The Merits of Luther's Objection to James

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  • The Merits of Luther's Objection to James

    The Merits of Luther's Objection to James

    Typically Catholics resolve the apparent contradiction between Paul and James by reading Paul in light of James, while Protestants generally resolve the contradiction by reading James in light of Paul. But I propose there is merit to Luther's position seeing a genuine contradiction between Paul and James.

    Typically Catholicism obfuscates what Paul means by "works" so as to allow for their soteriology. While Protestants propose that James is referring to deeds as merely fruits, rather than the cause of salvation. Contrary to the Catholic position which states:
    "If anyone says that the justice received is not preserved and also not increased before God through good works, but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of its increase, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA" (Canons Concerning Justification, Canon 24). Council of Trent, SIXTH SESSION, CANONS CONCERNING JUSTIFICATION
    Luther's position on James can be seen in his introduction to James, where he states. "this epistle of St. James was rejected by the ancients" Martin Luther and "I do not regard it as the writing of an apostle, and my reasons follow. In the first place it is flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works 2:24). It says that Abraham was justified by his works when he offered his son Isaac (2:20); Though in Romans 4:22-22 St. Paul teaches to the contrary that Abraham was justified apart from works, by his faith alone, before he had offered his son, and proves it by Moses in Genesis 15:6. Although it would be possible to "save" the epistle by a gloss giving a correct explanation of justification here ascribed to works, it is impossible to deny that it does refer to Moses' words in Genesis 15 (which speaks not of Abraham's works but of his faith, just as Paul makes plain in Romans 4) to Abraham's works. This fault proves that this epistle is not the work of any apostle." Martin Luther

    This particularly becomes an issue in the second part of chapter 2 where James' ACTUAL statements are in contradiction to Paul's writings, particularly Romans 4. In both cases they apply Gen 15:6 to their argument, which Luther points out, which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." In Romans 4 Paul uses this verse as proof that justification is by faith alone apart from works, interpreting the Gen 15:6 as being fulfilled right then in Gen 15:6 prior to Abraham doing any works. For between the promise of Gen 15:5 and Gen 15:6, no work is mentioned. Whereas James views Gen 15:6 as a prediction, a prophecy not being fulfilled until Gen 22, AFTER Abraham did a work. For James insists that faith apart from works is not sufficient for justification. And thus to James Abraham's faith was dead until Gen 22 when he did a work.

    Note how James phrases James 2:23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."

    Every time in the Bible when this kind of phrase is used it's ALWAYS referring to the scripture as being a prophecy, a prediction of a future event.

    Thus James views Abraham as either not believing God in Gen 15, or believing God, but not being reckoned righteous until Gen 22, prior to which Abraham had faith but no works, of which James refers to as dead faith and not able to save. Thus James views Abraham as not saved until Gen 22 when he offered Isaac as a work.

    If James interpretation is correct concerning Gen 15:6, then Paul can't use it to prove his point in Romans 4. Conversely if Paul's interpretation of Gen 15:6 is correct and thus Abraham was justified by faith alone apart from works, then James is wrong. And thus Luther said and I agree concerning James, "it is flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works"

    In fact why would James bring up Gen 15:6 to begin with? It doesn't lend support to his argument. Unlike Paul he's not using it as "proof" validating his point, rather he's simply imposing an interpretation of Gen 15:6 which is explicitly and intentionally contrary to Paul's gospel.

    Furthermore consider the phrasing James chose in direct contradiction to Paul:

    Paul in Romans 4:2-6
    "if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works"

    James 2:20,21
    "But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?"
    James 2:24
    "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only."

    And regarding the law, while Paul says in Gal 3:10 "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.'" and being under the law he refers to as bondage. yet James again contradicts Paul by saying, "speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty." James 2:12. And yes he is talking about the law of Moses as he quotes Deut and Exodus referencing the Law of Moses.

    It appears on all these points that James is writing to intentionally oppose Paul.

    Further evidence can be had in James and in what is written of the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15, but this is sufficient to start off a discussion on the matter.

  • #2
    The "contradiction" between Paul and James is resolved by this statement:
    But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
    (James 2:18 ESV)
    Paul was speaking of being justified in God's sight; James was speaking of being justified in the sight of men. God sees our hearts and when we exercise faith he immediately declares us just; men cannot see our hearts and they can't know we have faith until that faith is expressed in what we do.
    Clyde Herrin's Blog
    Comment>

    • #3
      Scripture cannot contradict itself. Therefore there can be no contradiction between Paul and James. It only appears so because of incorrect understanding of what they are addressing. Remember the apostles did not write letters just for the fun of it but generally because they were addressing a particular issue.

