Section from a Web published book (2003) by Professor Leon James titled A Man of the Field: Forming The New Church Mind In Today’s World. Volume 1: Reformation, The Struggle Against Nonduality (Chapter 3, Section 9). The full book may be accessed at: www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/v1ch3-nonduality.html#_Toc22558068

 

 

Anti-semitism and Holocaust Theology

 

Anti-semitism is racial and ethnic hatred against the Jews. Many books have been written about it over the centuries and modern studies and institutes are active today. Anti-semitism in Europe has been widespread, generational, and cultural. Until the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews in World War II anti-semitism was related to religion, but the Nazis escalated it and extended it to an official government policy of ethnic eradication or genocide. My family was a victim of this historical episode. I was born in 1938 in Rumania in a Jewish Orthodox family. The war exploded all around my childhood. But worse, the anti-semitism that threatened us more than others. The adults around my life suddenly vanished, carted off on trains with soldiers in black shirts. I was seven by the time some of them started returning, uncles and aunts. Grandparents did not return. One of the cousins who returned was Elie Weisel. He was a few years older than me but still young, and I did not recognize him. Later he got to tell his story of anti-semitism in several holocaust books that won him world fame and recognition. It wasn’t his personal suffering he presented, but the world’s. A world that stood by what the Nazis did, is a sick world. This was his message, his humanitarian warning. And a God who permitted it, is not caring enough to exercise His Omnipotence to stop it, to prevent it. God’s plans and purposes are somehow off the mark—Weisel’s characters in the novels argue against God, put Him on trial, convict Him.

 

Weiselhas had two areas of influence intellectually: secular and religious. The influence on secular humanism has been to promote the notion that anti-semitism is a political and moral plague on society, corrupting it, turning it into sub-human levels of functioning. The only way society can escape this fate is to constitute itself into a community of hatred against anti-semitism. Extensions of this idea are seen in the formation of anti-discrimination agencies and institutes specifically focused on anti-semitism in society—the laws, the media, the image, the philosophies, and the practices of it. Wiesel’s religious influence has been felt by Christians who desire a philosophical explanation of anti-semitism in relation to the Christian Church. There seems to be a need for alleviating feelings of guilt for the role of the Christian clergy in contributing to anti-semitism over the centuries. One commentator on Wiesel writes:

 

The second part explores the theological and ethical questions involved in the journey of those who hear Wiesel. The author confronts Wiesel's assertion: "The sincere Christian knows that what died in Auschwitz was not the Jewish people but Christianity." The questions are unavoidable: Why were so many S.S. members also members of Christian churches? How could so many of the killers have been educated in the church and in Christian institutions? How could there have been killers who still went to confession? As the author indicates, the questions are Wiesel's, but Christians must make them their own. Why? The Holocaust was a betrayal of Jesus.

 (William A. Hartfelder, Jr. “Review of: Elie Wiesel: Messenger to All Humanity” by Robert McAfee Brown Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 1983. On the web at theologytoday.ptsem.edu/apr1984/v41-1-bookreview13.htm Accessed June 2002.)

 

The modern Jewish perspective on God has become influential with Christians since the Holocaust literature has become prominent in seminaries and an official ecumenical relationship has been formed between Christian Church leaders and American Jewish Rabbis. One of the best known author and critic in the holocaust literature is Elie Wiesel, a survivor of Nazi extermination camps, and honored with a Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for his humanitarian activities in relation to “remember the holocaust” which he argued was a great human failure, not merely a Jewish tragedy. Christian theologians began to argue that the holocaust requires a change in the idea that Christians have of Redemption. Here is one example that uses the holocaust as a justification for Christian political support for the survival of Israel:

 

Ellis provides an illuminating overview of what has been described as "Holocaust theology," that worldview which places Jewish destiny within the parameters of the Holocaust and the state of Israel. He argues that in their attempt to understand how a God of history could have permitted the murder of 6 million Jews, Holocaust theologians have essentially concluded there are no satisfactory answers. Thus, the rabbinic world of synagogue and prayer is no longer sufficient for them, and the religious duty of the community of faith must now include ensuring the survival of the Jewish people. Since only sovereign and powerful states can guarantee such survival, "achieving power in Israel reaches the level of sacred principle." Hence the centrality of Israel not only as the spiritual engine of Jewish life but also as the only reliable vehicle for self-preservation.

(…)

Like other writers, Ellis attributes the restraint that generally characterizes Western criticism of Israel partly to Christian guilt over not having done enough to prevent the Holocaust. But in a biting critique of the interfaith dialogue that emerged between progressive Christians and Jews following the Second Vatican Council in the mid'60s, Ellis denounces the Christian participants who welcomed "almost as a new gospel" the premises of Holocaust theology. For the unfortunate result has been an unspoken "ecumenical deal," whereby Christians avoid pressing the issue of Palestinian suffering under Israeli rule, in return for a Jewish acceptance of the sincerity of Christian repentance for its past anti-Semitism.

 

(Book Reviews: Beyond Innocence and Redemption: Confronting the Holocaust and Israeli Power. By Marc H. Ellis. Harper & Row, 1990. Reviewed by John Dirlik. December/January 1992/93 on the Web at

www.washington-report.org/backissues/1292/9212074a.html accessed June 2002)

 

1. Tenets Of Holocaust Theology

 

Some of the tenets of “holocaust theology” are expressed here:

 

Some have argued that as God granted human beings free will, the terrors of the Holocaust were manifestations of purely human evil. Others have suggested that God suffered in the death camps with his chosen people. Radical theologians, however, have contended that our understanding of God must be altered in the light of the Nazi terror.

