MIND OF THE SPIRIT

RE-FORMATION THESIS #33

mindbrain

Thesis #33 of 95 - The guiding principle or engrained law within the human's spirit is the conscience

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

Rom2:15 – (Gentiles) show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts either accusing or defending (their actions)

Rom7:23 – But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members

Jn1:9 – (Christ) was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world (NKJV/KJV)

COMMENTS

Like Paul in Rom7 (vv15-25), this thesis is contrasting the law of the human spirit with what the apostle refers to as the “law of the bodily members”. Clearly, the latter law must pertain to the brain, for the bodily members in themselves cannot possess moral law. With that in mind, the language in Rom7:23 quoted above is particularly interesting. For Paul writes that the law in his body “wages war against the law of my mind”. What “mind” can he be referring to? It cannot be the brain – that gives rise to “the law of the bodily members” with which his mind is at enmity. What I mean is, a man’s eyes see a beautiful woman – he lusts after her. His eyes see desirable, luxurious objects – he craves them and envies those who possess them. But of course, it’s not really the eyes – it’s the brain that processes the images they capture.

This will appear to be stating the obvious, but bear with me, the implications have significance to what recent posts have been covering: the three rather than two components of man and the three rather than two soteriological categories of the soul. For answering my own question, it is the mind of the human spirit which Paul is saying is at war with the mind that controls the body. The “law” (or motivating principle) that governs the body is the brain; the “law” governing the spirit is the conscience. And it is God’s Law (Rom2:15 above), to which even those who do not know the Creator in a religious sense nevertheless defer. Their consciences either approve or accuse them with respect to a particular action (Rom2:15b). And as the previous verse affirms, they often do by nature the things contained in God’s Law. They often suppress the urge to lust after another woman and remain faithful to their wives; they may observe luxuries they do not possess but remain content and thankful for what they have. As a result, they are at peace with themselves. However, when they knowingly transgress, they develop “a guilty conscience”. However, as considered in the previous post, there is a category of person who does not possess such a guiding principle, for their spirit is dead and their conscience fails to function. For like Cain they are not “of God” (1Jn3:12; cf. Rev10:7). But as Paul affirms, especially in Rom2 and Rom7, that is not man by nature, Christian or otherwise. Hence there are three soteriological categories with distinct moral characteristics and divergent eternal destinies.

The mind of the spirit

Subsequent posts/theses will focus on the conscience itself – what I am principally drawing attention to in this post concerns the two minds within man that Paul alludes to in Romans7. But so in effect does Jesus in His teaching on the subject. The self-mutilation passages recorded in Matthew5:28-30 and Mark9:43-48 are referring to the need to control the bodily members so that the soul or “heart” is not polluted. It is clearly allegorical for it is obvious that cutting off an arm does not make someone a better person: they will still find a way to steal if that is their inclination. Jesus is highlighting the need for a disciple to keep his bodily members under tight control otherwise the whole person (soul) will be damaged and require post-mortem purification (i.e., salting – earlier post). However, the key point I am making regarding Jesus’ teaching pertains to His use of reflexive pronouns: “If your eye offends you pluck it out; if your arm ensnares you hack it off” etc. As with the apostle’s teaching, this pertains to the disparate moral dispositions of spirit/heart and body. The “you” that is offended, ensnared or led into sin is the spirit/soul/heart, being that which is from God and survives physical death; the offenders or ensnarers are your bodily members driven by the physical senses processed through the brain pertaining to the temporary earthly tent or vessel.

Again, it may appear inanely obvious to mention it, but it is something that eluded my thinking prior to the revelations I received. That is that the brain, being part of the mortal body is buried or incinerated at physical death – yet that part of us that continues into eternity clearly has a mind of its own, even before any resurrection. For it is the body including the brain that Paul and Peter refer to as our vessel or tent. And what usually is more important in everyday life – the vessel or what it contains? In anthropological terms, the precious content of the earthly vessel is the eternal soul and spirit. In terms of our time on the current earth, what differentiates the Christian from everyone else is that the believer has been provided with the spiritual resources to “possess his own vessel in sanctity and honour” (1Thes4:4). And by cooperating with divine grace the Christian is enabled to “put to death the deeds of the body” (Rom8:13). That is so as to Live, love and serve the living God even whilst in mortal flesh – and to have souls ready prepared for something still more unspeakably glorious in the ages to come (Rev3:21).

Author’s FACEBOOK page HERE

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

RE-FORMATION THESES #29-32

fruits of the spirit

THE THESES

Thesis #29 of 95 – The human’s spirit (not to be confused with the human spirit) is often mistaken for the Holy Spirit when interpreting the Pauline epistles

Thesis #30 of 95 – The fruits of the spirit pertain to man’s spirit, for those currently devoid of the Holy Spirit also produce good fruit

Thesis #31 of 95 – The inner conflict described by Paul in Romans 7 arises from conflicting motivations derived from the processing of the brain on the one hand and the conscience-directed spirit of the “inner man” on the other

Thesis #32 of 95 – Such an inner conflict is not restricted to the Christian, but to everyone with a functioning conscience

              

BIBLE REFERENCES

                                                                                                                         

Rom8:6 For the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Spirit (sic) is life and peace

Gal5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit (sic) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law

Rom7:23 But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members

COMMENTS

The above related theses again pertain to a fundamental flaw in the Augustinian derived biblical theology the Western Church has relied upon for the last 1600 years or so. It is one of his several “twos-for-threes” for those familiar with my ditty. In this case, contrary to the teaching of Paul and the writer to the Hebrews, he insisted man consisted of body and soul alone rather than body, soul and spirit (cf. 1Thes5:23; Gal6:18; Rom8:16; Heb4:12). He also came to reject soul creationism – i.e., that the spiritual part of man (that which returns to God after physical death) is directly planted by God into the embryo (what Paul and Peter sometime refer to as our tent or vessel). For Augustine well knew its implications, whereas many creationists, including within his own Church have either failed to think it through or are content “to hold in tension” the notion that God would condemn a person for the soul/spirit He has just provided to them; indeed, that He would plant what was morally deficient within them in the first place.

