Introduction to Oahspe

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Introduction

Its difficult to decide exactly what to say about Oahspe. Its a pretty amazing book. I’d have to say that when I first started reading it it often rubbed me the wrong way. Because of the challenging ideas it possesses, its hard to recommend to any orthodox religious believer, but it was precisely those complex challenging ideas which kept me reading it over and over. Parts of it might be down-right dangerous to a stable mind. Much of it comes across anti-organized religion; in a way reminiscent of early LDS authors and preachers.

 

 

Origins
Oahspe was revealed through John Ballou Newbrough in 1882. As told in his own words, John dabbled in spiritualism for ten of fifteen years until he “was not satisfied with the communications; [but] was craving for the light of heaven”. In time he says “I took it into my head that wise and exalted angels would commune better with us if we purified ourselves physically and spiritually. Then I gave up eating flesh and fish, milk and butter, and took to rising before day, bathing twice a day, and occupying a small room alone, where I sat every morning half-an-hour before sunrise, recounting daily to my Creator my shortcomings in governing myself in thought and deed”.

After six years of governing himself thus, he states to have begun to be visited by angels who “propounded to me questions relative to heaven and earth, which no mortal could answer very intelligently”. Two years subsequent to his communion with these angels, he was directed to buy a type-writer; whereafter he was instructed to rise early and with an angel standing over his head directed to write for a half-hour or so each morning for fifty-two weeks by the process of automatic writing. He was also directed not to read what was written until it was all finished. Upon completion he was instructed to publish the book without forming a church around it.

During this period John “pursued his vocation” of Dentistry, until 1884 when apparently in seeking to follow the teachings of the book, he moved to an area near Las Cruces, New Mexico and started a commune-type colony called “The land of Shalam”. In 1885 Newbrough and his wife eventually gathered fifty children and followers from foundling homes, police sergeants, and depositories”. By all accounts, the children, from all races, were pampered and treated with love and kindness, however, due mostly to financial failures the the colony folded by 1901, and the children were sent to orphanages.

 

Overview
If I had to pass judgement, I am still not sure where to classify Oahspe’s “heavenly origins”. The channeled material in the popular “Ra” book suggest that some unknown organization from the terrestrial or celestial levels of heaven approached some of the beings who govern our solar system, and suggested to aid man’s progression through revealing this book which spreads truth and error by its presentation of historical accounts of previous cycles of the earth’s existence. To me, there are a few problems with this possibility, but notwithstanding my opinion, the similarities to Mormonism in the book are not easily dismissed.

It contains so much information about the “laws of the higher kingdoms” concerning ascending to the higher heavens (Terrestrial & Celestial Kingdoms in Mormonism) as to be uncanny. Also about building Zion, the united/communal order, and the condemnation originating from material inequality. How earthly religions turn into idols and must be renewed/torn down. The cycles/dispensations/times of the gospel and its messengers. How unselfishness in the key to exaltation. Detailed cosmology and physics principles, Etc, etc..

But at the same time the text typically condemns the earth’s religions and paints them in a negative light, instead of showing them as imperfect “schoolmasters” as Paul seemed to view Judaism. The scribe(s) is/are generally anti-religion but pro-spirituality and somewhat misrepresent or distort the role of religion in earth’s history from my perspective. It derides the four beasts/false Gods/religions of the Millennium (Hinduism, Buddhism, Gentile Christianity & Islam), but completely ignores the true/false dualism in all these religions and presents them in an attitude of criticism so as to try and destroy faith altogether instead of leading people to any kind of unity of faith or universalism. Its account of “Joshua” (Christ) would lead one to believe that the historical Jesus was indeed a high follower of “Jehovah” who did many miracles, but that the biblical account of Jesus was largely manufactured by the early Christian Church. An LDS reader would probably want to skip this section of the text altogether. I’ve come to my own conclusions about which parts might be true and which parts are distorted, but the reader will have to judge for themselves. I believe that even with the Spirit of discernment, many readers will get a little screwed up in their attempts to make sense of the historical aspects of this book. (The spiritual aspects are pretty spot on for most Mormon readers).

As is typical of restorationist text supposedly originating from or passing through the lower heavens, my opinion is that the work is the least accurate in its accounts of more recent Western World events (founding of Christianity, Islam, America, etc), almost as if it came through a more Eastern World religious tradition (perhaps even a Chinese tradition).

The book does however, present interesting similarities concerning the Book of Mormon “Jaredite” people (Algonquin) and the principles of exaltation (it’s group nature), as well as various peoples temple rights and histories.

To see examples of the many, many ways that this text correlates with Mormonism read “The Oashpe Text & Mormonism

Go to partial HTML version of Oahspe at this post

See full PDF version of Oahspe here.  (15MB download)

For more detail see oahspestandardedition.com
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An LDS perspective on the ‘Law of One’ Material

the_law_of_one

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The Law of One is kinda crazy. Even for the average sceptic, if you can get past the information on bigfoot, aliens and government conspiracies… it’s got some great insight.

It is one of a handful of foundational channeled texts which have defined the New Age Movement. It is a collected series of transcripts, of more than 100 sessions, reputedly authored by an extra planetary intelligence claimed to be a group of individual souls at a “higher level of spiritual evolution” that were “channeled” by Don Elkins and Carla L. Rueckert (McCarty) in the early 1980s.

I can’t say I would recommend it to an orthodox Christian– because I think it is a back door to very esoteric knowledge, but I find myself repeatedly drawn to it because of its cohesive cosmology. If you’re very open minded and feel like there’s an unbridgeable gap between Christian Theology and modern science, it’s a must read. Anyone can write a channeled work and blow smoke about this or that, but what sets truly good religious works apart is their ability to cohesively describe the cosmos and cosmological phenomenon. As well as to describe the complexity of human thought and behavior. Despite its very difficult prose literary style and strange verbiage I am amazed at this material’s ability to harmonize the foundational concepts of all religions and tie it together with UFO-ology, and the modern New Age context.

I’ll get around some time to finishing this article and showing how its cosmology fits well with that taught in both Mormonism and Oahspe. It also has profound material on the Christ/Lucifer dichotomy. (Service to self, autocratic governance in the Universe vs. Service to Others democratic governance in the universe). It does a good job of tying eastern religious ideas and concepts with those of Christianity and Christian mysticism. It puts many new age ideas which usually come across as hokey or superstitious, such as crystal work (ie The Urim & Thummim) and energy work / pyramid structures, on a scientific foundation. It gives explanations for Atlantis and Lemuria which seem to tie-in well with LDS concepts of the antediluvian record and early Jaredite Kingdoms. It adds to Oahspe’s view of how UFO and extraterrestrial phenomenon fit with religious notions of God and extra-planetary Gods.

Views on God

The Law Of One or Ra series one the most profound views I’ve come across of the differing aspects of God or higher intelligence. The text defines the “One most high God” of Judeo-Christianity as “intelligent infinity”. This term represents the infinite intelligence that exists within and throughout all creation. All aspects of intelligence exists within a fractal relationship to this intelligent unity which binds all creation. This intelligence is passive, and any individuated self-conscious being has the potential to access this intelligent unity of all creation. It is a concept somewhat like the Nicene concept of God, mixed with non-anthropomorphic eastern concepts of God. The text also talks of “intelligent energy” which is the use of focus of intelligent infinity–a concept somewhat similar to the Mormon priesthood power or Jedi force of star wars.

Below this it speaks of many echelons or fractal levels of sub-intelligence. The Law Of One borrows the Hellenistic term “logos” for these. Our galaxy is an example of a logos, as is our solar system. Within these systems exists an intelligent unity which exists as a fractal of the higher governing bodies they are within (a system somewhat similar to that described in the Mormon Book of Abraham and hypocephalus). It states that there exists within each logos an 6-8th density level of consciousness which is the culmination of all intelligence independent of time. (somewhat similar to the Mormon view of the Celestial level of glory) The closer a self-conscious being can come to accessing this realm of consciousness, the more powerful he is. This is similar to the Mormon view that Christ and other God’s became “gods”, by growing “grace by grace” as they learned to use the priesthood or “powers of heaven” (D&C 121).

Ra teaches that each individual is also a “logos” and exists as a fractal or microcosm of these higher levels of consciousness… also possessing an 6-8th density aspect which is independent of time. This is something referred to as “the higher self” or personal God. Ra teaches that because this aspect of each individual’s and groups consciousness exists apart from time–it knows the outcome of every alternate reality, or possible experimentation in our personal evolution. Thus, by gaining access to this level of consciousness, we may be led to the most advantageous path of any circumstance. This is similar to the LDS views on “the spirit”–and its ability to personally lead us to happiness and salvation.

Apart from this, however, there are other levels of beings Ra speaks of. They state that any highly cohesive group has the potential of forming what Ra calls a “social memory complex”. These are a 4rth density (terrestrial in Mormon terms) phenomenon and are the “god” of most Christian Scripture. These groups create most global religions and are the source for much of the most well known channeled information. These are group consciousnesses of Carl Jung and creators of the archetypes found in religion. 

 

Problems & Contradictions

The material will probably not resonate with devout religious adherents, and some of its erudite descriptions of the “negative path” are a bit dark and uneasing. Much like many gnostic works, the material pokes behind the veils of organized religions, and in so doing tends to diminish fundamentalism.  The opportunities for misunderstanding are high.

As I read it, I am constantly reminded of the following verses from Oashpe,

33/3.19. O man, beware of angels who say…
33/3.28. …Behold me, I am from the highest, most exalted sphere, or from a far-off star, or,
33/3.29. Who says: I have visited the planets, or,
33/3.30. Who says: Resurrection comes by reincarnation: first a stone, then lead, then silver, then gold, then a tree, then a worm, then an animal and then man; or that a spirit re-enters the womb, and is born again in mortality, or,
33/3.31. Who says: You are blessed; for a host of ancient spirits attend you—you have a great mission.
33/3.32. For all of these are the utterances of the angels of the first resurrection. And though they may inspire great oratory and learned discourses, yet they are flatterers, and will surely lead you into grief.

33/5.6. Consider then the seers and prophets (who hear the angels) whether they have grown constitutionally to be one with Purity, Wisdom and Goodness.
33/5.7. For this is required of those who presume to hear me and my holy ones. And having attained to this, who, except those who have attained to the same, can judge them?
33/5.8. Shall a man ask a magician regarding the inspiration of the prophets of your God? Or the angels of the first resurrection be consulted as to their opinions of my revelations, and their words taken for truth without substantiation?

-Of course, to be fair, most accepted religious “prophets” are guilty of claims entailing of many of these warnings. (Including Christ himself). So obviously these wise words are not saying “don’t believe those who say these things” but instead, take caution because more often than not the inspiration is coming from a flatterer.  So keeping on our skeptical hat, yet putting judgement of the source aside (including Elkin’s troubling martyr-like suicide), I’ll go through just a few of the ideas taught in the Law of One works and show how they harmonize and fit within the framework of other restorationist and new age revelatory/channeled material.

-It says Oahspe is another work “given by the counsel” (the same council of Saturn to which they belong), but its descriptions of Jesus’ death as well as its descriptions of the building of the great pyramid, completely contradict each other.  (The law of One states that they helped build the pyramids by thought forms, Oahspe says the false Osiris inspired hojax to build it using natural means).

-Unlike most other channeled texts (Oahspe in particular) The book has virtually nothing which inspires the reader to morally better themselves. In fact it tends to do the opposite.

.

A few other thoughts…

-The work is theoretical  and largely impractical (compared to a practicable religion at least).  It offers a lot of amazing information but little to no support framework to carry out the exercises in group consciousness that it details.

-The way in which the answers, commonly contradict the questioner give it added validity in my mind. (The questioner will say “I believe this is how it is”, and the answer will say “no, you’ve got it all wrong, its more like this…)

-Its ideas on the 7 densities are spectacular. The idea that the Spirit World and its 7 divisions (which it says can be arbitrarily divided into 3 or 7 or infinite sets of 7) are a microcosm for 7 larger major densities or dimensions which the physical earth will progressively transition into, seems very original and rational.

-Its description of the highest level of the earth’s spirit world (or inner planes) as an exact microcosm/fractal of intelligent infinity (or the most-high god), solves a major enigma of how the Biblical god can call itself “The Most High God…” who “beside me there is no God” and yet still be just a planetary God.

-Its description of a “social memory complex” is spectacular. It helps to explain Oahspe’s logic of group harmony and cooperation being the key to raising higher in the heavens.

-Thus it seems to suggest that the pre-resurrection “Degrees of Glory” of Mormonism, and the “Atmospherea” of Oahspe (which it calls Time/Space or the earth’s inner planes) are a perfect microcosm of larger cycles of “Resurrection” (which can be made to fit well with Mormon scripture).

-Its advice on healing and crystal work should be of particular interest to Mormons and other faiths which share the mystical world-view.

———————————————————————————————————————————————-

definitions

The Law of One uses a very difficult-to-read literary style. Here are just a few of its unconventional but descriptive words and the concepts they represent.

Ra = The material purports to come from a large group consciousness called Ra, as in Is-ra-el (Isis-ra-el) or the sun god of ancient egypt.  They suggest they are a planetary group consciousness which influenced early Egypt. This is significant to Christians as Judaism was influenced by Egyptian religion and priesthood perhaps more than any other nation. According to the Book of Mormon, Israel was till using an Egyptain based writing system up until at least 600 BC.

Social Memory Complex = basically a term for a collective or group consciousness. Similar to the Christian communion. A concept esoterically taught by the Christian Eucharist. The “body” (church) of Christ.

mind/body/spirit complex = a term better translated ‘an individual’ or person. this term seeks to specify that each individual has three primary components; a mind, a physical body and a spirit.

Intelligent Infinity = This is essentially a term for what Mormons might call ‘The Most High God’ or ‘The infinite intelligence’. In the Law of One this concept of God is more like the ‘Great Spirit’ of Oahspe. It is differentiated from lower gods with bodies. It is the aspect of all creation which is intelligent and can be accessed by any fractal or individuated intelligence like mankind.

space/time & time/space = In LDS terms these are essentially the mortal world and the spirit world. More specifically these terms come from the cosmology of Dewey Larson. His premise was that all reality is just different manifestations of motion; that time and space are both different aspects of motion. space over time being where space is large compared to time as is the case in our physical or mortal world. time over space being where time is large compared to space as is in the spirit world. However, an LDS person should realize that while roughly analogous, these concepts have different meaning in the Law of One which may take a while to come to grasp.

learn/teach, ask/receive, & other dualities = The law of one teaches that all dualities are just different manifestations of the same thing, so in its verbiage it often pairs dualities with their opposites

 

 

Law of One Summarized

6.14 The Law of One states simply that all things are one, that all beings are one. There are certain behaviors and thought-forms consonant with the understanding and practice of this law. Those who, finishing a cycle of experience, demonstrate various grades of distortion of that understanding of thought and action will be separated by their own choice into the vibratory distortion most comfortable to their mind/body/spirit complexes. This process is guarded or watched by those nurturing beings who, being very close to the Law of One in their distortions, nevertheless have the distortion towards active service.

