95 THESES OF THE LITTLE BOOK OF PROVIDENCE

INTRODUCTION

This is a reworking of a post I first put out on Halloween 2017, 500 years to the day that Martin Luther allegedly placed his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. It was a somewhat tongue in cheek gesture on my part, but this more rigorous version hopefully provides a useful summary of the theological fundamentals and biblical interpretations set out in the two books that this website is promoting.

I am the first to acknowledge that  biblical proof-texting can be utilized to prove almost anything – what is really needed is a comprehensive biblical synopsis that is intrinsically coherent and accords with the realities of secular, religious and church history as each has panned out. And unlike some earlier Institutes of Religion to which I once adhered, the cosmic outcomes derived from its theology should do justice to the sovereign yet equitable and loving nature of God as He is revealed in Scripture. Those earnestly seeking after Truth rather than simply wishing to support a particular ecclesiological persuasion should not only pay careful attention to the original Greek and Hebrew text of the Bible but also examine the  writings of the second and third century churches. The earliest of these assemblies will have been founded by the apostles themselves or their immediate appointees so they cannot have uniformly been in error regarding the essentials of the faith. Yet none of the available writings of the earliest Church Fathers bear much resemblance to my former (Calvinist Evangelical) theology or polity – it is more akin to my new understanding, especially in the area of (so-called) natural law, an appreciation of which is essential if the true nature of God’s broader providence is to be perceived.

With the Spirit’s help I believe a unified biblical synopsis has now been provided in “The Little Book of Providence”, so-called as I understand its subject matter pertains to that of  “The Little Book” referred to in Revelation chapter ten. It is a disclosure concerning our Creator’s extraordinary providential strategy and His magnanimous intentions towards the human family, both of which have been historically obscured, more especially through the influence of Augustine’s writing and teaching in the fourth/fifth century. For sharing or serious critiquing, a PDF version with full biblical verse renderings is available HERE

95 THESES RELATING TO THE PERSONAL PROPHETIC INSIGHT THAT LED TO THE PUBLICATION OF “THE LITTLE BOOK OF PROVIDENCE” by Richard L. Barker