The resulting denigration of both divine and human nature is resolved when what has been taken as read – that a human soul is either “saved” or “damned” is demonstrated from scripture to be a fallacy. Indeed, few souls proportionately speaking are in either category [note#1] in the context of what the bible actually means by salvation. Whilst those (starting with Cain) who are reprobate/cursed/damned/children of the devil are an eluded sub-category that has been lumped together with “the unsaved”. In terms of the Church’s evangelical mission such a misclassification has not essentially mattered (which is why God has permitted it for so long – cf. Rev10:9. For the Church must preach the Good News of Jesus as Lord and Saviour, practice justice and offer compassion to all in the world, regardless of how deserving or otherwise the recipients may be.

But it does matter in terms of human perspectives on God’s providential care, mercy and justice – whether such is munificent or draconian. And it does matter in terms of our understanding of human nature and how we perceive our fellow man. Is it sinful in its entirety as Augustine and the Protestant Reformers assert? Is it liable to corruption yet capable of maintaining its integrity through a self-discipline verging on ascetism – as Pelagius allegedly taught?  Or is human nature basically sound – at worst neutral and capable of living a life that is pleasing to God without any enabling grace on His part?

With, I am clear, the Apostle Paul I would reply “none of the above”. Fallen human beings are indeed sinful by nature in view of the flesh. “The flesh” can be taken absolutely literally – from a creationist perspective it is the procreated material part of us: the body and brain. “Flesh” is not referring to our “sinful nature” as some bible translation infer (e.g. NIV in Rom7). For our nature is sinful, but not (normally) in its entirety: “For I know that no good whatsoever dwells within me, that is, IN MY FLESH” (Rom7:18a). And how does he complete the statement? “For the willing (to do good) is present in me, but the capacity to do the good is not (18b). In other words, human nature is dualistic. Why? Because its component parts although ultimately derived from God arrive in in the embryo from two different immediate sources: God plants the spirit whilst the corrupted intellectual vessel (body and brain) is procreated via the wondrous but entirely material processes of human childbirth.

Hence the psalmist’s lament: “Behold, I was shaped in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps51:5). But she did not provide his eternal soul – that had been God’s domain. What has been materially procreated results in what Paul describes as “the body of this death” (Rom7:24YLT). “This death” for he is referring to what he had been describing in that passage – the willingness to do good and adhere to the spirit of God’s law on the one hand; the inability consistently to practice it in view of “the law in the bodily members” on the other. The resulting transgression results in a defilement of the conscience leading to “death”, being a disruption in the access to the One who is the source of “life” – that abundance of spiritual Life Jesus came to give (Jn10:10 cf. Rom8:13). And through the Saviour’s death He provided what was needed for those His Father has chosen for His Son (Jn6:44): even “the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God to cleanse your conscience from dead works so as to serve the living God(Heb9:14).

Applying the above to our theses, in terms #29 (interpreting “spirit” as “Spirit”) I have already cited a verse in which the human spirit is understood by most bible translators to be the Holy Spirit. That is Rom8:13 and there are two others quoted above under “Bible References”.  The one pertaining to the fruit of the spirit (thesis #30) is particularly important and is one I find especially irksome – for two reasons. Firstly, it is both observable and biblical that those who are not Christian are well able to produce good fruit. For acts of compassion, courage, bravery, endurance and the like are good fruit. To imply even indirectly that man by nature is incapable of such is abhorrent. I know from personal experience that such teaching can poison the soul – in my case regarding my attitude and behaviour in my Calvinist days towards my loving, caring but non-Christian parents.

Secondly, even in the case of the Christian, it is not the Spirit’s good fruit, it is the believer’s – the efflux of his or her own human spirit. Clearly, God the Holy Spirit’s fruit would be good, perfect in fact. Man’s rarely is – but it is his own and can be a blessing to others. In which case God delights in it and shall reward it as if it were performed to succour Christ Himself (Mt25:37-40). [The Mt25 “sheep” were actually justified by “faith” which I have explained elsewhere]. What Paul is contrasting in Gal5 is the fruit of the human spirit contrasted with that of the flesh (thesis #31). As for Jesus’ own teaching, “let your light should shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Mt5:16). Glorify the Father indeed, for though you or I may perform good works, it is a result of the grace given us to do it. But we, of ourselves and in accordance with our own will, perform the good. The Greek text does not lend itself to be interpreted as alluding to the Holy Spirit’s enabling as many understand it, it is either the human spirit or Holy Spirit’s produce that is being referred to. Likewise, when Jesus speaks of “trees” producing good or bad fruit, it is clearly people he is referring to, not God or the power of God within them (e.g., Mt7:17-19).

A cause for boasting? By no means. “What do you possess that you have not already received? And if you receive it, why would you boast as if you had not received it? (1Cor4:7). What has been received? The light of Christ in the spirit God gives to all at birth and that returns to Him at physical death (Eccles12:7; Jn1:9KJV). For unlike lesser creatures, “God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul” (Gen2:7). But the main point being made here is that grace (in this context being the benevolent enabling of God) is not restricted to the Christian but is present in measure in all who have a functioning spirit (thesis#32). However, not all do possess a functioning spirit or a working conscience (theses#6-10), hence the three soteriological categories being outlined. In terms of category threes in the context of Rom7, there can be no inner tension for the twice dead (Jude1:12), merely a scary serenity – spirit and flesh have become united in evil. For the flesh like everyone by nature is “dead in trespasses and sins” whilst the spirit and its faculty of conscience has been rendered unsensitive (Greek: κεκαυστηριασμένων -1Tim4:2). The seed of their humanity no longer remains (1Jn3:9); God’s image has been obliterated. And though they may not believe in such a being, they have, like Cain, joined the devil’s party (1Jn3:12). This scripturally subliminal mystery of evil actually works to humanity’s advantage (for our Sovereign God has superintended it). Why that is the case would take considerably more explaining. The Little Book of Providence and some later theses will expand on the matter, but here’s a pointer from Scripture: Heb2:10.

