Swedenborg’s Concept of the “Incarnate God”
In this mediated message, Martin Luther comments on Swedenborg’s concept of Jesus being the “Incarnate God” and explains why he arrived at this conclusion. He also talks about Swedenborg’s background and experiences. For a message by Swedenborg, go to this page.
Martin Luther Comments on the Swedenborgian Pamphlet Entitled: “Incarnate God.”
I AM HERE. Luther.
I merely desire to say that, as you read the pamphlet, I read with you; and the description and explanation therein contained as to Who God is, is entirely erroneous and blasphemous.
While on earth, Jesus never claimed or taught that he was God, and this I say because he has so instructed us. He never has made any such claim since becoming a spirit, and the teachings of the New Church in this particular are all wrong and tend to lead men away from the true conception of Who God and Jesus both are.
Swedenborg has often conversed with me about his teachings, and he has declared that his explanations as to God are not in accord with the knowledge that he now has. The teachings as contained in his books upon this subject were the results very largely of his own speculations, and the results of his endeavors in trying to reconcile what he thought was an absurd conception of the Nature and Being of God with the true interpretation of the Bible. He could not accept the doctrine of the “Trinity,” as explained and taught by the church; and, hence, being a believer in the inspiration of the Bible and its infallibility with respect to religious Truths, he sought some exegesis that might be consistent with the Bible and, at the same time, in consonance with his ideas of reason and common sense. But, as he now says, he added mysticism to mysticism, and irrational explanations to irrational explanations, and the result was that his teachings were more absurd and more difficult to understand than were the teachings of his church.
The doctrine of the “Trinity,” as you have been told, is not true, and never had any authority in the teachings of Jesus or those of the apostles and Bible writers. It was merely the deduction of some of the old fathers of the church, arising from their speculations and desire to make of Jesus a god, though a lesser god than the Father, and, at the same time, one with the Father and a part of the “Godhead” that must be considered as being only one God. For it was taught by the Old Testament writers and prophets that there is only one God.
This doctrine, of course, was absurd and, hence, was one of the “mysteries” of God. But, nevertheless, it was taught as a truth and made incumbent upon man to believe, whether they could understand it or not, which, of course, they could not.
But the doctrine was not accepted by all the writers of the early days. For, as you know, there were bitter controversies among these expounders of (what they supposed to be) the Scriptures upon the question as to who Jesus was, and his relation to God. But, as the years went by, the doctrine of the “Trinity” became firmly established as a canon of belief in the church, and, in my time on earth, it was believed and not questioned by the church. And I believed it also, although I could not understand it.
Now, Swedenborg was a member of the church that bore my name and which I was credited with having founded. He believed in its doctrines, even as to the “Trinity,” and in the actual transformation of the wine and bread into the blood and body of Jesus. And he continued in this belief up to the time of his wonderful visions of the spirit world and his experience in meeting the spirits and angels of that world, including Jesus, whom, in his writings, he claimed to be God, and with whom he had many conversations, and from whom he learned the spiritual Truths that he declared to the world.
As you have been told, in the working out of the plans of the Celestial angels under the leadership of Jesus, Swedenborg was selected as the instrumentality through whom the spiritual Truths should be revealed to mankind. And, in carrying out that plan, power was given to him to come in his spirit perceptions, or his inner sight, as he called it, into the spirit world, and there see the conditions of spirits and angels, and also of their environments, and learn the higher Truths from conversations with spirits and angels. And he did come in the manner indicated and communed, as he has claimed, except that he never talked with God, but only with Jesus who he misconceived to be God. And this cannot be wondered at, for Jesus was a spirit so transcendent in glory and love and wisdom that it was almost natural, as I may say, that the mortal in his new and unusual experience should conceive this glorious Jesus to be God, Himself. But it was not God, only Jesus, that this seer saw and listened to.
Having a conception of this kind, you can readily see that, when he came into his mortal self again, and many times this occurred, he firmly believed that Jesus, who had form and individuality in the spirit world similar to what he had when on earth, was actually God; and it therefore became easy for Swedenborg to reject the doctrine of the “Trinity.” Jesus is God, manifested in the flesh, and God is Jesus, the “Divine Man.”
Of course, you must understand that, in the exercise of this seership, he experienced the doubts and fears that, at times, what he saw and heard might not be things of actuality, and that, possibly, his imagination, or, as in these latter days, what is called the subconscious mind, was deceiving him. And being a man of extraordinary mentality and strong convictions, as well as established faith in the doctrines of the church to which he belonged, many of his interpretations of what he saw and heard, and his teachings therefrom, were limited and flavored by his existing mental condition and faith.
He has told me that, for many years before his experience as seer, he had to a more or less extent doubted the truth of the “Trinity,” and accepted it only as a mystery. And because the church declared it to be a truth, and, after his experiences as such seer, believing in the statements of the Bible as the infallible words of God, and also believing that he had seen God in the person of Jesus, he sought an explanation of these Bible statements and a reconciliation of them with his belief that Jesus was God. And the result was his declared doctrine that Jesus is God.
And, so, in many other of his teachings, based upon his experience in the spirit world, he embraced many errors and misconceptions of the Truths to such an extent that, as you have been told, his mission, in its results, was a failure. The Truths that he had been selected to learn and declare to the world were never made known to mankind.
This failure was disappointing to the spirits who conceived this plan and in whom were lodged the spiritual Truths of God, and who were acting as God’s instruments in their endeavor to make them known to humanity.
But it will be more satisfactory to you, and convincing to whomsoever may read the Truths that you are receiving from these same high spirits that selected him as their messenger, to have Swedenborg come himself and explain the working of his mission, and the causes and particulars of his failure in doing the great work that had been assigned him to do.
He says that he has one consolation regarding many who have founded churches and attempted to declare spiritual Truths upon which doctrines and creeds have been promulgated and believed in, and that is that his followers are so comparatively few in number; and, consequently, so many less mortals are being deceived by his teachings. And I can appreciate the consolation that he may have in this fact, for my teachings and beliefs that are false, as his are false, are believed in and followed by a very large number of mortals, to their injury.
Well, I am glad for the opportunity to write to you tonight. I am still waiting for the chance to finish my message to my people on the errors of continuing in my teachings, and the necessity for them to become undeceived and to learn the Truths that are now being declared to mankind.
I will not write further. So, good night.
Your brother in Christ, LUTHER.
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