I am not trying to suggest that God’s love is somehow flawed and needs to be corrected. I am writing this blog post because I have drawn fire from some readers who disagree with my statement that the human will is “totally” corrupted. The title and purpose of this post is to throw more light on this unusual and complex topic.
Swedenborg stated in his theological writings that God created the physical world of spacetime and matter so that spiritual forces could gain fixedness through generating outcomes of real measurement. More importantly, the human psyche evolved so that God’s spiritual qualities could be fixed within the heart and minds of humanity, and therefore create a heavenly society from the internal qualities of the human species.
Swedenborg also said that the human will became corrupted along the way. He provided evidence that profound psychological details of this “fall” are represented symbolically in the story of Adam and Eve. While Swedenborg makes it clear that we are not born evil, we are born with an inclination, that is, the will to do evils. This predicament does not condemn a person or a child who remains in innocence from ignorance. It takes a conscious choice, made with the agreement of a more mature mind for an individual to commit a true evil of fault.
It has been rationally argued that the human will cannot be totally corrupt because an individual would become unable to choose goodness at all, and God’s heavenly influx would have nothing homogenous to flow into. However, Swedenborg informs us that God’s love can flow into innocence as well as into evil—as long as evil can serve some eternal use in the divine scheme.
God makes use of the human corrupted will for the purpose of salvation. But you may still ask, doesn’t salvation necessitate that there is at least some good in the human will, otherwise an individual would not have the ability to make a choice?
God has separated the human will from the human intellect so that one can recognize higher and nobler ideals that would allow an individual to transcend his or her biological self. However, the goodness of heart that is needed to set this process in motion comes from nothing inherent in the original will a person is born with. Rather, something special must be superadded to the human psyche by God.
Swedenborg calls this Divine gift the “remains.” These remains consist of loving experiences and various bits of information that a child receives from the cuddling and warm embrace of indulging parents and basic pampering from other adults. God secretly stores these tender experiences in the unconscious mind of the child where they can be protected from the vanities and allurements of the world until a later time.
These tender and loving experiences allow for a real spiritual connection between the child and the angels of heaven. Swedenborg states that without such remains, under the Lord’s protection, an individual would not even be considered “human.” Besides being the source of one’s true humanness, the remains act as a matrix or plane by which God’s heavenly influx and influence can become fixed within the human psyche. A spiritual conscience is generated from this matrix, without which God’s heavenly influence simply passes through a person like water through a sieve.
Everything in the human will that we are born with offers opposition to this emerging new will and new conscience that is to be formed (fixed) according to God’s blueprint. But God wisely orchestrates the inclinations to do evil from our native will in order to provide the temptations necessary for our emerging spiritual conscience to resist and be victorious over (this inner combat allows God’s tenets to become fixed in the human psyche). Our old will provides us with the parameters that will define the quality of the new will being formed in us with the Lord’s guidance.
So although one’s native will is totally corrupt, Swedenborg states that this does not condemn anyone, nor mean that we simply put our salvation in the hands of God and our faith. Swedenborg insisted that we must identify the specific inclinations we are prone to, see them as sins, and ask for God’s help in resisting them. (How else would the Lord God know what you are serious about changing in yourself?)
Salvation is a cooperative endeavor between God and the individual.