THE SPIRITUAL ORDER OF HUMAN LIFESpiritually, the order of life for man is to “love the neighbor as himself, and even more than himself” (AC 5850.2). What more succinct and powerful definition could we ask for? But this order does not come naturally to us.The disordered condition of the human race is set forth most forcefully in the Writings. Order has been destroyed in man because natural things rule over celestial and spiritual things (AC 911, 1055e, 1902, 3167.2, 3702, 8552, 8553, etc.). On the other hand, the beautiful order in which man is capable of living is also presented (e.g. in AC 8988.3). Let us have no illusions about human goodness—in himself, man is worse than any animal. On the other hand, a cynical view of human nature is wrong, because man is capable of receiving great goodness from the Lord. With the Lord’s help a person can become an angel, and this is what we are meant to become. This ideal should be always before us.
Order comes into our lives when, as a result of having undergone the softening effect of many temptation combats, we become receptive to the Lord’s Divine love. Order is inherent in this love. It is from this love that all order comes, and it is for the sake of this love—so that we might receive it—that the Lord seeks to establish order in us.
The Writings encourage us to confirm doctrinal truths with examples from nature, as long as natural truths are subordinated to spiritual truths. This confirmation of doctrine can help us to understand it more fully. Seeing a thing in terms of something quite different strengthens our perception of it by giving us a stereoscopic mental view of it. Finding a single abstract idea in several incidental guises enables us to see it from more than one point of view, to distinguish the essential elements from the peripheral ones, and, as a result, to find a still wider application for it. In dealing with complex ideas, the effort to fit as many specific elements of a pair of concepts as possible into a powerful, detailed analogy invites a more penetrating scrutiny of both sides.” The analogy breaks down here,” we may say, but perhaps a deeper understanding of it would enable us to push through the point of apparent breakdown—or even to rethink the whole construct in a more fruitful way.
Now, Tumjumen, Tumyumen, as we say in China, friends and comrades, we should, perhaps, go over to the topic of the day, which is Emanuel Swedenborg and his Journal of Dreams. Why the Journal of Dreams? I was saying previously today that in physics there is a specialty, a branch, which investigates the quality, the strength of material. And the interesting thing is, perhaps, not the strength as such, but when the material investigated does not stand the test— when it breaks—in the break things are to be seen which otherwise are hidden.
The Gospel of John has long been the subject of controversy concerning its authorship, provenance, and theological background. John differs from the other three gospels in subject matter, arrangement of events and theological emphasis, and it remains unclear whether the author of John used the other gospels as sources. John’s thought, like that of the rest of the New Testament, can be called eschatological, looking always toward the “last day,” on which salvation and judgment will finally be realized. But as one writer has observed, “whereas elsewhere in the NT the predominant eschatological contrast is that between the present age and the age to come—a temporal contrast—in John it is between two orders of existence, the temporal and the eternal” (Sanders 1962, 938). Accordingly, John’s world tends to deal in contrasts; life versus death, spirit versus flesh, light versus darkness. This so-called “dualism” has been the concern of much of the scholarly literature of this century.