Introduction

In the New Church, often called the Swedenborgian Church, we worship one God, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of heaven and earth and the Redeemer of the human race, in whom is the Divine Trinity. We teach that the Lord is Love itself and Life itself and that everyone is saved who has a genuine faith in Him. A genuine faith means believing in Him and a life lived according to that belief. The life of religion, then, consists of rejecting evil actions because they are the work of the devil and come from hell. Good actions should be done because they are the work of the Lord and come from Him.

We learn about living the life of religion from the Lord's Three-fold Word, consisting of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Writings for the New Church. The Writings for the New Church were written by Emanuel Swedenborg in the 18th century. Everything in the Old and New Testaments is a parable with a deeper meaning that teaches how to live the life of religion leading to heaven. The life of religion is a life of service to the Lord and to the neighbor.

Those who live a religious life in this world choose to live in heaven after death, where they can continue to live a life of service. Those who don't live in such a fashion choose to enter into hell. Hell is not a punishment inflicted by the Lord, but is a way for the Lord to protect the free will of those who choose a life of evil. Our freedom is one of the most important things to the Lord; He would rather allow us to reject Him than force us to love Him, even if it means our unhappiness.

Some of the most important ideas to the New Church are the teachings about marriage. As husband and wife grow closer together and closer to the Lord, their lives become so intertwined as to be one life. Because of this, their marriage continues after death and they live as a married couple in heaven to eternity. Those who die unmarried find a perfect spouse when they enter heaven. This is because marriage is the source of the greatest happiness that two people can experience.

 
 

Vision & Purpose

Pittsburgh New Church Core Purpose: To help people throughout the world grow closer to the Lord God Jesus Christ in His Second Coming and so to lead them to heaven…

The Pittsburgh New Church, as a congregation of the New Church, carries out the core purpose of the General Church (legal name of the New Church) locally through programs that:

  1. Inspire belief in New Church teachings
  2. Promote the spiritual practices of reformation
  3. Encourage service to others
  4. Involve people on leadership and evangelization opportunities

Key Beliefs

The Lord from eternity…

"Verily I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58).

People of the New Church worship the Lord Jesus Christ, the one God of Heaven and Earth. He is from eternity, to eternity; He always has existed and always will exist as the Lord Jesus Christ.

Who is Jehovah…

"No one is able to pluck the sheep out of My Father's hand; I and the Father are one" (John 10:29, 30).
"I am Jehovah; and besides me there is no Saviour" (Isa. 43: 11).

The Lord that we worship is both Jehovah of the Old Testament and Jesus of the New Testament. Within this one person is the Divine Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three names are three different aspects of one person. Just as each of us has three parts that we call our soul, our mind, and our activity, so the Lord has the Divine Itself (Father), the Divine Human (Son), and Divine Activity (Holy Spirit). These are one in both person and essence.

Came into the world…

"I know the Father: For I am from Him, and He hath sent me" (John 7:29).

Jesus Christ was born with both Divine inner parts (from His own soul) and finite human outer parts from Mary. He took on the complete human condition, inheriting through Mary all of the inclinations to do evil that all people inherit. He was raised and educated exactly as every human being is, only faster and perfectly because His soul was Divine.

To subdue the hells and to glorify His Human…

"Jehovah shall go forth, and fight against the nations, as when He fought in the day of battle…. And Jehovah shall be king over all the earth; in that day there shall be one Jehovah, and His name one" (Zech. 14:3-6, 9)
"Ought not Christ to have suffered this, and to enter into His glory?" (Luke 24:26).

Jesus took on our condition for two immediate and complimentary purposes. First, by inheriting inclinations to do evil from Mary, He allowed the evil spirits of hell to attack Him. Filled with nothing but hate and rage, the forces of hell saw this as an opportunity to destroy the Lord and rule in His place. But throughout His life, the Lord overcame the evil spirits by facing and overcoming every single temptation the evil spirits could induce.

At the same time, with each victory in the combat of temptation, the Lord replaced some of the outer, finite human parts with something Divine from His own soul. Through this process of glorification (or making Divine), Jesus became both God and Man, or Divine Human.

Without this no mortal could have been saved…

The day of vengeance is in Mine heart, and the year of My redeemed is come; I have trampled them in Mine anger, I have brought down their victory to the earth; so He became their Savior (Isa. 63:4, 6, 8).

The reason the Lord did this was to save every person of the human race. At that time in our spiritual history, people had lost the ability to understand their spiritual lives and so could no longer make choices that would lead them towards heaven. The Lord chose to be born on earth so He could re-educate people about the difference between right and wrong and demonstrate living a life of religion. Without these new ideas, no one could live the life that leads to heaven.

And those are saved who believe in Him.

Jesus said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God from all thy heart, and in all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with thy thought (Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30, 32; Luke 10:27).

A saving faith is a genuine acknowledgment that the Lord is God. But a genuine acknowledgment means more than merely an intellectual or emotional faith. A person who genuinely believes that the Lord is God will do the things that He commands. Believing in God really means living a life of religion, shunning evils as sins against the Lord and doing good things as a service to Him and your neighbor.

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in Me he is cast forth as a branch and is withered. As the Father has loved Me so I have loved you; abide in My love. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15: 5, 6, 9, 12).

Who is Swedenborg?

The Christian theology of the New Church is based on the works of the famous 18th century scholar, Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg was a leading Swedish scientist and philosopher. For much of his life, he was primarily an engineer and physical scientist. Like many of his contemporaries, he was trying to figure out how the exciting scientific advances of the time could mesh with spiritual beliefs.

Born in Stockholm in 1688, Emanuel Swedenborg was a son of one of Sweden's leading Lutheran clergymen, Jesper Swedberg. Swedberg was a leader of the Pietist movement in Sweden, emphasizing an active life according to one's faith. He organized and published the Swedish church's first Book of Hymns, and a new Swedish translation of the Bible, and was a "virtual pastor" to the new Swedish settlement in Delaware Colony. He became the royal chaplain to King Charles XI, Bishop of Skara in 1702, and was ennobled by Queen Ulrika Eleonora in 1719 (which changed the family name to Swedenborg).

The young Emanuel Swedenborg attended the University of Uppsala, and then systematically toured Europe to study under the great scientists of his day. With Christopher Polhem, he published Sweden's first scientific journal, Daedalus Hyperboreus. His main job was as a mining engineer - Assessor of the Board of Mines - and he helped Sweden import and develop advanced mining and processing methods. He worked hard at his role in the House of Nobles, on monetary policy and other issues of the day. He also helped build locks and dams for river navigation, and work on early designs for an airplane and a submarine. He published an early version of the nebular hypothesis for astrophysics, and then focused on brain anatomy in an accelerating search for the human soul.

It seems as though Swedenborg's search for the soul triggered a career change in 1745, at the age of 56. He retired from being an Assessor, and started a methodical, exhaustive study of the Bible. He began to have spiritual experiences, which he logged carefully in his systematic style.

He wrote that he had been called to write and publish a series of books on theology, on the inner meaning of the Word, on marriage, on real charity, real faith, and the nature of God - essentially a complete reworking of what he called the old Christian Church, and the foundation of a new Christianity. He published 18 theological works, and several others were published posthumously by his friends.

Swedenborg's works rocked the boat of the Christian world. He published in London and Amsterdam, where there was religious freedom. Some of his readers amongst the Swedish Lutheran clergy were persecuted for preaching the ideas they were finding in his writings, but overall his books were widely influential in Europe, and then North America, and beyond.

For a complete biography of Emanuel Swedenborg, visit the New Church History website.