1.7 …That which is infinite cannot be many, for many-ness is a finite concept. To have infinity you must identify or define that infinity as unity; otherwise, the term does not have any referent or meaning. In an Infinite Creator there is only unity. You have seen simple examples of unity. You have seen the prism which shows all colors stemming from the sunlight. This is a simplistic example of unity.

In truth there is no right or wrong. There is no polarity for all will be, as you would say, reconciled at some point in your dance through the mind/body/spirit complex which you amuse yourself by distorting in various ways at this time. This distortion is not in any case necessary. It is chosen by each of you as an alternative to understanding the complete unity of thought which binds all things. You are not speaking of similar or somewhat like entities or things. You are every thing, every being, every emotion, every event, every situation. You are unity. You are infinity. You are love/light, light/love. You are. This is the Law of One.

4.20 The Law of One, though beyond the limitations of name, as you call vibratory sound complexes, may be approximated by stating that all things are one, that there is no polarity, no right or wrong, no disharmony, but only identity. All is one, and that one is love/light, light/love, the Infinite Creator.

72.12 Questioner: Could you explain what you mean by “raises up any personality?”
Ra: Clues, we may offer. Explanation is infringement. We can only ask that you realize that all are One

1.10 Firstly, you must understand that the distinction between yourself and others is not visible to us. We do not consider that a separation exists between the consciousness-raising efforts of the distortion which you project as a personality and the distortion which you project as an other personality. Thus, to learn is the same as to teach…

Similar concepts from LDS scripture

21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:21–23)

27 And after this manner shall ye baptize in my name; for behold, verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one. (3 Nephi 11:27)

43 And the Father and I are one. I am in the Father and the Father in me; and inasmuch as ye have received me, ye are in me and I in you. D&C 50:43

2 I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified for the sins of the world, even as many as will believe on my name, that they may become the sons of God, even one in me as I am one in the Father, as the Father is one in me, that we may be one. D&C 35:2

18 And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them. (Moses 7:18)

Read the Law of One at lawofone.info

Download the pdf’s here

Emanuel Swedenborg and Mormonism

emanuel swedenborg

emanuel swedenborg

 

It’s been years since I first noticed the marked similarities between many of the teachings of Joseph Smith and Emanual Swedenborg. I’v read many of Swedenborg’s books and enjoyed all of them. His writing style is quite drawn out and laborious. I imagine some of the awfully verbose nature of his writing (especially his first work, Arcana Coelestia) might be because of his Swedish background? At any rate, I would have to say my views on his writings have changed a lot, the more I have read from the occult or mysticism movements. I meant to write an article on this a while back when I bought “Heaven & Hell” and began reading many of his other works on sacred-texts.com (see the Swedenborg library at http://sacred-texts.com/swd/).

I recently came across this essay compiled by Craig Miller and thought I would re-post it. It does a great job of going through the many similarities, although I don’t necessarily agree with which aspects arose from inspirational congruence and which were parroted doctrines.

One important note on on Millar’s essay below: It’s a common thing to hear that Joseph’s three degrees of glory are similar to (and possibly borrowed from) Swedenborg’s view of heaven. But this is a fairly uneducated assertion. It’s likely Joseph was familiar with Swedenborg (he supposedly owned a copy one one of Swedenborg’s many books). It’s also very likely the saints where influenced by Swedenborg in how they interpreted D&C 76, since It’s also true that Swedenborg taught of three degrees, and a ‘spirit world’. But they are not called Celestial, Terrestrial, Telestial… and they don’t look anything like Joseph’s. Joseph’s three degrees in D&C 76 look a lot more like the Catholic view of heaven, hell and purgatory, than they do Swedenborg’s Celestial, Spiritual and Natural heavens. (which depending on how you read it…. may have been contrasted by three additional degrees of hell). Read D&C 76’s description of the “terrestrial” and compare it to St Ambrose’s purgatory… they’re almost synonymous. Likewise D&C 76:84, calls the telestial kingdom, “hell”. That is nothing like Swedenborg’s realms. Only those who know next to nothing about Swedenborg pass around that myth. (which is a lot of people).

Did Emanuel Swedenborg Influence LDS Doctrine?

by Craig Miller[1]

Born in Sweden in 1688, Emanuel Swedenborg claims that at the age of 57 he was visited by the Savior and commanded to write the inner meaning of the scriptures and to explain life awaiting man after the death of the physical body. He claims to have been a citizen of both the physical and the spiritual world for approximately 27 years[2], conversing with angels on a daily basis. The Swedish mystic wrote thousands of pages explaining what he learned from angels and inspired insights into the scriptures and claims that he wrote only as the Lord directed.

Emanuel Swedenborg’s teachings, discussed later in more detail, are startlingly recognizable to the student of LDS theology. For example, he taught that there are three heavens, the celestial being the most inward and refined. There are three levels within the celestial glory and marriage for all eternity is an absolute requirement for entry into the highest of these heavens. He witnessed a marriage in heaven and stated that the husband was arrayed in the priesthood robes of Aaron and the wife wore apparel suggestive of a queen with a crown on her head.

Large portions of what many consider to be unique teachings of the LDS Church are found in the Swedish mystic’s writings. Nevertheless he is not a mirror of all LDS teachings since, for instance, he taught that God the Father, Christ, and the Holy Ghost are a single individual; concepts about a pre-mortal existence are a misunderstanding; and that our Lord did not make any payment for our sins on the cross; among other things.

Swedenborg shows us that God has his hand in many aspects of human history and is mindful of more than just his LDS children. Few LDS know of Emanuel Swedenborg, let alone his teachings, so that he seems nearly invisible in LDS writings and study. Perhaps we should heed the Doctrine and Covenants exhortation to Aseek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom.[3] My study of the Writings[4] has enriched my understanding of the gospel and its importance for mankind. From my own observations of his teachings I believe that the study of Swedenborg’s writings can help solve some of life’s knotty problems.

A Brief History of Emanuel Swedenborg[5]

Swedenborg was an eighteenth century renaissance figure, who investigated and wrote extensively on areas ranging from scientific and philosophic matters to engineering and political economy. A member of the nobility, he was well known and respected in his time, and even today, for his scientific accomplishments. Having had a major spiritual awakening, he began to write books about the nature of God, the spiritual life, heaven and hell, a deeper meaning to the Bible, providence, marriage, and the second coming of Christ. He believed that his teachings were Divinely inspired and that they would be the foundation for the rebirth of Christianity.

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, on the 29th of January, 1688, the son of a clergyman and professor of theology, Swedenborg grew up in a household filled with moral, political, intellectual and philosophical dialogue. The family also did well in worldly affairs. Their mine and land holdings could have comfortably supported Emanuel apart from any salary he received from his employment if he had chosen not to work.

After his formal education at Uppsala University, at the age of twenty-two, Swedenborg began to travel. While in England and Holland he immersed himself in studying many subjects, including: physics, astronomy, mathematics, anatomy, physiology, economics, metallurgy, mineralogy, geology, chemistry, watchmaking, bookbinding, and lens grinding, only a sample of the intense, self-directed program of education he embarked on in the early part of his life.

During this time of travel and scholarship, Swedenborg began his career of public service. In 1716, the King of Sweden appointed him Extraordinary Assessor in the Royal College of Mines. Also in 1716 he was hired by Christopher Polhem, recognized as one of Sweden’s greatest inventors. Christopher offered Emanuel the hand of his eldest daughter Maria, but Emanuel preferred Maria’s younger sister, Emerentia and employed some intrigues to avoid marrying Maria while keeping himself in everyone’s good graces. Unfortunately the brilliant and beautiful Emerentia preferred a younger gentleman, which deeply disappointed Emanuel. Matrimony is one area where Emanuel’s efforts ultimately went unrewarded, although he made more than one serious attempt.

In 1719, he took a seat in the House of Nobles (a part of the Swedish legislature), in which he served the Swedish government for some fifty years. Also, the King of Sweden, impressed with Swedenborg’s contributions as editor of Daedalus (a periodical dedicated to the discussion of natural sciences), asked Swedenborg to serve as his engineering advisor. In that capacity, Swedenborg devised numerous feats of engineering to aid the military and industry. He also designed many inventions. Although most were never built, they included a submarine, an airplane, a steam engine, an air gun and a slow-combustion stove. Befitting a man of his intellectual strength and fervor, Swedenborg published many books on a vast number of subjects. Two subjects that he made particular advances in were metallurgy and biology. Especially impressive is the work he did in connection with the nervous system; he is generally credited with being the first to accurately understand the significance of the cerebral cortex and the respiratory function of the brain tissues.

Throughout all this Swedenborg wasn’t satisfied with a purely physical approach to studying humanity and the universe. In particular, his ambition was to comprehend more fully the nature of the soul and to develop a new, more accurate cosmology than had ever before been proposed. Based upon his conviction that underlying all matter in the universe was Divine force, he wrote of the relationships between matter and energy, between the finite and the Infinite, and between God and humanity. Among the books he wrote on these topics were: The Economy of the Animate Kingdom, The Brain, The Senses, and Rational Psychology.

Then, in 1744, his life took an unexpected turn. He began to have vivid, disturbing, and exhilarating dreams and visions. Not knowing what to make of these odd experiences, he revealed them nowhere but in his personal journals. Moved partially by the need to understand his own recent experiences and partially by the direction his studies in cosmology and the human soul were taking, he began a meticulous study of the Bible.

In the month of April, 1745, Emanuel Swedenborg had an experience that forever changed his life – The Lord appeared to him and told him something amazing: a human person was needed to serve as the means by which God would further reveal Himself to humanity, somewhat in the manner of the Biblical visions of the Old Testament. So began Swedenborg’s life as a spiritual revelator.

From then until his death, Swedenborg studied the Bible, perfected his knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, and wrote numerous theological works which he claimed revealed the new Truths that have become the foundation for The New Church. Throughout this time, and confirming what the Lord was revealing to him, he was in periodic communication with spirits in Heaven and in Hell – exploring all the wonders of the world to come. In the numerous books, he revealed the hidden, inner meaning to the stories of the Old and New Testaments, the fundamental nature of God, Humanity and Creation, the truth about the afterlife, the keys to our own personal spiritual growth, the real meaning of the Book of Revelation, and the beautiful inner secrets behind true loving marriages, just to name a few things.

At first, his books went largely unnoticed. He published them anonymously at his own cost, sending them to the learned people of his day, but the general public was still unaware of his newfound truths. This began to change after a strange occurrence in July 1759. Swedenborg was in Gothenburg, dining with friends at the home of a wealthy local merchant. During the dinner, he suddenly became pale and distraught-looking and withdrew from the table. When asked what was the matter, he replied that he had just had news that a horrible fire had broken out in Stockholm (which was 300 miles from Gothenburg), not far from his own home. Then, at around eight o’clock that same evening, he just as suddenly became relieved, explaining that the fire had been extinguished three houses down from his own home.

His words and behavior of that evening became the talk of the town just a few days later, when a messenger arrived from Stockholm with news about the fire Swedenborg had described. Upon questioning, it was discovered that his description of the event had perfectly matched, in much detail, what had actually happened that summer evening. Soon afterward, the first surge of interest in his theological writings began, spurred on not only by the strange story of his uncanny knowledge of the Stockholm fire, but also by several other episodes which demonstrated an ability to communicate with people in the spiritual world.

For the remainder of his life, Swedenborg visited the other world and published books revealing the truths he believed God had summoned him to write. He also maintained an active life in this world, taking part in political discussions in the House of Lords, of which he was a member, and writing on such diverse topics as Sweden’s monetary policy and how to inlay tables. Then, on Sunday, March 29th, 1772 at five o’clock in the afternoon, Emanuel Swedenborg entered into the Spiritual World for the final time, never to return again (incidentally, dying exactly when he had earlier predicted he would). Since then, his Writings have affected thousands of people, both directly and indirectly. The universal theology put forth in his works has contributed to advancement of religious thought all across the world, from Christianity to Buddhism, and has inspired many a great person, including William Blake, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Wesley, Helen Keller, Johnny Appleseed, and many others. Most importantly (at least, to people in the New Church) The Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg have served as the foundation for a New Christian Church.

How LDS Teachings Compare with Swedenborg’s

The similarities between LDS doctrine and Swedenborg’s teachings are striking – and impossible for me to imagine as mere coincidences. Likewise, the differences are also just as outstanding and cause me to wonder how the similarities can coexist with such marked differences.

I list here some similarities which include a few ideas which are embraced by both Swedenborg and the LDS religion but which are far from a comprehensive list. Volumes could be written about each topic and how they compare. I will leave to the theologians of both the LDS Church and New Churches[6] the in-depth examination of these concepts. The majority of my citations are from Heaven and Hell, Swedenborg’s most popular work.[7]

Swedenborg numbered paragraphs in his writing so that no matter in what format they might be published, readers could follow the same numbering scheme. In his own works his references are always listed in this fashion. I have also adopted this system for the references to Swedenborg’s works. Other works are referred to by page number. Scriptures, LDS or otherwise, use standard scriptural notation.

Vocabulary differences between Swedenborgian writings and LDS scriptures should also be noted. In Swedenborg’s writings Mormons should generally substitute the word perdition for hell to understand the proper context. The spirit world, for Swedenborgians, includes perdition, heaven, and a realm of more-or-less recently departed spirits while the term ‘world of spirits’ in Swedenborg’s Writings refers to an intermediate realm between heaven and hell for the relatively recently deceased. Since world of spirits can be understood by both an LDS or Swedenborgian reader, this term is used throughout the text.

Unique Similarities

In the entire congregation of all historical Christian theologians the following similarities, according to the understanding of the author, are only found in the LDS religious tradition and the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg. One such similarity would be an interesting coincidence, two completely unexpected, three a practical impossibility, and four a strong indication that there is something much more to the similarities than mere chance. An analogy might be that a unique gene in two otherwise very dissimilar individuals may still be an indication that common ancestry is a either a high probability or an absolute certainty.

