RE-FORMATION THESES 16&17

infantbaptism
infant baptism
Thesis #16 of 95 - Infants do not experience spiritual death until in Paul's language "the law comes" being a clear sense of right and wrong; for where there is no law sin is not imputed and the conscience is not defiled
Thesis #17 of 95 - Adam and Eve's offspring do not inherit their parents' guilt but through procreation inherit an intellectual vessel that has been "shaped in iniquity" acting as a malign influence on the soul

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

Rom5:13 – Until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law

1Cor15:56 – The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law

Eccles12:7 Then the dust will return to the earth that it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it

COMMENTS

I commented in thesis #12 on Augustine’s teaching that infants who died unbaptized must experience mild sensual pain through eternity. Thankfully this is one of his teachings the Catholic Church did not fully endorse, instead teaching the more palatable notion that such souls would be in a state of limbo – happy and at peace but not fit to experience heaven itself. But as the Church readily acknowledges such a concept had “no clear foundation in revelation”. Their 1992 catechism progressed to the position that “infants who die without baptism are entrusted by the Church to the mercy of God”. Still more recently, in 2007 the Church’s International Theological Commission concluded that in light of historical cultural and religious formation, we might “hope that infants who die without baptism may be saved and brought into eternal happiness even if there is not an explicit teaching on this question found in revelation.

These two related theses demonstrate that the whole matter should never have been an issue in the first place, causing as it has, unnecessary distress for many of the faithful through the centuries, not to mention incredulity from many outside the Catholic Church. The problem largely arose from the Western Church’s interpretation of original sin which deemed that not only Adam’s corrupted nature but his personal guilt was imputed to his offspring, resulting in spiritual death and alienation from the light of Christ from birth. As explained in recent posts/theses, not only was Adam’s sin not imputed but the corrupted nature that has been passed on to his offspring pertains to the procreated intellectual vessel (fleshly body and brain) that the soul inhabits, not the spiritual essence itself, i.e., that part of us that returns to God at physical death (Eccles12:7). As the same verse affirms, that spiritual essence was given to us by God – it is innately pure. But it is also pliable, i.e. liable to corruption – from the morally degraded fleshly intellectual components with which it is temporarily associated. Hence the need for gospel salvation for those God elects to relate to Himself in Christ and become conformed to His image whilst in mortal flesh (Rom8:29; Jn6:44). But in terms of infant baptism, substantive corruption of the spirit cannot occur before a person attains the age of reason. For in Paul’s language, sin is not imputed when there is no law, in this case an infant’s sense of right and wrong. As Paul also wrote concerning the progression of his own life: “There was once a time when I was alive without the law, then the commandment came, sin came to life and so I died” (Rom7:9).

Once these principles are grasped, infants dying unbaptized cease to be an issue. And the fact that the temporary body/brain rather than the eternal soul/spirit is the source of mankind’s problem with sin (covered in the previous thesis) is a truth that has broader and yet more favourable implications for human destiny that we shall continue to unravel.

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RE-FORMATION THESIS #15

The sting of death is sin
Thesis #15 of 95: Death results from sin but Paul indicates sin is itself a result of death arising from the corrupt intellectual vessel in which the human soul is planted

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

Ps51:5 – Behold, I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

1Cor15:54-56 – When this corruptible puts on the incorruptible and this mortal puts on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law

Rom8:23 – Even we who have the first fruits of the Spirit groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, being THE REDEMPTION OF OUR BODY!!!

COMMENTS

One needs to observe carefully what the apostle writes concerning spiritual death: “The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law”. The converse idea, namely that the sting of sin is death is better understood and Paul quotes as much from Hosea. But once again the apostle intends exactly what he writes. It confirms among other things that when Paul speaks of death it is not a reference to a state of damnation for in this case sin results from death, not leads to it. Something being spiritually dead has resulted in sin, that something being the mortal body and brain. In responding to the body’s natural inclinations, the soul rebels against the divine light of conscience and so disrupts the relationship with the Source of its spiritual life. For what had been conceived in sin (Ps51:5) has “died” leading in turn to sin that destroys Life once the “law” (a sense of right and wrong) is perceived and inevitably breached (Rom7:9).

