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Swedenborgianism

Doctrines Swedenborg taught a pantheistic theosophy centred on Jesus Christ, in whom he found a Trinity of Love, Wisdom and Energy. He regarded the human body as the kingdom of the soul, and this led him to develop his doctrine of correspondence - that all phenomena of the physical world have their spiritual correspondences - which became his main instrument for uncovering the hidden meaning of scripture. From this, he asserted that only those books of the Bible which presented a correspondential spiritual meaning were really 'the Word'; thus, he taught that the only books of 'the Word' in the Bible are the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, the Psalms, and the Prophets from Isaiah to Malachi in the Old Testament, and in the New, only the four Gospels and Revelation constituted 'the Word'.
Swedenborg did not believe in Christian redemption; his theological system is anthropocentric, the spiritual world being populated exclusively by deceased human beings grouped together according to their natural inclinations into heavenly or infernal societies that together form a huge man, Maximus Homo, and Christ was to be regarded as the highest manifestation of this humanity. He held that there was no such thing as a personal Devil or Satan, but that the name signifies the whole society of evil spirits, and, as evil forms part of the spiritual nature of man it can never be annihilated, not even in heaven. His teachings were seen as heretical and in his last years ecclesiastical proceedings were taken against some of his Swedish disciples.

History Emmanuel Swedenborg was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1688, the eldest son of the bishop of Skara, previously a professor at the University of Uppsala. He became a distinguished scientist, held a seat in the House of Nobles of the Swedish parliament, travelled widely, and in 1716 was appointed extraordinary assessor at the Royal Board of Mines. However, he underwent a profound religious crisis in 1743-44 during which he experienced trances, talking with Jesus, angels, devils and departed human souls - Moses, Saint Paul, Luther, Calvin, popes and kings. He became convinced that the Lord had chosen him to be the Bible's infallible interpreter, and dated the Second Coming as having occurred in 1757, the year his vision of the Last Judgement marked the end of the Christian dispensation and the beginning of what he called the New Jerusalem.
He thus abandoned his scientific work, resigned his post at the Royal Board of Mines, and devoted the rest of his life to what he regarded as his divine mission to teach mankind the true meaning of the scriptures. Swedenborg published many works, including the eight-volume Arcana Coelestia (1756),The Earths in the Universe (1758), The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine (1758), On the Intercourse Between the Soul and the Body (1769),Divine Love and Wisdom (1763), The Apocalypse Revealed (1766), and lastly, The True Christian Religion (1771). He died in 1772 in London, aged 85.
The Church of the New Jerusalem, based on Swedenborg's voluminous Latin writings, emerged in England after his death; the first Swedeborgian congregation in England was founded in the late 1780s, and in the same decade his doctrines were introduced into the United States. Out of these small groups of dedicated pupils grew a world-wide movement of Swedenborgians. Hundreds of psychics and mediums in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries followed Swedenborg, and his doctrine of correspondence was particularly influential on Western poetic literature, especially the Romantic and Symbolist traditions; he was admired by such people as Baudelaire, Goethe, Blake, and Kant.

Symbols None

Adherents No figures available

Headquarters/
Main Centre
 None. A number of congregations of the New Church exist in several parts of the world; the most important centre of the movement today is the New Church Academy in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania.