Dudley discovers a three-tiered church

Once upon a time there lived a young man named Dudley. He had just joined a local church in his town and was attending his first Sunday worship service. This church was expanding in spite of the bad economy and the dwindling memberships of other churches in the community. There was something extra special about this church.

Dudley was presently enjoying listening to the minister’s sermon about how loving God and loving the neighbor was at the core of living spiritually. He liked the teachings of this church because it seemed to offer the most rational approach to the deepest mysteries of Christian faith. The church was called “Swedenborgian.”

After the service, Dudley congratulated the minister on his excellent sermon and asked, ”Dear Reverend, I feel a special warm glow in this church that I have not experienced in other houses of worship. This warm feeling not only comes from the members of your congregation but seems to radiate out from the very walls of this sanctuary. Why do I feel this way?”

The Reverend smiled then answered, “This is indeed a special church in that it is organized according to the very order of heaven. We have been given special knowledge from Above—a new dispensation from the Lord. Here, you can take religion and spiritual transformation as far as you want.”

“What more do I need than the wonderful teachings of Christian love that you described in your sermon today” asked Dudley.

The pastor made a head motion to another man in the church who then came over to them. “This man will show you the way to a higher level of spirituality if you are up for such a thing. “

Dudley was somewhat surprised, but nodded “yes.” The other man took Dudley to a gated entrance, unlocked the iron gates then led him up some stairs. They came to a room on the second floor where about 30 other men and women were quietly sitting. Dudley was told to take one of the empty seats.

Soon a gentleman entered, who immediately got the attention of those in the room. He led the group in a short meditation then began to teach the group on the lesson of the day’s sermon given in the earlier worship service, but going much deeper into the topic. The group of men and women were told that while goodness and love in life was to be sought after, definite obstacles had to be overcome. It seemed to Dudley that the presenter was able to discuss these obstacles on both a theological and scientific/biological level.

As Dudley listened intently, he learned that the human heart (affection) and intellect was composed of different levels of life and functioned in discrete areas of brain structure. The lecturer stated that as an individual tackled the obstacles that stood in the way of personal transformation, the resulting inner conflict produced a special heat that purified his or her animal spirit. The animal spirit was a bio-magnetic fluid or purer type of “blood” that traversed the nerve fibers and caused the brain cells to become more pliant to the Lord God’s heavenly influence under self-scrutiny. This blood, over time, would create and maintain a higher, spiritual body—just as the corporeal red blood cells built up and sustained the gross physical body.

This purer fluid or inner blood could be purified to the degree that a person was willing to subject him or herself to the unflattering discoveries of one’s inner reality. To Dudley’s horror, he was told that this inner blood was easily infected during everyday life by the nasty influences of the spirits from hell. The point was that in this higher room of the church, Dudley learned that the process of spiritual growth and salvation was not abstracted from organic structure—that every change in one’s attitude and actions had a real biological effect deep inside. One’s spiritual body was the bio-suit that determined how the soul would function in the afterlife, beyond time and space.

At the end of the discussion Dudley approached the teacher and asked, “How can I put myself into an environment where this special knowledge can be put into action and tested? I doubt that my current worldly circumstances would be adequate for such an undertaking.”

The teacher nodded to another member in the room to come over to them. The teacher said to Dudley, “If you are willing, this man will lead you to a place where you can put these ideas to the test in a most intensive way.” Dudley followed the man up another stairway to a room on the third floor.

At the doorway to this uppermost room of the church, Dudley was greeted by yet another man. This man had a noble, but stern expression on his face.

“If you decide to enter this chamber,” said the stern-looking man, “you will be exposed mercilessly to all your flaws and false beliefs. Here you will find out that your most personal thoughts originate not from you, but from other people living in the spiritual world—both heaven and hell. Here you will learn that you do not have life from yourself but as a vessel containing life from God. Here, you will learn profound humility and the reality of your nothingness before the Lord God!”

The stern man looked deep into Dudley’s eyes, saying, “In this room we will prove to you that you live in a trance. You will become indignant. Do you still want to enter?”

Dudley made a nervous gulp. But he bravely entered the room.


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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