      Not do I see James as contradicting Paul but of contradicting some erroneous understanding of Paul’s writings that had arisen.

      Catholics recognises (as does Paul) that there are two classes of work in the context of salvation, “works of the law” and works that are not “works of the law”. If there were not two such classes, and all works were the same, Paul would not have had to specifically refer to “works of the law”.
      Comment>

      • #4
        Originally posted by theophilus View Post
        The "contradiction" between Paul and James is resolved by this statement:
        But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
        (James 2:18 ESV )
        Paul was speaking of being justified in God's sight; James was speaking of being justified in the sight of men. God sees our hearts and when we exercise faith he immediately declares us just; men cannot see our hearts and they can't know we have faith until that faith is expressed in what we do.
        The problem with this is that just after the verse you quote, James writes:
        21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
        22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works,
        23 and the scripture was fulfilled which says, Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God.

        James gives an example of someone who is justified by faith + works and NOT in the sight of men. Abraham had left any witnesses behind. God could see into Abraham’s heart and could see his faith but he still wanted him to do something.

        Then James writes as a conclusion to that (vs 24): “You see that a man is justified by works andnot by faith alone.” Nothing to do with being justified in the sight of men.
        Comment>

        • #5
          When we find anything in the bible that seems to contradict another then we should get the answers from the Teacher Himself. What was Jesus take on faith and works . . . (none of those who cry out, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of God but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. When that day comes, many will plead with me, 'Lord, Lord,' have we not prophesied in your name? have we not exorcized demons by its power? Did we not do many miracles in your name as well? Then I will declare to them solemnly, I never knew you. Out of my sight, you evildoers!") Neither faith nor works will get anyone to heaven. Doing the will of God does.
          Comment>

          • #6
            Originally posted by Smithee View Post
            When we find anything in the bible that seems to contradict another then we should get the answers from the Teacher Himself. What was Jesus take on faith and works . . . (none of those who cry out, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of God but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. When that day comes, many will plead with me, 'Lord, Lord,' have we not prophesied in your name? have we not exorcized demons by its power? Did we not do many miracles in your name as well? Then I will declare to them solemnly, I never knew you. Out of my sight, you evildoers!") Neither faith nor works will get anyone to heaven. Doing the will of God does.
            And what is the will of God?

            Answer – that we love one another (Jn 13:34, 15:12, 15:17, Rom 12:10, 13:8, 1Pet 1:22, 1Jn 3:11, 3:23, 4:7, 4:11, 4:12, 2Jn 1:5)

            James’ letter is full of examples of what that means in practice.

            As Paul says:
            For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faithworking through love. (Gal 5:6)


            Comment>

            • #7
              Originally posted by theophilus View Post
              The "contradiction" between Paul and James is resolved by this statement:
              But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
              (James 2:18 ESV)
              Paul was speaking of being justified in God's sight; James was speaking of being justified in the sight of men. God sees our hearts and when we exercise faith he immediately declares us just; men cannot see our hearts and they can't know we have faith until that faith is expressed in what we do.
              Just adding to Theo's post, which was a great response.
              • "Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works."

              Another words, James is saying that unless your faith brings forth fruits, James denies that you have any faith. James replies that faith which is not seen outwardly through a person's deeds is no different from no faith. It cannot be seen or experienced. It is purely imaginary. Instead, says James, he will demonstrate his commitment to Christ, that is his faith, through his deeds.

              Matthew Henry:

