The Lord's New Church Which Is Nova Hierosolyma had its beginning in 1937, yet the start of World War II delayed its formal governmental organization.
The first international governmental document for The Lord's New Church Which Is Nova Hierosolyma was drawn up by the Provisional International Council in 1947, and then approved by members in America and Holland.
This first international governmental step for The Lord's New Church Which Is Nova Hierosolyma is described by some Council members in the following words:
"On February 5th of this year  the International Council of Priests appointed a Provisional International Council to consider and set forth the principles of order which must govern the formation of the visible Church, and to recommend to the Church a Plan of Order for the government of the Church as a whole, among all lands. Messrs. H.D.G. Groeneveld and Anton Zelling, and the Revs. Ernst Pfeiffer, Theodore Pitcairn and Philip Odhner, were appointed to this Council. This Council appointed Mr. Pfeiffer as its Chairman and Mr. Odhner as its Secretary."
(Principles and Plan of Order for the International Government of the Church; Recommended by the Provisional International Council for acceptance by all Bodies of the Church. March 27th, 1947)
Although The Lord's New Church Which Is Nova Hierosolyma's international governmental structure was created in 1947, the seeds for its beginning preceded the beginning of World War II in the European country Holland, also known as The Netherlands.
In January 1930, Ernst Pfeiffer (1890-1979), the Dutch General Church minister in The Hague, started a Dutch magazine entitled De Hemelsche Leer (The Heavenly Doctrine). The three leading theses propounded in "De Hemelsche Leer" were:
1. The Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg are the Third Testament of the Word of the Lord. The DOCTRINE OF THE NEW JERUSALEM CONCERNING THE SACRED SCRIPTURE must be applied to the three Testaments alike.
2. The Latin Word without Doctrine is as a candlestick without light, and those who read the Latin Word without Doctrine, or who do not acquire for themselves a Doctrine from the Latin Word, are in darkness as to all truth (cf. S. S. 50-61).
3. The genuine Doctrine of the Church is spiritual out of celestial origin, but not out of rational origin. The Lord is that Doctrine itself (cf. A. C. 2496, 2497, 2510, 2516, 2533, 2859; A. E. 19).
Some priests in the leadership of the General Church had misgivings about these three leading theses. The year 1937 became a turning point for the Dutch Society after the Rev. George de Charms (1889-1989) was named the leading bishop of the General Church. The newly appointed bishop decided the doctrine of the "Hague Position" was incompatible with General Church thought. He invited the Rev. Pfeiffer to present his ideas as to how the two doctrinal positions could co-exist in the same Church. Meetings between Rev. Pfeiffer (along with Mr. Groeneveld and Rev. Pitcairn) with Bishop de Charms and Bishop Acton occurred between March 18th through some days in April of 1937 (Click HERE to see account of meetings). Rev. Pfeiffer presented a proposal for the establishment of a new independent episcopal diocese within the General Church as a peaceable solution and as a deed of charity so the principle of freedom could be maintained within the General Church. During meetings with Bishop de Charms and Bishop Acton, it appeared both bishops declared themselves in favor of a necessary separation, unless essential principles believed by the Dutch Society members were abandoned. And both bishops were the first to speak about a possible separation in charity.
After Bishop de Charms in a letter asked the Rev. Pfeiffer to resign as pastor and member of the General Church, and Pfeiffer refused, he was informed that his name had been removed from the list of pastors and members on April 7, 1937. After the Rev. Pfeiffer was removed from membership, others joined him, including several General Church ministers, most of the members of the Dutch Society (Click HERE to see the Letter of Resignation of the Members of the Hague Society), and General Church members in Bryn Athyn.
In 1938, extracts from the Dutch magazine De Hemelsche Leer were translated and published into English through the generosity of the Reverend Theodore Pitcairn, whose wife was Dutch. With the arrival of an English translation of extracts from De Hemelsche Leer in three volumes covering the years 1930 through 1938, English readers in the General Church could for the first time read for themselves what had become part of the common thought and discourse in the Dutch Society of the General Church. This English publication lead to others in the General Church accepting the "Hague Position" and resigning from the General Church.
The contrast between the leaders of the Hague Position and the two leaders of the General Church concerning the "principle of freedom" in the church is an interesting historical point for discourse. Mr. Groeneveld pointed "to freedom as an inmost principle and an indispensable condition for the possibility of a Church." (Seventh Fascicles of De Hemelsche Leer, p.124) In contrast, the two leading bishops of the General Church at the time through their actions, and reportedly through their words during meetings could not allow for the principle of freedom in regard to doctrinal thoughts out of "The Hague Position".
There is also a second interesting historical point for discourse concerning the concept of charity during the meetings of 1937. The Rev. Pfeiffer, a Hague Position proponent, spoke about "a deed of charity" when he proposed a separate independent Episcopal diocese for the new movement within the General Church whereby a complete break could be avoided. (Seventh Fascicles of De Hemelsche Leer, p.123) In contrast, the two bishops of the General Church reportedly spoke about separating in charity, and their historical actions confirmed this thought, since they separated the Rev. Pfeiffer from Church membership.
Regardless of ones church affiliation, the freedom to express doctrinal thoughts and the Word's definition of Charity (see NJHD 9) in the context of this principle of freedom makes for interesting discourse.
In The Lord's New Church Which Is Nova Hierosolyma, the question of freedom to express doctrinal thoughts came up again in 1966 after the Resolution Concerning the Government of the Church established the Episcopal office in the Church government which gave the Episcopal office unlimited power. This discussion lead to the addition of the "Freedom in the Church" clause in 1968. "Freedom in the Church" was defined as:
"Freedom in the Church.