Hence the need for heavenly grace by which one can be spiritually purified, receiving ongoing cleansing of the soul so that those predestined to it may serve God whilst in mortal flesh. The apostle had further asserted that “death will be swallowed up in victory”, yet even celestial grace does not fully resolve the problem of mortal embodiment. God intends to save our soul and body, but He does not do so simultaneously. So even the Christian is tempted to sin whilst in mortal flesh which is why it is his body that is to be offered as a living sacrificeso that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk after the flesh but after the spirit” (Rom8:4). For it is the spirit that having been supplied by God loves His law and wishes to serve righteousness. Not until “this corruptible” (body) has been transformed at resurrection will death (physical and spiritual) finally be swallowed up in victory when the body itself is redeemed (Rom8:23). [Note – to Paul, salvation’s apotheosis is not the soul going to heaven but bodily resurrection]. The soul’s vessel in its current degenerative state is the cause of the human problem being the outworking of original sin; the final solution will not be for the soul to lose a body altogether and be eternally at rest in the spiritual realm (a spurious dualism), but to be re-clothed in a new body which is from heaven (2Cor5:2) and to be united to the Man who is God and actively participate within His realm; that will be joy unspeakable and full of glory.

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RE-FORMATION THESIS #14

conscience – witness to God’s law written on the heart
Thesis #14 of 95: Spiritual death arises as soon as the conscience is defiled, for that faculty has a spiritual dimension

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

Rom2:14-15 (New Jerusalem Bible) When Gentiles, not having the Law, still through their own innate sense behave as the Law commands, even though they have no Law, they are a law for themselves. They can demonstrate the effect of the law engraved on their hearts, to which their own conscience bears witness; since they are aware of various considerations, some of which accuse them, while others provide them with a defence

Rom13:8-10 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the Law. For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law.

Heb9:14 How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

COMMENTS

The three references above cover the essential meaning of this thesis. Paul’s teaching pertains to humanity as a whole and to natural law. The New Jerusalem Bible translation of Rom2 is amongst the more accurate. In terms of Protestant bibles, NASB for example is fine, whereas KJV/NJKV are not so – they amongst others imply Paul is being condemnatory towards the Gentles’ response to conscience whereas it is quite the contrary – they “behave as the Law demands”. Indeed, with the exception of the children of the devil featured in earlier theses, the rest of humanity possess a working conscience and often act upon it. Quoting Paul “through their own innate sense (Gentiles) behave as the Law commands, even though they have no Law, they are a law for themselves”. Anyone who shows compassion to another does just that – fulfilling the spirit of the Law (Rom13:8-10; Mt25:40; 1Jn4:7).

Note, the previous paragraph already covers two spiritual/soteriological categories – those who defer to the faculty of the human spirit we know of as conscience, and those who do not. That correlates with those for whom truth, compassion and integrity matter (albeit they do not consistently practice it) and those who are narcissistic psychopaths. This in turn correlates with those who retain something of God’s image and those who have entirely lost it (1Jn3:8-10). Secular society may apply different language, but they generally recognize such a distinction. Regrettably many Christians are less inclined to, thanks to the binary theology referred to in the previous thesis‘ ditty. According to their understanding (and mine in the past), whilst they may acknowledge degrees of punishment, all who do not respond to the gospel (as the various denominations interpret it) are deemed to be bound for perdition.

Repudiating such a notion is central to this work; for it is an offence to God’s nature and providential care, being a misrepresentation of humanity’s standing before God. Nevertheless, what is true about the above two categories of people is that neither is saved in the gospel sense. But what is such salvation from and what is it for? The “from” was covered in the last few theses: it is to be delivered from what Paul refers to as the body of this death. For whilst through the faculty of conscience working within their spirit, the first category may “joyfully agree with the law of God in the inmost being, they are aware of a different law (principle) in the bodily senses waging war against the law of the mind, making them a prisoner of the law of sin within the bodily members” (Rom7:23-24). The second category on the other hand knows nothing of such inner moral turmoil, nor any guilt or shame for their sin. Their whole being is united in evil – they are quite different from the rest, for they are not “of God” (1Jn3:10).