NOTES

Note#1 – In terms of the bulk of humanity being neither elect nor cursed, this has effectively been the case since the Flood. One of the sixteen postdiluvian ancestral lines was cursed, stemming from the lastborn son (Canaan) of Ham who had exposed his father’s nakedness; one was the elect patriarchal line stemming from the firstborn son of Noah’s firstborn son leading down  through a line of firstborns to Abraham; whilst the remaining fourteen of the sixteen postdiluvian national patriarchs retained the blessing imparted to Noah and his family on leaving the ark but were not the elective line of firstborns from which Abraham was drawn. God takes no pleasure in destroying anyone (Ezek18:23); He wishes rather to redeem all that can be redeemed within humanity but does not intend that all should go on to marry His Son.  That is a role for which proportionately few are being prepared, still less shall be found worthy, having “overcome” (Rev3:4 & 19:7).

Author’s FACEBOOK page HERE

BODY SOUL AND SPIRIT

RE-FORMATION THESIS #27

A dire analysis of human nature
An overly optimistic one

THE THESIS

Thesis #27 of 95. Man is composed of body, soul and spirit. The human’s spirit is also referred to in Scripture as the heart or inner man

BIBLE REFERENCES

1Thes5:23 – Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ

Rom8:16 – The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God  

 Rom7:22-23 – I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man but I perceive a different law in my bodily members warring with the law in my mind and bringing me into captivity to the sinful law that is in my bodily members

COMMENTS

There is considerable overlap with this thesis and the ones covered in recent posts. Again, the key point is that contrary to Augustine’s teaching upon which so much theology has been based, the human being comprises body, soul and spirit – one of “Aug’s twos-for-threes” referred to in my recent ditty. For especially after his fracas with Pelagius, the fearsome bishop was insistent that God had failed to provide mankind with any effectual enlightening or enabling spiritual faculties following the Fall. Consequently, he believed every soul to be doomed to perdition, apart from an act of sovereign grace reserved for the minority: “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”. By “punishment”, Augustine was referring to eternal torment of the soul. Surely a delight to the Adversary’s ears, for such teaching maligns the Creator’s character as much as it demonizes humanity. It profoundly disfigures God’s providential care of the world that His Son suffered so agonizingly to save, turning the Christmas angels’ message of “good news of great joy for all people” into a cosmic catastrophe.

Such was the consequence of this sainted churchman’s rejection of any positive role for natural law (innate spiritual enlightenment/enablement) combined with his bipartite anthropology. The latter also had the effect of confounding Paul’s teaching on human nature, especially the critical passage in Romans 7 concerning the conflict of flesh and spirit within man, impacting upon the very nature and process of salvation itself. For example, where Paul writes in Rom8:13 that “if you live in accordance with the instincts of the flesh you shall die, but if by the spirit [note#2] you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live”. Clearly, the Holy Spirit once present in an individual does not thereafter act independently, effectively becoming a human faculty, otherwise it would follow that every Christian would attain an equal and perfected state of sanctification. Rather He is the divine Enabler with whom the believer must cooperate. Indeed, the God-given human spirit (whose existence Augustine had denied) has been provided to all men to enlighten them such that they possess effectual free will to act with integrity and compassion, even at times altruism, but not to attain what the bible means by “salvation” (previous thesis/post).

So, Pelagius went too far and compromised the gospel if he actually taught that man had an innate ability to avoid sin altogether, being effectively able to master his own flesh (Paul’s “body of this death”) through a life of asceticism. For Paul makes clear that as a result of the Fall, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is required to overcome the malign moral influence of the procreated intellectual vessel (body and brain) with which the eternal soul/spirit are temporarily associated (Rom7:24-25). Whilst innate spiritual faculties may enable a person to fulfil the spirit of God’s Law (Gal5:14; Rom2:14) and be finally accepted as a citizen of God’s Kingdom through the exercise of compassionate love towards their fellow man (cf. Mt25:34-40), common grace/natural law cannot provide what is necessary to experience a two-way living relationship with God whilst in mortal flesh. Celestial grace and the spiritual resources of the gospel are required to “possess one’s own vessel in sanctification and honour(1Thes4:4). Such who do shall attain a scarcely imaginable degree of glory, providing they persevere in the Faith and gain victory over the morally malign intellectual vessel their soul currently inhabits: “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne” (Rev3:21).

So much for Pelagius’s overly optimistic assessment of fallen human nature and its innate spiritual potentialities, yet virtually all Augustine’s distinctive teachings [note#2] need to be deconstructed if the munificence of God’s providential intentions towards those He created in His own image is to be perceived. Such has been an irksome (for many) but necessary facet of my book, in which I commented: “A bible-based articulation of God’s munificent providence will taste as sweet as honey in the mouth of every child of God, whilst in the gut there will be a bitterness and an urge to be rid of what had historically been understood concerning the harshness of God’s justice and the limited nature of His salvific intentions [cf. Rev10:10]. The true scope of God’s plan of loving goodness will redound even more to His glory, for it is entirely dependent on the atoning death of the Son He adores, the length, breadth and height of whose love passes all knowledge”. [Excerpt from The Little Book of Providence chapter one].

NOTES

Note#1 – Likewise Rom8:4 – “The requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit”. The early scribes who penned the Textus Receptus knew Paul to be referring to the human spirit not the Holy Spirit, hence πνεῦμα, not Πνεύμα [Rom8:4 Greek]

Note#2 – I emphasize “distinctive teaching” for as a Catholic, the Bishop of Hippo taught much that was faithful to the written and verbal tradition of the Apostolic Fathers, not least his reaffirmation of the sacerdotal nature of the Church, the Eucharistic sacrifice and the substantial presence of Christ’s body and blood at the altar [https://stpaulcenter.com/st-augustines-theology-of-the-eucharist/].

