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Thread: Determination of the Canon and Sola Scriptura

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    Re: Impassioned Response to Challenges

    Originally posted by BillTwisse
    Well, brethren, I’m buried! I feel like I’m facing the emperor in Star Wars who boldly asserted to Luke: How can you defeat my POWER? The authority of historical and purportedly OBJECTIVE church dogmatics is seemingly invincible. Churchianity is objective, a single believer represents merely a puke-poor subjective opinion, right? Can my pathetic and broken humpty dumpty ever be put back together again? Ichabod, the glory has departed!
    i don't mean to give the impression that i'm buying the authority of councils argument. that is not my point. i see trouble with the entire subject which is why i started the thread. neither method leaves a good feeling in my stomach. i see something wrong with both approaches (both objective councils and subjective internal working of the Spirit) and neither really makes it certain in my mind. but i do see a big problem with what you seem to be saying - that we somehow determine a particular systematic theology or understanding of the gospel and weigh all of the contributors to the issue based upon their adherence to what you've determined is the standard. my whole issue is that if two believers are convinced through the leading of the Spirit (in conjunction with agreement of the full-corn gospel) on different canon lists then how are we to determine which is wrong and which is right? and who makes that determination? if i say that i believe james is to be understood a certain way and back it up with sound exegesis and that it is therefore canonical and you disagree how are we to determine who is right and who is wrong and again who makes that determination? i don't know if we're connecting here and if you're really understanding the dilemma. it seems to me that you are missing what i'm saying and that you are not gathering the full force of what i'm struggling with.

    By the way, I apologize for not making myself clear. In no way am I interested in 4th century lists supporting James. By that time many had a good reason to incorporate the works theology of James; to further the authority of the institutional and state church. I’m only interested in any ‘non-Judaic’ Christian lists from the second or early third centuries. I’m not denying that they exist; I just have not found them in my reading of any prominent scholars on the issue (such as Van Campenhausen).
    da carson (or others) gives a good explanation in his "introduction to the NT" of reasons for delayed acceptance. i believe he does a fine job of explaining that it was not used in the gentile churches early on because it was not relevant to their situation. it was, however, used in jewish churches as many of the subjects were directly applicable to those christian jews who were meeting early on in the synagogues. the same goes for the book of hebrews. if you want me to quote the introduction directly just let me know and i'll be glad to type it in for you. here are some other links i found that discuss various theories as to why it wasn't in the early lists:

    http://www.religion-online.org/cgi-b...chapter_id=559
    http://www.angelfire.com/ny4/djw/lut...erwitness.html
    http://gbgm-umc.org/umw/james/Background/Canon.htm

    I fully recognize the gospels, Acts, and Paul as canonical. These books were accepted fully by all believers no later than the second century. This undisputed canon is not unlike Christ’s tri-fold OT canon of the Law, Prophets, and Psalms.
    so would you essenstially hold to the homologoumena (i.e., Gospels, Acts, Paul, 1 Pe, and 1 John) as Scripture and the antilegomena (i.e., Heb, 2 Pe, 2&3 John, James, Jude, and Rev) as disputable and probably not Scripture? is that basically what you're saying? it seems that you reject james for the reason that james 2 seems to contradict paul and what you see as the full-corn gospel and that cults misuse it for their false doctrines. if it can be shown that james 2 accords very nicely with paul and the full-corn in the ear gospel and that the argument that it is non-canonical because false teachers use it for support is a weak argument then would you accept it as canonical?

    The gospel revealed to Paul in its fullness is objective, never subjective. The believers who originally received God’s revelation are those we need to listen to.
    which ones? if it can be shown through sound critical scholarship (by those who accept the full-corn in the ear gospel) that the antilegomena are authentic would you accept them as canonical? which believers who originally received God's revelation would you be referring to here? we need to stop speaking in generalities and start talking specifics here. i'm really interested to know which believers you will listen to and to which you assemble your canon based upon. can you give me something concrete or some objective evidence or list that shows what you're talking about? right now what you're saying seems sort of cloudy.

    So on this issue in particular, which list and which believers are you listening to? how do you determine your canon? if it is smaller than the canon protestants currently have, on what basis have you made this detemination and why? and if my list is different from yours based on what i sense is enlightened by the Holy Spirit in the true gospel then who's list is correct? on what basis can you call mine corrupt?

    Believers will never agree on everything, as has already been evidenced. I am not upset if James 2:14-26 is read in public worship, even though I personally believe that passage to be 1) a polemic against the Pauline gospel, 2) the confident basis of all cultic theology, and certainly 3) non-scripture. But I respect other believers who view it differently. Self-authentication of a passage in the gospel is demonstrated by the fruit it bears or the lack thereof. For me, the fruit of James 2:14-26 is evident: it is the confident basis of every works-theology teaching in existence that has departed from the gospel for the last 2000 years.
    again, you have not responded to the fact that false teachers have always wrested the Scriptures to support their theology. just look at what marcion did. recall what peter said (but you evidently do not regard it as peter):

    2 Pe 3:15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

    just look at what the pharisees did with the OT Scriptures. and Jesus did not throw the books out because they used them to support their human tradition but rightly explained them and refuted the false teachers. this is exactly what we are to do today:

    Titus 1:9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

    2 Tim 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


    let us not throw out what may be Scripture simply because we cannot adequately refute those who contradict. perhaps the issue is that the passage in question is not correctly understood by some.

    I do believe that Luther truly understood what James 2:14-26 is saying in its polemic against Paul. 99% of Christians have never read his eloquent and (to me) flawless argument. Unfortunately, I will have to search for the reference as I once read it and have forgot where it is. But I remember the main details of what he had to say:
    if you find it, please direct me to it. i'll let you know if i find it.

    1. Paul NEVER refers to a dead faith, neither does any other apostle or author of the New Testament. The notion of a dead faith is blasphemy to Paul. Since faith is a product of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, any suggestion that the faith in Christ revealed in the gospel might be ‘dead’ is a denial of that very gospel.
    but do you recognize that authors have different styles, audiences, subjects they're dealing with, contexts, etc.? different authors sometimes use words differently. da carson's helpful little book "exegetical fallacies" discusses this fallacy. here is a paraphrase of what he says: Neglect of Distinguishing Peculiarities of a Corpus – The fallacy involved in this case is the false assumption that the writer’s predominant usage of any word is roughly that of all other writers; very often that is no the case. Paul used “called” differently from Jesus. “Righteousness” is not the same in Matthew and in Romans. see this article to see how this applies to the current discussion.

    aside from that, do you see any distinction in types of faith? for example, do you recognize a faith which is not of the right kind or for the right reasons or in the right object? in the following, do you see this faith as faith which justified the person?

    John 2:23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. 24 But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, 25 and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.

    John 8:30 As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. 31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."

    Acts 8:13 Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.

    2. The ’men from James’ in Galatians were the fathers of a Judaistic pseudo-Christianity whose hero was James and arch-enemy was Paul.
    but it needs to be proven that this james is the same james that was the leader of the Judaizers. from what i understand, while there were judaizers from the jerusalem church that james did not teach this. just read acts 15. james is in hearty agreement with paul and the others. gentiles did not need to be circumcised and keep the law to be saved. so this argument is quite specious.

    3. Abraham and Rahab were NEVER justified by works. Just the opposite! Abraham was justified by FAITH when he offered up Isaac, not works. His works were ABHORRENT in all human estimation--he was willing to commit murder! But his willingness to obey God’s strange command evidenced the principle of faith (in God’s power to resurrect) as opposed to works. Likewise, Rahab was justified by FAITH when she hid the spies sent by God, not works! How do we know that major sexual sin did not occur between Rahab and the spies--we don’t! It may have or it may not have. We only know that Rahab was convicted that she needed to protect them because of their sanctified mission in the Lord! Others in her vicinity may have performed better WORKS of philanthropy toward the poor than her. She lied! However, she knew in the Spirit (as opposed to her natural ‘flesh’) that a greater thing was happening. God was working his infinite and sovereign will in history! So she was justified by her faith, NEVER by her works.
    but you're assuming that james is talking about justification before God or that he's using DIKAIOW in the same sense and context that paul is using it in romans 3-4. this needs to be shown that this is so from context and through exegesis and not tacitly and hastily assumed. james 2 has an entirely different context and different author than romans 3-4. we can't just rush to say that they contradict eachother without giving it a closer look. the following articles dispel this myth quite nicely if you ask me:

    http://www.monergism.com/thethreshol...pic/works.html
    http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org...e/JamesPau.htm
    http://www.gty.org/Curiosity_Shop/james2.htm
    http://www.soundofgrace.com/piper99/8-8-99.htm
    http://www.gty.org.uk/articles/faithaccordjames.htm
    http://www.gracesermons.com/robbeeee/jamespaul.html
    http://www.str.org/free/commentaries/theology/works.htm
    http://www.reformedtheology.ca/faithworks.html
    http://www.mbrem.com/shorttakes/fthworks.htm
    http://www.biblicaltheology.com/Research/CarterJ01.html
    http://www.fcfonline.org/20799.htm
    http://www.reformedtheology.ca/faithworks.html
    http://www.crowhill.net/justification.html
    http://www.graceonlinelibrary.org/et...ndly.asp?ID=95
    http://www.onceforall.com/abraham.htm
    http://www.hickorytech.net/~immanuel.../09_James.html
    http://www.xenos.org/teachings/nt/ja...y/james2-2.htm
    http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/59-15.HTM
    http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/59-16.HTM
    http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/FRUITLES.TXT
    http://www.biblebb.com/files/HOWKNOW.TXT
    http://gbgm-umc.org/umw/james/Background/FaithWorks.htm
    http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/90-21.HTM

    also see another thread which discusses this passage here

    [continued...]
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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    Re: Impassioned Response to Challenges

    [continued...]

    just as a quick excerpt here's what a few theologians (that i think/hope you might accept) say about this issue:

    John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 3:17:12
    "It appears certain that [James] is speaking of the manifestation, not of the imputation of righteousness, as if he had said, Those who are justified by faith prove their justification by obedience and good works, not by a bare and imaginary semblance of faith. In one word, he is not discussing the mode of justification, but requiring that the justification of all believers shall be operative. And as Paul contends that men are justified without the aid of works, so James will not allow any to be regarded as Justified who are destitute of good works. . . . Let them twist the words of James as they may, they will never extract out of them more than two propositions: That an empty phantom of faith does not justify, and that the believer, not contented with such an imagination, manifests his justification by good works."

    Calvin's Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles
    "from this one sentence it appears evident that the whole dispute is not about faith, but of the common knowledge of God, which can no more connect man with God, than the sight of the sun carry him up to heaven; but it is certain that by faith we come nigh to God. Besides, it would be ridiculous were anyone to say that the devils have [real] faith; and James prefers them in this respect to hypocrites."

    Thomas Manton
    "Bare assent to the articles of religion doth not infer true faith.... Well, then do not mistake a naked illumination, or some general acknowledgement of the articles of religion for faith. A man may be right in opinion and judgement, but of vile affections; and a carnal Christian is in as great danger as a pagan, or idolater, or heretic; for though his judgement be sound, yet his manners are heterodox and heretical. True believing is not an act of the understanding only, but a work of ‘all the heart’ Acts viii. 37."

    "So faith without works.—The Papists understand true justifying faith, for they suppose it may be without works; but dead faith cannot be true faith, as a carcase is not a true man, and a true faith cannot be without works, Gal. v. 6. We must understand then, an external profession of belief, which, because of some resemblance with what is true, is called faith. Is dead; that is, false or useless to all ends and purposes of faith.”

    Matthew Poole
    "Faith is made perfect by works declaratively, inasmuch as works evidence and manifest the perfection and strength of faith. Faith is the cause, and works are the effects; but the cause is not perfected by the effect, only its perfection is demonstrated by it, as good fruit doth not make a tree good, but show that it is so. See II Cor. xii. 9."

    Martin Luther
    In James 2:26, Luther explains that before God, we are justified by faith alone, without works, but "Before the people and himself, he is justified through works, that is, he thereby becomes known and certain himself that he honestly believes and is pious"

    Commentary on Romans: "Faith is not something dreamed, a human illusion although this is what many people understand by the term. Whenever they see that it is not followed either by an improvement in morals or by good works, while much is still being said about faith, they fall into the error of declaring that faith is not enough, that we must do works if we are to become upright and attain salvation. The reason is that when they hear the gospel they miss the point. In their hearts and out of their own resources they conjure up an idea which they call belief which they treat as genuine faith. All the same, it is but a human fabrication, an idea without a corresponding experience in the depths of the heart. It is therefore ineffective and not followed by a better kind of life,..."Faith, however, is something that God effects in us. It changes us and we are reborn from God. Faith puts the old Adam to death and makes us quite different men in heart, in mind and in all our powers. And it is accompanied by the Holy Spirit. Oh, when it comes to faith, what a living creative active powerful thing it is. It cannot do other than good at all times. It never waits to ask whether there is some good work to do, rather before the question is raised, it has done the deed and keeps on doing it. A man not active in this way is a man without faith. He is groping about for faith and searching for good works but knows neither what faith is nor what good works are. Nevertheless he keeps on talking nonsense about faith and good works. It is impossible indeed to separate works from faith just as it is impossible to separate heat and light from fire,"

    Charles Spurgeon
    What James does mean, however, is this, no doubt, in brief and short, that while faith saves, it is faith of a certain kind. No man is saved by persuading himself that he is saved; nobody is saved by believing Jesus Christ died for him. That may be, or may not be, true in the sense in which he understands it. In a certain sense Christ died for all men, but since it is evident that many men are lost, Christ's dying for all men is not at all a ground upon which any man may hope to be saved. Christ died for some men in another sense, in a peculiar and special sense. No man has a right to believe that Christ peculiarly and specially died for him until he has an evidence of it in casting himself upon Christ, and trusting in Jesus, and bringing forth suitable works to evince the reality of his faith. The faith that saves is not a historical faith, not a faith that simply believes a creed and certain facts: I have no doubt devils are very orthodox; I do not know which church they belong to, though there are some in all churches; there was one in Christ's Church when he was on earth, for he said one was filled with devils; and there are some in all churches. Devils believe all the facts of revelation. I do not believe they have a doubt; they have suffered too much from the hand of God to doubt his existence! They have felt too much the terror of his wrath to doubt the righteousness of his government. They are stern believers, but they are not saved; and such a faith, if it be in us, will not, cannot, save us, but will remain to all intents and purposes a dead, inoperative faith. It is a faith which produces works which saves us; the works do not save us; but a faith which does not produce works is a faith that will only deceive, and cannot lead us into heaven.

    Jonathan Edwards
    "However, James is clear that although this belief a good thing, it is definitely not proof that a person is saved. What he means is this: "You say you are a Christian and you are in God's favor. You think God will let you into heaven, and the proof of it is, you believe in God. But that is no evidence at all, because the demons also believe, and they are sure to be punished in hell...It must be understood, that when the Bible talks about believing that Jesus is the Son of God, as a proof of God's grace in the heart, the Bible means not a mere agreement with the truth, but another kind of believing. "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." (1 John 5:1) This other kind of believing is called "the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness." (Titus 1:1)

    John Piper
    James' concern is with a kind of counterfeit faith that does not produce love. This faith cannot justify anybody. Verse 14: "What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?" You see his concern. "Can that faith save him?" Such faith is not going to save. What kind of works is James interested in? The same kind Paul is - the works of love. Verses 15-16: "If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 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?" So James' concern is that people have real saving faith, not counterfeit faith. And the difference is that the real faith produces loving behavior.

    He has three ways of describing this counterfeit faith. First in verse 17, he says it is dead: "Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself." It is dead faith. If faith does not "work through love" as Paul said, it is dead. Second, in verse 19 he says, "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder." There is a faith that even devils have, namely, belief in right doctrine. The faith that justifies and works through love is not simply belief in right doctrines like, "God is one." Devils can be orthodox at the intellectual level. They believe. But it doesn't save them. So there is dead faith and devil faith. Third, he says in verse 20, "But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?" So there is useless, idle, ineffective, vain, empty faith.

    4. It is virtually a denial of the gospel to compare WORKS to the SPIRIT and FAITH to the BODY. The reverse is true! Faith is comparable to the SPIRIT and works are comparable to the BODY! All of the Bible reveals that although the body is essential and not to be depreciated; the spirit is superior. The fact that James (or later perverts, as I believe is the case) would twist this around is unthinkable. These false teachers had no respect for the Pauline gospel.
    but this is a figure of speech. he's not comparing the two (or four) at all. it's not that WORKS=SPIRIT and FAITH=BODY. read the context. understand the figure. your rejection comes from a seeming ignorance (or ignoring) of context. the writer is not using the words in the same exact context and in the same sense that paul uses them elsewhere. please do not miss the forest through the trees. let's look at it:

    James 2:26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

    do you see the figure? a corpse without a spirit in it thereby being dead (without life) is similar to a faith that doesn't result in works (look at context; he is discussing a type of faith that has no works, cf. James 2:14f). both are dead. both are lifeless and meaningless. both lack life. both have something wrong with them. but notice that he is NOT saying that WORKS=SPIRIT and FAITH=BODY. this understanding is to completely miss the point of the figure of speech. it really is a beautiful word picture, that is, if you can see it.

    and what about the gospels or acts or perhaps 1 john and 1 peter? what if they have something to say about this?