But thanks be to God, there is a third category who are being saved. And what are they being saved for? The Hebrews text I have quoted refers: “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Such are to be the servants of God on earth – they need to know Him, love Him and serve Him now whilst in mortal flesh, and be fashioned for still nobler service in the future, i.e., immediately Christ returns in glory. For such honourable service they need to be cleansed in Christ’s blood. Peter describes them as “the elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father through a hallowing of the spirit leading to obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus (1Pet1:2 – to be clarified in later theses). As Hebrews affirms, that is so that their consciences may be cleansed from the works that result in death (as previously defined). Again, this is indicative of the spiritual nature and origin of the faculty of conscience – being as Paul stated, the witness to the Law of God written on the heart. A more substantial post on the role of the conscience is HERE.

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95 THESES FOR THE RE-FORMATION #13

The forbidden fruit
Thesis #13 of 95: Our first parents "died" immediately they ate the forbidden fruit

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die (Gen2:17)

For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own free will, but because of Him who subjected it, in the certain hope that creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God (Rom8:20-21).

In the days of the voice of the seventh messenger, when he starts sounding off, then the mystery of God will be completed, as has been announced to His servants the prophets (Rev10:7).

COMMENTS

Humanly speaking, the Little Book of Providence and these theses related to it arose from applying a highly literal (some might say pedantic) approach to scriptural interpretation. Every word, including how it is parsed in its original language has been taken into consideration. Usually, such a literal approach results in seeming contradictions with other passages, indeed many passages of the bible. But that is not the case with The Little Book; interpreted in the way that I have been shown the bible should be results in total coherence, at least to the author’s satisfaction.

So here is an example: “In the day you eat from it you shall surely die” (Gen2:17). Eating the forbidden fruit did not result in our first parents merely becoming mortal and liable for punishment, they died on the day the fruit was eaten [Heb: אֲכָלְךָ֥ בְּי֛וֹם]. What they experienced that very day is what Paul was referring to in my earlier thesis with regard to his reference to individuals by nature being “dead” in trespasses and sins – a defiled conscience resulting in a disruption in their relationship with their Creator.

For as we know, Adam went on to live for centuries, and as the earliest Church fathers rightly testify, he was neither cursed nor damned. The first man to experience that fate was Adam’s firstborn son Cain (Gen4:11). Through his parents’ folly and the punishment they had received, Cain’s soul like everyone else’s must inhabit a corrupted intellectual vessel (body and brain) with instincts alien and opposed to God’s law (Rom7:23-24). But in Cain’s case  he was also dead in spirit, i.e., twice dead (Jude1:12). Body, soul and mind were united in evil, hateful towards God and humanity. He had succumbed to the Evil One; become a child of the devil and the archetype of a theologically eluded category of humanity. Counterintuitively, this is great news for all of us, as is the related Rom9 passage considered in thesis#10. If you’re not yet acquainted with The Little Book of Providence, that may well appear absurd. So it’s time for a ditty:

 “A snake and trees,

Aug’s twos for threes,

Disaster now at last shall please

Ref: Rom8:20; Rev10:7 quoted above
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THESES FOR THE RE-FORMATION #12

original sin
Thesis #12 of 95: Original sin is a reality and the "death" described in the previous thesis is its result

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

Rom5:14 – Death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the violation committed by Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

Rom7:23-24 –  I see a different law in the parts of my body waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin, the law which is in my body’s parts. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God, it is through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Rom8:23 –  We who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body!