 

Pre-eminent among such Jewish theologians is the Conservative rabbi Richard Rubenstein, who argues that it is no longer possible to believe in a supernatural deity who acts in history. Jews today, he contends, live in the time of the death of God.

 

Elie Wiesel described in his autobiographical novel, Night , the evolution of his religious doubt as he experienced the horrors of the Nazi regime. His rebellion was heightened during the high holy days when, unable to pray, he turned accuser. On the day of atonement, he refused to fast, rejecting God's silence in the face of suffering and murder.

(…)

A shift in perspective has also taken place in Christian circles. A number of Christian thinkers insist that our theological understanding has been fundamentally altered by the events of the Nazi era. In Anti-Semitism and Christian Theology , the Christian feminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether argues that the church must repudiate its traditional conviction that Christianity is the only true path to salvation.

 

The Catholic theologian John Pawlikowski says Christians should forge a new conception of the relationship between God and human beings in the light of the Holocaust. In his view, the initial act of creation constituted the liberation of humankind from its total encasement in the godhead. Christianity's role is to guide humans in how they use this power and freedom.

(…)

These and other thinkers have recast the theological approach to the problem of God's presence and human suffering. In a post-Holocaust world, traditional views of God are arguably invalid. In his article "Christians and Jews after Auschwitz", the Christian theologian Johannes Metz addresses a clear imperative to contemporary theologians. "Never again to do theology in such a way that its construction is unaffected, or could remain unaffected, by Auschwitz." In different ways, radical theologians have absorbed this message and paved the way for a new theology in a post-Holocaust age.

(Dan Cohn-Sherbok. “Where was God when evil struck?” This article first appeared in the Times Higher Educational Supplement, January 25 2002

www.lamp.ac.uk/trs/studyofjudaism/wherewasgod.html  accessed June 2002.

 

The basis of all doubts about God regarding the Jewish holocaust is the tendency of people generally and theologians in particular to apply a nonduality between historical events and God’s omnipotence. This particular tendency is a sub-set of the larger issue within which it is discussed: Why does God permit evil of any kind? The crisis of the holocaust is precipitated by the horrific number of victims in one historical event. The unprecedented evil unleashed in the 1800 days of World War II made brought on the death of 6 million Jews, 20 million Germans, 20 million Russians, and millions of Poles, British, American, Japanese, and others. These people must have had some face off when they arrived in the spiritual world, as often is the case with victims and their tormentors (SE 4493). It is significant to note that I could find not a single reference to this idea in all of my research on holocaust theology. There appears to be a total and absolute disinterest in following these victims to their fate in the afterlife. It’s as if the afterlife did not exist and was not relevant. But to the New Church mind this connection is immediately obvious and thought of.

 

2. The Victims In The Afterlife

 

Jewish and Christian nonduality are equal in prohibiting discussion of the afterlife of those 50 million people who entered the spiritual world from deaths caused by the five-year war. Almost one million people died each month during that war. Every one of these deaths meant a new beginning and a new future. It’s irrational to stop the discussion at the point of death, as if these people disappear from the human race. Nonduality wants to focus on the size of the numbers—but this remains a natural focus, not spiritual. The number of deaths has significance for a natural theology and for politics. Angels do not think in numbers about anything (AC 5291). Dualism from the Writings allow us to go deeper into the spiritual significance of any event. Not a single death from among the 50 million was caused by human evil as an impotent God looked on. Every death, and its horrific attendant details, occurred with the Lord’s Laws of Permissions. Nothing could occur without the Lord giving it power to occur. The Lord permitted every horrific event and supplied the power for its occurrence—the power of the trains carrying the victims, the intelligence of the Nazis in figuring out efficient killing methods for millions, the attitudes of the world’s leaders who did nothing and were not outraged, the last twitch of a hand in agony, the last heart beat—every single detail was powered by Divine Omnipotence through the Divine Laws of Permissions. And it doesn’t stop there!

 

Every individual needed to be awakened in the spiritual world, all 50 million of them. Each was treated personally by the best possible care: two angels of the Lord supervising with great care the operations of resuscitation. And my grandparents and uncles and cousins, and all the soldiers, and all the Nazis who died, and all the Russians, and all the Poles, and so on. They were all resuscitated within 36 hours into the caring hands of angels. And from there they carried on, freer than before, with more capacity to enjoy and discover the deepest desires and delights. There is no way of accurately telling the holocaust story without going beyond the point of death. There are two reasons: psychological and spiritual.

 

Psychologically, if we stop at the point of the dying of the millions, there is no resolution possible. The only available alternatives are pathological. There is no rational resolution possible. People then fall into two main syndromes. One is to hold on to the memory with hatred for part of the human. This perpetual reminding and vigilance become  possible mechanisms for escaping a repetition. The other is to forgive and not to want to remember, and not to want to attribute it to human nature in general. Neither approach gives satisfaction and resolution.

