The diagram above pictures the relationship between theistic psychology and the Writings of Swedenborg. Religion derived from the Writings is based on their literal meaning, while theistic psychology derived from the Writings is based on their psychological meaning which is universal and scientific. The religion derived from the Writings is called a "rational faith" in contrast to mystical faith. Religions based on the Writings that are active today are known as "the New Church."
The diagram identifies the Writings as "Divine Speech." Religion based on the Writings refers to them as "the Word." In the Western tradition the Old and New Testaments are called the Word by Christians. In the New Church, which is also Christian, the expression the "Threefold Word" is used to designate the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Writings. They are seen as three sets of Divine revelations that complete each other.
The Writings demonstrate that the Old and New Testaments are written in the style of Divine Speech which contains several layers of meaning. The literal historical meaning is accurate and Divine, but they also contain other meanings that can be recovered or reconstructed by applying the code of correspondences in which all Sacred Scripture is written. Though so much has been written about the Bible, no one suspected that these inner meanings are contained within the literal meaning of every verse, phrase, and word. Swedenborg was given the Divine mission of revealing and teaching the code of correspondences by which all Divine Speech comes to the human mind.
Divine Speech issues from God and enters the human mind through "celestial correspondences." People who have elevated their rational consciousness to the highest level of the human mind called "heaven," can perceive and understand these celestial meanings. Swedenborg shows that these celestial meanings refer to details about God's Incarnation and God's feelings and thoughts regarding the human race. Although he describes these subjects in detail, using the Old Testament chapters, we can only understand these topics in a natural way, not celestial. This is because our consciousness is restricted to the natural mind while we still live on earth.
From the heavenly regions of the human mind, Divine Speech descends to a lower region called the "spiritual heaven" in our mind. People who elevate their consciousness to the spiritual level of rational understanding are able to understand the spiritual correspondences of Divine Speech. Swedenborg shows that they deal with the anatomy and development of the human mind. These scientific revelations are contained in the spiritual correspondences of Divine Speech. Next, Divine Speech descends into the lower portion of the human mind called the "natural mind." People whose rational consciousness operates at this level are able to understand spiritual correspondences in a natural way. Finally, Divine Speech then descends into its lowest form and is known as Sacred Scripture or the Word. At this level it is written down in a natural language through the inspiration of an ordinary individual who is willing to serve as God's "prophet."
The literal sense of the Old Testament refers to the history of a people that has been designated by God to receive Divine Speech in the form of the Old Testament history, prophecies, and prayers. Swedenborg shows that the Old Testament verses can be reconstructed or decoded by applying correspondences. He shows how the reconstruction of Divine Speech can be effected by applying spiritual and celestial correspondences. Similarly he shows that the New Testament can also be reconstructed in the same way, applying the same universal correspondences that Divine Speech uses in its descent to the human mind.
Swedenborg does not show how the Writings he authored are to be reconstructed through correspondences. But he does affirm that the Writings are Divine Speech and that all Divine Speech can be reconstructed by the same universal correspondences. Theistic psychology uses this principle to reconstruct scientific revelations from the Writings.
The reconstruction of the Writings as Divine Speech is achieved by distinguishing between natural correspondences, spiritual correspondences, and celestial correspondences, then applying these to the literal sentences of the Writings. Three methodologies are available, as shown on the diagram: extractive research, predictive research, and applied research.
Extractive research uses the natural-rational correspondences of the literal meaning of the Writings. Swedenborg was a successful scientist and engineer when, at age 57, he suddenly found himself conscious simultaneously in both this world and the spiritual world. He was thus able to discover universal correspondences directly by observing the interaction effects and laws between the two worlds. For 27 years he took copious notes about his observations and experiments in the spiritual world. He then published some 30 volumes giving a rational scientific account and synthesis of the content of Divine Speech and how it regulates the interaction between natural laws and spiritual laws.
