New Church Life NCL May/June 2018 - Page 25

   the falsities that confirm these attitudes by rejecting them, correcting them, and demonstrating the power of what we now call Christian love and wisdom. In this way, as we say, He subjugated the hells, restored order in the whole spiritual world, and established a new church on the earth. But it was a church built among very simple, innocent people and so its members at first had very little depth of understanding. They heard the teachings and they saw the miracles, but they didn’t really see the implications except in outward life. And this is why the Lord so plainly said: “I still have many things to say to you, however you cannot bear them now.” This is why Christians even today continue to struggle to understand the Bible, especially Bible prophecy, and almost everything to do with the Trinity, the atonement and salvation. But, He said, “When the Spirit of truth has come, it will guide you into all truth,” and specifically, “It is expedient for you that I go away, for if I do not go away, help will not come to you, but if I depart, I will send it to you.” The point is that the Lord had to complete the work He was doing to, as He said, “overcome the world” (John 16: 33) and fully glorify His Humanity. This He accomplished through the death of His material body and the resurrection of His spiritual body so that He could, in fact, be present in His love and wisdom everywhere and for all time, not just among the people of one small nation in one tiny part of the world, for one generation of followers. So the spirit and power of His teaching, the Spirit of truth that did in fact bring great spiritual help and comfort was effective for thousands of people all around the Mediterranean right from that first Day of Pentecost. But still, the Lord had many things to say, many things to explain especially as people began to grow in knowledge and understanding of the world around them, and began to question the teachings of the Word that seemed to contradict the evidence of their senses. You all know the story, but you may not appreciate the ramifications it had for the church in the 18 th and 19 th centuries. The intellectual and industrial revolution of those years so challenged the simple faith of “Bible believers” that they found themselves virtually backed into a corner: the new scientific knowledge was contradicting what they thought the Bible teaches, so in order to bolster their faith they retreated more and more into the literal sense and took their stand in opposition to science. Unfortunately, this alienated many who were not prepared to deny the evidence of their senses, and so a sort of culture war began to develop over religion. It was in this context that Emanuel Swedenborg was born, educated and began to write. And what he wrote, from around 1749 until 1770, literally codified a whole new approach to the understanding of the Scriptures and science. In fact we now say that his many volumes are the embodiment of the 201