Emanuel Swedenborg: Invitation to the New Church

(ca. 1760–1772)


Swedenborg never published Invitation to the New Church. Legend has it that when he died in his modest lodgings in Clerkenwell, which was then on the edge of London, this unfinished paper lay on his desk beside his pen. It appears that his anticipated audience included the clergy of the Protestant churches and educated laypeople, who were the most likely to be familiar with Latin. Swedenborg had, however, encouraged and helped to finance the translation of some of his works into English. A clue to his greater intended audience lies in the statement in the syllabus that hereafter men and women were to be called not Evangelical or Reformed and still less Lutherans or Calvinists but rather Christians. It seems that Swedenborg did not envisage the establishment of a new Christian denomination but by the expression “New Church” meant a new spirit that would pervade all of the different Christian churches.

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Cardinal Richelieu, who helped finance the Thirty Years‘ War (Library of Congress)

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