July 29, 2016

For A Church To Exist

Selection from New Jerusalem and Heavenly Doctrine ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
What makes heaven in the case of a person, also makes the church. For as love and faith make heaven, so too love and faith make the church. So from what has already been said about heaven it is plain what the church is.

The name of church is given where the Lord is acknowledged and where the Word is known. For the essential elements of the church are love and faith directed to the Lord and coming from the Lord; and the Word teaches how a person must live, in order to receive love and faith from the Lord.

For a church to exist, there must be teaching from the Word, since the Word is not intelligible without teaching. But it is not teaching alone that makes the church in the case of a person, but living in accordance with that teaching. From this it follows that it is not faith alone which makes the church, but the life of faith, which is charity. The true teaching is the teaching of charity and faith together, not faith without charity. For the teaching of charity and faith together is teaching how to live one's life; but the teaching of faith without charity is not.

Those outside the church who acknowledge one God and who in accordance with their religion live in some sort of charity towards the neighbour are in communion with those who belong to the church. For no one is damned who believes in God and lives a good life. From this it is plain that the Lord's church exists throughout the whole world, although it is especially located where the Lord is acknowledged and the Word is known.

Everyone who has the church present with him is saved; but everyone who does not have it present is condemned.

(NJHD 241-245)