Our prospectus

The Swedenborg Open Learning Centre runs the following open learning courses:

  • three introductory or taster courses which give people thinking about studying more seriously a flavour of what they might expect,
  • the main group of courses in three stages
  • a selection of optional courses which students can study following their own interests.

The courses consist of modules differing in the total number of sessions that earn either a quarter credit or a half credit.

Successful study of modules totalling four full credits earns a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies. Students who complete a further four credits successfully earn a Diploma, while students completing a further four credits become graduates in Swedenborgian Studies.

Not sure what to study?  Check out our advice on Choosing between modules

What insights have students found in Swedenborg? check out video clips

Introductory Modules:

There are three introductory courses. If studied, each of these courses will earn a quarter credit towards a Stage 1 award.

  1. Insights into the Bible

    The first, called Insights into the Bible, is a brief overview of the Bible through Swedenborgian spectacles.

    This course is intended to help give you a broad brush picture of the flow and contents of the Holy Bible, and the way in which the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg help to view the Word of God contained in the Bible. It is designed for anyone who is searching for an alternative insight to the message of the Bible and an introduction to Swedenborgian teaching about it.

    ¼ credit. 40 hours of learning.

  2. An Introduction to Swedenborgian Thought
    An Introduction to Swedenborgian Thought

    The second course is An Introduction to Swedenborgian Thought. This course is intended to help you:

    • See the Lord as the source of all life;
    • Understand how the Lord works constantly with us, even when we are not aware of it;
    • Have an overview of the spiritual world, and how we get there;
    • Have an outline understanding of the basic principles of Divine Providence;
    • Have some outline information on the New Jerusalem, which is the Lord’s New Church.

    ¼ credit. 40 hours of learning.

  3. Skills in Swedenborgian Studies

    The third course is Skills in Swedenborgian Studies. This course is designed to help students to become more skilful in accessing the wealth of spiritual insights contained in Swedenborg’s writings. The focus is on learning by using the various free online resources available. Therefore access to a personal computer or its equivalent is required.

    Topics covered are:

    • Swedenborg’s books and their translations
    • Swedenborg’s style of writing
    • The Bible, its translation and traditional commentary
    • Swedenborgian interpretation of the Bible
    • Swedenborg’s terminology
    • Swedenborgian ideas and concepts

    ¼ credit. 40 hours of learning.

Stage 1 Modules:

Review the Stage 1 modules by clicking on the headings below

  1. Old Testament People
    There are many wonderful, colourful characters in the Old Testament, and many of their stories may be familiar to us. Children love the story of Noah’s ark, and the story of Joseph and his coat of many colours. Who can forget about Jonah being swallowed by the great fish, or the young David slaying the giant Philistine Goliath? And what are we to make of the strength of Samson, or Daniel surviving in the lion’s den?

    But there is much, much more to the Old Testament than a bunch of good stories, and a collection of fascinating characters. Each character that appears in the Old Testament is relevant to us spiritually. How?

    The people of the Old Testament show us the different spiritual states we can be in as we grow and develop spiritually. Similarly, the places and events in the Old Testament represent the situations we may encounter during our spiritual growth and development.

    The Old Testament is therefore a spiritual guidebook for our journey through life, towards heaven, and the people we meet in the Old Testament are our spiritual guides. We are told of the Lord’s ever-present love for us, and how we keep on rejecting this love, and blaming the Lord for our misfortunes. We are told what we might be like, spiritually, if we do not try hard to make ourselves better citizens. We are told of the peace and joy we can experience when we acknowledge the Divine and live a charitable life.

    The Old Testament people studied are:

    • Adam and Eve
    • Noah
    • Abraham
    • Isaac and Jacob
    • The sons of Jacob
    • Moses
    • Joshua
    • The Judges
    • Samuel
    • Saul
    • David
    • Solomon and the monarchy
    • Elijah
    • Elisha
    • Isaiah
    • Jeremiah
    • Ezekiel
    • Daniel
    • Hosea
    • Amos
    • Jonah

    This is a half module consisting of sixteen sessions, and earns a half point towards your level 1 studies when successfully completed.

  2. Synoptic Gospels

    Have you ever wondered why the Gospels are in the sequence Matthew – Mark – Luke – John? Have you ever wondered why they tell more or less the same story, but differently? Why are some stories found in more than one Gospel, and yet others are only there once? For example, why do the wise men only appear in Matthew, and the shepherds only appear in Luke? Why does the feeding of the 5000 appear in all four gospels (although with differences in detail)? Why do we know very little about the life of Jesus for his first 30 or so years?

    This module explores the three “Synoptic” gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, individually, and side-by-side. Narrative that is contained in only one Gospel is explored for its uniqueness, while narrative that is in more than one Gospel is examined for similarities and differences, and their significance.

    The inner or spiritual meaning of parables and healing miracles and their relevance for us is investigated. As a student, you are challenged to think about the significance of the spiritual meaning as well as the historical importance of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Swedenborg writes that the Word has a continuous spiritual meaning, and this flows through the Gospels in such a way that if even the slightest thing were changed, the spiritual meaning would be lost. At the end of the module, you investigate why the synoptic gospels are presented in the sequence Matthew first, Mark second, and Luke third.

    During your studies, you are encouraged to reflect that there are rarely one-off dogmatic answers to questions you ask. As the Lord works with each one of us at a personal level, He will interact and respond to us at the level that is just right for each one of us at any time.

