The Oneness of God

The very essence and soul of everything in a comprehensive theology is the acknowledgment of God [arising] from a concept of him. Therefore it is necessary to begin with the oneness of God, and to prove it point by point:

1. The whole of Sacred Scripture teaches that there is one God, and therefore so do the theologies of the churches in the Christian world.

2. The recognition that God exists and that there is one God flows universally into human souls.

3. As a result, every nation in the whole world that possesses religion and sound reason acknowledges that God exists and that there is one God.

4. For various reasons, different nations and peoples have had and still have a diversity of opinions on the nature of that one God.

5. On the basis of many phenomena in the world, human reason is capable of perceiving and concluding, if it wants to, that God exists and that there is one God.

6. If there were not one God the universe could not have been created or maintained.

7. Those who do not acknowledge God are cut off from the church and damned.

8. Nothing about the church is integrated in people who acknowledge many gods rather than one.

These points will be explored one by one.

from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 5

God the Creator

Since the time of the Lord, the Christian church has passed through various ages; it has gone from infancy to extreme old age. Its infancy occurred when the apostles were alive and were preaching two things throughout the whole world: repentance and faith in the Lord God the Savior, as one can see from these words in the Acts of the Apostles: “To both Jews and Greeks Paul proclaimed repentance before God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).

It is worth noting that several months ago the Lord called together his twelve disciples, who are now angels, and sent them out to the entire spiritual world with the command to preach the gospel there anew, since the church established by the Lord through those disciples is so close to its end today that scarcely any of it remains in existence. Also worth noting is that the church’s deterioration was the result of its splitting the divine Trinity into three persons, each of whom is God and Lord.

As a result, a kind of brain fever spread throughout the whole theology and infected the church that calls itself Christian from the name of the Lord. I call it a brain fever because this development has so deranged human minds that they do not know whether there is one God or three. The mouth says there is one, but the mind thinks there are three. The mind, then, is at cross-purposes with its own mouth, and thought with its own speech; this results in no knowledge of God at all. The materialist philosophy that rules today has no other source. As long as “one” is what the mouth is saying and “three” is what the mind is thinking, do they not inwardly meet halfway and obliterate each other? Then if thinking about God occurs at all, it scarcely goes beyond thinking the word “God.” The word is denuded of any meaning that would entail actually having a concept of him.

Because the idea of God and every notion of him has been torn to pieces, I intend to discuss in sequence God the Creator, the Lord the Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit the Effecter, and then to discuss the divine Trinity, with the purpose of mending what has been torn. This mending will occur when human reason is convinced from the Word and its light that there is a divine Trinity; that it exists within the Lord God the Savior Jesus Christ like the soul, the body, and the effect of one person; and that the following statement in the Athanasian Creed is valid:

In Christ, God and a human being, or the divine nature and the human nature, are not two; they are in one person. Just as the rational soul and the flesh is one human being, so God and a human being is one Christ.

from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 4

The Faith of the New Heaven and the New Church (Continued)

The faith of the new heaven and the new church in a specific form is this: Jehovah God is love itself and wisdom itself, or goodness itself and truth itself. As divine truth, or the Word, which was “God with God,” he came down and took on a human manifestation for the purpose of forcing everything in heaven, everything in hell, and everything in the church back into the divine design. The power of hell had become stronger than the power of heaven, and on earth the power of evil had become stronger than the power of goodness; therefore total damnation stood threatening at the door. By means of his human manifestation, which was divine truth, Jehovah God lifted this pending damnation and redeemed both people and angels. Afterward, in his human manifestation, he united divine truth to divine goodness, or divine wisdom to divine love. In this way he returned to the divine nature that he had had from eternity, together with and in the human manifestation, which had been glorified. These things are meant by this statement in John: “The Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh” (John 1:1, 14).

And in the same Gospel, “I went out from the Father and came into the world; again I am leaving the world and am going to the Father” (John 16:28). And also by this: “We know that the Son of God came and gave us understanding so that we would know the truth. And we are in the truth in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20). From all this it is clear that if the Lord had not come into the world no one could have been saved. The situation today is similar. Therefore if the Lord does not come into the world again in the form of divine truth, which is the Word, no one can be saved.

For our part, the specifics of faith are these:

(1) There is one God, the divine Trinity exists within him, and he is the Lord God the Savior Jesus Christ.

(2) Believing in him is a faith that saves.

(3) We must not do things that are evil—they belong to the Devil and come from the Devil.

(4) We must do things that are good—they belong to God and come from God.

(5) We must do these things as if we ourselves were doing them, but we must believe that they come from the Lord working with us and through us.

The first two points have to do with faith, the second two have to do with goodwill; and the fifth has to do with the partnership between goodwill and faith, the partnership between the Lord and us.

from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 3

The Faith of the New Heaven and the New Church (Continued)

The faith of the new heaven and the new church in universal form is this: The Lord from eternity, who is Jehovah, came into the world to gain control over the hells and to glorify his own human nature. If he had not done this, not one mortal could have been saved; those who believe in him are saved.