COMMENTS

By “original sin” I mean that the effect of Adam’s sin has been passed on to his offspring (i.e. all humanity) through procreation, that effect being “death” as described in the previous thesis/post. This is assuredly not “original sin” as Augustine defined it in which, partly through a mistranslation of biblical Greek, he believed that all humanity was deemed to have sinned in Adam and that his guilt had been imputed to all. Augustine’s misreading of Paul is no longer such a matter of controversy and is perhaps most clearly contradicted in Paul’s statement that “death reigned from Adam to Moses even over those who had not sinned in the manner of Adam.” (Rom5:14). The father of Western theology’s error here, as with so many of his distinctives, disfigures divine providence and depicts human nature as innately abhorrent . It resulted in his assertion that God’s intention for those made in His image was that “many more are to be left under punishment than are delivered from it, in order that it may thus be shown what was due to all” (De Civitates Dei XXI chap. 12). Even little children who died unbaptized must endure “mild sensual pain” for all eternity (New Advent Catholic Encyclopaedia -“Unbaptized infants – teaching of Augustine”).

Such misrepresentations of divine providence and the underlying goodness of the human spirit will have delighted Satan’s heart, especially as it has impacted upon the presentation of the gospel to this day. The reality is so very different: God IS love and He created the universe and especially those creatures made in His image so that He might lavish His love upon them; ultimately to unite them to Himself starting with those He chooses to become associated with His Son whilst still in mortal flesh.

Theological resolution occurs when the source of mankind’s problem with sin has been rightly ascertained. It is not the God-given soul/spirit but the procreated intellectual vessel (body and brain) that temporarily houses it, referred to by Paul and Peter as our tent or vessel (2Cor5:1-4; 2Pet1:13-14). The outworking of original sin is in fact what Paul is depicting in Romans7, as this quote from The Little Book of Providence explains:


As a result of original sin, the divinely created human spirit finds itself within a morally sickly environment. Expressed another way the soul/spirit is required to operate through an impure medium – the procreated body of death. Physiologically the physical and spiritual entities (body and soul/spirit) are in union, yet they have opposing moral impulses.

Paul exemplifies this in Romans chapter seven: the material (fleshly) and spiritual components of man have opposing moral inclinations as a result of which the human mind becomes a battleground, receiving conflicting advice or motivations from each: the selfish creaturely inclinations derived from the bodily members processed through the brain on the one hand; the more idealistic sometimes altruistic impulses arising from the conscience that governs the God-planted spirit on the other. It is not that the immaterial part of man (the soul and spirit) is in any Platonic sense generically superior or purer than the material housing or “vessel” (the body) because the former happens to be immaterial. The dualism in the form of moral antagonism arises from the immediate source of the component parts; the spiritual components are pure not because they are immaterial but because they are from God; the body is impure not because it is material but because it originates from the loins of fallen Adam and carries the contagion of sin. Paul explains how precisely that affects human morality and how for Christians the matter is partially remedied by gospel salvation, yet not wholly so for anybody until resurrection. Such anthropological duality was recognized by the very early Christian writers. In the epistle to Diognetus (c. AD130), Mathetes, the anonymous disciple likens the soul’s relationship to the body to that of the Church to the world: the latter (equating to the flesh) wars against the former (the soul) and hates it because it is perceived to restrict its worldly enjoyment, whereas the Church (the soul) loves the body (the world) and seeks to preserve and sanctify it. Likewise, Cyprian (A.D.200-258) recognized the body to be of the earth and the human’s spirit to be from heaven and that through the Fall they have opposing natures. He affirms that Paul’s references to the spirit being opposed to the flesh are not (as many translations infer) referring to the Holy Spirit but the human’s spirit; similarly, the fruits of the spirit. 

The consequence of original sin is that the physical component’s latent instincts as they are processed within the brain are intrinsically corrupting, tending to concupiscence (disordered desire), and will inevitably gain the upper hand over the divinely planted spirit unless aided by divine grace. The inner struggle is not between human nature in its entirety and the Holy Spirit as most have come to understand Paul in Romans 7, for it applies equally to those who do not possess the Spirit. Rather it is a conflict between the inclination of the bodily members (Paul and Peter’s temporary vessel or tent) and the influence of the human’s spirit; the one governed by concupiscence, the other by conscience; the one having been created after God’s own nature, the other created originally from God’s good earth but degenerated through the Fall and procreated therefrom. “O wretched man that I am; who can deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God it is through Jesus Christ our Lord”. Truly, this is the essence of Christian salvation, for in the believer that battle is aided and can be turned into victory by becoming one spirit with Christ.