    This is a half module consisting of sixteen sessions, and earns a half point towards your level 1 studies when successfully completed.

  3. Sacred Scripture

    This module seeks to lead students towards a critical evaluation of the nature and value of Divine Revelation in all its different forms.

    It introduces students to Swedenborg’s short work, Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture. This provides a large range of ideas to explain the vital role of the biblical “Word” in world-wide spirituality, not just in Christian thought, and indeed its importance for the angels of heaven. The universal importance of the Word is not the only intriguing concept in this thought-provoking and challenging work.

    This module, however, does not just work with the book, Doctrine of Sacred Scripture. Indeed, a detailed reading of Doctrine of Sacred Scripture only really begins with Session 4, nearly half-way through the module. Particularly in its early sessions, the module seeks to lead the student towards a critical evaluation of the nature and value of Divine revelation in all its different forms. In particular, you will be guided towards a fuller appreciation of the depths within the Word. It can serve as a useful foundation for other modules, which focus more on how we can work with specific parts of the Bible and how we can present symbolism from the Bible and elsewhere.

    This is a quarter module consisting of 8 sessions, and earns a quarter credit towards your level 1 studies when successfully completed.

  4. A Pathway to Wholeness
    What makes us a complete person? Is it earning lots of money and having lots of expensive possessions, or is it being at peace with ourselves and showing respect and care for our fellow citizens? Is it being successful rather than being reliable? Is it being helpful to ourselves rather than to others? Is it being combative rather than communicative?

    Swedenborg describes true happiness as flowing from the inside rather than from the outside, as being spiritual and not physical, as being internally content rather than externally stimulated.

    How do we achieve this state of inner contentment, of wholeness, of heavenly peace? How is it possible amidst the pressures of modern life? What do we have to “give up” as part of this process? How does it affect the rest of our lives? How long does it take? How will we know it is working?

    This module addresses these and many more questions. It tells us that the kingdom of heaven, far from being an unachievable place “up there”, is around us and within us if we go looking for it. It encourages us to look inwards to our spiritual attitudes rather than be preoccupied by external pleasures. It shows how we benefit in the long term if we are net contributors to our world rather than net takers. In short, it is a description of the path we should take through our lives if we wish to become a whole person.

    This is a half module consisting of sixteen sessions, and earns a half point towards your level 1 studies when successfully completed.

  5. Personal Worship
    What does Worship mean to you?

    Does it mean going to church on a Sunday, singing a few hymns, listening to a few prayers, nodding off during a sermon?

    Does it mean saying your prayers on a regular basis?

    Does it mean being overwhelmed at the glories of creation, and praising God for his wonderful works?

    Or does it mean something completely different?

    We are not aware that God is present, let alone active within us. We can sometimes look back and think that he must have been involved in certain events, but we were not aware at the time.

    This module encourages students to think about their relationship with God, identifying it in terms of the way they let God into their lives, and their feelings about this.

    It identifies the different effects on us of communal and personal worship. It examines the importance of the Word of God – the Bible – in Worship.

    It looks at prayer not as a one-way conversation to God but as an interaction with God, when we can look for feedback in some form.

    Most importantly, it introduces the concept of whole-life worship, with our realisation that God is present with us, and available to us, not just for an hour on Sundays, but constantly, every second of every minute of every hour of our lives.

    This is a quarter module consisting of eight sessions, and earns a quarter point towards your level 1 studies when successfully completed.

  6. Spiritual World

    Have you ever wondered what happens to us after our physical body dies?  Where do we go?  How do we get to heaven, or end up in hell?  What will it be like when we get there?  Benjamin Franklin wrote: In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.  Swedenborg wrote: man’s life from infancy to old age is nothing else than an advance from the world towards heaven, the last stage of which is death and the actual transition from one life to the next

    In his most widely read book, Heaven and Hell, Swedenborg describes life as angels in heaven and as evil spirits in hell.  He tells us that the main purpose of creation is to maintain a heaven of angels from the human race.  He defines hell not as a place of eternal punishment but as the best the Lord can do for people whose lives on earth show that they could not cope with all the love, peace and joy of heaven.

    Swedenborg also describes the process of passing from this world into the spiritual world, introducing the “world of spirits” which lies midway between heaven and hell.  This is the place where our spirits live while we are on this earth, and where we first awaken in the spiritual world after our earthly bodies die.

    This module explores the major areas that Swedenborg details in Heaven and Hell.  The topics covered are:

    • The Divine life in heaven
    • The communities of heaven
    • Heaven in the form of the Divine Human
    • Who are angels?
    • Time and space in heaven
    • What life is like in heaven
    • What links us to heaven and to hell
    • Children in heaven
    • Marriage and work in heaven
    • The world of spirits
    • Finding the path to heaven or to hell
    • Hell and hell fire
    • The equilibrium between heaven and hell
    • Mankind’s freedom to choose between heaven and hell.

    This is a quarter module consisting of 8 sessions, and earns a quarter point towards your level 1 studies when successfully completed.