 

Spiritually, if we stop at the point of the dying of the millions, there is no resolution with respect to why God allowed it. There is a general acknowledgement that God sees the larger picture we do not, and therefore in God’s unfathomable Wisdom, there is a justification for it. This is not a resolution but a the creation of a mystery. It prevents the deepening of our ideas about God, a deepening that we need to advance in our regeneration. The New Church mind is formed by the Writings where the Divine Laws of Permissions have been unveiled to anyone who wants to believe them as Divine Truth. The Lord is revealing His rational universe, His loving purposes, and His gentle means of regenerating a fallen race. The Writings reveal where all evil comes from, namely the people who inhabit the hells. They are earthlings who lived a few decades in the physical body and allowed their mind to become devoid of love and caring for anyone but the self. They now subsist in hell by fantasizing their evils and delighting in their fantasies. Their lusts and cupidities are what’s being received in the human mind as the fallen race.

 

The world of spirits is not heaven, nor is it hell, but it is the intermediate place or state between the two; for it is the place that man first enters after death; and from which after a suitable time he is either raised up into heaven or cast down into hell in accord with his life in the world. (HH 421)

 

Every individual regardless of race, inheritance, religion, or health, inherits at birth a mental connection to those evil lusts and cupidities. These flow in into the will of the natural mind, and each time we carry them out in thought and action, we experience delight. We are a race delighted with evil, with lust, with cupidities, and especially can we enjoy these fallen delights when we justify them in our understanding as something good and allowable. This is called the infernal marriage and takes us straight to hell from where we cannot escape to eternity. The Lord cannot prevent these events on our own account. This is because we are so fallen that nothing would be left in our delight or animated life if the Lord prevented the evils from being done. Our delights would instantly cease and we would have no motive to move or think anything. If we had enough good things we loved, the Lord could then prevent the bad things we also love, and we would still feel alive, and in our heaven. But if there are no good loves or affections left, not a one, then the Lord goes along with the lusts and their evil acts, and gives Permission. That is, the Lord allows it to happen, doesn’t stop it, but gives the power and the knowledge for the criminal and cruel act to take place against the victim.

 

Further, the Lord governs these events so that He mitigates each detail, bending but never forcing, working in the background to make things happen as if by chance or foresight (AC 4364[2] ). The Lord is present very closely with the individual’s inner mind of which there is no conscious awareness. Regardless of the person’s religion or morality, the Lord is there close, governing and managing and healing. How good it is that He doesn’t leave things to us, for then hell would be far worse. He only lets us carry on the impression that He is absent or that we are accomplishing anything from ourselves. The holocaust is psychologically and spiritually impossible to resolve without knowing about the Divine Laws of Permissions and the Laws of Divine Providence. These have now been revealed in the Writings and we can have a perspective on anti-semitism that is rational and purposeful, not random and abandoned.

 

The New Church mind knows that the Lord only permits an event if He can turn it into some good for the victim and perpetrator alike. The Lord moderates and bends the killer’s intentions and capacities for cruelty, moment by moment, and the Lord also is with each victim, moderating the suffering and the fear.

 

There are thousands and thousands of arcana, of which scarcely a single one is known to man, whereby a man is led by the Lord out of the life of hell into the life of heaven. (AC 9336)

 

There are many like Elie Wiesel who see the holocaust as God’s failure, Christianity’s failure, humanity’s failure. These represent a continuation of the struggles for him and others. But we know from the Writings that in reality there is never a failure by the Lord. What is happening is that the Lord manages everyone’s fate and biography in accordance with His Perfect Divine Order and with a constant focus on the individual’s regeneration and preparation for spiritual life. The style by which we live in war and in peace is something we ourselves insist on, even as the Lord manages to work around it so that all things contribute to the individual’s spiritual salvation and eternal life. There has been no failure of anything, only man’s cruelty at work prior to regeneration.

 

Jewish nonduality as it is manifested in Christian thinking is exhibited in the popularity of Rabbi Harold Kushner’s bestsellers read by millions of Americans.

 

Question: This year is the 20th anniversary of your hugely best-selling book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Did the response to that book surprise you?

 

Answer: It still surprises me 20 years later that so many people, Christians, Jews and agnostics, were comforted by that book, that it is used in college courses and taught at Christian seminaries.

 

Question: What is it about us that craves significance?

Answer: Once we come to understand that we're not going to live forever, we feel the need to leave our mark on the world, so that when we are gone, people will know that we were once there. It's not mortality that frightens us, it's invisibility, the dreadful feeling that neither our living nor our dying will make a difference to the world. Religion tries to help us conquer that fear by giving us good things to do and by reassuring us that our choices matter at the highest level. We may not be famous, but we matter to the people close to us and we matter to God.

(BookPage interview with the author. Rabbi Harold Kushner Living a Life That Matters: Resolving the Conflict Between Conscience and Success (Knopf 2001) On the Web at www.bookpage.com/0109bp/rabbi_kushner.html Accessed June 2002)

 

Note the inability to consider the continuation of life as a normal part of assessing the “significance” of our life on earth. Nonduality restricts an individual’s significance to a strictly natural property—that of “leaving a mark” in the physical world. In the Eulogy at funerals Christians often take solace in affirming the rock bottom fact that the individual who died will yet continue life “in the memories” of those he or she influenced for good. This is considered equivalent to immortality. But it is not. The individual continues life in the spiritual world and has nothing to do with the memories of those left behind. Dualism grants us freedom from the oppressive ideas of nonduality.