              When Paul says that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law (Rom 3:28), he plainly speaks of another sort of work than James does, but not of another sort of faith. Paul speaks of works wrought in obedience to the law of Moses, and before men's embracing the faith of the gospel; and he had to deal with those who valued themselves so highly upon those works that they rejected the gospel (as Rom. 10, at the beginning most expressly declares); but James speaks of works done in obedience to the gospel, and as the proper and necessary effects and fruits of sound believing in Christ Jesus. Both are concerned to magnify the faith of the gospel, as that which alone could save us and justify us; but Paul magnifies it by showing the insufficiency of any works of the law before faith, or in opposition to the doctrine of justification by Jesus Christ; James magnifies the same faith, by showing what are the genuine and necessary products and operations of it. 2. Paul not only speaks of different works from those insisted on by James, but he speaks of a quite different use that was made of good works from what is here urged and intended. Paul had to do with those who depended on the merit of their works in the sight of God, and thus he might well make them of no manner of account. James had to do with those who cried up faith, but would not allow works to be used even as evidence; they depended upon a bare profession, as sufficient to justify them; and with these he might well urge the necessity and vast importance of good works. As we must not break one table of the law, by dashing it against the other, so neither must we break in pieces the law and the gospel, by making them clash with one another: those who cry up the gospel so as to set aside the law, and those who cry up the law so as to set aside the gospel, are both in the wrong; for we must take our work before us; there must be both faith in Jesus Christ and good works the fruit of faith. 3. The justification of which Paul speaks is different from that spoken of by James; the one speaks of our persons being justified before God, the other speaks of our faith being justified before men: “Show me thy faith by thy works,” says James, “let thy faith be justified in the eyes of those that behold thee by thy works;” but Paul speaks of justification in the sight of God, who justifies those only that believe in Jesus, and purely on account of the redemption that is in him. Thus we see that our persons are justified before God by faith, but our faith is justified before men by works. This is so plainly the scope and design of the apostle James that he is but confirming what Paul, in other places, says of his faith, that it is a laborious faith, and a faith working by love, Gal 5:6; 1Th 1:3; Tit 3:8; and many other places. 4. Paul may be understood as speaking of that justification which is inchoate, James of that which is complete; it is by faith only that we are put into a justified state, but then good works come in for the completing of our justification at the last great day; then, Come you children of my Father - for I was hungry, and you gave me meat, etc.
              John Calvin:

              I would render the verse thus:

              “But one may say, Thou hast faith, I also have works; shew me thy faith that is without works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”

              It is the same as though he had said, “Thou hast faith only, I have also works in addition to my faith; now, prove to me that you have true faith without having works connected with it, (which was impossible, hence he is called a ‘vain man,’ or empty-headed, in James 2:20,) and I will prove my faith by its fruits, even good works.
              • James 2:20 "Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?"

              James gives scriptural proof of what he has been arguing. He uses strong language like that of Jesus Mt 23:17 or Paul Gal 3:1, which was typical of the debates of his day. The evidence that he brings forward is that of Abraham and the story in Gn 22:1-9. Abraham was considered righteous or 'declared to be righteous' in Gn 22:12, when God says, 'Now I know that you fear God'. This was on account of his deed in preparing to offer Isaac. In other words, Abraham's decision to follow God and put his trust in him was so firm that when faced with the greatest of tests he followed through and resolutely obeyed, whatever the cost.

              New Bible Commentary:

              Notice that it is 'works' (plural) and not 'work'. James is not thinking of the one deed of Abraham. In Jewish eyes the offering of Isaac was the end of a long string of obedience beginning in Gn 12:1. Their question was, Why did God command the offering of Isaac, and then not make Abraham actually do it? Their answer was that since Abraham had been obedient so many times before, including, according to their stories, being great in his care for the poor, God righteously rewarded his works in Gn 22 by sparing Isaac. The release of Isaac comes, not after a single deed, but after a lifetime of obedience.
              Geneva:

              The third reason from the example of Abraham, who no doubt had a true faith: but he in offering his son, showed himself to have that faith which was not without works, and therefore he received a true testimony when it was laid, that faith was imputed to him for righteousness.
              John Calvin:

              But wilt thou know. We must understand the state of the question, for the dispute here is not respecting the cause of justification, but only what avails a profession of faith without works, and what opinion we are to form of it. Absurdly then do they act who strive to prove by this passage that man is justified by works, because James meant no such thing, for the proofs which he subjoins refer to this declaration, that no faith, or only a dead faith, is without works. No one will ever understand what is said, nor judge wisely of words, except he who keeps in view the design of the writer.
              • James 2:14 "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?"

              James very simply states: What good is it... . if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? In other words, if a person states that he or she believes all of the right doctrines, but their life does not show obedience to Christ, what good is this type of faith? The answer, which is implied in the question, is, 'No good at all'.

              Geneva:

              The fifth place which follows very well with the former treatise, concerning a true and living faith. The proposition of the place is this: Faith which does not bring forth works is not that faith by means of which we are justified, but an false image of that faith, or else this: they who do not show the effects of faith are not justified by faith.
              The effects of faith which are works justify the faith, and not the believer.

              God bless,
              William
              Comment>

              • #8
                Originally posted by William View Post

                The effects of faith which are works justify the faith, and not the believer.

                God bless,
                William
                The problem with this is that it is not what James writes. He doesn't ask - wasn't Abraham'sfaith justified by works, but - wasn'tAbraham justified by his works
                "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?"