  7. Pastoral Communication and Awareness
    How often have you wished to reach out to a friend or relative and give them some comfort at a time of loss, depression or unhappiness? You want to give them words of advice, make it better for them, help the pain to go away. But how do you go about it? Telling them you know how they feel often gets the reply “You can’t possibly know!” Telling them how you coped in similar circumstances means nothing to them. There are no quick fixes, easy solutions, snappy one-liners available. The person you want to help has to work it out for themselves. And how do you cope with other people’s grief, or your own failure for not finding the answers for them?

    You have started to try to be a helper, a counsellor for others. You have a basic desire to help others get through difficult times. But you are struggling to know exactly how to go about it.

    This module is designed to get you started. It is not a counselling course, but talks a lot about counselling skills. It describes how the helper should not get involved and how he or she needs sometimes to be helped themselves. It introduces counselling techniques and guidelines. Whatever your calling to help others in a pastoral sense, you will find something of use to you here. Underpinning it all are the principles of life as described in the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.

    This is a quarter module consisting of eight sessions, and earns a quarter point towards your level 1 studies when successfully completed.

  8. Correspondences
    The feel of this course is different from any other you might have studied with the Centre. It invites you to research a few parallels between the spiritual and physical worlds and then to present your insights and ideas to your tutor and fellow students, when possible.

    The Creator communicates with us through natural-world images as these are what we readily understand. We have the choice to accept these images purely at the natural level or to use our creative skills to find deeper, richer messages from the Creator to us. For some the tree is a pleasant, necessary, green part of our environment. We need it to balance the air we breathe. For others it represents something very good which becomes fruitful, producing seed and re-creating. What does the air mean to you? It is essential for life and cannot be seen….we can each come to our own conclusions and each correspondence will be valid if it looks at the natural qualities of the air. This is the essence of correspondences and this course.

    As an introduction you will be offered insights into resources and techniques to enhance your confidence and ability in preparing Biblically-based material for presentation to other people.

    The practice session concerns “highs and lows”. You will be led through the writer’s experiences as he looks at Biblical uses of these images and explains use of research tools. At this point he assesses his current insights before describing his use of available concordances and indexes to apply his ideas to our lives and deeper states within us. Finally he considers poetry, prose, pictures, posters and other relevant material to excite the imagination.

    Within the eight sessions of the course you are encouraged to work with the themes of colour, the three kingdoms (animal, vegetable, and mineral) and two topics of your own choice. You are then led into preparing and demonstrating your own insights in your own way. This need not be a talk, but can be through music, poetry, art, flower arranging, a game or any way you wish to explore for yourself.

    Many students feel enriched and renewed by this experience. As a result of this course a walk can be more than a physical journey. It can become a spiritual one as your mind suddenly explores new depths.

    This is a quarter module, and earns a quarter point towards your level 1 studies when successfully completed.

  9. Communicating Personal Conviction

    It’s happened to all of us. You are having an interesting conversation with someone who is interested about your beliefs or about how your church is different from others. Suddenly you are dropped in it when asked an apparently innocuous question along the lines “How does your church distinguish itself from other churches?” or “What’s so special about Swedenborg’s teachings?”

    Suddenly you go all Homer-Simpsonish. “Doh!” Where do you begin? How do you summarise in a nutshell the things that are special for you in your religion?

    This module helps you organise your thought processes and guides you in ways of expressing yourself in writing and verbally when faced with the situation of responding to such questions.

    The module covers the following topics:

    • Communication with others
    • Assertiveness
    • What switches you on and others off
    • Written faith conviction
    • Spoken faith conviction

    The module is untutored but you will be expected to keep a diary of your progress, and to submit three pieces of work drawn from the module. These will be submitted to your tutor before you complete the module.

    This is a quarter module, and earns a quarter point towards your level 1 studies when successfully completed.

    Go back to previous page Back to previous page

Stage 2 Modules:

Review the Stage 2 modules by clicking on the headings below

  1. Swedenborg and his Influence

    Emanuel Swedenborg was born in 1688 and died in 1772. During his life, he wrote a prodigious number of scientific, technical and theological books and papers, but it was not until after he died that his influence started to grow. At first it was in the area of theology, but soon his influence was extending into art and literature as well. This module examines his life in several stages:

    • His early life, covering his family background, education and work as a scientist and for the Board of Mines in Sweden.
    • His “search for the soul”, when he investigated the possibility of a physiological location for the human soul.
    • The events leading up to what is now thought of as his pivotal change from scientist to theologian.
    • The outline content of his theological books.
    • Contemporary reactions to his work as a theologian.
    • The emergence of a Church organisation after his death in 1772.
    • His theology concerning Last Judgment and Second Coming.
    • His influence on modern living, science, art and literature, including such diverse areas as Homeopathy, Alcoholics Anonymous, Near Death Experiences (NDEs) and spiritual healing.
    • The incorporation of Swedenborgian thought into other religious traditions viewed by three thinkers – D.T. Suzuki , Henry Corbin and Sadhu Sundar Singh.

    This is a half module, and successful completion will credit you with a half point towards your level 2 studies.

  2. Divine Providence

    Divine Providence is a phrase frequently used to attribute an event, particularly of unexpected good fortune to the Lord’s intervention. Someone might say “thanks to Divine Providence I did not go to work in the World Trade Centre that day”. But it’s a different matter when we consider the existence of evil, sickness and disorder in the world. How do we explain the tsunami and its destruction to human life and property? We ask, “why does God allow it?” Confusion arises – is Divine Providence good or evil, or both? Does God control the evil as well as the good? Does God know what will happen to me in this world and the next?

