All the People Who Are in the Hells Are Absorbed in Evils and Consequent Falsities Because of Their Love for Themselves and the World (Continued)

There are two ways of being in power. One comes from love for our neighbor and the other from love for ourselves. In essence, these two kinds of power are exact opposites. People who are empowered by love for their neighbor intend the good of everyone and love nothing more than being useful—that is, serving others (serving others means willing well and helping others, whether that is one’s church, country, community, or fellow citizen). This is their love and the delight of their hearts. As such people are raised to high positions they are delighted; but the delight is not because of the honor but because of the constructive things they can now do more abundantly and at a higher level. This is what empowerment is like in the heavens.

In contrast, people whose self-love leads them to take power intend good to no one but themselves. Any services they perform for others are actually for their own esteem and renown, since only this is of any use to them. Helping others is for them simply a means to being waited on and respected and deferred to. They strive for high office not for the good they ought to do for their country and their church but to be prominent and praised and therefore in their heart’s delight.

A love of power does stay with all of us after death. However, people whose authority rested on their love for their neighbor are entrusted with power in the heavens. Actually, it is not they who have power but the services that they love, and when service rules, the Lord is ruling. However, people whose authority rested on their self-love in the world arrive in hell after their life in this world and are miserable slaves there. I have seen powerful people whose authority had rested on their self-love in the world abandoned among the most miserable, some of them living in outhouses.

As for love of the world, it is not so intensely opposed to heavenly love, because there are not so many evils latent in it.

Love of the world is wanting to divert the wealth of others to ourselves by any means available. It is setting our heart on wealth and allowing the world to distract us from the spiritual love that is love for our neighbor and therefore from heaven and the Divine.

This love takes many forms, though. We may love wealth in order to be raised to exalted rank simply because we love exalted rank. We may love exalted rank and high position for the sake of wealth. We may love wealth for the sake of the various pleasures it offers in the world. We may love wealth simply for the sake of wealth, which is avarice, and so on. The purpose of being wealthy is called its use, and purpose or use is what gives a love its quality. That is, the quality of a love is determined by the goal it aims at. Everything else serves it as means.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 564-565

Advertisements

All the People Who Are in the Hells Are Absorbed in Evils and Consequent Falsities Because of Their Love for Themselves and the World (Continued)

In broad terms, the evils characteristic of people focused on love for themselves are contempt for others; envy; enmity toward anyone who is not on their side, and a consequent hostility; various kinds of hatred; vengefulness; craft; deceit; callousness; and cruelty. In religious matters, this extends not only to a contempt for the Divine and for the divine gifts that are the true and good elements of the church; it extends also to anger at such things, an anger that turns into hatred when we become spirits. Then not only can we not stand hearing about these matters, we blaze with hatred against everyone who acknowledges and worships the Divine.

I talked with one man who had been in power in the world and loved himself far too much. When he simply heard the Divine mentioned—especially when he heard the Lord named—he was so struck by angry hatred that he was consumed with thoughts of murder. When the reins of his love were loosened, he even wanted to be the devil himself in order to satisfy his love by ceaseless attacks on heaven. Many individuals of the papal religion feel this desire in the other life when they realize that the Lord has all power and that they have none.

Some spirits appeared to me in the western region, toward the south, who said they had been granted high honor in the world and deserved to be promoted over others and to lord it over them. They were examined by angels to discover what they were like inwardly, and it turned out that in their earthly offices they had paid no attention to service but only to themselves, which meant that they had put themselves before service. Still, since they were aflame with ambition to be promoted, they were allowed to join a group of people who were discussing some rather important matters. You could tell, though, that they were unable to pay any attention to the real issues that were being discussed and could not see the matters in any depth. They did not say anything on the basis of the constructive effects of the discussion, but talked only on the basis of their own self-image.

