"If people within the church have ignored the Lord and recognized only the Father and have closed their minds to other thoughts,they are outside heaven. If people have divided the Divine into three in the world and held a separate image of each one without gathering and focusing these three into one ,they cannot be accepted." —Heaven and Hell, Swedenborg
A reader asks,
When you say Christ, and Swedenborg says the Lord, are we talking about a "person" who was born in 2017 and all that, or is Christ really something else ?
And do we have to have faith/belief in Jesus Christ exactly in order to go this way and enter heaven, or is something else meant here ?
From a philosophical point of view these questions are perhaps difficult. Yet I’ll just try to speak directly to them based on what is true.
Christ is a person. This is not meant in some supernatural way, for there is nothing more absolutely natural than Christ, who is God. Swedenborg’s discussions about the trinity were meant to explain how Christ is God, who is Born.
The birth of Christ is a perpetual action, an eternal action, which takes place outside of time but is forever manifest within each moment of creation, throughout all of creation.
This Birth consists of the absolute action of Love, which is the chief emanation of the Lord from whom all things come; but that Love is precisely divided between Joy and Sorrow because they are inseparable.
Of this, it can be said the portion that is Joy belongs to the Lord; and the portion that is Sorrow belongs to all of creation. In fact, of course, it is all of the Lord in the end.
The Love that creates the universe is nothing but personal.
To the extent that we are willing to suffer and receive His Grace, Christ is born within us in all places and at all times. This is a mystery which is impossible to explain, and leads nowhere but here. The Kingdom of Heaven is within and it is only in this place that Christ can be born; even though He is born everywhere and forever within the material, only through a relationship with Him can His Grace be made manifest.
In this way we are always and forever on the threshold of God’s Grace as His servants; and it is only through an inner seeing of this that Grace can be received.
And so, then, there is no other way.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.