“THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE SECRET” – ITS AUTHOR’S NEED OF REPENTANCE

 repent

The current version of the book this website was created to promote is still available but I am not actively promoting it just at the moment for reasons I will now explain. The writing was a result of what I would describe as a prophetic insight three years ago. That resulted in my coming to a new understanding of certain biblical prophecies, gospel narratives and especially the writings of St Paul which affirmed to me that God’s benign providence towards humanity was not restricted to His covenant people, i.e. Israel and the Church, rather these were His own special people (Deut26:18; Tit2:14; 1Pet2:9); a royal priesthood for the world (Ex19:5, 6 cf. 1Pet2:9), the faithful of whom would  forever be united to Christ as His corporate spouse and joint inheritor of His Father’s Kingdom, i.e. the heavenly realm and the physical universe (Dan7:18; Rev19:7;Rom8:17). The new understanding brought me great joy at the time but also trepidation as I recognised it was my task to put into print what I had learnt; trepidation because I did not regard myself as a writer or theologian, but more especially because I was aware the new understanding undermined the traditional teaching of many churches, especially those that had remained faithful to the theology of the Reformers,  a mindset with which I am very familiar having converted to the Roman Catholic faith sixteen years ago after 28 previous years as a staunchly Calvinist Evangelical. My adopted Church does acknowledge such benign providence towards all “people of good will”, more explicitly so since the 1960’s Second Vatican Council (cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium”) but such a position has hardly been underpinned from Scripture, nor can it be without controverting the teaching of earlier Ecumenical Councils and the biblical theological system developed in the 4th/5th century largely through the influence of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, who a thousand years later became the darling Father of the Reformers.

So recognising that the book could not be endorsed by the Catholic Church I nevertheless went ahead and published it last year, originally through a self-publishing company but later independently in order that the e-book version and PDF could be made free on most outlets. Distribution and sales to date have been modest, approximately 350-400 downloads although the e-books and files may well have been disseminated which I positively encouraged on my publication rights page. Indeed, I know of one individual in America who informed me on Facebook how excited he was by the book and that he had tried to promote it amongst his (Evangelical or possibly Universalist?) friends. They were less enamoured; so was he once I explained to Him I was advocating one united visible Church, ideally in communion with the Bishop of Rome. Apart from that I have received very few responses and quite remarkably no negative ones in view of the ecclesiological content.

So what’s the problem?

The reason I am currently not actively promoting the book in its present form, and the reason I suspect for its limited distribution is a  further revelation I have received during the last couple of weeks that nearly resulted in a nervous breakdown. Again I am clear the Spirit was involved but this time it did not result in joy or excitement but dire trepidation and sense of shame resulting from a deep conviction of my own sinfulness, inadequacy and unworthiness to be involved in such a task.  It did not relate to a particular action that from a Catholic perspective could be confessed and absolved but to the whole course of my life as a Christian to date, including the plans I was in the process of making for my retirement (I’m 65 next year). This particular “disclosure” did not concern the mysteries of the Kingdom or the complexities of the Pauline epistles but the simple basics of the gospel and my failure in so many ways to live up to them. It was especially hard to take for one who believed that in view of what had been revealed to him and the nature of the work he understood himself to be involved in he must have surely been “in a good place” before His Lord. But I was not in a good place, rather as I now recognise I was in need of the severest chastisement which I duly received. Now (I trust) that the worst is over I would not have it any other way for I know it was for my own good and it affirmed the Lord’s love for me, showing He had received me as a son (Heb12:6; cf. Rom8:19).

Unsurprisingly such an experience made me question the book itself, and re-reading it from this chastened perspective I became uncomfortable, especially with the more polemical, speculative and wilfully cryptic passages in the opening chapter which I am in the process of revising. However, as I recover from this self-inflicted ordeal and reflect more carefully on the matter, I recognize the problem all along has been the writer, not so much what has been written. For as I re-read the New Testament I can see that the new interpretations set out in the book do result in unprecedented biblical coherence, whilst the broader providence it portrays suitably reflects the God of the Bible: awesome in  majesty and sin-hating yet compassionate by nature –  Love personified (1Jn4:8). As for His Son, in the words of the great apostle, the breadth, length, height and depth of the love of Christ simply surpasses all knowledge” (cf. Eph3:18). The “Fellowship of the Secret” theodicy (final chapter 7) provides a bible-based yet seemingly novel explanation for the suffering that God has permitted in the world as well as the divisions within His Church. And the overall theme is certainly hopeful and joyful, anticipating the time when not just His elected faithful Jews and Christians but all people of good will shall benefit from God’s promise to “wipe away every tear from their eyes for there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things will have passed away (Rev21:24)

So as soon as suitable revisions have been made, promotion in the form of regular blogging and a re-instated website will resume. In the meantime, if you have already downloaded the book or wish to obtain it in its current form, please bear this penitential blog in mind. The revised version will hopefully be more suitably clothed in humility and seasoned with grace, yet it will still be problematical for many sincere bible-believing Christians and at variance with some of the teaching of my adopted Church. For I have concluded we have all been in error to one degree or another, albeit that has been in accordance with God’s permissive will. Acknowledging such will I believe be the means by which unity may at last be achieved such that Christ’s mystical Body be no longer divided; whilst in the context of the end-time script  it is the only way a faithful and coherent rendering of the Good News of the Kingdom can be witnessed to all the nations before the end comes (Mt24:14). That happens to be the verse (more particularly its location within the context of end-time tribulations) that started my voyage of discovery three years ago and is the focus of the opening chapter of the Fellowship of the Secret: the key indeed to an understanding of the role of Israel and the Church within divine providence.