 

I once sent a copy of this book to Oprah after she had devoted a series of shows to what is spiritual. Of course I never received an acknowledgment from the producers who open her mail. After teaching a history of psychology course focusing on Swedenborg I was delighted to read Part 1 of the students’ reports which was divided into two parts: What the book says, and What I think of it. The majority did an excellent job of representing one of the three books being considered (Heaven and Hell, Divine Love and Wisdom, Divine Providence). Their summaries were accurate and they picked up important threads which they were able to render precisely in their words.

 

But when I got to Part 2 of their report I was shaken a bit to see that they did not accept what they summarized, though they all had a favorable view of the author whom they deemed sincere in his intentions. So I learned of the futility of merely exposing others to the Writings and expecting instant acceptance. I believed this naively because that’s how it happened to me. I was a seeker of truth and meaning in life. I hated the idea of dying and disappearing. I felt it was such a colossal waste—all the effort I put into my life going poof! What’s the point? No I did not care much about living “in the memory” of others. What’s that to me? I wanted immortality. I loved it when I first read the New Testament in 1980—overcoming my long standing aversion of it, as it was forbidden for an Orthodox Jew to read it or touch it. I especially loved the parts that promised eternal life. This was my first rational duality. It was given as a gift from the Lord through His New Testament Word. From an Orthodox Jew I instantly became a Jewish Christian. But a year later the Lord gave me the rest of the gift to complete the whole that He wished to give me about Himself and from Himself. I found the books of the Writings in our university library as I was browsing for “Bible commentaries.” Then my mind was immediately changed again into full living dualism. Now I have a New Church mind and I can write this book from it.

 

I realize that it is not possible to believe Swedenborg’s accounts of the spiritual world without reading and understanding the rational explanations given for all the experiences and observations he was able to make directly. There were many illustrious readers of Swedenborg among the intelligentsia of the 18th , 19th and 20th  century (for the long list see Note 5 at end). They generally divided what he wrote into two parts: philosophy-theology and fantasy-spiritism. It’s astonishing to me that they were able to separate these two and to admire one for its enlightening rationality, but to dismiss the other for its childish and rather unimaginative inventiveness. I was puzzled.

 

3. The Spiritual Meaning Of Anti-Semitism

 

I believe that future research in theistic science based on the Writings could uncover the reasons for the history of anti-semitism. We already know that it has a spiritual cause, because all historical events on earth are effects while none of them are causes (HH 89). What are the spiritual causes of anti-semitism? There may be many, general causes and specific causes. General causes fall into the category of love of self and love of dominion by those who make use of any social or political situation to make victims. This is what they love. But there are also specific causes that relate to evils of religion by those who make use of religion to victimize others. Other specific reasons relate to the states of spiritual development, what is inherited down the line of one’s ancestors (DP 277). The Writings tells us that all historical events in the Old Testament took place as described and that only those were permitted by the Lord that could be for the benefit of the people involved in the events, and could also serve for the Word and its representations by correspondence. The inner content of the Old Testament is its spiritual content, and this content is arranged in infinite rational series which the angels marvel at (AE 112[4]; NJHD 260). The historical events were allowed to take place so that they could serve to represent and contain these heavenly truths. These truths are for the salvation of humankind, and without them, no one could be saved (TCR 318).

 

The Jewish history in the Old Testament had a Divine purpose for its every detail. This purpose was related to the evolution of the human race. This evolution is accomplished by means of the Divine Truths contained by correspondence in the historical events of the Word, in every geographic name, in every number, in every animal mentioned, in every miracle, in every poetic expression (AC 66[2] ). The Jewish people did not go through these events merely for their own sake but for the sake of the entire human race. This is the meaning of the “Chosen People of God.” They were accepted to the Divine task of being the living events of what the Lord needs to accomplish to save the world. Every detail in the Old Testament is about the Lord and His work of Redemption. It appears on the surface that every detail is about the Jewish people and their land. This is true. But much more than this, it is also the containant of the universal meaning—the latter within the former, by correspondence (DLW 221, AC 1886).

 

For instance, when we read about Abraham and the events recorded about him, we are reading in the spiritual sense, the events about the Lord when He was on earth and accomplished His work of Deliverance and Redemption. And further, these very same details about Redemption are also the details about the spiritual evolution of the race, and the spiritual development of every individual. This is the level of theistic science. At this level of thinking we read about Abraham, but we think about the Lord. We read about Esau and Jacob, but we think about our own states of regeneration. Esau represents the good of faith, Jacob the truth of faith. When we read about Jehovah telling Abraham to hearken unto Sarah, we are thinking about the external rational mind being in obedience to the internal rational mind. When we read about the prophet who was ordered to eat dung, we are reading about the profanation of good and truth in our mind:

 

In Ezekiel, the Spirit of Jehovah said to the prophet:

Take unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and put them into one vessel, and make thee bread thereof. With the ordure of man's dung shalt thou make a cake before their eyes. Thus shall the sons of Israel eat their bread unclean (Ezek. 4:9, 12-13);

where the profanation of good and truth is treated of; the "wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt" denote the kinds of good and its derivative truth; the "bread" or "cake" "made thereof with the ordure of human dung," denotes the profanation of all of them. (AC 3941)

 

Similarly in the New Testament and in the Writings because the Word is always written in this style, and without this, it would not be Holy and would not be able to conjoin heaven and earth, and thereby save the human race. The Writings were given for the entire universe, for the earths, and for the heavens. Many nations and historical figures are mentioned in it. All these are representations of spiritual things that correspond to them. These spiritual things are human states that apply universally. The Laws of Divine government have been revealed but not understood, hardly studied. But the future will be different as the human race gradually returns to its state of wholeness and pristine perfection (Coronis Summary LIII).