Their behavior was motivated by a desire to ingratiate themselves; so they were dismissed from the task and left to seek office elsewhere. So they went farther westward, where they were accepted here and there; but in every case they were told that they were not thinking about anything but themselves, that they were not thinking about the business at hand except in terms of themselves. This meant that they were stupid, just like sensual, carnal spirits. Wherever they arrived, then, they were rejected. After a while they were utterly bankrupt and were asking for handouts.

Once more I could see from this that no matter how wisely people may seem to talk in the world from the fire of self-love, still it is just a matter of rote memory and not of any rational light. So in the other life, when they are no longer allowed to retrieve things from their natural memory, they are more stupid than other people because they are cut off from the Divine.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 562-563

All the People Who Are in the Hells Are Absorbed in Evils and Consequent Falsities Because of Their Love for Themselves and the World (Continued)

By nature, self-love runs wild to the extent that its reins are loosened, that is, to the extent that the outward restraints constituted by fears of the law and its penalties, fears of losing reputation, esteem, profit, position, and life are taken away. It runs wild even to the extent of wanting to rule not only over the whole globe but even over all heaven and the Lord himself. It knows no bound or limit. This is latent in everyone who is focused on self-love even though it may not show in the world, where the restraints we have mentioned hold it back.

We cannot fail to see this in people in power and kings who are not held back by any such restraints. They run wild and conquer as many territories and kingdoms as they can and aspire to boundless power and glory. This is even clearer in the modern Babylon, which extends its control into heaven and transfers all the Lord’s divine power to itself and even craves more.

The reader may see in the booklet Last Judgment that people like this are diametrically opposed to the Divine and to heaven and that they favor hell when they arrive in the other life after death.

Picture a community made up of people like this, all totally in love with themselves, not caring about others unless they are allies, and you will see that their love is no different from that of thieves for each other. To the extent that they are acting in concert, they embrace each other and call each other friends; but once they stop cooperating, once anyone resists their control, they attack and butcher each other. If their deeper natures—their minds—are probed, it will be clear that they are full of virulent hatred for each other, that at heart they ridicule anything fair and honest and even ridicule the Deity, tossing it aside as worthless. This comes out even more clearly from their communities in the hells, which will be described below.

The deeper levels of the thoughts and affections of people who love themselves above all are turned toward themselves and the world—and are turned away, therefore, from the Lord and heaven. This is why such people fall prey to all kinds of evil and why the divine nature cannot flow in. It is because the moment it does flow in, it is submerged in thoughts about self and polluted, and is saturated with evils that arise from their self-centeredness. This is why they all look away from the Lord in the other life, toward the gloom that occupies the site of our world’s sun there and is directly across from heaven’s sun, which is the Lord (see Section 123 above). Darkness means evil, and our world’s sun means self-love.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 559-561

Notes:

Section 123: Published 11/20/2016

All the People Who Are in the Hells Are Absorbed in Evils and Consequent Falsities Because of Their Love for Themselves and the World (Continued)

Further, to the extent that we are engaged in heavenly love—which is loving constructive and worthwhile activities and being moved by heartfelt pleasure when we provide them to our church, our country, the human community, and our fellow citizens—we are being led by the Lord because this is the love he is in and the love that comes from him. However, to the extent that we focus on love for ourselves—doing constructive and worthwhile things for our own sakes—we are leading ourselves; and to the extent that we lead ourselves, we are not being led by the Lord. Again, then, it follows that the more we love ourselves, the more we move away from the Divine and also from heaven.

Being led by self is being led by what we claim as our own, and what we claim as our own is nothing but evil. It is actually our evil heredity, which involves loving ourselves more than God and the world more than heaven.

