EXPLORE GROUPS: General Church of the New Jerusalem
General Church of the New Jerusalem
Swedenborg, Swedenborgianiism, The New Church
Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772)
Bryn Athyn, PA USA
Bryn Athyn College
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Swedenborg was a philosopher and theologian who claimed to have been visited by an angel in 1744. The church’s web site explains that "The New Church was founded on the belief that the Lord worked through Swedenborg to share His teachings about creation, life, and Himself (read about the New Church history). Swedenborg recorded these ideas in a groundbreaking, 35-volume set of writings that offer new hope for life through a clearer understanding of the Lord and a deeper meaning of the Old and New Testaments."
Believing that the "true, internal" meaning of the Bible had been revealed to him, Swedenborg denied the biblical doctrine of the Trinity and other central teachings of the historic Christian faith. He also explicitly rejected such universal statements of faith as the Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed. One Swedenborg site explains that "A central point of difference between Swedenborg’s theology and traditional Christian thought, supported but hardly foretold by the concepts of his system, is his announcement that biblical prophesies [sic] of a Last Judgment and a Second Coming of the Lord had been fulfilled in his lifetime. He claims knowledge of these events on the authority of his having witnessed the judgment in the spiritual world, and interprets traditional concepts in their light. With the Last Judgment in 1757, as he sees it, the era symbolized by the ’old’ Christian Church came to an end."
The church’s web site notes that "The General Church is now the largest of the six worldwide church organizations that use the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg as the basis of their theology. The others are the Convention Church (headquartered in Boston, MA), the Conference Church (mostly in Europe), the Australian Association of the New Church, and the Lord’s New Church which is Nova Hierosolyma (also located in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania). (A sixth organization, the New Church in South Africa, may have larger numbers, but its membership is much less structured). Note that the church organizations in Australia and South Africa are distinct from the General Church societies in these locations." Many of Swedenborg’s followers are not affiliated with any church. John Chapman, known as "Johnny Appleseed," was a noted follower.
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