    Does it allow for the fact that those who have died to sin should not still live in it? does this full-corn gospel allow for the fact that any man that is in Christ is a new creation/creature? does it allow for the fact that you are saved by it, if you hold fast the word which was preached? does it allow that a tree is known by its fruit? does it allow for the fact that true repentance will result in appropriate fruit? if not, then this full-corn gospel is perhaps a full-rotten-corn gospel. the entire epistle of james fits in very nicely with the rest of the message of the NT. just read Romans 6; 1 Co 15:2, 2 Co 5:17, Eph 2:10; Col 1:23; Titus 2:14, 3:14; Heb 3-6, 10; and 1 John.

    I am very disappointed by this argument. James is not arguing merely for the necessity of fruitful obedience (in the tradition of Matthew and Paul himself). Paul received the final revelation of the gospel (the ‘full corn in the ear’). To claim that those who accept his testimony might not completely accept the implications of a tree known by its fruit--this is very disheartening to me. That is all I have to say on this subject. Please defend the fruit of James 2:14-26 in Christian history. It goes far beyond supporting the necessity of obedience to Christ--it affirms that men are justified by works. Inform me of all the priceless good it has accomplished in comparison to the works-free gospel revealed to Paul.
    see above.

    If we cannot know from the rest of the New Testament the truth of holding fast, the necessity of bearing fruit, etc. then we are indeed very miserable and unenlightened.
    i never said that this was the ONLY place in the NT that speaks on this. but this is yet another place that does speak on it, according very well with the tradition of Matthew and Paul himself. there are no contradictions. that would go along with the concept that the main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things. also the saying that if you have one verse to support your doctrine you have no verses and no such doctrine. see all the articles above.

    also understanding the pragmatics (e.g., context and flow) of the text of james 2 as well as the greek grammar, it becomes apparent what he is talking about. first of all, in greek, the definite article is just a later product of the demonstrative pronoun (EKEINOS - that, hOUTOS - this). it is used to identify the particular or singular item. the function of the definite article in greek is much different than the function of the article in english, however a parallel example in english though would be to contrast "the mechanic" with "a mechanic". while greek doesn't have an indefinite article the lack of a definite article often indicates quality, nature, essence, type, kind, etc. so "the mechanic" would specify, quantify, or identify a particular or specific mechanic while "a mechanic" would describe quality, type, or kind. with that said the Greek of v. 14 reads:

    James 2:14 Ti to ofelov, adelfoi mou, ean pistin legh tis exein, erga de mh exh? mh dunatai h pistis swsai auton?
    James 2:14 what advantage (use, good) is it, my brethren, if someone says they have [a particular kind or type of] faith yet they don't have works? can the/that [the type of faith that is said only] faith save him?

    notice that in the first ocurrence of faith (PISTIS) there is no article and the second ocurrence there is a definite article. thisi is done to introduce a particular quality of faith (that has no works) and the second question is reference back to that specific kind of faith (the kind that has no works). so whatever james is talking about, he's talking about a person who simply says (LEGW) that they have faith. he has in mind a faith of a particular kind, nature, quality, etc. he's talking about those who trust in a mere profession or association with the faith to save them. also vv. 15-17 is almost an exact parallel of what john says in 1 John:

    James 2:15 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.

    1 John 3:17 But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. 19 We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him


    he further talks about those who trust in the SHEMA (cf. Deut 6:4f) and belief in the one God to save them and that demons at least tremble:

    James 2:19 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?

    so notice throughout that say (LEGW - speak, say) and show (DEIKNUW - show, demonstrate, expose, give evidence of) are very significant in james' argument. the person being discussed is a person who's faith is no more than mere verbal assent. this faith, james argues, is useless, dead, and demon type faith. it stops short of actually embracing the Son of God and following Him. it trusts in mere orthodox doctrine and a signing on the dotted line to rescue from sin, death, and judgment. this type of faith, according to the entire NT, is worthless. it is like the faith of the seed that believed for a moment and then was proven to be not the right kind (cf. Mt 13, Mk 4, Lk 8).

    as martin luther said in his commentary on romans:

    "Faith is not something dreamed, a human illusion although this is what many people understand by the term. Whenever they see that it is not followed either by an improvement in morals or by good works, while much is still being said about faith, they fall into the error of declaring that faith is not enough, that we must do works if we are to become upright and attain salvation. The reason is that when they hear the gospel they miss the point. In their hearts and out of their own resources they conjure up an idea which they call belief which they treat as genuine faith. All the same, it is but a human fabrication, an idea without a corresponding experience in the depths of the heart. It is therefore ineffective and not followed by a better kind of life,..."Faith, however, is something that God effects in us. It changes us and we are reborn from God. Faith puts the old Adam to death and makes us quite different men in heart, in mind and in all our powers. And it is accompanied by the Holy Spirit. Oh, when it comes to faith, what a living creative active powerful thing it is. It cannot do other than good at all times. It never waits to ask whether there is some good work to do, rather before the question is raised, it has done the deed and keeps on doing it. A man not active in this way is a man without faith. He is groping about for faith and searching for good works but knows neither what faith is nor what good works are. Nevertheless he keeps on talking nonsense about faith and good works. It is impossible indeed to separate works from faith just as it is impossible to separate heat and light from fire,"
    [continued...]
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

  3. #23
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    Re: Impassioned Response to Challenges

    [continued...]

    Abraham's faith was made complete or shown as real by the fact that he responded in obedience. this is the message of 1 John as well. the apostles and Jesus and John the Baptist were in complete agreement on this point. to miss this, is to miss what it means to be a believer.

    Where does Paul say that true faith is incomplete and needs additional proof of its genuine content? Chapter and verse please! 1 John certainly repeats the Pauline perspective that those who simply believe with an ’amen’ have eternal life!
    Rom 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith."

    Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    1 Cor 13:2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

    1 Cor 15:1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

    2 Cor 13:5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you unless indeed you fail the test? 6 But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test. 7 Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved. 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.

    Gal 3:11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, "The righteous man shall live by faith." 12 However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, "He who practices them shall live by them."

    Gal 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.

    Eph 2:8 For 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. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

    Phil 2:12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

    Col 1:23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

    1 Th 3:5 For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain. 6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you, 7 for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith; 8 for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord. 9 For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, 10 as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith? 11 Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you; 12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; 13 so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.

    1 Tim 1:19 keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.


    perhaps the exact words you are looking for are not used but the concept is definitely there. what does it mean "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!" how does one do this? is this merely a doctrinal test? is this merely a test of what you verbally affirm? if so then why does paul say, "Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved. 8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth."
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    From another thread...

    below is a cut and paste of what i said in another thread on these boards:

    the perfect verse for this discussion is phil 2:12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

    we are to work out our salvation on the one hand (v. 12), but on the other hand it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. just as ephesians 2:8-10 says 8 For 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. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. our salvation is not dependent on our works as if our works were the cause of it, but we are indeed created for good works. we are saved that we may be holy not because we are already holy or as a result of our holiness (1 pet 1:14ff). nowhere in scripture do we find the declaration that if you're holy enough you can be or will be saved.

    now for the so-called Christian who wants to claim his salvation yet live however he pleases, he should not be so sure. his faith may not be the type of faith that saves (justifies). this is exactly what james is referring to in chapter 2 of the epistle that bears his name. that's why he uses such terminology as say (v. 14), see (v. 22, 24), and show (v. 18). in james 2:14 it says What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? what use is it to say you have faith if you have no works? grammatically his question should read, "can that type of faith (the type of faith that just says and doesn't do) save him? it is ridiculous for someone to make a claim or justify themselves w/o any evidence. this is to what james is referring. in fact, if we investigate this further along with paul's declaration in romans 4:2-5 it seems we have a contradiction.

