My name is Solomon Keal. I am a minister for the General Church of the New Jerusalem. These are some of my thoughts about the One Lord God Jesus Christ, the hidden meanings in the Bible, Heaven and Hell, salvation by faith and charity, living a life of usefulness, loving the Lord and one's neighbor, the 2nd Coming, Swedenborg's Writings, and other theological stuff.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Doctrinal Foundation for a Gender Inclusive Clergy in the General Church

This is a paper I wrote for the council of the clergy in the General Church of the New Jerusalem in May 2014.   At the time of this writing, the tradition and policy of the General Church is that of a male-only priesthood, of which I am a member.  In writing and sharing this paper I am not speaking on behalf of the organization.  I'm not saying anyone is right or wrong. This is simply my own individual understanding of what the doctrines say in regards to gender in the priesthood.  This paper (book) is very long because this conversation has been around for a long time, and a comprehensive approach involves examining a large number of passages and doctrines.  My hope is that this will be useful in helping us to make sure that our discussion of this topic is coming from what the Word says.  The paper can be read here:  A Doctrinal Foundation for a Gender Inclusive Clergy in the General Church.   

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Snow

It seems we often have a kind of love-hate relationship with snow.  It’s very pretty and festive.  It’s fun to play in.  It sometimes allows for the joy of snow-days.  But on the other hand, it causes disruptions in us being able to do our jobs, it causes driving difficulties and accidents.  It can cause power outages where we are left in the cold and the dark.  And it sometimes allows for the frustration of snow-days.    Snow represents the truth, because it is white and made from water (see Secrets of Heaven 8459; Apocalypse Revealed 47.6).  But it really represents truth without love, because it is cold:  “All this too may be used to form an idea of what a member of the Church is like when their faith is combined with charity - they are like a garden, like a park. But when faith is not combined with charity, they are like a solitary waste, like land covered with snow.” (Secrets of Heaven 7626).  

I think we can often have a similar love-hate relationship with that kind of truth.  The truth is needed for our regeneration.  It’s beautiful and fun to play with.  Simply thinking about the truth can be a nice break from the hard work of spiritual growth.  But truth without the warmth of goodness and love can be dangerous and treacherous.  Truth without love can pile up and get in the way.  It can cause major disruptions in our spiritual uses.  It can prevent us from being able to connect with other people in loving relationships.  It can leave us feeling cold.  We can get into accidents where we hurt people unintentionally.  And strangely enough, even though it's the truth, it can leave us in the dark.  

But if we allow the warmth of the Lord’s love to flow into our lives, then that same truth which caused problems in the Winter of our lives, can be turned into nourishing water in the Spring, and seep into the ground of our minds and allow for all kinds of future spiritual growth.   So we have to be careful with the truth, and especially truth without love.  But it’s all part of the Lord’s amazing creation.  

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”  (Isaiah 55:10-11) 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Joseph: Looking for the Lord in Other People

Here's video of a Christmas sermon I gave last year in the Bryn Athyn Cathedral.  It's about Joseph and his relationship with Mary, and how that can describe our relationship with other people.   The above link takes you to two videos; one of the adult service and one of the family service.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Changing Leaves

 I love the Fall for the beauty of its changing leaves. I’m looking forward to that beauty as we begin this new season. What might be symbolized in our lives by the leaves turning colors and falling to the ground? The teachings for the New Church describe leaves as a symbol for the truths in our lives:
 “The symbolism of a leaf as truth is established by numerous passages in the Word comparing us to, or actually calling us, trees. In those places, fruit symbolizes the good espoused by charity and a leaf the truth to which it leads (and charity and truth also function the same way fruit and leaves do). In Ezekiel, for example: ‘Beside the river, on its bank, on this side and that, grows every food tree, whose leaf does not fall and whose fruit is not used up; month by month it is reborn, because its waters are going out from the sanctuary. And its fruit will serve as food, and its leaf, as medicine’ (Ezekiel 47:12; Revelation 22:2). The tree stands for the people of a church that embodies the Lord’s kingdom. The fruit stands for the good that results from love and charity, and the leaf, for the truth that develops out of it. That truth is used for the instruction and regeneration of the human race, which is why the leaf is said to serve as medicine.” (Emanuel Swedenborg, Secrets of Heaven 885) 
 Truths serve to bring healing to our spiritual wounds. Green leaves represent truths that are alive for us in that healing way (see Swedenborg's book: Apocalypse Revealed 401; and Jeremiah 17:8), because the Lord’s life flowing into our natural world takes on a green color (see Revelation 4:3, and Apocalypse Revealed 232).

 I think it’s important to remember the distinction between our lives represented by trees, and the Lord’s life represented by the Tree of Life. The Lord’s life will never die, fail or change. But our lives change all the time, and our understanding of the Lord’s truth is one of those things that changes. “Rational truths are truths which most readily welcome spiritual truths, for a person's rational mind is the first receptacle of spiritual truths” (Apocalypse Revealed 936.3), just like leaves are the first receptacles for the light from the sun. But our own rational truths are simply what our mind is capable of producing and sustaining. They are finite compared with the Lord’s spiritual truths. And so our understanding of the truth changes, the leaves fall, we grow new ones in response to the
Light of the Lord’s Word, and the cycle continues.

 I think there is a special kind of beauty in coming to the humble realization that everything we think we know to be true is nothing compared to the Lord’s unchanging Divine Truth. Our leaves wither and die, but the Lord’s leaves are always green. Our leaves turning gold and red represent the death of those leaves, but the colors gold and red also represent higher forms of goodness and wisdom (Apocalypse Revealed 167, 232, 912), so there’s a special and good autumn beauty in that wise humility. As we come to the beautiful and humble realization that we know nothing compared to the Lord, we take on a special glow, we gently lay down our old concepts, and humbly acknowledge our need for the Lord’s light and heat. And then we can begin to form new concepts which bud in the Spring of our new spiritual life.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Externalize the Lies; Legion and the Pigs

Here are links to a sermon I gave at the Bryn Athyn Cathedral.  The subject is how to "Externalize the Lies" in our heads.  It's based on the Gospel story of "Legion and the Pigs," when Jesus cast the Legion out of the possessed man, and into the pigs.  
Watch the video of the Family Talk here.
Watch the video of the Adult Sermon here.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

Overcoming Negativity

Here's the link to an article I have in the magazine "New Church Connection."  It's about Overcoming Negativity.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Video of my Dissertation Presentation

My theological school dissertation is entitled: "Comparing the Divine, Heavenly and Natural Marriages," and this is my presentation of that dissertation.  It compares the marriage of the Lord and the Church with the marriage of our hearts and minds, the marriage of goodness and truth, and the marriage of a husband and wife. This study is based on the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, and the doctrines of the Swedenborgian Christian denomination known as the General Church of the New Jerusalem. The dissertation can be read here.  The presentation can be watched here: Part One, Part Two.