We are completely absorbed in our self-image and therefore in our hereditary evil whenever we focus on ourselves in anything worthwhile we are doing, for we are focusing on ourselves and away from what is good and not on what is good and away from ourselves. So in the worthwhile activities we set up an image of ourselves and not an image of the Divine. I have been assured of this by experience as well. There are evil spirits who live halfway between the north and the west, underneath the heavens, who are particularly skilled at getting upright spirits involved in their self-image and therefore focused on various kinds of evil. They do this by getting them absorbed in thinking about themselves, either openly by words of praise and esteem or covertly by focusing their feelings exclusively on themselves. To the extent that they succeed, they turn the faces of the upright people away from heaven and also becloud their understanding, calling up evils from their self-concern.

If you look at their origins and essences, you can see that love for oneself and love of one’s neighbor are opposites. In people who are wrapped up in love for themselves, love of their neighbor begins from self. They claim that everyone is her or his own neighbor; and from this as a center they reach out to all who ally with them, with progressively less intensity depending on the love that unites the others with them. They regard people outside this group as worthless, and people who offer opposition to them and their evildoing they regard as enemies. It does not matter what they are actually like, whether they are wise or upright or honest or fair.

A spiritual love of their neighbor, though, begins with the Lord, and spreads out from him as its center to all who are united to him by love and faith. Its spread depends on the quality of their love and faith. We can see from this that a love of our neighbor that begins with ourselves is the opposite of a love of our neighbor that begins with the Lord. The former comes from evil because it comes from what we claim as our own; while the latter comes from what is good because it comes from the Lord, who is good itself. We can also see that a love of our neighbor that comes from us and from our self-image is a physical love, while a love of our neighbor that comes from the Lord is heavenly.

In a word, when we are absorbed in love for ourselves it constitutes our head, and heavenly love constitutes the feet we stand on. If heavenly love does not serve us, we trample it underfoot. This is why people who are being thrown into hell look as though they are diving in headfirst, with their heads down and their feet toward heaven (see above, Section 548).

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 558a-558b,

All the People Who Are in the Hells Are Absorbed in Evils and Consequent Falsities Because of Their Love for Themselves and the World (Continued)

Love for oneself is intending well to oneself alone, not to others except for the sake of oneself—not the church, the country, or any human community. It is helping them solely for the sake of one’s own reputation and rank and glory. Unless these can be seen in the services we offer, we are saying at heart, “What difference does it make? Why should I? What’s in it for me?” So we forget it. We can see from this that people who are absorbed in a love for themselves do not love their church or country or community or any constructive activity. They love only themselves. Their only pleasure lies in self-gratification; and since the pleasure that stems from love constitutes human life, their life is a life of self. A life of self is a life that depends on what we claim as our own, and in its own right what we claim as our own is nothing but evil.

People who love themselves do love their own as well, their own being specifically their children and grandchildren and more broadly all who ally with them, whom they call “their own people.” Loving both the former and the latter is actually loving themselves, because they regard the others as though they were in themselves, and focus on themselves in others. These “others” who are claimed as their own include everyone who praises and reveres and worships them.

We can gather what love for oneself is like by comparing it to heavenly love. Heavenly love is loving constructive activity for its own sake, or loving for their own sake the worthwhile things we do for our church, our country, the human community, and our fellow citizens. This is really loving God and loving our neighbor, since all constructive activities and all worthwhile actions come from God and are the neighbor whom we are to love. In contrast, people who love these activities for the sake of self love them only as slaves who wait on them. It follows that people devoted to a love for themselves want their church, their country, the human community, and their fellow citizens to be their servants rather than wanting to serve them. They station themselves above these neighbors and put them down. So to the extent that people are devoted to a love for themselves, they move themselves away from heaven because they move themselves away from heavenly love.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 556-557

All the People Who Are in the Hells Are Absorbed in Evils and Consequent Falsities Because of Their Love for Themselves and the World (Continued)

Having examined the misshapen forms of spirits in the hells, forms that as noted are all forms of contempt for others, of threats against people who do not respect and revere them, and of hatred and vengeance against people who do not support them, it has become clear to me that in general they are all forms of love for oneself and the world and that the evils that give rise to individual forms can all be traced back to these two loves. I have also been told from heaven, and it has been witnessed to me by an abundance of experience, that these two loves, love for oneself and love of the world, do rule in the hells and actually constitute the hells, and that love for the Lord and love for one’s neighbor rule in the heavens and actually constitute the heavens. I have also learned that the two loves that are hell’s loves and the two loves that are heaven’s loves are absolute opposites.