Author’s FACEBOOK page HERE

MYSTERY OF THE BRAIN

REFORMATION THESES #25-26

The mystery of the brain

THE THESES

Thesis #25 of 95. Since the soul and spirit are immortal the human psyche cannot be confined to the physical brain

Thesis #26 of 95. For the soul/spirit that leaves the human body when the brain dies is itself an intellectual entity with a memory of its bodily existence

BIBLE REFERENCES

Luke16:25 – Abraham said (to the rich man in Hades), Child, REMEMBER that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; consequently [νῦν] he is being comforted here whilst you are in agony

Rom7:22-23 – I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man but I perceive a different law in my bodily members warring with the law in my mind and bringing me into captivity to the sinful law that is in my bodily members

COMMENTS

 It may be stating the obvious to some, but if one believes in an afterlife then our motivations whilst in human flesh potentially derive from two sources: the brain (that wondrous organ in our head that is nevertheless heading for the grave) and the internal “psyche” or whatever you wish to call the intellectual, memory-retaining spiritual entity that leaves the body after death – for it is itself an intellectual memory retaining entity (Lk16:25). So, within fallen man there are two psychological motivating forces in tension as Paul teaches in Romans chapter 7. They have opposing laws or governing principles: “For I am gratified by the law of God in my inner man, but I perceive a different law in my bodily members warring with the law in my mind and bringing me into captivity to the sinful law that is in my bodily members” (Rom7:23). Clearly our “bodily members” are not laws to themselves – Paul is referring to the bodily senses as they are processed through the brain.

The point the apostle is making which few have grasped is that our sinful inclinations derive from the procreated intellectual vessel, not the eternal spirit, “inner man” or “heart” as it is elsewhere described. As creationists better understand, the spirit/soul has been provided by God and is governed by the spiritual faculty we know of as conscience. I say “spiritual” for it is not identifiable within the brain itself; indeed, it has only relatively recently been clearly ascertained which part of that organ is responsible for processing the conscience’s responses [note#1].

A spiritual faculty indeed, for as Paul himself affirms in Rom2:14-15 (NIV/NASB not the KJV), the conscience witnesses to the Law that God has placed in the “heart”/inner man/spirit, enabling many who are devoid of a particular creed to do by nature what God’s Law would wish them to. [The KJV amongst others obscures that facet of natural law in Rom2:14 – the Greek will not permit it]. But as a result of the Fall, the instincts of the brain itself no longer accord with God’s law as reflected in the conscience. The fleshly organ’s instincts have become concupiscent, i.e., lustful for the things pertaining to this currently disordered world (1Jn2:16).

I refer to this issue a lot for it pertains to what the Christian is being saved from (Rom7:24). As for what such salvation is for, it is in order that as the first fruits of God’s new created order (Jam1:18) we might, through an interest in the Saviour’s blood and a purified conscience, serve the living God even whilst in human flesh (Heb9:14). That in turn is so that those predestined to the role become conformed to the image of God’s Son (Rom8:29), with souls ready to be incorruptibly reclothed and maritally associated with Him in the ages to come (Rev19:6-7).

NOTE

Note #1 – The “lateral frontal pole prefrontal cortex” appears to be responsible for the processing of moral decisions and empathetic responses. Amongst mammals, only humans possess this feature which is not the conscience itself (for that is spirit) but the area of the brain in which its promptings are processed. It is an area of the brain that has been found to be clearly and visually underdeveloped in the case of certain psychopaths that have been studied, for in their case there is less to process.

Author’s FACEBOOK page HERE

THE EVENT OF THE CENTURY – TO DATE

Most Rev Justin Welby – gave the sermon

As a British citizen born just a few days after Princess Elizabeth became HM Queen Elizabeth II, I have spent much of today observing BBC’s coverage of the state funeral of the late queen. There is much I COULD say regarding this royal transition, not least in the context of my usual subject matter. For now, I will briefly comment on the service, Archbishop Welby’s sermon, the pageantry and the broadcast:

SIMPLY PERFECT.

Author’s FACEBOOK page HERE

MYSTERY OF THE MIND

THESES FOR THE RE-FORMATION #22-24

The mystery of the brain
Thesis #22 of 95 - The intellectual vessel that the soul/spirit inhabits is innately corrupt, governed by a triple concupiscence
Thesis #23 of 95 - Paul refers to the intellectual vessel that the soul/spirit inhabits whilst on Earth as "the body of THIS death", referring to its current spiritual status
Thesis #24 of 95. Paul's "law within his members" or "flesh" pertain to the governing principles adopted by the human brain as it processes the senses of the body

BIBLE REFERENCES

1Jn2:16 – All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father but is from the world

Rom7:23 – For I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members

Rom7:24 – Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

1Thes4:4 – That each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor

COMMENTS

In commenting on each thesis, I endeavour to place it and any related biblical citations in their broader context. As a result, I have already covered most issues pertaining to these three related theses in earlier posts. But to reiterate the main points:

By “procreated intellectual vessel” I am referring to what comes out of a mother’s womb minus the spiritual element that (as creationists recognize) is placed there by God and later returns to Him (Eccles12:7). Paul and Peter both refer to this fleshly component as a vessel, tent or tabernacle. Of course, a vital part of that temporary fleshly vessel is the brain, hence my reference to it being intellectual. For it tends to be forgotten that the spiritual component that all Christians acknowledge leaves the body after brain-death is itself an intellectual entity – rational and memory retaining (Lk16:25). It follows therefore that whilst in mortal flesh there are two distinct intellectual entities within man. They are not in union but oppose each other morally and spiritually. The fleshly component is “dead” in terms of its spiritual relationship with God, whilst that which God has planted is unsurprisingly alive in that respect. That is, in most cases but not all, for the devil’s children are twice dead. For in such, like Cain (Jude11-12), flesh and spirit no longer are in tension. And it is a scary prospect; the spiritual and fleshly parts of these human devils (Jn6:70) have both died to God and become united in evil, devoid of a functioning conscience, being a faculty of the spirit, whose very existence Augustine and consequently much subsequent theology rejects.

