by Karl Birjukov
One of the major difficulties confronting the New Church in the modern world is that it finds itself in a context in which virtually every link between what is spiritual and what is natural has been torn apart. It is a difficulty on two counts. Firstly, Swedenborg constantly refers to the fact that the natural world is the final resting-place of all things spiritual: the foot-stool of heaven, primaries in ultimates, influx, and so on. But our own age is one in which what is called the physical world is exclusively determined by forms of thought that deny such things from the outset, and this denial is carefully fostered to maintain that perspective. Secondly, when we read “God created the heavens and the earth,” the word “created” no longer carries the connotation of “preparation,” nor that “heaven and earth” are more correctly translated as “heaven/earth.” Consequently, the notion of a link that existed from the outset has now gone, and much speculative thought is given over to the separate natures of heaven and earth, with little regard to a link between them, nor any reference made to preparation. The result, of course, is plain literalism, creation versus evolution, and so on. These have become the mainstay of intellectual discussion and debate, and not a single word of any value has emerged from it since at least the mid-nineteenth century, if at all.