1. There are three heavens (D&C 76, Heaven and Hell chapter 5). Swedenborg divided the heavens into three: celestial, spiritual, and natural, with divisions so absolute that direct communication is generally not possible without divine help. Those of lower heavens in general cannot see the inhabitants of the higher heavens. Communication does occur between higher and lower realms, but those of the lower heavens are, in general, not so aware of its occurrence. The communication originates from what Swedenborg calls correspondences, which are in the nature of the relationship of a symbol or allegory and which are a central feature of all creation, providing the means by which higher or more inner degrees of reality, beginning with God Himself, are related, typically in cause and effect fashion, to lower, more external degrees. The LDS parallel of Swedenborg’s heavens are the celestial, terrestrial, and telestial heavens. Swedenborg’s terms for the heavens are all biblical, and can be found in the scriptures that Mormons believe refer to these heavens, 1 Cor 15:40–42.[8] The counterpart of Swedenborg’s spiritual heaven is the LDS terrestrial heaven, which despite its name, is not depicted as being earthlike in LDS scripture. To describe the lowest of the heavens Joseph Smith invented a new term, telestial. Swedenborg stated that the heavens were arranged in layers around the central Sun of heaven, or the Lord God Jesus Christ. The natural heaven is the furthest from the center.

2. Priesthood robes are worn in heavenly marriage ceremonies. Swedenborg witnessed a marriage ceremony in heaven in which the husband wore robes like those of Aaron while the wife was arrayed as a queen. (D&C 131:2, Conjugial Love 20, 21). LDS doctrine mostly speaks of two orders of the priesthood, the Melchizedek and Aaronic, but also speaks of the patriarchal order as another order of the priesthood (D&C 132). Swedenborg’s description of the attire of the heavenly couple in the marriage ceremony of Cojugial Love 21 will strike a chord with all Mormons who have witnessed a temple marriage.[9]

3. There are three heavens in the celestial glory or kingdom (D&C 131:1, Arcana Coelestia 9993). Swedenborg states that there are three heavens, the celestial, spiritual and natural, and two kingdoms of heaven, the celestial and the spiritual. The organizational relationship between the three heavens and two kingdoms is complex and has long been a source of discussion among students of Swedenborg. In Arcana Coelestia 9993 [2], Swedenborg states that the celestial kingdom has three divisions, and also stated in Arcana Coelestia 5922 [2] that the celestial kingdom is the celestial heaven. Through the Lord’s direction and by means of angels that communicate between them they act in unison. Mormons understand D&C 131:1 to mean that the celestial heaven, glory in D&C 131:1, is divided into three heavens. Swedenborg also used the word glory to refer to kingdoms, Arcana Coelestia 5922 [2]. While, again, the exact interpretation of the three heavens-two kingdoms distinction remains a matter of discussion in the New Church, the parallels with LDS doctrine are still obvious.

4. You must be married in heaven to inherit the highest heaven (D&C 131:2, Conjugial Love 54(5), 155). Monogamy is central, according to Swedenborg, to all of heaven, although there are a few exceptions, such as sincere celibates and some Islamics in polygamous relationships, who live at the fringes or side of the lower heavens. Marriage mimics (or, in Swedenborg’s term and concept, “corresponds to”) the relationship between God and His Church since their ultimate destiny is approach unity. Again, Swedenborg states that an absolute requirement to inherit the highest heaven is heterosexual marriage. Marriage, according to Swedenborg, means the separate minds of man and wife become so closely spiritually linked that they become one mind (and married couples in heaven, seen from a distance, may appear on occasion as one individual). The Doctrine and Covenants simply states that the highest heaven in the celestial glory cannot be attained without eternal marriage (D&C 132:2). Without eternal marriage men and women cannot fulfill the purpose of their creation or reach the highest degree of spiritual attainment which is possible for them, or in Swedenborg’s words, “cannot approach the Lord” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Vol.3, p.333, Conjugial Love 155). Swedenborg saw married partners in heaven as being two halves of good and truth or love and wisdom. The unity of these two is fundamental to creation, the husband bringing wisdom externally and love internally and the wife bringing love externally and wisdom internally to the union. LDS ideas aren’t so specific but similar concepts are hinted at in the temple.

5. The world of spirits is a place of preparation for either heaven or perdition (Alma 12:24, 34:32-34, 40:21, Heaven and Hell 421, 422). Both LDS doctrine and Swedenborg state that the world of spirits is the portal through which all mankind passes on to prepare for either heaven or perdition. This idea is distinct from the Catholic idea of purgatory in which only the righteous go who are destined for heaven. Purgatory is also seen as a place of punishment. Most of Christianity rejects the idea of purgatory, or a spiritual abode separate from heaven or hell, as being non-scriptural. Swedenborg taught that for newly arrived spirits, the world of spirits is nearly identical to this one. LDS doctrine refers to the world of spirits as a continuation of this life where men make decisions about their eternal outcome and eventually inherit one of the three heavens or perdition (Alma 12:24, Alma 34:32–34 where “this life” is taken to extend into the world of spirit). This is echoed in Swedenborg’s teachings as well, but for Swedenborg the ultimate fate of the soul is determined by the individual’s “ruling love,” or basic spiritual orientation toward good or evil, at the time of passing from mortality (Heaven and Hell 427). LDS doctrine states that men are not only judged by their actions, but the desires of their heart (Alma 41:3, Helaman 14:29–31, Mosiah 2:34–39; Doctrine and Covenants 137:9) . The LDS concept of the world of spirits allows a wide range of choice for those who have never encountered true principles during their lifetime. Mormons believe that a person may remain in the world of spirits for hundreds or thousands of years while Swedenborg generally limits this time of preparation to a mere thirty years (1 Peter 3:18–20, Heaven and Hell 426. It might be noted that Swedenborg teaches that there was an exception to the thirty year rule in past history, at a time when there existed “false heavens,” realms created in the spirit world which trap those who would otherwise progress to heaven or perdition, but that these were eliminated at the time of the Last Judgment, which Swedenborg states occurred in the year 1757 (Last Judgement 64). LDS teachers indicate that repentance is much easier in the physical realms than in the world of spirits while Swedenborg indicates that it is impossible anywhere but the physical existance (Journal of Discourses 3:230 and 3:371, Heaven and Hell 480).

6. There are angels who communicate between heavens (Doctrine and Covenants 76:86–88, Heaven and Hell 27, 35). Swedenborg states that higher heavens communicate with lower ones through intermediary angels and through correspondence (Heaven and Hell 35, 88). Swedenborg’s description of angelic communication between heavens is fascinating, “as is often done, angels are raised up by the Lord out of a lower heaven into a higher that they may behold its glory; for then they are prepared beforehand, and are encompassed by intermediate angels, through whom they have communication…” (Heaven and Hell 35). Communication is facilitated by raising the awareness of lower angels to that of the higher heaven so that the message can be perceived or understood. The Doctrine and Covenants states that “some” of the celestial heaven minister to those in the terrestrial (spiritual?) heaven, and “some” of the terrestrial (spiritual?) heaven minister to those of the telestial (natural?) heaven. Swedenborg describes societies of angels whose principal function is communication between the kingdoms of heaven (Heaven and Hell 27). Doctrine and Covenants 76:88 states that the angels who communicate to lower heavens are “appointed” for this task, paralleling the Swedenborgian idea that angelic societies tend to have a specialization.

7. Likens the celestial, spiritual (terrestrial?), and natural (telestial?) heaven to the sun, moon, and stars (D&C 76:50,71,81, 88:7-9, Heaven and Hell 117-120, 129, Apocalypse Revealed 65). I place this at the end of the list because there is a significant difference embeded in the similarity, namely that Swedenborg speaks of the heavens and their illumination while LDS scriptures speak of the bodies of the inhabitants of those heavens. Nevertheless, the aspects of the teachings that are similar are unique in Christianity and not clear in the King James version of 1 Cor 15:40–42. Allegorically, Swedenborg likens both the nature of each heaven as well as the illumination in the sky of each heaven to the sun, moon, and stars (Heaven and Hell 119). He states that the sun of the celestial heaven and the moon of the spiritual kingdom is the Lord (Heaven and Hell 118). Swedenborg states that the communities of the natural heaven appear as stars in the sky to inhabitants of the world of spirits (Apocalypse Revealed 65). In the Joseph Smith translation of I Cor 14:40–42 and in Doctrine and Covenants 76:70,71,81; the resurrected bodies of those in the celestial, terrestrial, and telestial heavens are likened to the sun, moon, and stars. In Doctrine and Covenants 88:7,8, the Lord is said to be the light of the sun and is in the sun and also the light of the moon and is in the moon. Verse 9 states that He is also the source of the light of the stars but does not state the He is in the stars. It could well be that these verses speak of the spiritual realms more than the physical.

Other Similarities

These following similarities are interesting, but common to more than just LDS Church and New Church teachings. There are significant differences embedded in some of the similarities. These are explained as far as understood by the author.

8. The church Christ established has passed from the earth (Joseph Smith—History 16, etc., Last Judgement 33-39). Swedenborg stated that the first Christian church died spiritually, due to falling into falsities, ending its ability to serve as a spiritual link between heaven and earth.[10] While Swedenborg lamented the loss of spirituality and truth, Smith emphasized the loss of authority.[11] LDS doctrine teaches that the church established by Christ had ceased to exist on earth among mortal men due to apostasy, thus ending of transferring priesthood authority given by Christ to His apostles. Mormons believe the Lord’s Church has a link to heaven through this priesthood, which priesthood has the authority to act for God on earth and perform ordinances necessary for salvation, such as baptism. While this similarity will pique the interest of LDS readers, it should be noted that many protestant reformers also claimed that Christ’s church had ceased to exist among men.

9. The Lord will establish a New Church on the earth once more (D&C 1, the First Vision, True Christian Religion 647). The Lord’s Church would be reestablished, the truth would be taught again and serve as a link to heaven. To Mormons this link is revelation which is granted to the Lord’s servants, more specifically those that are ordained to the priesthood and who are called to guide the Church. New Church people believe that only Swedenborg received such revelation, not church members. The idea of a latter-day restoration of Christ’s church is not totally unique to LDS or Swedenborgian thought, however, since a number of Christian reformers stated that the church had fallen away and needed to be reestablished.[12] What is unique about Swedenborg is that although he recognized the need for reestablishing Christ’s church on the earth, he did little to bring about its organization beyond publishing the Writings.

10. Little children who die, Christian or not, go directly to heaven (Moroni 8:7–10, Heaven and Hell 332). Swedenborg states that they still require instruction. Both Swedenborg and LDS doctrine states that small children are not capable of understanding the results of their actions are not therefore culpable. LDS doctrine holds that all little children who die are bound for the celestial heaven (Doctrine and Covenants 137:10). Swedenborg states that little children are immediately taken into heaven after death (Heaven and Hell 332).

11. Since God creates man in free will, God does not send man to heaven or perdition. Man makes this choice himself. (2 Ne. 2:26–30; 10:23; Alma 13:3; Hela. 14:31, Heaven and Hell 452, Conjugial Love 48b) Swedenborg taught that hell-bound individuals cannot bear to be in heaven’s proximity. Orson Pratt indicated that the wicked would rather be in hell than the presence of God (Journal of Discourses 16: 331).

12. Without “opposition in all things”, or what Swedenborg terms the equilibrium between good and evil, the universe would not exist and men would appear dead (2 Ne. 2:11–13, Mosiah 2:21, Heaven and Hell 589, 592, 594, Arcana Coelestia 2887). Opposition means, in the words of the Book of Mormon, the opportunity for mankind to choose either eternal life and liberty or captivity and death. In other words, all men at all times are attracted by good and evil during mortality and have the opportunity to choose one or the other. This opposition, or balance, allows men to be free to choose (2 Nephi 2:16, Heaven and Hell 589). Swedenborg also states that “without equilibrium… nothing can come forth and have permanent existence,” (Heaven and Hell 589) and “all things and each thing in the universe, that is, both in the natural world and in the spiritual world, endure by means of equilibrium” (Heaven and Hell 592). The Book of Mormon similarly states that without opposition nothing could exist “neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away” (2 Nephi 2:13). Both balance (Swedenborg) and opposition (LDS) seem to indicate the opposed play of forces discovered by science in the physical world which allows it to exist. Swedenborg states that men are constantly in touch with (though not conscious of) both angels and evil spirits and if this were to cease that men would appear dead (Arcana Coelestia 2887). The Book of Mormon similarly states that without opposition creation would “remain as dead, having no life neither death” (2 Nephi 2:11).

13. Man is not saved by faith alone but must show works from a changed heart (Alma 11:34–37, True Christian Religion 340-342, Heaven and Hell 427). Swedenborg taught that justification by faith alone is one of the great errors of Christianity. The Book of Mormon teaches that we are saved by grace AFTER all we can do (2 Nephi 25:23).

14. Swedenborg echoes concepts found in the LDS sacrament prayer. If these principles are followed, men are guided on earth and the spirit world (Moroni chapters 4&5, Heaven and Hell 528-535). We must live the commandments (Moroni 4:3, Heaven and Hell 528-535). We must take upon us the name of the Son, which to Mormons means to lead a life of charity and service (Mosiah 18:8–11). Swedenborg also speaks of taking upon us the name of Christ in similar ways which emphasize charity and service.[13] (Moroni 4:3, , Heaven and Hell 528-535). We must think on heavenly things, or, more specifically, for Mormons, Christ or, for followers of Swedenborg, the Lord’s Divine Human (Swedenborg’s words) (Moroni 4:3, 5:2, Heaven and Hell 534).

15. One way to qualify for perdition is to know the truth and deny it, or in Swedenborg’s terms accept the truth and then later deny it (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith pg 358, Heaven and Hell 456). According to Joseph Smith, knowing the truth and then denying it is not mere disagreement. He stated that the candidate for perdition “has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it; and from that time he begins to be an enemy.” Swedenborg explains that heavenly visions are withheld from man because “there is danger in confirming any thing by visions when men are in falsities, for they would then first believe and afterwards deny, and thus would profane the truth itself, since to believe and afterwards deny is to profane; and those who profane truths are cast down into the lowest and most grievous of all the hells” (Heaven and Hell 456).

16. Celestial beings incorporate the law of consecration into their lives. In Mormon vernacular this means that our goods, time, talents, and all else that we appear to possess in fact belongs to God. (LDS traditional teachings, D&C 42, Moses 7:18, Heaven and Hell 8, 408). Swedenborg states that heavenly beings believe that all the good they have is from the Lord, not themselves, and that their role is to be tools for use by the Lord.

