Swedenborg's Argument of
From an email message:
I was reading Divine Providence, and I just happened to open to section #132, and I read the following:
"After the Lord had made Himself known, though, and had been accepted and recognized in the church as the eternal God, miracles stopped happening." Swedenborg goes on to write that the Word itself says that miracles will cease. Of course, he says that if miracles happen, they would compel us to believe. "
But what of miracles that do not compel us to believe, but help us? If miracles are gone, then what do we call instances of angelic protection? What do we call miraculous faith healings? What does Swedenborg mean by "miracles?" Does it mean *any* kind of divine manifestation, or certain kinds of manifestation?
And if it means all kinds of divine help, then Houston, we have a contradiction, because miracles and divine healing still happen today.
Question 2: I read after that in section #134 that visions like that of John the Revelator and Daniel and Ezekiel have ceased, however I read that in #135, spirits and angels are permitted to talk with us, (though it's rare). When they do speak to us, however, they don't say anything that violates our free will or rationality. We seem to have another contradiction here, because don't NDEers have visions of Heaven? Or, is it referring to a particular kind of vision?
I am not trying to derail Swedenborgianism, I sincerely want to know the explanation to these apparent contradictions.
Let's discuss the main point raised in this message about Swedenborg's explanation of miracles and why they do not occur today: "If miracles are gone, then what do we call instances of angelic protection? What do we call miraculous faith healings? What does Swedenborg mean by "miracles?" Does it mean *any* kind of divine manifestation, or certain kinds of manifestation? And if it means all kinds of divine help, then Houston, we have a contradiction, because miracles and divine healing still happen today."
Miracles refer to sensuous consciousness of the Divine. Miracles constitute concrete physical evidence of God's intervention in a normal process. For instance the New Testament tells that Jesus healed people instantly of a long term chronic disease like blindness, paralysis, or leprosy. These are miracles because they were public demonstrations of God's intervention in normal natural phenomena. In the Old Testament we are told that God appeared to Moses in a burning bush that did not burn up and from which a Divine Voice came forth to his ears. Or we are told that the walls of the city of Jericho crumbled and fell when Joshua's men went around the city seven times and blew their trumpets. Many such miracles are told in the Old and New Testaments.
Notice however that the occasional use of miracles is not the sole indication of God's interventions and control of events. For instance, if you should win the lottery, you may think of it as God's intervention or just good luck, and if you fall and break your big toe, you may think of it as bad luck, or God's punishment. God's omnipotence and omnipresence means that every event is produced by God, either by direct Providence, in the case of good things, or by God's Law of Permissions or Leave, in the case of bad things. Nothing can happen or exist except by God's immediate creation and instantiation. Miracles are not different from ordinary events in the sense that all events are caused by God, as the only power to produce anything.
The difference between events produced by God that are miracles vs. ordinary, is that miracles are designed to impressthe witnesses that God intervenes to produce results that benefit someone insituations where you would ordinarily expect the person to suffer through theconsequences that are impending. For instance, suppose you apply for a job thatmeans everything to you right now, but you know you don't have the chance ofgetting it because of several others more qualified than you have also applied.You ask God to please let you have the job. Later you find out you got it. Youthen thank God for getting it. Is this a miracle?
It may be, but it doesn't stand as aphysical proof of God's intervention. There is always room for skepticism onthe part of the atheists or materialists or believers who think that God doesn'tintervene in the course of everyday events. We know from scientific revelationsin the Writings of Swedenborg that God is a co-participant to every thought andfeeling, and that the Divine Human is an intimate Divine Therapist, constantlymaking something happen around us that is for our enlightenment or spiritualunderstanding. We know that God keeps certain memories out of conscious range,while others He allows us to be aware of. In short, the entire course of ourthinking and feeling, moment by moment, and the particular events happeningaround us and to us, are meticulously produced and instantiated by God.Nothing, not the slightest part or detail, can occur or exist, except as God's Providence or Permission.
God stays in the background, out of range ofour conscious awareness, and out of our range of physical observation. Why?
Why should He make it impossible for us toprove physically His constant Presence and intervention methods?
Because if He showed Himself or His constantcontrol over us at the physical or natural level, we would alternate betweenrebellion-rejection-resistance, at one time, followed at another time bydepression-immobility-purposeless. We would be like robots at one point, thenswitch into a mad-robot act, or a hopelessly depressed person. This would bethe inevitable disastrous reaction if God showed Himself the way He controlsour every move, motive, thought-sequence, and emotion. Therefore God must hideHis control from our direct physical observation. IN other words, God's control,or Presence, or even existence, cannot be proven physically, and never will be.
