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Origen

Does the Epistle of James belong in the Canon of Scripture?

Does the Epistle of James belong in the Canon of Scripture?  

12 members have voted

  1. 1. Does the Epistle of James belong in the Canon of Scripture?



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"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.

 

But this James does nothing more than drive to the law and its works. Besides, he throws things together so chaotically that it seems to me he must have been some good, pious man, who took a few sayings from the disciples of the apostles and thus tossed them off on paper. Or it may perhaps have been written by someone on the basis of his preaching. He calls the law a "law of liberty" [1:25], though Paul calls it a law of slavery, of wrath, of death, and of sin.

 

Moreover he cites the sayings of St. Peter [in 5:20]; Love covers a multitude of sins" [1 Pet. 4:8], and again [in 4:10], "Humble yourselves under he had of God" [1 Pet. 5:6] also the saying of St. Paul in Galatians 5[:17], "The Spirit lusteth against envy." And yet, in point of time, St. James was put to death by Herod [Acts 12:2] in Jerusalem, before St. Peter. So it seems that [this author] came long after St. Peter and St. Paul.

 

In a word, he wanted to guard against those who relied on faith without works, but was unequal to the task in spirit, thought, and words. He mangles the Scriptures and thereby opposes Paul and all Scripture.He tries to accomplish by harping on the law what the apostles accomplish by stimulating people to love.Therefore I cannot include him among the chief books, though I would not thereby prevent anyone from including or extolling him as he pleases, for there are otherwise many good sayings in him. Therefore I will not have him in my Bible to be numbered among the true chief books, though I would not thereby prevent anyone from including or extolling him as he pleases, for there are otherwise many good sayings in him. One man is no man in worldly things; how then, should this single man alone avail against Paul and all Scripture.

 

Concerning the epistle of St. Jude, no one can deny that it is an extract or copy of St. Peter's second epistle, so very like it are all the words. He also speaks of the apostles like a disciple who comes long after them [Jude 17] and cites sayings and incidents that are found nowhere else in the Scriptures [Jude 9, 14]. This moved the ancient Fathers to exclude this epistle from the main body of the Scriptures. Moreover the Apostle Jude did not go to Greek-speaking lands, but to Persia, as it is said, so that he did not write Greek. Therefore, although I value this book, it is an epistle that need not be counted among the chief books which are supposed to lay the foundations of faith.

 

 

Martin Luther

 

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Good for Luther, but I already know what he thought. I want to know what others here think.

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The canonisation of scripture, leading to the production of an extended 'Text Book', when Christ came to move Religion up a notch to Faith, was a wholly man-made initiative.

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Good for Luther, but I already know what he thought. I want to know what others here think.

 

I am not going to be more charitable towards the Creeds and Confessions of Christiandom than to Scripture. With Creeds and Confessions I generally think most often a persons own understanding is brought to light and tested. I think the same thing regarding James. I think a lot of people misunderstand James and find it difficult to reconcile Jame's writings with other authors in the Bible. Most often I find they are ignoring "tota Scriptura". They are less than charitable towards James than themselves. There is a saying that unbelievers will find many reasons to not believe. Likewise, I find if someone is trying to substantiate their own contradictions they will find it in Scripture.

 

God bless,

William

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Good for Luther, but I already know what he thought. I want to know what others here think.

 

James is a book that makes you work for comprehension. Like Revelation, it is an easy book to pluck a verse out and run with it to say all sorts of crazy things. On the other hand, it is a book full of real life answers for the sort of hard real life issues that people struggle with.

 

Can a man really have saving faith and yield NO fruitful works in his life? Churches are full of people whose lips say 'yes'. James stands up to them and throws down a gauntlet ... accusing them of having a dead and ineffectual faith.

 

Just standing by and watching my local church over time, I have seen those who talked a great game, but whose every action screamed liar! When they fall, we (the Christians watching and struggling to figure this whole God and Jesus thing out) are left wondering if the Armineans were correct. Is it partially of our work? Can we loose it? James sets us straight. Where we saw what looked like faith without the works of obedience that spring from a changed heart, we are really just seeing a dead faith ... a counterfeit faith ... a faith whose true nature was ultimately revealed.

 

Flip side of that coin, when we see the change in our heart produce a change in our life, we have assurance that our faith is genuine. God really does love us. We really are forgiven. This whole Jesus and God thing is hard to figure out, because it really is real. Guess what, life is hard to figure out. Only sound bytes designed to sell me something try to make life simple.

 

So for me, I say "Heck yeah, James belongs."

 

That's what I think.

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James is a book that makes you work for comprehension. Like Revelation, it is an easy book to pluck a verse out and run with it to say all sorts of crazy things. On the other hand, it is a book full of real life answers for the sort of hard real life issues that people struggle with.

