Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Jacob Duché the Swedenborg

I was perusing through Benjamin Rush's Autobiography at the library where I work and this caught me. Christian nationalists like to parade Duché as the heroic patriotic Christian minister of the American Revolution. But they usually leave out the part where this Benedict Arnold of the American Civil Religion switched sides and urged George Washington to surrender to the British. After he was ruined he experimented with Christian mysticism and then eventually settled on Swedenborgianism.

Here is Reverend William White on  Duché's spiritual journey:
A remarkably fine voice and graceful action helped to render him very popular as a preacher. His disposition also was amiable. The greatest infirmity attending him was a tendency to change his religious sentiment. A few years after his ministerial settlement he took to the mysticism of Jacob Behmen and William Law. From this he became detached for a time; and his preaching, which was more zealous than either before or after, seemed to me to border on Calvinism; though, probably, he was not aware of, or designed, it. In this interval my personal intercourse with him began; and hav1ng one day asked of him the loan of Law's works, then much talked of, I received a refusal; the reason given being the danger he had formerly been in from reading these books. He relapsed, however, to the theory of the mystics, and continued in it until the troubles which drove him from his native country. In England he became a convert to the opinions of Baron Swedenborg; and in these he continued until his decease.
Some "orthodox" consider Swedenborgianism not "Christian" because it denies "the Trinity and the Holy Spirit, the vicarious atonement, and reject[s] Acts and the Pauline epistles ...."  Here is another source that views Swedenborgianism as a non-Christian religion.  George Washington, on the other hand, seemed to have no problem with the Swedenborgs.


jimmiraybob said...

Most excellent:

Though very much in touch with the work-a-day world, Swedenborg had by no means retired from the learned world. He was a pioneer in the field of geology -- a fact recognised by geologists in our century. One geological professor says:

GEOLOGIST: Swedenborg's contributions in the field of geology are of much significance and scope that they alone would have been sufficient to secure him a respected scientific name and prove him to be an investigating genius of the highest rank. With his sharp powers and observation, he left nothing unnoticed.(1)

I wonder where he went to field camp? (insider geologist joke)

1) http://swedenborg.newearth.org/dmtplay.php

Tom Van Dyke said...

I think "Swedenborgianism" needs a closer look around here for what it is/was rather than what it's not [orthodox Trinitarianism].

Because it's not in the least a "rational theism" or a "theistic rationalism' or whatever the sloppy term is.

It's like yo! Let's get live. Pardon my wiki:


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. There was, for instance, no mention in the Apostolic writings of any "Son from eternity".[156] Instead he explained in his theological writings how the Divine Trinity exists in One Person, in One God, the Lord Jesus Christ, which he said is taught in Colossians 2:9. (See also 1 John 5:20, Matthew 28:18 and Acts 20:21) According to Swedenborg, Jesus, the Son of God, came into the world due to the spread of evil here.[157][158][159][160][161] The hells were over-running the World of Spirits, which is midway between Heaven and Hell, and parts of Heaven as well, threatening the whole human race with damnation. God needed to correct this situation to preserve the spiritual freedom of all people. Swedenborg tells us God corrected this situation by redeeming the human race. But God as He is in Himself could not come in direct contact with any evil spirit, which would destroy that spirit (Exodus 33:20). So God impregnated a human woman from the Holy Spirit (Luke 1), thereby creating a person – Jesus Christ – Who had a Divine soul in a material body. The human body from Mary provided Jesus access to the evil heredity of the human race.
He then set up two cyclical processes, one of redemption and one of glorification. In the redemption process the human part of Jesus was tempted by different hells, and He conquered them one by one (Matthew 4). In that way God and evil spirits could engage each other. At the same time Jesus went through the glorification process, in which He successively united His human external with His Divine humanity from God (Colossians 2:9). In this way the Human Jesus became one with the Divine Humanity of His Father and was then no longer the son of Mary. The glorification process involved alternation between a state of humiliation (or “emptying out”, as in Isaiah 53:12), when Jesus was only aware of His human from Mary, and a state of glorification, or union, with Jehovah. When Jesus was in the humiliation state He prayed to the Father as someone other than Himself. At times when Jesus was in the glorification state He spoke with the Father as Himself. The passion of the cross was Jesus’ final combat with and victory over the hells, in which He completely conquered them and glorified His Human form.
Jesus put off the human taken from the mother, and put on the Human from the Divine in Himself, is also evident from the fact that whenever He addressed His mother directly He called her “Woman,” not “Mother.” (John 2:3,4, 19:26, 27). Once he did not recognize her as His mother. (Luke 8:20, 21) In other places Mary is called His mother, but not by Jesus (e.g. Luke 1:43, 2:34).
That Jesus became fully Divine is also illustrated by the fact that He rose bodily out of the tomb (Matthew 28) and entered a closed room (John 20).


That's wack.

Jonathan Rowe said...

No the Swedenborgs are not rationalistic; Joseph Priestley, as I recall doing a post on this, criticized ES on those grounds.

But here is how those who Dr. Frazer terms the "theistic rationalists" would have understood the Swedenborgs: The distinctive dogma of Swedenborgianism is irrational; but no more than the Nicene Trinity. But the Swedenborgs believed in what was valuable and rational in all sound true religions: An overriding Providence and future state of rewards and punishments. Further, they followed Jesus' moral teachings, which is all that matters when it comes to him. Hence, the Swedenborgs should be welcomed at the table of America's Founding civil religion.