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Much of our interest on this site – and life in general – come from subcultures that are truly a little niche of only a few thousand. Maybe even a few hundred. It’s like unearthing a rare gemstone. Over time, you build up a collection of all these unique stories, and it helps break the mold of stale thinking.
Today’s story is about a man who provided an alternative interpretation of the Bible – Emanuel Swedenborg – and before you get put off by the potential of religious dogma listen here: the guy thought everyone had a chance to heavenly salvation!! He wasn’t about subscribing to some specific doctrine or ideology. Swedenborg focuses on living according to the “spirit” of the Bible’s words.
In honor Swedenborg’s “New Church,” one of the world’s most interesting spiritual subcultures, we present the 3 most fascinating, unique insights from Emmanuel Swedenborg:
All the words of the Bible have an underlying “spiritual” meaning; it is not meant to be taken completely literally.”
Whew! That’s refreshing to hear! Followers of this Christian subculture are rare in this unified belief: The Bible’s meaning can only be discovered when putting together the meaning of every word and phrase. To Swedenborg, not a single word is meaningless within the Bible, and the deeper “spiritual” meanings only reveal themselves when you string together the most important parts of its outer shell: the “earthly meaning.”
Think of it like this: common sense tell us that there are layered meanings to the Bible. Swedenborg defined these levels as “earthly, spiritual, and divine.” To Swedenborg, the Bible’s meaning was layered like… let’s say a cake. Think of the Bible as a layered cake where every layer is absolutely delicious. That’s pretty much what this guy thought about the Good Book. You could only get the full experience by tasting each layer.... mmmmmm Bible cake Moving on!
He only Considered 5 Books of the 27 Books from the New Testament as True Gospel ”
On some real though, this really is interesting. For a time when religious dogma was much more prevalent in Western societies (the 1700s), Swedenborg explicitly states in Sacred Scripture, one of his early interpretive works, that only specific books from the Old and New Testament contain each layer of this “inner meaning.”
All Books from Old Testament
4 Canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John)
Book of Revelations
The fact the man saw fit to simply claim the other parts of the Bible Canon were essentially meaningless is really interesting. It makes you think: what did the guy notice in the other books that may him say, “Pffft.. I’m gonna tell people not to read all these Letters Paul wrote in Corinthians. Shit is garbage. They can just read Revelations, and be good.” Seriously! It’s a pretty rare thing to see a religious writer openly declare that 22 books of the New Testament lack “inner meaning.” It’s really refreshing to find a Christian subculture that stakes its credibility on saying the Bible is to be taken spiritually, not literally. No, there are not literally gonna be 4 Horsemen. They were just trying to scare you, ok? Jesus Christ, some people believe anything they read.
Anyone from any religion can get into heaven ”
This is perhaps the best aspect of Swedenborg’s religion: it allows anyone who discovers their “inner divine” being, guided by the True Word. That means to Swedenborg’s followers, people may “inwardly” follow Christ, even if they don’t act like an earthly follower by attending Church. Because of the rank hypocrisy that can come from earthly religion, Swedenborg left open the option that divine beings may have taken other earthly forms – living by different religions – and yet nonetheless have a spot reserved for them in heaven. This focus on the kingdom of Heaven being inside of you is one of the best parts of Swedenborg’s unique perspective. It empowers the individual to help find their own salvation, instead of putting it in the hands of an imaginary being. Cheers to Swedenborg for that!
Heaven for all people if they live best they know
Not a particular doctrine, but inner experience opens the kingdom of heaven + salvation
18th century Swedish scientist, philosopher, and theologian
Polymath and seemed very amiable in conversation, even when discussing
Faith + 1
Look at the layered spiritual meaning of the text
Goes through Revelations giving the spiritual meaning… one of the worst things I have ever read