Human freedom is necessary if men are to be led in freedom according to reason by the Lord into the life in the Lord which is freedom itself. It is therefore self-evident that no one in the Church can be compelled with regard to the acceptance of any doctrinal view and that the greatest freedom must be preserved in the Church with regard to the expression of the thoughts and feelings of all in the Church provided they are not in opposition to the Essentials and the Principles of Doctrine of the Church, as outlined in the adjoined paper. It is understood that a similar freedom exists in relation to each land and each Society.
Within this freedom there must be unanimity of acknowledgment of the presence of an internal sense in the literal sense of the Word of the Third Testament, and a striving for a further opening of it and for unity in its Spirit and Life, that the Second Coming of the Lord may further be fulfilled and the Church may be ever new and be one in the Lord.
While recognizing that the government of the visible Church is in the hands of the Priesthood, it is also self-evident that whenever possible in matters directly affecting the people the Priest shall seek their free consent and reciprocal co-operation."
As mentioned previously, the beginning of World War II prevented the formal organization of a global church until 1947. The new governmental document written in 1947 created a governmental structure unlike any in the history of the New Church as it was based upon the Circle of Life.
The governmental structure of The Lord's New Church Which Is Nova Hierosolyma was based specifically upon teachings in the Word of the Third Testament about the "Circle of Life." (Click HERE to see teachings about the circle of life in the Third Testament) Since the circle of life contains both a descending line and ascending line, similar to how one would draw a circle on a piece of paper with both a downward, descending line, and an upward, ascending curved line, so the external governmental structure of the church was based upon both the Descending Line (Priestly Line) and Ascending Line (Line of the Men [Mankind] of the Church) in the circle of life.
Concerning this circle of life, it is taught:
"The process of man's regeneration from a state of external innocence to that of internal innocence, is described, [AC]10021:2. The process of man's regeneration and that of the glorification of the Lord's Human, are described and illustrated by the circle of life with man, [AC]10057." (Arcana Coelestia Index)
"There is in all things of the human mind this circle of love to thoughts and from thoughts to love from love, a circle which may be called the circle of life." (Divine Providence n. 29)
Although the Word of the Third Testament applies the circle of life, as the universal order of regeneration, to every individual person, and to the glorification of the Lord's Human, the Provisional International Council in 1947 used the circle of life as a model for creating the external representative governmental structure of the Church in 1947.
The Descending Line in the circle of life is a Descent from heaven to the earth. This Descending Line was seen to apply to the function of the priesthood as truth out of good, or good from which truth Descends. The Descending line is similar to drawing of a circle with a pencil... the downward motion, the downward curved line in a circle is the Descending line of a circle, since one starts at a point above and Descends to a point below... the Descending line starts in heaven and Descends to the earth.
The Ascending Line in the circle of life is an Ascent from the earth to heaven - the opposite of the Descending Line. The Ascending Line was seen to apply to the "line of the men [mankind] of the church" in which there is no distinction between priests and lay persons, since living according to the truths of life out of the Word of God allows everyone to Ascend from a earthly state to a heavenly state. The Ascending line is similar to drawing a circle with a pencil... the upward motion, the upward line in a circle is the Ascending line of a circle, since one starts at a point below and ascending to a point above... the Ascending Line starts on the earth and Ascends to heaven.
It is taught that the Doctrine of the Church Descends out of heaven to the earth and is spiritual (truth) out of celestial origin (good), is truth out of good, or that out of love or good Descends truth. The Lord enlightens individuals so each can see the truths of life in the teachings of His written Word, and this enlightenment Descends out of their soul into their conscious natural mind while reading God's Written Word. Thus the representative priestly function is "to teach truths out of the Word according to the Doctrine of the Church and thereby lead to the good of life" in the external common body of the representative Church organization.
The Ascending Line in the circle of life is an Ascent from the earth to heaven - from an earthly state to a hevenly state. In the Ascending Line of the circle of life one proceeds from truths to the good - from living according to truths of life out of the Word to the good of heaven. Since all members of the Church must live according to truths of life out of the Word so the good of heaven can be received in the natural mind, it is seen that there is no distinction between the priests and the laity in the Ascending Line of the circle of life. All members of the Church, both priests and lay persons alike, must live according to the truths of life out of Word to Ascend into a heavenly state.
In relation to the Doctrine of the Church, it is seen in the external representative governmental structure that the use of the Descending Line is the priestly function to teach truths out of the Word according to the Doctrine of the Church and thereby lead to the good of life... to lead everyone into the Ascending Line by living according to the truths out of the Word. And the use in the Ascending Line in the external representative governmental structure is to live according to the Doctrine of the Church to bring the natural mind into correspondence with heaven, thus the formation of heaven within each member of the Church, priest and lay person alike, that new Doctrine may be born in the Church.
The Doctrine of the Church was placed into the hands of "line of the men [mankind] of the church," Not the priesthood. This makes the Episcopal form of government in the The Lord's New Church Which Is Nova Hierosolyma different than other branches of the New Church. The function of the priesthood described in the Word of the Third Testament is to teach truths out of the Word according to the Doctrine of the Church, not to draw Doctrine out of the Word. New Genuine Doctrine can only be given by the Lord to a person who has brought their natural mind into correspondence with heaven, thus can only be given to those in whom heaven has been formed, can only be given to those you have Ascended to heaven as to their spirit by a life according to the truths they received from the Lord out of the Word of God. Thus the drawing of Doctrine of the Church out of the Word of God is seen to be a spiritual function of all people, not just the priesthood, since new Genuine Doctrine can only be born into a natural mind that has been brought into a heavenly form.
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