New Church Life March/April 2017 - Page 27

     Remember the Lord also said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me . . . ” (John 14:6), meaning we can’t see or connect with God at all except through His Human form and appearance. (See Arcana Coelestia 5110, etc.) But getting to the specific issue in this article, we read in True Christian Religion 86 (and other passages) that God accomplished three specific things by His actions in the world: He subjugated the hells, restored order to the heavens, and established the Christian Church. These are the three aspects of what is called redemption and we’ll discuss each of them in order, but first, and importantly, it is in this context that the Writings address the particular qualities of the good and the truth in His Humanity. True Christian Religion 85 states that, “Jehovah God descended as the Divine Truth which is the Word, and yet He did not separate the Divine Good.” What does this mean? To descend is to come down, and to come down as the truth is to embody that truth in words and actions on the lowest plane of life – not just the natural but the physical (corporeal) plane. But in order to do this God had to impose limitations on Himself! After all, the Infinite has no limits and so cannot be confined in any way by words or physical appearances. So He did this, not unlike the way He created matter itself, which is complicated (though the process is explained in some detail in the philosophical works that Swedenborg wrote before the Arcana). The big difference in this case is that “He did not separate the Divine Good,” that is, He retained all the “motive” force of His Divinely Human love within this physical creation so that it took form as a human infant in the womb of a particular Jewish mother. But here’s the critical point: with the natural human heredity that He adopted in the process He not only acquired a visible body but as well the limitations of thought that He needed to confront the evils and falsities of the day – not only in the world outside of Him but most importantly within Himself. For as we read in True Christian Religion 84: God is in the inmost and purest realms. There was no other way He could cross over to the lowest levels where the hells exist and where people were at that time, just as a soul cannot do anything without a body. By analogy, there is no way to overpower enemies who are not in sight and whom we cannot approach with weapons such as spears, shields or guns. This raises an interesting question. Can we really ascribe all the hereditary evils of the Lord’s life to the virgin, Mary? Could all those limitations be her fault? No, not at all! She was surely no worse than any other man or woman in Palestine at the time, and may have been better than most. It’s just that the heredity the Lord received from her was weak and prone to evils of every kind simply because it was finite and therefore subject to all the temptations of the finite world. In fact that was the whole point of His being born of such a virgin – so that He could be subject to those same temptations and confront them and overcome them all. 93