    This module addresses these and other questions that arise when we consider the state of the world we live in and how this state affects us and our fellow human beings. It is a guided tour through Swedenborg’s book “Divine Providence”. It considers all aspects of the Lord’s Providence covering topics such as:

    • the purpose of Divine Providence
    • why evil exists in the world
    • the origins of evil
    • the price of free will
    • the five laws of Divine Providence
    • permission to do evil
    • undeserved suffering
    • predestination
    • helping people deal with the effects of evil

    This is a quarter module, and earns a quarter point towards your stage 2 studies when successfully completed.

  3. Mysticism and Swedenborg as a Mystic
    The word ‘mysticism’ is used with a number of different meanings and carries different connotations to different minds. To some it is simply a type of confused, irrational thinking. In the popular mind it is associated with spiritualism and clairvoyance. To some it is bound up with visions and revelations. Others use it as a religious attitude which does not care for dogma or the outward forms of religious observance. Some would limit its use to that rare state of consciousness which is found in pensive or contemplative people.

    So why does it interest us in the 21st century?

    Perhaps it is because we associate it with the endeavour of the human mind to grasp the Divine essence or the ultimate reality of things, and to enjoy the blessedness of actual communion with the highest.

    Perhaps it is because we feel restricted by the dogma of religion and are trying to look beyond these restrictions.

    Perhaps we are trying to experience an all-embracing reality that pervades and transcends the world of phenomena in which we live our earthly lives.
    Whatever our interest and motivation, this module has much to offer:

    • It looks at different writers’ concepts of mysticism.
    • It explores some of Emanuel Swedenborg’s mystical writings from his theological works.
    • It introduces the student to Eastern mysticism (Buddhism, Taoism and the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita of Hinduism) and Western Mysticism (Greek and Christian mysticism, Sufism and the Kabbalah and the Zohar of Judaism).
    • It describes the writings of five mediaeval mystics (Meister Eckhart, Nicholas of Cusa, Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross) and three twentieth century mystics (Wilson van Dusen, Matthew Fox and Evelyn Underhill).

    All this is done with Swedenborg’s mysticism as a backdrop.

    This is a quarter module, and earns a quarter point towards your level 2 studies when successfully completed.

  4. Old Testament Themes 1

    It is traditional to look on the Old Testament as an historical document, telling us about the origins, growth, trials and tribulations experienced by the nation of Israel as it evolved in the pre-Christian era. True, there are many good storylines. Who can forget the epic journey of the Israelites through the desert, or the desperate battles they fought as they struggled to gain a foothold in the Promised Land? Storylines and characters apart, there are many themes that crop up again and again throughout the Old Testament. This module, studied in two parts, aims to introduce you to some of these themes and to make you more aware of others that run through the books of the OT.

    OT Themes does not seek to work sequentially with the Biblical text. Take for instance a theme of the Ark of the Covenant. Described in Exodus 25, it appears again and again through to its placement in Solomon’s temple, and once in Jeremiah. Similarly with many of the themes that are explored. You may need to move around OT texts to gain a fuller picture of the theme, quite a contrast to the approach in the Level One module Old Testament People, where people come and go, are born and die – each within two or three OT books at most.

    What is the relevance of these themes in our lives? The Old Testament is a spiritual guidebook for our journey through life, towards heaven, and the themes correspond to the influences, good and evil, that affect us on this journey. For example, the Ark of the Covenant corresponds to Divine Truth flowing to us from the Lord. Knowing this we can then think of the spiritual significance of it being kept in the holy of holies in the tabernacle, carried across the Jordan, taken into battle, captured by the Philistines, carted across country, installed in Solomon’s temple and eventually lost altogether. Divine truth is always there for us; do we accept it or reject it?

    Most Sessions in both Parts One and Two include some introductory material provided by one or more authors well-versed in a Swedenborgian approach, although sometimes helpful material from non-Swedenborgian sources has been included. Often you may decide to choose a part, or parts, of the given materials for study, so as to leave yourself ample time for the development and presentation of your own work.

    An important aim of the module is to help you deepen your awareness of the Old Testament from a Swedenborgian perspective. It is up to you to use Swedenborg’s Writings and Swedenborgian research tools to achieve this.

    The Old Testament themes studied are:

    Part 1

    • The mythology of Genesis chapters 1-11
    • Themes in Genesis 12-50
    • “My Lord and God”
    • OT geography and its spiritual significance: Law-giving and Sinai; social justice
    • Idolatry and sacrifice
    • The interplay of history and prophecy
    • Bonus: Advent in the OT
  5. John’s Gospel

    Of the four Gospels, John is the ‘odd man out’. It is not like the other three which are grouped together and referred to as the “Synoptics”. All along people have been intrigued by its distinguishing features. It is much more theological and philosophical in its presentation of the Christian Gospel. It is taken to be the last of the Gospels to be written and all the evidence is there that the author was not interested in doing what the other three Gospel writers had done well, which was to tell of the birth, life, ministry, arrest, trial, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of the Lord; but to clarify, perhaps once and for all, that Jesus Christ was God come into the world.

    The quarter-module has been designed to follow on from the half-module on the Synoptic Gospels, but also to be able to be studied by someone who has not had the chance to undertake that. The eight Sessions seek to provide a balance between the anecdotal, the academic, research and meditative approaches. In each session, the student is encouraged to undertake items of research into different aspects of the spiritual significance of the Gospel, using both Swedenborgian and non-Swedenborgian sources to broaden their insights.

