Literal Teaching about Men on the Moon
by Christopher O. Horner
In a letter entitled "Thinking About Moon-Dwellers" Dr. Norman Berridge of England called attention to passages about literal statements in the Word within which there is a higher meaning. He asked whether this may be applied to some sayings about men on the moon (August issue p. 372). Now a correspondent from Australia warns against the concept of an internal sense in the Writings. From his letter we present the following.
"All the testaments are revelations from the Lord-the Lord speaking to mankind -and therefore they are the Word of God. The Writings are avowedly a revelation of the internal sense of the Scriptures-not the pure internal sense but an accommodation to man's rational principle in his natural worldly environment; they are an explanation, an exegesis of the literal sense of the Scriptures. Is this too to be an enigma, hiding the very thing which the Lord designed to disclose? It can be expanded and infilled, but there is no inner correspondential sense that man is required to seek after in order to find the real truth. There may indeed be deeper senses on those planes where the angels dwell, but for man to apply his puny, undeveloped intellect to such things-never.
"If I explain to an acquaintance that the revelation of the Second Advent reveals the internal sense of the Scriptures, and if I then give him a book of the Writings, am I to say to him, 'If there's anything in that which you don't understand, don't worry, because Swedenborg doesn't mean what he says'?
"For myself, I believe in the integrity of all direct statements in the Writings; neither can I conceive of their having any abstruse or cryptic meaning. I come across a statement such as this: 'That there are inhabitants in the Moon is well known to spirits and angels, for they converse with them; so likewise in the moons or satellites around the planet Jupiter, and around the planet Saturn. They who have not seen them and spoken to them still have no doubt but that there are human beings in these moons; for they likewise are planetary orbs, and where there is an orb there is man, for man is the end for the sake of which a planetary orb exists, and nothing has been made by the Supreme Creator without an end. . . .The angels also say that an earth cannot subsist apart from the human race, because the Divine provides all things on an earth for the sake of man' (AC 9237). Is this to be accepted literally?
"Or take this from EU 3. 'He who believes as everyone ought to believe that the Divine created the universe for no other end than the existence of the human race and of a heaven from it (for the human race is the seminary of heaven) cannot but believe that where there is an earth there are human beings' (Italics added).
"Is there not anything of literal import in these teachings? If there is anything of literal truth in any part, why not in all? Are we to adopt the eclectic's oh so easy pattern and accept and reject as it suits us? Swedenborg was no mystic, nor was he commissioned by the ford to write in riddles and cryptograms, but in that way which could be absorbed by man's rational principle. Any scientific data revealed in the Writings were not intended for the benefit or enlightenment of natural science, but for the illustration and explanation of true doctrinal principles.
"The whole matter is one of how we are to reconcile empirically derived data to truth that is Divinely revealed. Is the former necessarily conclusive? May I quote from an earlier article? 'How reliable are empirically derived data? How can it be proved scientifically that there is no human life on the Moon , without taking it apart, bit by bit, like a large Dutch cheese! If it is within the Divine purpose that men from our Earth should discover and have contact with the inhabitants of the Moon , then we shall have proved in an empirical fashion a Divinely revealed spiritual law; but if it is not within the Lord's purpose, and He can see no use being served by such scientific evidence becoming available, then our astronauts will encounter insuperable barriers in trying to accomplish such an end. To me, the New Churchman has full rational proof, and what need has he for anything further? (New Church Life, 1976 p. 73)
"The understanding of the Writings is not merely an intellectual exercise, but calls also for the use of a will derived from the affection of good (See AC 8694.); neither are the inner secrets of its teachings reserved for an ultra sophisticated intelligentsia endowed with a perceptive faculty derived from much study according to the learning of the world, which has been denied to the uncultured and the simple!
"Of course there are men on the Moon . Let us not be 'blinded by science.' God bless Mrs. Davidson for retaining her faith in the authenticity of Divine revelation. (See New Church Life, 1980 p. 167.) The good doctor, her husband, would do well to accept her as his mentor in that sphere for which his academic training has so obviously ill equipped him! I have my own ideas regarding the concealment of the men on the Moon which to me are satisfactory and rational. I may be a simpleton; I may be naive, but I'm sure that if the truths of the Second Advent were approached with more naivete?, the progress of the New Church would be more rapid."
CHRIS O. HORNER
Dungowan, N. S. W. 2340, Australia.