  1. Humans were made in the image of God and even after the fall are to be regarded as such [Gen9:6]
  2. Cain and Abel as the first humans to be born of woman were representatives within a de facto covenant that has been eluded by theologians [Gen4:7 Masoretic, e.g. KJV]
  3. Abel was not “saved” by anticipating Calvary when he sacrificed an animal, he remained justified within a de facto covenant for fallen humanity by exercising faith/faithfulness, offering the best of his produce with a good conscience
  4. Cain defaulted from this Universal Covenant after killing his brother
  5. Such an inclusive covenant is indicated by the fact that Cain was neither entirely alienated from God nor cursed by Him until after his fratricide [Gen4:13-16]
  6. Cain rather than Adam is the type of the damned or reprobate, later described in the New Testament as derived from the Evil One (Greek: ek tou ponerou) [1Jn3:12]
  7. Adam is mankind’s federal head and the type of those Paul describes as “dead” 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 [Jude12] in whom both flesh and spirit have died to God and become united in evil
  8. Those who go in the way of Cain [Jude11] are described in the New Testament as children of the devil [e.g. Jn8:44]
  9. Children of the devil are distinguishable by their lack of conscience and their inability to emphasize or show compassion to others [Mt25:41-46]. They also have a total disregard for the truth [Jn8:44]
  10. Children of the devil are alluded to by Paul as vessels of wrath created and prepared by God for destruction [Rom9:22]. They were not planted by the Father [Mt15:13], neither retain His seed [1Jn3:9], 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
  11. 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
  12. Original sin is a reality and the “death” described above is its result
  13. Our first parents “died” immediately they ate the forbidden fruit [Gen2:17]
  14. Spiritual death arises as soon as the conscience is defiled for that faculty has a spiritual dimension [cf. Heb9:14]
  15. Death results from sin but Paul indicates sin is itself a result of death [1Cor15:56] arising from the corrupted intellectual vessel in which the human soul is planted
  16. Infants do not experience spiritual death until in Paul’s language “the law comes” [Rom7:9] being a clear sense of right and wrong; for where there is no law sin is not imputed and the conscience is not defiled [Rom5:13]
  17. Adam and Eve’s offspring do not inherit their parents’ guilt [Jn15:22] but through procreation inherit an intellectual vessel that has been “shaped in iniquity” [Ps51:5] acting as a malign influence on the soul  
  18. The soul/spirit of man, being that which returns to God is not derived from human sperm but directly created by God [Eccles12:7]
  19. The God-given soul/spirit of man is innocent but pliable (liable to corruption)
  20. Apart from gospel grace or infantile death the soul is bound to experience corruption
  21. The soul/spirit of man is not intrinsically corrupt having come from God, unlike the procreated vessel into which it is planted at birth
  22. The intellectual vessel that the soul/spirit inhabits is innately corrupt, governed by a triple concupiscence [1Jn2:16]
  23. Paul refers to the intellectual vessel that the soul/spirit inhabits whilst on Earth as “the body of THIS death” [Rom7:24], referring to its current spiritual status 
  24. 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 [Rom7:23]
  25. Since the soul and spirit are immortal the human psyche cannot be confined to the physical brain
  26. 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 [Lk16:25]
  27. Man is composed of body, soul and spirit [1Thes5:23]
  28. The human’s spirit is also referred to in Scripture as the heart or inner man [Rom7:22]
  29. The human’s spirit (not to be confused with the human spirit) is often mistaken for the Holy Spirit when interpreting the Pauline epistles [e.g. in Rom8:6]
  30. The fruits of the spirit pertain to man’s spirit, for those currently devoid of the Holy Spirit also produce good fruit [Gal5:22-23]
  31. 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 [Rom7:23]
  32. Such an inner conflict is not restricted to the Christian, but to everyone with a functioning conscience
  33. The guiding principle or engrained law within the human’s spirit or “heart” is the conscience [Rom2:15]
  34. The conscience is the light of the incarnate Word/Logos that is diffused within every soul that comes into the world [Jn1:9NKJV]
  35. In taking heed to conscience one is effectively responding to something or Someone superior to oneself
  36. Conscience is therefore a sufficient object of faith, being man’s positive response to the divine revelation he has received
  37. Those who defer to the dictates of their conscience are exercising a form of godly fear
  38. Regardless of race or creed everyone who fears God and seeks to do what is right is accepted by Him [Acts10:35]
  39. “Justification” or acceptance before God within the inclusive Universal Covenant is on the basis of evincing a God-given quality (faith/faithfulness), manifested by the exercise of compassionate love [Gal5:6]
  40. Justification within the exclusive covenant sealed with Christ’s blood is by faith in Christ as Lord and Saviour
  41. Paul’s teaching regarding Law and grace in his epistles to the Galatian and Roman churches is in the context of Jewish infiltrators who insisted that Christian believers complied with works and rituals pertaining to the Torah such as circumcision, observing festivals and the like [Gal4:9-10 ]. On the contrary, said Paul, justification within the new covenant required faithfulness towards Christ, not compliance with “deeds of the Law”.
