Why I Believe

I've been asked this question several times - why do I believe what Emanuel Swedenborg wrote? Is it because the things I experienced with Jim are explained by his writings? Is it because I just believe anything that I read? Is it because the grief somehow "snapped my mind" and I'm no longer capable of rational, cohesive thought? This is my answer - and the conclusions are yours to reach.

It is true that I found answers in Swedenborg's writings that validated my experiences with Jim. It is initially why I kept reading volume after volume; however, that is not the reason I believe. Initially, it was a struggle to "own" my experiences - it seemed that every time I experienced communication with Jim, my mind tried to deny that it actually happened. People who have not experienced afterdeath communication cannot begin to understand the initial denial of most of the people undergoing these experiences. I felt like I was literally being ripped apart at the seams. On one level, I thought that it couldn't be real - on another level, I felt it was real and this conflict between the intellect (mind)  and the emotions (heart) was severely painful.

The first Swedenborg book I read was "Heaven and Hell" and I highly recommend it. I fondly call it the "Rand McNally Road Map to the Spiritual World" - for it indeed tells how Heaven is structured and what people do in Heaven - all kinds of wonderful and marvelous things. I have found you can even read it out of order - going to the chapters that address your questions and skipping around. Swedenborg was a world renowned scientist of his day and his writings are truly rational and logical - with observations and insights from our natural world. 

I had deep questions and issues regarding "Why?" and God's will - due to losing so many loved ones during such a short period of time while in my teens. As I was told that it was God's will by a minister during that time, I was deeply hurt to the core that God would do that to me - especially at so tender of an age, when I was a devout churchgoer and believer. So I had huge issues that needed to be dealt with. Swedenborg's "Divine Providence" gave me the answers to the "Why?" and rational answers that taught me that it is NOT God's will that tragedy happens. This book is said to have been the personal favorite of Helen Keller's - and I can see why. The tragedy of her life, to become both blind and deaf at nineteen months old, is incomprehensible. She found answers that not only comforted and uplifted her, but gave her the strength to persevere and to overcome her challenges and limitations and to live an extremely fruitful and productive life excelling many others.

After that, I read "Divine Love and Wisdom" as I had questions as to why God even created this universe and how the universe came to be. I found answers there too. Then I read "Love in Marriage" - his book on marriage on the other side as well as this side. After reading this book, I forget the order that I read his other books - but underneath all of the comfort and enlightenment I was receiving, was the nagging thought: Swedenborg might be making all of this up - he might have been crazy; after all, he claimed to have talked to angels and demons - and on a daily basis. And if he is crazy, then you are too.

Swedenborg wrote extensively of Bible passages - indeed most of his work includes the quoting of many passages from both the Old and New Testament to back his statements. As I read more and more, I began to become interested in reading his books that dealt with Bible interpretation. I had stayed away from the Bible for quite a while, wincing at the sections in the Old Testament about God's anger and how He seemingly told His chosen people to kill. 

Over the years, I had come to the conclusion that God couldn't be like that - perhaps He had evolved between the years between the writing of the Old and New Testament. I believed that God had to be just and fair - and to all people - not just to a few select "chosen" ones. I remember telling my brother, Tom, before my spiritual crisis that I could not believe that a Moslem (or any other faith) who was a good person would be condemned simply because he/she didn't know about Jesus. It didn't make sense to me.  But over the years, I also too, began to doubt that God was a personal God - that He actually would care about my puny little life here - and of course, that led to doubt that God even existed at all.

When Jim started talking to me, it threw me into a terrible turmoil. Not only did I have to confront the reality of these afterdeath communications, but I also had a crisis regarding my belief system - or non-belief as well. I found out that I really didn't know who to pray to - do we pray to God the Father or Jesus the Son? In addition to reading anything about the other side (mostly occult books at that time - 1991), I was reading books by Christian ministers, and much to my shock, they all disagreed with one another. Here my very sanity and life (as I was suicidal) was on the line...I didn't know who to pray to...and Christian ministers were all disagreeing. I needed answers - ones that made sense, and I wasn't getting any. As my loved ones were drawing so close to me, I was impressed, mostly by my grandmother, Jim and my Mom to read the Bible on a daily basis. Initially, I could only stand to read the Psalms and the Gospels - there is much healing and comfort in these books, and I highly recommend them for anyone.

The apex of my experience was about one week before I found Swedenborg's writings. I was in the public library again searching for more material to read. I came across a book by a Christian minister written probably in the 1960s about Heaven. And I started to flip through it. It was in a simple question/answer format. What I read was most disturbing to me: that we all look the same in Heaven - the same face...everything the same. That we all wear white robes and are on our knees for the rest of eternity, praising God. That we don't have the sense of sight - no reason to see in Heaven. That we will not recognize our loved ones (after all, they all look the same; ironic that this was even addressed since we supposedly don't have sight) and besides, we are not suppose to love some people more than others. I can't tell you the depth of my reaction - it took every ounce of everything that I had to keep from throwing my head back and howling like a wounded animal in that public library. Much to my surprise, I loudly slammed shut the book and yet again, it took all my strength to keep from throwing that book against the wall. My reaction surprised me - and I was visibly shaking leaving the library, fearing that I was completely losing my grip on my sanity.