In this context that we must understand thestatement in the Writings that God does not allow miracles in the modern agewith the modern mind as a witness. If God's physical control activities were tobe proven physically, science would become theistic at first, but then it wouldturn atheistic and insane. Currently science may be atheistic, but it is notinsane because scientists receive influx from the spiritual world, just alikeanyone else does. This mediate influx is responsible for atheistic scienceremaining sane and useful. Again, since it the influx is kept unconscious,scientists can believe that the rationality of their research and theory is dueto their thinking, that it has nothing to do with God.
Miracles break this mechanism of unconsciouscontrol by God of the details of everyday life. Hence they are not permitted inthe modern age.
All of the above was said concerningsensuous consciousness of God. We do have sensuous consciousness of God once wemake the jump to the afterlife in the spiritual world. But this is true only ifwe have developed a heavenly character prior to the death of the physical body.When we remain in our unregenerate character we cannot see God, we do not havesensuous consciousness of the Divine Human. Instead, we deny the Divine Human,and when we say angels with powers from heaven, we curse them, and turn away.Thus, human beings are unwilling to change the attitude or mind-set with whichthey arrive into the spiritual world at death.
It is possible for people to becomesincerely convinced that they are witnessing a miracle. This is the basis offinancial success for media preachers who produce miracles for a weeklyaudience. Even if miracles are not produced upon demand, other persuasivemethods accomplish a similar end, namely, that people begin to believe God'spresence on the basis of such persuasiveness. The Writings reveal thatpersuasive faith is not rationally supported in a person's mind. When peoplearrive into the other life with such a persuasive faith, they demand to seemiracles, they demand to enter heaven immediately. They cannot since they havenot cultivated an inner character that can live in heaven that is formed out ofrational concepts in our mind. Heaven is a sensuous conscious experience of Godand bliss, but this is only the surface appearance. It must be produced fromwithin by love and truth, or rational faith. This is what Sacred Scripture ismade of--rational truth.
If miracles were allowed today it wouldsplinter and dissolve the development of our rational consciousness of God. Twothousand years ago God Incarnated as a Divine Natural Man. People could hearGod speak, they could embrace God, and they could love Him and worship Himright then and there. That lasted a mere three decades and at the end Heexplained to His disciples that He must go away, back to heaven, in order forthem to generate a rational mind that lives in heaven. If He had stayed in thephysical world, as the disciples had wanted, they would never have been able todevelop a rational consciousness of Him, and never been able to enter thepromised heaven. He told them that that is why He must go. And at the same timeHe explained that if He goes away physically, ascending to heaven, He canreturn to them mentally, since heaven is within them. All they need to do is toraise their consciousness to their heaven, and to Him.
And the Divine Human also explained to themthat they will see Him, recognize Him, and be instructed by Him, as the HolySpirit. This was the title He gave to the new rational consciousness of Godthat all humanity now had available. The Holy Spirit is the rationalconsciousness we have of God from God. It is the Divine Human consciouslycommunicating with our mind. The Divine Human created a new heaven in thespiritual race by Glorifying His human acquired on this earth and making it onewith His Divine. By doing this, He created new mental pathways through which wecan ascend in our rational consciousness and be instructed by the Holy Spirit.From this instruction we can become enlightened and wise, capable of seen andunderstanding the truths in Sacred Scripture. Now if we apply this enlightenedunderstanding to compel ourselves to reform, to say no to our hellish traits,and to say yes the heavenly, then we have entered the road of regeneration, theroad of salvation that leads to our heavenly consciousness in eternity.
To bring back miracles would interfere withthis whole plan of salvation.
The second part of the email messagediscussed above asks about visions: "Question 2: I read after that insection #134 that visions like that of John the Revelator and Daniel andEzekiel have ceased, however I read that in #135, spirits and angels arepermitted to talk with us, (though it's rare). When they do speak to us,however, they don't say anything that violates our free will or rationality. Weseem to have another contradiction here, because don't NDEers have visions ofHeaven? Or, is it referring to a particular kind of vision?"