  42. Natural law in its anthropological context pertains to the functioning of conscience and is normative for humane living and acceptance with God
  43. Biblical salvation is provided to a specially chosen people in order for them to relate to God whilst in mortal flesh and function within His royal priesthood. For such they require spiritual renewal and ongoing sanctification through a mystical participation with Christ
  44. Acceptance as a subject of God’s kingdom at death and final judgement does not require adherence to a religious creed, simply the exercise of compassion arising from the promptings of conscience [Mt25:40]
  45. In showing deference to the dictates of their conscience, even avowed agnostics and atheists unknowingly exercise faith in Christ [as Logos]. They may have cause to mourn for their sin and disbelief but will readily submit to Him when He is made known to them [Rev1:7]
  46. Calvin’s description of little children as by nature “odious” and “an abomination to God”  opposes the teaching of Christ [Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion 2nd Book Chapter 1 para 8]
  47. In describing infants presented to Him as “little ones who believe in Me” [Mt18:6] Jesus was alluding to an internal witness of the light of Christ, reflected in their God-given spirits/consciences, guaranteed in their case not (yet) to have been obscured or distorted by the lusts of the flesh or impurities of the mind
  48. Those who show compassion to the destitute are judged as serving Christ and rewarded accordingly [Mt25:40]
  49. Pelagius was right in believing that man possessed the innate spiritual faculties to perform good works such as exercising compassion towards his fellow man
  50. Pelagius was wrong if he believed that man possessed the innate spiritual faculties to live a sinless life or merit co-heirship with Christ [Much of Pelagius’ writing was destroyed so it is not known precisely what he believed]
  51. Pelagius was wrong if he believed that any man could be saved in the gospel sense apart from being in a living cognisant relationship with Jesus Christ
  52. Augustine’s assertion that Adam’s disobedience resulted in God degrading human nature to the extent that man could do “absolutely no good thing, whether in thought or will, affection or in action”  is unbiblical, an observable falsehood, an affront to God’s gracious magnanimity and the dignity of the human person [Quote is from  Augustine’s “On Rebuke and Grace” chap. 3]
  53. On the contrary, acts of compassion, kindness and courage delight God’s heart and will be rewarded by Christ
  54. The mature Christian has a sense of what pleases God for he already possesses the mind of Christ whom even whilst incarnate had the mind of His Father [Jn14:9]]
  55. God is Love [1Jn4:8], and any theology that demands for its intrinsic coherence the notion that divine love is different in nature and outworking to that quality as it is defined in Scripture should be rejected, however revered its formulator may have been
  56. God’s qualities such as love, holiness, compassion and kindness are superior in degree but the same in nature to those of man’s, for every good quality man possesses originates from Him
  57. For much of their history the churches especially in the West have been under the misapprehension that their institution and the practice of the Christian faith primarily exists to enable people to go to heaven when they die
  58. Many more liberal churches are in error in believing that anyone other than a Christian can be saved in the gospel sense
  59. All people of good will shall go to heaven when they die regardless of their religious beliefs
  60. The notion implicit in some Roman Catholic teaching that people of good will are “saved” in the same sense as a Christian undermines the role of the gospel, Church and sacraments
  61. For the incarnated soul cannot be healed (saved) unless Christ had first been admitted to the vessel and united with the spirit [1Cor6:17]
  62. Biblical salvation is the restoration of divine communion whilst still incarnate through spiritual regeneration and devotion to Christ and His teaching. This is what is meant by “eternal life”.  It is for fallen man to become re-acquainted with God, His Son and Spirit [Jn17:3] before he dies (or Christ returns) so that the called chosen and faithful may be fitted for future glory as the corporate Bride of Christ [Rev17:14]
  63. An essential means for communicating spiritual renewal and progression is through the sacraments of the Church
  64. An essential component of the Christian life is participation in the Divine Eucharist
  65. The Lord has ensured throughout the Church’s history that faithful assemblies in East and West are gathered to Himself, so that from the rising of the sun until its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to His name.
  66. In some meaningful albeit mystical sense Christ’s body must be eaten and His blood drunk by the Christian for “whoever eats Me will draw life from me” [Jn6:57] and “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in that person” [Jn6:56]
  67. Luther’s revolt was triggered by deformed practice and doctrine within the Roman Catholic Church but the Eastern Orthodox Church was relatively unaffected by the sixteenth century upheavals and continues to affirm the historically understood sacerdotal and sacrificial nature of the Holy Eucharist, describing it as “the awesome sacrifice entrusted to the Church to be re-enacted and given to the faithful for the nourishment of their faith and forgiveness of their sins” [Greek Orthodox Arch-Diocese of America –http://goarch.org/ourfaith]