    Romans 4:2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,
    if we take both romans 4:2-5 and james 2:14-26 to mean exactly the same thing and to have the same context then we have a flat out contradiction. one says, you see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone (jas 2:24) while the other says For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. (romans 4:2) take note the phrase but not before God. upon closer investigation it is clear that these passages are not talking about the same thing. we see that paul is referencing gen 15:6 (when abraham did nothing yet but believe) while james is referencing gen 22:1-14 (when abraham demonstrated that belief by offering up isaac). both paul and james use the same Greek word for justify and both appeal to the same person for their illustration. the difference is that they appeal to different events because they are making different arguments. just look at the context of both romans 4 and james 2 and you'll understand. abraham in romans 4 (gen 15:6) was justified before God by faith alone and in james 2 (gen 22) was justified before men when he offered up isaac. also it is interesting to note that the word justify can also mean demonstrated or shown as righteous or just (see mt 11:19, lk 7:35).
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    Tranquility and Repentance

    Dear Pilgrim,

    I certainly thank you in the Lord for taking the time to compose this massive summary of your convictions. It must have taken you many hours. Much of it I agree with, however, I wish that I could respond to every issue that disturbs me. I cannot, at least for now. So we will have to be at peace until the Lord settles any matters of difference between us--whether sooner or later!

    I cannot change the fact that God in his sovereignty put James in our current Bible, or any other book for that matter. To me, the issue is studying and determining how we ended up where we are today. Historical revisionism would propose that our current Bible (and its exact number of books and content) was somehow preserved entirely in God's providence from the first century on. In this view, it is unthinkable that the assemblies established by Paul had any different Bible than our own! Others believe that one exact manuscript (the 'received text') was handed down from the first century!

    I apologize for my over-expressions of emotion that certainly were manifested in my posts. God's truth stands forever, regardless of what any of us think! All of us have iniquities that are as numerous as the hairs of our head.

    I have read this material many times over the last 29 years. Not every one that you supplied, for sure! Even though the arguments vary, the presuppositions are basically the same. In my estimation, all of these men presuppose that our current canon has to be defended (since it is unthinkable that God did not hand it to us 'as is' in his providence)--so they begin with that assumption and proceed to argue their defense. I cannot accept that hermeneutical method. If I suspect that it colors the argument, it is hard for me to view the material as objective.

    None of this is unlike sectarian defenses of Sabbatarianism, sacramentalism, tithing, water regeneration, etc. All of these start with what is to be proved and then search the scriptures for the evidence of what is already assumed.

    Most scholars recognize the early date of James (pre-Jerusalem council). If they are correct in their assertions, James had not yet learned the fullness of the gospel that Paul later shared. If Paul could have learned this from James, John, and Peter; there would have been no need for him to be taught directly by the Lord. But that was not the Lord's purpose.

    I fully accept the necessity of holiness and that without it no one will see the Lord. To me, James goes beyond this truth. He is not merely saying that the power of the Holy Spirit who generates faith will inevitably also make holy. Words mean things! I don't assume that the words of James 2:13-26 have to be made to fit Paul. If I did that, I would already be assuming that it was canonical.

    Certainly Heard is wrong in his assertion that James was not accepted because it was 'too simple' and not theological enough. I have never heard a weaker argument. This smacks of the notion that Paul is too complicated, therefore, God had to appoint someone who could 'tell it straight from the heart!' But Paul received God's ultimate revelation and James was not even an apostle. Sorry, this just doesn't work for me.

    In my current thinking, I do agree with Pieper on the 'greater' and 'lesser' canon (I'm trying to simplify by not using terms such as homologonmena and antilegomena!), but not in the terms that you expressed. The 'lesser' canon is still authoritative, but it derives its authority from the greater. It is scripture--but must be judged by the greater and more perfect revelation. Otherwise it has no power. James and Jude have to be judged by the fullness of the gospel revealed to Paul. Portions of these contradicting the final revelation of the gospel must be viewed as non-authoritative. This does not mean, however, that the remainder of these books is non-scripture. A case in point is the disputed portion of Mark after 16:8. I don't accept it as scripture, for reasons that I could enumerate in a whole separate treatise. But I certainly accept Mark itself as scripture! To me, James 2:14-26 is exactly like Mark 16:9ff.

    Absolute innerrancy, of course, only can be affirmed of the superior canon in its original writing.

    These are the facts as I see them, after years of study:

    1. James was not accepted until the 4th century, except by professing Judaistic Christians--primarily in the East. This is because it was viewed by those in the Pauline tradition, however corrupt they became after his death, as polemic against Paul. If James was the earliest epistle written, it was well-known. So its rejection was not due to ignorance.

    2. Other disputed books (2 Peter, 3 John, Hebrews, Jude, Revelation, etc.) were rejected from the canon for ENTIRELY different reasons than James. Very little of the motif was theological (unlike the James controversy). I could enumerate these but the scholars are out there to be read. Strangely, the situation with each and every one is unique and different.

    3. Words mean things. I must be given a reason for accepting a book as canonical, not a reason to defend it as canonical because it is unthinkable that the Lord did not lead Augustine, Calvin, etc.

    I am right to be suspicious of a theology of 'dead faith' that can only be animated and enlivened by works! Words mean things! Paradox theology is very, very dangerous and leads to enormously destructive consequences.

    Thanks for the studied and thoughtful interaction.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    My apology, Disciple!

    Dear Disciple,

    I now realize that I should not refer to you as Pilgrim, as another contributor to this board (Grebel) uses that as his 'identity tag.' I an truly sorry for the ridiculous and absurd Freudian slip on my part!

    Twisse
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Mid acts dispy?

    Disciple,
    I sit here utterly amazed at such a fine, articulate post. Dude, I envy your talent, as well as your sacrifice of time to write.

    Bill,
    You keep referring to this "full corn gospel" and compare the relevance of the epistles to Paul, as if Paul some how taught a different (or should I say, better) gospel than the apostles. You wouldn't by chance be from a Mid Acts, Hyper-dispensational background would you? Those folks utilize the same reasoning for rejecting James as you have presented here.

    Fred

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    Re: Tranquility and Repentance

    Originally posted by BillTwisse
    Much of it I agree with, however, I wish that I could respond to every issue that disturbs me. I cannot, at least for now. So we will have to be at peace until the Lord settles any matters of difference between us--whether sooner or later!
    what are the major things that disturb you about what i said? perhaps we could discuss those.

    James and Jude have to be judged by the fullness of the gospel revealed to Paul. Portions of these contradicting the final revelation of the gospel must be viewed as non-authoritative. This does not mean, however, that the remainder of these books is non-scripture. A case in point is the disputed portion of Mark after 16:8. I don't accept it as scripture, for reasons that I could enumerate in a whole separate treatise. But I certainly accept Mark itself as scripture! To me, James 2:14-26 is exactly like Mark 16:9ff.

    Absolute innerrancy, of course, only can be affirmed of the superior canon in its original writing.
    so where do we stop? can i just pull stuff out where ever i please because i believe it contradicts my understanding of the full-corn gospel? there has to be actual textual evidence to justify removing things, don't you think? for mk 16:9ff, there is good textual evidence that it was added later since it doesn't appear in the earliest of manuscripts (it begins to appear in much later manuscripts). in light of the fact that you mentioned that the earliest fragments of james only contain chapter 1 is that all you accept as actually written by james? are there any other portions that you believe need to be removed besides the offending portion in 2:14-26? how about the rest of the protestant NT? are there any other passages that need to be expunged from the canon?

    1. James was not accepted until the 4th century, except by professing Judaistic Christians--primarily in the East. This is because it was viewed by those in the Pauline tradition, however corrupt they became after his death, as polemic against Paul. If James was the earliest epistle written, it was well-known. So its rejection was not due to ignorance.
    do you have evidence to this claim (that those in the Pauline tradition saw it as a polemic against Paul)? who are these people in the Pauline tradition that saw it this way? what were their names? do you have evidence that supports this assertion?

