Preaching this Sunday

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My local readers might want to know I'll be preaching at the Church of the Holy City (Swedenborgian), at the corner of Corcoran and 16th Streets, NW, Washington this Sunday at 11:00 a.m.

5 Replies to “Preaching this Sunday”

  1. so, tell us more about Swedenborgian – I picked up a book recently, but to be honest, its probably way down the stack of unread books to read —- i know he had visions of Heaven, I know Rev John Chapman left the Universalist Church and became Sweedborgian (gotta throw in a southern universalist comment); give us the elevator speach…..

  2. Swedenborgians in a nut shell…

    Emmanuel Swedenborg was an 18th century Swedish scientist, member of parlaiment, and son a Lutheran bishop. His early career was devoted to areas of geology and engineering. Modern crystal chemistry has its roots in his research. He also designed a huge dry dock for ship builders that would still be one of the largest in the world. Later in life he turned his head towards theology, but became depressed when he could not scientifically proove the existence of the soul. Amidst this “dark night of the soul” he claimed to be visited by angels, and had visions of Heaven and Hell. Out of these mystical experiences he wrote a large number of Biblical commentaries and theological texts. He felt led by God to lead a renewal of the Western Christian church, but not to create a new denomination. His proposed reforms were eventually condemned as heresy by the Lutheran Church in Sweden. His books were later printed in England. After Swedenborg’s death a group of Anglicans who were devoted students of Swedenborg seperated from the Church of England (about the 1790’s). They formed the fist Swedenborgian church in London. The faith was later taken to the United States, but was also taken by missionaries to Australia, southern Africa (Zululand and Lesotho), and the island of Mauritius.

    Basic principles of Swedenborgian theology include…

    (1) Reality has a two-fold nature, both a physical reality and a spiritual reality
    (2) The Bible has both a literal surface meaning, and a deeper mystical meaning. The deeper meaning is found in symbol, metaphor, and allegory. This principle makes up the Swedenborgian doctrine of “Biblical Correspondence”
    (3) Humans choose through their own loves and desires their state after death. God desires all humans to be saved, but because we have free will we can choose to love virtue or vice. If we love virtue we will find ourselves in a heavenly spiritual state. If we love vice we will be in a hellish spiritual state.
    (4) Non-Christian can be saved. Any person who loves God and their neighbors is fullfilling the teachings of Christ, even if they are following a non-Christian religion or no particular religion.
    (5) The Trinity is not 3 persons, but 3 modes/aspects of God. Thus Jesus is simply God in a human mode. The Father is God in the Creator mode. The Holy Spirit is God in a sustaining inspirational mode.
    (6) The Second Coming of Christ is not a future end of the world event. It is a continuing and continuous event, where Jesus comes again “in truth and power” into the hearts and minds of each new generation.

    Today the Swedenborgian Church is one of the smallest of Christian communions. The largest Swedenborgian community consists of about 20,000 persons in the Zululand region of South Africa. In the United States the denomination schismed into 3 branches. The conservative General Church of the New Jerusalem based in bryn Athyn, PA has about 7,000 members; and considers Swedenborg’s writings to be a Third Testament of the Bible. The Philadelphia based Lord’s New Church has only about 350 members, and is a more conservative schism off the General Church of the New Jerusalem. The third branch is the General Convention of the Swedenborgian Church, based in Newton, MA which has about 2,000 members. This is the liberal branch of Swedenborgianism, which has also ordained gay/lesbian clergy and endorsed same-sex marriage. They also have a college in Ohio (Urbana University) and a divinity house at the Pacific School of Religion.

    -Derek

  3. Steven — Swedenborgians are, to me functionally, the nice walking-distance neighborhood church that has had openly gay clergy, has friendly members, and doesn’t press too hard when it comes to theology. They don’t treat me-as-Universalist as an oddity, and ask me to preach every once in a while. I describe the difference between Universalism and Swedenborgianism, as I see it, to them thus: Universalists give out the passports, but Swedenborgians give out the travel guides, with respect to the hereafter.

    Roger — some Swedenborgians do use the Revised Common Lectionary, and some of their resources are keyed to it. I use it whenever I preach there. This Sunday, the All Saints lections.

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