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.
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:
-A denial of the atonement, the Trinity, the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit.
-All religions lead to God (pluralism!)
-There is no devil
-The Scriptures can only be properly interpreted through Swedenborgianism
-One may sin in heaven.
-The only valid portions of the New Testament are the four Gospels and Revelation.
-Salvation is by good works
-There is no physical resurrection
-Angels (and evil spirits) are not supernatural creations of God, but are rather, humans who have died
? At death, a person’s mind falls asleep for three days in a place called the world of the spirits. Afterwards, he awakens and those spirits who have died before help him adjust. He then forms his own spiritual body in which to reside.
? There is marriage in heaven.
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.
William C. Irvine, Heresies Exposed, New York: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc. Bible TruthDepot,1917, 182. Irvine sites several of Swedenborg’s writings including one entitled ArcanaCelestia and another entitled Conjugal Love.