                Bede


                Comment>

                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bede View Post

                  The problem with this is that it is not what James writes. He doesn't ask - wasn't Abraham'sfaith justified by works, but - wasn'tAbraham justified by his works
                  "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?"

                  Bede
                  You are quoting James' imaginary opponent.
                  • James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?

                  James' response, faith and actions cannot be separated.
                  • 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.

                  Faith which is only in the mind is not yet complete. It becomes complete when it results in a decision of the will and is carried out in action. In this Paul and James agree. Or, as I was taught "Faith = Action based on belief sustained by confidence in God".

                  I can't make it anymore clearer Bede. One really has to ignore the intent of the author in order to "Justify themselves" by their "own works" to not comprehend it. Faith itself provides for the complete fulfillment of its demands.
                  1. Abraham cannot boast in Romans 4:1-2
                  2. Because Abraham was justified by faith, not works Romans 4:3-8
                  3. Circumcised and uncircumcised are united as children of Abraham through faith Romans 4:9-17

                  Judaism made much of Abraham but tended to view him as a great pioneer of 'torah piety', a man who pleased God above all by his obedience to the law. Abraham, the recipient of God's promise and ancestor of the Jewish people, occupies a crucial place in OT salvation history. Particularly was this so in Paul's understanding, for he saw that one of the central errors of his Jewish contemporaries was to emphasize the Mosaic covenant at the expense of God's prior arrangement with Abraham Gal 3:15-18. Paul therefore needs to cite Abraham to show that his emphasis on justification by faith is no new, revolutionary, doctrine, but the teaching of Scripture from the beginning. And, further, Paul uses Abraham to make absolutely clear just what faith is. He does so in a series of contrast that anticipate the great Reformation principle of sola fide.
                  God bless,
                  William
                  Comment>

                  • #10
                    “This is what St. James means when his says in his Epistle, 2:26: ‘Faith without works is dead.’ That is, as the works do not follow, it is a sure sign that there is no faith there; but only an empty thought and dream, which they falsely call faith.”
                    Luther, cited in this excellent link: Beggars All: Reformation And Apologetics: Luther on the Book of James...Revisited
                    Comment>

                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RevT View Post
                      “This is what St. James means when his says in his Epistle, 2:26: ‘Faith without works is dead.’ That is, as the works do not follow, it is a sure sign that there is no faith there; but only an empty thought and dream, which they falsely call faith.”



                      Luther, cited in this excellent link: Beggars All: Reformation And Apologetics: Luther on the Book of James...Revisited
                      The article states:

                      Luther detractors tend to focus on his statements asserting a contradiction between James and Paul. The most popular passage comes from his preface to the book of James. Luther states: “In the first place it is flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works [2:24]."

                      Protestants have had a cogent harmonizing solution between Paul and James for quite some time. The book of James describes a real true faith in Christ: a real saving faith is a living faith. If no works are found in a person, that faith is a dead faith (c.f. James 2:17). James then describes a non-saving dead faith: the faith of a demon. A demon has faith that God exists, that Christ rose from the dead- I would dare say a demon knows theology better than you or I. But is the faith of this demon a saving faith? Absolutely not. James describes a living and saving faith, as opposed to a dead faith.
                      The article is excellent. The bolded text is an awesome way of putting it.

                      I'm under the impression that the OP thinks the second underlined portion is negative? Isn't it the difference of ignoring 'tota scriptura' or isolating one book leaving it out of its context which is in 66 books of the bible?

                      Please clarify if I am wrong or missing the point?

                      God bless,
                      William
                      Comment>

                      • #12
                        Originally posted by William View Post

                        I can't make it anymore clearer Bede. One really has to ignore the intent of the author in order to "Justify themselves" by their "own works" to not comprehend it.
                        Hi William,

                        I tend to think that an author makes his intent clear by what he says. And James clearly says that Abraham was justified by his works.

                        You quote Rom 4:3-8, but Paul there is referring to Abraham’s Initial Justification in Gen 15:6, whereas James is referring to Abrahams act in Gen 22.

                        Moreover the argument Paul is presenting in Rom 3:21-4:25 is that such Justification is not by “works of the law”. “For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law.” (Rom 3:28). His point is that we cannot earn Justification which is his point in Rom 4:4.

                        James on the other hand is presenting the case for Progressive Justification. Abraham was justified in Gen 15:6 and then further justified in Gen 22.

                        The works that James gives examples of are not “works of the law” but works of love.

