Purpose and principles

Purpose

The General Church of the New Jerusalem exists to:

  • Promote the worship of the Lord as He is revealed in His threefold Word (Old Testament, New Testament, and Writings for the New Church).
  • Propagate throughout the world the truths of the Writings for the New Church.
  • Promote through worship, instruction and mutual support the faith of the New Church and a life of charity in accordance with it.

God is one in Essence and in Person, and the Lord Jesus Christ is that God, in whom is the Divine Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit: “The Lord from eternity, who is Jehovah, came into the world to subjugate the hells and glorify His Human. Without this no mortal could have been saved; and those are saved who believe in Him” (TCR 2).

The Old and New Testaments are the Word of God. Within every word, they have a spiritual sense which speaks throughout of the Lord, His kingdom, and the way to heaven.

The Theological Writings given by the Lord through Emanuel Swedenborg are also the Word of God. By means of this new revelation, the Lord has established a New Christian Church, which, unlike the former churches, will not end.

Principles

The Old Testament, the New Testament and the Writings together are the supreme authority in matters of faith. Neither the Bishop of the General Church (also referred to as the Executive Bishop, or simply the Bishop), nor the clergy, nor any council or assembly of the Church should, by pronouncement or by majority vote, decide doctrinal issues and thereby bind the conscience of the Church.

The government of the Church is carried out with the assistance of council and assembly to allow for the freedom and illustration of both clergy and laity.

A “council” is used in the Church when it seeks to develop principles from the Word, and thereby to promote the uses that belong to a church body. The Bishop or a pastor uses councils so that uses may be discussed in a forum in the light of the truth.

The term “assembly” refers to the right of the members of the Church to come together in order to give consent to uses, and to affirm the nominations of executive and assistant executive bishops. In the Church as a whole, the General Assembly confirms the nomination of an Executive or Assistant Bishop. In a congregation, the society in its meetings approves the nomination of its pastor and assistant pastor, receives and approves business reports, and votes on uses which are brought before it.

In order to provide for consensus on uses, action may be delayed at the request of a minority. Doubt is an occasion for delay and for further study and discussion, but it is not the policy of the Church that a minority should for long postpone the implementation of its affairs.

It is the policy of the General Church to avoid passing regulations that would control its future actions. This is  to encourage the freedom of future generations to obey the Lord in accordance with their own understanding of the truths of the Word. In the transaction of formal business, however, in both council and assembly, the rules of parliamentary order are followed, and decisions may be affirmed by voting.