NewThoughtHistory.com

New Thought, Ancient Wisdom
Linking with an invisible God is like linking the sight of the eye with the expanse of the universe, the bounds of which are not to be seen. Or it is like looking out in the middle of the ocean, when the gaze falls on the air and sea and is frustrated. But linking with a visible God is like seeing a man in the air or the sea opening His arms and inviting you to come into His embrace.
Emmanuel Swdenborg, "The True Christian Religion, pg 787

Emanuel Swedenborg

was born January 29th, 1688 in Stockholm, Sweden.
His father was a clergyman and professor of theology. Swedenborg grew up in an intellectual environment and was exposed to academic dialogue from an early age. As a child, he had a hunger for learning. This characteristic would prove to be a lifelong trait. His self-directed program of education led him to master virtually all the known sciences by the time he reached middle age. He held a seat in the Swedish house of Nobles for fifty years, served as the king's engineering advisor, and gained a reputation as one of the foremost intellectual giants of the age.
Despite his expansive scientific exploration, Swedenborg wasn't satisfied with a purely physical approach in his quest to understand the universe. In particular, he wanted to unravel the nature of the soul. Based on his conviction that all matter in the universe is fuelled by God's creative life force, he shifted his focus to writing about the relationship between physical life and spiritual life. Soon after starting this work, he began to have vivid dreams and visions of an otherworldly quality. In response, he undertook a meticulous study of the Bible.
A year later in April, 1745, something happened that would change Swedenborg's life forever. He was divinely commissioned to be the means through which God would further reveal Himself to humanity. So began Swedenborg's life as a spiritual revelator. His remaining twenty-seven years on earth was spent in regular contact with the spiritual world. Swedenborg's experiences are recorded in a series of theological publications, referred to by the New Church as the Writings or Heavenly Doctrines. These volumes bring to light the Bible's inner meaning, explain the nature of heaven and hell, teach about heavenly marriages, and provide guidelines for spiritual growth. Through Swedenborg's theological works, we have access to an unprecedented knowledge about God and the workings of the universe. These Writings form the foundation of the New Church and lead thousands of people in the quest to become better human beings.
Swedenborg died on March 29th, 1772. In the centuries since his death, his Writings have influenced progressive thinkers of every generation. He has been called 'The Buddha of the North' by D.T. Suzuki and inspired the likes of Karl Jung, W.B. Yeats, and Helen Keller. In essence, Swedenborg taught that "All religion relates to life, and the life of religion is to do good." He promoted religious tolerance and advocated a useful life as the sincerest form of worship.

Influences on New Thought

Johnny (Appleseed) Chapman - helped to spread Swedenborg literature and ideas throughout New England
Waren Felt Evens - Swedenborg Minister and student of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby. Author of first New Thought book "Mental Cure"
Ernest Holmes -
Ralph Waldo Emerson - along with his other colleagues in the Transcendentalist Movement enjoyed Swedenborg's Theological writtings.

Influences on modern society, arts and culture:


Law of Correspondence

Swedenborg's largest influence on the New Thought Movement can be seen in his writings on the principles of Correspondence. Swedenborg believed that there was a spiritual "Law of Correspondence" in the world that connected the physical realm with the spiritual realm. In simplest terms it means that every symbol of religion, language, art only points to an invisible or hidden meaning that it corresponds to.

He believed that the Divine was present in all things.

The realm of nature reflects or corresponds and portrays the realm of Spirit.

This idea of nature reflecting God would later be picked up by the American transcendentalist. The overall principle of correspondence can be seen throughout the New Thought movement; from the basics of mental healing to the laws of attraction and manifestation.

Metaphysical Interpretation of the Bible:

Swedenborg sought to examine the Bible through the Law of Correspondence. He believed that the Bible could be viewed and interpreted from three distinct senses:

1. Historical Sense - The Bible contains the Spiritual history of the human race, (Adam to Jesus).
2. Spiritual Sense - The Bible contains details about the various elements and stages of spiritual growth and development that one goes through.
3. Celestial Sense - The spiritual development of Jesus Christ on earth, God taking on the human journey of awakening.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants:
Emanuel Swedenborg’s Influence on Ernest Holmes
By Rev. Linda Reppond
December 2011