Tuesday, March 28, 2006

So, one of my aunts sent me on a mission. She had a patient today who is a Chemistry professor at Bryn Athyn College as well as a member of the New Church there on campus. She started asking him questions about the his beliefs and what exactly the New Church was about. The first thing she said to me was, "This is really weird." She really didn't get a chance to ask him much because she was cleaning his teeth, which is why she wanted me to look it up and report back to her. So here it is: go to www.newchurch.org and check it out. At first I had no idea who these people were or what exactly they believed in, but I would say they are an offshoot of Protestant Christianity with beliefs about the soul and the afterlife that differ from mainstream Christianity. For example, every person has an inner spiritual dimension called the soul. It then goes on to say that the soul cccupies a seperate spiritual dimension from the physical body. Upon the death of the body, the soul becomes fully aware of its surroundings, which is presumably the afterlife. This idea differs from the mainstream Christian idea of the soul dwelling within the physical body until death. There is also a slight distinction concerning how a believer gains access into Heaven. The New Church's website states "All people can be saved who accept that there is a God, and try to live good lives." This does not explicitely state the necessity of a belief in Jesus Christ specifically, as is required in mainstream Christianity, the believer need only express belief in a God. It is also apparently more works based, stating that people should live good lives and the only way to be sent to Hell is to do evil on Earth. I know this is very off topic from what we have been discussing in class, but I thought it was interesting to bring up. I hope some people check out the site for themselves and maybe come to some conclusions about this New Church phenomenon.


Blogger Nathan Rein said...

Interesting. Very interesting. The New Church and Bryn Athyn are both connected with the Swedenborgian movement. It always seemed a little new-agey and cultish to me, but that is probably just a prejudice. They seem have a kind of mystical, visionary, spiritualist feel to their practice, for the most part. I'm no expert, obviously, but I think that Swedenborgians believe that Jesus Christ returned to earth and appeared to one Emmanuel Swedenborg in the mid-1700s. Swedenborg then produced a set of writings that formed the basis of the so-called "New Christian," "Second Advent Christian," "New Gospel," or "New Church" movement. You can find a reasonably reliable collection of facts (and links) about them at the UVA New Relious Movements project page. Another church homepage is here.

7:21 PM  

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