 

As the Writings become more widely known the issue of anti-semitism in it is inevitably going to crop up. I recall when I first read the New Testament at around age 40 I accepted it without hesitation as the continuation of the Old Testament, with which I was raised as an Orthodox Jew. But despite this, I sometimes got the feeling that it was anti-semitic in certain places where it refers to the Jews in derogatory terms. This reaction is inherent in every Jew. I started examining the exact expressions to see if it could have been written differently. For example, instead of saying “the Jews” should it not have said “certain among the Jews” or “the Jewish clergy” and so on. But later, through the Writings, I gained the perspective of the Word as the Divine Truth with its inner spiritual meaning in every expression and word. Then it is clear that the Word is universal and above sectarianism. But real historical events and people are involved in the surface literal prose of the Word. These names, places, and events are to be transcended or seen through so that they disappear altogether, and what is perceived then is the spiritual universal sense. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the people or places mentioned.

 

The nature of representatives becomes clear from the historical parts of the Word, where all the acts of those forefathers, that is to say, the acts of Abram, Isaac, and Jacob, and later on of Moses, the judges, and the kings of Judah and Israel, are nothing other than representatives. As has been stated, 'Abram' in the Word represents the Lord, and because he represents the Lord, he also represents the celestial man. 'Isaac' too represents the Lord, and from that the spiritual man, while 'Jacob' likewise represents the Lord, and from that the natural man corresponding to the spiritual.

 

[4] But the nature of representatives is such that no attention at all is paid to the character of the representative person, only to the thing which he represents For all the kings of Judah and Israel, no matter what kind of men they were, represented the Lord's Royalty, and all the priests, no matter what kind of men these were, His Priesthood. Thus bad men as well as good were able to represent the Lord, and the celestial and spiritual things of His kingdom, for, as stated and shown already, representatives were entirely separate from the person involved. So then all the historical narratives of the Word are representative, and as this is so it follows that all the words of the Word carry a spiritual meaning, that is, they mean something different in the internal sense from what they do in the sense of the letter. (AC 1409)

 

Since this nation, although of such a quality, represented the Church; and since the Word was written among them and concerning them; therefore Divine-celestial things were signified by their names, as by Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Ephraim, Joseph, and the rest. Judah, in the internal sense signifies the Lord as to celestial love, and His celestial kingdom .... The tribe of Judah and Judea signify the celestial Church .... The twelve tribes represent, and therefore signify, all things of love and faith in the aggregate, … consequently also heaven and the Church   The seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, signifies the goods and truths of the Church. (NJHD 248)

 

In the same way we can deal with many passages in the Writings that appear to be anti-semitic to the Jewish reader. The Jewish reader will not be convinced that it makes a difference that there is also an internal spiritual sense. The fact remains to their eyes that the literal says negative things about Jews and some of the ancestors they consider part of their holy worship—King David, Judah, and Jacob, for instance, and many others. The Writings speak of them as not being among the heavenly persons. Their importance is not their personal character, which could be either good or evil. Their spiritual importance is that they represented something spiritual, just as the High Priest may represent the Lord while in his robes at the altar in the temple, but when not in his robes, and in private life, he may be a wicked and unlawful man. His personal wickedness does not interfere with his priestly representation and office. So even though Jacob represents the Lord in His Divine Natural, he is described in dishonorable terms in terms of his inherited character (e.g., SE 37; NJHD 248).

 

In fact, the Writings state that the Jews are entrusted with keeping intact the Word of the Old Testament and it is through this that there is connection between heaven and earth. Without the religious motivation of Jews to safeguard the Old Testament text, the world could not survive and the entire creation would be destroyed!

 

The Lord saw to it that to prevent the Word being lost, the Jewish race, which possesses the Word of the Old Testament in its original language, should survive, and live scattered throughout much of the world. Although they deny the Lord to be the Messiah or Christ who was foretold by the Prophets, and although they are wicked at heart, still their reading of the Word creates communication with certain heavens. For correspondences open up communication, whatever sort of person the reader may be, so long as he acknowledges it as Divine. This continues today as in the past. For when they reverence as if minor deities Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, David, Elijah and many others who are named in the Word, then the heavens perceive instead the Lord, being unaware of the person in the world who is the origin of that holy element in their worship. That is how heaven is linked with people by means of the Word. (DE VERBO 16)

 

4. The Old Testament’s View Of The Chosen People

 

It’s also important to remember that the Old Testament from Moses to all the prophets is replete with passages that describe the Jews in very negative terms. Remember what God says about His chosen people:

 

the iniquity of My people is become greater than the sin of Sodom, that was overturned as in a moment (Lam. 4:5, 6). (AE 653)

 

Woe to the sinful nation, to a people laden with iniquity (Isa. 1:4). (SS 86)

 

Because this people have drawn near with their mouth, and honored Me with their lips, but their heart has been far from Me, and their fear of Me has been a commandment of men that has been taught to them.... Isa. 29: 13. (AC 2826)

 

your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hateth; therefore when ye spread forth your hands I will hide Mine eyes from you; yea, if ye make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of bloods. (Isa. 1:10-18) (Life 30)

