Faith and Charity

"Seeing is believing." This old adage applies particularly to a spiritual faith, since true faith lives in the understanding where the mind can in freedom reflect on the truths that constitute it. It is a common saying in the churches that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). But evidence, at least, is seen, and must be seen to be believed.

So the New Church teaches that a genuine faith comes from reading and reflecting on God's Word so that the truth of it can be understood, acknowledged and affirmed. You should not have to check your brain at the door when you enter a church.

As for charity, this is not just good works, like giving to hospitals or the poor, it is also - and much more importantly - the goodwill that inspires such actions. In fact it is the affection for goodness itself, and it works by promoting what is good in people, not by giving them whatever they want. Charity lives in the will and so it is the complement to the faith that lives in the understanding. Both faith and charity are essentials of spiritual life and both are necessary for salvation, lest we think to enter heaven with only half a mind!

For further reading on this, including a full discussion of the nature of the will and understading as receptacles of love and faith, see Swedenborg's The New Jerusalem.