Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/New Jerusalem, Church of the

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Collier's New Encyclopedia
New Jerusalem, Church of the

NEW JERUSALEM, CHURCH OF THE, a religious sect founded in London, England, in 1783, on the teachings of Emmanuel Swedenborg (q. v.). The doctrines of this Church include a belief in the Trinity, God being the infinite divine essence, Christ the human manifestation of God, and the Holy Spirit the divine power seen in all the dispensations of God; a belief in heaven and hell, with an intermediate world of spirits where both good and bad go directly after death and are there prepared respectively for heaven and for hell; a belief in the Bible, as the repository of divine truth of which the Lord Himself is the author; though the different books were written by various inspired men. The polity of the Church is a modified episcopacy, but each congregation directs its own affairs. There are associations of congregations, and a general convention composed of delegates from the associations and a number of congregations which do not belong to any association. The Church of the New Jerusalem was founded in the United States in Baltimore, Md., in 1792, since which time it has spread to many States of the Union, but has the largest number of adherents in Massachusetts. At first there were two branches in the United States, connected with each other. This connection was severed in 1890. The larger body, known as the General Convention, in 1916, had 108 churches, 6,352 members, and church property valued at $1,711,090; the smaller, known as the General Church, had, in 1916, 15 churches, 733 members, and church property valued at $55,000. The latter considers the writings of Swedenborg as “divinely inspired.”