Conviction

Emanuel Swedenborg was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, Christian mystic and theologian. Born in 1688, Swedenborg had a prolific career as an inventor and scientist. At the age of fifty-six he entered into a spiritual phase in which he experienced dreams and visions. This culminated in a spiritual awakening, where he claimed he was appointed by the Lord to write a heavenly doctrine to reform Christianity.

Swedenborg explicitly rejected the common explanation of the Trinity as a Trinity of Persons, which he said was not taught in the early Christian Church. Instead he explained in his theological writings how the Divine Trinity exists in One Person. Swedenborg also rejected the doctrine of salvation through faith alone, since he considered both faith and charity necessary for salvation, not one without the other.

In 1744 he traveled to the Netherlands. Around this time he began having strange dreams. Swedenborg carried a travel journal with him on most of his travels. It provides a first-hand account of the events of his transformation. Analyses of the diary have concluded that what Swedenborg was recording in his Journal of Dreams was a battle between the love of his self, and the love of God.

There are three well known incidents of psychic ability reported in literature about Swedenborg. The first was from July 29, 1759, when during a dinner in Gothenburg, he excitedly told the party at six o’ clock that there was a fire in Stockholm, that it consumed his neighbour’s home and was threatening his own. Two hours later, he exclaimed with relief that the fire stopped three doors from his home. Two days later, reports confirmed every statement to the precise hour that Swedenborg first expressed the information.

The second was in 1758 when Swedenborg visited Queen Louisa Ulrika of Sweden, who asked him to tell her something about her deceased brother Augustus William. The next day, Swedenborg whispered something in her ear that turned the Queen pale and she explained that this was something only she and her brother could know about. The third was a woman who had lost an important document, and came to Swedenborg asking if a recently deceased person could tell him where it was, which he was said to have done the following night.

Swedenborg considered his theology a revelation of the true Christian religion that had become obfuscated through centuries of theology. However, he did not refer to his writings as theology since he considered it based on actual experiences, unlike theology. Neither did he wish to compare it to philosophy, a science he discarded because it “darkens the mind, blinds us, and wholly rejects faith”.

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