 

I was angry with My people, I rendered My heritage unholy, and I gave them into your hand Isa. 47:5, 6, 9. (AC 1368)

 

I will hide My faces from them, I will see what is the last of them; for they are a generation of perversities, sons in whom is no truth. I would exterminate them, I would cause their memory to cease from man, were it not that I feared the indignation of the enemy. For they are a nation that perisheth in counsels, and there is no intelligence in them; for their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and their grapes are of the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are hemlock, the clusters are bitter to them. Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel head of asps. Is not this laid up in store with Me, sealed in My treasures? (Deut. 32:20, 26-34);

 

The Lord, through Moses, describes the children of Israel in highly negative terms—does that and the passages quoted above make the Old Testament anti-semitic? Does the following passage from the Writings make Swedenborg anti-semitic?

 

This tendency and proneness to evils just mentioned, which is transmitted from parents to their children and descendants, can only be broken down by a person being born anew by the Lord's help, a process called regeneration. Without this not only does the tendency remain unbroken, but it is reinforced by a succession of parents, becoming more prone to evils, and eventually to every kind of evil. That is why the Jews are still copies of their ancestor Judah, who married a Canaanite wife, and fathered three lines of descent by adultery with Tamar, his daughter-in-law. This heredity has become so amplified in the course of time that the Jews are unable to embrace the Christian religion and believe it in their hearts. I say they are unable, because the inner will in their minds resists, and it is this will which creates the impossibility. (TCR 521)

 

A spirit himself also is nothing else than his own quality; on this account everyone in that world drops his baptismal name, and the name of his family, and is named according to his quality. Hence it is that "name" in the Word does not signify name, but quality. (INV 41)

 

This is not anti-semitism but spiritual psychobiology of the unregenerate person. It is true of every individual’s inheritance regardless of ethnicity, race, or religion.

 

Anti-semitism is an evil of society because it is the hatred of others instead of love of neighbor. The negative things the Word says about the Jews is not anti-semitism because the Word is only love. The Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Writings say similar critical things about the Jews, as about the Christians, and still others. Everyone who is not regenerate is evil regardless of the religion one belongs to. As a Jewish boy growing up in Rumania I was raised to fear and despise Christians, to view with suspicion dark skinned races, and to believe that Jews are a superior race, superior in intelligence, superior in holiness. I was not taught to love my neighbor. I was taught all sorts of superstitious nonsense about other groups. The point is that Jews are filled with hatred for those who hate them. And this is natural. People of all religions also feel this way and act this way.

 

If Swedenborg had been anti-semitic he could not have discussed Christians in the same spiritually negative terms as he discussed the Jews, and yet this is what he has done:

 

That the Lord enters into a covenant, or conjoins Himself by charity, with Gentiles also who are outside the church, shall now be shown.

 

The man of the church supposes that all who are out of the church, and are called Gentiles, cannot be saved, because they have no knowledges of faith, and are therefore wholly ignorant of the Lord, saying that without faith and without knowledge of the Lord there is no salvation, and thus he condemns all who are out of the church. Indeed many of this sort who are in some doctrine, even if it be heresy, suppose that all outside this, that is, all who do not hold the same opinion, cannot be saved; when in fact the case is not so at all. The Lord has mercy toward the whole human race, and wills to save and draw to Himself all who are in the universe.

 

[2] The mercy of the Lord is infinite, and does not suffer itself to be limited to those few who are within the church, but extends itself to all in the whole world. Their being born out of the church and being thus in ignorance of faith, is not their fault; and no one is ever condemned for not having faith in the Lord when he is ignorant of Him.

 

Who that thinks aright will ever say that the greatest part of the human race must perish in eternal death because they were not born in Europe, where there are comparatively few? And who that thinks aright will say that the Lord suffered so great a multitude to be born to perish in eternal death? This would be contrary to the Divine, and contrary to mercy.

 

And besides, those who are out of the church, and are called Gentiles, live a much more moral life than those who are within the church, and embrace much more easily the doctrine of true faith, as is still more evident from souls in the other life. The worst of all come from the so-called Christian world, holding the neighbor in deadly hatred, and even the Lord. Above all others in the whole world they are adulterers.  

 

[3] It is not so with those from other parts of the world. Very many of those who have worshiped idols are of such a disposition as to abhor hatred and adultery, and to fear Christians because of their being of this character and desirous of tormenting everyone. Indeed Gentiles are so disposed as to listen readily, when taught by angels about the truths of faith, and that the Lord rules the universe, and to be easily imbued with faith and thus to reject their idols. For this reason Gentiles who have lived a moral life and in mutual charity and innocence, are regenerated in the other life.

 

While they live in the world the Lord is present with them in charity and innocence, for there is nothing of charity and innocence except from the Lord. The Lord also gives them a conscience of what is right and good according to their religion, and insinuates innocence and charity into that conscience; and when there is innocence and charity in the conscience, they easily suffer themselves to be imbued with the truth of faith from good. The Lord Himself said this, in Luke:

 

And one said unto Him, Lord, are they few that be saved? and He said unto them, Ye shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and yourselves cast forth without; and they shall come from the east and the west, and from the north and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God; and behold, there are last who shall be first, and there are first who shall be last (Luke 13:23, 28-30).

 

By "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" are here meant all who have love, as shown above.

