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Cults and World Religions

Swedenborgianism



The New Church

The Church of New Jerusalem

History

As cults go, this one has an old background, dating to the 1700s and the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1688. Swedenborg has been called the earliest of the great clairvoyants. His church is called the Church of New Jerusalem. Its membership is similar to that of the Worldwide Church of God, with, perhaps, 150,000 members world wide. The Church of New Jerusalem teaches a need for a rebirth of Christianity – along the lines of the teachings of Swedenborg!

Swedenborg had a interest in science, especially geology, and religion, but an illness appears to have affected his mind. Following the illness, Swedenborg had a vision wherein loathsome creatures crawled around the walls of his room. A man appeared to tell Swedenborg that he would be God’s voice to communicate the teachings of the unseen realm to the people of the world. He was to be the source of new revelation.

Beliefs

Swedenborgism is a mixture of New Age, Mind Science, and the mystical. Swedenborg talked to the spirits. Further, the group believes in astral projection and automatic handwriting, clear traits of Spiritism. They fail to observe any of the doctrines of classic Christianity. The beliefs of this group include:

I want to take a moment to add a lengthy paragraph from one of the commentaries on the place of sexual love in this group. We have already seen other cults where sex and free love are important elements (i.e., the Moonies), but these comments will also set the stage for some understanding of more extreme examples.

The predominant subject in the teacher’s mind was “conjugal love,” which was indeed in his view “heavenly love in its highest form,” and is according to him a great subject of interest, and conversation among the angels. In spite of our Lord’s denial, they do “marry and are given in marriage in heaven!” There are passages in Swedenborg’s writings so grossly indelicate, Dr Pond assures us, that they ought never to have been translated. Swedenborg gives 55 cases in which a married man may judge himself free to be unfaithful to his marriage vows; and in certain cases he permits and even recommends flagrant immorality. 212

How important are the actual teachings of Swedenborg to the modern Church of New Jerusalem? Consider Martin’s description of this cultic church.

The Church of New Jerusalem is, therefore, inextricably bound to the teachings of Swedenborg and his interpretation of the Bible. Women may join the church at the age of eighteen and men at the age of twenty-one, but only after studying the writings of Swedenborg for some six months. 213

Here is a prime example of the dominant leadership of a cult founder. Not only did Swedenborg rule the cult when he was alive, but he still rules some 250 plus years later! This helps to explain the immense immorality of many cults. The morals of one person changes the view points of entire groups.

Footnotes:
212. William C. Irvine, Heresies Exposed, New York: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc. Bible Truth Depot,1917, 182. Irvine sites several of Swedenborg’s writings including one entitled Arcana Celestia and another entitled Conjugal Love.
213. Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1965, 1977, 1985, 517.

 

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