Excerpt from The Little Book of Providence – chapter two
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THESES FOR THE RE-FORMATION #11

“Dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph2)
Thesis#11 of 95: When Paul speaks of non-Christians being "dead" he is not referring to damnation but to the disruption of the incarnate soul's communion with the Source of its spiritual life

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

Eph2:1-2: “And you were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you previously walked according to the pattern of this world”

Rom7:24: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? [Greek: ἐκ τοῦ σώματος τοῦ θανάτου τούτου]

Col3:2-5 Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth.For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.Therefore, treat the parts of your earthly body as dead to sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which is effectively idolatry

Jn6:53: “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves

COMMENTS

Regarding what Paul actually means by death in the context of the gospel, in Romans 7 he describes the temporary vessel our souls inhabit as “the body of this death”. Regrettably, “Somatos tou thanatou toutou” is often inadequately translated, for example in the New Jerusalem Bible utilized by Catholics where it is “the body doomed to death”. That is not what the Greek relays and entirely misses the point. The apostle is not referring to the human body’s fate but its current condition that he had outlined in the previous verses. Hence his reference to the body of this death, as the KJV, NASB and Greek literal translation among others rightly relay “τοῦ σώματος τοῦ θανάτου τούτου” . The effect of that condition is summarized in his earlier statement: “Whilst I joyfully agree with the law of God in the inner man, I am aware of a different law in my bodily members waging war against the law of my mind, making me a prisoner of the law of sin, the law which is in my bodily members” (vv22-24). For Paul is affirming that it is the degenerative procreated intellectual vessel that leads the divinely planted soul into death (i.e. disruption in divine communion). Such deprivation is what the apostle means by “this death”. It is not damnation or total depravity, which would pertain to the soul or whole person. The mortal body is indeed “doomed to die”; an obvious fact but not the point Paul was making; for that issue can and will be resolved at resurrection. The body of this death on the other hand requires a more immediate remedy for those chosen to relate to God whilst still in it – so that their soul may be fashioned for a still greater destiny.

That remedy is participation with Christ – but note from the Col3 reference Paul states “For you (Christians) have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God”. The Christian is (or should be) “dead” in terms of his worldly allegiances and aspirations, just as he was previously dead to things pertaining to the Spirit, the gospel and the world to come. That is the sense in which Paul utilizes the term “death” (and Jesus “life” – Jn6:53) in the context of the gospel, and the next few theses will elaborate further.

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THESES FOR THE RE-FORMATION #10

Thesis #10 of 95 - Children of the devil are alluded to by Paul in Romans 9 as vessels of wrath created and prepared by God for destruction. They were not planted by the Father, neither retain His seed, so no longer bear a reflection of His moral image. In that sense they cease to be fully human but exist to fulfil God’s purposes set out in theses 92 and 93 (regarding the providential role of evil and suffering)

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

  1.  Rom9:22 – What if God, willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His authority known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath designed for destruction?
  2. Mt15:13 – Jesus answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted”
  3.  1Jn3:9 – No one who is born of God (continually practices) sin, because his seed REMAINS in him; and he cannot continually practice sin, because he is born of God

COMMENTS

In Rom9 Paul refers to vessels of wrath and vessels of God’s mercy, making clear the latter refers to elect Jews and Christians (v24). It is therefore assumed there are two groups whereas in fact there are three. The third are the bulk of humanity who are neither destined to be co-inheritors with Christ, nor those Paul defines as having been fashioned/designed/adjusted (Greek: καταρτίζω) for ultimate destruction. Like their archetype Cain, these “vessels of wrath” (σκεύη ὀργῆς) were souls created by God (the Potter) but not planted by Him (Mt15:13). They were destined for satanic use to fulfil God’s wondrous purposes, such as having His own Son betrayed and executed for the salvation of mankind and the ultimate defeat of His archenemy. This is typified in the example Paul himself provides in Romans9 regarding the exaltation, hardening of heart and final humiliation of the Egyptian Pharaoh to display JHWE’s power to save and deliver His people from their oppressors.

