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Emanual Swedenborg's

True Christian Religion

Sections: 163 - 184


163. THE DIVINE TRINITY

I have discussed God the Creator, and at the same time the creation, and then the Lord the Redeemer, and at the same time the process of redemption; and now finally the Holy Spirit, and at the same time how God works. So having discussed God the Three-in-one, I must now also discuss the Divine Trinity, a subject familiar to Christian people, yet actually one they know nothing about. For this is the only way of acquiring a correct idea of God; and a correct idea of God is to the congregation like the sanctuary and altar in a church, or like a crown on the head and a sceptre in the hand of a king, as he sits upon his throne. From this hangs the whole body of theology, like a chain from its anchor-point. If you are prepared to believe me, the idea everyone has of God determines his place in the heavens. It is like the touchstone used to test gold and silver, that is to say, it tests the nature of the good and truth a person has. For he cannot have any good which leads to salvation except from God, nor any truth which does not get its quality from the good deep within it. But to reveal the nature of the Divine Trinity so that it can be seen by both eyes, the discussion must be split up into propositions, as follows.

(i) There is a Divine Trinity consisting of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

(ii) Those three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are the three essentials of a single God, which make one as soul, body and activity do with a person.

(iii) This Trinity did not exist before the creation of the world, but it was provided and made after the creation of the world, when God became incarnate, and then it was in the Lord God, the Redeemer and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

(iv) A Trinity of Divine persons from eternity, or existing before the creation of the world, implies thinking about a Trinity of Gods; and this thought cannot be banished by a verbal confession of belief in one God.

(v) The Trinity of persons was unknown to the Apostolic church, but was the invention of the Council of Nicaea, leading to its introduction into the Roman Catholic church, and thus to the churches which split from it.

(vi) The Trinity as defined by the Council of Nicaea and by Athanasius caused a faith to arise which has perverted the whole Christian church.

(vii) This is the source of the abomination of desolation and the affliction such as never has been nor shall be, both of which the Lord predicted in Daniel, the Gospels and Revelation.

(viii) Further, unless a new heaven and a new church are founded by the Lord, no flesh can be saved.

(ix) From a Trinity of persons, each of which individually is God, as asserted by the Athanasian Creed, many absurd ideas of various kinds have arisen about God, which are mere fancies and abortions.

These propositions will now be explained one by one.

164. (i) THERE IS A DIVINE TRINITY CONSISTING OF FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT.

The existence of a Divine Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is plainly demonstrated by the Word, especially the following passages:

The angel Gabriel said to Mary, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, so that the holy thing that is born of you will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35.

Here all three are named: the Most High, who is God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Son of God.

When Jesus was baptised, behold, the heavens were opened, and John saw the Spirit of God* coming down like a dove, and alighting upon Him; and a voice from heaven saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Matt. 3:16, 17; Mark 1:10, 11; John 1:32.

It is even clearer in the words which the Lord used to the disciples:

Go and make all nations disciples, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Matt. 28: 19.

Moreover in this passage of John:

Three there are that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit. 1 John 5:7.

In addition there is the fact that the Lord prayed to His Father, and spoke about Him and with Him, saying that He would send the Holy Spirit, and this too He did. Moreover, the Apostles frequently named in their Epistles the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. These passages show plainly that there is a Divine Trinity consisting of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

* The Latin has 'the Holy Spirit', but this is corrected in the author's copy.

165. If the reason is left to itself, there is no way it can see how these statements are to be understood; it could be that there are three Gods, who are one in essence and therefore in name; it could be that they are three aspects of a single subject, so that it is merely qualities or attributes of one God which bear these names; or other solutions may be possible. What then are we to do?

The only way is to approach the Lord God the Saviour, and read the Word under His guidance, since He is the God of the Word; we shall then be enlightened and see the truths, which the reason too will acknowledge. But if you do not approach the Lord, though you should read the Word a thousand times and see in it the Divine Trinity as well as the oneness of God, still you will never be able to grasp anything but the doctrine of three Divine persons, each of which taken singly is God; and this means three Gods. However, since this is repugnant to the general perception shared by all people throughout the world, to avoid criticism they invented the doctrine that although in truth there are three Gods, faith none the less demands that we should not speak of three Gods, but one. Moreover, to avoid having insults heaped on them, in this respect especially the understanding has to be imprisoned and kept chained under the control of faith; and this is henceforward to be prescribed by the ordained ministry of the Christian church.

[2] That is the kind of paralysed offspring which is produced by not reading the Word under the Lord's guidance. Everyone who does not read the Word under His guidance must do so under the guidance of his own intelligence; and this is as blind as an owl in matters illuminated by spiritual light, as are all the essential doctrines of the church. When such a person reads about the Trinity in the Word and is led by this to think that although there are three Gods they are none the less one, he finds this as enigmatic as a reply from the Delphic oracle*. Since he does not understand it, he rolls it round his teeth, for if he put it before his eyes, it would be a riddle, which becomes the more obscure the more he strives to solve it, until finally he begins to think about it without using his understanding, which is like seeing without using one's eyes. In brief, reading the Word under the guidance of one's own intelligence, as all do who fail to acknowledge the Lord as the God of heaven and earth and do not approach Him and worship Him alone, can be compared to children who in play tie a bandage over their eyes, and then try to walk in a straight line; they even think they are walking straight when step by step they turn to one side and end up walking in the opposite direction, so that they trip over a stone and fall down.