Because of this, the literal meaning of the Writings sometimes appear as science and sometimes as religion, and sometimes the two are mixed within the same passage. So the first level of extractive research in theistic psychology is to interpret the literal meaning of the Writings in those passages where it openly and plainly gives scientific revelations. These passages are written in natural-rational correspondences and can be understood rationally by anyone with a literacy that can cover textbooks in secondary school. This is the level upon which religion is based in the New Church and it is called "the plain teaching of the Letter." All Church Doctrine in the New Church is based on these natural-rational correspondences.
At the second level of extractive research in theistic psychology are interpretations of spiritual-rational correspondences, and at the third level, the interpretation of celestial-rational correspondences. For technical details on the extraction methodology please consult Volume 2 of my book A Man of the Field available on the Web at this location:
Conscious communication with God is the method God has provided for spiritual growth. We are born natural, like apes, but we are created with a mental organ for rational consciousness of God. This is why human beings are immortal. Immortality or eternal life is based on rational consciousness. This rational organ must be developed in the same way as the physical muscles of the body. Once we achieve literacy, we are able to think rationally about religion. Every society has some form of religion. Through religion we discover God's existence and dualism. Our rational thinking is expanded when we learn that God is present everywhere, knows everything, and has always existed, even before He created the world. It takes new and higher forms of reasoning to try to understand God. When we are striving to understand God rationally, we are able to receive still higher forms of rational thinking, especially when we begin to study Sacred Scripture as Divine Speech.
"Sacred Scripture as Divine Speech" is a higher concept in rational thinking than "Divinely inspired writings." If a writer is Divinely inspired, maybe another writer is too. And then we have a multitude of writers who claim that they are Divinely inspired, and no doubt sincerely believe so, and others also believe that. But this type of reasoning is far below in rationality to that which sees that Sacred Scripture is Divine Speech filtered down to earthly minds, and from there written down by the writer like one writes down dictation. The idea of "Divine Dictation" is higher than the idea of "inspired prophet"--higher in the sense of more rational.
Divine Speech in itself contains infinite truths and principles in every Word. As it exits from the rational mind of God it enters the human mind at its highest form of rational consciousness or meaning. This is called the "third heaven" in our mind. It then enters the "second heaven" in our mind but there is a translation that takes place in the process. The Writings of Swedenborg demonstrate exactly what this translation process is, and is called the code of "correspondences." This refers to the universal laws that govern the interaction between the natural and spiritual world. Swedenborg was given to discover these laws by being allowed to become conscious in the spiritual world while he was still living in a physical body on earth.
This was an unprecedented event in the history of creation. Swedenborg calls it "the greatest miracle the Lord has ever granted." For 27 years, from age 57 to 84, Swedenborg was a dual citizen--conscious simultaneously in both the natural world and the spiritual world. He was able to carry on his normal duties in Sweden as a respected mining engineer and science writer and publisher, even as he was writing pages and pages every day about his other worldly experiences, observations, and experiments. His reports and notes have been published and translated in different languages. In English they occupy nearly 30 volumes on my office shelf. They are known collectively as "the Writings of Swedenborg."
Now that the style of Divine Speech has been revealed, along with the code of correspondences between spiritual and natural qualities, we are able to reconstruct the meaning of Divine Speech in Sacred Scripture.
What is the content of Divine Speech when reconstructed? What is God talking to us about?
The content of God's Speech is contained or hidden in Sacred Scripture. The written "Word of God," written in a natural language through a prophet (not by a prophet!), can be reconstructed at several levels of rational consciousness. The prophets were totally unaware that what they wrote down had layers of meaning they wouldn't be able to understand, or that someday, this hidden meaning would come to light. The literal meaning of Sacred Scripture is natural, historical, and poetic. It talks about God in these terms and it quotes God also in these terms. This is the first level of rational consciousness we attain as human beings. We discover dualism and God. We begin to understand that we are immortal "spirits" living in a material body. When we lose the material body we live in the spirit in either heaven or hell. We discover that we can rationally influence which it will be by either obeying or disobeying God's Commandments given in the literal language of Sacred Scripture.