                        I think you are mixing apples and pears.


                        Bede
                        Comment>

                        • #13
                          Paul renounces "justification by works" he renounces the view that anything we do along with faith is credited to us as righteousness. Only faith obtains the verdict of not guilty when we become Christians. Works of any kind are not acceptable in the moment of initial justification. But when James affirms "justification by works" he means that works are absolutely necessary in the ongoing life of a Christian to confirm and prove the reality of the faith which justifies.

                          James make his case from the life of Abraham - which was what we saw Paul doing in Romans 4. James takes two events in the life of Abraham.

                          The first, James 2:22 is from Genesis 15:6.
                          • James 2:22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;
                          • Genesis 15:6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

                          God promises Abraham a great host of descendants though his wife is barren. Verse 23 "and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God" cites Abraham's faith from Genesis 15:6: That is exactly what Paul does with that event and that verse Romans 4:3. One thing is reckoned as righteousness: faith. Abraham believed God and it was reckoned as righteousness. Faith, not works, was reckoned as righteousness.

                          The second, James observes in Genesis 22:1 "God tested Abraham" by commanding him to offer up his son Isaac. What was God testing (with emphasis)? He was testing his faith (with emphasis). What was he looking for? He was looking for the kind of obedience or works that shows Abraham's faith was not dead faith or devil faith or useless faith. So the issue in James 2:21 (where Abraham offers Isaac) is not the first act of justification that put Abraham in a right standing with God. The issue is the test: was Abraham's faith the living kind of faith that produces the "obedience of faith" or the dead kind that has no effect on life?

                          I addressed far more above in post # 9, you seem to have rejected it.

                          Originally posted by Bede View Post
                          I tend to think that an author makes his intent clear by what he says. And James clearly says that Abraham was justified by his works.
                          James imaginary opponent asking the question represents many Jews or those who misunderstood and abused Paul's teaching:
                          • James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?

                          This question could very well be from the Catholic church today.

                          Originally posted by Bede View Post
                          The works that James gives examples of are not “works of the law” but works of love.
                          Your statement at the end to which I will agree as would Paul, Paul would totally agree, faith that cannot justify is a dead faith, a devil's faith, and useless faith, a faith that has no vital life that works through love Gal 5:6.

                          Although, love is a command of the Old Testament Law. Please consider these two verses:
                          • Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."
                          • Leviticus 19:18, "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD."

                          I believe Slick addresses the difference between an unbeliever's works apart from faith and a believer's works even if they are doing the exact same thing:

                          We are undoubtedly supposed to love, but keeping the Old Testament command to love God and love your neighbor is not good enough for us to get to Heaven. Paul said, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly," (Gal. 2:21). And again, "Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law," (Gal. 3:21). Paul clearly tells us that we cannot obtain the righteousness that we need by keeping the Law, which includes loving God and loving your neighbor. So, you cannot love your way into Heaven.

                          By faith, not by faith and any work of any kind. We have to understand that we are sinners, and there's nothing we can do that will be good enough before God (Rom. 3:10-12; 6:23). If there were, then Jesus didn't need to die. But Jesus who is God in flesh (John 1:1, 14) died on the cross, was buried, and rose from the dead (1Corinthians 15:1-4). That is the Gospel message. By trusting in Christ and believing in the Gospel, we are declared right before God by faith (Romans 4:1-5; 5:1; Ephesians 2:8-9). In other words, when we receive Christ by faith (John 1:12), the righteousness of God is given to us (Philippians 3:9). This is called justification. Justification is a legal standing before God. It means that the one who has trusted in Christ by faith is now declared legally righteous according to the law. Since the law includes loving God and loving our neighbors, those parts of the law must be fulfilled perfectly. It was Jesus who fulfilled the law without failure. So, we receive by faith what Christ did--which includes loving God and loving our neighbor. Therefore, everything we need is found in Jesus. - Matt Slick
                          God bless,
                          William
                          Comment>

                          • #14
                            Originally posted by William View Post
                            Paul renounces "justification by works" he renounces the view that anything we do along with faith is credited to us as righteousness. Only faith obtains the verdict of not guilty when we become Christians. Works of any kind are not acceptable in the moment of initial justification. But when James affirms "justification by works" he means that works are absolutely necessary in the ongoing life of a Christian to confirm and prove the reality of the faith which justifies.

                            James make his case from the life of Abraham - which was what we saw Paul doing in Romans 4. James takes two events in the life of Abraham.