    The eight sessions are:

    1. The Prologue. A general introduction to John.
    2. Exinanition and glorification. 7 “Signs”.
    3. The Jerusalem roller-coaster. Jesus and the Jews.
    4. The Discourses. “I, I AM”.
    5. Johannine disciples.
    6. Love and friendship; hatred and enmity. The Holy Supper.
    7. The Holy Spirit. The great prayer of Jesus.
    8. Death and life. Resurrection and eternal life.

    This is a quarter module, and earns a quarter point towards your level 2 studies when successfully completed.

  6. Correspondences 2

    On first studying Swedenborg’s correspondences it can seem like a fairly straight forward system of x represents y. However there is much more than mere symbols; “correspondence,” as Swedenborg uses the term, is about a real, dynamic, ongoing relationship between Divine love and human love, Divine wisdom and human enlightenment. You will find that your research into what Swedenborg wrote will give you a really helpful start in exploring this connection of things in our natural world and concepts found in the Word such as birth and divorce, with things that are Divine within us. To then make it truly meaningful and useful, an opening up to  inner perception and intuition (the Divine within) can help to apply it to life and to inner spiritual changes. This is because it is a living, dynamic process. The beauty of this for us as spiritual teachers/communicators is that although everyone may not have the helpful start given to us by Swedenborg, everyone can tune into this process of connecting to the Divine through the body, nature, symbolism in myths and stories etc.

    This module also offers you the opportunity to be creative and to practice your skills at communicating correspondences with others through a variety of mediums.

    If you have already studied the Correspondences 1 module then you will have a good idea of how to do your research and some practice in devising presentations. If you are coming straight into Correspondences 2, these notes and your tutor will give you any help you require with where you might go for your research. This level 2 module also places more emphasis on developing both your understanding of teaching and learning and your skills in presenting ideas in a way that will engage your audience.

    Target Audience

    For each topic you need to choose and make clear your target audience. You may get more out of the module if you can choose more than one type of audience for different presentations.

    Medium for presenting your ideas

    You can be as creative as you like here! It will depend upon your target audience, your creative skills and interests and your topic. Again, you will learn more from this module if you choose different mediums for different presentations.

    Whilst most of your learning for this module will be from your own self-directed research and the creation of resources or presentations, ideally the assessment will be through a live delivery.

    This is a quarter module consisting of 8 sessions, and earns a quarter credit towards your level 2 studies when successfully completed.

  7. Acts and Epistles
    Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of Paul and others are not part of the Swedenborg’s canon of scripture, as they do not contain a “continuous internal sense”. Of the books of the New Testament, only the four Gospels and the book of Revelation are part of the canon. However, Swedenborg does quote extensively from them, and tells us that they are “good books for the Church, maintaining the doctrine of charity and its faith as strongly as ever did the Lord Himself in the Gospels”.

    This module looks at Acts and the Epistles from a Swedenborgian viewpoint. There are discussions on topics such as the Second Coming, charity and faith, the first Christian Church and the emergence of a new Church signified by the descent of the New Jerusalem in Revelation. There is a guided tour for each book and the student is encouraged to identify spiritual content while reading each chapter

    This is a quarter module, and earns a quarter point towards your level 2 studies when successfully completed.

  8. Doctrine of the Lord
    It’s a strange thing, really, that people tend to think of the pursuit of the knowledge and understanding of God as dry and abstract, for scholars and academics only.  But this is just so far from the truth.  Our thoughts about God, the beliefs about him which we have, influence us (albeit mostly unconsciously) all the time.  The way we see ourselves;  the whole thing about purpose in life;  our response to the unwanted events that take place in the world, sometimes affecting ourselves;  the attitudes we have towards others;  all these things are deeply influenced by the beliefs about God which we have.

    Thus we need to know who our God is.  We live a much fuller and richer relationship with Him when we do, as He does with us.

    Far from being dry and abstract, this module offers an exciting and different view of God.  Over the sixteen sessions you will read and reflect on topics that are shared with other Christian denominations and topics that are uniquely Swedenborgian.  For example:

    • The Trinity – does it mean God in three persons, or three different aspects of God in the same way that we all have soul, body and influence?  We are, after all, created in the image of God.
    • Divine Love and Wisdom – does God restrict these to his chosen few, or does he pour them out continually for all mankind?
    • The Second Advent – are we still waiting for it, or has it already taken place?
    • The Lord’s temptations – did they occur once only as in Matthew chapter 4, or did they take place constantly throughout his life?
    • Redemption – is it being delivered from sin and damnation, or is it the conquest of the hells and the ordering of the heavens that the Lord effected by his glorification in order that the human race could be saved?
    • Glorification – the uniting of the Lord’s human to Divinity itself which was within him as his soul, and was accomplished by temptation combat throughout his life, culminating with the passion of the cross.
    • The “Divine Human” – refers to all the conceivable ways in which the Divine can ever manifest itself to people’s minds.  These will always be in forms which express something human and comprehensible to us, yet still divine.
    • and many more.

    This is a half module consisting of sixteen sessions, and earns a half point towards your level 3 studies when successfully completed.