    3. Words mean things. I must be given a reason for accepting a book as canonical, not a reason to defend it as canonical because it is unthinkable that the Lord did not lead Augustine, Calvin, etc.
    exactly! and taking a closer look at james 2 reveals the meanings of those words. they do not have to be made to fit as they don't even contradict in the first place. there is no need to make them friends when they are friends already. certainly, if we were reading each verse isolated from its original context and comparing them then we do have a contradiction. but words and sentences do not appear in a vacuum. they are attached to a specific context. listen to this definition of pragmatics:

    Pragmatics - the study of language in context; a branch of semiotics that deals with the linguistics concerned with the relationships of sentences to the environment in which they occur; Utterances do not simply "mean" something in isolation. They do not even fully mean something just by the addition of all the lexical (semantics) meanings of words and structures within utterances. Utterances mean something within a context. There are a variety of contexts in which we speak, including intratextual (discourse) context, speech situation context, and cultural context.
    while i see what you are saying that we do not want to force an interpretation in order to fit it into the canon (or justify that it fits within the canon and doesn't contradict because we have a priori assumed that it is canonical) often all we need to do to resolve apparent contradictions is to actually look at the utterance in its textual, situational, and social context. i'm sure you're well aware of this when harmonizing the gospels. we don't just assume that there are contradictions without first closely examining the said contradictions to see if the claim has any justification. do you understand what i'm saying?
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
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  9. #29
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    Response to Fredman:

    Is this ‘canyon country’ that you refer to the desert highlands (Agua Dulce and Acton area) between Santa Clarita and Palmdale, CA; by any chance? I love that area but my wife hates it. So much for absolute unity! I wish I could start a peach and apple orchard there (the conditions are right), as I have much experience in growing and selling fruit.

    You keep referring to this "full corn gospel" and compare the relevance of the epistles to Paul, as if Paul some how taught a different (or should I say, better) gospel than the apostles. You wouldn't by chance be from a Mid Acts, Hyper-dispensational background would you? Those folks utilize the same reasoning for rejecting James as you have presented here.

    A thousand times, NO! I reject ALL dispensational teaching (whether ‘hyper’ or ‘traditional’)--as one of the last-day deceptions of the devil. The ‘full-corn’ is integrally related to the immature corn (understood by the eleven), stalk without corn (late Old Testament prophets including John the Baptist), and blade (Gen. 3:15 and afterward). The gospel revealed to Paul is the same gospel revealed to the eleven, however, it was revealed in its FULLNESS! Jesus said to the eleven that he had many other things to say that they could not bear. These are the very things that he revealed to Paul separate from the Jerusalem apostles.

    Response to Disciple:

    so where do we stop? can i just pull stuff out where ever i please because i believe it contradicts my understanding of the full-corn gospel? there has to be actual textual evidence to justify removing things, don't you think?

    NO and NO! At the least, the gospel consists of the following elements:

    1. A true understanding of Christ’s person. In his incarnation, he was God in the flesh. So this area is what we might call ’orthodox’ Christology.

    2. A true understanding of Christ’s work. His primary purpose in coming to this world was to make substitutionary atonement for sin. He, the just and eternal God, suffered in place of unjust sinners. In addition, after his resurrection he sent the promised Holy Spirit to create FAITH in all who were purposed to be saved by his atoning work.

    3. Humans are justified before God in Christ’s person and work & assured of eternal salvation by faith alone (Rom.3:28)--which is belief with an AMEN--without any works of law.

    4. God’s eternal election of a sinful and unworthy people in Christ is the ultimate truth grinding human merit into the dust; exalting Christ’s person and work as our only glory and object of worship in salvation. This is Paul’s crowning argument in Romans (9-11), after first defending the full-corn gospel of justification by faith apart from all human character.

    5. An understanding of the plan of salvation as it unfolded in history (especially including the OT revelation in the Law, Prophets, and Psalms) is the inspired and inerrant background to the gospel.

    I could add much more, of course, but I will leave it at this for now.

    Contrary to many, I do not believe there has to be textual proof for removing things. Can you or anyone honestly say that we have yet discovered ALL textual evidence? We only have a small portion uncovered by archaeology. To me, it is ridiculous to propose that we cannot rule out a passage as dishonoring to the gospel until we dig out a new manuscript supporting our position.

    A good case in point is the saying of Christ(?) recorded in Mark that even the Son does not know the hour of his own coming. Many manuscripts omit the same saying in Matthew. The fact that no one has yet discovered a mandate for omitting it from Mark--this does not change the fact that it contradicts the teaching of Christ’s full Deity. Yes, I know, many try and compartmentalize by saying that Jesus was speaking only of his human (not divine) knowledge. But that is hard to swallow, considering the fact that Jesus as God is a divine PERSON who only clothed himself in human nature. His humanity did not lessen his divine knowledge one iota, because the infinite and eternal God cannot choose to ‘unknow’ what he knows!

    It is possible that the meaning of this saying (if Jesus really uttered it) is that he chose not to REVEAL the hour of his coming in his humanity, but that is really a paradoxical stretch. I think the fact that certain manuscripts omit it evidences their legitimate doubt of its authenticity.

    James 2:14-26 was either written before Paul revealed his ‘greater’ revelation to James/Peter/John in Acts--or it is later interpolation by Judaizers. I cannot say for sure which it is.

    for mk 16:9ff, there is good textual evidence that it was added later since it doesn't appear in the earliest of manuscripts (it begins to appear in much later manuscripts). in light of the fact that you mentioned that the earliest fragments of james only contain chapter 1 is that all you accept as actually written by james? are there any other portions that you believe need to be removed besides the offending portion in 2:14-26? how about the rest of the protestant NT? are there any other passages that need to be expunged from the canon?

    Great questions! There is another explanation for Mark 9ff than yours, although I cannot say that you are in error. Some think that whatever verses followed Mark 16:8 eventually suffered interpolation, so these were removed from the manuscripts. I cannot give you the reference for this right now.

    The main theological problems with Mark 16:9ff are two, as I see it:

    1. The ’signs’ that are predicted to follow those that believe have not really been manifested as such, at least to some degree (the drinking of poison and avoiding death, etc.) and

    2. Mark 16:16 teaches that ’he that believeth AND is baptized shall be saved,’ whereas Paul and John clearly teach that genuine belief with an AMEN (faith alone) evidences salvation. The water may be a testimony to the gospel but the lack of it does not negate eternal life!

    I am open on the rest of James (not ONLY chapter 1) because it harmonizes with the rest of the NT on much truth. I really cannot be sure of what originally comprised the true epistle because it was not jealously guarded by a large number of believers against interpolation. But I accept the 'lesser canon' concept and believe it is appropriate for teaching, public reading, and instruction.

    The only passages in our current Bible that I have serious theological questions about are this and portions of Ecclesiastes. There are some very minor issues with 2 Peter, 3 John, Jude, etc. but they are not worth a major argument and I would prefer to deal with the largest issue first. I cannot on my own reopen and re-study the broad and difficult issue of the canon in its entirety. That would require the consensus of a significant number of other believers.

    If you want references to study on the history of the Judaizers in relation to James, I can only cite those I remember from years past: James Dunn, Hans Van Campenhausen, and J.N.D. Kelley. I know there are many others but I will have to unpack my library and also do a lot of browsing!

    taking a closer look at james 2 reveals the meanings of those words. they do not have to be made to fit as they don't even contradict in the first place. there is no need to make them friends when they are friends already. certainly, if we were reading each verse isolated from its original context and comparing them then we do have a contradiction. but words and sentences do not appear in a vacuum. they are attached to a specific context. listen to this definition of pragmatics:

    This is certainly where we differ, as has already been demonstrated a number of times. We can compartmentalize like Luther finally did, after experiencing much pressure from Melanchthon and others to conform to the tradition of Augustine and Athanasius on the canon. So he finally conceded that James was referring to JUSTIFICATION BEFORE MEN, not before God, and that the dead faith referred to in James was merely a pejorative polemic. So say all the Protestant interpreters that you have presented to me. But the enemies of the gospel will look at what the text truly has to say and come back against them you, as they have always done. James argues CAN FAITH SAVE HIM? This is clearly not justification to be ‘saved’ in the sight or estimation of men, but by God. THE DEVILS BELIEVE AND TREMBLE. Before men? Hardly! Men do not see or recognize them at all! The solution to a type of damnable belief that ’shakes a fist at God’ (belief with a curse) is not to pursue more and more works to counteract the doubt. It is to experience the true and precious faith in the everlasting gospel that can never be destroyed (for it is conceived in the Holy Spirit’s work--God himself).

    James 2:14-26 can NEVER be reconciled with Paul or even Matthew 25:31-46, for it is going far beyond saying that without holiness no one will see the Lord. It is saying that we are justified UNTO SALVATION by faith (being dead standing alone, since it does not rejoice by itself but may indeed cause the type of fear trembling as experienced by devils) AND works which perfect it.

    while i see what you are saying that we do not want to force an interpretation in order to fit it into the canon (or justify that it fits within the canon and doesn't contradict because we have a priori assumed that it is canonical) often all we need to do to resolve apparent contradictions is to actually look at the utterance in its textual, situational, and social context. i'm sure you're well aware of this when harmonizing the gospels. we don't just assume that there are contradictions without first closely examining the said contradictions to see if the claim has any justification. do you understand what i'm saying?