                            The first, James 2:22 is from Genesis 15:6.
                            • James 2:22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;
                            • Genesis 15:6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.


                            God promises Abraham a great host of descendants though his wife is barren. Verse 23 "and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God" cites Abraham's faith from Genesis 15:6: That is exactly what Paul does with that event and that verse Romans 4:3. One thing is reckoned as righteousness: faith. Abraham believed God and it was reckoned as righteousness. Faith, not works, was reckoned as righteousness.

                            The second, James observes in Genesis 22:1 "God tested Abraham" by commanding him to offer up his son Isaac. What was God testing (with emphasis)? He was testing his faith (with emphasis). What was he looking for? He was looking for the kind of obedience or works that shows Abraham's faith was not dead faith or devil faith or useless faith. So the issue in James 2:21 (where Abraham offers Isaac) is not the first act of justification that put Abraham in a right standing with God. The issue is the test: was Abraham's faith the living kind of faith that produces the "obedience of faith" or the dead kind that has no effect on life?

                            I addressed far more above in post # 9, you seem to have rejected it.



                            James imaginary opponent asking the question represents many Jews or those who misunderstood and abused Paul's teaching:
                            • James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?


                            This question could very well be from the Catholic church today.



                            Your statement at the end to which I will agree as would Paul, Paul would totally agree, faith that cannot justify is a dead faith, a devil's faith, and useless faith, a faith that has no vital life that works through love Gal 5:6.

                            Although, love is a command of the Old Testament Law. Please consider these two verses:
                            • Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."
                            • Leviticus 19:18, "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD."


                            I believe Slick addresses the difference between an unbeliever's works apart from faith and a believer's works even if they are doing the same thing:



                            God bless,
                            William
                            There is so much that I disagree with in Matt Slick's points that I shall not even start. However I think your OT quotes and Matt Slick are a red herring here. Sure love is an OT command but why pick on the OT?

                            Smithee (post #5) said "Neither faith nor works will get anyone to heaven. Doing the will of God does."

                            To which I responded:

                            And what is the will of God?

                            Answer – that we love one another (Jn 13:34, 15:12, 15:17, Rom 12:10, 13:8, 1Pet 1:22, 1Jn 3:11, 3:23, 4:7, 4:11, 4:12, 2Jn 1:5)

                            James’ letter is full of examples of what that means in practice.

                            As Paul says:
                            For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faithworking through love. (Gal 5:6)
                            All my quotes are from the NT. No need to go to OT law.

                            I will leave it there. But I will read your response if you make one.

                            God bless

                            Bede
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by William View Post

                              The article states:



                              The article is excellent. The bolded text is an awesome way of putting it.

                              I'm under the impression that the OP thinks the second underlined portion is negative? Isn't it the difference of ignoring 'tota scriptura' or isolating one book leaving it out of its context which is in 66 books of the bible?

                              Please clarify if I am wrong or missing the point?

                              God bless,
                              William
                              I think orthodox Protestants always approach the Bible as one book with internal exegetical rules that determine how it should be read. One rule that is certainly taught in Lutheran circles (and I would assume in other orthodox Protestant churches) is that a disputable or unclear passage should be read in the light of a clear passage, and furthermore that a descriptive passage should be read in the light of a prescriptive passage. In other words dogma is determined by clear dogmatic passages and other passages need to be read in the light of those.

                              An example would be the words of baptism. In Acts, we read of people being "baptized in Jesus' Name" which has led some people to think that this was the formula of the Apostles and they do their baptisms that way. However, the commandment given by Christ was "in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit". Clearly dogma vs historic description. The church must go with the commandment (dogma) and understand that the words in Acts as being descriptive of authority and effect- as the Greek suggests anyway.

                              Take this rule to the book of James. It is not difficult to see James in harmony with Paul, but Paul is being forensic and dogmatic whereas James is being poimenic. James is not an argument against Paul, but rather complementary pastoral teaching.

                              A second rule that follows from this is also important. In orthodox Lutheran theology we always draw dogma from undisputed books. That is, books that were historically questioned by some in the church (called antilegomena) are read in the light of books never questioned (called homologoumena). Hence, we read James (which is called antilegomena by the ancient church historians etc) in the light of Romans (which was universally received as authentic scripture).

                              When Luther posited his initial objection to James, he no doubt knew of its disputed position in the ancients. In his time, all the books of the Bible were not treated as one homogenous entity of equal authority. This treatment changing to all books being equal is something that occurred after Luther. In time Luther softened in his criticism of book and that's why it remained in his NT.
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