Not so the apostle Paul on either count. He knows a human being to comprise body, soul and spirit (1Thes5:23). He also knows and has articulated in Romans chapter seven that the instincts of the flesh (i.e. the bodily senses as they are process by the brain – thesis #24) are at odds with the instincts of the spirit perceived in the promptings of the conscience, being God’s law written on the heart. Paul cannot be referring to himself as a Christian within that passage (Rom7:14-24) as even Augustine rightly acknowledged, but many later commentators do not. In so doing they contradict what Paul goes on to outline in the very next chapter (8:12-16). For the Christian is not a slave to the flesh whereas man by nature is. It prevents him consistently practicing what he knows in his heart to be right and just. Not so the Christian who is enabled in Paul’s words “to possess his own vessel with sanctification and honour”. For he has become one spirit with Christ and is further empowered by the Holy Spirit to overcome the deceitful enticements of this world (1Jn2:16).

The latter is what thesis #22 is referring to – the triple concupiscence which has governed the brain since the Fall, exacerbated by the influence of he who is still the prince of this world. Paul refers to our earthly vessel as the body of this death (thesis #23). The “this” (v24 – τούτου), often subtly omitted or misplaced within the translation, is important for it shows that the death to which he refers is not “a state of damnation” but what he is describing in the passage – the inability to overcome the desires of the flesh as long as the soul resides in mortal flesh (cf. 1Pet4:6). That in turn results in a breach of God’s laws that are referenced by the conscience (Rom2:15) such that even those who have a sense of right and wrong and seek to practice the former are currently innately unable to serve the living God (Heb9:14). [They are nevertheless justified by “faith” evinced by love through the merits of Christ’s faithfulness, but that is for a later thesis].  As Paul concluded, for those called to divine service and spiritual worship whilst still in mortal flesh so as to be fitted for yet more glorious service in the ages to come, there is only one solution – a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (Rom7:25).

Even then, the matter is not finally resolved until the body itself is redeemed and replaced with that which is equally material yet incorruptible, having a brain spiritually attuned to God and the things of God. Note carefully, that is the eventuality Paul refers to as the Christian’s point of adoption (Rom8:23) – not the day of his conversion or when the soul goes to heaven but when he finally receives a resurrection body. For man is incomplete (“asleep”) without a body – and it was the temporary version that had been the source of his problem with sin. As Peter affirmed, the lusts of the flesh war against the soul – not within it for they do not derive from it (1Pet2:11). Nevertheless, such a soul can potentially be damaged (corrupted) to the point of requiring the painful remedy (salting) Jesus spoke of in Mk9:45-50. That is one of the more troublesome passages of Scripture for many Christians. It was considered in some detail in the previous post.

FREE PDF of the Little Book of Providence HERE
Author’s Facebook page HERE

THE LITTLE BOOK OF PROVIDENCE & ITS 95 THESES

The aims and objectives may be summarized as follows:

A UNIFIED GOSPEL

1 God’s Good News for the world to be rightly understood by all Christians so that it can be clearly presented to those who may live to see Christ’s return. For unlike others (see below) they will have had no opportunity post-mortem to be enlightened and prepared for what the bible refers to as the renaissance, re-birth or restoration (Greek: παλινγενεσίᾳ) that Christ shall instigate (Mt19:28).

GOD’S BROADER BENIGN PROVIDENCE UNVEILED

2 The vastly broader scope of God’s benign providence and the global benefits of Christ’s saving work to be recognized and acclaimed (Ps66:4)

2.1 In terms of a theodicy, the evil and sufferings in this world perceived as necessary preparation for those who are children of dust to fulfil a destiny superior to that of the angels – such a reordering being a result of the incarnation of the Word of God as a Man – cf. Heb1:4; Heb2:7-11; Rom8:20)

2.2 Satan and his people (1Jn3:12) perceived to have fulfilled a paradoxical role in helping to bring this about – through the suffering and adversity they have caused to mankind – such suffering being the grist for glory (cf. Heb2:10)

AUGUSTINIAN THEOLOGY REVISITED

3 Augustinian-derived narrow dualisms deconstructed and replaced with a coherent synopsis of the bible, the outworking of which accords with God’s self-described compassionate nature and munificent providence (set out in The Little Book of Providence – made freely available to all as a PDF)

3.1 Augustine (not exclusively so, but above all others), revered by so many, shown to have led churches into profound error, especially in the West. For the doctrines derived from his distinctive teachings barbarize God’s nature, deny the existence of the human spirit and poison the Good News of God. In particular, he was able to convince the Western Church that it is Christ intention (Jn5:22) that the bulk of people who have ever lived should endure pain and misery through eternity (The City of God Book XXI): “Many more are to be left under punishment than are delivered from it, in order that it may thus be shown what had been due to all” (ibid chap. 12).

THE RE-FORMATION

4 As was the case in the first millennium of the Christian era, that there might be one united, catholic, apostolic Church. Only then shall the sacrificial, re-presentational, sanctifying and universally propitiating role of the Eucharist offered up by the Church as priesthood for the world be acknowledged and participated in by all true followers of Christ.

4.1 It is surely right and just that the world should have received a coherent account of God’s Good News of the Kingdom at the point Christ returns. He Himself has affirmed it, such a gospel shall be preached “as a testimony to all nations, then the end shall come” (Mt24:14). That can only occur if the churches are re-formed as one.