    Yes! I have honestly considered your evidence but still am unconvinced of James 2:14-26 being fully harmonious with the remainder of the NT for the reasons cited above. At some point in the future, maybe we will come closer in our mutual understanding of this, the Lord willing.

    Brethren, even though we disagree on certain things, I truly love you both in Christ and immensely appreciate your willingness to dialog on these issues! On other boards I have not even found anyone willing to talk about such matters.

    In the spirit of the deceased chairman,
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Originally posted by BillTwisse
    Yes! I have honestly considered your evidence but still am unconvinced of James 2:14-26 being fully harmonious with the remainder of the NT for the reasons cited above. At some point in the future, maybe we will come closer in our mutual understanding of this, the Lord willing.
    do you know Greek? do you understand the issue of the definite article? do you understand the pragmatics of the text? do you understand lexical semantics and syntax? do you see the issue of the words say [LEGW], see [BLEPW], and show [DEIKNUMWI]? would you be willing to say that it is at least a possibility that you do not understand the text properly rather than that the text is not inspired or canonical and should be expunged from the canon? you seem to be quite adamant that there are only two choices to james 2:14-26 ("James 2:14-26 was either written before Paul revealed his ‘greater’ revelation to James/Peter/John in Acts--or it is later interpolation by Judaizers") yet you have not communicated that it is possible that perhaps you have not fully probed the depths of all that there is to know about text in question in terms of exegesis.
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    Originally posted by BillTwisse
    So he finally conceded that James was referring to JUSTIFICATION BEFORE MEN, not before God, and that the dead faith referred to in James was merely a pejorative polemic. So say all the Protestant interpreters that you have presented to me. But the enemies of the gospel will look at what the text truly has to say and come back against them you, as they have always done.
    so what in the text leads you to believe that the false teachers are correct in their interpretation? since when can the unregenerate and heretics rightly divide the word of truth? where do you find that the writer is talking about justification before God? what in the context demonstrates that the writer is talking about a real saving faith that doesn't save or justify because it lacks works? why do you conclude that the writer here is explaining how one might be right with God? how do you understand "if someone says he has faith?" if someone came up to you and told you they had faith but they lived like the devil what would you think? would you conclude that they indeed were justified merely because they said they had faith with an AMEN?!!
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    Brief Response to Disciple

    "where do you find that the writer is talking about justification before God?"

    I believe that I have already answered this. Since the writer polemically asks "CAN FAITH SAVE HIM?" (vs. 14), he is talking in the realm of perceived salvation and not merely human estimation of belief.

    "what in the context demonstrates that the writer is talking about a real saving faith that doesn't save or justify because it lacks works?"

    Nothing, that is the whole point. The writer is talking about a NON-SALVIFIC 'faith' (no real faith at all that compares to the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith) that doesn't care whether the mental belief praises God for the affirmed truth or curses God like the devils because the obvious can't be denied.

    The author is proposing that works need to be added to a 'dead faith' (one that is indifferent to the confession of: "AMEN, THIS IS THE GREATEST NEWS IN HISTORY" vs.: (the type of cursing expressed by Peter when he denied Christ). The Lord restrained me from actually using the type of words that Peter no doubt indulged in! Supposedly, only these works of philantropy that James proposes will animate the stoic belief that he proposes faith is. Paul's view of living faith through Holy Spirit baptism that always saves is as far from this doctrine as night is from day.

    "why do you conclude that the writer here is explaining how one might be right with God?"

    Because he is explaining how one may be justified. I don't assume that this author was compartmentalizing after the order of Luther and Melanchthon (justification before God vs. men), who came along 15 centuries later. I will repeat, the author introduces his topic with the words: Can faith SAVE him? He has in mind how people are saved.

    Well, let me serve you. Because, unfortunately, we are not going to agree on this.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: Brief Response to Disciple

    Originally posted by BillTwisse
    I believe that I have already answered this. Since the writer polemically asks "CAN FAITH SAVE HIM?" (vs. 14), he is talking in the realm of perceived salvation and not merely human estimation of belief.
    but in the greek it doesn't say "can faith save him?" if you understand the nuances of the article. that is what the English text says in some versions but that is just a translation. a better rendering into the english is "can that faith [i.e., the kind that is said and has no works discussed in v. 14a] save him?" i believe you are sorely missing the nuances of the Greek text here.

    I will repeat, the author introduces his topic with the words: Can faith SAVE him? He has in mind how people are saved.

    Well, let me serve you. Because, unfortunately, we are not going to agree on this.
    but you have given me no exegesis from the original text whatsover. it appears that you have only given your opinion of what you think the text is saying and that only in English. you have not supported what you are saying the text means through exegesis considering such things as textual, situational, and social context as well as Greek semantics and syntax. you have only given me what the English says in some versions. i don't mean to sound rude or arrogant but this severely limits your ability to properly understand the passage.
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    and perhaps you missed this post as you didn't respond:

    would you be willing to say that it is at least a possibility that you do not understand the text properly rather than that the text is not inspired or canonical and should be expunged from the canon? you seem to be quite adamant that there are only two choices to james 2:14-26 ("James 2:14-26 was either written before Paul revealed his ‘greater’ revelation to James/Peter/John in Acts--or it is later interpolation by Judaizers") yet you have not communicated that it is possible that perhaps you have not fully probed the depths of all that there is to know about text in question in terms of exegesis.
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    Friends,

    This conversation is really awesome. I just got back from vacation and I discovered this! Wow.

    BillTwisse and disciple, I believe that after (if that ever comes) this discussion is over, you will be surprised by how much you two have in common.

    BT, welcome to the forum. Your contributions are well received. It's good that we can agree to disagree; but it's also cool when opinions are changed and we can learn from each other. I know I've learned a lot from Doug (disciple).

    Keep it coming (in love of course) you two!

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    The Issue is Not the Text!

    Thanks, Grebel, for your observations. I feel inadequate to defend my position 'easily,' early, and convincingly (based on how long I have been out of a lot of Greek and a study of church history--with all the resources at my fingertips on a shelf). However, the text of James 2:14-26 in its overall entirety still merits a high level of suspicion to those who love the Pauline gospel.

    I was once a high student of churchian theology & heavily studied advanced Greek and Hebrew every day. However, just as my knowledge of Spanish has almost completely disappeared (after being out of it for 27 years) , I have forgot a lot of it. My studies in recent years have focused on apologetics, not the languages. But I can see now that I need to go back and review it wholeheartedly.

    I can still take the Greek text and interpret it with helps. I will respond to challenges to my interpretation of the text once I dig out my material (which has been in storage for many months, due to a peculiar migrant situation). So, disciple, please wait for another week or two and I will respond with vigor!

    By the way, disciple, you have not given your alternate translation. The only other one I know of is 'can SUCH faith save him?' I do not believe that SUCH is in the Greek at all, but I will certainly know soon for sure.

    Please focus on the analogy of 'faith' as a bodily corpse and 'works' as the eternal spirit that animates it. I believe that the word-picture that James uses teaches us what he was trying to say, more than anything else we can discuss.

    By the way, why should I reject Barnabas from the canon? It was more accepted early-on than James and has less objectionable teaching in its propositions. I have problems with it for the same reasons as I do with James (although those problems are certainly not as severe), but if church councils and the tradition of St. Gus and Calvin are not the determining factor in determining canonicity (as you state, Disciple), why do you not accept Barnabas in the canon? Doesn't this epistle exhibit the same 'beautiful harmony' that James does (I'm arguing from your perspective), even more so?

    I will supply quotes on this early history as soon as I can find them. That is, after I unpack and study my library as I'm getting organized in my new apartment. I do believe that maybe (?) Eusebius has something to say on the early history of James, but I know I have read the evidence clearly in other authors. Until then,

    Twisse
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    Re: The Issue is Not the Text!

    Originally posted by BillTwisse
    I can still take the Greek text and interpret it with helps. I will respond to challenges to my interpretation of the text once I dig out my material (which has been in storage for many months, due to a peculiar migrant situation). So, disciple, please wait for another week or two and I will respond with vigor!
    fair enough. i look forward to your response.

    By the way, disciple, you have not given your alternate translation. The only other one I know of is 'can SUCH faith save him?' I do not believe that SUCH is in the Greek at all, but I will certainly know soon for sure.
    Jas 2:14, (NAS), What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?