It would surely be an affront, both to divine providence and humanity as a whole if Paul were identifying such hateful, accursed vessels with the souls of everyone who would fail to respond to the gospel. For the Potter analogy is indicating that these people were specifically fashioned (καταρτίζω)  so they would act in a God-grieving way resulting in their eternal ruin. Yet such a dire providential perspective is unavoidable applying the Augustinian derived binary soteriology that these theses are vehemently repudiating. The Potter illustration becomes still more unpalatable once Paul, Jesus and John are taken at their word regarding election, namely that those who are chosen for Christ are appointed to gospel salvation by unmerited grace and that no one of their own resources is able to attain to it. Again, The Little Book’s tripartite soteriology resolves the matter entirely.

Even then, it will still be problematical for many that a God who the bible defines as love personified would create such hateful beings for any purpose. But there is a hint to the solution in the Romans 9 passage itself: “He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon the objects of mercy, which He is ready-preparing for glory (v24). But that’s only a part of the story. The writer to the Hebrews elucidates further when to the astonishment of many he writes: “For it was fitting for (Christ) for whom are all things, and through whom are all things in bringing many sons to glory to perfect the Originator of their salvation THROUGH SUFFERING” (Heb2:10). This pertains to the ultimate, long sustained mystery of divine providence and God’s extraordinary Plan for humanity (Rev10:7).  More light is shed on this mystery in the final (seventh) chapter of The Little Book of Providence.   

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THESES FOR THE RE-FORMATION #9

Thesis#9 of 95. Children of the devil are distinguishable by their lack of conscience and their inability to empathise or show compassion to others. They also have a total disregard for the truth.

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his agents (Greek: ἀγγέλοις); for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they also will answer Him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’  Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’  And these will go away into age-enduring punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.” (Mt25:41-46)

 “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (Jn8:44)

By this the children of God and the children of the devil may be identified: anyone who does not live uprightly (ποιῶν δικαιοσύνην) is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother” (1Jn3:10)  

COMMENTS

My thesis #9 is really another way of expressing 1Jn3:10 in combination with the teaching of Jesus regarding lies and the truth. In the providential context, it is as much concerned with who the children of the devil are not as with who they are. Scripture is not referring to the unsaved or non-Christians. That is a notion derived from the Augustinian dualism on which Western theology has so long relied. In the definitive passage on final judgement (Mt25) quoted above, religion or religious practice is not the issue (it is not even mentioned). Rather, it is compassionate love or the lack of it that determines who are “sheep” or “goats” together with their respective post-mortem fate.

St John concurs – those who fail to love are “not of God”. What? – those who fail to love perfectly? No, we all fall into that category – Christian or otherwise. It is not a question of degrees: certain people cannot love at all in the agape sense. For “love is from God and everyone who loves is a child of God and knows God; whoever fails to love does not know God because God is love” (1Jn4:7-8). Likewise, such people never do what is right – they no longer possess any inclination , for the light of conscience has been extinguished. Of course, such may give a fortune to charity or the like, but it will never be out of compassion, duty or reparation. It will only be to impress others and enhance their own reputation so they might attain their heart’s desire.

Jesus pointed out that such people are also devoid of truth (Jn8:44). They are compulsive liars, being the sons and daughters of their spiritual father, the Father of Lies. So (as ever), there are three categories in this regard at the human level, and three-in-one at the divine.

  1. children of the devil, who have no interest whatsoever in telling the truth – they will say whatever suits their narcissistic purposes
  2. man by nature, who has an inclination to lie but will never feel entirely comfortable about it. That is in view of a functioning conscience (a faculty of the spirit – a prompting from “the inner man” – cf. Rom7:23)
  3. the elect of God who avoid lying like the plague – even an exaggeration is abhorrent to them (for they are governed by the Spirit of Christ)
  4. Father, Son and Holy Spirit – who are incapable of lying. That is the best news the universe has to offer, in view of the promises God has made to those who love Him.

