Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33)

Erroneous opinions about the Lord’s New Church P.Odhner

The opinions about this Church which are discussed in these notes have for many years been widely circulated and received in other bodies of the New Church. They have created a silent background of prejudice in which everything coming forth from the Church is rejected before it is even considered. Most of them have not been publicly stated and have come to our notice only indirectly. The members of the Church should know what they are and be prepared to answer them, if necessity should arise.

1. “They think they are regenerated”
The first thing with any member of this Church is to be in the order in which he can be regenerated by the Lord. In no other way can a man be brought to receive the Lord’s Love and Wisdom and genuinely serve Kim and the neighbor. For anyone to hold that we think we have already attained that for which we are striving is absurd.

The most important thing in life is man’s cooperation with the Lord in His work of regeneration. For this reason the Church has sought and continues to seek the trues of the order of regeneration contained in the Third Testament. It seeks to see more and more clearly the steps of that order so that all may understand them and see and shun the evils which attack man in each of them.

The effect of this study and work is not to make a man suppose that he has been regenerated. It is just the opposite. It relieves man from many fallacies as to the state of his spirit. One example of this is that it shows man that he is not in the internal sense of the Word just through reading and believing in the literal sense of the Third Testament, and that there is an extensive order of regeneration through which he must be led before he can be given the perception of the internal trues that are in it. Another example is that such a fallacy as supposing that the rational represented by Ishmael is the wild-ass rational of youth is quickly put aside. The effect of this study is to open the eyes to the immensity and eternity of that Divine operation of the Lord which is called regeneration, and this seeing is accompanied with the acknowledgment that what has been so far seen is only a drop in the ocean compared to that which can and must be 3een in the future development of the Church.

This Church has brought forward from the Third Testament the teaching that the internal sense of the Word can be seen only by those who are regenerated. (Arcana Coelestia 6222:3; 8106, and other numbers.) This applies to all three testaments of the Word. This is no reason for supposing that we think we are regenerated. Would it not rather follow that they who suppose that they are in the internal sense of the Old and New Testaments through the reading and believing of the literal sense of the Third Testament must presume that they are regenerated?

This Church holds that certain essential doctrinal trues which have been seen and brought forward in the New Church are of the internal sense of the Third Testament. They have been seen in that Testament out of perception granted by the Lord, and this perception has been given through the opening of the mind to Heaven. One such truth is that the Writings are the Word. This is seen out of a perception of the Divine in those Writings. That truth was seen in the beginning of that movement from which sprang the General Church.

To say that this truth was seen through the regeneration of those in the Church does not mean that those who were in the Church before that truth was seen and expressed were not being regenerated, nor does it mean that all who accept that truth now are regenerated. Such a truth can be recognized as being in agreement with the Word by those who are not at all in the enlighten¬ment in which were those who first saw it. They receive it externally, but it is of the greatest aid in protecting them from many fallacies and in giving direction to their own understanding of the Word. If this were not the case, the wisdom of those who are wiser in the Church would never be of any use to those who are not so wise. I do not believe that anyone in the General Church would deny the benefits which arose from the seeing and expressing of that truth.

Another such truth is that the Writings are a revelation of the Divine True of the Divine Human of the Lord, that they contain in their literal sense all the Trues of the Divine Human from firsts to lasts, and that the Church must enter into their internal sense for its life. Thi3 truth was seen out of perception given by the Lord to those who devoted their lives to the Lord in the Third Testament, thus through the operation of the Lord with those who were being regenerated by Him. This does not mean that there were none being regenerated in the New Church before that truth was seen and expressed; nor does it mean that those who now see and accept that truth are regenerated. Yet none in this Church will deny the benefits accruing to them through the seeing and expressing of that truth.

Every truth of the internal sense of the Third Testament given to the Church will be given out of a sphere of regeneration by those devoting their lives to the Lord in that Testament. Should this idea shock anyone? Is it not openly taught in the Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture, numbers 57-59? Would it not be far more shocking to assume that in the whole New Church there has never been anything of regeneration out of which such truths can be seen in the Word?

This Church has brought forward from the Word many things about that which a man can know about his regeneration. This is not to claim that we, personally, know such things about ourselves or others. It is only a pointing out that the Word teaches that such a knowledge is possible, and that man is not necessarily to be left in that total blindness as to all spiritual things which some presume to be his lot. It is remarkable how often it has taken place that the showing from the Word of the possibility of something has been twisted to mean that we claim for ourselves that which has been shown to be possible.

Concerning the use of the term “regenerated,”, in the past tense, as if it were something finished and done with, it must be pointed out that while the Third Testament often speaks of those who have been regenerated, it also teaches that the regeneration of man proceeds into eternity. (Arcana Coelestia 10048:2.) It is obvious therefore that regeneration is never finished. “Regenerated” in the past tense, is used in the Word to denote those who have been regenerated as to a certain state or degree, as for example those who have been regenerated as to the rational, and not yet as to the natural, and so forth. The regeneration of man in one state makes possible the influxes from the Lord whereby he can be regenerated further, and this into eternity. We point this out here because sometimes those in the New Church use the word “regenerated” in the same way in which those of the Old Church use the word “saved.” Eternal life is successive regeneration by the Lord into eternity.

Also we would here point out that in the New Church it has become customary to speak of “regenerating men,” using the word in the active voice in relation to man, as if it were the man himself who was doing the regenerating. In the Third Testament the word is used in the active voice in relation to the Lord, namely, that the Lord regenerates man. In relation to man it is used in the passive voice, namely, that man is being regenerated by the Lord. Only in two or three places is it said in the Word that man regenerates. In those few cases the word is used to denote the things man does from the Lord in preparation for his being regenerated by the Lord. Thus the True Christian Religion, number 73 says: “God cannot regenerate man spiritually except insofar as man regenerates himself naturally.” The spiritual regeneration of man by the Lord is in the conjunction of the good and true effected in one of his states through the combats of temptation in which man’s part becomes passive. It is not in order for the Church to speak of regenerating men, unless qualified by the idea presented in that number.

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