June 23, 2016

Faith Alone Does Not Make The Church With Man

Selection from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
It is commonly believed that the truth of the doctrine of faith of the church is one and the same thing with the truth of the literal sense of the Word...

The subject may be illustrated by an example: The genuine truth of the doctrine of the church is that charity toward the neighbor and love to the Lord make the church with man, and that these loves are insinuated by the Lord through faith, that is, by means of the truths of faith which are from the Word, consequently that faith alone does not make the church with man. He who is in this truth, and consults the Word, is everywhere confirmed therein. But when he meets with words about faith, and no mention is made at the same time of love, he hesitates, and begins to revolve doubts with respect to the truth of the doctrine of his faith. Consequently this truth is for the time invalidated, and is separated from the other truths which are of undoubted faith.

Let the words of the Lord in Mark about faith serve for illustration:

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned (Mark 16:16).

As faith is here treated of, and not love at the same time, the mind may halt in doubt concerning the truth of its doctrine - that heavenly love insinuated by means of the truths of faith makes the church. But when this memory-truth, that is, truth of the literal sense of the Word, is viewed interiorly, it is plain that it nevertheless does agree with the truth of doctrine; for in the internal sense by "being baptized" is signified to be regenerated, and to be regenerated is to be led into the good of love and charity by means of the truths of faith. From this it is evident that the truth which is the truth of the literal sense of the Word agrees with the truth of doctrine, provided it is understood what is signified by "being baptized."  And the reason why it is said that "he that believeth not shall be condemned," is that such a one cannot be "baptized," that is, regenerated, thus cannot be introduced into the church, still less become a church; for baptism is a symbol of regeneration, and thus of introduction into the church, which is effected by introduction into good by means of truths from the Word.

(Arcana Coelestia 9032:1,2)