I say “in universal form” because this concept is universal to the faith and something universal to the faith is going to be present in each and every aspect of it. It is universal to the faith to believe that God is one in essence and in person, to believe that in God there is a divine Trinity, and to believe that the Lord God the Savior Jesus Christ is God. It is universal to the faith to believe that if the Lord had not come into the world not one mortal could have been saved. It is universal to the faith to believe that the Lord came into the world to separate hell from the human race, and that he accomplished this by repeatedly doing battle with hell and conquering it. In this way he gained control over it, forced it back into the divine design, and made it obey him. It is universal to the faith to believe that he came into the world to glorify the human nature he took on in the world, that is, to unite it to its divine source. This is how he keeps hell eternally in its place and in obedience to himself. Since this could not have been accomplished except by allowing his human nature to be tested, including even the ultimate test, the suffering on the cross, therefore he underwent that experience. These are universal points of faith regarding the Lord.

For our part, it is universal to the faith that we believe in the Lord, for our believing in him gives us a partnership with him, and through this partnership comes salvation. To believe in him is to have confidence that he saves; and because only those who live good lives can have such confidence, this too is meant by believing in him. In fact, the Lord says in John: “This is the will of the Father, that everyone who believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 6:39–40). And in another passage,

“Those who believe in the Son have eternal life. But those who do not believe the Son will not see life; instead the anger of God remains on them” (John 3:36).

from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 2

The Faith of the New Heaven and the New Church

The faith of the new heaven and the new church is stated here in both universal and specific forms to serve as the face of the work that follows, the doorway that allows entry into the temple, and the summary that in one way or another contains all the details to follow. I say “the faith of the new heaven and the new church” because heaven, where there are angels, and the church, in which there are people, act together like the inner and the outer levels in a human being. People in the church who love what is good because they believe what is true and who believe what is true because they love what is good are angels of heaven with regard to the inner levels of their minds. After death they come into heaven, and enjoy happiness there according to the relationship between their love and their faith. It is important to know that the new heaven that the Lord is establishing today has this faith as its face, doorway, and summary.

from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 1

The Way Spirits and Angels Talk (Continued)

Surprisingly, this manner of speech—with a cadence that imitates the rhythm and music of a song—is natural for spirits. It is the way they talk among themselves, even though they are unaware of doing so. Souls take up the habit of speaking this way right after death. I too was introduced to it, and eventually it became familiar to me. The reason spirits talk this way is that they speak in concert as a community, although they usually do not realize they are doing so. This indicates clearly that all spirits are divided into communities, and that all things are therefore divided into something analogous to communities.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 2, Section 1649

The Way Spirits and Angels Talk (Continued)

In the world of spirits (to the inner eye, in other words), angels’ speech sometimes appears as the flickering of a light or of a radiant flame. The appearance differs, depending on the state of emotion embodied in their words. It is only the most general emotional components of their speech, rising out of countless individual feelings, that are presented in this way.

The speech of heavenly angels is different from that of spiritual angels, and it is even more impossible to describe or explain. Heavenly good as a motive is what they apply their thinking to, and consequently they have true happiness. Amazing to say, their speech is much fuller, because they sit at the spring or source from which the living energy of thought and speech flows.

Good spirits and angelic spirits have a way of speaking all together in large numbers, particularly in circle choirs or choruses. (I will have more to say on these later [Sections 2294, 2595–2596, 3350–3351, 3893, 5173:1, 5181–5183, 8115], with the Lord’s divine mercy.) Their choral speech I have heard quite often. It has a rhythmic flow to it. They do not think at all about the words or concepts, which their meaning pours into without effort. No words or concepts that complicate the sense or distract the listener ever inject themselves. Neither do any that have an artificial feel, or that seem to them to display a vain, self-flattering elegance. Such faults would immediately disturb them. They never fixate on a word but consider only the meaning. Words are the natural consequences of the meaning itself. The spirits end in unison, and usually a single unison. When the ending is more elaborate, intonation carries them from one unison to the next.

These traits arise from the fact that the spirits think and talk in concert. So they have a smooth-flowing style of speech that results from the interconnections in their community and the unanimity of it. This was the style of ancient songs, and it is the style of the Psalms of David.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 2, Sections 1646-1648

The Way Spirits and Angels Talk (Continued)

There are many evil spirits who are not wholly superficial. They too do not talk the way [good] spirits do but likewise focus on the fundamental assumption behind an idea, so they are more subtle than [good] spirits. Their numbers are large. They are completely separate from angelic spirits, whom they cannot even begin to approach. These evil, subtler spirits also link their own ideas in an abstract way to objects [of the senses] and to subjects [of discussion], but only to impure ones. Within those objects and subjects, they create for themselves a variety of images, uniformly foul, in which they wrap their ideas. They resemble idiots.

