New Church Background

A New Christian Era

In Revelation 21 it is declared, "Behold, I make all things new". This newness is about new teachings about spirituality. It entails focusing on the Lord Jesus Christ as God, on personal responsibility and choice, and on an understanding of the inner meaning of the Bible as it relates to our thoughts and feelings. It reveals more about human immortality and the life of religion being one of mutual love and useful living.

For a religion to be our own, we must each see for ourselves that these teachings are in accordance with the self-evident reasoning of love. A blind or inherited faith has no part in the New Christianity. We can't love what we do not know, or believe what we do not understand.

The New Christianity is a transcending and transforming religion that brings us to experience God within ourselves. Many people believe we are living in a post-Christian era but in the New Christian Church we see ourselves as living in a new spiritual era or age. This new era is a new dispensation of the church represented in the Bible by the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation.

What Is Religion?

For many people religion means going to church, praying, and all the external things that go with church membership and attendance. The New Church teaches that, in essence, true religion has relation to life and that the life of religion is to do good. It is to obey God's laws and to act faithfully and honestly in our daily occupations.

Further to this, the word 'religion' means to re-tie or bind back (to the source). Religion, therefore, is about binding ourselves back to the source of love and wisdom which make us loving and understanding people, or truly human. This is the state of life illustrated by the creation of Man on the sixth day in Genesis 1.

We arrive at this state after it dawns on us (Day one) that we need a higher power in our life. We realise that we have a void and an emptiness in our hearts and minds - we lack love and the answers to life (truth). We spiritually hunger and thirst.

Being Saved

In the New Christian Church we see God's love extending to all people no matter what their religion, and that the new spiritual era, though it may be centred on Christianity, encompasses all true spirituality. People of all religions can be saved, not from any wrath of God, but from the bad feelings and false or negative thoughts that destroy our real and eternal happiness.

How New Is It?

The New Christian Church has been around for over 200 years and in New Zealand since 1888. In some countries it is known as the Church of the New Jerusalem, often just the New Church and sometimes the Swedenborgian Church. Every denomination has a theologian after whom it was named, e.g. Lutheran, Wesleyan. Emanuel Swedenborg was the theologian for the New Christianity. He was also a respected scientist of his day but he did not establish a church himself. New Church organisations were formed by followers of Swedenborg's New Church teachings after he died.

A Broad Influence

Though you may not have heard of Swedenborg, you will probably have benefited from concepts drawn from his theology. For example, the infant school movement had its origins in the New Church and the concept of kindergarten comes from Swedenborg's book Heaven and Hell. A Lutheran pastor used the description of how children were taught in a garden setting in heaven, to improve the lot of children in his village. A practical example of doing God's will on earth as in heaven.

Many poets, authors, artists, reformers, and political leaders have been influenced by the teachings of Swedenborg. Some contributors to the culture of our age, who have acknowledged the influence of Swedenborg's theology are:

John (Johnny Appleseed) Chapman
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Benjamin Franklin
Johann Goethe
Victor Hugo
Carl Jung
Imanuel Kant
Helen Keller
Abraham Lincoln
Sir Isaac Pitman
Edgar Allen Poe
Daisetz Suzuki
H.G. Wells
John Wesley

Recommended Reading:

Available from the Church bookstore or library:

Light in My Darkness by Helen Keller