[3] They are also like ships' captains who sail without a compass, run their ship on rocks, and so are drowned. Or they are like a man who walking through a broad plain in a thick fog sees a scorpion and thinks it is a bird; he goes to grasp it and pick it up, and then gets a fatal sting. He is also like a sea-bird or a kite, which spots a small patch on the back of a large fish breaking the surface of the water, dives on it and jabs its beak into it, but is pulled under by the fish and drowns. He is also like a man who goes into a maze without a guide or a thread to pay out, and the farther he goes in, the more he loses track of the way out. A person who reads the Word under the guidance of his own intelligence instead of the Lord's thinks he is gifted with the vision of Lynceus**, and has more eyes than Argus*** when in fact he cannot inwardly discern the smallest truth, but only falsity. But having persuaded himself that this is the truth, he shapes the course of all his thinking by reference to this apparent cynosure. Yet then he is as blind to truth as a mole, and what he does see, he bends to suit his fancy, so perverting and falsifying the holiness of the Word.

* Literally, 'from the tripod', the source of oracles given at Delphi. ** A man in Greek myth famous for keenness of sight. *** The hundred-eyed monster of Greek myth.
 

166. (ii) THOSE THREE, FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT, ARE THE THREE ESSENTIALS OF A SINGLE GOD, WHICH MAKE ONE AS SOUL, BODY AND ACTIVITY DO WITH A PERSON.

Each object has general essentials and particular essentials; and the two together make up a single essence. A person's general essentials are his soul, body and activity. These make up a single essence, as can be seen from the fact that one arises from the next, and exists on account of the next, in an unbroken chain. Every person starts from the soul, which is the true essence of the seed. This not only initiates but also produces one after the other the bodily structures; and later on it initiates the products of the soul and the body working together, what are called its activities. Since then one is produced by the next and by its being implanted and attached, it is plain that these three belong to a single essence. This is why they are called the three essentials.

167. Everyone acknowledges that those three essentials, namely, soul, body and activity, were and are in the Lord God the Saviour. No one but Antichrist can deny that His soul was from Jehovah His Father; for in the Word, in both testaments, He is called the Son of Jehovah, the Son of the Most High God, the Only-begotten. So the Father's Divine is His first essential, as the soul is in man. It follows from this that the Son born to Mary is the body of that Divine soul, for what grows in the mother's womb is simply the body conceived and derived from the soul. So this is the second essential. Activities make up the third essential, since they are produced by the soul and the body working together; and anything so produced is of the same essence as the productive agents. The three essentials, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, make one in the Lord, as the soul, body and activity do in man. This is plainly demonstrated by the Lord's saying that the Father and He are one, and that the Father is in Him and He is in the Father; likewise that He and the Holy Spirit are one, since the Holy Spirit is the Divine which proceeds out of the Lord from the Father, as was fully proved from the Word above (153, 154). To prove it again, therefore, would be filling one's stomach* to overflowing, and like loading the table with food when one has eaten one's fill.

* This curious word means strictly the first stomach of a ruminant animal.
 

168. When we say that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the three essentials of a single God, in the same way as soul, body and activity are in man, it may look to the human mind as if the three essentials are three persons. This is impossible. But when we understand that the Father's Divine which makes up the soul, and the Son's Divine which makes up the body, and the Holy Spirit's Divine or the Divine which proceeds and makes up the activity, are the three essentials of a single God, then it can be grasped by the understanding. For God the Father is His own Divine, the Son out of the Father is His own, and the Holy Spirit out of both is His own. Since these are of one essence and one mind, they make up a single God. If, however, those three Divines are called persons, and each has attributed to Him His own property, imputation to the Father, mediation to the Son, and activity to the Holy Spirit, then the Divine essence is divided. Yet it is one and indivisible. In this case none of the three is fully God, but each is God to the power of one third*, a proposition no sane understanding can accept.

* i.e. the cube root.

169. Can anyone fail to see how the Trinity is in the Lord, if he considers the trinity in any human being? Every person has a soul, a body and activity; likewise the Lord, 'for in the Lord all the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily,' as Paul said (Col. 2:9). Therefore the Trinity in the Lord is Divine, that in men human. Is there anyone who does not see that reason plays no part in this mystic belief that there are three Divine persons, yet only one God; and that this God, for all that He is one, is still not one person? When the reason is asleep, it can still force the mouth to speak like a parrot. When the reason is asleep, can the speech which comes from the mouth be anything but lifeless? If the mouth says one thing and the reason goes a different way and disagrees, speech must inevitably be foolish. As far as the Divine Trinity is concerned, human reason to-day is fettered, as completely as a prisoner shackled hand and foot. It can also be compared to a Vestal Virgin* buried alive for having let the sacred fire go out. Yet the Divine Trinity ought to shine like a lantern in the minds of the people who make up the church, since God in His Trinity and in the oneness of the Trinity is the ultimate of all holiness in heaven and the church. To make one God out of the soul, another out of the body and a third out of the activity is no different from making three separate parts out of those three essentials of a single person; and this is dismembering and killing him.