Stage 3 Modules:

  1. Old Testament Themes 2
    It is traditional to look on the Old Testament as an historical document, telling us about the origins, growth, trials and tribulations experienced by the nation of Israel as it evolved in the pre-Christian era. True, there are many good storylines. Who can forget the epic journey of the Israelites through the desert, or the desperate battles they fought as they struggled to gain a foothold in the Promised Land? Storylines and characters apart, there are many themes that crop up again and again throughout the Old Testament. This module, studied in two parts, aims to introduce you to some of these themes and to make you more aware of others that run through the books of the OT.

    OT Themes does not seek to work sequentially with the Biblical text. Take for instance a theme of the Ark of the Covenant. Described in Exodus 25, it appears again and again through to its placement in Solomon’s temple, and once in Jeremiah. Similarly with many of the themes that are explored. You may need to move around OT texts to gain a fuller picture of the theme, quite a contrast to the approach in the Level One module Old Testament People, where people come and go, are born and die – each within two or three OT books at most.

    What is the relevance of these themes in our lives? The Old Testament is a spiritual guidebook for our journey through life, towards heaven, and the themes correspond to the influences, good and evil, that affect us on this journey. For example, the Ark of the Covenant corresponds to Divine Truth flowing to us from the Lord. Knowing this we can then think of the spiritual significance of it being kept in the holy of holies in the tabernacle, carried across the Jordan, taken into battle, captured by the Philistines, carted across country, installed in Solomon’s temple and eventually lost altogether. Divine truth is always there for us; do we accept it or reject it?

    Most Sessions in both Parts One and Two include some introductory material provided by one or more authors well-versed in a Swedenborgian approach, although sometimes helpful material from non-Swedenborgian sources has been included. Often you may decide to choose a part, or parts, of the given materials for study, so as to leave yourself ample time for the development and presentation of your own work.

    An important aim of the module is to help you deepen your awareness of the Old Testament from a Swedenborgian perspective. It is up to you to use Swedenborg’s Writings and Swedenborgian research tools to achieve this.

    The Old Testament themes studied are:

    Part 2

    • The devil and hell
    • Women in the OT
    • Priesthood; Sabbath
    • Healing in the OT: Morality, sin, judgment, forgiveness and salvation
    • The psalms and OT poetry
    • Prophecy – Zechariah

    Each part ends with the opportunity to select a theme of your own choice, previously unexplored, for you to investigate and present.

    These are two quarter modules each consisting of eight sessions. Part 1 earns a quarter point towards your level 2 studies and part 2 earns a quarter point towards your level 3 studies when successfully completed.

  2. The Divine in Marriage
    According to the proverb, marriages are made in heaven. How true this is, according to Swedenborg in his late-published book Conjugial Love, sometimes translated as Marriage Love. Conjugial – is it a misprint? No – Swedenborg used the Latin word conjugialis which is derived from the Latin conjugium ‘marriage’ and is distinct from conjugalis which is derived from conjux ‘a married partner’.

    Conjugial Love tells us that a marriage between one man and one woman is not just a physical, external union but is also an internal union where there is a merging of minds as well as bodies. Indeed, often a couple destined for a conjugial marriage will know very soon after they have met that they are “meant for each other”. How? Because they have already met in the world of spirits and have established a perfect rapport with each other.

    Physical attraction may be the start of deeper feelings, but if a couple relies on the sexual aspect of their relationship to keep the marriage together, the initial thrill of the union will soon wear off and the marriage will founder.

    Instead, a conjugial couple will continue to grow closer to each other as their love and their marriage develops, even when the first flush of sexual activity is past, and the couple are facing together the problems of life in the world of the 21st century.

    But there is a more significant principle of the conjugial marriage. Many wedding ceremonies include the phrase “till death do us part”. But why should it all end there? In Conjugial Love Swedenborg writes that a truly conjugial relationship will continue when both partners are in heaven, and they will draw closer to each other to eternity.

    This module studies the book Conjugial Love in some detail, looking at the conjugial relationship, and its opposite, the adulterous or scortatory relationship. Many additional topics are covered, including human sexuality, promiscuity, concubinage and betrothal, amongst others.

    This is a half module consisting of sixteen sessions, and earns a half point towards your level 3 studies when successfully completed.

  3. Swedenborg and Ethics
    In the modern world we meet many ethical challenges, and there is often no consensus on how they should be confronted. Different religions hold opposing views, different nationalities see these situations from other perspectives. Topics like abortion, euthanasia and the environment cause confrontation and discord.

    Over 250 years ago Emanuel Swedenborg wrote: In the Lord’s kingdom there are countless variations to goods and truths, yet all those countless variations make up one heaven (Arcana Caelestia 3241).

    This can be applied to ethical situations today. There is often no “right” answer, despite the entrenched views on several sides of the argument.

    So how can Swedenborg contribute to a 21st century debate on ethics? Many of the topics examined were not recognised as ethical issues in his day. He contributes in two ways. His knowledge of the workings of heaven, based on actual experience, gave him spiritual insights into better ways of addressing moral dilemmas. Based on these insights, he was able to lay down a set of moral standards that were appropriate for all people in all ages.

    This module begins by dealing with an understanding of morality in Swedenborgian terms, and then addresses various ethical “hot potatoes”, not to give black and white solutions but to get the student thinking about the issues from different perspectives. Some hot potatoes like Abortion and Euthanasia are obvious topics. Others such as Work, and Wealth and Money are less so.