More shall be said regarding the children of the devil in the next thesis, a misrepresentation of which has allowed the mystery of God’s munificent providence to be sustained to this day (Rev10:7).

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THESES FOR THE RE-FORMATION #8

Thesis #8 of 95. “Those who go in the way of Cain are described in the New Testament as children of the devil”
BIBLICAL REFERENCES

Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah (Jude11)

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do (Jn8:44a)

COMMENTS

It’s that man again! In theological terms, Cain is as significant as Adam and Abraham, but this has been eluded just as the covenant in which he was a participant was eluded (thesis #2). The Little Book of Providence elucidates:

Those who go in the way of Cain are in effect an inverted image of that other vocational group called out from the world to go in the way of Christ. Like Christians, the devil’s children are also no longer their own; they are in the ownership and service of another[1]; they too are spiritually directed and empowered by the effectual working of their lord[2]; they too are no longer one of the lost: the “sheep without a shepherd” upon whom Christ will have compassion[3]. These are not lost for they have found their herdsman or rather he has found them. He had been prowling around seeking whom he may devour[4]; he had crouched at the portal of their souls desiring to possess them. It looked promising, and so he had sifted them as wheat to see if there be any underlying faith within them[5]. Such an analysis will appear obscure and arcane to many: but it is scripturally based and pertains to the mystery of evil; by far the most intriguing aspect of divine providence required to unlock the Mystery of God.  


[1] 1Jn3:12

[2] Eph2:2

[3] Mt9:36

[4] 1Pet5:8

[5] Lk22:31-32

[Excerpt from The Little Book of Providence chapter six]
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THESES FOR THE RE-FORMATION #7

The mystery of evil

Re: the mystery of evil – “the twice dead” (Jude12)

Thesis #7 of 95: Adam is mankind's federal head and the type of those Paul describes as "dead" (in trespasses and sins) due to the malign influence of the procreated vessel inhabited by the soul whose moral instincts oppose that of the God-given spirit. Cain is effectively the type of the twice dead in whom both flesh and spirit have died to God so as to be  united in evil

BIBLICAL TEXT
"These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about[a] by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots" (Jude1:12)

COMMENTS
A key motif running through The Little Book of Providence and therefore apparent within these 95 theses is affirming  trichotomy against duality (3 not 2). That starts with the Godhead as most Christians would agree, but equally applies to soteriology/spirituality (see below),  anthropology (body, soul and spirit) and  the ongoing witness to God's saving work on earth (Spirit, water and blood  - 1Jn5:8). In Romans7, Paul speaks of an inner tension between the moral impulses of the flesh ("the body of this death") and the spirit or inner man. Only those who come to know Christ as Saviour, being empowered by the Spirit are able to overcome this so as to experience spiritual Life even whilst in mortal flesh (Rom7:25; Jn6:53). 

However (and as ever), there is a third category: the twice dead. Such, like Cain, have given in to evil and the Evil One. Their flesh  like everyone else’s is dead (in the Pauline sense) but their spirit (encompassing conscience) is also dead or non-functional such that the material and spiritual components of the person are no longer in tension. Dead (flesh) versus dead (spirit) results in a chilling serenity in which the soul is unhindered in its response to the instincts of the flesh. Such a soul  may satisfy its worldly, carnal appetite by any means. Unlike all who are to be liberated as the children of God (Rom8:19-23), these desolate ones have no Pauline “inner struggle” for what is dead cannot struggle. They therefore may be cool, calm and at peace with themselves as they pursue evil. This is death of the soul; this is total depravity, and these are the children of hell  (Mt23:15). They are the wicked and godless who must be despatched at the renaissance, for they were not planted by God but by His enemy (Mt13:25 & 15:13). This pertains to the mystery of providential evil, considered more fully in chapters six and seven of The Little Book.

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A book exploring the mystery of divine providence

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