(AC 1032) (Italics added for emphasis)

 

This passage declares the Christians to be “the worst of all” the spirits that come from this earth into the afterlife. Clearly, Swedenborg could not have been anti-semitic and pro-Christian. He merely described what he saw in the spiritual world regarding the spiritual character of people from different nations (see LJ 2-24 and other places). It’s also clear from this and other passages, that religious membership is not the basis for spiritual judgment. Rather, how one lives—morally or not, as a matter of conscience and religion, determines one’s spiritual fate in the afterlife. Anti-semitism never takes this tolerant and universal attitude.

 

Moses and the Prophets, that is, all and everything in the Word, in the internal sense, treats of Him; and that all the rites of the Jewish Church represented Him (AC 2751).

 

All the rites of the Ancient Church were representative of the Lord, as also the rites of the Jewish Church. (AC 921)

 

External rites are called "signs of a covenant" for the reason chiefly that interior things may be kept in mind by them, that is, the things signified by them. All the rites of the Jewish Church were nothing else. And for this reason they were also called "signs" that the people might be reminded by them of interior things-as for instance, the binding of the chief commandment on the hand and on the forehead, as in Moses:

 

Thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might; and these words thou shalt bind for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes (Deut. 6:5, 8; 11:13, 18).

 

All the rites of the Jewish Church were types representative of the Lord, consequently of love and charity, and of all things therefrom.

 (AC 1038)

 

The things that were represented in the Jewish Church, and in the Word, are the Lord and His kingdom, consequently the celestial things of love, and the spiritual things of faith: these are what were represented, besides many things that pertain to these, such as all things that belong to the church. (AC 1361)

 

And it was He who has represented by all the rites of the Jewish Church, and whom they worshiped. (AC 1607)

 

All things of the Word in its inmost sense treat solely of the Lord, (AC 9925)

 

In the Word "Jehovah" denotes the Lord (n. 1343, 2921, 3035, 5663, 6280, 6281, 6303, 6945, 6956, 8864).

 

Unless these things had been as if present to the angels, through the Word, and also through all the rites in the Jewish Church, the Lord would have been obliged to come into the world immediately after the fall of the Most Ancient Church … (AC 2523)

 

 

5. All Old Testament Details Represent The Lord

 

In these passages of the Writings (and many others can be brought forward), it is declared that every detail of Jewish worship and history represents something about the Lord Jesus Christ! Anti-semitism hates Jewish worship and history, while Swedenborg elevates these things to the highest sacred level possible! Readers of Swedenborg who are not in the New Church mentality may acquire a superficial impression of anti-semitism in certain passages where the Jews are treated of. But readers who have a rational and scholarly orientation will be able to see that Swedenborg describes an extremely close identification between Jews and the New Church Christians. Every state of mental and psychological development in the New Church mind is identical with the historical events in the Old Testament and the minutest detail of worship and prayer. How closer can you get to someone other than your spouse? This close relationship between the New Church mind and the Jews is the result of this:

 

All the rites of the Ancient Church were representative of the Lord, as also the rites of the Jewish Church. But the principal representative in later times was the altar, and also the burnt-offering, which being made of clean beasts and clean birds, had its representation according to their signification, clean beasts signifying the goods of charity, and clean birds the truths of faith. (AC 921)

 

Every detail of the journeys of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, represents the details of how Jesus Christ grew up among the Jews and the mental states of development He underwent to unify His Human with His Divine. Every vision of every prophet was about Him, how He pleads with the Chosen people to turn back to the Commandments of Moses. Jehovah the Lord of the Old Testament and Jesus the Lord of the New Testament are one and the same Divine Person! Of course this idea may seem irrational or untrue to Jewish readers but it proves to them that it is not logical to think of Swedenborg as anti-semitic!

 

The Writings proclaim that Jews, Muslims, and Gentiles are saved equally with Christians when they arrive in the afterlife, are instructed, and can accept spiritual truths:

 

So in regard to the Jews and Gentiles; [as for instance] concerning the Jewish children who, from the persuasion of their parents that the Lord is not the Messiah, are not instructed to believe it; yet as it is owing simply to circumstances that the children cannot believe otherwise than they do, this does not abolish with them the truth, that the Lord is the promised Messiah. And thus as to the Gentiles who are in ignorance, not knowing that the Lord rules the universe; this ignorance, being a circumstance, does not preclude their being instructed in the other life, and thus saved; besides many other things. - 1748, October 11. (SE 3537) (see also SE 5880)

 

That the Mohammedan religion is received by more nations than the Christian religion, may be a stumbling-block to those who meditate upon the Divine Providence and believe at the same time that only those who are born Christians can be saved. But the Mohammedan religion is not a stumbling-block to those who believe that all things are of the Divine Providence. (TCR 833)

 

6. The Meaning Of “Jews” In The New Church Mind

 

Further, to the New Church mind “Jews” doesn’t mean Jews but the “Jewish state of a person” which is the state we are all in before the external mind has an internal. No one is born with a spiritual mind but only with a natural mind and the potential of having a spiritual mind. This potential is there in equal measure to every human being. No one is saved by being born into this or that religion. Those who are born into the Christian Church, those born in the New Church, those born in the Jewish religion, in the Muslim faith, or none of these, are all born with numberless inherited evils. They are in an unregenerate, “Fallen” state. This means they are born without a spiritual mind, ready made, like the natural mind. A new mind must be created by the Lord in every individual through the process of regeneration. Until then religious membership is of no avail to anyone.

