I am seeing more and more articles and news stories on the growing problem of identity theft. Few things seem more insidious than some stranger having access to your personhood. However, one form of identity theft that is even more insidious quickly comes to mind.
Spiritual identity theft!
Unlike, suffering the headaches of having your savings ravaged and getting a bad credit score, spiritual identity theft does not show up in your financial statements. And its effect follows you beyond the grave—creating eternal hardship.
According to the visionary insights of scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, the thoughts and intentions of angels and other individuals living in the Spiritual World flow down into the minds and hearts of men and women living on earth. In other words, our worldviews, tastes, interests, and lifestyles are the outer manifestation of some influence and principle we’ve adopted, originating from another realm.
Swedenborg observed that individuals become greatly offended by this fact because it threatens a person’s own and cherished image of oneself. While angels seek to gently bend a person’s compulsions and negative leanings (so that one’s free will is not threatened), those in hell secretly conspire to trick you into thinking that all thoughts and feelings issuing from your brain are yours. If you do not challenge these impulses from spiritual principles (God’s tenets) and instead succumb to them, you indeed take possession and responsibility for the resulting manifestations and behavior.
Swedenborg observed how this spiritual identity theft works. Hellish individuals can easily implant an evil thought within a person’s weakness for—and proclivity towards—egoism and self-love. Those in hell seek out these proclivities in the human heart and are specialists at keeping these compulsions from reaching the rational powers of discernment in the human intellect. Instead, they cleverly keep the human mind fully occupied, that is, only in the awareness of the pleasure that the compulsion promises.
The problem with spiritual identity theft is that most people in the world know little about the reality of—and relationships we form—with spirits in the afterlife. Both worldly and spiritual forms of identity theft require vigilance. One requires vigilance of personal information and financial transactions. The other requires vigilance over one’s character.
On a positive note, Swedenborg claimed that the Lord God was making information about the spiritual world available to terrestrial men and women.