    At all times the student is encouraged to apply Swedenborgian principles to the topic, and reach his or her own conclusions based on these principles.

    In order to avoid duplication with other Centre modules, this module avoids topics relating to sexuality and relationships as these are covered in another module entitled “The Divine in Marriage”.

    This is a half module consisting of sixteen sessions, and earns a half point towards your level 3 studies when successfully completed.

  4. Apocalyptic and Book of Revelation

    Apocalyptic and the Book of Revelation examines at a spiritual level the relevance of apocalyptic literature in our lives today.

    The word Apocalyptic is derived form the Greek noun apokalysis meaning revelation or a disclosing. Throughout the ages there has always be present an apocalyptic dimension to every religion, a mystical element. The apocalyptic is the language of crisis and has a hallmark of bizarre visionary images, conflict and destruction followed by radical new beginnings.

    The first section of this module examines the style and nature of apocalyptic writing to be found in both Old and New Testaments. It then takes the student through the book of Revelation with a focus on what this book reveals personally to each individual concerning their spiritual growth or regeneration.

    Outline of Topics

    • Session 1:  Introduction to Apocalyptic in General
    • Session 2:  Introduction to the Internal sense of Apocalyptic
    • Session 3:  Apocalyptic in the Old Testament
    • Session 4:  Apocalyptic in the Gospels
    • Session 5:  Book of Revelation: – General Introduction
    • Session 6:  Book of Revelation I
      Vision of the Son of Man and the Messages to the Churches
    • Session 7:  Book of Revelation II
      Preparation for Judgment
    • Session 8:  Book of Revelation III
      Judgment Process I – the Seven Seals
    • Session 9:  Book of Revelation IV
      Judgment Process II – the Seven Trumpets
    • Session 10: Book of Revelation V
      The Little Scroll and the Two Witnesses
    • Session 11: Book of Revelation VI
      The Sun Woman and the Dragon
    • Session 12: Book of Revelation VII
      The Harvesting and the Bowls of Wrath
    • Session 13: Book of Revelation VIII
      The Scarlet Woman and Babylon
    • Session 14: Book of Revelation IX
      The Rider on the White Horse and the Last Judgment (Rev 19)
    • Session 15: Book of Revelation X
      The Descent of the New Jerusalem
    • Session 16: Overall Reflections

    This is a half module consisting of sixteen sessions, and earns a half point towards your level 3 studies when successfully completed.

  5. Nurturing the Soul

    In the latter part of the twentieth century in Western Society there was a significant movement away from an exclusively scientific materialistic approach to explaining the human condition. It has seen an increasing acceptance of the importance of soul or spirit. It is being accepted by increasing numbers of health professionals with a strong interest in its relationship to the body in healing. It has been popularised by such writers as Scott Peck, Bernie Segel, Larry Dossey, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Caroline Myss, Gary Zukov and Norman Shealy.

    In the UK, the Bristol Cancer Help Centre has championed the significance of the spirit/mind-body relationship with not only those facing cancer but that we can all benefit from exploring the world of our own spirit. At the same time there has also been increasing interest in soul/spirit-body relationships in the spread of practices such as yoga, tai chi, reiki, reflexology, aromatherapy, crystals and colour healing.

    Emanuel Swedenborg in his writings gives a remarkable description of the human soul and its world. He has much to offer this renewed interest in the soul. He declares that these insights are revelations from God as no man of himself could explore the soul’s world with so much clarity and at such depth. You must judge for yourself whether you think his claims are true.

    This course is a mixture of experiential exercises and insights from a Swedenborgian perspective. We hope that you will find that these two aspects complement each other in enhancing your knowledge and awareness of your soul.

    This is a half module of 16 sessions, and earns a half point towards your level 3 studies when successfully completed.

Additional studies modules available directly from the Centre include:

  1. Sacraments
    Swedenborg wrote: The two sacraments, baptism and the Holy Supper, are as it were two gates leading to everlasting life. Every Christian is by baptism, the first gate, admitted and introduced to the church’s teachings drawn from the Word about the other life. All of these are the means by which a person is prepared and can be guided to heaven. The second gate is the Holy Supper. By it everyone, who has allowed himself to be prepared and guided by the Lord, is admitted and introduced into heaven. There are no other universal gates. (True Christian Religion 721)

    This module explores the nuts and bolts of the two sacraments, covering the following areas for each one:

    • the biblical basis for baptism and for the Holy Supper,
    • the inner meaning of each sacrament,
    • variations and divergences in practice and belief,
    • what happens in the spiritual world when sacraments are administered,
    • the ceremonies themselves.

    The module is intended for ordination students and lay people who may go forward to be licensed to administer the sacraments. However, it is always possible for for other interested students to study the module as well.

    This is a quarter module, and earns a quarter point towards your studies when successfully completed.

  2. Worship Leading 1
    The Worship Leading modules are intended for students who are interested in leading public worship in a Swedenborgian environment and preparing their own addresses which will be given during the worship. There are two modules as follows:

    Worship Leading 1 is intended for students just beginning to lead worship. It guides you through the thought processes that take place when selecting a text and constructing the address. Some guidance is given in the use of Swedenborgian material you might use while you work. During the module, you will develop two services, one on the theme of “delight”, and one on a theme that you choose yourself.