We need to understand the answer in terms ofthe previous discussions on miracles and rational consciousness. Theoverarching rule is that God will do nothing to interfere or weaken thedevelopment of our rational consciousness, needed for our ascent to heavenlyconsciousness. If visions of heaven are allowed it must be under conditionswhere they cannot be physically proven. What about "near deathexperiences" (NDEs) and the apparition of angels to many people? Myexplanation for NDEs within the context of sensuous vs. rational consciousnessis developed elsewhere (see this section of another book:www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/v1ch4to5-nonduality.html#_Toc22537455
In summary: Eliminating the hypothesis thatNDEs are actual visions of heaven, what can they be? I believe it is a naturalmedical phenomenon. I am impressed by the fact that NDE reports are verycommon--hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, have now claimed them.Furthermore, the details of the reports have startling similarities, as provenby Moody's comparisons and those of others. Therefore it is reasonable tosuppose that they are all influenced by the same legend, which is well known toanyone watching TV and reading novels and magazines. Hence the frequentlymentioned "bright lights," the feeling of overwhelming peace, the"tunnel effect," and being addressed by higher beings. This is thewell known legend that has been transmitted as cultural knowledge. Thiscultural knowledge is the source of NDEs and other such visions of higherbeings,
What about prophecies?
Again, employing the same reasoning contextfor the development of rational consciousness, prophecies would interfere ifthey could be proven. No prophecies could ever be proven except those that arefrom the Bible. And since the Bible can be dismissed in one's reasoning, noprophecy has ever been proven. There are those who are entertained by authorswho claim to know prophecies, but again, this is a matter of freedom to think,to accept or reject any thought or rationale. The supposed existence ofprophecies therefore do not interfere with rational consciousness of the Divinesince they cannot be proven.
God uses many elaborate methods to preventanyone from proving His intervention or presence. God creates randomdistributions of many events as well as events whose causation is so complexthat scientists cannot figure it out, like the weather or natural disasters.God also hides behind so called accidents and fortuitous events or luck, goodor bad. You can throw the dice and get two sixes twenty times in a row. Thiswon't prove God, but only that an extremely rare event has occurred. And yetGod made those dice fall on the sixes every time. This we can realizerationally from knowing and understanding God's omnipotence and managementpractices of reality. But we can't prove it physically. God will foil all ourattempts, and thereby, save us for our rational consciousness of the DivineHuman.
Rational consciousness is the spiritualrace's only approach to heaven. The original celestial approach of dualconsciousness was destroyed in the human race and can never be restituted. TheDivine Human can never again appear in the physical world. But the Divine Humanformed a new heaven inside our cognitive mind. The heaven of the celestial raceis in their will, but the heaven of the spiritual race is in our understanding.This means that it is formed out of rational truths in our cognitive mind. Anew affective heaven has been created for the human race, and the approach tothis new heaven is by rational consciousness of the Divine Human, and in noother way.
Science has become even more crucial for oursalvation than it was before. Scientific concepts and methods of reasoning havebeen fostered and promoted by God for several centuries, so that today, in thenew and everlasting age of the Second Coming, science is advancing to the theisticphase of its development. This book is a proof of that happening.
Quoting from Swedenborg’s Writings:
When my interiorsight was first opened and through my eyes they saw the world and what was init, spirits and angels were so astonished that they said it was the greatestmiracle of all time, and a new found joy entered into them that in this way acommunication now existed of earth with heaven, and of heaven with earth. (AC1880)
501. The questionis asked today why miracles do not happen as they once did; for people thinkthat if they took place, everyone would acknowledge them in his heart. Thereason why miracles do not take place at the present time as they did formerlyis that they compel and take away free will in spiritual matters, turning a personfrom a spiritual man into a natural one. (TCR 501)
When a miraclealone leads a man to the acknowledgment of God, to worship, and to piety, heacts from the natural man and not from the spiritual. For a miracle infusesfaith by an external and not by an internal way, thus from the world and notfrom heaven. Now the Lord does not enter by any other way with man than theinternal way, which is by the Word, by doctrine and by preaching from it; andas miracles close up this way, at this day no miracles are wrought. (DP 131)
Wherefore, in orderthat true Christian religion might be manifested, it was absolutely necessarythat someone should be introduced into the spiritual world, and derive from themouth of the Lord genuine truths out of the Word. (INV 38)
This excerpt is based on Section 3, Chapter 15 of TheisticPsychology: The Science of Immortality by Leon James. Available online at:www.theisticpsychology.org/books/theistic/index.html