* The Vestals were Roman priestesses, whose duty was to maintain a sacred fire.

170. (iii) THIS TRINITY DID NOT EXIST BEFORE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD, BUT IT WAS PROVIDED AND MADE AFTER THE CREATION OF THE WORLD, WHEN GOD BECAME INCARNATE, AND THEN WAS IN THE LORD GOD, THE REDEEMER AND SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST.

The Christian church to-day recognises a Divine Trinity existing before the creation of the world, stating that Jehovah God fathered a Son from eternity, and the Holy Spirit issued from both of them; and each of the three is by Himself or singly God, because each is one person, who exists of Himself. Since this lies beyond the grasp of reason, it is called a mystery, which is only accessible by the belief that the three share a single Divine essence; by this is meant eternity, immensity, omnipotence and so equal Divinity, glory and majesty. But it will be proved in what follows that this is a trinity of three Gods, and thus no Divine Trinity. Yet it is obvious from everything said before that the Trinity, also of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which was provided and made after God's incarnation, so after the creation of the world, is the Divine Trinity, because it consists of one God.

[2] The reason why this Divine Trinity is in the Lord God, the Redeemer and Saviour, Jesus Christ, is that the three essentials of one God, which compose a single essence, are in Him. All the fulness of the Godhead is in Him, as Paul says, and this is clear from the words of the Lord Himself, that all things of the Father's are His, and the Holy Spirit does not speak of Himself but from Him; moreover, when He rose from the dead, He took from the tomb His whole human body, flesh as well as bones (Matt. 28:1-8; Mark 16:5, 6; Luke 24:1-3; John 20:11-15), a thing no other person can do. He gave the disciples a living proof of this when He said:

Look at my hands and my feet, as proof that it is I myself; touch me and look, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see me have. Luke 24:39.

This can convince anyone, who is willing to believe, that the Lord's Human is Divine, and thus in Him God is man and man God.

171. The idea of the Trinity which the present-day Christian church has embraced and introduced into its faith, is that God the Father fathered a Son from eternity, and the Holy Spirit then issued from both, each by Himself being God. There is no way this Trinity could be conceived by human minds except as a triad of rulers, like having three kings in one kingdom, or three generals in command of one army, or three masters in one house, each of whom has equal power. This can only lead to ruin. And if anyone wants to form a mental picture or sketch of this triad of rulers while preserving their oneness, he can only conceive of it as a man with three heads on one body, or with three bodies beneath a single head. Such is the monstrous image of the Trinity which will be seen by those who believe in three Divine persons, each of whom is by Himself God, and link them to form a single God, denying that being one makes God one person. [2] The idea that a Son of God fathered from eternity came down and took upon Himself human form can be compared with the myths of the ancients, that human souls were created from the beginning of the world, and they enter into bodies and become men and women. It is also like the absurd idea that the soul of one person passes into another, as many of the Jewish religion have believed; for instance, that the soul of Elijah came back in the body of John the Baptist, and that David will return to his own or someone else's body, and reign over Israel and Judah, because Ezekiel says:

I will raise up over them a shepherd who shall feed them, my servant David. He shall be their shepherd, and I Jehovah will be their God, and David shall be prince in their midst. Ezek. 34:23, 24.

There are other such passages. But they do not know that David here means the Lord.

172. (iv) A TRINITY OF DIVINE PERSONS FROM ETERNITY, OR EXISTING BEFORE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD, IMPLIES THINKING ABOUT A TRINITY OF GODS; AND THIS THOUGHT CANNOT BE BANISHED BY A VERBAL CONFESSION OF BELIEF IN ONE GOD.

It is perfectly plain from the following passage in the Athanasian Creed that a Trinity of Divine persons from eternity is a Trinity of Gods:

There is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. The Father is God and Lord, the Son is God and Lord, and the Holy Spirit is God and Lord; yet there are not three Gods and Lords, but one God and Lord, because just as we are forced by Christian verity to confess each person singly to be God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the catholic religion to speak of three Gods or three Lords.

This creed has been accepted by the whole Christian church as worldwide and universal, and it is the source of all current knowledge and acknowledgment of God. Anyone who reads it merely with his eyes open can see that the members of the Council of Nicaea, which gave birth as it were posthumously to the so-called Athanasian Creed, understood the Trinity as a Trinity of Gods. It follows that not only did they understand the Trinity as a Trinity of Gods, but that no other idea of the Trinity is current in the Christian world, because this creed is the source from which all gain their knowledge of God, and everyone subscribes to the belief indicated by its wording.