17. The creation and the garden of Eden stories are allegories to our spiritual progress (Arcana Coelestia vol. 1). The LDS counterpart of this idea is found in the temple and cannot be described in detail here.

18. All things in the physical world exist due to existence of a spiritual quality cause that then brings about a physical world effect, by means of what Swedenborg terms “correspondence” of the spiritual to the physical entity (e.g. water has a correspondential origin in truth, with which it thus shares symbolic qualities) (Moses 3:5&7, Heaven and Hell chapter 12) Mormons typically believe that there exists an image of our world in the spiritual realms. Swedenborg teaches that this is mostly true for the recently departed (Heaven and Hell 493), but that at a deeper spiritual level, things in the physical realm are mere symbols for the profound truths found in heaven.[14] Mormons also believe that the world was created completely in spiritual form before the physical creation. For Swedenborg, this is true through “correspondence” (Heaven and Hell 89), since the physical realm corresponds to the antecedent spiritual realm.

19. God is man. (Moses 6:57, 7:35, Matthew 16:13, Arcana Coelestia 9359, 9361, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 345) Swedenborg states that “God is very Man” (Divine Love and Wisdom 11, New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 1). According to Swedenborg the difference between God and man is that while God has assumed humanity, he remains infinite in power, love, intelligence, and glory, while man merely approaches that ultimate by degrees and is finite. Before his birth, Swedenborg maintains that God was invisible to man and was represented on earth by His angels, who assumed His form when speaking with men. After His birth the resurrected Christ appears as Himself to men (True Christian Religion 786, 787). To Swedenborg, the whole of heaven, each angel, and all men are created in the image and likeness of the Divine humanity of God (Heaven and Hell 78-86). In this Greatest Human Being we find the structures and functions of both sexes (Apocalypse Explained 985:2). Joseph Smith taught that God is a man and is now exalted but was once Himself a mortal on earth. While the humanity of God is a common element there are some major differences between Swedenborg’s and Joseph Smith’s concepts of God’s humanity, especially since the LDS concept appears to encompass the idea that God is finite. The LDS view of God’s humanity is echoed in the King Follett Discourse of Joseph Smith:

“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible,CI say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in formClike yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man….” Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg 345.

Some Differences

1. God the Father, Christ, and the Holy Ghost are a single individual in Swedenborg’s teachings. (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22, True Christian Religion 6 [3]). Current LDS Doctrine on the nature of God is clear that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are separate deities within the Godhead.

“Latter-day Saints believe in God the Father; his Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost (Article of Faith 1). These three Gods form the Godhead, which holds the keys of power over the universe. Each member of the Godhead is an independent personage, separate and distinct from the other two, the three being in perfect unity and harmony with each other (Articles of Faith, chap. 2)” Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “Godhead.”

According to Swedenborg’s teachings, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are three aspects of God in the same manner that man had a body, a spirit, and individual thought. One Swedenborgian minister summarized Swedenborg’s explanation of the triune nature of God as follows:

Father ‘ Divine Itself ‘ invisible God ‘ Soul

Son ‘ Divine Human ‘ visible God ‘ Body

Holy Spirit ‘ Divine Proceeding ‘ Operation/Activity[15]

The Lectures on Faith, written in the first half of the 1830’s and later included in the standard works, teaches that the Father was a personage of spirit, the Son a personage of tabernacle, and that the Holy Ghost was their common mind.[16] If it could be understood that two personages with a common mind are one individual, then we have almost an exact corollary to Swedenborg’s teachings. Dan Vogel presents evidence that the earliest conceptions of God in the LDS Church portray the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one individual, but that later teachings clearly contradicted this point of view.[17] This eventually disappeared from LDS teachings until finally the idea that the Father possessed a body of flesh appeared in LDS scripture fully endowing the Father with a separate physical and spiritual identity.

To illustrate the importance of the unity of God Swedenborg claims that the angels in heaven can not even pronounce the word “gods” (True Christian Religion 6 [3]). Nevertheless, Swedenborg seems to affirm the LDS view that the Father and the Son may appear as separate beings while rejecting how Mormons would interpret outward separateness. Swedenborg states that often in heaven the Lord appears as an angel apart from the sun of heaven where the Lord dwells (Heaven and Hell 121). He also teaches that during Christ’s earthly ministry He altered between states of temptation, when God the Father appeared as remote from Himself, and states when it was clear to Him that “I and my father are one.” but that this alternation ended with the conclusion of His temptations at the crucifixion (True Christian Religion 104-105).

2. Polygamy, if continued past the spirit world, assures that you will not enter the highest heaven (D&C 132, Heaven and Hell 379, Conjugial Love 141, 332, 348) or, with a handful of exceptions, that you will enter heaven at all since the monogamous married relationship is “in the image of God” and fundamental to heavenly existence. (Swedenborg does mention an exception in the form of a separate heaven of sincere Islamics, but it is clear that the quality of this heaven is below that of the rest of heaven as a result.) LDS scripture indicates that women sealed to a man with proper authority will be married to him for the eternities and they will become gods. Swedenborg agrees that marriages are, again, fundamental to heaven, but that all, again except for some Islamics, are monogamous. As already noted, this is because marriage there melds two minds into one and the forces that allow this to happen do not operate outside a monogamous relationship. Swedenborg states, “Polygamy is not a sin for those whose religion allows it,” but seems to exclude Christians from this exception (Conjugial Love 332). Swedenborg classifies polygamy among Christians as adultery, so that a husband of a polygamous marriage must renounce that state and choose a single wife in order to come in to heaven and establish the unity that allows higher understanding.

3. The Church of God is not an earthly organization and encompasses the entire world with those who follow true principles. The true church’s membership, according to Swedenborg, is fundamentally spiritual and its membership known but to God. New Church people are always very careful to distinguish human organizations designed to implement such uses as religious instruction from the true spiritual church, despite the same word being used to refer to both. (Arcana Coelestia 8152, Apocalypse Explained 304). The earliest concept of “Christ’s Church” taught in LDS teachings was fairly close to Swedenborg’s teachings.[18] The present LDS concept is that the Church of Christ is a specific organization places less emphasis on the nature of the members and gives far more importance to the institutional church (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30).

4. Christ redeems the world, but there is no vicarious payment for the sins of others (True Christian Religion 132, 133). LDS doctrine and mainstream Christianity state that Christ was slain for the sins of the world (D&C. 29:40-45; 2 Nephi 9:6–9; 2 Nephi 11:3). According to Swedenborg, the idea that God would be sufficiently angry with the human race to withhold his blessings until he killed his own Son to appease that anger is more characteristic of a monster than a gracious God. According to Swedenborg, Christ came to reset the good-evil equilibrium among men, since it had become unbalanced in the direction of evil as a result of men’s actions over history up till that time and so was interfering with free agency. In his system, anyone who goes to hell does so, not because of being punished for sins in the world, even terrible ones, but because, if he is of a hellish nature, he will want to continue such sinning in the other world. And the only place you can do that is hell. Christ’s temptation and suffering, according to Swedenborg, was primarily on the spiritual plane and continued from the moment of his birth, though only manifested externally (and correspondingly) at the end. As part of what Swedenborg terms the glorification process, Christ eliminated all of his human nature derived from the Mary-based heredity and brought about a new level of union with the Divine. Swedenborg states that Christ restored the hells to order through his life and sacrifice reopened the spiritual link of men with the heavens to operate on the earth through men once more (True Christian Religion 116). LDS doctrine holds that despite the intervention of Christ in behalf of mankind, we must still reform our lives and obey laws and ordinances (Rev. 13:8; Heb. 5:8–11; Matt. 7:21; 2 Ne. 2:22–27). LDS doctrine represents something a midpoint between Swedenborg and mainstream Christianity since LDS doctrine maintains that the atonement was mainly accomplished in the Garden of Gethsemane (2 Ne. 9:21, JC, p. 613, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Atonement, Vol 1). Rather than viewing the atonement as a vicarious punishment, LDS doctrine sees it as Divine assistance, allowing men to be resurrected (an LDS term which means to inherit one of the heavens or hell after being reclothed with flesh, 2 Nephi 2:8, 9:6-7, 9:12, Mosiah 3:11), nullifying the sin of Adam. LDS doctrine also contains the traditional Christian understanding that Christ was punished vicariously for our sins to satisfy the demands of justice imposed on mankind by the Father (2 Nephi 9:26, Alma 34:8–10, 16, Alma 42:22–24) which Swedenborg declares is incorrect.

5. We should strive to become one with God, not gods. Swedenborg lays great emphasis on the first commandment, and says that the idea of multiple gods in the Christian church’s concept of the trinity was so fundamentally evil that it brought about the spiritual death of that church (Heaven and Hell 391, 508, 535, Conjugial Love 264) Mormons believe that God is infinite, possesses all things and created all things that were created. They also believe that God can share all things with His children, allowing them to be co-creators and act His stead and call this state godhood (D&C 76:58, 132:20). Swedenborg equates those who believe they are gods in the afterlife with those who indulged in self-love in this life, and are consequently in hell in the eternities (Conjugial Love 262, 264). Swedenborg agrees with the current LDS view that when Bible says “gods” it can refer to heavenly beings (Heaven and Hell 8). According to Swedenborg, referring to angels (inhabitants of heaven) as “gods” in no way implies that they are worthy of worship.

6. Resurrection does not require the reconstruction of the physical body (Arcana Coelestia 4459, 4783, Divine Love and Wisdom 221, Heaven and Hell 445, 447, 456, Divine Love and Wisdom 221). For Swedenborg, resurrection occurred as a spirit enters the world of spirits immediately after death. In this state the spirit discovers that they exist with a body and feelings and lives exactly as before, with the exception that the body and all the surroundings are spiritual, that is, made out of spiritual rather than physical substance. Swedenborg says that the sharper senses of those in the spiritual realm make it far more clearly sensed to be “real” than is possible in the physical realm. The corporeal nature of the spirit being is so much like its former state that some spirits are not immediately aware that they have died. Swedenborg denies that a physical resurrection occurs with one exception, Christ (Divine Love and Wisdom 221). He indicates, however, that the nature of Christ’s body has become spiritual as physical aspects are purged from it. LDS doctrine has similar ideas with respect to the sameness of the human existence immediately after death (Alma 40) and that the body after the resurrection is spiritual by nature (Doctrine and Covenants 88:27). Many LDS scriptures speak of the reuniting of the spirit and body (Alma 40:15–18) and are understood to mean that the deceased physical frame shall be reconstructed and reunited with the spirit. Mormons interpret scriptures like Matt. 27:52 and 3 Ne. 23:9–10 which speak of graves being opened to be further evidence of a physical resurrection. Mormons claim that 1 Cor 15:41–42 (“There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the starsY. So also is the resurrection of the dead”) and those in Alma mean that the resurrection happens immediately before our entry into one of the heavens or hell. Swedenborg specifically addressees belief in a physical resurrection as being typical of Christianity and incorrect (Heaven and Hell 456). Alma agrees somewhat with Swedenborg’s definition of the resurrection by speaking of entering the spirit by stating “Yea, I admit it may be termed a resurrection” (Alma 40:15, Heaven and Hell 445, 447). Alma goes on to explain that he feels that the resurrection is more than that, implying a physical resurrection.

7. Swedenborg indicates that the spirit commences its existence at conception, but is not fully formed until its first breath is drawn (Moses 3:5, Arcana Coelestia 3570). According to Swedenborg, being born in heaven would remove free agency since there would be no choice but to follow good and truth. The LDS concept is that in the preexistence we make choices concerning life experiences, family, etc. Otherwise, God Himself is responsible situations in which we find ourselves in life.

8. It is our motives and our thoughts and actions derived from those motives that take us to heaven, rather than ordinances (nearly all of Swedenborg’s works). This is largely a matter of difference of emphasis between the teachings of Swedenborg and LDS doctrine since LDS ideas echo that baptism cannot allow evil people to enter heaven or the lack of baptism will not be an absolute obstacle for the righteous. For example Heber C. Kimball stated, “You might as well go and be baptized for a devil as for a man who will not receive the Gospel in the spirit-world” (Journal of Discourses, Vol.5, p.90). It should be remembered that all LDS ordinances are covenants that require performance on the part of the individual who partakes of them.

9. Swedenborg said that no children are born in marriages in heaven because to be born in heaven would eliminate free will (Heaven and Hell 382b). There are, however, correspondential equivalents of children in heavenly marriages, in the form of the “birth” of new goods and truths.

History and Possible Influence

The question of whether Joseph Smith borrowed heavily from Swedenborg is implied by the many similarities between the teachings of the two men and the fact that Swedenborg’s work was written and distributed prior to Joseph Smith’s lifetime. The mix of similarities and differences raises the question of whether Joseph Smith filtered a great deal and extrapolated the rest to come up with what we today recognize as LDS doctrine.[19] Whether Joseph Smith actually knew much of Swedenborg’s teachings, however, is difficult to answer. I found that Joseph Smith could have had access to all of Swedenborg’s teachings but whether he was significantly influenced by those teachings cannot be proven from the evidence I have gleaned. Any influence would not detract from the reality of the experience of either Joseph or Swedenborg but might add additional insight into how the Lord helped the latter-day work along.

New Church members in New York conducted a media campaign during Joseph Smith’s era using newspapers to inform the public about Swedenborg and his teachings.[20] These efforts may have born fruit in Joseph’s home area because a piece on Swedenborg appeared on the front page of the Canadaigua newspaper, a town some 12 miles from the Smith home, in 1808.[21] This may have been submitted to the paper by New Church members rather than being the work of the paper’s own editors since, according to Brooke, interest in Swedenborg in this area was not great.[22] However, it is unlikely that this influenced the Smiths greatly since they did not move to New York from Vermont until 1816.

A mail-order newspaper advertisement for Heaven and Hell appeared in the Canadaigua newspaper in 1826.[23] New Church members used this book as a missionary tract, and the fact that it was being sold for a time does not necessarily mean that it was causing a great stir or attracted much interest, since some LDS researchers could find no evidence that the local library owned a copy[24]. The individual who placed the ads may have been Charles Harford, a Swedenborgian who moved to Rochester, New York in 1826 and stayed till 1834.[25] Rochester is about 24 miles from Palmyra on today’s roads. I could find no evidence that Mr. Harford ever had any communication with anyone from the LDS population other than the advertisements which appeared in local papers.

