Even as a Swedenborgian, I believe in the physical return of Jesus Christ!

Even though theologian Emanuel Swedenborg emphasized that the Lord’s return would be spiritual (within the human heart and mind) rather than physical, I still embrace the idea of a physical Second Coming.

Some Swedenborgians might wonder why I am such a dunderhead on this matter, especially since I attended seminary and have spent over 35 years studying the finer details of Swedenborg’s visionary insights.

The problem is a matter of simple counting.

You see, we often overlook the biblical fact that the Lord’s second appearance was indeed physical. Not only did Jesus leave the tomb empty but He also returned in the flesh after His crucifixion and death to show His disciples that He was indeed still alive. To prove that He was not just a spirit, He allowed a disciple to touch Him and He even ate some fish.

Therefore, technically speaking, this was a true second and physical return of the Lord to the terrestrial earth.

Therefore, the observations by John in Revelation are actually a “Third” Coming! So let’s all come to a doctrinal agreement that the Lord’s Second Coming was indeed physical and that we now need to move on and focus on a third divine intervention.

Hopefully, this technicality will offer some comfort for traditional Christians, yet open the door to future theological discussions as to whether the Lord will seek a different strategy on His third attempt.

Swedenborgians believe that this next intervention into world history will involve a deeper and more profound teaching (new dispensation) — especially concerning how the Lord and the Holy Word share the same intimate organic structure. Otherwise, Jesus Christ could not have made the Word flesh!

So every time you open up a Bible to read, there is a physical return of the Lord. And, every time you get a new spiritual insight from reading Holy Scripture, the Lord returns “behind your eyes.” So if you are willing to rationally enter into a deeper “anatomical” mystery of the sacred body of Christ (or new body of knowledge), consider yourself smack dab in the middle of the Lord’s final victorious return!

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About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at http://www.staircasepress.com
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17 Responses to Even as a Swedenborgian, I believe in the physical return of Jesus Christ!

  1. Roger says:

    Dear Edward,
    Which English language version of the Bible is best in bringing out the deeper layers of meaning? Till last week, I have been consistently using the King James. I recently “discovered” the NIV and I have started to use it last week, and I am loving it. However, I still say the “Our Father” in King James’ English. When I was in Catholic school in the 1970s, the only Bibles that were approved for scriptural study were the Douai and the Knox versions – both with proper imprimaturs. Which one do you use? Which ones do our New Church brothers and sisters who are affiliated with Bryn Athyn generally use? Roger

  2. thegodguy says:

    Dear Roger,

    I personally do not know which English version of the Bible represents the most accurate translation from the original Hebrew and Greek texts. Swedenborg himself preferred the translations of Sebastian Schmidt.

    I also do not know how serious you are at distilling deeper layers of meaning. I would suggest that you invest in Swedenborg’s interpretations of Genesis and Exodus (all twelve volumes of the Arcana Coelestia) and Revelation (Revelation Revealed). After that, you can be in a better position to determine which English version is most helpful to you.

    (Since I do not belong to any official Swedenborgian denomination I do not know what translations Bryn Athyn recommends.)

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  3. Roger says:

    Dear Edward,
    Besides Genesis, Exodus and Revelation, for which other books did Swedenborg provide detail interpretations? I know he did this for the 4 Gospels, but I am not sure where those interpretations are.

    Roger

  4. thegodguy says:

    Dear Roger,

    Perhaps the brothers and sisters at Bryn Athyn can be of greater service to you. They have a bigger library than I have.

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  5. keith says:

    Roger,
    I am a former Protestant who came to highly respect the Jerusalem Bible. I still use it to this day (and cross reference to NIV or NASB which is accurate though a tad wooden). Not the ‘New Jerusalem Bible’. Not to be confused with the New Jerusalem New Church! ‘The Jerusalem Bible’ does have the stamp of the imprimatur, was published in 1966 for only a couple of years, and can be had on eBay if you put it in your Search Favorites in MyEbay and wait patiently for one to not go for $60. They are WORTH that by today’s publishing standards but I can help you. I buy them when they are under $20 — including postage — now and then off of eBay. I get the hardbound study edition to get all the footnotes, cross-references and verse references in the margins to other verses. I never buy them if they are marked up or etc. I will buy one if it has a name in the flyleaf. You can always put a bookplate of your own over it.

    It is a marvelously accurate translation to the Hebrew and Greek, and Aramaic of Jesus’ day, and I know of others outside of Catholic faith who use it. It uses the names of God as actually documented in ancient Hebrew which is helpful since the scholars also explain the different purposes of different names: el Shaddai, Yahweh from YHWH, the I Am, and several others. All these are translated as ‘Lord’ or something else incorrectly in other translations. But again, it is readable modern translation yet faithful technically, like the NIV and NASB are. It lays out Proverbs & Psalms in very readable poetical formats. I can’t say enough super things about the ‘Jerusalem Bible’.