[2] If anyone doubts that the current belief of the Christian world is in a Trinity of Gods, let me appeal to any witness, lay as well as clerical, to the masters and doctors of universities as well as consecrated bishops and archbishops, and to cardinals in their purple, indeed to the Roman Pontiff himself. Let each consider the matter and then pronounce as the ideas in his mind dictate. Is it not as clear and transparent as water in a crystal goblet, if we follow the words of this universally accepted doctrine about God? For instance, it states that there are three persons, and each of these is God and Lord; and that in accordance with Christian verity they ought to confess or acknowledge each person singly as God and Lord, but the catholic or Christian religion or faith prohibits speaking of or naming three Gods and Lords. So verity and religion, or verity and faith, are not one, but two mutually opposed things. The additional clause, that there are not three Gods and Lords, but one God and Lord, has been inserted to prevent its authors being exposed to ridicule before the whole world, for anyone would laugh at the idea of three Gods. Can anyone fail to see the contradiction in this addition?

[3] If, however, they had said that the Father had a Divine essence, the Son had a Divine essence and the Holy Spirit had a Divine essence, but there were not three Divine essences, but a single and indivisible one, then this mystery might have been capable of explanation, to be precise, by understanding the Father as the originating Divine, the Son as the Divine Human from that origin, and the Holy Spirit as the Divine which proceeds from them, since these three belong to a single God. Or again, if we understand by the Father's Divine something resembling the soul in man, by the Divine Human something resembling the body belonging to that soul, and by the Holy Spirit something resembling the activity which comes from both, then the three essences become intelligible as belonging to one and the same person, and so making up a single, indivisible essence.

173. The reason why the idea of three Gods cannot be banished by a verbal confession of belief in one God is that this idea has been planted in the memory from childhood up, and what the memory contains is the source of everyone's thought. The memory with human beings resembles the ruminatory stomach of birds and animals. They put food into it, and then they live on it bit by bit, taking it out from time to time and swallowing it into the stomach proper, where the food is digested and circulated to provide for the body's needs. The human understanding is the stomach proper, as the memory is the first stomach. Anyone can see that the idea of three Divine persons from eternity, being the same as the idea of three Gods, cannot be banished by the verbal confession of belief in one God, merely from the fact that it has still not been banished, and is still current with famous people who resist its banishment. For they insist that the three Divine persons are one God, but are so obstinate as to deny that, because God is one, He is also one person. But surely everyone who is wise thinks in his heart that 'person' cannot really be understood as person, but as a predication of some quality? But no one knows what quality, and because of this ignorance the idea remains implanted in the memory from childhood up, like the root of a tree in the ground, which even if the tree is cut down will still send up a shoot.

[2] Do not, my friend, just cut down the tree, but dig up the root, and then plant your garden with trees that bear good fruit. Take care therefore that your mind is not beset by the idea of three Gods, while your mouth, being totally devoid of ideas, rings with the sound of 'one God.' If so, then the understanding up above the memory thinking of three Gods, and the understanding underneath the memory which enables the mouth to say the words 'one God', are, taken together, like a clown on the stage, who can play two parts scuttling from one side to the other, saying one thing on one side and the opposite on the other, so that he has a quarrel with himself, calling himself wise on one side and crazy on the other. The result of this must surely be that, when he stands in the middle and looks in either direction, he thinks neither to be of any consequence, and so perhaps that, since there is neither one God nor three Gods, there cannot be a God at all. The nature-worship so prevalent to-day comes from no other source.

[3] No one in heaven can utter the words 'A Trinity of persons, each of whom singly is God.' For the very aura of heaven, the medium through which the waves of their thoughts are transmitted, as sounds are through air, offers strong resistance. The only person who can do this in heaven is a hypocrite; but the sound of his voice grates in the aura of heaven like teeth grinding together, or screeches like a crow trying to sing like a song-bird. I have also been told from heaven that it is as impossible to banish a belief in a Trinity of Gods, once it is implanted in the mind by finding proofs of it, by merely making oral confession of one God, as it is to pass a tree through its own seed, or a man's chin through a hair of his beard.

174. (v) THE TRINITY OF PERSONS WAS UNKNOWN TO THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH, BUT WAS THE INVENTION OF THE COUNCIL OF NICAEA, LEADING TO ITS INTRODUCTION INTO THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, AND THUS TO THE CHURCHES WHICH SPLIT FROM IT.

The Apostolic church means not only the church which existed in various places in the time of the Apostles, but also in the following two or three centuries. But eventually they began to tear the door of the temple off its hinges, and like thieves to break into its sanctuary. The temple means the church, its door the Lord God the Redeemer, and the sanctuary His Divinity. For Jesus says:

Truly I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up another way, is a thief and a robber. I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved. [John 10:1, 9.]

