Q What does revelation reveal?
a Revelation reveals God’s love and wisdom. Because God loves each of us and wants us to go to heaven, He reveals Divine truth to us, which teaches us how to be genuinely happy by serving God and other people. The Lord delivers this Divine truth to us by means of the Word, which uses parables to show us how to live. But the Lord’s revelation is not just truth; it is an expression of His love for us and His desire to create a heaven from the human race.
Q What is the difference between enlightenment and revelation?
a Revelation and enlightenment work together to show you a path to heaven. If revelation is like a map, then enlightenment is like a lamp. A map isn’t helpful if you can’t see it, and a lamp is pointless if you have nothing to see. Revelation happens when the Lord “reveals” His truth—that is, He shows you the map that will guide you to heaven. Enlightenment happens when the Lord gives you the “light” of understanding; He shines spiritual light on the map so you can see and understand what the map says.
In our lives, revelation comes to us through our senses by reading books or listening to sermons. Enlightenment, however, comes from within, entering into our minds when we allow the Lord to open our hearts to Him. Of itself, enlightenment doesn’t teach us anything new, but does give us new understanding of revelation.
Q Are sacred scriptures from other religions part of the Word of God?
a The “Word of God” is bigger than any book. Some books we call the “Word” because they contain the Lord’s true teachings (His “words”) from beginning to end. They are nothing but the Word. However, anywhere you find truth, you have found the Word of God. And you will find pieces of the Lord’s Word in every religion around the world. The Lord ensures that everyone has some basic truths by which he or she can be led.
However, the only reliable way to identify which parts of a religion’s teachings are the Word of God is to compare them with the ideas taught in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Writings for the New Church, since those books consist entirely of the Lord’s true teachings.
Q Is the Bible a true story?
a The Bible is a true story but not always factual. The truth of the Bible doesn’t come from the facts of the stories, but rather from the spiritual meaning of those stories. The true ideas the Bible teaches have little to do with history, geology, or any matters of the natural world, but have everything to do with the spiritual world and the things that really matter in our lives. The Lord indicates a deeper meaning to His words, saying, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). The Lord gives us truth through the Bible to help us live better lives and help us to work toward the goal of spiritual and eternal living. There are many factual elements to the stories of the Bible, but testing the “truth” of the Bible by examining factual evidence misses the spiritual source and the heavenly quality of that truth.
Rev. Amos Glenn delivers New Church doctrinal classes online at NotFridayClass.com and hosts online reading groups at ReadSwedenborg.com. Amos is the Executive Director of NewChurchLearning.net.