    I do not recommend the ‘New Jerusalem Bible’ translation which is still out; few seem to want it but it replaced the Jerusalem Bible translation in early 1970s. I have no idea what they think they improved because the Jerusalem Bible, the original one, continues to be acclaimed 45 years later!

    A shame because there is always a feverish competition for the original Jerusalem Bible volumes when they appear on eBay. Ok point being I actually have several I have purchased, in that huge hardbound STUDY edition. I buy them to give as gifts or to sell at my cost to people looking for superior, reliable readable translations. You can contact me at containants @ gmail.com [remove the spaces] if you want me to ship you one.

    As far as expositions of Gospel of John or Mark and such, Swedenborg didn’t write any. But other Swedenborgians have created Commentaries by taking every reference by the Swede from any of his volumes, to any verse in a given book [let's say Gospel of John] and put them in verse order. This was also done for Psalms and etc. Problem with them is that since they were not Commentaries, there may be no comments by Swede, no illumination, on particular verse you are interested in. Some of these books are out of print too. I know user leewoof on http://www.amazon.com [Lee Woofenden] is still selling hard to find old books, and books he has had rebound at his own expense. Go check out leewoof’s books. He has the VERY hard to find Gospel of John commentary, and of Mark, and other scarcities at reasonable prices.

    Hope that is helpful,

    Keith

  6. thegodguy says:

    Dear Keith,

    Thanks for the valuable input! Also, there are “Minor Prophets Study Guides.” I think they still might be available at: http://www.dovepress.org

    For hard copies contact: liz.childs@bacs-gc.org

    Or: http://www.newchurchbookstore.com

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  7. domenic says:

    the spirit of truth the paraclete, a person conditioned from childhood will prove to the world they are wrong about sin, he has denied himself in this world, the holy spirit the third member of the trinity is already here on earth. john 17.

    • thegodguy says:

      Dear domenic,

      Thank you for contributing to this discussion. The “spirit of truth” has indeed come to earth for some people.

      Spiritually yours,
      TheGodGuy

  8. thegodguy says:

    Dear domenic,

    I thought this was explained in the blog above. Oh well.

    Christian faith embraces the idea of a “Second Coming.” While traditional Christianity believes that the second appearance of the Lord will be physical, Swedenborgians believe that this second divine visit will take place within the human understanding and heart (or spirit). However, technically speaking, Holy Scripture records THREE distinct appearances! The first is the Lord being born in the world, teaching and finally being crucified. After the Lord’s death on the cross He makes another round of appearances to His disciples. This can be looked at as a legitimate second visit since He came back from the dead – and it was a physical event because He ate fish with His disciples and allowed them to touch His body. Therefore, the Apocalypse can be counted as a “third” event (which is internal and spiritual). I was just trying to create a chuckle for myself as I wrote this (giggle, giggle).

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  9. The Second Coming in new vessel.

    Jesus made a number of predictions foretelling what would happen to the Lord at his return:
    But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. -Luke 17:25

    If Jesus were to return literally on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory and with the trumpets of angels,18(Matt. 24:30-31) would he not readily be accepted and honored, even by this sin-ridden world? Returning in such a manner, there is no way he would ever suffer persecution or rejection.

    Why, then, did Jesus foretell that he would face such a miserable situation upon his return? The Jews of his day were eagerly looking forward to the day when Elijah would come down from heaven. He was supposed to come before the Messiah as his herald, as Malachi had prophesied.19(Mal. 4:5) Instead, before the people had heard any news of Elijah’s return, Jesus, a man of lowly birth, came like a thief, claiming to be the Messiah. Therefore, they despised Jesus and persecuted him.20(cf. Messiah 2.2)

    As Jesus reflected upon his situation, he foresaw that at the Second Advent, the Christians awaiting his return would once more fix their gaze upon the sky. Hence, they would be likely to persecute Christ at the Second Advent when he is born in the flesh and appears unexpectedly, like a thief. They would condemn him as a heretic, just as Jesus was condemned. That is why he foretold that the Lord would suffer and be rejected by his generation. This prophecy can be fulfilled only if Christ returns in the flesh; it cannot possibly come true if he comes on the clouds.

    Jesus said:
    I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth? -Luke 18:8

    As the world enters the Last Days, increasing numbers of Christians are striving to develop stronger faith. How can they all fall into faithlessness at the Second Advent of the Lord if he literally comes on the clouds of heaven amidst the sounds of angels’ trumpets and the glory of God? This prophecy also cannot be fulfilled if Christ returns in a supernatural manner.