[2] This crime was committed by Arius and his followers. Consequently a Council was summoned by Constantine the Great to meet at Nicaea, a city of Bithynia*; and its members, in order to expel the damaging heresy of Arius, invented, concluded and laid down the doctrine that the three Divine persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, existed from eternity, each of whom had a personality, and came into and continued in existence by Himself and in Himself. They also held that the second person, the Son, came down and took upon Himself human form and carried out the redemption, and by this means His Human has divinity by hypostatic union, so that by this union He has close kinship with God the Father. This was the beginning from which there spread over the earth heaps of unspeakable heresies about God and the person of Christ. Antichrist then began to rear his head, and split God into three, and the Lord the Saviour into two, thus destroying the Temple the Lord had built by means of His Apostles; this went so far that every stone was pried loose, until not one was left upon another, as predicted by His words (Matt. 24:2). Here 'Temple' does not mean just the Temple in Jerusalem, but also the church; and the whole of that chapter deals with its consummation or end.

[3] But could anything else have been expected of that Council, or those which followed it, seeing that they likewise divided the Divinity into three parts, and put the incarnate God on their footstool beneath them? For they cut off the church's head from its body by climbing up another way, that is, by by-passing the Lord and crossing over to God the Father, as if He were another God, simply keeping on their tongues the phrase 'Christ's merit,' so that He should pity them for its sake. Thus, they thought, justification would flow directly into them, together with all that accompanies it, forgiveness of sins, renewal, sanctification, regeneration and salvation, and all this without any intervention on the person's part.

* The ancient name for the north-western province of Asia Minor.

175. The Apostolic church knew nothing about a Trinity of persons or three persons from eternity, as is perfectly plain from the Creed of that church which is known as the Apostles' Creed. This contains the words:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; and in the Holy Spirit.

There is no mention there of any Son from eternity, but of a Son conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. For they knew from the Apostles that Jesus Christ was the true God (1 John 5:20); and in Him all the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily (Col. 2:9); and the Apostles preached belief in Him (Acts 20:21); and He had all power in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18).

176. How can one trust Councils, when they do not directly approach the God of the church? Is not the church the Lord's body, and is He not its head? What use is a body without a head? And what sort of body is it that has three heads on it, under the guidance of which they debate and pass decrees? Surely then enlightenment, which, coming from the Lord alone, who is God of heaven and the church and at the same time God of the Word, is spiritual, becomes more and more natural until it finally reaches the level of the senses. Then it cannot scent out any real theological truth in its inward form without it being instantly expelled from the thinking of the rational understanding, like chaff being scattered to the winds from a winnowing shovel. In that state fallacies then take the place of truths and darkness the place of light rays. Then these people stand as it were in a cavern with spectacles on their noses, candle in hand, and keep their eyelids shut against spiritual truths illuminated by heavenly light, and open them to sense impressions illuminated by the deceptive light of the bodily senses. What happens when the Word is read is much the same; the mind then goes to sleep confronted with truths, and is wide awake confronted with falsities, becoming like the description of the beast from the sea, 'its mouth like a lion's, its body like a leopard's, and its feet like a bear's' (Rev. 13:2).

[2] It is said in heaven that when the Council of Nicaea finished its work, there took place simultaneously the things the Lord foretold to the disciples:

The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Matt. 24:29.

In fact the Apostolic church was like a new star appearing in the starry sky; but the church after the two Nicene Councils became like the same star later dimming and vanishing, an event recorded a number of times in the natural world according to astronomical observations. We read in the Word that 'Jehovah God dwells in inaccessible light' [1 Tim. 6:16]. So who could approach Him, did He not dwell in accessible light, that is, had He not come down, taken upon Himself human form, and in this become the Light of the World (John 1:9; 12:46)? Can anyone fail to see that approaching God the Father in His light is as impossible as taking the wings of the morning and using them to fly to the sun? Or living on sunlight rather than material food? Or for a bird to fly in the ether, or a stag to run through the air?

177. (vi) THE TRINITY AS DEFINED BY THE COUNCIL OF NICAEA AND BY ATHANASIUS CAUSED A FAITH TO ARISE WHICH HAS PERVERTED THE WHOLE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.

It was shown above (172) from the Creeds that both the Nicene and the Athanasian definitions of the Trinity were of a Trinity of Gods.

This was the source of the faith of the present-day church, in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It is in God the Father, so that He may impute the righteousness of His Son the Saviour and ascribe it to man; in God the Son, so that He may intercede and add His authority; in the Holy Spirit, so that He may realise the imputed righteousness of the Son by inscribing it, and when it is established sealing it, making man justified, sanctified and regenerated. This is the present-day faith, which by itself is evidence enough that it is a Trinity of Gods which is acknowledged and worshipped.

[2] The faith of any church is not only the source from which its worship flows, but all its theology. Hence it can be said that such as its faith is, such is its doctrine. It follows from this that the present faith, being faith in three Gods, has subverted everything in the church; for faith is the principle, and matters of doctrine are derivatives, and derivatives get their essence from their principle. If anyone puts to the test any points of doctrine, such as their belief about God, the person of Christ, charity, repentance, regeneration, free will, election, the use of the sacraments of baptism and the Holy Supper, he will see plainly that they each contain the idea of a Trinity of Gods. And even if this does not in fact appear to be contained in them, it is still the source from which they gush forth. Since such a testing cannot be undertaken here, useful though it would be to open people's eyes, I shall add an Appendix to this book, in which this will be proved.

