Copyright © 1993 by Lee Woofenden. All Rights Reserved.

Preface

8 The booklet The Last Judgment and Babylon Destroyed shows that a religious era comes to an end when there is no more faith because there is no more kindness. Today, the Christian denominations are divided among themselves only by points of fait h. But when there is no kindness, there is no faith. So before I go on to the new religion's philosophy, I would like to say something about the ancient people's perspective on kindness.

When I say "Christian denominations," I mean the Reformed or Evangelical [Protestant] denominations, but not Roman Catholicism, since it is not Christian. Christians worship the Lord and read the Bible. It is different in the Catholic Church. There, t hey worship themselves instead of the Lord, people are not allowed to read the Bible, and the Pope's statements are given an authority equal to or even higher than the Bible.[3]

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[3] These statements reflect the corrupt Roman Catholic Church of Swedenborg's time. Catholicism has gone through many changes since then; for instance the laity are now allowed to read the Bible.

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9 The perspective on kindness, a philosophy about life, was the central concept in the ancient religions. This perspective united all the religions: though there were many of them, they all worked together, since they considered all people who spent the ir lives doing good things through kindness to be religious people. They called them brothers even if they disagreed about what was true (what we call "faith" today).

One of their acts of kindness was to teach each other what was true. But they were not offended if someone did not agree with their opinion. They knew that the more people are involved in doing good things, the more they accept true ideas.

Since the people in the ancient religions were like this, they had more depth as human beings than we do now. They were also wiser than we are. When we are doing good things out of love and kindness, our inner self is in heaven, in a community of ange ls who do the same kind of good things as we do. Our minds are led into deeper things, and we become wise. Wisdom can only come from heaven, which means it comes to us through heaven from the Lord. There is wisdom in heaven because the people there do thi ngs that are good. Wisdom is seeing truth in its own light--and the light of truth is the light that exists in heaven.

But with the passing of time, that ancient wisdom faded away. As the human race moved away from the good qualities that come from loving the Lord and loving other people (the love called kindness) it also moved away from wisdom, since it was moving aw ay from heaven. This is how we lost our original depth, becoming more and more superficial as time went on.

When we become superficial, we also become materialistic and physical-minded. Then we do not care about anything that has to do with heaven. We are completely engrossed in the pleasures of material loves and the trouble we get into by loving those ple asures. When we hear anything about life after death, heaven and hell, or anything spiritual, it seems extraneous to us, and not as if it is a part of our inner being, as it should be. That is why the perspective on kindness, which was so precious to the ancient people, has been lost in our era. These days, who knows what kindness and friendship really mean? Yet this perspective on kindness explains not only these things, but countless others that we do not know a thousandth of now.

Everything in the Holy Book relates to the philosophy of love and kindness. The Lord was explaining this when he said:

You will love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest rule. The second is similar: You will love other people as much as you love yourself. The Law and Prophets depend on these two rules. (Matthew 22:37-39)

The Law and Prophets means the whole Bible.[4]

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[4] The Law and Prophets that Jesus refers to here are two of the three divisions of Jewish scripture. The Law consists of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Prophets consists of Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, Isaiah , Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve Minor Prophets. These books were considered by the Jews to have more divine authority than the books contained in the Hebrew Writings--which is the third division of Jewish scripture. Swedenborg also grouped Psalms, Lam entations, and Daniel (from the Writings) with the Prophets. With the addition of the four Gospels and Revelation from the New Testament, the Law and Prophets are all the books in the Protestant and Catholic Bibles that Swedenborg describes as having an i nner meaning which tells the story of our spiritual development. It is these books that Swedenborg especially refers to when he mentions the Bible.

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Chapter 1

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