    Sources:

    http://www.unification.net/dp96/dp96-2-6.html#Sec2_2

    http://www.tparents.org/Library/Unification/Books/DpStudy2.pdf

    • thegodguy says:

      Dear Finland friend,

      While your knowledge of Scripture is impressive you fail to take into account that God’s Holy Word contains a multi-leveled exegesis. In John 1:1-3, it is stated that the Word is God. Therefore it must be Infinite. How does a finite document, like the Bible, contain Infinite knowledge? The answer is that it has higher levels of meaning. According to the scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, “clouds” represent human understanding of the literal words of Holy Scripture which obscures the inner or higher meanings of the sacred narratives. Therefore, the Second Coming represents the Lord emerging out of this mental obscurity to reveal higher meaning.

      The battle of Armageddon is a SPIRITUAL battle for our hearts and minds. So the battleground takes place within the “inner turf” of our spirit. The higher meanings in God’s Word describe this inner conflict for human salvation. However, these higher meanings which descend from “on high” will meet resistance and rejection from the minds of terrestrial men and women on earth.

      In the blog post above I was merely having fun with the fact that after the crucifixion the Lord indeed “returned” to his disciples for a short time before the anticipated larger return. Therefore, there are “three” divine visits, not two. :-)

      Spiritually yours,
      TheGodGuy

      • Best Edward.

        With great interest I read your blog-entries.

        Being a Swede, living in neighburing Finland
        I have a special heart for Swedenborg, being a Swede. :-)

        Did you know his Swedish friend Linne, wrote interesting insights to the Laws of Gods Justice

        http://www.euro-tongil.org/swedish/english/elinne.htm

        My view on Swedenborgs “clouds”,
        is I disagree that THAT was the Clouds at the Second Coming
        for the simple reason that Swedenborg never got the impact on Christianity he expected.
        A great Spiritual Columbus, YES
        Second Coming of Christ – NO

        I would place him in the line of other great spiritual pioneers
        PREPARATING FOR THE SECOND ADVENT OF THE MESSIAH
        Quotes:
        The famous spiritually sensitive Swedish scientist, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), disclosed many heavenly secrets, with his spiritual eyes opened. His announcement has long been ignored in the theological world; but quite recently, with the increase of man’s communication with the spirit world its value is gradually being recognized.

        The first religious reformation centering on Luther followed the first renaissance. In the religious world, a new spiritual movement which became the second movement of religious reformation rose centering around Wesley, Fox and Swedenborg, under unspeakable persecution after the second renaissance. Therefore, seen from the course of the development of history, it is natural that the third religious reformation will come following the third renaissance. In fact, the state of today’s Christianity reveals an urgent need for such reformation.

        http://www.unification.net/dp73/dp73-2-5.html

        Warm Greetings from sunny Finland
        /Bengt

  10. thegodguy says:

    Dear Bengt,

    The “Clouds” of revelation, from which the Lord appears, are a personal and private visitation into the heart and mind of an individual. It happens when a person can “bare” to be lead into spiritual temptations and chooses to enter into combat with these negative compulsions. As such, the Second Coming will never be a mass movement. Regeneration takes place individually.

    For kingdoms to change individuals must change. Christianity needs to accept deeper levels of meaning within Scripture – to discover the precise and orderly steps of spiritual reformation and regeneration. Otherwise, it is the blind leading the blind!

    Spirittually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  11. keith says:

    I thought that I would take time here to make note that among the Protestants, there are a few who also say the 2nd Coming was already achieved. This movement is called the Preterist movement and has been embraced by some conservative, ‘orthodox Presbyterians’ [Reformed or Calvinist] such as the famous theologian R.C. Sproul. They claim the 2nd Coming was in 70 A.D. with the destruction of Jerusalem. It has never become clear to me how or where Jesus’ 2nd physical coming actually occurred however!
    This comment doesn’t really tie into our New Church discussions here. I simply offer it as an interesting sidenote, that others in the ‘faith alone’ Protestant world have rejected a future 2nd coming. The idea here is that our job, in addition to reformation and regeneration, is to (as someone noted above) bring the Kingdom of God here and now. Jesus said ‘the kingdom of God is within you’ and I personally believe that our assignment is to love & serve in such a manner that our faith is infectious! That seems to be what occurred in the 1st Century with the apostolic spread across the Mediterranean world.

    In His Service,
    Keith

    • thegodguy says:

      Dear Keith,

      Yes, the New Jerusalem represents bringing the kingdom of God, here and now, that is, into our hearts, minds and lives.

      Spiritually yours,
      TheGodGuy

  12. thegodguy says:

    I am getting bored of this topic so I am moving on. Besides, I have other blog posts that discuss the descent of God’s Kingdom in greater detail. I want to thank everyone for contributing to this conversation!

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

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