Emanuel Swedenborg

After Swedenborg's death

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Shortly after Swedenborg's death, an energetic Londoner named Robert Hindmarsh, came upon a copy of Heaven and Hell. Upon reading it he became a convert and organized the first group of followers of Swedenborg. Meeting regularly in London, the Hindmarsh circle began to expound the tenets of Swedenborgian theology. Swedish followers organized under the leadership of Johan Rosen and Gabriel A. Beyer, two noted intellectuals who had been reading Swedenborg for some time. James Glen, a sometime member of the Hindmarsh group in England, brought copies of Swedenborg's writings to Philadelphia in 1784, and Swedenborgianism in America dates from Glen's efforts to establish Swedenborgian reading circles in the Quaker city and elsewhere. Although the total number of Swedenborg followers has never grown large, there are active adherent groups all over the world.

Swedenborg's teachings exert a clear and direct influence on those who regard themselves as followers of the new faith. Swedenborgians study his theological writings and, like members of other religious sects, they attempt to put the principles expressed into effect in their own lives. The less tangible evidence of Swedenborg's influence-his effect on the mainstream of world thought-remains to be evaluated. Scholars who attempt the task may conclude, with Arthur Conan Doyle, that they have a "mountain peak of mentality" under scrutiny.


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- by Sig Synnestvedt

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