At first I wondered why love for oneself and love of the world are so diabolic, why people who are absorbed in them look so frightful. After all, in the world we scarcely give love for ourselves a second thought. We focus only on that outward inflation of spirit called pride, which we believe is the only self-love because it is so visible. Not only that, if love for oneself does not express itself in pride, then we in the world think it is the vital fire that rouses us to work for high position and to do constructive things. We believe that if we saw no prospect of esteem and glory in these efforts, our spirits would become sluggish. People ask, “Who would do anything decent or useful or remarkable except to be praised and respected by others, [openly] or in their thoughts; and where does this come from except from the fire of a love for glory and esteem—that is, for the sake of self?” This is why people in the world do not realize that in its own right love for oneself is the love that rules in hell and that makes hell within us.

Since this is in fact the case, I should like first to describe what love for oneself is, and then explain that everything evil and false wells up from this love.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 554-555

All the People Who Are in the Hells Are Absorbed in Evils and Consequent Falsities Because of Their Love for Themselves and the World (Continued)

Seen in any of heaven’s light, all the spirits in the hells appear in the form of their own evil. Each one is in fact an image of her or his evil, since for each individual the inner and outer natures are acting as a unit, with the deeper elements presenting themselves to view in the outer ones—in the face, the body, the speech, and the behavior. So you can tell what they are like by looking at them. In general, they are forms of contempt for others, threats against people who do not revere them; they are forms of various shadings of hatred, of various forms of vengefulness. Savagery and cruelty show through from within. When others praise them, though, or revere and worship them, their faces compose themselves and look almost happy and gratified.

There is no way to describe briefly all the ways these forms look, since no one is just like any other. There is only a general likeness among people who are absorbed in similar evils and are therefore in the same hellish community, a similarity that acts like a common background that gives the individual faces a kind of overall resemblance. In general, their faces are frightful, as lifeless as corpses. Some of their faces are black, some like little torches, some pimply, with huge ulcerated sores. In many cases there is no visible face, only something hairy or bony in its place, while with others only the teeth show. Their bodies are equally misshapen, and their speech seems to embody wrath or hatred or vengeance, since all their articulation comes from their false perception and all the tone comes from their evil intent. In a word, they are all images of their hell.

I have not been allowed to see what form hell itself is in overall. I have only been told that in the same way that all heaven as a single entity resembles a single human being (Sections 59–67), so all hell as a single entity resembles a single devil and can be manifested as a likeness of a single devil (see above, Section 544). However, I have often seen what form particular hells or hellish communities have, since at their entrances (which are called the gates of hell), there often appears a monstrous figure that in a general way represents the form of the people who live there. The savagery of these inhabitants is then imaged by frightful horrors that I forbear to mention.

It does need to be known, though, that hellish spirits look like this in heaven’s light, but that they look human to each other. This is a gift of the Lord’s mercy, so that they do not look as repulsive to each other as they do to angels. However, this appearance is deceiving, since the moment a ray of light from heaven is let in, these human forms turn into the monstrous ones that they are essentially, the forms just described, because in heaven’s light everything appears as it really is. This is also why they avoid heaven’s light and dive into their own illumination, an illumination like that of glowing coals or, in places, like burning sulfur. This light, though, turns into pure darkness when any ray of light from heaven flows in. This is why the hells are described as being in gloom and darkness, and why the gloom and darkness mean the kinds of malevolent distortions characteristic of hell.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 553

Notes:

Sections 59-67: Published 3/3/2018-3/6/2018

Section 544: Published 1/6/2019

All the People Who Are in the Hells Are Absorbed in Evils and Consequent Falsities Because of Their Love for Themselves and the World