    Jas 2:14, (NIV), What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?

    Jas 2:14 (ISV) What good does it do, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith but does not have any works? This kind of faith cannot save him, can it?

    Jam 2:14 (ALT) What [is] the advantage, my brothers [and sisters], if someone is saying he has faith but is not having works? Such faith is not able to save him, is it?

    Jam 2:14 (CEV) My friends, what good is it to say you have faith, when you don't do anything to show that you really do have faith? Can that kind of faith save you?

    Jam 2:14 (EMTV) What does it profit, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Is that kind of faith able to save him?

    Jam 2:14 (Geneva) What auaileth it, my brethren, though a man saith he hath faith, when he hath no workes? can that faith saue him?

    Jam 2:14 (GNB) My friends, what good is it for one of you to say that you have faith if your actions do not prove it? Can that faith save you?

    Jam 2:14 (GW) My brothers and sisters, what good does it do if someone claims to have faith but doesn't do any good things? Can this kind of faith save him?

    Jas 2:14 (JBP) Now what use is it, my brothers, for a man to say he "has faith" if his actions do not correspond with it? Could that sort of faith save anyone's soul?

    Jas 2:14 (YLT) What is the profit, my brethren, if faith, any one may speak of having, and works he may not have? is that faith able to save him?

    Jas 2:14 (Montgomery) My brothers, what good is it if any one says that he has faith, if he has no deeds? Can such faith save him?

    Jas 2:14 (LB) Dear brothers, what’s the use of saying that you have faith and are Christians if you aren’t proving it by helping others? Will that kind of faith save anyone?

    Jas 2:14 (Wycliff) Mi britheren, what schal it profite, if ony man seie that he hath feith, but he hath not the werkis? whether feith schal mowe saue hym?

    Jas 2:14 (Mace 1729) What advantage is it, my brethren, for a man to say he has faith, if he has no beneficence? can such a faith save him?

    Jas 2:14 (NAB) 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

    Jas 2:14 (NLT) 14 Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can’t save anyone.

    Jas 2:14 (ESV) 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith obut does not have works? Can that faith save him?

    Please focus on the analogy of 'faith' as a bodily corpse and 'works' as the eternal spirit that animates it. I believe that the word-picture that James uses teaches us what he was trying to say, more than anything else we can discuss.
    exactly. and the figure of speech is saying that mere said faith is a like a spiritless body which is dead. it is not real saving and justifying faith and this is shown because the person claiming to have it cannot show anything for it. just as a body without a spirit is dead and only good for throwing into the ground to decay(useless, lifeless, worthless, etc.) so also is a said faith which has no life or reality to it and is not lived out. in other words, the proof is in the pudding or the tree is known by its fruit or actions speak louder than words. all of these figures of speech capture exactly what james is trying to say in james 2:14-26.

    By the way, why should I reject Barnabas from the canon? It was more accepted early-on than James and has less objectionable teaching in its propositions. I have problems with it for the same reasons as I do with James (although those problems are certainly not as severe), but if church councils and the tradition of St. Gus and Calvin are not the determining factor in determining canonicity (as you state, Disciple), why do you not accept Barnabas in the canon? Doesn't this epistle exhibit the same 'beautiful harmony' that James does (I'm arguing from your perspective), even more so?
    i enjoyed barnabas but it is clearly not apostolic. it reminds me a lot of the book of hebrews but taken to the nth degree. it's been a while since i've read that book but i'll need to go back and read it again. nevertheless, from what i remember reading there is good evidence that it is a pseudepigraphic (false) writing.

    anyway, i'm not really sure what you're talking about because the only lists that consider it Scripture are Codex Claromontanus (400), Clement of Alexandria (2nd c.), Codex Sinaiticus (4th c.) and Didymus the Blind (4th c.). so it had much less acceptance than the book of james from what i can tell. it's not even a close comparison.

    see http://www.bible-researcher.com/canon5.html and http://www.ntcanon.org/table.shtml to see what i'm talking about.

    I will supply quotes on this early history as soon as I can find them. That is, after I unpack and study my library as I'm getting organized in my new apartment. I do believe that maybe (?) Eusebius has something to say on the early history of James, but I know I have read the evidence clearly in other authors.
    much of the quotes are listed here in full. take a look at these sites. there is much useful information there. here is eusebius from his church history.

    From his Ecclesiastical History, iii. 25.
    ...Of the disputed books, which are nevertheless familiar to the majority, there are extant the epistle of James,(a) as it is called; and that of Jude; and the second epistle of Peter [that which is circulated as his second epistle we have received to be uncanonical; still as it appeared useful to many it has been diligently read with the other scriptures . . . I recognize one epistle only as genuine and acknowledged by the ancient presbyters], and those that are called the Second and Third of John [these two remaining epistles are disputed], whether they belong to the evangelist or to another person of the same name.

    From his Ecclesiastical History, ii. 23.

    ... These things are recorded in regard to James, who is said to be the author of the first of the so-called Catholic epistles. But it is to be observed that it is disputed; at least, not many of the ancients have mentioned it, as is the case likewise with the epistle that bears the name of Jude, which is also one of the seven so-called Catholic epistles. Nevertheless we know that these also, with the rest, have been read publicly in very many churches.
    http://www.ntcanon.org/
    http://www.bible-researcher.com/canon.html
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    Regrouping

    Thanks Disciple, for your spirit and willingness to supply this evidence. I still have not found a good source on the STEWARDSHIP of James (who preserved it from the first century on?). The quotations from Eusebius confirm what I thought; he acknowledged the existence and public reading of James at his point in history--but stopped short of approving it himself.

    What disturbs me is not the PROBLEM that James addresses (false profession) but the apparent SOLUTION. The answer to a false profession is not doing works to change the appearance of dead faith to an appearance of living faith! The answer is Holy Spirit regeneration unto belief in the true gospel. No matter how many works are performed and how righteous they appear, unless one is born from above and possesses the faith alone that justifies, he/she is still going to hell.

    Below is what I composed earlier today. I feel that I must take a stand on this issue and move on, as I don't believe much new evidence will be found without a lot of struggle in historical research. I am willing to accept the fact that other Protestants want James in the canon, as long as they don't try to quote it against Paul's gospel of justification in Christ without works. But I have more concerns than most others about the text itself.
    ___________________________________________

    The actual Greek of James 2:14b states: “mE dunatai hE pistis sOsai auton” (this is an attempted transliteration in English, the caps indicating a ‘long‘ vowel as opposed to short--with a captial E indicating a pronunciation like the saying the letter ‘A‘); which I would personally translate as “Can faith devoid of power save him?” Others may have a different translation.

    So ‘can faith save him’ is not all there is to it. However, no issue will be settled by a mere recognition of certain differences in the translation of one verse.

    Maybe Disciple pointed out something about this ‘real’ translation earlier; there was such a massive amount of material presented that I would have to go back and read it all again to remember for sure.

    The text is really not in full harmony with either ”Can faith save him?” or “Can SUCH faith save him?” When men do not translate the actual text as it is (but interpret in their translation--as scholars are eternally prone to do), all kinds of misunderstanding result. Case in point: I’m still waiting on a translation of the Hebrew OT that always shows the HIPHIL (causative) verb tense when it is used. So far we have NONE--but I’m glad to hear that some scholars are working on it. I hope it comes in my lifetime, as I am NOT a Hebrew scholar.

    The author of this passage is concerned about a faith devoid of power. Again, I can find no other New Testament writer who has any concern about this--even 2 Peter (the other ‘big one’ in the canonicity dispute), who exalts the preciousness of faith in the very first verse of his epistle! He never questions that faith is dynamic, precious, and powerful (since it is born not of men, but of God); nor do any of the other NT authors except James (or whoever wrote James 2:14-26).

    Well, it is time for me to leave emotion behind and regroup. I have reviewed a large amount of material today from the following: the so-called ‘fathers’, Schaff, Von Campenhausen, Kelly, Dana & Mantey, and others. The perspectives vary, of course. I will try and summarize the best I know how:

    1. All (except certain contemporary evangelicals such as Crampton) agree on this one point: the only NT canon that early communities of believers guarded without exception is the triad: the Gospels, Acts, and Paul. All of these writings are attested to early and frequently--by the majority. The rest (‘general’ epistles and Revelation) were either unknown, disputed, or rejected by a significant number of interpreters for a long time.