4.2 The ideal (I suggest only) precondition for such a reunion to occur is if all traditions can be shown to have been in substantial error (cf. Rom11:32). Who then would dare resist the divine will and hinder such a work by determinedly defending their ecclesiological tradition/denomination at all costs? For my part, I was an EvangelicaI Calvinist for 28 years; for the last 24 years a Roman Catholic, for which I am no longer an apologist as much as an apologizer. The Catholic Church’s main problem for the last 500 years is not so much her practice, priests or people but who is missing from her – in my experience, some of the most devoted and enthusiastic followers of Jesus Christ I have known. What mutual benefits there will be for the Church and the world when parent and children are re-united at last.

RECOGNISING THE TRUE SOURCE OF SINFULNESS WITHIN MAN

5. To clarify what the bible means by “salvation” – what it is from and what it is for. Regarding the former, that it is the procreated intellectual vessel (the bodily senses as processed through the brain) rather than the God-given soul or spirit that is the source of human sinfulness (cf. Rom7:21-24). In terms of what gospel salvation is for, it is not directly related to whether the soul goes to heaven (albeit there could only be one temporary resting place for a truly saved soul). Rather, it is to partake of the divine nature whilst still in mortal flesh (proto-theosis) in order that those predestined to fulfil the role can be fitted for immediate participation in Christ’s rule in the age to come (note #1). The key point being that religious faith or the lack of it does not determine the destination of the soul immediately after death. That pertains to –

NATURAL LAW AND LOVE

6. As was the case with earliest Church fathers, a recognition that a positive response to natural law is effectual and normative – not for what the bible means by salvation (above) but for humane living and final acceptance with God. For “nature” is not the creature of a lesser god. So-called natural law is really Christ’s law, through Whom and for Whom all things were created – the Son of Man who personally identifies with the poor and needy and enlightens every soul that comes into the world (Jn1:9KJV – note#2). Those who genuinely care for the needy are regarded and rewarded as having served Christ Himself (Mt25:40). In so doing they demonstrate that they are “of God” (1Jn4:7 cf. 3:12) and fulfil the ultimate purpose of God’s Law which is defined by Paul in one word: LOVE (Rom13:9; Gal5:14). Hence the joyful news that most souls (barring certain unsaltables) are to be reunited with those they have loved and lost in life.

HELL – A DIVINELY ORDERED ESTABLISHMENT

7. I commented on this in a recent post from which I quote:

7.1 “It is insightful to refer to Jesus’ teaching in Mt5:22, carefully noting the gradations.  “I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be answerable to the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be answerable to the Sanhedrin, whilst whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into hell fire”. This shows the absurdity of traditional Western teaching on hell: It could never be “all or nothing”. Nevertheless, for those whose misuse of their bodily members and senses has compromised the integrity of their soul (Mt5:29-30), Jesus affirms directly in the context of hell’s punishments that such must “be salted with fire, SALT BEING GOOD. However, if the salt becomes unsaltable, how will you make it salty again? Better to have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another” (Mk9:49-50).

7.2 Neither is hell administered by demons with pitchforks as depicted in some medieval paintings, but by God, His saints and angels (cf. Lk16:25 – that is strictly Hades but note the overseer (Abraham) and why Lazarus is being comforted – it has nothing to do with religion or having lived a sinless life). For, Jesus had insisted, everyone must be salted, if not in this life, then in the next (cf. Lk6:24-25). My book explains why this must be (ch.7). Your Church is unlikely to, for most have yet to grasp this mystery, yet it’s potentially the most wonderful news of all😂. Hell incorporates an element of punishment (for sure) and is best avoided by having salt in yourself. But for most attendees it is primarily a place of learning (the hard way), self-enlightenment, moral correction, purification and preparation. For there is no distinction between the fires of hell and “purgatory” either in the bible or the writings of those who had received the Faith directly from the apostle. And whilst our God is a pardoning God, pardon per se is not sufficient for souls that have been poisoned or corrupted. Acceptance is one thing; fittedness for divine service is another. Purging and salting will be necessary for some; neither will it necessarily be devoid of suffering – sensual, mental or both. Yet even that shall not avail for all.

7.3 For in the worst cases, in view of what a few individuals have become in life (lawless, hateful and irredeemably corrupted), they could never exist within “new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells” that Peter sought after. In Jesus’ words it were better they had never been born – and best both for themselves and everyone else that after due punishment they cease to exist. For they are “unsaltable, good for nothing, to be cast out and trodden under foot” (Mt5:13). These are they who “lose their soul” (Mt16:26).

7.4 God’s hatred of evil, proportional punishment and redistributive/compensatory justice are the outworking of his love, as all who possess the mind of Christ should discern. In the starkest contrast to Augustine, this was third century Origen’s perspective on God’s punishments: “God confers benefits justly and punishes with kindness; since neither goodness without justice nor justice without goodness can display the real dignity of the divine nature” (Origen de Principiis Book II chap5 para 3).

GOD’S SECRET PLAN [Eph3:9-11)

8. “To turn the hearts of fathers back to their children, and the disobedient to the good sense of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord”. Such had been foretold of John the Baptist’s mission. He did not fulfil it – he was beheaded, whilst the One he heralded was also rejected by those foretold to be the children of the Kingdom (Mt8:12). This pertains to the most remarkably eluded mystery of all, even though Paul refers to it in Ephesians 3 and Romans 11: that in terms of Old Testament Scripture, the current age is effectively an inserted epoch🤣. Many OT prophesies have been deferred to the age to come (e.g. Is11:4-9 which like most can only relate to earth not heaven). It reaffirms the reality of a further terrestrial age (note #1)

THE SYNERGISTIC NATURE OF SALVATION

9. As well as turning the heart of the fathers back to their children, John’s other task, that in view of para 8 has also been transferred to the conclusion of the current age, was “to turn the disobedient to the good sense of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord”. That is, to inculcate a proper understanding of what is required on the believers’ part in the process of sanctification required of those who are to be re-formed into Christ’s image whilst still in mortal flesh (Rom8:29). So shall the children of promise who are alive at Christ’s return be suitably prepared for their role in the age to come.