ALL the people who are in the hells are devoted to evil goals and the distortions that result. There is no one there devoted to evil goals and interested in true perceptions. Many evil people in the world know about spiritual truths, the truths of the church, since they have learned them first in childhood and later from sermons and from reading the Word and have gone on to take them for granted in their conversations. Some of them have even led others to believe that they were Christians at heart because they had learned from these truths how to talk with apparent affection and to behave honestly as though motivated by a spiritual faith. As for the ones who inwardly thought the opposite, though, and who carefully refrained from doing the evil things they were thinking of simply because of civil laws and for the sake of their reputation and rank and profit, they are all evil at heart, involved in what is true and good only physically, not in spirit. So when their outer layers are stripped off in the other life and the inner natures that constituted their spirits are unveiled, they are wholly absorbed in evil and false concerns, unconcerned with anything true and good. Then one can see that the true and good values simply dwelt in their memories as things they had learned about, and that they retrieved them from memory when they were talking and imitated good deeds as though they were motivated by a spiritual love and faith.

When people like this are let into their inner natures—into their evils, that is—they can no longer say anything true. They can only say what is false because their speech arises from their evil intentions. It is impossible to say anything true for evil ends because by then their spirits are made up of nothing but their own evil, and falsity emanates from evil.

Every evil spirit is distilled to this state before he or she is thrown into hell (see above, Sections 499–512). This is called being stripped down as to what is true and good.a The stripping down is simply the process of being let into their own inner natures, into what they have claimed as spirits, then, or into their spirits themselves. See also Section 425 above on these matters.

When we are like this after death, then we are no longer “spirit-persons” the way we were in the first state (described above, Sections 491–498); we are truly spirits, since people who are truly spirits have faces and bodies responsive to the inner natures of their minds. So they are in an outward form that is the imprint or image of their inner natures. Spirits are like this once the first and second states described above have been completed. This means that when they are seen by [spiritual] eyes, one can tell instantly what their nature is not only from their faces but also from their bodies, and especially from their speech and behavior. Further, because they are now their essential selves, they can only be where kindred souls are.

There is a complete sharing of affections and consequent thoughts in the spiritual world; so spirits move spontaneously toward kindred spirits because they are motivated by what attracts and delights them. In fact, they actually turn in that direction because that is how they breathe in their life, or draw their breath freely, and not when they turn elsewhere. We need to realize that in the spiritual world, communication depends on which way we face, and that the people in front of us are always the ones who are in a love like our own. This applies no matter which way we turn our bodies (see above, Section 151).

This is why hellish spirits all turn away from the Lord toward the gloomy and dark objects there that are in the location of earth’s sun and moon, while heaven’s angels all turn toward the Lord as the sun and the moon of heaven (see above, Sections 123, 143, 144, 151).

This leads us to the conclusion that all the people in the hells are absorbed in evils and consequent falsities, and also that they turn toward their loves.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 551-552

Notes:

Section 123: Published 11/20/2016

Section 143: Published 7/10/2017

Section 144: Published 7/11/2017

Section 151: Published 7/15/2017

Section 425: Published 5/25/2017

Sections 491- 498: Published 8/12/2017- 8/15/2017

Sections 499-512: Published 8/16/2017-8/25/2017

Section 512: Published 9/4/2018

Redemption: The Fourth Memorable Occurrence (Continued)

After that the angel looked at me and said, “You know what the beliefs of the so-called Evangelicals are or should be about the Lord the Savior. Recite a few of them so that we may know whether they foolishly believe that the Lord’s human manifestation is merely human, or whether they ascribe anything of divinity to that human manifestation, and if so, how.”

