Part of the Quick Facts on Christian Cults series.
If I was ever to bail on orthodox Christianity, this is where I’d land…just so I could have the name: Swedenborgianism.
Sounds so seductive.
Less like a cult and more like a retreat for exhausted celebrities.
It’s founder, Emanuel Swedenborg, was a rationalist and mystic who absorbed the writings of Descartes, Locke and Kant…
He then interpreted the Scripture through their combined worldviews.
What emerged was a deeply speculative philosophical system of theology couched in redefined Christian terms and buttressed by visions, dreams and trances.
1. Emanual Swedenborg was born in Stockholm, Sweden on January 29, 1688. He died 85 years later in London on March 29, 1772.
2. Unlike most cult founders, Swedenborg was an intellectual powerhouse. He wrote a gazillion books. He invented a new stove, a magazine air gun and methods to manufacture salt. He drew plans for a flying machine and water docks. He even tried to build a submarine.
3. In 1745 he received a vision to become “both seer and a revelator of the things of the spiritual world.” In fact, 1743 to 1749 proved to be productive in terms of dreams and visions.
4. He debated theology with Cicero, St. Augustine, Luther, Calvin and St. Paul, whom he bitterly opposed.
5. In fact, Swedenborg rejected the books of Paul, Peter, James, Jude and Hebrews…leaving only the Gospels and Revelations as orthodox.
6. The launch of The Church of the New Jerusalem took place in London in 1788, 16 years after Swedenborg’s death.
7. Men have to be 21 to join The Church, women 18. But only after studying the writings of Swedenborg for about six months.
8. The ghost of a dead Dutch ambassador once told Swedenborg that a goldsmith he’d hired stole some money and hid it in a secret bureau drawer. This turned out to be true.
9. He butchered the historical view of the Trinity by rejecting Christ as God and relegating the Holy Spirit to mean “divine sanctity.”
10. Swedenborg wrote that angels in heaven doubled over and vomited whenever someone on earth mentioned man’s damnation and Christ’s death as what reconciled them to God.
11. He believed after death that only the soul continued on. The body remain in the grave.
12. Jesus Christ’s Second Coming, Swedenborg asserted, took place in the eighteenth century…thus, The Church of the New Jerusalem.
13. Arthur Conan Doyle claimed Swedenborg was a medium who practiced clairvoyance.
By the way, if you are a Swedenborgian, please say “hi” and let me know if I got my facts straight.