[3] A church's belief about God is like the soul in relation to the body; and its doctrines are like the members of the body. Again, faith in God is like a queen, and its dogmas are like the officials of her court. just as they hang upon the queen's lips, so the dogmas depend upon the statement of faith. At least one can see from that faith how the Word is understood in that church; for faith grapples and hauls in to itself as it were by ropes whatever it can. If it is a false faith, it commits adultery with every truth in it, leading it astray and falsifying it, so that people become of unsound mind in spiritual matters. If, however, it is a true faith, then it enjoys the favour of the whole Word, and the God of the Word, who is the Lord God the Saviour, pours in light, and breathes His Divine assent upon it, so that people become wise.

[4] It will also be seen in the Appendix that the present-day faith, which in inward form is faith in three Gods, though the outward form speaks of one God, has put out the light in the Word, and banished the Lord from the church, thus chasing its morning headlong into night. This is what was done by the heretics before the Council of Nicaea, and then by the heretics in it and after it. But what reliance can be placed on Councils which do not enter the sheep-fold through the door, but climb up another way, as the Lord said in John 10:1, 9? Their debates are not far different from a blind man walking about by day, or a man with sight walking by night, neither of whom see the pitfall before falling into it. For example, what reliance can be placed in Councils which have established the position of the Pope as God's vicar, the canonisation of the dead, their invocation as if they were divine powers, the veneration of their images, the authority to grant indulgences, and the division of the Eucharist, not to mention many more things? What reliance can be placed in the Council which established the unspeakable heresy of predestination, and hung this out as an ensign in front of the churches of their sect? Rather, my friend, approach the God of the Word, and so the Word, and enter by this gate into the sheep-fold, that is, into the church, and you will be given enlightenment. Then you will see, as if you stood on a mountain, not only the way most people have gone, but also your own previous steps and wanderings in the dark wood lying below the mountain.
 

178. The faith of any church is like a seed, from which spring all its dogmas. It may be compared to the seed of a tree, from which grow all its parts up to and including its fruit; and to the human seed from which are procreated offspring and, generation by generation, families. Therefore if one knows what is the leading faith, which is from its dominant role called necessary for salvation, one can know what kind of church it is. The following example will serve to illustrate this. Suppose the faith is that nature is the creator of the universe. it follows from this that the universe is what is called God, and that nature is its essence; that the ether is the supreme God, whom the ancients called Jupiter, and the air is a goddess, whom the ancients called Juno, and made Jupiter's wife; that the ocean is a god of lower rank, who following the ancients can be called Neptune; and because the divinity of nature reaches right to the centre of the earth, that there is a god there too, who following the ancients can be called Pluto; that the sun is the meeting-house of all the gods, where they assemble when Jupiter summons a council; moreover, fire is life from God, and thus birds fly in a god, animals walk in a god, and fishes swim in a god; [2] further, thoughts are mere modifications of the ether, just as the speech which expresses thoughts is a modulation of the air; and the affections of love are changes of state occasioned by the radiation of sunlight impinging on them. This also involves the idea that life after death, together with heaven and hell, is a tale devised by the clergy in pursuit of honours and profit, but it is none the less a useful tale, not to be made fun of in public, because it serves the civic need to keep the minds of ordinary people rigidly obedient to the magistrates. Yet those who are hooked on religion are out of touch with reality, their thoughts are wild imagination, their behaviour ridiculous, and they are lackeys of the priests, believing what they cannot see and seeing things far beyond the reach of their minds. All these consequences, and many more of the same sort, are contained in that faith that nature is the creator of the universe, and emerge from it when it is laid open. This demonstration has been given so that people may know that the faith of the present-day church which is inwardly in three Gods, though outwardly in one, contains battalions of falsities. From this can be extracted as many falsities as there are tiny spiders in one ball produced by a female spider. Is there anyone, whose mind has become truly rational under the enlightenment the Lord gives, who does not see this? But how can anyone else see it, when the door leading to that faith and its offshoots is barred by the rule that it is unlawful for the reason to enquire into its mysteries?

179. (vii) THIS IS THE SOURCE OF THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION AND THE AFFLICTION SUCH AS HAS NEVER BEEN NOR SHALL BE, BOTH OF WHICH THE LORD PREDICTED IN DANIEL, THE GOSPELS AND REVELATION.

We read in Daniel:

Finally upon the bird of abominations desolation, to the point of ending and cutting off, shall be poured drop by drop upon devastation. Dan. 9:27.

In Matthew's gospel the Lord says:

Then many false prophets shall arise and lead many astray. When therefore you see the abomination of desolation predicted by the prophet Daniel standing in the holy place, let him who reads take due notice. Matt. 24:[11,] 15.

Later in the same chapter:

Then there shall be great affliction, such as never was from the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will be. Matt. 24:21.