Swedenborg’s works were distributed to the public and at least 7,000 copies of Swedenborg’s works were produced in the United States prior to the organization of the LDS Church in 1830.[26] It is likely that these were mostly Heaven and Hell. Michael Quinn, a well known Mormon historian, indicates that Joseph Smith did read books that contained information about Swedenborg and his doctrines,[27] about 20 pages which seem to have been digested from Heaven and Hell. but does not indicate that Joseph had access to works written by Swedenborg himself.[28]

Could Joseph have obtained knowledge about Swedenborg’s teachings from someone intimately acquainted with “The Writings?” Some estimate of the possibilities can be gained by trying to determine where New Church members may have been located in the area.

There were three congregations of New Church members in Spencer, Platkill, and Newburgh, about 75 miles from the Smith home.[29] As previously stated, New Church records also show a member in Rochester, New York, about 24 miles from the Smith home in Palmyra. In 1817 a census of the New Church showed that in New York city there were 45 members.[30] By 1830 the membership of the New Church had nearly doubled.[31] New Church members tended to be found mostly in larger cities or other refined metropolitan areas, not in small towns like Palmyra. I could find no record of New Church presence in the Palmyra area, unless Rochester and its member are counted.

One potential New Church acquaintance was Hannah Holland. When the Smith family resided in Sharon, Vermont, a New Church member from Holland, Hannah Holland[32], lived about twenty miles away in Woodstock Vermont. She moved there in 1775 and later married a man named Smith. Hannah brought all of Swedenborg’s works in Latin from the Old World. Some of her ten sons later migrated across the country to Cincinnati to establish a New Church society in that area. Had the Smiths known Ms. Holland they would have had access to all of Swedenborg’s writings, but Hannah would have been required to explain the Latin versions. I could find no evidence that Hannah Holland had any connections with the Smiths or the Church at any time. Since the Holland children were later effective ministers and the family had the training to read the Writings in Latin, they must have been very enthusiastic and willing to speak to others. This could eventually be one link to the Smith’s, but firm documentary evidence is slim.

One other interesting connection between Swedenborg and Joseph Smith is through Sarah Cleveland, a plural wife of Joseph Smith who, according to the historian Todd Compton, was sealed to him around 1842.[33] At the time of her plural marriage, Sarah Cleveland was married to John Cleveland, a Swedenborgian who apparently knew nothing of her plural marriage to Joseph Smith. Sarah joined the LDS Church in 1835 and in 1836 she and her husband moved to Quincy, Illinois. When Nauvoo became the center of Mormonism in 1839 after the saints were expelled from Missouri, the Clevelands found themselves living near the center of the Church. The Smiths and Clevelands became friends after Emma Smith and her children lived with the Clevelands for a short time in 1839 while Joseph was in jail. Joseph rewarded the Clevelands with a plot of land in Nauvoo. There is no mention in Todd Compton’s documentation of this story that Joseph had any conversations with Mr. Cleveland about Swedenborg’s teachings, nor did Mr. Compton mention that Sarah exhibited any interest in Swedenborg after her baptism.

Individuals with Joseph Smith’s educational and financial background were generally not interested in or exposed to the teachings of Swedenborg, nor did they have the social connections to introduce themselves to Swedenborgian teachings. Marguerite Block writes concerning the growth and popularity of the New Church, “This rather slow growth was due to the nature of the doctrines themselves, which required a fairly high degree of education and intelligence for their comprehension, as well as considerable leisure for their perusal.”[34] To be truthful, from my own experience, Swedenborg’s writings are not an easy read, and require a high degree of dedication to grasp what is written. Joseph Smith was neither highly educated nor endowed with a great amount of leisure time, which would appear to make him an unlikely candidate to be reading the sage’s teachings.

Joseph Smith’s only quote about Swedenborg made in 1839 is rather cryptic, “Emanuel Swedenborg had a view of the world to come, but for daily food he perished.”[35] This was directed to Edward Hunter, a Swedenborgian convert who later became a presiding bishop of the Church. Brother Hunter took this to mean that Swedenborg’s teachings were lacking and from that point on gave Swedenborg’s teachings no credibility. Edward Hunter converted to the LDS Church in 1839 after protecting the Mormon elders when they came through the area preaching the gospel. Joseph stayed with Edward for three days and discussed a number of topics, among them the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg. From these conversations Joseph may have received all of the information required to give this opinion before they parted.

There are no close associates of Joseph Smith who mention Swedenborg or his teachings who give any indication that they had actually read, first-hand, anything he had written. For example, Orson Pratt stated the following.

Did Swedenborg, Irving, Wesley, or any other person, not only teach a pure system, but at the same time did they declare that it was committed to them by an angel from heaven? If not, however pure and holy their teaching, they were not divinely authorized to administer in ordinances. Divine Authority No.1, pg 3

Swedenborg claimed many times to have spoken with angels; which indicates that Orson Pratt had little knowledge of his writings. His other comments reveal his belief that Mormonism is true, and that all others are false, which was common among Church leaders of that time. Brigham Young, who spoke his mind freely on numerous topics, never mentioned Swedenborg in any recorded talks. In Parley Pratt’s only statement about Emanuel Swedenborg he claims that Swedenborg denied the resurrection[36]. It seems that early LDS Church leaders and members had dismissed Emanuel Swedenborg without a great deal of thought. It also seems that their knowledge about Swedenborg may have come from unsympathetic third parties who summarized Swedenborg’s teachings with a negative slant.

I did investigate whether Joseph Smith may have learned of Swedenborgianism through Masonic ritual, but discovered this would have been very unlikely and present the evidence here for future researchers. Emanuel Swedenborg was a Mason from the age of eighteen and actively involved until 1740 with the exception of a visit in 1769 to a Lodge in France.[37] After Swedenborg published his first theological works, former associates came to him wanting to know his opinions of the Masonic order and what errors he might wish to correct in its teachings. He replied to these queries and in 1769-1770 wrote to the Royal Society of Stockholm in which he explained Egyptian hieroglyphics by means of his new system.[38] Eventually the modified ritual in Sweden had an influence on Masonry in the United States, but not until 1859, which would have been too late to have been of any importance to the beginnings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.[39]

Not many others have delved into these similarities. Recently Brent and Wendy Top wrote Beyond Death’s Door, which quoted many pages of Swedenborg’s Heaven and Hell and revealed many similarities with LDS doctrine. Before that time a historian who has studied Swedenborgians, Mary Ann Meyers, wrote Death in Swedenborgian and Mormon Eschatology[40], in which she outlines some of Swedenborg’s teachings and hints that Joseph Smith may have borrowed from him.[41] BYU Studies has included some articles which briefly mention Swedenborg. D. Michael Quinn dedicated a few pages to Swedenborg in Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, but evidently never read much of Swedenborg’s writings or he would have covered more similarities than just the three heavens.

Conclusions

If Swedenborg’s teachings did have a profound influence on Joseph Smith, I find it unlikely that Joseph Smith would have received all his information about Swedenborg’s teachings from reading the Writings first hand. First, his mother states that by the age of eighteen he hadn’t read the Bible through and was less inclined to reading than any other of the Smith children.[42] Secondly, most New Church members have only read a few of Swedenborg’s works because, though interesting, they are not an easy read. Joseph Smith may have been exposed to Heaven and Hell in English during his lifetime or a digested review of Swedenborg’s teachings. A digest or Heaven and Hell would seem an unlikely source for some of the detailed information like the use of priesthood robes in heavenly marriage or the division of the celestial heaven/kingdom into three, neither of these ideas being found in Heaven and Hell nor are these common topics of study among students of Swedenborg.

If there has been influence from the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg on the teachings and writings of Joseph Smith, to me the most likely scenario may be that Joseph Smith knew a well read New Church member or members who were very familiar with the “Writings.” At least one of these individuals would have had to have known Joseph Smith before the Book of Mormon was written. We don’t know how brushes with individuals who were acquainted with the Swedish mystic’s teachings such as Hannah Holland of Vermont who possessed a complete edition of the “Writings,” the missionary minded Charles Harford of Rochester, the converts Edward Hunter or Sarah Cleveland may have influenced Joseph. I did not make a serious attempt to determine how much Emma Hale Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, David Whitmer, or others closely associated with the prophet may have known of Swedenborg’s teachings.

I’m sure that as researchers dig further more possible connections will be found, all of which probably still not prove a positive connection with Swedenborgianism. Given the uniqueness of some of the ideas found in Swedenborg’s and Joseph Smith’s teachings, it still seems likely that some sort of connection between the two must exist. Is this is as the result of Joseph becoming aware of the Swedish mystic’s teachings or another connection with influences beyond the veil?

Perhaps Joseph Smith has copied portions of Swedenborg’s teachings. Certainly the information provided here cannot rule that out. Nevertheless, it may be helpful to remember that simultaneous discovery is common in science. A look at history reveals a number of instances where ideas pop up at nearly the same time in far flung locations on the earth, known in philosophical circles as a “zeitgeist,” or spirit of the times. This can be observed in spiritual matters as well. Consider, for example, others whose teachings were similar to LDS or Swedenborgianism but who have no obvious connection with the LDS Church or Swedenborg. Allow me to illustrate one example.

Indian mystics call the Christian heaven, hell, and world of spirits the “astral world.”[43] The heavenly realm is divided into three regions.[44] The middle region and lowest region also appear to have three divisions.[45] In the highest realm can be found “Alakh Niranjan” or the Unknowable God.[46] The lowest three regions (chakras) involve a focus on wealth, power, sex, and violent battles.[47] Barbara Brenan in Hands of Light also mentions that beings in the afterlife occupy spiritual realms related to the nine major chakras.[48] Brenan also stated that she does not observe spirits who are related to the first three levels.[49] However, this may be because those beings avoid healers, or as Swedenborg noticed, spirits from the hells (the lowest 3 levels of the spiritual realms) tend to turn away from spiritual light.[50] Ms. Brennan did not get this particular piece of information from other sources since she stated that she could not find a reference to these nine levels in any literature.[51] To me, these ideas sound very similar to both the “Writings” and LDS doctrine, more so than they would be to traditional Christian philosophy. The question of who copied from whom may well mask another connection between all these teachers – the possibility that they all have knowledge which arises from personal experience.

Why all the differences? People at the scene of an accident will report all sorts of stories about the same events. From our own experience we know that personal perception of any truth is flawed. More flaws creep in when we attempt to describe that perception to someone else not present at the time of the accident. Perhaps for this reason, the Lord has stated that out of the mouths of two or three witnesses shall every ecclesiastical case or accusation be established (Deuteronomy 19:15, Matthew 18:16, 2 Corinthians 13:1, 1 Timothy 5:19). Perhaps a similar standard should be established for verifying spiritual truth since those who claim spiritual experience seem to vary in their witness as well.

In the end our conclusion about whether Joseph was influenced by the Swedish mystic will be a personal one, illustrating the teaching of Swedenborg and the Book of Mormon which state that we are suspended at all times between opposing choices (Heaven and Hell 591, 2 Nephi 2:11). My own bias is that while Swedenborg may have influenced LDS teachings, that Joseph Smith was also the recipient of his own unique spiritual experience. Nevertheless, this information is not presented to persuade the reader, but rather to help illustrate the importance of a little known Servant of the Lord from a far off land in Northern Europe.

References.

Block, Marguerite Beck, The New Church in the New World, Swedenborg Foundation, 1984.

Brennan, Barabara Ann, Joseph A. Smith (illustrator), Hands of Light, Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, 1988.

Beswick, Samuel, The Swedenborg Rite, Kessinger Publishing Company, photographic reprint of an 1870 version.

Dole, George F., and Robert H. Kirvin, A Scientist Explores Spirit, Swedenborg Foundation, 1997.

Gladish, Richard, New Church Life, Oct 1947, pgs 473-474.

Hunter, William E., Edward Hunter, Faithful Steward, ed. Janath Russell Cannon, Mrs. William E Hunter, 1970.

Meyers, Mary Ann, “Death in Swedenborgian and Mormon Eschatology,” Dialogue 14 (Spring 1981), pages 58-64.
Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, LDS Collectors Library, InfoBase, 1997.
Pratt, Orson, Divine Authority, LDS Collectors Library, InfoBase, 1997.
Puri, Prof. Raj Lekh, Radha Soami Teachings, Radha Soami Satsang Beas, 1993.
Quinn, D. Michael, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, Signature Books, 1998.
Quinn, D. Michael, The Mormon Hierarchy, Origins of Power, Signature Books, 1994.
Swedenborg, Emanuel, translated by Rev. John Elliot, Arcana Coelestia, Swedenborg Foundation, 12 Volumes, 1998.
Swedenborg, Emanuel, translated by John Whitehead, Apocalypse Explained : According to the Spiritual Sense in Which the Arcana There Predicted but Heretofore Concealed Are Revealed, 6 Volumes, Swedenborg Foundation, 1997.
Swedenborg, Emanuel, translated by John Whitehead Apocalypse Revealed : Wherein Are Disclosed the Arcana There Foretold Which Have Hitherto Remained Concealed, 2 Volumes, Swedenborg Foundation, 1997.
Swedenborg, Emanuel, translated by Samuel M. Warren, edited by Lois H. Taffel, The Delights of Wisdom Pertaining to Conjugial Love : After Which Follow the Pleasures of Insanity Pertaining to Promiscuous Love, Swedenborg Foundation, 1998.
Swedenborg, Emanuel, translated by John C. Ager, Angelic Wisdom Concerning Divine Love and Wisdom, Swedenborg Foundation, 1995.
Swedenborg, Emanuel, translated by George F. Dole, Heaven and Hell, Swedenborg Foundations, 1994.
Swedenborg, Emanuel, Rotch edition, The Final Judgement and the Destruction of Babylon, All the Predictions of the Apocalypse Now Fulfilled from Things Heard and Seen, Massachusetts New-Church Union, 1955.
Swedenborg, Emanuel, translated by John C. Ager, True Christian Religion, 2 Volumes, Swedenborg Foundation, 1997.

Widstoe, John A., Discourses of Brigham Young, Deseret Book Company, 1993.

Yogananda, Paramahansa, Autobiography of a Yogi, Self Realization Foundation, 1994.

[1] Significant contributions were made to this article by devoted followers of the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg. My sincere thanks to Kurt Simons who corrected numerous errors and suggested many rewrites and to Victor Odhner who waded through one of the first drafts. Carroll Odhner, Swedenborg Library Director for the College of Bryn Athyn, PA (a sort of Brigham Young University for Swedenborgians) and John Odhner, a Swedenborgian minister from the Los Angeles area, made contributions to the text as well. All have shown great patience in helping prepare the information presented here.