I then read out loud excerpts from the book of Evangelical orthodoxy called the Formula of Concord, printed in Leipzig in 1756. I read the following: “In Christ the divine nature and the human nature are so united that they are one Person”. “Christ is truly God and a human being in an individual Person; he remains so to eternity”. “In Christ God is human and a human is God”. “Christ’s human nature has been exalted to all divine majesty”. “In his human nature Christ is omnipresent and fills all things”. “In his human nature Christ has been given all power in heaven and on earth”. “In his human nature Christ sits at the right hand of the Father”. “We are to call on Christ in his human nature”.

After I read these things out loud, I turned to the chairman and said, “I know that all who are here are associated with people on earth who are like them. Tell me, if you would: do you know whom you are associated with?”

He answered in a solemn tone, “I do know. I am associated with a famous man, a commander of battalions in the church’s army of the enlightened.”

Because he answered in such a solemn tone, I said, “Forgive my asking if you know where that famous commander lives.”

“I do know,” he said. “He lives not far from where Luther is buried.”

Smiling at this I said, “Why do you say where Luther is buried? Don’t you know that Luther has risen, and that he has now recanted his errors regarding justification by faith in three divine Persons from eternity? Surely you know that because of this he has been transferred to join the blessed in the new heaven, and that he laughs when he looks upon his insane followers.”

“I know,” he retorted, “but what difference does that make to me?” Then in the same tone he had used, I addressed him and said, “Pass on to the famous person you are associated with that I am concerned that on a recent occasion he went against the orthodoxy of his own church and took away the Lord’s divinity. He let his pen plow a furrow and carelessly sowed materialist philosophy in it when he wrote against the worship of our Lord the Savior.”

“I can’t do that,” the chairman replied, “because on this topic he and I are more or less of one mind. Besides, he doesn’t understand the things I tell him, although all the things he tells me I understand very clearly. The spiritual world enters the material world and perceives the thoughts of people there, but it doesn’t work the other way around. These are the present conditions of interaction between spirits and people.”

Since the chairman and I were already conversing, I added: “If possible I’d like to digress to some other questions. Do you know that the orthodoxy of the Evangelicals, presented in their church handbook called the Formula of Concord, teaches that in Christ, God is human and a human is God and that his divinity and humanity exist in one individual person and remain so to eternity? If so, how then could he, and how can you, befoul the worship of the Lord with materialist philosophy?”

To that he replied, “Do I know that? Yes and no.”

Therefore I went on to say, “I ask your associate, although he is absent, or else you in his place: where did the soul of the Lord our Savior come from? If you say it came from Mary, you are insane. If you say it came from Joseph, you desecrate the Word. But if you say it came from the Holy Spirit you have the right answer, provided that by the Holy Spirit you mean the Divinity emanating and having an effect, which means that the Lord is the Son of Jehovah God.

“Again I ask, what is the hypostatic union [in the Lord our Savior]? If you reply that it is a union between two entities, one above and the other below, you are insane, because in that case you could view God our Savior as two entities just as you have viewed the Godhead as three entities. If you say that it is a personal union like the partnership between the soul and the body, you have the right answer. This follows your doctrine and the doctrine of the church fathers.

“Also check the Athanasian Creed where it says, ‘Proper faith is for us to believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ is both God and a human being. Yet although he is both God and a human being, still he is one Christ, not two. He is one in every way, not by a mixing of substance but by a oneness of person. For as the rational soul and the flesh is one human being, so God and a human being is one Christ.’

“Still further I ask, what was the damnable heresy of Arius that caused Emperor Constantine the Great to call the Council of Nicaea? Wasn’t it the denial of the divinity of the Lord’s human manifestation? “For another thing, tell me whom you see as the subject of the following words in Jeremiah: ‘Behold, the days are coming when I will raise up for David a righteous offshoot who will rule as king; and this is his name: Jehovah is our Justice’ (Jeremiah 23:5, 6; 33:15, 16). If you say ‘the Son from eternity,’ you are insane. He was not the Redeemer. If you say ‘the Son born in time, who was “the only begotten Son of God”’ (John 1:18; 3:16), you have the right answer. By redeeming us, he became the justice on which you base your faith. Also read Isaiah 9:6 and the other passages predicting that Jehovah himself was going to come into the world.”