This affliction and the abomination are dealt with in seven chapters of Revelation. These are what is meant by the black horse and the pale horse which came out of the book, when the Lamb opened its seals (Rev. 6:5-8); and by the beast coming up out of the abyss, which made war on the two witnesses, and killed them (11:7ff.); as by the dragon which stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, to devour her child, and pursued her into the desert, and there ejected water from its mouth like a river, to drown her (chapter 12); also by the beasts of the dragon, one from the sea, the other from the land (chapter 13); also by the three spirits like frogs, who came out of the mouth of the dragon and the mouth of the beast and the mouth of the false prophet (16:13); moreover by the fact that after the seven angels had poured out the bowls of the wrath of God, in which were the seven last plagues, upon the earth, the sea, the springs and streams, the sun, the throne of the beast, the Euphrates and finally the air, a great earthquake took place such as had never occurred since the creation of man (chapter 16). The earthquake means the overthrow of the church, the result of falsities and falsifications of truth, much as is meant by the great affliction such as never has been since the beginning of the world (Matt. 24:21). The following passage has a similar meaning:

The angel put in his sickle and reaped the grape-harvest of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God; and the winepress was trodden, and blood came out up to the bridles of the horses at a distance of one thousand six hundred stades*. Rev. 14:19, 20.

Blood means falsified truth. There are many more such passages in those seven chapters.

*The stade was an ancient measure of length, roughly 170 metres; the distance is approximately 170 miles.

180. In the Gospels (Matt. chapter 24; Mark chapter 13; Luke chapter 21) there are descriptions of how the Christian church stage by stage fell away and was corrupted. The mention there of the 'great affliction such as never was from the beginning of the world, nor ever will be' means, as in many other passages in the Word, the way truth was attacked by falsities, until there was no truth left which was not falsified and brought to an end. This too is the meaning of the 'abomination of desolation' there and the 'desolation upon the bird of abominations' and the 'ending and cutting off' in Daniel. It is the same thing which is described in Revelation, in the passages just quoted. It was caused by the church failing to acknowledge the oneness of God in the Trinity and His Trinity in oneness in one person, but rather dividing it into three persons. Thus they founded the church on the mental concept of three Gods, while verbally confessing belief in one God. For by this they separated themselves from the Lord, and eventually to such an extent that they had no idea left of divinity in His human nature, when in fact God the Father Himself is in the Human. This too is why He is called 'the Father of eternity' (Isa. 9:6), and He says to Philip, 'He who sees me sees the Father' (John 14:7, 9).

181. The question may be asked, what is the very source and spring from which has flowed forth such an abomination of desolation, as described in Daniel (9:27), and such an affliction as never was nor ever will be (Matt. 24:21)? The answer must be that it comes from the actual faith universally held throughout the Christian world, and from its influence, activity and imputation, as traditionally taught. It is astonishing that the doctrine of justification by that faith alone plays the leading role in the Christian churches, when it is no true faith, but a chimera; that is to say, it dominates the clergy almost as if it were the only theological dogma. It is this that all the recruits to the clergy in their schools avidly learn, swallow and absorb. And afterwards, as if inspired by heavenly wisdom, this is what they teach in their pulpits, publish in their books, and use to pursue and borrow a reputation for superior learning, fame and glory. It is for this that they are presented with diplomas, degrees and prizes. And this happens despite the fact that as a result of that faith alone to-day the sun has been darkened, the moon deprived of her light, the stars have fallen from the skies, and the powers of the heavens have been shaken, as predicted by the Lord's words in Matthew (24:29). I have been given evidence that the doctrine of that faith has to-day so blinded people's minds that they are unwilling and therefore unable to see any Divine truth inwardly in sunlight, or in moonlight, but only outwardly with its rough exterior in the light of a fire by night. Therefore I am able to prophesy that if there were sent down from heaven, written in letters of silver, the Divine truths about the true linking of charity and faith, about heaven and hell, about the Lord, about life after death and about everlasting happiness, these believers in justification and sanctification by faith alone would not judge them worth reading. But it would be quite different if a paper on justification by faith alone were sent up from hell; this they would seize on, kiss and carry off home in their pockets.

182. (viii) FURTHER, UNLESS A NEW HEAVEN AND A NEW CHURCH ARE FOUNDED BY THE LORD, NO FLESH CAN BE SAVED.

We read in Matthew:

Then there shall be great affliction, such as never was from the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will be. Indeed, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved. Matt. 24:21, 22.

That chapter deals with the completion of the age, by which is meant the end of the present-day church. Therefore 'cutting short those days' means bringing it to an end and setting up a new one. Is there anyone who does not know that if the Lord had not come into the world and carried out the redemption, no flesh could have been saved? Carrying out redemption means founding a new heaven and a new church. The Lord predicted in the Gospels that He would come into the world again (Matt. 24:30, 31; Mark 13:26; Luke 12:40; 21:27), and also in Revelation, especially in the last chapter. I have shown above in the section on Redemption [114-137], that the Lord is carrying out redemption to-day too, founding a new heaven and starting a new church, for the sake of man's salvation.