  68. Participating in the Eucharistic feast is at best ineffectual if unaccompanied by the obedience of faith [1Cor11:27]
  69. What Christians are being saved from is the malign influence of the mortal intellectual vessel which the soul/spirit currently inhabits [Rom7:23-24]
  70. By attending to the means of grace and persevering in the faith the Christian is enabled to “possess his vessel in sanctification and honour” [1Thes4:4]. Such is the central and immediate purpose of Christian salvation as well as to preserve the soul for future glory as the corporate Bride of Christ
  71. The Abrahamic covenant superseded by the Covenant of Christ’s blood are exclusive covenants
  72. Ishmael was blessed by God and his father Abraham [Gen17:20-21] but not elected to the exclusive covenant designated for Isaac and his seed
  73. The Church, like Isaac, are the children of promise [Gal4:28]
  74. Like Isaac, those within the Covenants of Promise are elected through unmerited grace
  75. Christ as personal Saviour may only be apprehended by those the Father chooses for Him [Jn6:44]
  76. Covenantal admission is by grace alone; faithfulness is required to continue benefitting from its privileges
  77. Everyone is to be judged and rewarded according to their life and legacy [55]; not for the gifts they were privileged to receive but how they have been utilized
  78. Hell is as much a reality as Heaven and may involve sensual pain for its inhabitants [Lk16:24]
  79. As in life, post-mortem punishment can be for the purpose of healing as well as destruction [Is4:4]
  80. God has intimated that every soul that can be healed and restored shall ultimately be so, for He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked
  81. The Bible may hint [1Tim4:10] but does not positively affirm the idea of absolute universalism. Given that the wicked shall undoubtedly receive post-mortem punishment, the matter should have no impact on one’s conduct or life choices
  82. The Christian’s ultimate destiny is bodily resurrection as Joint-Consort to the King of Kings, not “Requiem Eternam”
  83. There is to be a new Heaven AND a new earth where righteousness dwells [2Pet3:13]
  84. The precise role and destiny of God’s elect people has yet to be disclosed but it in view of their undeservedly exalted status it must align with that of their Spouse, whose universal governance and reign of peace shall continue for ever [Is9:6-7]
  85. The Elect are not the totality of God’s children but their firstborn [Heb12:23], the first-fruits of humanity [Jam1:18]
  86. The current age is not the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies in a spiritualized form but in terms of salvation history is a dispensation established to recruit Gentiles to the Messianic community
  87. The Gentile’s unexpected, and according to Paul “unnatural” incorporation into the messianic community [Rom11:24] was to create “the fellowship pertaining to the secret (plan) hidden in God” [Eph3:9-12]. Although fore-ordained by the Father, this augmentation resulted from the refusal of God’s first-choice nation to acknowledge their Messiah even after His resurrection and ascension to glory [Acts18:6]
  88. Through Israel’s failure, fullness of salvation, “an inheritance with the sanctified” and the “gift of eternal life” initially understood to be exclusively for the Jews [Acts11:17-18 &26:18] has been extended to people chosen from every nation and succeeding generation
  89. Such a mystery was known by God (i.e. the Father) but not communicated to any other being until revealed by the apostle Paul who described the mystery pertaining to the Gentiles’ unexpected inheritance as “to euaggelion mou” – my gospel [Rom16:25]
  90. When Ephesians 3:9-12 and especially Romans11:11-15 are taken as read and integrated within a cohesive biblical synopsis it will be appreciated that God’s benign providence extends well beyond those elected to the exclusive covenants of promise. For if Paul is taken at his word, biblical salvation as we know it would not have been offered to the Gentile nations in the current age [Rom11:11,12,15], yet the Old Testament is clear enough that people from every nation would ultimately be reconciled to God, for all the world is His and He loved it enough to send his Son to save it [Jn3:16]  
  91. God’s strategy has always been to redeem and heal the world through a Spirit-led messianic community, not exclusively forthem
  92. In choosing to retain Adam and Eve as the procreative fountainhead of humanity after their rebellion, it must have been God’s intention to permit evil and suffering to enter the world [Rom8:20-21]
  93. The ultimate purpose of human suffering is indicated in Heb2:10. Even the sinless Saviour was perfected for His priestly office and future glory by suffering. How much more the need for such salting and grist to be provided for the mere mortals who will come to share His glorious inheritance. Hence, the perennial existence of evil in the world until Christ comes to restore all things [Acts3:21]
  94. Certain important (but non-essential) mysteries have been hidden from the Church during much of its earthly pilgrimage [e.g. Acts1:7]
  95. If the assertions in this document are broadly correct, the final mystery John was told not to write about (concerning the little book – Rev10:4) is likely to pertain in nature to the broader providence here outlined

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