At this the chairman looked away in silence.

The presiding officer then wanted to end the council with a prayer but suddenly a man in the left-hand group interrupted. He had a cloth head-covering on with a hat on top of it. He touched his hat with one finger and said, “I too am associated with a man in your world. He has been appointed to a highly exalted position. I know this because I speak on his behalf as on my own.”

I asked him where that eminent man lives. He answered, “In Göteborg. From him I once got the impression that your new doctrine smacks of Muhammadanism.”

I saw that all the spirits on the right where the apostolic fathers were standing were shocked when they heard that word, and their faces fell. I heard them crying, both in thought and out loud, “What an outrage! What times we live in!”

To calm their understandable wrath I lifted my hand and asked for their attention. When they gave it to me, I said, “I am aware that a man of stature wrote some such accusation in a letter; later the letter was printed. If he had known at that point, however, what blasphemy it was, he would surely have torn it to pieces with his own fingers and given it to Vulcan to consume. The Lord responded to a similar attack when the Jews said that Christ was doing miracles with something other than divine power (Matthew 12:22–32). Among other things, the Lord says in that response, ‘Whoever is not with me is against me. Whoever is not gathering with me is scattering’ (Matthew 12:30).”

At this, the chairman, his ally, lowered his face. Soon, however, he lifted it again and said, “Now I have heard harder things than ever from you!”

I countered, “There are two doctrines behind these proceedings: materialist philosophy and Muhammadanism—lies invented by treachery, two deadly stabs aimed at turning and deterring the human will from the holy worship of the Lord.”

I turned to the man from the left-hand group and said, “Tell your man in Göteborg, if you can, to read what the Lord has said in Revelation 3:18 and also in Revelation 2:16.”

When I said that, a riot broke out, but it was calmed by light sent down from heaven. As a result of the light, many on the left crossed over to join those on the right. Two groups who stayed on the left were those spirits whose thoughts were without purpose and who would therefore hang on the sayings of any authority, and those spirits who saw the Lord as only a human being. The light sent down from heaven seemed to be repelled by these latter two groups, but it seemed to flow into the spirits who crossed from left to right.

from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 137

Redemption: The Fourth Memorable Occurrence

I heard that a council had been summoned that was made up of those who were famous for writing and research on the modern-day faith and on the justification of the elect by that faith.

This was in the world of spirits. I was allowed to attend in spirit. I saw that the participants were from the clergy. There were some who agreed and some who disagreed. To the right stood people who in the world had been called the apostolic fathers, who had lived in the centuries before the Council of Nicaea. To the left stood men from after those centuries who were well known for their printed works or works their followers had copied in manuscript form. Many in the latter group had clean-shaven faces and wore curled wigs of women’s hair. Some of them had collars with ruffs; some had collars with bands. The former group, however, were bearded and wore no wigs.

Before both groups stood a man who had been a judge and critic of the writers of this century. With the staff in his hand, this chairman banged on the floor and brought about silence. He stepped up onto the dais where the central chair was and uttered a groan. After groaning he intended to shout out loud, but the breath expended in groaning made the shout catch in his throat.

Finally, when he was able to speak, he said, “Friends, what times we live in! Someone has risen out of the herd of the laity. He has no gown, no cap, no laurel. Yet he has pulled our faith down from heaven and thrown it into the river Styx. What a crime! Yet that faith is our only star. It shines like Orion during the night and like Lucifer in the morning. That man, although well advanced in years, remains completely blind to the mysteries of our faith because he has not opened our faith and seen in it the justice of the Lord our Savior, as well as the Lord’s mediation and appeasement. And since he hasn’t seen these aspects of our faith, he has also missed the wonders of justification by that faith. These wonders are the forgiving of sins, regeneration, sanctification, and salvation.

