4:30pm ET / 3:30pm CT / 2:30pm MT / 1:30pm PT
Join Rev. Robert McCluskey for a mini course hosted with Zoom Meeting using the password that you were given when you registered for Convention.
Most people, raised in the New Church or newly coming into it, quickly learn about “the will and the understanding,” a key component of Swedenborg’s theology. The will is the realm of emotions, intentions and love; the understanding is the realm of thought, reason and truth. It is a useful model of the mind. It was well known in Swedenborg’s time, and remains so in ours.
In SH 634, Swedenborg illuminates this pairing in an unexpected way. He suggests that unless our understanding of “will and understanding” is not rendered more precisely, we will have difficulty achieving a “will for good” and an “understanding of truth.” Without a clear and distinct understanding of these two faculties, we risk confusion over the whole issue of spiritual growth, including our belief in the afterlife.
In this relatively short paragraph, Swedenborg offers a simple but profound model of the human being. Starting with the familiar division of will and understanding, he reveals a more complex dance between what we feel and what we think. It is a model that has aided and inspired me for decades in my own spiritual growth, and in my ability to empathize with others. I am eager to share it with others.
Rev. Robert McCluskey holds a B.A and M.A. in philosophy, and a diploma from the Swedenborg School of Religion. He has served as pastor in Portland, ME, and New York City, and currently administers rites and sacraments at Wayfarers Chapel. He also chairs the Social Justice Committee of the Swedenborgian Church, and continues as founding co-chair of DEADSU.