These new dualist concepts make us rational and human. We now have a rational consciousness of God, of the spiritual world, and of the rational consequences of our choices in life on earth. Before this rational knowledge we were higher apes, incapable of making choices on the basis of our future, both on earth and in the continuation of our life in the spiritual world. Note that the literal sense of Sacred Scripture raises the rational level of civilization as well as the individual. Legislation, education, and morality could not be developed and maintained except through the rationality we gain from the letter of Sacred Scripture. As civilization evolves, so does the level of rationality of its laws and its science. Individuals who are raised in a civilized society acquire the rationality that originates from Sacred Scripture even if they are not taught Sacred Scripture directly.
Atheistic science has been able to increase in rationality and power to give us the vast changes from wheel to computer. It is not officially recognized that this rationality in science is due to Sacred Scripture entering the human mind and consciousness. Nevertheless it can now be seen that it is so, as demonstrated in the new scientific revelations called the Writings of Swedenborg.
The rationality of science has been natural, based on the sensory order of events in the physical universe and their abstractions into formal systems. A higher level of rationality is found in law and morality because these systems of thought work with higher, more universal and more spiritual issues and solutions. Even this level of rationality is still natural, relating to the temporary world, not spiritual or dualist relating to the eternal future consequences of human acts. Religion is at a still higher level of rationality since it is dualist and takes God into account through Sacred Scripture. From the rationality of religion it is possible to start reconstructing the content of Divine Speech. The first reconstruction or understanding is at the level of operation called the "first heaven" in our mind. Then, by applying the code of correspondences, we can reconstruct Divine Speech at the next higher level of rational consciousness called the "second heaven." Finally, we can reconstruct Divine Speech to the highest rational level of our mind called the "third heaven."
This approach to reconstructing Divine Speech through successively higher correspondences is called the "scientific meaning of Sacred Scripture as Divine Speech." Theistic psychology is based on the reconstruction of Sacred Scripture as Divine Speech by extracting its scientific meaning through the methods revealed in the Writings of Swedenborg.
What is then the specific content of Divine Speech?
It is a scientific and rational description of the laws by which God maintains the universe in Divine Order. It also gives the structure and anatomy of the human mind. It shows the relation between the anatomy of the mind and the geography of the spiritual world. It reveals the detailed network of interaction God maintains for the entire human race. Nothing can happen in one mind without it being communicated to every other human mind in existence. This universal interdependence of the race, which I call the "vertical community," is maintained by God as a form of evolution by which the whole race is growing in rational consciousness. It reveals the details of life after death, of heaven and hell, of spirits from other planets congregating in the Grand Human as endless societies of heaven arranged in the geographic form of the human body, and in the specific functions of its organs. And many other details about regeneration, temptation, spiritual development, marriage, history, and scientific principles and laws.
This is the content of Divine Speech when Sacred Scripture is reconstructed in its scientific meaning. Divine Speech is therefore the highest form of scientific revelations given to humankind for the purpose of raising our rational consciousness of God and our understanding of true reality. God Speaks to the race out of His love to be conjoined with every created human being. The content of God's scientific revelations allows us to raise our rational consciousness to the highest level of the human mind called "celestial." God's purpose for creating the universe is no other than to create endless numbers of immortal human beings on innumerable earths in the universe, and to bring every person to their heaven where the entire human race congregates together and lives to eternity in maximum possible happiness for each and all.
Theistic psychology has three branches of research and development--extractive, predictive, and applied. These are new terms I had to coin to make the content comprehensible to the modern scientific mind. "Extractive research" is the systematic and cumulative rational effort to extract scientific meaning from Sacred Scripture as Divine Speech. "Predictive research" is a similar effort to construct rational theories and doctrines that our understanding leads us to. Our understanding of extractive research leads us to expand on what is already extracted and known to new areas of interest and need for society and the individual. These new theories or doctrines are at first unconfirmed since they are not direct extractions from Sacred Scripture. But more extractive research can eventually confirm these new theories and doctrines. Until they are so confirmed their status is ambiguous. "Applied research" uses the knowledge from extractive and predictive research to improve various critical areas of need in society and the individual. Some of these are listed in the diagram and are discussed in Volume 3.