“Instead of accepting our faith, which is supremely effective for one’s salvation because it is a faith in three divine persons and therefore in the whole of God, this man has redirected belief toward the second Person—in fact, not even the whole second Person, but just his human manifestation. That human manifestation we do indeed call divine, because it was the incarnation of the Son from eternity; but who thinks of it as anything other than something merely human? What faith can we have in that except one that gushes materialist philosophy like a fountain? Since that kind of faith is not spiritual, it is virtually the same as faith in a substitute or a saint. You all know what Calvin said in his day about worship from a faith like that. Any one of you, tell us, please, where faith comes from. Doesn’t it come directly from God? That is why it contains all the means of salvation.”

At that the chairman’s colleagues on the left side (the men with clean-shaven faces, curly wigs, and ruffs around their necks) burst into applause and shouted, “Very wisely said! We know that we cannot receive anything that is not given us from heaven!”

[Then the chairman continued,] “That prophet should tell us where faith comes from and what faith is if it isn’t this. It is impossible for faith to be different or to come from any other source. Revealing another true faith besides this one is as impossible as riding a horse to some constellation in the sky, grabbing one of its stars, hiding it in your coat pocket, and bringing it back with you!”

He included this last comment to make his friends laugh at any new faith.

The men on the right side, though, who were bearded and wore no wigs, were upset when they heard this. One of them, an old man, stood up. (Later, however, he looked like a young adult, because he was an angel from heaven, where people of every stage of life become young adults.)

The old man said, “I have heard the nature of the faith you all have—the faith the chairman praised just now. But that faith is nothing but the tomb of our Lord after the resurrection, locked up again by Pilate’s soldiers. I have opened that faith but found nothing inside it except magicians’ wands used by the sorcerers in Egypt for doing miracles. To your eyes, your faith looks like a treasure chest made of gold and encrusted with precious stones; but when it is opened, the chest is empty, except perhaps for some dust from papal relics left in the corners. Papists have the same faith, you see, except that they are hiding it now behind external acts of piety.

“To use a simile, your faith is also like the Vestal virgin in ancient times who was buried alive for extinguishing the sacred fire. In fact, I can state it directly: to my eyes your faith looks just like the golden calf around which the children of Israel danced after Moses had left to go up to Jehovah on Mount Sinai [Exodus 32:1–20].

Don’t be surprised that I have spoken about your faith in these analogies—this is the way we who are in heaven speak about it.

“Our faith, on the other hand, is, was, and will be to eternity a belief in the Lord God the Savior, whose humanity is divine and whose divinity is human. It is a faith, then, that is adapted for reception. It is a faith that unites what is divine and spiritual to what is human and earthly. It becomes a spiritual faith on an earthly plane. What is earthly then becomes transparent from the spiritual light of our faith.

“The truths that constitute our faith are as many as the verses in the sacred tome. These truths are all like stars, whose light reveals, and shows the shape of, our faith. People acquire this faith from the Word by means of their earthly light—the light of knowledge, thought, and persuasion; but if people believe in the Lord, he turns this faith into conviction, trust, and confidence. Through this process their faith comes to be spiritual as well as earthly, and enlivened by goodwill. To us this faith is like a queen decorated with as many precious stones as could be seen in the wall of the Holy Jerusalem (Revelation 21:17–20).

“So that you won’t think the words I am saying are exaggerated and discount them as a result, I will read you something from the Holy Word that will make it clear that our faith is not faith in a human being, as you think it is; it is faith in the true God in whom everything divine exists. John says, ‘Jesus Christ is the true God and eternal life’ (1 John 5:20). Paul says, ‘All the fullness of divinity dwells physically in Christ’ (Colossians 2:9). In the Acts of the Apostles it says of Paul, ‘To both Jews and Greeks he preached repentance before God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Acts 20:21). The Lord himself says that all power in heaven and on earth has been given to him (Matthew 28:18); but these are just a few passages.”

from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 137