Our Religious Foundation
One of Kainon’s greatest strengths is the framework of Christian morals and values that underlies everything we do. Kainon is affiliated with New Church Westville, part of the General Church of the New Jerusalem, a Swedenborgian Christian denomination with roots reaching back to the late 1800’s.
At the core of our faith is a focus on the Two Great Commandments: love of God and love of the neighbour. We embrace students from all different religious backgrounds who are willing to respect the Christian ethos at the school.
While our religious foundation is a great strength, we also realise that at some times it has been seen as a cause for concern, and a bit of an elephant in the room. Few people have heard of Swedenborgianism, or its namesake Emanuel Swedenborg, whose theological works form the basic doctrinal framework of the church. And as can often happen with a small, little-known denomination, rumours can start to swirl: they’re not really Christian, they’re a cult, they don’t believe in the Bible, etc. Those rumours are not true, but it’s hard to correct that kind of misinformation once it’s out there. We invite you talk to our pastor Rev. Malcolm Smith, our chaplain Rev. Coleman Glenn, our teachers, and especially parents at the school, and we think you will find that as with most rumours, there is at most a shade of the truth mixed in with much more false information. Hopefully the following can help clear up some of the basic facts about who we are and what we believe.
What We Believe
The New Church is based on the Old and New Testaments and the theological works of Emanuel Swedenborg. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the one God of heaven and earth, completely Divine and completely human, and that by His life, death, and resurrection He conquered hell and redeemed mankind, offering salvation to all who faithfully follow Him. We believe that the Bible is His Word to mankind, and contains infinite truth within it. We believe that faith and charity can only exist together in a marriage, and that these two express themselves in a life of active service. We believe that everyone has an obligation to shun evils as sins against God, and to do so as if from their own power, while acknowledging that it is only God who enables them to do so. We believe that Jesus is the full manifestation of God, and the Bible the full manifestation of His Word, but that in every religion God has offered enough truth that those who strive to love God and their neighbour according to what they do know may be saved, since such a life opens them up to acknowledging the full truth when it is presented to them clearly.
These beliefs are drawn from the Bible as interpreted in the theological works of Emanuel Swedenborg, an 18th-century scientist, theologian, and revelator.
Who Was Emanuel Swedenborg?
Emanuel Swedenborg was born in Sweden in 1688, and as a young man displayed enormous intelligence, becoming one of the foremost scientists in Sweden by the time he was thirty years old. He was active in the Swedish parliament throughout his life, and served for a time as assessor of the Board of Mines for Sweden. In 1744, at the age of 56, Swedenborg experienced a spiritual crisis. He recounts that God appeared to him and called him to turn his attention toward writing and publishing spiritual works. From that time on he wrote and published books about heaven and hell (he describes regularly being allowed to see in to heaven and hell and speak with angels and spirits), about God’s Providence, about deeper meanings within the Bible, and about Christian theology. Despite the fact that he was allowed to speak with spirits, Swedenborg consistently stated that the only things he wrote and published were things revealed directly by the Lord alone while he read the Bible.
In the New Church, we do not worship Swedenborg. We do believe that the wisdom, clarity, and depth in his works attests to the truth of his claims, as do the copious references to Scripture. Swedenborg’s works do not replace the Bible. Instead, they provide a framework for reading the Bible that reveals hidden depths within the Word of God.