived in the virtue of thoughtfulness according to the principles of their religions. In relation to the people outside it, the church where the Word is and the Lord is known through it is like the heart and lungs of the human body, which give life to all the organs and members of the body according to their forms, locations, and connections.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 327, 328

Non-Christians, or People outside the Church, in Heaven (Continued)

It often happens that when non-Christians come into the other life, if they have worshiped some god in the form of an image or statue or idol, they are introduced to people who take on the roles of those gods or idols in order to help rid them of their illusions. After they have been with these people for a few days, they are taken away. If they have worshiped particular individuals, then they are introduced either to those people themselves or to individuals who play their parts. Many Jews, for example, are introduced to Abraham, Jacob, Moses, or David; but when they realize that they are just as human as anyone else and that they have nothing special to offer them, they are embarrassed, and are taken off to whatever place is in keeping with their lives.

Of non-Christians, the Africans are especially valued in heaven. They accept the good and true things of heaven more readily than others do. They want especially to be called obedient, but not faithful. They say that Christians could be called “faithful,” since they have a doctrine of faith, but only if they accept the doctrine—or, as the Africans say, if they can accept it.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 326

Non-Christians, or People outside the Church, in Heaven (Continued)

As for today’s non-Christians, they are not that wise; but many of them are simple-hearted. However, in the other life they do accept wisdom from others who have lived lives of thoughtfulness together. I may offer a couple of examples.

When I read chapters 17 and 18 of Judges about Micah (whose idol, household gods, and Levite were stolen by the Danites), there was one non-Christian spirit who had revered an idol during his physical life. He listened intently to what happened to Micah and was deeply pained because of the idol that the Danites stole. His distress overcame him and moved him so deeply that he scarcely knew what he was thinking because of the depth of his pain. I sensed his pain and at the same time the innocence within his particular affections. There were some Christian spirits present who were surprised that this idolater was moved by such mercy and such an affection of innocence.

Later some good spirits talked with him and told him that he should not revere idols and that he could understand this because he himself was a human being. Rather, his thought should reach beyond the idol to the God who was creator and ruler of the whole heaven and the whole earth, and who was the Lord. When he was told this, I could sense his deep feeling of reverence. It was communicated to me as something much holier than what could be found among Christians. I could gather from this that non-Christians come into heaven more readily than Christians nowadays, in keeping with the Lord’s words in Luke:

Then they will come from the east and the west and the north and the south and will recline in the kingdom of God; and indeed there will be many of the last who will be first, and of the first who will be last. (Luke 13:29–30)

Because of the state he was in, that is, he could absorb all matters of faith and could accept them with a deep inner affection. There was a loving mercy about him and in his ignorance an innocence; and when these are present, all matters of faith are accepted spontaneously, so to speak, and with joy. After this, the non-Christian spirit was accepted among the angels.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 324