In This Issue
Editorial Remarks: The Madness Hypothesis
As evolution has often been the materialist's alternative hypothesis to the hypothesis of God creating mankind, so madness has been the characterization frequently assigned to experiences otherwise claimed as revelation by those unable or unwilling to accept the possibility of revelation as authentic. The "madness hypothesis" is not of recent invention, but dates back to at least the accusations of this kind laid against Christ (John 10:20, Mark 3:21). In both the evolution and madness hypotheses, it is not difficult to see the hand of Providence, since both these alternatives provide a basis for preservation of free will in spiritual matters...
Henry Maudsley on Swedenborg's Messianic Psychosis
Swedenborg's Alleged Insanity
How do you know that someone is telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Maybe the person's reputation for honesty and integrity, or his or her expertise or specialty or interest in the subject under discussion, or even our past experiences of the person concerned? Maybe the person's beliefs, biases or presuppositions are enough like ours or exactly like ours to justify believing the person? If we're talking to someone, maybe it's their body language or their facial expressions, which convince us of their sincerity, or then maybe we rely wholly or solely on our instincts or 'gut reaction'? Maybe it's because their argument or case is reasonable, or their explanation of known or agreed facts is the best?...
"Henry Maudsley on Swedenborg's Messianic Psychosis": Some Comments
A number of aspects of Dr. Johnson's article on Henry Maudsley's views of Swedenborg (Johnson 1994) seem worthy of comment:..
Swedenborg's Contemporary Insanity Accusers: Also Reflections on the Underlying Cause of Insanity Charges
The authorship of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) falls into two distinct periods of his life: The first devoted to science and philosophy (about 1710–1745), and the second to theology (about 1745 to his death in 1772). The New Jerusalem Church (The New Church, for short) would call the latter period one of revelation, namely, the revelation of the Doctrines for the New Church.
Diagnosing Emanuel Swedenborg
Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), during the first part of his life, wrote prodigiously in science and philosophy as well as serving as a member of the Swedish House of Nobles and as Assessor of Mines. During that time he drew many amazingly accurate scientific conclusions, not proven until years later. In 1743-1744, beginning at age fifty-five, Swedenborg kept a journal of his dreams, reporting the symbolism of some. At one point he reported he saw Jesus Christ face to face and concluded he was called to religious work. Swedenborg left his study of science and subsequently claimed that God had introduced him into the spiritual world where he communicated with angels and spirits for the rest of his life and learned doctrine directly from God. He wrote thirty volumes on religious doctrine and describing those experiences...
Emanuel Swedenborg, Prophet or Paranoid?
It was nearly a century ago that William James delivered the famous Gifford lectures at Edinburgh. These lectures gave birth to one of the world's most penetrating studies of psychology and religion. The Varieties of Religious Experience became an instant classic. Early in the lectures, James identifies a common reductionistic fallacy. This fallacy frequently creeps into discussions of outstanding individuals who have contributed to their culture by virtue of superior abilities. James was well aware that individuals who experience unusual mental states, even when productive of socially desirable results are often tagged with a "diagnosis."...
"Emanuel Swedenborg": Some Comments
Foote-Smiths and Smith's attempt to explain Swedenborg's revelation as a mental aberration is perhaps unique in the history of such attempts in being both evenhanded, and indeed even respectful, of its subject as well as clearly representing the result of a fairly extensive study of both Swedenborg and his theology...
Seizures of a Spirit-Seer?
There is an old joke that is germane to any discussion of spiritual revelation:
Prayer is when you talk to God. But when He answers, it's called schizophrenia.
Old jokes are good jokes, because within them is often some subtle cultural or ideological bias, the absurdity of which becomes glaringly apparent in the light of day. In the question of Emanuel Swedenborg's mental status, a certain rationalistic bias can be seen peeking through several psychological studies, published over many years, purporting to diagnose the "Swedish Seer" with a variety of disorders...
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