[2] The great secret about no flesh being able to be saved, if the Lord had not started a new church, is this. So long as the dragon with his crew stays in the world of spirits, into which he was thrown, no Divine truth united with Divine good can get through to people on earth without being perverted and falsified or being destroyed. This is what is meant by this passage in Revelation:

The dragon was cast down to earth, and his angels were cast down with him. Woe to those that live on the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to them having great wrath. Rev. 12:9, 12, 13. But after the dragon was cast into hell (20:10), then John saw a new heaven and a new earth, and the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven (21:1, 2). The dragon means those who hold the faith of the present-day church.

[3] I have several times in the spiritual world talked with those who believe that man is justified by faith alone, and I have told them that their doctrine is wrong and also absurd; it induces carelessness, blindness, sleep and darkness in spiritual matters, leading to the death of the soul. I have pleaded with them to abandon it. But I got the answer: 'Abandon it? Surely this is the one thing upon which the superiority of the clergy's learning over that of laymen depends.' I replied that in that case the salvation of souls was no part of their purpose, but only the superiority of their reputations. Because they had used the truths of the Word to support their false principles, thus adulterating them, they were angels of the abyss, those called Abaddons and Apollyons* (Rev. 9: 11), by whom are meant those who destroy the church by totally falsifying the Word. 'What do you mean?' they replied; 'our knowledge makes us oracles of the mysteries of that faith, and we give its replies as if from a shrine. So we are not Apollyons, but Apollos.' This made me cross and I said: 'If you are Apollos, you are also leviathans, your first rank twisted leviathans, the second elongated leviathans, whom God will visit with His hard and mighty sword (Isa. 27: 1). But at this they laughed.

* Hebrew and Greek words for 'destroyer'.

183. (ix) FROM A TRINITY OF PERSONS, EACH OF WHICH INDIVIDUALLY IS GOD, AS ASSERTED BY THE ATHANASIAN CREED, MANY ABSURD IDEAS OF VARIOUS KINDS HAVE ARISEN ABOUT GOD, WHICH ARE MERE FANCIES AND ABORTIONS.

The doctrine of three Divine persons from eternity, which is in itself the chief of all the doctrines held by the Christian churches, has given rise to many unbecoming ideas about God, unworthy of the Christian world, which, however, can and ought to be a light to all peoples and races in all four quarters of the globe concerning God and His oneness. All who live outside the Christian church, Mohammedans as well as Jews, and the heathen besides of whatever religion, reject Christianity solely on account of its belief in three Gods. Missionaries are well aware of this; so they take the greatest care not to speak openly of the Trinity of persons as described in the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, since then their converts would run away and make fun of them.

[2] The absurd, ridiculous and frivolous ideas which have arisen from the doctrine of three divine persons from eternity, and which still arise in the mind of anyone who sticks to believing the wording of that doctrine, rising from the ears and eyes to the level of mental contemplation, are these. God the Father sits overhead on high, with the Son at His right hand and the Holy Spirit in front of them listening, and rushing off on the instant through the world to hand out the gifts of justification according to the decision taken, inscribing these gifts and making their recipients sons of grace instead of sons of wrath, and elect instead of damned. I challenge the learned among the clergy and educated laymen to say whether they have in their minds any other picture than this imaginary one. For this springs to mind of its own accord from the doctrine itself; see the experience described in 16 above.

[3] Another thing that springs to mind is a curiosity to guess what they talked to each other about before the creation of the world. Did they talk about creating the world, about who were predestined to be saved and justified, as the Supralapsarians believe, and also about redemption? Likewise, what do they talk to each other about since the creation of the world, the Father with His authority and power to impute, the Son with His power to mediate; that imputation, which is election, is dependent upon the mercy of the Son who intercedes for all, and individually for some; and these receive grace from the Father, who is moved by love for His Son and by seeing His suffering on the cross. Can anyone fail to see that such ideas of God are the ravings of a deranged mind? Yet in Christian churches those are the holy things to be kissed with the lips, not inspected by any mental vision, because they are above the level of reason; if anyone were to lift them above the memory level to that of the understanding, they would drive him mad. But still this does not banish the idea of three Gods, but induces a foolish faith, which makes people think about God like someone dreaming in his sleep, walking in pitch darkness at night, or like a person blind from birth walking in daylight.

184. The fact that the minds of Christians are obsessed with the idea of a Trinity of Gods, for all that shame makes them deny it, is perfectly clear from the ingenuity many of them display in proving that three are one and one is three. They use various devices in geometry, solids, arithmetic and physics for the purpose, as well as folds in garments and sheets of paper. So they make the Divine Trinity a subject for games, like scenes between comic actors. This farce can be likened to the vision of patients in fevers, who see a single object, whether it be a person, a table or a candle, as three, or see three objects as one. It can also be likened to the game in which the players knead soft wax between their fingers, and pinch it into various shapes, now making it triangular to represent the Trinity, now into a ball to show it is all one, saying, 'Is it not still one and the same substance?' Yet the Divine Trinity is like a pearl* of great price; but divided into persons it is like a pearl cut into three, which is obviously completely ruined.

* The Latin word for 'pearl' is here unio, which also means 'union'.
 

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