Friday, April 25, 2014

Heavenly Fire

Hello all! This is going to be a short post, consisting only of my comparison of five quotations and a brief subsequent analysis. 

As you read them, pay attention to the ways (both obvious and not-so-obvious) that they are similar:

"Hear it all ye ends of the earth--all ye sinners, repent! Repent! Turn to God, for your religion won't save you, and you will be damned. I do not say how long, but those who sin against the Holy Ghost cannot be forgiven in this world or in the world to come; they shall die the second death. As they concoct scenes of bloodshed in this world, so they shall rise to that resurrection which is as the lake of fire and brimstone. Some shall rise to the everlasting burning of God, and some shall rise to the damnation of their own filthiness--as exquisite as the lake of fire and brimstone." -Joseph Smith, the King Follett Discourse

"If I accept the lowest in me, I lower a seed into the ground of Hell. The seed is invisibly small, but the tree of my life grows from it and conjoins the Below with the Above. At both ends there is fire and blazing embers. The Above is fiery and the Below is fiery. Between the unbearable fires grows your life. You hang between these two poles. In an immeasurably frightening movement thr stretched hanging welters up and down." Carl Jung, the Red Book

"Divine love and the divine truth that comes derives from it are like the sun's fire and the light that comes from it in our world. The love is like the sun's fire, and the derivative truth is like the light from that sun. By reason of correspondence, fire means love and light means the truth that comes from it." -Emanuel Swedenborg, Heaven and Hell, 13

“The student said, “What is love’s official duty in the nothing?” The teacher said, “This is love’s official duty: that it incessantly penetrates into the something, and when it can find a place in the something that stands silent, love takes the something and rejoices in it with its fire-flaming love more than the sun in the world. Love’s official charge is incessantly to kindle a fire in the something and burn up the something and hyperinflame itself with it." The student said, “Oh dear teacher, how shall I understand this?” The teacher said, “If it is the case that love were to kindle a fire in you, you would feel how it burns away your I-ness and how it greatly rejoices in your fire, so that you would rather permit yourself to be killed than to reenter your something. Furthermore, love’s flame is so great that it will not leave you. Even if it costs you your temporal life, love goes into death with you in its fire. Even if you enter into hell, love would shatter hell for your sake” -Jakob Boehme, The Life Beyond the Senses

"Our God also is a consuming fire. And if we, by love, become transformed into Him and burn as He burns, His fire will be our everlasting joy. But if we refuse His love and remain in the coldness of sin and opposition to Him and to other men then will His fire (by our own choice rather than His) become our everlasting enemy, and Love, instead of being our joy, will become our torment and our destruction." -Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

As I came across these quotes one by one over the past year, I was startled by how similar the authors' symbolism was. In all five cases, these mystical thinkers symbolically associated God and Heaven with fire. What's more, three of the five explicitly identify this fire with love. Notwithstanding the beauty of this symbol, I can't help but wonder how all five of them came up with the same image. As far as I am aware (and please correct me if I'm wrong), the Bible never explicitly associates God with a flame, still less that flame with love. And apart from the Bible, I can't think of anything that all five of these thinkers would have read. 

I take this case as evidence that all five thinkers received some kind of revelation from God. And while Swedenborg would identify this revelation with his concept of "divine influx", and Jung would likely pin it down to joint influence from the "collective unconscious", I think we can all agree that they're talking about the same thing.


  1. There is the case of God as the burning bush, in the story of Moses. Also in the story of Moses, God appears as a pillar of fire.

  2. Ah! For some reason, I didn't even think of Exodus while writing this post!

    Oh well. Some coincidences may just be coincidences.