Can someone concisely explain the point of Swedenborgianism?


My only knowledge of this faith is because Helen Keller was a member, and also it has some church buildings here and there in USA that seem to mostly have gone vacant and been sold off.

I have tried to read up on it, but all I’m getting is some scientist decided to become a mystic and focus on religion so his followers started a church? Since it didn’t start in USA, I am not understanding the social dynamic that would cause people to want to start yet another church because some guy was compelling or charismatic.

I read that Joseph Smith might have been influenced by Swedenborg. It’s much easier for me to understand why Joseph Smith would have started a church though.

Can someone briefly explain Swedenborgianism? And why would others be drawn to it? And why are they apparently not so interested now if the churches are closing down?


I read briefly about it because I used to work in an area that had a lot of believers and was curious. I stopped because what I was reading was full of heresy. It’s unbelief in the Trinity of three persons was enough for me to stop reading. I’m sure someone more knowledgeable will respond.


How do you understand new churches starting? Compelling charismatic guys and gals usually are a factor.

Swedenborg’s remarkable contribution was a belief that the Second Coming has already happened. The New Jerusalem is here now. We experience as an inward, intellectual transformation. This dovetails nicely with the coming of the Kingdom of God preached in the Gospel. The immanence of God, felt by living in God’s city, eased the pressures of the actual corrupt cities around us, without imposing a goal to reach since God is already here.

Of course, that is not the entirety And I am hardly an expert. It is many years since I used to walk to the church they were building near me to admire the craftsmanship and beauty of it. Theology wasn’t my major issue or interest for approaching them.


There has to be more to it than just a cult of personality, or the church doesn’t last long after the leader dies.


The online Catholic Encyclopedia has an article on Swedenborgians.


We have a Swedenborgian church in the town where I grew up. I don’t know much, other than that they don’t believe in the trinity and they have a few other really weird theological quirks.

There’s few churches left, and the ones that still exist seem to follow the liberal mainline Protestant “social gospel” attitude.

But that still leaves the question about the point of Swedenborgianism is. Honestly, I can’t answer that question.


It is interesting that we are having this discussion here, because Swedenborg iirc was the opposite of charismatic. It was not his preaching that created the Church, he was not much involved in it. The New Jerusalem coming to him in an interior way is what brought people together, not the somewhat drab college professor.


If I recall correctly, he was dead some time before they started organizing into distinct bodies. And besides Helen Keller, another famous Swedenborgian was John Chapman, AKA Johnny Appleseed, who was one of the main promulgators of the faith in the US. And Robert Frost, who is buried right down the street from me.


I knew a swedenborgian a long time ago, we were both teenagers at the time.
There was nothing about her that stood out (like special clothing or jewelry), and she was too busy being hip and boy-crazy to discuss theology.


I am not in any way an expert on this, however:

Emmanuel Swedenborg was a mystic to an extreme degree, his teachings stemming to a large extent from his claimed spiritual experiences, including personal visits to Heaven and Hell. After his decease in 1772, his teachings found fertile ground in a culture that welcomed
esoteric knowledge of this type.

He was so well known that he was referred to even by CS Lewis in THE GREAT DIVORCE: at the end, the protagonist is told by the voice, presumably of God: “[Claim no] knowledge of what no mortal knows. I’ll have no Swedenborgs…among my children.”

In our current hyper -narcissistic culture, there is far less interest in claims of esoteric knowledge, so it’s no surprise to me that interest in his message has minimized.



They have a high school, four year college, and divinity school in Bryn Athyn, PA.

A friend of mine visited the cathedral there on a school field trip with her daughter.


I don’t mean to be uncharitable or dismissive, but it sure sounds like a muppets cooking sketch . . .



This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit