At least this is the theological position taken by scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg. What is surprising is that it is not the position taken by all Swedenborgians. In some previous posts I have jousted with those who take the position that heaven is not eternal. Their position is powerful—that the Lord God is Infinite love. Therefore, they smartly argue that there must be some contingency by which the Lord can still convince people to change their ways (even change their spots if necessary). Here is what Swedenborg himself has to say about those who inwardly reject the Lord and live a life contrary to divine tenets:
“ . . . if they have confirmed themselves against them, not only by doctrine but also by life, they have reduced themselves to such a state as to their interiors that afterwards they cannot possibly be brought to receive them, for what is once confirmed by doctrine, and at the same time by life, remains to eternity. Those who do not know the interior state of man may suppose that any one, no matter how he has confirmed himself against truths, can yet easily accept them afterwards, provided he is convinced. But that this is impossible has been granted me to know by much experience in regard to such persons in the other life.” (Arcana Coelestia, n. 4747)
Swedenborg was granted this knowledge by direct experience from having the interiors of his mind opened up by the Lord to see into the spiritual world!
He described witnessing how even spirits who were able to be intellectually convinced of their false worldviews quickly snapped back into the evil proclivities of their hearts. He also observed human spirits from hell actually being allowed to enter into heaven. These former citizens from earth detested heaven so much that they experienced intense dread—they could not breathe in its “loving” atmosphere. The reason for this suffocating experience is that during their lives on earth they had adopted and confirmed principles of self-love—while heaven exudes an atmosphere of mutual love or love of the neighbor. The two realities (and spiritual environments) oppose each other!
The concept of hell being an eternal condition can present a big problem for church ministers who are continuously trying to grow their congregations. New members often want to be told that God loves them (which is true) and that in the end all will be good (maybe). I suspect a minister would scare away lots of prospects (and negatively affect the collection basket) if Swedenborg’s position of hell were fully embraced and preached.
This is why the Lord God had chosen to open the secrets of the spiritual world up to the observation of a scientist like Swedenborg. Not only did he present rational explanations for how doctrine (faith systems and worldviews) is absorbed by the intellectual part of human cognition (judgment) and how our life choices are absorbed by the will part (volition) but he put it all into an organic context. These more “scientific” explanations of salvation pertained to causal process and how the human soul creates a spiritual body for the individual according to rational order. The spiritual body is a real organic expression of the beliefs and life choices we made while living in the terrestrial world. It represents what each person really is. To change this spiritual organic composition after the demise of the physical body would be to destroy a person’s very inner fabric and personhood. It cannot be done!
My new book Proving God provides more details concerning this topic.