It's one of the worst sections of downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Gang members shout profanities across the littered streets and the smell of dope permeates the air. In the churches, the predominant doctrine is faith alone. On one lawn, though, open chairs invite any passerby to come and hear words of inspiration and personal responsibility. Seats fill up quickly as people arrive to hear Brother Miller speaking about the revolutionary concepts from a man named Emanuel Swedenborg. These teachings contradict the surrounding Christian churches where many of Brother Miller’s listeners come from, yet those at his services say, “I’ve never heard any teaching like this, but there is something true here.” Many of those who return week after week say, “I can understand the Bible now, and I know what to do. This is a precious revelation!”
It all started back in 1979, when a young inner-city musician named Ed Miller felt the Lord’s presence in a powerful way. He’d been singing in a band, and living with a woman who was separated from her husband, but he was tired of his lifestyle. He knew he wanted things to be different, but he didn’t know how to change. One night, while studying the Bible, the light in his room became brighter than any light he’d seen, and he felt an amazingly peaceful presence saying, “You have to leave. I have work for you to do.” He now believes this was the beginning of a preparation for finding the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, but at the time, he just knew he wanted to do the Lord’s work.
Ed went on to become a well-respected Baptist preacher, delivering passionate sermons on the old Christian ideas of faith alone, literal translation of Genesis, three gods, and the remission of sins. Underneath his confident exterior, though, Ed felt something wasn’t right. The creation story, for example, didn’t make any sense in the literal translation. How could the sun be created on the fourth day, after God had already created light and darkness? When asking the older ministers for help in understanding, though, the response he’d get was, “Just have faith.” Looking back on that now, Miller says, “But you can’t have faith unless you have the truth!”
Around 1995, Brother Miller, as he was now called, heard of Swedenborg, and decided to order some books. Astounded by what he read, he thought to himself, “This is too wonderful for me.” He would start reading after dinner and keep reading until the next morning. Through applying what he read, it became clear to him that “truth is not just to know, but to live!”
Over the next few years, Brother Miller kept ordering more and more books from the Swedenborg Foundation (www.swedenborg.com), and the teachings began to permeate his sermons. He continued preaching in Baptist and other non-denominational churches, but now he refuted the doctrine of faith alone—a teaching he felt was damaging his community. He wanted to teach everyone the importance of the commandments, and of repentance and regeneration. “These teachings don’t come from Swedenborg,” he told people, “they are from the Lord. They are Scripture. They are the opening of the Word. Swedenborg truly was a servant.”
One of Brother Miller’s most receptive listeners was a woman named Virginia (who, years later, on June 19th, 2009, would become his wife!) She and her son, Marcus, helped establish Bible/Swedenborg study sessions in a library, where they studied how the Bible and Swedenborg’s teachings make one. Not everyone felt comfortable with Brother Miller’s new approach, however. One of the Baptist church pastors, in particular, felt extremely angry, and kicked Miller out of the church. Unwilling to give up, Brother Miller continued to hold sessions at a library, and began to attract a sincerely interested group of seekers.
This committed group has established a church, with Brother Miller as pastor, and they have recently purchased a church building to host their worship services. The Church of Truth, as they now call themselves, hopes to grow and share the good news, and eventually build not only a church, but a school as well. Miller says, “It’s so much warfare, because our area is heavily concentrated in faith alone. But now there is the Church of Truth which the Lord is using to give people a chance to choose Divine Truth. So it’s a blessing.” He adds, “We’re unique. We have our own identity, but we’re part of one body.”
In addition to pastoring the Church of Truth, Brother Miller has a Saturday evening radio broadcast. He goes to the studio along with his wife, and many of the core church members. The Rev. Dr. Jonathan Rose and Rev. David Lindrooth participate via telephone. In these services, the whole team talks about the inner meaning of the Bible, the importance of the Ten Commandments, and the falsity of faith alone. They discuss the stages of regeneration, and announce that God is one, not three. They say that Jesus will not come again in the flesh, but through a new understanding of the Word. They proclaim that the Lord is establishing a new Christian church in the world, and that all people will have access to the truth. Brother Miller says with full assurance, “This is going to be the mainstream teaching. This is the plan for the human race and how to achieve it. The Lord is giving us the power to build the kingdom of heaven here on earth.”
It’s taken some time, but the message is catching on. When ministers from other churches say, “Very good argument,” Miller replies, “Not a good argument, but the truth!” He’s even noticed that they’re starting to incorporate some New Church ideas into their sermons. For example, he’s heard them begin to talk about, the “process” of being born again, instead of treating it like a one-time event.
Brother Miller sends encouragement, “We see what faith alone has done to our neighborhoods. It’s hurt our communities. Swedenborg’s revelation tells us that the commandments haven’t been done away with. These teachings are making an impact on our lives, and bringing us out of terrible situations—they are really doing wonders. “The Lord has blessed you to be a guardian of these very precious teachings. We want to encourage you. There’s a world of people who need them.”