 

Can a man really have saving faith and yield NO fruitful works in his life? Churches are full of people whose lips say 'yes'. James stands up to them and throws down a gauntlet ... accusing them of having a dead and ineffectual faith.

 

Just standing by and watching my local church over time, I have seen those who talked a great game, but whose every action screamed liar! When they fall, we (the Christians watching and struggling to figure this whole God and Jesus thing out) are left wondering if the Armineans were correct. Is it partially of our work? Can we loose it? James sets us straight. Where we saw what looked like faith without the works of obedience that spring from a changed heart, we are really just seeing a dead faith ... a counterfeit faith ... a faith whose true nature was ultimately revealed.

 

Flip side of that coin, when we see the change in our heart produce a change in our life, we have assurance that our faith is genuine. God really does love us. We really are forgiven. This whole Jesus and God thing is hard to figure out, because it really is real. Guess what, life is hard to figure out. Only sound bytes designed to sell me something try to make life simple.

 

So for me, I say "Heck yeah, James belongs."

 

That's what I think.

 

Everything you shared of James reminded me of John 15:

 

I Am the True Vine

 

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

 

God bless,

William

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I say 'No'.

 

 

Please vote in the poll.

 

God bless,

William

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James was a respected leader of the early church in Jerusalem. Though he wasn't an apostle since he'd lived with Jesus for 30 years, I believe that he knew Jesus and His teachings as well as the apostles did which is why his epistle certainly does belong in the bible. Works are the outward manifestation of the faith you have within. Works however aren't a prerequisite of salvation — "For I [the LORD] desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

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"But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother."

 

Doesn't Gal. 1:19 at the very least imply that James was considered an apostle?

Edited by Origen
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Please vote in the poll.

 

God bless,

William

 

Needs another option, like "Scripture ought not to have been canonised" and then I would be able to vote.

Neither "yes, no, or don't know" fit my belief.

Sorry bout that.

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Greetings to you David and thank you, I pray that the links are helpful on this topic and used for the glory of God and for the edification of the saints.

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I'm being new to this forum, and I ask how do you navigate and more importantly began a new post?

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I'm being new to this forum, and I ask how do you navigate and more importantly began a new post?

 

From the "home" page navigate or choose your category or subforum. When you open them you'll see a "new topic" button which will allow you to begin your own thread in that category or subforum:

 

1724651379_NewTopic.thumb.jpg.1ab0cb448190a77025413218827a2d0e.jpg

 

 

God bless,

William

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What would be some of the reasons not to except James as part of the canon of scripture?

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Hi Guppy, first off, WELCOME TO CF :)

 

As far as St. James' Epistle goes, there is a great misunderstanding as to its true purpose and meaning (and the reason St. James wrote what he did about faith and works). The basis of the problem is found in what appears to be a direct contradiction to the teachings of the Apostle Paul, and it's been exacerbated by the Roman Catholic Church in their attempts to answer the Reformers' (Protestants') claim of sola fide (faith alone). Here are some examples for you to compare (I'll include the entirety of the "problem" text from St. James, and I'll give you several examples from St. Paul's Epistles to show you the apparent contradiction).

James 2

14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?

15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,

16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?

17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?

21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?

22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected;

23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God.

24 You see that
a man is justified by works and not by faith alone
.

25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

 

The RC "gotcha" verse is v24 (see above) because, when taken out of context, it appears to directly contradict the "battle cry" and instrumental cause of the Reformation, sole fide (Justification by Faith Alone).

 

OK, with James 2:24 in mind, let's look at some of the things St. Paul wrote:

Romans 3

28 We maintain that
a man is justified by faith apart from works
of the Law.

 

Romans 4

5 To the one who
does not work, but believes
in Him who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

 

Romans 11

6 If it is by grace, it is
no longer on the basis of works
, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

 

Ephesians 2

8 By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

9
not as a result of works
, so that no one may boast.

 

Titus 3

5 He saved us,
not on the basis of deeds
which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy.

 

This is further complicated by the facts that 1) BOTH St. Paul and St. James use Abraham as their example/proof and 2) they both use the same Greek word δικαιόω [dikaioo] for "justified".

 

As a result, Luther (in his younger days) called St. James Epistle an "epistle of straw", and some, even today, still question whether it should be included in the Canon (which I believe we've just seen in this very thread).

 

So there's the problem in the nutshell, so to speak. If you'd like to know how the apparent problem (contradiction) is resolved, just let me know.

 

Yours and His,

David

p.s. - the Lord tells us how we can be justified and receive eternal life as well. Here's an example of what He has to say about this matter.

John 5

24He who
hears
My word, and
believes
Him who sent Me,
has
eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

 

Edited by David Lee
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