THE NATURE OF THIS PROCESS

10 That these disclosures are perceived for what they are – not entirely new revelation, which they could never be, but new insights as to how the bible should be interpreted.

10.1 A recognition that such a disclosure was foretold in Scripture, to be set out in writing and made universally and freely available at such a time as this. For God knew that the necessary preparation, propagation and verification of such writing would require the research and printing facilities of the internet

10.2 I understand that what is happening was alluded to in Revelation chapter ten and more explicitly so in the Book of Enoch (93:10 & 104:11-14 Charles Version) – Link#1.

——————————————

NOTE #1 – As Wikipedia affirms [Link#2] such a premillennial perspective was the prevailing understanding of the early Church. The first “Christian?” opposition was from Marcion, a heretic who rejected the incarnation of Christ and the canonicity of the Old Testament. More significantly, third century Origen came openly to oppose the doctrine, having an over-spiritualized perspective on events relating to the second coming of Christ. Still more influential was Augustine’s change of mind on the subject. That typically ensured the doctrine was dropped by the Church thereafter. For as a leading Anglican scholar in the wiki article rightly observed, all medieval theology is essentially Augustinian – and the Protestant Reformers built on it. [If Augustine got it wrong, we are all in trouble, so here we all are]. Apart from the witness of those early premillennialists who had most immediately received the Faith from the apostles, my point concerning God’s secret plan (the inserted epoch) reinforces the rationale for a terrestrial age to follow the current one.

NOTE #2 – In terms of the translation, it is hardly likely that John writing in the late first century would be informing his readers that the Light (Christ) “is coming into the world” (some translations).

LINK #1 https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Enoch_(Charles)

link #2 Premillennialism – Wikipedia

FREE PDF of the Little Book of Providence HERE
Author’s Facebook page HERE

THE INNOCENCE OF THE SOUL

RE-FORMATION THESES 19-21

Thesis #19 of 95 - The God-given soul and spirit of man is innocent but pliable (liable to corruption)
Thesis #20 of 95 - Apart from gospel grace or infantile death the soul is bound to experience a measure of corruption
 Theses #21 0f 95 - The soul/spirit of man is not intrinsically corrupt having come from God, unlike the procreated vessel into which it is planted at birth

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

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

1Thes5:23 – Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your SPIRIT AND SOUL AND BODY be kept complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rom7:22-24 – For I joyfully agree with the law of God in the inner man I see a different law in the parts of my body waging war against the law of my mind, 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!

Gen6:3 – God said “My spirit shall not perpetually strive with man for he is flesh, so his days shall be (reduced to) 120 years [Note: this cannot be referring to the Holy Spirit, for fallen man by nature neither encounters nor possesses the Holy Spirit. Rather, he possesses a spirit from God which is constantly at enmity with his fleshly parts (body and brain) – so God does man a favour by reducing his time in the flesh].

1Pet4:6 – Therefore the gospel has been preached even to those who have died, so that though they have been judged in the flesh as people, they may live in the spirit in accordance with the will of God.

COMMENTS

Three theses have been lumped together in this post as they are closely related, and each one hopefully helps explain the other two.      

The biblical references are firstly to confirm that Paul (together with the writer to the Hebrews and the witness of the early Church) asserts that a human being consists of flesh, soul and spirit. As all Christians will agree, the spiritual essence of man is eternal, but the reference from Ecclesiastes affirms its origins as well as its destination. Man’s spirit came from God and shall return to Him when the body is laid to rest. Many Christians (“traducians”) effectively believe that the eternal soul/spirit is somehow derived through human procreation. Others (creationists) believe the spiritual essence of man is directly created by God and planted into the human embryo at some point before birth. These theses affirm the latter. Creationism is the official teaching of the Catholic Church, although in practice many (not least Augustine himself) have struggled with it in view of incompatibility with his distinctive teaching on original sin that the Western Church (alone) adopted. For it would imply that the God who is love personified implants a morally degenerated soul within man and then condemns him for possessing it. The traducian notion is equally illogical and irrational, for how can that which is spiritual and eternal be generated from what is mortal and material? – apart from which, as already indicated the notion is unbiblical.

The matter is resolved by Paul’s teaching in Romans chapter seven, that is when taken literally. The spiritual essence of man (which Paul refers to here as the “inner man” – elsewhere to the heart or spirit) is not the source of mankind’s problem with sin, for it instinctively loves what is good and in accordance with God’s law (7:22). The problem stems from what the apostle refers to as law in the body parts, by which he must mean the bodily senses as processed through the brain. It might appear blindingly obvious but I for one did not previously think the matter through – at death, the brain returns to the ground with the rest of the body. What goes into eternity, being the invisible spiritual essence planted by God is itself an intellectual entity, rational and memory-retaining. The parable of Lazarus and rich man confirms as much (Lk16:25 – note also from that verse why the rich man and Lazarus were experiencing what they were – to be covered in later theses). It is the moral tension between the fleshly and spiritual intellectual entities within man that Paul is describing in Romans 7, prompting him to ask, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” All Christians know Jesus Christ to be the answer, and Paul confirms it (v25). But what of the question? It pertains to the very purpose and nature of what the bible means by “salvation” – what it is from and what it is for (previous thesis).