 

Religious rituals, religious prayers, religious sacrifices, fastings, meditations—none of it can prevail. Only what can prevail is a reformed character in daily willing and thinking for the sake of God and religion (LIFE 1). No one has the power to attain this. But anyone can turn to the Lord and ask Him to do it, for He can. And He has laid out in His Word what we must do in order for Him to regenerate us. This He does to anyone from any religion with any background universally. In heaven there are no religions, but only conscious life in accordance with the Word (AR 918).

 

The Lord has also laid out in His Word what happens to those who are not regenerated, those who are unwilling to turn to God and order their life according to His Commandments. They live out their few years on earth confirming their inherited evils, living them, becoming them. Their mind is built up through these evil loves and their falsities. There is nothing in the inmost of this mind except those evil loves. When they arrive in the afterlife they enter in total freedom within who they are, that is, they enter those evil loves. In the spiritual world those who are in evil loves see around themselves a hell—ugly rocky places, foul disgusting sickening smells, full of dangerous and poisonous animals, full of infernal humans who act like beasts and relate to each other through dominion and mutual enslavement. These things are not punishments for sins. They are the character of spiritual nature of evil loves. They are the exact opposite of good loves. Those in the spiritual world who arrive with good loves within them see a heaven around them—beautiful palaces with amazing art work, large complex fragrant gardens, filled with angelic people who act civilized and with compassion to each other, engaged in sharing their individual uniquenesses and benefiting everyone around them.

 

7. Anti-Semitism Is An Evil Love of the Unregenerate Mind

 

Anti-semitism is an evil love. It is inherited. Every individual then has a choice to make in adult life: Do I go along with this cultural norm or not? All sorts of justifications are learned from societal beliefs and practices—religious (“They are Christ killers”), socio-political (“They control the money”), psychological (“They are in-groupish”, “They are cowards”), pathological (“They are depraved”), and so on. As an adult every individual can think and reflect whether this attitude is justified or whether it is a prejudice and an injustice. Every individual can feel the delight of hatred in being anti-semitic, and then must reflect on its rightness or wrongness. Conscience will cry out in condemnation of all prejudice. Few are they who listen to conscience and are saved; many are they who kill their conscience and are in hell. For conscience is the voice of God speaking to the individual’s awareness (NJHD 139). To kill conscience, or to weaken it, is to cut off that source of communication and interaction between the individual and God. This conscious interaction on a daily basis is required for regeneration. It is not religion that saves, but regeneration (NJHD 183). And regeneration is available to anyone of any background through the Word.

 

In today’s world the Word is not known in many places but the Lord insures that every nation has some religion by which the people know the minimal facts required to be saved—to believe in God, to obey His Commandments, and to look to Him for all their daily needs. All individuals who live in this way are saved (AC 2589-2604). When they arrive in the afterlife they are instructed and enter the heaven of their religion (HH 512). Their mind can exist in good loves to eternity. But those who do not live their life by acknowledging and obeying God’s Commandments, are evolving a spiritual mind that can live in evil loves. When they arrive in the afterlife these evil loves within them reject the instruction they receive in the truths of religion. They go away on their own and pick up the falsities that agree with their evil loves. Thus, they enter a life of hell to eternity.

 

The New Church mind is greatly benefited by knowing that the fate of entering heaven or hell is not a judgment—not a reward or punishment for past misbehaviors. It has to do with spiritual psychobiology or spiritual medicine. The mind is formed not by material elements and fibers but by spiritual elements and fibers. The mind is an organ formed by spiritual fibers and arranged in spirals in accordance with the choices we make in willing and thinking in our daily life while in this world. What happens when surgeons cut out the masses of fibers in the brain that give someone a medical problem? After the mass of fibers is removed the rest can take over to some extent, but if the mass removed is beyond a certain point, the brain dies. Similarly, our mind is formed by masses of spiritual fibers. If these fibers are coiled in the wrong way, they cannot function in a heavenly sphere or environment—the individual merely falls dead. So the mind you bring with you in the afterlife is the mind you’ve got forever. Religious membership in the New Church is not a requirement for salvation and life eternal in heaven:

 

That the gentiles equally with Christians are saved, anyone can see who knows what it is that makes heaven in man; for heaven is within a man, and those who have heaven within them come into heaven. (HH 319)

 

Experiences and choices we make in the spiritual world are aligned with the mind such as it has already been formed. The direction of the spiritual coils constrain further development. There cannot be a reformation (DLW 263). This must occur prior to leaving this world. And so those who arrive with good loves, get more and more of them to eternity, while those who arrive with bad loves, get more and more of those. What about those who arrive with both kinds of loves? In fact everyone arrives in the afterlife with both kinds of loves, but with a critical difference—Which loves are inmost? Those who have their evil loves in the inmost see them drive out every single good love found in the surface of the character. They then make free choices that take them further and further into those evil loves, and permanent hell. Those who have their good loves in the inmost see them drive out all the evil loves that are still embedded in the surface of their personality. This purification process is painful but short. They then have a mind that can live in heaven.

 

Knowing this spiritual psychobiology is helpful because it strengthens the motivation for regeneration and sincerity in life. And these are possible to the extent that one avoids evil loves and fights against them by looking to the Lord for help. This process insures that the good loves will be in the inmost when we arrive in the afterlife.