Eternal Hell?

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The world is a theatre representing spiritual realities. For example, water is a picture of the truth, which cleanses and refreshes us and quenches our thirst for what is true. The birds represent thoughts. Some flit through our minds, others delve into the mud of worldly concern and trivia and others dive deep into the ocean of knowledge available to us. Still others soar into the spiritual realm and see the world from God’s eye view, which is that all of creation is connected by God’s life and is therefore, one.

From the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, we know that God’s body is made up of all people and all people are predestined for heaven. He said that God’s spiritual body is heaven and he called it the “Greatest Human.” He observed, however, that many people who unfortunately miss the mark too often, do not make it into the body of heaven and he labelled them “waste.”

However, God never gives up on anyone ever and so we read in Matthew 18:12: “What do you think a man does who has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost? He will leave the other ninety-nine grazing on the hillside and go and look for the lost sheep. When he finds it, I tell you, he feels far happier over this one sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not get lost.” Then in verse 21, Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?”  “No, not seven times,” answered Jesus, “but seventy times seven, because the Kingdom of heaven is like this.”

There is goodness at the core of every person and this goodness is God’s life and presence with them that can never be destroyed. Now think about waste. There is so much goodness left in waste that, when you put it on your garden, up comes a whole lot of new growth! It is wonderful stuff. That is why I believe that hell cannot be an eternal reality after just one short earth life of missing the mark due to our environment or poor upbringing, but a temporary situation in which people are able to see the error of their ways. They are there because they do not feel worthy of heaven due to the dysfunctional lives they have led but, surely the Lord can show them the light and give them the choice to come back to earth for another chance at becoming their true self. We know from Swedenborg’s observations that the angels do go into hell to help those who are there to come out and perhaps what Swedenborg did not witness was the bringing back to new life of those unfortunate people.

Swedenborg spoke of the remains in every person instilled there by the Lord at their birth and increased by every moment of tender love given to the child by their caregivers. It would make sense to acknowledge that these are remains of goodness brought with them from their previous lives and stored up and built on forever. Why wasn’t Swedenborg told about this? I believe it is because God does not reveal all his truth to one person but in part to many. The New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven has many gates and not one of them is better than another.  There is a lot we could learn from other spiritualities and a lot that we could share if we were to look upon humanity as God does – as one body made up of infinitely varied parts.

Jenny Keal

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All Things New

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There is a startling statement in the last chapter of the Bible – “Behold, I make all things new.” Let me give you an example of what I think is meant by this statement. It is a way of making the point that there is to be a new way of doing things in the world, new attitudes, and good outcomes. These must happen within each one of us first and eventually affect the world as a whole.

Put yourself in the shoes of a person who has suffered a lot and does not know how to find peace of mind within their feelings of grief, anger, bitterness and despair. If you were this person you might find yourself attacking the world in frustration or throwing fits of temper, taking out your bitterness on others. Think, for example, of the bully in the world today. Can you see that this person is someone in need of much loving attention and in need of being made new?

Can this person be blamed? We must understand a person’s background and what has lead them to their behaviour before passing judgment. Often a cycle of abuse or deprivation has gone on for many generations. Who should get the blame? Before we judge another by their cover let’s look within and see if we can’t bring a little compassion to the situation. We all have inherited tendencies that get us into trouble and parts that are hurting as a result of someone else’s tendency let loose. Unless our hurts are healed we will continue to lash out or behave in ways that are detrimental to ourselves and others.

Its hard to be trained out of a bad habit without our understanding what has been behind it all along. If those hurts and shame that are hidden in the heart of the bully are brought out into the open the bully can begin to understand his or her own behaviour. Only love can heal a hurting heart – love from the source of all love and goodness. Each time a symptom appears – the harming of another in some way – we have the opportunity to bring God’s love to a hurting heart. God’s healing of the hurts and shame of the bully is the way they are made new and their destructive tendencies are made quiescent. This is a gradual process. If God were to take away all our imperfections of character in one fell swoop, it would leave a gaping hole. We cannot be changed overnight. But new life can be ours if we keep opening up to his love, and giving up hurtful ways. As these old ways are relinquished, gradually the old tendencies are pushed aside and  new life takes their place.

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away… Behold I make all things new”  (Revelation 21: 4, 5).

The time has come for us to break the cycle of violence in the world and start seeing one another with new understanding – respecting our diversity; listening; looking beneath the surface for God’s goodness and lovingly encouraging one another to bring the things that stand in the way of that goodness out in the open to be healed. All things new is the promise but we must do our part if new ways of living are to flourish, bringing peace and harmony to the world.

Jenny