Their manner of speech was described to me, and also represented as a heap of filthy garbage overflowing its container. The intellectual element of it was presented as the backside of a horse whose forequarters could not be seen. (In the world of spirits a horse represents the intellect.)

The speech of angelic spirits, in contrast, was represented by a virgin tastefully clothed, charmingly dressed, wearing a beautiful whitish garment neatly gathered to a kind of bodice.

Angels’ speech, however, defies description. It is far superior to the speech of spirits, since it surpasses that of angelic spirits, and is positively unintelligible to us in every way as long as we are living in the body. Spirits in the world of spirits cannot even form a notion of it for themselves, since it lies beyond the reach of their thoughts.

The speech of angels does not involve mental images representing the subject matter, as with spirits and angelic spirits. Instead, angels speak in terms of purpose and therefore of usefulness, which are the first and most important elements of any subject. Into these they weave their angelic thoughts, which take on endlessly new and different forms. A mutually loving goodness from the Lord touches each and every word with an inner delight and happiness, while the truth of a faith inspired by mutual love gives it beauty and tremendous appeal. Purpose and consequent use are like containers that are extraordinarily pliable, subject in the most pleasurable way to unending variation, manifested in heavenly and spiritual forms we cannot possibly comprehend. The Lord holds angels in these thoughts because his kingdom is exclusively a kingdom of purpose and usefulness.

As a result, the angels present with us pay no attention to anything but purpose and use, and they elicit nothing else from our thoughts. Nothing else matters to them—whether it belongs to the mental or material world—because it is far beneath their sphere of interest.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 2, Sections 1644, 1645

The Way Spirits and Angels Talk (Continued)

This, then, is the way spirits talk; but the speech of angelic spirits is even more universal and perfect, and the speech of angels still more so. There are three heavens, as noted before [Sections 459, 684]. Good spirits inhabit the first, angelic spirits the second, and angels the third. Perfection increases as it rises, so that superficial elements have almost the same relation to deeper ones as hearing (to illustrate by comparison) has to sight, and sight has to thought. What the ear can absorb from speech in an hour can be presented to the eye in a minute—a panorama of fields, mansions, and cities, for instance. And what the eye takes many hours to observe, the thought can grasp in a minute. The speech of spirits bears the same ratio to that of angelic spirits, and the speech of angelic spirits to that of angels. Angelic spirits incorporate more clear, distinct concepts into one idea, spoken or thought, than spirits cover in several thousand; and angels outdo angelic spirits to the same degree. How must it be with the Lord, then, the source of all the life in our feelings, thoughts, and speech, the one who alone is the Message and the Word?

The speech of angelic spirits defies comprehension. To say just a few words about it—but only about the representative kind—it presents the actual subject matter in a representative form. This form is a remarkable one drawn from the objects of the senses, and the sweetest, most beautiful images vary it in countless ways. A continuous stream of emotions rising out of the happiness of mutual love flows in from the Lord through the next higher heaven, making absolutely everything seem to come alive. Every single topic of discussion is exhibited in this way, in unbroken series of images. To describe just one representative image from any series intelligibly would be impossible.

These are the influences that affect the thinking of [good] spirits, but the spirits are unaware of those influences except as a general something-or-other flowing in and affecting them. They lack a distinct perception of details that angelic spirits perceive quite clearly.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 2, Sections 1642, 1643

The Way Spirits and Angels Talk (Continued)

In the next life, spirits converse with each other the same way we do on earth. Good spirits engage in the intimate conversation of loving friends, as I have witnessed many times. They use their customary speech, which enables them to express more in a minute than we could over the course of an hour. As noted, their language is universal, common to all tongues, because it uses ideas—the rudiments of all words—as its medium. They discuss things with such acumen and insight, pursuing so many well-constructed, persuasive lines of reasoning that if people knew about it they would be dumbfounded. Spirits link opinion and feeling, which lends animation to their speech.

Sometimes spirits employ representations as well—an appeal to the eye and so to living experience. Take for example a discussion of shame and the question of whether it can exist apart from reverence. People on earth cannot settle the matter without endless argument involving various proofs and examples, and even then the issue remains in doubt. Spirits, on the other hand, take only a minute. They run in order through the various ways in which shame affects us and then the ways in which reverence does, noticing points of agreement and disagreement. These they also observe in visual representations connected to their speech. From the evidence, they instantly arrive at a conclusion, which rises spontaneously out of the harmony thus imposed on conflicting ideas. All other subjects are dealt with in the same way.

Our souls take up this ability immediately after death. Good spirits like nothing better at that time than to teach uninformed newcomers.

The spirits themselves are unaware—unless the Lord inspires them to reflect on it—that they speak such an exalted language among themselves or that they enjoy such an outstanding gift. This way of speaking is natural for them, and by then it is ingrained. Their situation is like that of people who fix their minds on the meaning of a message and not on the words or form of expression: if they do not reflect on it, they sometimes do not even know what language is being used.

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 2, Section 1641