[2] “For it has pleased the Lord to manifest Himself to me, and to send me to teach those things which will belong to His New Church, which is meant by >the New Jerusalem’ in the Apocalypse. For this purpose He has opened the interiors of my mind or spirit, whereby I have been permitted to be in the spiritual world with angels, and at the same time in the natural world with men, and this now during twenty-seven years.” True Christian Religion 851.

[3] Doctrine and Covenants 88: 188.

[4] Swedenborg’s works are often referred to as “The Writings” by those who study his works.

[5] For a more in-depth but still fairly brief overview read A Scientist Explores Spirit by George F. Dole and Robert H. Kirvin, Swedenborg Foundation, 1997, and for the definitive biography, see C.O.Sigstedt, The Swedenborg Epic (New York: Bookman 1952, reprinted 1981) The text of this section has been mostly directly extracted from the www.newchurch.org webpage.

[6] Swedenborg stated that the Lord would establish a New Church, referring to a spiritual entity. The churches which follow the teachings of Swedenborg use this as a term to refer to their organized bodies in the world as well.

[7] Heaven and Hell, part of Arcana Coelestia (Heavenly Secrets), the Last Judgement, The Heavenly City: A Spiritual Guide Book, and parts of Conjugial Love, and True Christian Religion are available online at http://members.iserv.net/midminc/. A searchable version of Swedenborg’s complete works is available at the NewSearch web site at http://www.ns98.org. A CD-ROM version of NewSearch is also available for $25.

[8] It is interesting to note that Swedenborg never refers to 1 Corinthians 15:40–42 in any of his discourses and his followers generally don’t see the three heavens in the words of these scriptures. The reference to three heavens in these scriptures seems to only be clear in the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible where Joseph has added the Swedenborgian idea that those in the three heavens should be compared to the sun, moon, and stars.

[9] From Acton’s translation of Conjugial Love 21, >One of the wedding guests, a wise man, then asked them, “Do you understand what the things you have seen signify?” They answered, “A little.” They then asked him why the bride-groom, now the husband, was arrayed in such apparel.

He answered: “The bridegroom, now the husband, represented the Lord, and the bride, now the wife, represented the Church, because in heaven a wedding represents the marriage of the Lord and the Church. That is why he wore a miter on his head and was arrayed in a robe, a tunic, and an ephod, like Aaron; and why the bride, now the wife, wore upon her head a crown and was attired in a mantle, like a queen. But tomorrow they will be clothed differently, for this representation lasts only today.”‘

[10] Swedenborg’s definition of what is meant by the term “church” is not a matter of worldly organization. Thus, in his Arcana Coelestia 8152. “From this it is evident that the Lord’s Church is not in this particular location or in that, but that it resides wherever people lead lives in keeping with the commandments of charity, both within the kingdoms in which the Church exists and outside them. So it is that the Lord’s Church is spread throughout the whole world, and yet is one; for when life constitutes the Church, and not doctrine separated from life, there is one Church. But when doctrine constitutes the Church there are many.”

[11] Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg 375 speaks of apostasy as the loss of authority and priesthood. Arcana Coelestia 4717 speaks of apostasy or falling away in terms of not living in accordance with truth.

[12] “I have sought nothing beyond reforming the Church in conformity with the Holy Scriptures. . . .I simply say that Christianity has ceased to exist among those who should have preserved it.” E.G. Schweibert, Luther and His Times, p. 509; and John M. Todd, Martin Luther, p. 188. American poet and editor William Cullen Bryant, in discussing an early religious group in Providence, Rhode Island, wrote: AMr. Williams continued to be its pastor for only four years, when he withdrew, not only form his official relations, but also ceased any longer to worship with his brethren, having come to the conclusion that there is ‘no regularly-constituted Church on earth, nor any person authorized to administer any Church ordinance; nor could there be, until new apostles were sent by the great Head of the Church, for whose coming he was seeking.'”– In William Cullen Bryant, ed., Picturesque America, vol. 1, pp. 500, 502

[13] “[2] Who does not see that “the name of the Lord” in these usages does not mean merely His name, but the acknowledgment of Him as being the Redeemer and Savior, together with obedience, and finally faith in Him? … therefore a man’s taking the name Christian means his quality, – that he has from Christ faith in Christ and charity toward the neighbor.” True Christian Religion (Ager) 682. “And My new name, signifies that they will also acknowledge the Lord’s Divine Human. This is evident from the signification of “I will write upon him My new name,” as being that they will acknowledge the Lord’s Divine Human.” Apocalypse Revealed 224. Swedenborg says much more about the name of the Lord in the context of these

passages, and elsewhere, such as in Apocalyse Explained 102, Apocalypse Revealed 81, 148, Arcana Coelestia 2009, 6674, 9310, 2724.

[14] Swedenborg often stated that the animal world is symbolic of heavenly principles (Conjugial Love 418, True Christian Religion 12[6], Arcana Coelestia 3000).

[15] John Odhner, personal communication. See True Christian Religion 2, 26, 92(4), Heavenly Doctrine 290, 293. Swedenborg also equates “spirit” (for example: the Holy Spirit) with mind, making the parallel even stronger. “A person’s spirit is his mind, and whatever comes from it.” (True Christian Religion 156).

[16] Lectures on Faith, pg 48. “There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing, and supreme power over all things, by whom all things were created and made, that are created and made, whether visible or invisible, whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space. They are the Father and the Son — the Father being a personage of spirit, glory, and power, possessing all perfection and fullness, the Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or rather man was formed after His likeness and in His image.” Thomas Alexander who wrote AThe Reconstruction of Mormon Doctrine,” Sunstone, June 1999, Volume 22:3-4, Issue 115-116, pg 16, indicates that the earliest conception of the Holy Spirit as understood from the Lectures on Faith was as the common mind of God shared by the Father and the Son.

[17] Dan Vogel’s article, “The Earliest Mormon Concept of God,” in Line Upon Line, by Gary James Bergera, Signature Books, 1989, pp17-33. He indicates that many passages in the the Book of Mormon identify the person of Christ with the Father (for example: Ether 3:14, 16, 4:12, 1 Ne 11:18 [original edition which states that the Lamb of God is the very Eternal Father], Alma 11:28–29, Mosiah 15:1–5, 7). In Luke 10:22 (Joseph Smith translation) “No man knoweth that the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son, but him to whom the Son will reveal it.” A religious debate between the Mormon Elder, Stephen Post and Oliver Barr of the Christian Connection portrayed the LDS view as believing that the Father and the Son were one individual and that the Son provided a tabernacle for the Father (pgs 25, 26) .

[18] D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy, Origins of Power, pgs 5-7. Before the organization of the LDS Church in 1830, Doctrine and Covenants 10 equated “my people” with a non-institutional “my church” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:40, 46, 52). No ordinance requirements for belonging to the Lord’s church were referred to here except, “Behold this is my doctrine-whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:67). As evidence that this was a change perceived by the members of the Church, David Whitmer voiced his discomfort with the concept that after April 6, 1830 that the concept of the Lord’s church changed from a community of believers to an institutional organization.

[19] Immanuel Kant and Mary Baker Eddy apparently did this. The influence of Swedenborg on Kant is discussed in “Under the Influence” by Scott McLemee in Lingua Franca, May/June 1998 and in a number of articles in the scholarly Swedenborgian journal, The New Philosophy. Kant only spoke negatively of Swedenborg in public while borrowing heavily from his philosophy privately. In a more directly parallel situation to that of Joseph Smith, there is some evidence that Mary Baker Eddy may have been influenced by Swedenborg, via possible influence of Swedenborg on the thinking of Phineas Quimby, on whose system Ms Eddy based Christian Sciene (Marguerite Beck Block, The New Church in the New World, New York: Holt, Rinhhart & Winston, 1932, reprint, Octagon Books, 1968)

[20] Block, op.cit., page 94.

[21] D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, pg 153. “Swedenborg’s testimony of his own theophany had already been published on the front page of the Western Repository of 6 December 1808, at Canandaigua, a few miles from Palmyra.”

[22] Brooke, The Refiner’s Fire, page 99.

[23] According to Carroll Odhner, Director of the Swedenborg Library at the Bryn Athyn College (a Swedenborgian oriented college), the advertisement for Heaven and Hell was usually a mail order offer if no one lived in the area. Otherwise the address of the New Church member living there would be given. Since Michael Quinn indicates that the advertiser was a book store it appears likely that the individual who placed the advertisement did not live in the immediate area.

[24] Personal communication with Brent Top, 1998. Also Michael Quinn, controversial Mormon historian, who was looking for such books and did not find them. However, Quinn did find books that spoke about Swedenborg and his teachings.

[25] Journal of the General Convention of the New Jerusalem. This information was provided by Carroll Odhner, library director for the Bryn Athyn College.

[26] Block, pg 75, 78.

[27] In the library near the Smith home (possibly Canadaigua) Sibly’s Complete Illustration of the Occult Sciences, which Michael Quinn claims is a source for the family’s magic parchments, stated, “There are three degrees in man corresponding to the three heavens,” as part of its twenty-page summary of Swedenborg’s teachings about “spirits and departed souls of men,” and heaven and hell (Sibly 1784, 1062-81, esp. 1071n)” Quinn also notes that a three volume text on religions of the world had an article on Swedenborg.

[28] Personal communication with Brent Top in 1998 who mentioned that he commissioned a study of whether books written by Swedenborg appeared in libraries near the Smith home.

[29] Block, page 100.

[30] Ibid. Pg 170.

[31] Ibid. Pg 173.

[32] Richard Gladish, New Church Life, Oct 1947, pgs 473-474 and also Edna Silver, Sketches, pg 289. My thanks to Carroll Odhner, Library Director, Swedenborg Library, Bryn Athyn College for this information.

[33] Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, Signature Books, pgs 275-278.

[34] Block, page 171.

[35] Hunter, William E., Edward Hunter, Faithful Steward, 1970, pg 51. Joseph Smith was visiting members on his trip back from Washington, D.C. where he had just visited Pres. Buchanan seeking relief from the mobbings.

[36] Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, Ch.12, p. 121

[37] Samuel Beswick, The Swedenborg Rite, pg 1 gives Swedenborg’s age as eighteen in 1706 when he was initiated into the Scottish Rite in Lund, Sweden. Page 56 explains that from about 1740 to 1769 Swedenborg did not meet with the Masons. In 1769 he met with a science related lodge in France, pg 56.

[38] Ibid. pg 69.

[39] Beswick, pg165.

[40] Dialogue 14 (Spring 1981), pages 58-64.
[41] Ms. Meyers noticed that Joseph Smith’s and Swedenborg’s teachings about life after death were very similar, something which has been outlined in the pages of this article. In addition their insights into the meaning of the “last days” are similar.

[42] Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith, pg 82.

[43] Radha Swami Teachings, pg 189. Autobiography of a Yogi, chapter 43.

[44] Radha Swami Teachings, pgs 189, 190. Here Radha Swami equates each of the realms of the astral world with the nine chakras studied in the Sikh system. The top three regions (chakras) are seen as the first stage of saints. The bottom six are not of concern to those who are on a spiritual path to know God.

[45] Swedenborg divided the world of spirits into three levels and the hells into three levels (Heaven and Hell 491, 542). In yoga, the first three chakras are associated with wealth, power, survival, and sex (Radha Swami Teachings, pg. 194, and any other yogic manual covering the chakras) and are not considered a destination or a focus for the saintly, although in life these may be able facilitate spiritual progress in the devoted seeker as do all things in the universe. See also Heaven and Hell 545-564, 586 which describes hell in great detail. In Heaven and Hell 586, hell is described as a place where humans dwell upon these lusts and desires.

[46] Radha Swami Teachings, pg 191. Paramahansa Yoganada claims that on of Christ’s destinations after His agony on the cross was the highest region of the astral realm, an astral planet far removed from the earth. Swedenborg states that Christ is “in” the sun but is not the sun of the heavens.

[47] Radha Swami Teachings, pg 194. Autobiography of a Yogi, chptr 43, “Among the fallen dark angels expelled from other worlds, friction and war take place… These beings dwell in the gloom-drenched regions of the lower astral cosmos, working out their evil karma.” Swedenborg mentions these conflicts in Heaven and Hell 574, 575, and 586.

[48] Barabara Brennan, Hands of Light, pgs 51, 230-233.

[49] Ibid. pg 230.

[50] Swedenborg, Apocalypse Explained, 78, “When evil spirits, however, who have not yet … become fixed in their ruling love, enter any angelic society, then because the Divine of the Lord is there present they are direfully tormented, and not only turn away but even cast themselves down into the depths, where no light from heaven enters; some into dark caverns of rocks; in a word, into the hells (see what is shown in the work on Heaven and Hell, n. 54, 400, 410, 510, 525, 527). This turning away and removal from the Lord is what is called spiritual death..”

[51] Brennan, pg 54.

Introduction to The Gospel of The Holy Twelve

The Gospel of the Holy Twelve is a revalatory text, suggesting to be a restoration of the original gospel of christ.

The Gospel of the Holy Twelve is a revalatory text, suggesting to be a restoration of the original gospel of christ.

 

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The Gospel of the Holy Twelve
The Gospel of the Holy Twelve is a very unique and interesting Restorationism Text. Like a few other assorted texts, it purports to be a restored version of the original Gospel from which the four Gospels were loosely copied. It is said to have been written by Saint John along with the Book of Revelation. One forward reads,

This Gospel record is the recovered document from which the Four Gospels as we have them today were built upon. It was the first formulated life of the Christ and was written by St. John about the year 70 AD., when he was imprisoned in Rome and given page by page to one whom he could trust.

When the scroll was completed and after its contents had been made known to the Apostles, it was taken to Tibet by the same disciple, who left it in the care of a unnamed lama.

Mormonism, of course, has a number of scriptures that support the idea that assorted parts of the bible were corrupted through time, and that these corruptions would be corrected by new finds and revelations in the latter days.

20 … I, Nephi, beheld… a book, and it was carried forth among them [the Gentiles in America].
23 And he said: Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew….
24 And the angel of the Lord said unto me: Thou hast beheld that the book proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record..
25 Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God.

Now this could be talking about the Old Testament as compiled by Ezra or it could be talking about the parts of the New Testament possibly compiled by John. Either way, Mormonism holds that the that the version of this bible that has been passed down to us through Roman era rabbinism and early catholicism has many plain and precious things taken out. Parts which may still exist in Tibeten libraries and other buried locations. Note this additional LDS scripture concerning the idea that John the beloved will help reveal additional distorted truths in the latter days…

25 But the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write; for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he should write them…
26 And also others who have been, to them hath he shown all things, and they have written them; and they are sealed up to come forth in their purity, according to the truth which is in the Lamb, in the own due time of the Lord, unto the house of Israel.
27 And I, Nephi, heard and bear record, that the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John, according to the word of the angel.

