In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. –Genesis 1:1-2
Dear members and friends,
Understanding the Bible is perhaps the most challenging and confusing task of all. The reason is very simple: the Bible is a compilation of books written by many different authors over a long range of time. In other words, it could even be considered an impossible task for a human to understand the Bible fully and completely. At the same time, there is a strong belief that the Bible is a divinely-inspired book. Many different authors were inspired by the divine to deliver a certain message or messages to the human race. Then later, those messages were written down onto scrolls. Yet, it wasn’t until after the 5th century that Christians agreed on the Bible as we read it today. What seems very obvious is the human influence on both the writing and compilation of the books in the Bible. So, how can we still believe that the books in the Bible are special and divinely inspired?
Emanuel Swedenborg insists that the whole Bible is written allegorically, meaning that its inner meaning cannot be altered or confused by those who have ill intention to abuse the book. Swedenborg insists that the Bible is given to us with one purpose only: to provide understanding and instruction for human regeneration. “Regeneration” is central theme of the Gospels as we read in Jesus’ reply to Nicodemus, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above. (John 3:3)” In a way, the entire message of Jesus Christ is about “regeneration.” This regeneration can be explained as shifting one’s inner perception regarding what is real and what is important. Innately, all of us begin our life’s journey accepting and adapting to what is physical and material as the basis of reality. As a result, our life experiences seem to affirm and confirm what is physically and materially beneficial to our individual selves as good, and the rest as bad. However, this way of life often results in forming selfish and self-centered sensualism and materialism, which are causes of emptiness and vanity in one’s mind. The state of being empty and vain is precisely what is described by “the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep.” Here, the earth symbolizes the mind of an individual before beginning the process of regeneration. Therefore, the necessity of regeneration is not just about entering into the kingdom of heaven after this life, but more importantly about living a life of fulfillment, peacefulness and joyfulness. The importance and significance of the message of Jesus on regeneration is critical to all of us not because heaven awaits us after this life, but because the very quality of life right now depends on how we formulate our inner priorities.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee