QWhat is Easter about?
aThe Easter story is a historic story of the end of Jesus’ life on earth. It is also a spiritual story, in which Jesus showed His followers that His love was more powerful than the crucifixion that his enemies brought upon Him. He offers all people the power of His love as they seek His spiritual guidance to solve the many challenges encountered in life in this world.
QWhy did Jesus die on the cross?
aTo answer this, it will be useful to look at how New Church theology differs from traditional Christianity on the subject.
Traditional Christianity teaches that the human race had turned away from God and God was angry and ready to destroy the human race, that Jesus interceded and offered the sacrifice of Himself, to die, to appease the wrath of the Father. Traditional Christianity further teaches that we are saved by acknowledging that Jesus, by dying on the cross, took upon Himself all the sins of the human race, and by a confession of belief in His sacrifice all of our sins are washed away and we are saved – made acceptable to God and able to enter heaven. This is why an emphasis on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is stressed by traditional Christian theology. It is in their eyes, the way, and the only way, to heaven.
New Christianity, on the other hand, teaches that God saved the human race by coming on earth, but He didn’t come to die. He came to restore freedom to human beings so we could again be free to choose. Before the Lord came to earth, the influence of hell had risen to such a level that it was essentially choking off the life from God with the human race. It was like a completely cloudy and polluted atmosphere which needed to be purified. The Lord cleared the way by taking on the attacks of the hells with His vulnerable humanity, and by His own strength putting them under lock and key so that they didn’t over-extend their influence and cause an imbalance. The final battle was the one of the cross, but it was not the only battle. When Jesus proclaimed on the cross, “It is finished,” He was declaring that He had accomplished all the work He came to do against the hells. On Easter morning His body was no longer in the tomb because all that was human was unified with the Divine, and made Divine.
QIf there is only one God, why does Jesus ‘pray to the Father’ on the cross as if to someone else?
aAt times in the New Testament Jesus either speaks or prays to His “Father”, the Divine Life within. While Jesus was in the process of uniting the inner divinity with Himself, that interior life was independent enough that He referred to it as a separate being, His “Father.” When Jesus was resurrected on Easter, the uniting process was complete, so that the inner diving life was fully present even in the most external parts of Jesus’ risen body.
QWhy are there not more symbols of the cross in the New Church?
aAttending New Church congregations around the world, you will notice diversity in imagery use to reflect faith. You may notice fewer images of the cross that you are used to seeing in other churches, because the New Church puts the emphasis on the Risen Lord, not on His suffering on the cross.
QWhat does the New Church teach about salvation?
aThe New Church teaches that all people of all faiths will go to heaven if they believe in one God and live in charity and kindness according to the principles of their religion’s persuasion. It is what is in your heart that determines your eternal condition, not what is in your mind only, or the words on your tongue, or the membership card in your wallet. When people arrive in the spiritual world after the death of the physical body, they are not asked, “What is your religion?” but rather, “What is your life?”
QDoes Faith Alone save?
aNew Church teachings explain that “Religion is of Life, and the Life of Religion is to do good” (Doctrine of Life 1). True faith is trust and confidence in the Lord which is reflected in one’s life. One can find salvation not through works alone or faith alone, but through a life of faith and charity together.