So we learn in essence that the “in the due time of the Lord” we will get a “pure” or uncorrupted version of the Old Testament (Obviously this will occur when the Plates of Brass are given back to man, but I believe it is happening in part to those ready to receive by the restoration of these Tibetan versions). Furthermore we may get an uncorrupted version of the Book of Revelation written by John the Revelator. Is it possible that this too was sent to Tibet and is one of the “Rich Treasures [to be brought] unto the children of Ephraim” when “they who are in the north countries [sic] come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets [sic] hear his voice, and [sic] no longer stay themselves; and [sic] smite the rocks, and the ice [flows] down at their presence.” (D&C 133:26–30) [Read my article on the Lost Ten tribes in Tibet and Mongolia here -link]

Now I’m not so sure that the Gospel of the Holy Twelve is an uncorrupted original gospel. If fact, I tend to believe it a channeled text which introduces its own bias into the Gospels. But I think it may actually restore some great aspects of the Gospel of Christ, and that the original certainly could have been given to St John by revelation and sealed to be sent to Tibet with the Book of Revelation that they could come forth in purity during the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times. Furthermore, I speculate that the “mission and ordinance, for [John] to gather the tribes of Israel… and restore all things” spoken of in D&C 77:14 will be centered in bringing forth these records hidden in Israel, Tibet, Great Britain and the other locations where Israel was largely scattered. As an echoed witness to John’s mission we have these quote from the Doctrine & Covenants Church Manuals,

The Apostle John ministered to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in 1829 when he assisted Peter and James in the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood (see D&C 27:12).

In a conference of the Church on 3 June 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught concerning John’s ministry: “John the Revelator was then among the Ten Tribes of Israel who had been led away by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, to prepare them for their return from their long dispersion” (History of the Church, 1:176).

In trying to get to the bottom of how the Gospel of the Holy Twelve got from its supposed residence in Tibet to England, The Christian Gospel Trust of Sussex writes that it remained in Tibet

“until a friar, named Placidus, visited the monastery in the eighteen seventies and asked if he might show it to the Church Authorities in Rome.

The scroll was then given to him and on the way home, which took a long time, he translated a portion of it into Latin and on his arrival in Rome read it to the assembled Cardinals. At first they were impressed, but as he proceeded to reveal the contents they realised that to make it known would discredit the Church which had, during the Council of Nicea, eliminated from the Gospels the Master’s teaching about the love and care of animals and about abstaining from eating flesh-foods. And so the scroll was hidden away in the archives of the Vatican, where it remains to this day”

I don’t think that this story is a total fabrication, but one does wonder how it fits into another preface written in another version where supposedly Rev. Gideon Ouseley claims that the first publication of The Gospel of the Holy Twelve as written by him was communicated to him “in numerous fragments at different times, by Emmanuel Swedenborg, Anna Kingsford, Edward Maitland, and a priest of a former century giving his name as Placidus, of the Franciscan Order, afterward A. Carmelite”, who were the translators thereof. He also refers to certain “spiritual manifestations” which he says accompanied the transcription. So perhaps the story pieced together here is that it went from John to Tibet, to the Vatican where it has been since the 1800’s. But deceased seers including Emmanual Swedenborg translated the work from latin and revealed in to Gideon Ouseley in visions whereafter he wrote it down and published it. Sounds quite fantastic to me, but perhaps no more fantastic than the translation/revelation of the Book of Mormon or Pearl of Great Price.

It has become my practice to judge spiritual books by their content, not by the stories surrounding their coming forth.

To end, I will showcase some of the unique content found in the text….

In the following passage we have a list of the twelve apostles as well as the tribe of israel each represented. This is a Jewell of information lost to the new testament gospels but that I had been searching for for many years.

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these who stood for the twelve tribes of Israel:
2. Peter, called Cephas, for the tribe of Reuben; James, for the tribe of Naphtali; Thomas, called Dydimus, for the tribe of Zabulon; Matthew, called Levi for the tribe of Gad; John, for the tribe of Ephraim; Simon, for the tribe of Issachar.
3. Andrew, for the tribe of Joseph; Nathanael, for the tribe of Simeon; Thaddeus, for the tribe of Zabulon; Jacob, for the tribe of Benjamin; Jude, for the tribe of Dan; Philip, for the tribe of Asher. And Judas Iscariot, a Levite, who betrayed him, was also among them (but he was not of them). And Matthia and Barsabbas were also present with them. (17:1-3)

Now these are too inspired to be made up. Note that Judas “who was among them, but not one of them” was a Levite. Not to be counted just as the tribe of Levi in the apportioning of Israel to each tribe. Note also that John the beloved is of Ephraim… Of Course! I’ll let you chew on the rest. They are an absolute revelation.

Secondly, lets look at… I”ll complete this when I have some time…

Note

Article under construction from this point.

In truth there are just too many deep wonderful principles to even do justice. Take the four-fold ministry for instance… (add quotes, see other article)..

However, the two doctrines that are suspect and may have been added by Buddhist/Tibetan scribes may be the parts on animal cruelty. But judge for yourself.

See my posts here (link) to see an explanation of what may appear to some to be a teaching on reincarnation (Christians would just call it resurrection).

Also a bit on marriage…. I’ll have to write an article on this because many texts (including Paul in the new testament) clarify the whole concept of their being a time to marry and a time to be celibate.

also…

 

Read the Book Here

Introduction to The Kolbrin

  Overall Rating
  Spiritual Power
  Life Changingness
  Cosmology
  Cultural Distortion
  Historical Accuracy
  Pluralistic Concepts
  rating key  

 

Note

Much of what you find written online about the Kolbrin is pure sensationalized fabrication. Marshall Masters stole the manuscript for the Kolbrin from the Culdian Trust (its rightful owners), renamed it “The Kolbrin Bible” (it makes no claims of its own to be a Bible), republished it under his own name and then marketed it to catastrophism planet X fanatics as a End Times book (of which it says little).

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Introduction

The Kolbrin, much like the Book of Mormon, claims to come from a large collection of manuscripts and tablets engraven on metallic plates by ancient spiritual leaders/historians on the Islands of Great Britain. The book is predominantly composed of spiritual material but also contains a small amount of history. The earliest manuscripts in the book appear to have been written in Egypt some time just before the time of Moses by a religious cult referred to as “the sons of light”. Members of this organization immigrated from Egypt to Britain some during the first millennium BC and remained a cohesive unit until they were converted to Christianity just after the death of Christ. These records were then handed down through some type of hermetic order until persecution devastated the order and destroyed many of the manuscripts during the Romanization and later Christianization of Britain between 200-1100 AD. The book, much like the Book of Mormon is already the source of deep controversy. Skeptics, such as the authors of RationalWiki, claim the book to be a clever forgery.  These authors show no evidence of ever having read the book or really taking it seriously. Much like the Book of Mormon, early skeptics called the book a hoax. But as more and more evidence of ancient origins come to light, those skeptics have changed their tune— now suggesting the historically accurate aspects of the text must have been forged from other ancient texts.

Modern Publishing

(excerpt taken from “thekolbrin.com”)

Although the last major spiritual writings in the Kolbrin date to around the second century AD, the modern publishing of the Kolbrin are said to be traced back to a large collection of manuscripts salvaged from Glastonbury Abbey during an arson attack that was intended to destroy them. It was the time of history when there was a great suppression of monasterys. As fate would have it, the once considered heretical works were transcribed on bronze tablets by the religious druids of the time. Since they were thought to be destroyed during the fire, they were preserved in secrecy.

Since then, much of the original text was lost or destroyed due to the passage of time, their environment, and human error. Each caretaker though, has gone to painstaking efforts to preserve what was left and to fill in the gaps with the correct knowledge in order to preserve the original meaning. During the early fourteenth century, John Culdy, the leader of a small community in Scotland, owned The Kolbrin and took steps to ensure its survival beyond his care.

The Kolbrin eventually became known as The Bronzebook of Britain, and the contents of additional salvaged manuscripts known as The Coelbook were later incorporated into it to form the modern version. In the early parts of the twentieth century, the responsibility of The Kolbrin’s preservation rested with a small religious group in England that never gained much power due their very restrictive membership requirements.

The current custodian is The Culdian Trust, which was formed in 1980. The Culdian Trust inherited The Kolbrin and other books when the Hope Trust was deregistered around 1995 in accordance with its constitution. Around 1992, an elderly man from the Hope Trust who is now deceased put together the current draft from the originals. His character, reputation and relatives are still living. He was an extremely private man while alive and the trust are respecting his wishes with regard to continued privacy.

The Culdian Trust members did not get to see the original manuscripts on which the most recent version of The Kolbrin was derived, nor do they understand how they came into the elderly man’s possession or where he sent the originals upon completion. They believe, based on speculation, that he may have been a member of a hermetic order probably based in England, so the original manuscripts may have gone back there. Despite the continued ambiguity of The Kolbrin’s origins, a Culdian Trust representative that knew the man for approximately twenty years held him in high regard and found him to be a man of extremely high integrity.

Relics Passed Down with the Books

Those familiar with Joseph Smith’s description of the items he found within the cement container which housed the golden plates might find this excerpt included in the Kolbrin familiar. It describes the items passed along with this ancient record…

“When I was young my grand-father told me that the Kolbrin had been brought back to light by his grand-father’s people in the place known to them as Futeril Cairn, beyond the pool of Pantlyn at Carclathan by way of Gwendwor in Wales.”
“I remember him saying it was originally written in the old alphabet of thirty-six letters. The books were stored in a tinker’s budget box, the lid of which was not hinged but held with flanges and lifted off after being heated, a cunning device of the wayfaring tinkers [Traveling MetalSmiths]. It was also secured with pins and stirrups. There were goblin heads at the corners and it was fastened by locking bars inside and out. I never saw it, nor did I know anyone who knew whether it still existed.”

“I remember being told that inside the box was a clear glass roundish ball about the size of a large apple, which at one spot reflected all the colours of the rainbow. It was encased in a precious cagework inside a protective cover of horny hide which had raised swellings, the like of which my grand-father had never seen before. He knew a lot about animals and their hides, but could not tell what this was; he thought it might have been the hide of some kind of large, horny snakelike creature such as those which live in deep lakes.”
“There were two stones of dullish glass like rainstones, one being whitish at one end. Each was oval in shape and somewhat flattened and tapered towards one end. Grand-mother used to tell fortunes with these and they went to cousin Sarah in America. There were two other pieces of rounded glass set in something made of bone which had pretty designs engraved on it. The bone setting was falling apart and was of no conceivable use. There was also a bluish coloured cross with an opening at the top and its arms were forked at the ends. This was fastened by a small chain curiously worked, to piece of round brass about the size of a small plate which was engraved with figured, of which a bird, a wand, two billhooks, a whip and some heads could be made out. There were beads of blue and red and a brooch shaped like a hook and made of gold. There was a acorn-like cap such as Flamens wear.”
“There was also a longish brass object like a knife, with engraving, in a wrapping of rotten wood. That is all there was, except for the books which were not like books at all. I do not know what became of the other items. I saw the glass ball once when I was a small child but cannot remember much about it, except that it was hollow at one end and when I put a finger in the hollow it felt warm.”

It would almost seem that both the Kolbrin and Book of Mormon were preserved using the same interesting protocol. Each containing a record, a knife/sword, a shield of some sort and some type of seer stones or crystals to aid mystics in “translating”. In LDS and Jewish tradition there were multiple “seer stones” like the Urim and Thumim given by God (or might we presume, higher beings of some sort?) to man in the early days of civilization. As the Book of Mormon says concerning the seer stones they found of the Jaredites… “I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people who serve me, that I may discover unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations. And now, my son, these interpreters were prepared that the word of God might be fulfilled…” (Alma 37:23–24). It has been said by some sources that these stones were made of crystal and were fashioned to use the natural properties of these crystals to enhance the “psychic” or revelatory abilities of one with spiritual gifts (the ability to communicate with the dead or across dimensional boundaries? See Law of One, Crystals). This is likely where the idea of gypsies with “crystal balls” came from and why in this account the author accounts that his grandmother used these to “tell fortunes”. In the Book of Mormon, Ammon warns of this type of misuse of seer stones saying, “no man can look in them except he be commanded, lest he should look for that he ought not and he should perish” (Alma 37:23).

Content of the Kolbrin

Much like the Old Testament, The supposed Jaredite Plates, and Oahspe, The Kolbrin starts with a creation story. Although it shares similar aspects with the Bible account it gives several versions and uses very different wording. The sophistication of the language has more of an eastern flavor than most ancient western creation accounts.

-It also contains an account of a Global Flood of sorts and of the Israeli exodus in very, very different format and style than those given in the bible (these accounts are from an Egyptian perspective).

-The account of the destruction and recreation by flood and fire shares similarities to both the biblical noah’s flood and the Mayan account of the same events. (interestingly enough, one of these chapters is entitled “Maya and Lila”).

-Much is spoken of Osiris and other early Egyptian myths. Many late period gnostics adapted these myths into Israel’s Abraham. Comparison of these ancient texts with early Jewish, later gnostic, or the channelings of Joseph Smith on Abraham may give insight into possible truths which often lie behind ancient mythos and the modern cultural adaptations.

-One can find evidence suggesting that the Kolbrin’s story of Hurmanetar is actually an ancient Egyptian version of the Akkadian epic Gilgamesh in this article. Hurmanetar as Gilgamesh.

-One can find evidence suggesting that the Kolbrin’s account of the pharaoh Nabihaton is actually the historical Akhenaten in this article.

-Pharaoh Nafohia could be Nefaarud, known to have ruled after Egypt’s revolt of Persia’s king Darius.

-‘Pharaoh Athmos’ mention in Sons of Fire 6:9, is likely Pharaoh Ahmose of the 18the dynasty who ruled around 1550 BC. The Kolbrin also mentions that sometime after “Egypt was at war with the Abramites for their great red-headed king had committed adultery with the wife of a prince of Paran”. This could possibly be a reference to some Judge or faction of the early Israelite nation.

-The accounts of “Hiram” could possibly be referring to Hiram of Tyre, or some other Mediterranean King with this popular ancient name.

-Many other correlations can be drawn between Egyptian pharaohs mentioned in the Kolbrin and Historically verified accounts of Egyptian history.