So after finding Swedenborg and reading a few of his books, I began to earnestly wonder if I should undertake his books on Bible interpretation. So, I bought the 12 volume set known as "Arcana Coelestia", Latin for Heavenly Secrets. I managed to get through it. Because of it being translated from Latin into 19th century Victorian English, it is difficult to say the least. Thankfully, the Swedenborg Foundation [secular, nonprofit publishing house founded in 1850] is currently working on a New Century translation that will be available by 2003. The Arcana goes into the Books of Genesis and Exodus - verse by verse. Some of it, I understood; a lot I didn't. I reread many passages three times and then moved on as I just didn't get it all. I have found that with some passage of time, and some pondering on issues, I go back to sections that I didn't understand...only to clearly see the point. 

And I found to my complete amazement, that stories from the Bible that just don't make sense literally, made sense when Swedenborg explained it. It was absolutely amazing! Of course, Swedenborg himself, never claimed that this came from his own intellect; indeed he was very humble about all of it, saying that the message came from God and Swedenborg was only the servant. 

Swedenborg taught me about the One God - it's in both the Old and New Testament. The One God who came into this world as Jesus - because He loved us so much, He came and lived and showed us the way back to Him and Love. Mankind was so near to total destruction, and He was so moved by Infinite Compassion that He came into this world to set us free from spiritual darkness. Swedenborg taught me that people of all religions are in Heaven - and not only that, he wrote of the Bible passages that "prove it" - amazingly enough!

And as I saw the "inner meaning" of the Bible stories come alive and to have direct application to my spiritual life, I became aware of the knowing that this indeed was from no man's intellect. He explained passages that have confounded theologians for centuries. Indeed...as I sat reading the Arcana one day, I became profoundly aware that this was Divine Revelation - and I could read no more at that instant as the whole realization of truth was almost too consuming. I had to close the book and to get down on my knees and thank God for this most wondrous gift - and to marvel that He gave it to me. To me...me, the person who didn't really believe...me, the person who doubted that He existed...me, who for such a long time didn't even know who He was. To me...the puny little person with the puny little life - I was given the Pearl of Great Price. Why? I certainly wasn't worthy - I had spent years with my back to Him - it was overwhelming. At that moment, I realized that God loves us all - equally the same - regardless of what we do or what we are. And He will give all these gifts - if you want them. 

It was at this time that I realized that Swedenborg was not crazy - it was Divine revelation and that Swedenborg had simply been the messenger. And that's when I accepted what he wrote about seeing into the spiritual world...and it was only then I was able to accept my experiences with Jim as real.

There's another reason why I believe Swedenborg's writings - and that's the transformation that has occurred to me since I have been reading them (October, 1993). I have changed and grown spiritually - I laugh when I look back at myself.  I now love reading the Bible - it has great meaning for me. I have inner peace and joy - something that eluded me for years. I have purpose and meaning in this life - something that I only wondered at before. I have seen people "in my sphere" be touched by Swedenborg's writings and be healed of their pain and despair. I have seen miracles - miracles of inner change and growth in several people - and I give God all thanks. These are all the reasons why I believe.

If you wish to be eternally happy, know and believe you will live after death.
 Always remember this, for it is the truth.

Emanuel Swedenborg
Heavenly Secrets #8939

Two related articles: The New Christianity  and  The Bible that was Lost and is Found.

Additional Articles of Interest
The Straight Facts - 
Spiritually Speaking
God's Word - 
a Mirror of Identity
Jesus and God are One
Rev. Lee Woofenden These ministers have wonderful articles on their sites! Rev. Dave Sonmor
Online Swedenborgian Library
Recommended Books
Window to Eternity
A good introductory book to Swedenborg's concepts
Angels In Action
An introduction to Swedenborg's concepts of angelic life here and beyond
Conversations with Angels
Swedenborg's own words - edited and recently translated
Light in My Darkness
Helen Keller's Autobiography
wonderfully uplifting!
Return to the Promised Land
Our spiritual journey as outlined in the Book of Exodus. Marvelously insightful!
Person to Person
A study of a deeper meaning on the Gospel of Mark - based on Swedenborg's writings
Inner Light
A good, comprehensive, concise outlining of Swedenborg's theology
Tunnel to Eternity
Connecting the Near Death Experience to the writings of Swedenborg
Bible Study Notes
Highly recommended for those who are interested in the inner meaning of the Bible
Books can be ordered through: 
The Swedenborg Foundation
Books by Emanuel Swedenborg
Heaven and Hell
On Line Heaven and Hell
Divine Love & Wisdom Divine Providence
Charity Love in Marriage The Heavenly City
free on-line version
The Four Doctrines:
The Lord, Sacred Scripture, Life and Faith
  True Christian Religion
exposes the fallacies of "man-made doctrine" by focusing on actual Biblical passages
 
Swedenborg Information Page with Links to over 200 articles based on his writings
 

 

Music: For All Eternity
1999 Bruce DeBoer