It should be stated that the "Threefold Word" in its literal sense is specific to the Christian tradition and history. But in their scientific sense it is universal. The Threefold Word as Sacred Scripture cannot be adopted or incorporated into other religions when considered in its literal-historical meaning, but when the scientific meaning is reconstructed, all religious and historical content vanishes. Theistic psychology is therefore a universal science of the human mind, independent of historical and religious differences.
This book introduces a new era in science. It's been 233 years since the publication by Swedenborg of the last book of the Writings. Although his name is somewhat known in literary circles, Swedenborg is completely unknown in science. History of psychology textbooks mention many names from the past leading up to modern psychology, including Descartes who is cited for being a mind-body "dualist." Swedenborg's dualism is unknown. The reason is obvious. None of the authors mentioned in the history of psychology have ever claimed that their ideas are based on interviews with spirits, devils, and angels, or with individuals from the past like Aristotle or Luther, now living in the spiritual world. None of the other authors have claimed to visit heaven and hell and to possess knowledge about the history of the earliest people on the planet. None of them claimed to have talked to people born on other planets. Swedenborg is such a strange case when we read such details that history of science writers could not assimilate him into the lineup of past contributors to the knowledge of human behavior.
But now, through this book, the scientific revelations in the Writings of Swedenborg have entered the mainstream of normal science in the 21st century.
Besides this historical footnote, the importance of this book is that it introduces into the science of modern psychology an alternative perspective to the current atheistic psychology. Theistic psychology provides scientists with a new paradigm which I call "the positive bias in science" (see Chapter 1). The current perspective of atheistic psychology may be called "the negative bias in science."
The positive bias in science allows for the existence of what I call "substantive dualism." This is unlike former proposals of dualism because no one had known about the spiritual world until the scientific revelations in the Writings of Swedenborg (1688-1772). In general, dualism is the theory that the mind and the body are not of the same matter or substance, and that mind is non-material, like the spirit or soul. Nothing whatever was known about the soul or the spirit, or what their relationship was to the mind. Since the Writings of Swedenborg, all this has been cleared up by his direct observations of both worlds. As well, prior formulations about dualism did not introduce God as part of the definition of dualism.
Descartes, Newton, and Darwin helped create modern atheistic science, despite the fact that they believed in God. In contrast, Swedenborg introduced God as a concept in his scientific books decades before he suddenly found himself with the ability to be conscious of the spiritual world at age 57. Along with the concept of God, Swedenborg had introduced the concept of the Spiritual Sun which no one before him had thought of. And how the Spiritual Sun acted on the natural world through Divine love and truth. This did not make any scientific sense to other scientists at the time. But when Swedenborg began his new observations of the spiritual world, he was then able to confirm empirically, his prior suppositions. Historically, Swedenborg must therefore be considered as the founder of theistic science, as well as theistic psychology.
"Substantive dualism" and "theistic psychology" are phrases that I made up to help introduce Swedenborg's Writings to modern psychology. Another phrase I made up is "rational ether" which refers to the sphere of the spiritual world. I also made up a phrase to reflect the relationship between the spiritual world and the mind: "the geography of the spiritual world = the anatomy of the human mind." These new ideas are explained in the book.
Volume 1 discusses the details of substantive dualism and the function of scientific revelations. Volume 2 discusses personality theory and spiritual development, with a focus on character reformation. Volume 3 discusses applied theistic psychology with a focus on marriage, health, and everyday behaviors. Volume 4 discusses religious behaviorism with a focus on prayer, faith, and mysticism.
"Such as the love is, such is the wisdom, consequently
such is the man."