    Worship Leading 2 is altogether different. Its aims are:

    • To explore and use your experience and understanding of public worship.
    • To enhance your own preparation for leading public worship.
    • To help you develop presentation skills when leading public worship.

    By the end of the module:

    • You will have explored some teaching from Swedenborg’s writings as to why the Lord encourages public worship.
    • You will have an appreciation of some differences between public and private worship.
    • You will be aware of some of the ways by which a worship leader can facilitate the worship needs of people in a public setting.
    • You will have prepared several acts of worship, some for specific occasions.
    • You will have presented some of these and been given feedback.
    • You should have been helped in identifying some areas of worship leading where further development and possible help would be beneficial, both for you and for those you seek to serve.
    • Your perceived strengths in this calling should have been affirmed, and further or more varied uses for your perceived skills should have been discussed with you.
    • You will have gained competence and confidence in preparing and leading public worship.

    Worship Leading 1 earns a quarter point towards your studies and Worship Leading 2 earns a half point towards your studies when successfully completed.

  3. Swedenborg and Psychology
    Psychology is the study of our experience and behaviour. It is about the way the human mind works.

    How do children start to think more rationally?

    How do we become male or female in personality?

    How do personal relationships succeed or fail?

    How can we understand clairvoyance, hypnotism and other extraordinary states of consciousness?

    How can we understand the essence of our unique individuality?

    How do we personally develop and become more mature?

    How can bad religious states exist in people?

    Studying these questions reveals parallels between Swedenborg’s writings and certain ideas in modern psychology. Psychologists’ theories sometimes are on similar lines to what Swedenborg was saying albeit using different terminology.

    Many people today have become cold towards traditional religion – often for good reasons. Although they feel they belong to the expanding secular society, nevertheless they are seeking answers to basic questions about their lives. Many feel a psychological understanding of life might furnish answers they are looking for. Yet they are often disappointed by an academic psychology that often fails to go more deeply into human nature.

    Swedenborg’s psycho-spiritual ideas have a universal quality that can offer a lot to those seeking a psychological understanding of life. This course material attempts to show the links between some of his writings and selected ideas in modern psychology that do go more deeply in addressing similar topics. Studying this material will be useful for those wishing to share their faith and spiritual ideas with a modern audience.

    This is a half module consisting of sixteen sessions, and earns a half point towards your level 3 studies when successfully completed.

  4. Worship Leading 2
    The Worship Leading modules are intended for students who are interested in leading public worship in a Swedenborgian environment and preparing their own addresses which will be given during the worship. There are two modules as follows:

    Worship Leading 1 is intended for students just beginning to lead worship. It guides you through the thought processes that take place when selecting a text and constructing the address. Some guidance is given in the use of Swedenborgian material you might use while you work. During the module, you will develop two services, one on the theme of “delight”, and one on a theme that you choose yourself.

    Worship Leading 2 is altogether different. Its aims are:

      To explore and use your experience and understanding of public worship.

    • To enhance your own preparation for leading public worship.
    • To help you develop presentation skills when leading public worship.

    By the end of the module:

    • You will have explored some teaching from Swedenborg’s writings as to why the Lord encourages public worship.
    • You will have an appreciation of some differences between public and private worship.
    • You will be aware of some of the ways by which a worship leader can facilitate the worship needs of people in a public setting.
    • You will have prepared several acts of worship, some for specific occasions.
    • You will have presented some of these and been given feedback.
    • You should have been helped in identifying some areas of worship leading where further development and possible help would be beneficial, both for you and for those you seek to serve.
    • Your perceived strengths in this calling should have been affirmed, and further or more varied uses for your perceived skills should have been discussed with you.
    • You will have gained competence and confidence in preparing and leading public worship.

    Worship Leading 1 earns a quarter point towards your studies and Worship Leading 2 earns a half point towards your studies when successfully completed.

  5. Group Leading Skills

    Competent group leaders are needed to run different kinds of groups of people involved with spirituality and religion. Such matters touch on deep emotions and strongly held views and thus group leaders need to have some knowledge and awareness of how groups work. The Swedenborg Open Learning Centre (SOLCe) is concerned to provide training in this area in order that effective leadership can help people work together in a supportive and productive way.

    This course is suitable for students who have opportunities for acting as a group participant, and also as a group leader or co-leader.

    Group participant
    The student will need to attend a group or groups over several meetings as a participant-observer.

    Group leader or co-leader
    Students will benefit from useful feedback on their performance in the leadership role from an observer present within the group meetings with knowledge and understanding regarding theory and practice in this area.

    As the emphasis is on learning by doing, the proportion of time the student will spend on reading is lower than on many other courses. There will be just one session of material to read. This will consist of a formal framework of ideas ‘Basic Group Leading Skills’.

    After this the main teaching will be tutor led. The focus of tutorials will be dialogue regarding the students’ practical experience. This will include discussion of each of the students’ observations as recorded on a Group Observations Sheet. This tool is designed to teach observation and thus facilitate learning. If the student is the sole leader of the group in question, the use of the sheet amounts to self-observation.

    Students are also expected to each maintain a Reflective Journal so that insights and questions can be noted as they occur. Private reading of one’s journal and discussing its contents in tutorials can enhance understanding and support skills development.

    This is a quarter module consisting of 8 sessions, and earns a quarter credit.