What is it?
Swedenborg claimed that without “good works” one’s spiritual faith or belief system was “dead.” He further spoke about God’s Heavenly Kingdom as consisting of those who lived in mutual love through their positive contributions (uses).
While this is theologically true, it has taken most peoples’ eye off the ball when it comes to their own personal regeneration (spiritual rebirth), regardless of the spiritual community they belong to and worship with.
Swedenborg also made the unflattering remark that we are all born into evils of every kind and need God’s help in resisting and shunning these negative compulsions. As we suffer to remove the self–identified obstacles that stand in the way of our obtaining eternal happiness, the Lord God flows into our lives with the gift of greater love.
You cannot go from being an idiot to an angel just by starting to perform noble uses. Good works do not guarantee that one is regenerating. Love comes from God alone (this puts a new doctrinal spin on things). Good works must be qualified by innocence—which only comes from a process of individual spiritual cleansing and knowing that we can only “borrow” God’s love.
Swedenborg brings this idea home by stressing that even the angels of the highest heaven would rush into evils of every kind without the Lord’s constant influence. Angels evolve eternally in heaven by increasing their innocence.
The problem is that this means we are each responsible for digging out our dirt. This is how we legitimately co-operate with the Lord God (called repentance). It lets God know what negative aspects we seriously choose to remove from our lives.
(See Swedenborg’s True Christianity, Vol 2, n 528 for confirmation about what I am saying.)
The Lord God is continually giving me the power to bravely self-examine my inner dictates, show me up, and rain on my parade. My spiritual growth is dependent on how bravely I continue to find painful things about my inner reality. Bummer! That is why it is much easier to attract people to a theology by deluding them into thinking that regeneration happens naturally from acts of kindness and in doing good deeds.
Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way.
Does your church assist you in digging out your dirt or does it jump over this unpopular issue by stressing kindness and convincing you of your self-worth?