The innocence of the soul

It is not the God-given soul and spirit but the procreated intellectual vessel they inhabit that prevents man by nature rightly relating to God in the present. Only the Christian is provided with the spiritual resources to “possess his own vessel in sanctity and honour” (1Thes4:4). That is so that his soul can be fitted for immediate divine service in the world to come. In the meantime, the Christian is to present his mortal body to God as a living sacrifice. That, says Paul, is his reasonable service (Rom12:1). But it is not what the apostle regards as the ultimate purpose of salvation, neither is “going to heaven when you die” which the bible (including Paul) describes as “falling asleep” (Acts7:60; 1Cor15:6). No, here is the focus and cosmic outworking of Paul’s gospel and it is line with the message of the Christmas angels: Good news/great joy/all people (Lk2:10) –

 “The creation was subjected to futility, not of its own choice but because of Him who subjected it, in the hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. That whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only they, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit – we also groan within ourselves waiting eagerly for our adoption, being the redemption of our body(Rom8:20-23)

This is not my gospel, it is Paul’s. Some of his teaching was new revelation; none of mine is, nor can it be. Rather, it is new interpretation that will appear alien to many. That is to be expected – for the Roman Church has long regarded Augustine as their preeminent doctor whilst the founder of the Protestant Church’s introductory statement for his 95 theses at Heidelberg declared Augustine to have been “Paul’s most trustworthy interpreter”. The Spirit has shown me something very much to the contrary, the supernatural aspect of the revelation testified to in a number of earlier posts. The resulting synopsis has been set out in The Little Book of Providence, made freely available to all as a PDF. What is more, I believe that such a course of events was foretold in Scripture – cryptically so in Revelation chapter ten, more overtly so in the non-canonical yet inspired and biblically quoted Book of Enoch – another earlier post refers.

FREE PDF of the Little Book of Providence HERE
Author’s Facebook page HERE

SOUL CREATIONISM

RE-FORMATION THESIS #18

body soul and spirit
Thesis #18 of 95 - The eternal soul/spirit of man, being that which returns to God is not procreated but directly created by God

BIBLICAL REFERENCES

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

Heb4:12 – For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart

1Thes5:23 – Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rom8:16 – The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God

Gal6:18 – The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

COMMENTS

I comment a number of times on soul creationism and the tripartite nature of man in my book. Here is one such reference:

Primarily through Augustine’s influence and his prosecution of the Pelagian controversy, the post-Nicene Church defected from the orthodox  tripartite understanding of most earlier Fathers who believed man to be comprised of body, soul and spirit [note#1]; the latter being provided directly from God and the means by which one receives sound reason and a pure conscience, the Light of Christ by which little children cannot but “believe” in Jesus the Word (Mt18:6). This has exacerbated difficulties when interpreting Paul’s epistles; the “spirit” not being conceived by most readers to be a separate entity (a component of human nature) distinct from the Holy Spirit. Paul refers more frequently than others to the human spirit because of his substantial handling of the inner struggle concept. On one occasion he refers to body, spirit and soul together (1Thes5:23) in terms of sanctification. Likewise, the writer to the Hebrews speaks of the word of God penetrating between soul and spirit as it does between the joints and marrow (Heb4:12). The latter two materials of the body are closely related yet distinct, as are the soul and spirit.

In terms of the witness of the Apostolic Church, Justin Martyr spoke of the soul housing the spirit just as the body houses the soul (ref#2) the latter being a kind of ethereal interface formed in the outline of the body enclosing the spirit – invisible when it leaves the body at death yet clearly visible in the realm it inhabits prior to resurrection (cf. Lk16:23). Irenaeus concurred: the soul possessing the figure of the body in which it dwells (ref#3) whilst “the complete man is composed of flesh, soul and spirit. One of these does indeed preserve and fashion the man – this is the spirit; whilst as to another it is united and formed – that is the flesh; then comes that which is between the two – that is the soul which sometimes when it follows the spirit is raised up by it but sometimes it sympathises with the flesh and falls into carnal lust (ref#4). In the New Testament the Greek word for soul (psuche) is often translated as “life” for it more often relates to the physical: “Take no thought for your “psuche” what you shall eat or what you shall drink” (Mt6:25).

Ref#1 Historical background to trichotomy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tripartite_(theology)

Ref#2 Justin on the resurrection chap. 10

Ref#3  Irenaeus against heresies Book II chap. 19 (6)

Ref#4  Irenaeus against heresies Book V chap. 9 para 1

[Quote from The Little Book of Providence chapter two]

As a bishop in the 4th/5th century Catholic Church, Augustine will not have been a total maverick, but without doubt he was the most influential voice (and pen) the Church possessed during its most formative period in terms of doctrinal development and biblical interpretation. Most of his distinctive teachings were accepted by the Catholic Church of his day and built upon later by the Protestant Reformers. Denying the existence of the human’s spirit was such an example, even though I have just demonstrated from Scripture and the testimony of earlier Church Fathers that it was initially well understood that man consisted of body, soul and spirit (the ditty in thesis#13 refers). For Augustine, the idea that fallen man possessed any spiritual enlightening or enabling faculties didn’t fit with his interpretation of original sin, namely that through Adam’s disobedience, every soul was doomed to perdition apart from an act of sovereign grace, reserved for the minority. Such seemingly inexplicable justice, undermining as it does God’s munificence and self-declared salvific intentions, stemmed in part from a misunderstanding of what the bible actually means by “salvation” – i.e., what it is from and what it is for.

These early theses are focussing on the former: what man by nature must be delivered from, not to avoid perdition but to relate to God whilst in human flesh. Later theses shall touch upon the especially glorious destiny awaiting those who do embark upon such a relationship through a divinely orchestrated encounter with Jesus Christ so as to be sanctified in body, soul and spirit (Jn6:44; Rom8:29; 1Thes5:23). In the meantime, note Paul’s closing benediction to God’s chosen people in Galatia: “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen” (Gal6:18).

FREE PDF of the Little Book of Providence HERE
Author’s Facebook page HERE

CONTEXT OF INFANT BAPTISM

RE-FORMATION THESES 16&17

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.

FREE PDF of the Little Book of Providence HERE
Author’s Facebook page HERE

A book exploring the mystery of divine providence

%%footer%%