-The death of “Okther 165 years ago” could refer to Octha, founder of Saxon Kent. This would give 677 AD minus 165 = 512; Octha’s death date is unknown, usually put at 522 or later. But he is not mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and in British sources like Nennius seems to be earlier, taking over from his father (or grandfather) the legendary Saxon leader Hengist after 488 AD.

-However, we also have a date of 677 AD as year 2 of Ketwin’s kingship of West Saxondom and year 14 of Ardwulf’s reign over the East Saxons. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle has a ‘Centwine’ ruling Wessex 677-, yielding 678. Ardwulf is not the name of any recorded Anglo-Saxon king, but there was an Aldwulf ruling East Anglia from 663/4-, which would give us a writing date of 677/678 AD.

“The “fourth year in the reign of Lothir, king of all the Kents” leads us to Kentish king Hlothhere (Latin Clotharius or Lotharius) who acceded 674/675, yielding a date of 678-9.

-There are various similar mentions in both Manuscripts 6 and in the Admonitions/Lament of Ipuwer.

In the last 15 years since its publishing, the Kolbrin has gained an often cult-like following of supporters and defenders. Much like the Book of Mormon, these followers use their own cultural knowledge to attempt to find parallels between things found in the book and modern historical knowledge. See the Culdian Message Boards for examples.

 

Find more information about the Kolbrin here at the Culdian Trust

Read the Kolbrin here

The Book of Ben Kathryn

Introduction to The Book of Ben Kathryn

ben-kathryn-banner

Introduction

The Book of Ben Kathryn purports to be a modern revelation to Judah through a modern prophet (the first true Jewish Prophet in modern times), heralding the end of the times of the gentiles and the turning of the Jews to the Messiah with the final restoration of Israel. The text states it was given to Jachanan ben Kathryn (John Son of Kathryn) first in the year 1995/96. From what I can gather, the Author is a Messianic Jew, born among the Gentiles (in the United States?) but taken at an early age to Israel? His texts points out that he did not seek out his calling, and in fact apparently tried actively to flee from it (BOBK 1:2,9). As a prophet he is commanded to take no followers, and even now lives unpretentiously out of the public eye.

One must read it to make their own judgments, but It seems like the more I read most modern restorationalists texts or supposed prophesies, the less impressed I am. Most preported prophecies out there are ridiculous — but even some of the more impressive ones (such as those featured on this site) seem too distorted by their channels or means of revelatory reception to really parallel the form, grammar and symbolism of Old Testament prophecies. But the Book of Ben Kathryn is one of the few that the more I read it, the more I am absolutely amazed at its prose, poetry, form and allusions to the Old Testament revelations supposedly originating from the “God of Israel” (in my view, the same higher-plane group consciousness which dealt with Israel in the Old & New Testament).

It truly is a spectacular revelation, rivaling any of those found in the Old Testament. Its subtle and ubiquitous references and allusions to the Books of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Zechariah and more make it seem as though it came from the same authors. It is certainly not surprising that the revelation was given/written in both English and Hebrew.

The revelation was first given to the supposed prophet in 1995, but instructed him not to write it until 2004 or published it until 2006 (see chap 1 vs. 1-4). Furthermore, it suggests that it will not gain any wide audience until the very unexpected events prophesied therein begin to occur (a final 70 year destruction/captivity of the modern nation of Israel and/or gentile Christians) and the prophet is commanded to work miracles in the eyes of the nations.

The book suggests it need not be rejected or believed at present, since God will “prove” to the nations of its truth by the coming fulfillment of biblical prophecy, accompanied by miraculous events not seen since the days of Jesus. (People raised from the dead, unparalleled healings, appendages miraculously restored to those without legs, green fire from heaven, etc—and most importantly the wholesale conversion of Islamic countries to the new religion within a few hundred years.)

Although not specifically mentioned, Jachanin Ben Kathryn’s revelation indirectly suggests he/his movement will perhaps be one of the “two witnesses” symbolically portrayed in Revelation 11 (see also D&C 77:15), who will come to Israel during at Daniel’s prophesied “70th week”, to herald the end of the Times of the Gentiles and the beginning of the restoration of Israel.

SMITE thou the ground and I shall raise up prophets as the dust to afflict this generation. Look up Israel, look up, behold the latter rain as before, saith the LORD. Look up and feel the steady rain. Lift up the head of Israel, remove thou the plate. Hear the child cry from afar: The miracles of our God, the miracles of our God— a child is cleansed; a maiden is raised from the dead; a man without legs walketh. Behold again in the name of Jesus Christ this is done in Israel. Look up, O Israel, believe and greet thy redeemer as he cometh.

 

An LDS Perspective

The Book of Ben Kathryn should be of special interest to Latter-day Saints, since LDS people believe themselves to be essentially the apogee of the restored Northern Kingdom of Ephraim (D&C 133:30–35; 27:5; Ether 13:3–12)—A view that the Book of Ben Kathryn could possibly support (it continually refers to the American Christian Church as “Ephraim”). The traditional biblical restoration of the Jewish southern Kingdom (Judah) to Jerusalem is of course, ubiquitously prophesied of in Mormon scripture (D&C 98:17; 18:26; D&C 45:18–44; 77:9-15; 109:62-66; D&C 133:12–14,34–35; Ether 13:3–12, 1 Nephi 13:42, JS Matthew 24). The slight doctrinal differences and subtle contempt which the Book continually directs toward “Ephraim” should also be of note to LDS people. This “enmity” between Ephraim (the Northern Kingdom) and Judah (the Southern Kingdom) is spoken of in Isaiah, The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, and is a continuation of the ideological differences between King David’s split kingdom. And was one of the primary points made to Joseph Smith in his first angelic visions (see Isaiah 11). The text seems to suggest that the Northern and Southern Kingdoms were created to be types or symbols of the major doctrinal and political schisms which exist in Western culture today—namely; dictatorship vs. republican government, democracy vs. autocracy, and Islam/strict monotheism vs. Christianity/trinitarianism.  LDS scripture seems to support the idea that these two kingdom’s would be restored independently—with their ancient biases, and eventually grow together and come to see eye to eye during the final dispensation (see Ether 13:3–12). And that Christ’s “coming” would harmonize these political and religious opposites.

9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea…
12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
13 The envy of Ephraim also shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. (2 Nephi 21:12–13; Isa 11:12–13)

Of even greater importance to Latter Day Saints are the overwhelming references in LDS scripture to a “reverse order” restoration of Ephraim & Judah in scripture. Scores of LDS verses point to the idea that the ancient Christian Gospel was to go 1-first to the Jews, 2-then to Ephraim (ten tribes), 3- and lastly to the gentiles. In the last days it was to be restored 1-first to the gentiles, 2-then to Ephraim (ten tribes), 3- and lastly to the Jews.

 10 And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph [Ephraim], who were of the house of Israel.
11 And then also cometh the Jerusalem of old [Judah]; and the inhabitants thereof, blessed are they, for they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who were scattered and gathered in from the four quarters of the earth, and from the north countries, and are partakers of the fulfilling of the covenant which God made with their father, Abraham.
12 And when these things come, bringeth to pass the scripture which saith, there are they who were first, who shall be last; and there are they who were last, who shall be first. (ether 13:10-12. see also D&C 19:27, 20:9, 21:12, 90:9, 98:17, 107:33-97, 112:4, 133:8)

The Book of Ben Kathryn seems to add to this parallelism by suggesting that just as the early Christian movement found few supporters among the Jews (compared to the movement’s success among Ephraim and the Gentiles)—so too has the reverse order restorative work among Ephraim & the Christian Gentiles found few followers compared to what will come from Judah and Islam.

Despite very small doctrinal differences, one of the most catching aspects of the Ben Kathryn revelation is its style. As an avid reader of supposed “revelations”, I am reminded of D&C 67:5–8 which teaches that “true revelations” are given in a poetic form difficult for men or false spirits in the lower heavens to replicate.  In my experienced opinion, apart from the Bible and eastern Sacred Texts the language of the Book of Ben Kathryn is unparalleled. Likewise its references and allusions to Old Testament prophecy are unlike anything I have ever read.

The similarities between Ben Kathryn’s theophany experience, or vision of the Lord or that of Joseph Smith in D&C 76:22–23; D&C 110:2–3; 137:3-4, or other Old Testament prophets (see Abr 1:15–19, Moses 6:26–34, Daniel 10:8–21, etc) are also of interest. The prophet speaks of it in first person as follows (as opposed to the majority of the revelation which has the LORD speaking in first person),

  5 Wonder of wonders, saith my soul. Wonder of wonders moveth my tongue. Who is like unto the LORD our God? I have seen the great King, he who is BEING. I am speechless. There are no words. Groanings of my soul cannot form them. Behold, burnings in mine heart cannot materialize words. What a wonder that he should breathe into man his spirit! Yea, I live because of the LORD, because of his burning fire. No heart can bear the compassion of his ways. I see no son of flesh who can stand before an ounce of his glory.
6 I have never seen beauty like this, like unto the LORD our God. Consider, O man, his doings, for eye cannot behold nor can heart appreciate his visage. At the healing of our wound, we do see him. At the gentle hour, we do hear his call. The LORD hath drawn his portrait and hath made me the frame. From beginning unto end, I have been written on by his hand, that all the Earth shall see and understand his glory.

One last very interesting aspect of the revelation is the way in which its prophesy of the restoration of Judah parallels the restoration of the American Ephraimic Church and original Christian Church. (See my synopsis for a run-down of these events.)

-Just as Christ and the original 12 apostles began their ministry about 40 years before the beginning of the 70 period of Roman destruction of Israel (beginning at siege of Titus in 70AD through the Jewish-Roman Wars ending in 135 AD), also just as Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Ezekiel and Daniel all prophesy either in the 40 years leading to the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem or during the 70 Israeli exile in Babylon— so too is the modern nation of Israel prophesied to be attacked and brought captive around 40 years after John Ben Kathryn received his revelation, beginning a 70 year period of captivity wherein the Lord will “raise up prophets as the dust to afflict this generation” in order to establish the religious movement.

-Likewise the destruction of Israel at 70 AD led to the absorption of this fledgeling Christian religion/kingdom into the expanding Roman Empire which would one day adopt this movements as its primary state religion. Just as shortly after Joseph Smith and other restorationists revelations on the restoration of the New Jerusalem, the “Kingdom” was taken over and absorbed into the powerful, expanding United States which has already come to be dominated by the religious ideals of the Second Great Awakening (Evangelicals/Baptists, Mormons, Adventists, etc..)—so too John Ben Kathryn declares that Israel, after the coming Messianic restorationist movement takes hold, will be taken over and absorbed into a powerful, expanding Arab Union/coalition where although treated harshly at first, will be nourished during 70 years of captivity until they are turned to the true Messiah and restored as an independent nation and kingdom.

-Just as the “Barbarians” nations of Northern Europe were almost entirely converted to the Christian religion within a few hundred years of its founding, so too does the Book of Ben Kathryn prophesy that the Islamic Nations of the Middle East as well as the Christian Nations of Europe will give way to this coming Israeli restorationist movement. The Book of Ben Kathryn itself is written in a manner as to appeal to Jews, Christians and Muslims and slowly bring them together into a more unified religious system.

 

Summary of Prophesied Events

-The United States will continue to pressure the nation of Israel and other peaceful Middle Eastern Nations into disarmament (65:3), with the underlying pledge that we will protect them from Arab aggression. (66:19)
-America will continue to bankrupt itself in the process of trying to police the world. (65:9)
-Afterwards, America & Israel will follow the new precedence of “pre-emptive war” by striking Iraq (Mosul) and likely at a later point, neighboring Syria? [text says Assyria, which was headquartered in Mosul, Iraq, but spread into Syria, Turkey & Iran. this may have been fulfilled in the 2003 unprovoked Iraqi invasion.] (20:20)
-Some Arab faction (the Islamic State? Syria or Hezbollah?) will have been plotting with neighboring Arab countries to attack Israel. One of Israel’s attacks will give them the impetus and Arab support to carry out their plans of mass destruction. (12:4 44:8, 66:1-3)
-The destruction of Jerusalem will lead many of apostate Christianity to believe Armageddon is here and Christ is coming. When their preconceived notions of the Second Coming are not met, many will lose faith. (16:1-3, 16:9-10,12)
-The ensuing war will destabilize the entire region, leading eventually to the necessity of Turkey and Egypt to militarize and step in to make peace. (66:4-5))
-Sometime either before or after the siege of Jerusalem, a Middle Eastern group will strike at the heart of America (65:23)
-In the end an Islamic/Arab union similar to the Ottoman Caliphate will emerge to challenge the European Union as a world power. (66:4-5)
-Much like the LDS Church within the U.S., Israel is to be brought into captivity one last time (by an early fundamentalist aspect of this Islamic Empire). During this 70 year captivity God will begin the Gathering of His People to Jerusalem. (63:1,5; 64:5-6)
-During this 70 year captivity, God will raise up scores of prophets to Israel, causing a massive conversion of millions of Jews & Arabs to this new Messianic movement. (22:2-3)
-At the end of this 70 year captivity, Israel will again become an independent nation, the Temple will be rebuilt, and Jerusalem will become the new “Rome” in the ensuing wholesale conversion of the region. This regional religious transformation will exceed even the wholesale conversion of the Roman Empire regions of the first four centuries to Christianity. (5:4-5, 46:11, etc.)

-Over ten chapters of the Book are instructions to priests and leaders on the day to day operation of the future Jerusalem Temple. It is instructed to follow the template given by Ezekiel. It is prophesied that the Ark of Covenant and “holy things” of the former temple will be found and returned to Israel.

 

These, of course, are just my interpretations of the prophecies given by Ben Kathryn, but if you would like to make your own judgments you can read the text yourself. The original version has been posted since about 2006 on Nabion.org (shortly after I began sharing a version of the text, the site was closed down. I speculate that the Hebrew version of the Book is likely still available on a purely Hebrew site.)

 

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Read a pdf version of the book here

Read an html version of the Book of Jachanan Ben Kathryn here

Prophesy in the Book of Ben Kathryn http://mormonuniversalism.com/3/prophesy-in-the-book-of-ben-kathryn/

The identity of Gog and Magog http://mormonuniversalism.com/1137/the-identity-of-gog-and-magog/

The End of the Times of the Gentiles http://mormonuniversalism.com/86/the-end-of-the-times-of-the-gentiles/

Additional Prophesies in the Book of Ben Kathryn http://mormonuniversalism.com/81/additional-prophesies-of-the-book-of-ben-kathryn/