    2. Two other epistles receiving fairly early recognition were 1 John & a little later--1 Peter. 1 Peter does not appear in the Muratorian canon but is fully accepted in the canons of Irenaeus and Tertullian. It is not quoted by them as ‘1 Peter’ but simply as the epistle of Peter. They had no knowledge or recognition that a second epistle of Peter even existed--nor do they quote from it.

    3. Of the others, Hebrews has a somewhat good record. It was widely accepted in the East from an early date but still doubted in Western circles for a long time. I love Hebrews for many reasons--but that is my opinion in the Spirit.

    4. The ‘order’ of acceptance of the remaining five were as follows:

    a) Revelation was first. It is accepted in the Muratorian canon, by Tertullian (who later converted to Montanism--a sect engrossed in endless apocalyptic speculation), and Clement of Alexandria. In my interpretation, the slow acceptance of Revelation was not due to a ‘suspicion’ by the early community of believers against Johannine authorship. The book has a very strong warning against interpolation at the end, so believers guarded it from corruption. The apocalyptic style was used to insure that the book was to be read and understood by believers ONLY. Therefore, it was not to be part of a canon touted to the world--who would misinterpret and speculate endlessly. Once it became canonical, this type of misuse is EXACTLY what occurred.

    b) Jude was second. Jude does not contain the apparent anti-Pauline rhetoric of his brother James. I believe that James accepted the Pauline doctrine of justification as heartily as Peter and John (as recorded in Acts)--once the apostle of Grace shared his greater revelation. That is why I do not believe that one committed to such a gospel would write James 2:14-26 AFTER the meeting at Jerusalem. Most scholars, whether conservative or liberal, also deny that James 2:14-26 is post-Jerusalem council unless it was interpolation by another author. Jude represents the teaching of genuine Judaic Christianity, including that of his brother James (as opposed to the heretical Ebionites who ’claimed’ James), after Paul shared his revelation.

    c) 3 John was third. The book has no doctrinal distinction and was accepted based on ‘the Elder‘ (same as 2 John) being John the apostle. However, if archaeologists ever find ANYTHING showing that the commended Gaius was a heretic--we are in real trouble for including it in the superior canon!

    d) 2 Peter was fourth. It was apparently unknown by the well-published expositors until Origen, but Clement of Alexandria (a contemporary of Origen) did not accept it. We have only two choices in considering the enigma of 2 Peter: either a very small band of believers preserved a second Epistle of Peter for many years that Christians in general did not know about--or it is written by a false pretender. I opt for the former, simply because I have a hard time with idea that it is fradulent. The author clearly is presenting himself as the one-and-only apostle Peter.

    e) James was fifth and last. The first list promoting all 27 books in our current NT was that of Athanasius in his ‘Easter letter’ of 367 A.D. He was determined to make this the Christian canon, and 30 years later (397 A.D. at Carthage--I believe it was) he succeeded in making it official at a major council of what is commonly termed ‘the church.’

    No scholar has ever advanced proof that a list of all 27 together exists in print (papyrus included!) before Athanasius in 367. I have not seen one claim that such a list exists. It exists in the mind of many evangelicals, who cannot comprehend that the ‘self-authenticating’ canon of 27 was not handed down from the first century on. I have read arguments (Crampton and others) that the canon of 27 is so self-authenticating that it HAD to exist early on; Marcion MUST have destroyed it and all history since then has been an attempt to recover it! Pure historical revisionism. Just like the notion that one ‘received’ Greek text of the 27 was handed down from the first century apostles! Self-authentication must be based on the Pauline gospel (a true teaching of the person and work of Christ), not reading the list of Athanasius (who had unsanctified motives in promote James as a bulwark of character salvation) back into the 1st century. There is no way that these 4th century ‘fathers’ had the same compartmentalized exegesis of James that Protestants have accepted. We know their heritage, do I need to recite all of their many heresies again and again?

    The question of the ‘stewardship’ of James is one that has been raised. Who jealously preserved it from interpolation? Unfortunately, I am still searching for answers--as most appear to want to avoid this subject. I fear that no one did. Schaff tries to say that the Ebionites were NOT the stewards of James, however, what evidence is there that ANYONE else but them had control of it? The majority say that we have no existing quotes from James until Origen. That is not true; fragments of chapter 1 have been found at Qumran (but most scholars did not have this info until recently). Von Campenhausen (too neo-orthodox for me) points out that passages from James were quoted by Irenaeus in ‘Against Heresies’--but Irenaeus did not acknowledge James as the author. I do not know what these quotes are yet but will try and find them. He cites a German scholar on these and I do not know the language! Like many textual critics, Von Campenhausen claims that our current James is not a unity or true epistle--but at least five or six fragments--written at different points in early history and then compiled by a vigilante.

    I cannot prove that this is wrong, but neither do I assume that it’s correct. I simply do not know whether objectionable portions of James come from before the Jerusalem council or from later interpolation.

    Gary Crampton makes a very important observation in his work “By Scripture Alone: The Sufficiency of Scripture” (The Trinity Foundation, 2002), pp. 205, 206.

    “The author (Fastiggi) correctly states that Martin Luther regarded the Epistle of James as an epistle of straw. But Luther was not denying the principle of sola Scriptura by making this claim. He questioned the validity of James, considering it to be of lesser value than other New Testament books.” Crampton is opposing a view advanced by Fastiggi that Luther really stood in the camp of SCRIPTURE PLUS TRADITION as advanced by the Papal and Eastern churches.

    Neither am I denying sola Scriptura! But unlike Luther, who was trying to start a new religion and had motive to drop the issue, I will not compromise and ‘give it up’ without requiring an accounting of the true history showing how we got our current Bible. I cannot praise work that is poorly done at best (research on this subject) as being well done.

    I cannot on my own decide an issue as great and broad as the canon or rule of faith. I can only appeal that the issue be re-opened and re-studied like Luther once did. Unlike him, I won’t be changing my appeal.

    In my mind, certain canon essentials are set in concrete (The Gospels, Acts, and Paul). Paul is the final word as he received the ultimate revelation; ALL canonical writings can only be defended as such based on the true gospel of Christ‘s person and work. I accept the general epistles and Revelation as an inferior canon. This does NOT mean that I’m saying any of these other writings TEACH ERROR (I subscribe to the innerrancy of scripture). I’m saying that they derive their authority from the superior canon and must be judged and interpreted by it. I doubt a very few passages such as James 2:14-26 and don‘t feel obligated to personally defend them as canonical. However, I cannot decide the issue for the people of God at large. It is too big and has too many implications! I can only keep insisting that past issues on the canon, too hastily decided by Protestants, be re-opened and re-studied.

    In the tradition of the deceased chairman
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    Lightbulb Out of the Box interpretation of James

    Dear Bill and Disciple:

    Allow me to join your enlightening conversation.

    Brother Twisse already knows my style and I always try to stick to the text first and only later resort to any other means of interpretation. So, that which I am about to state may be far “out the box” thinking for many, but I plead your patience and attention.

    James 2, the entire chapter, as the entire epistle is in no way shape or form detached from the “target audience” for its content. It is for some Jewish converts scattered abroad that, either for lack of continual teaching or simply for sheer carnality, had developed a type of formal Christianity that indeed was not Christianity at all. By the words of James, “churches” of those days have not yet departed from the formality of the synagogue and Christianity apparently was being used as an excuse for being aloof and listless concerning the world around them and also, and very important, a sign of social status.

    Before I continue, allow me to tell you that I believe that the Epistle of James is a book of principles, very good principles, but of no value in the “salvific” sense. James has to be judged under the scrutiny of the Epistles of Paul. All the efforts to eliminate conflict between Paul and James’ writings are an exercise in futility. Unless of course, as I defend, words such as “save”, as in “can faith save him”, do not mean “eternal salvation” but “from an impending tragedy” as in “save me Lord last I perish” (Peter when drowning) or “save thyself and them that hear thee”; (Paul to Timothy in Tim 4:16: the last one obviously meaning “save thyself from that which I described in verses 1, 2, 3, 10”, not “eternal Salvation”. Paul would never say that Tim was the savior and that his teachings were the means whereby people would be saved.

    Now, let me go back to James.

    Here are some statements that indicate a certain degree of carnality:

    “..he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind…”
    “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways”
    “Let the brother in low degree rejoice in that he is exalted”
    “But the rich in that he is made low”
    “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God”
    “He is tempted when drawn away of his own lust and enticed”
    “22 Be it doers of the word and not hearers only deceiving yourselves
    “...not a doer, he is like a man beholding his natural face in the mirror
    “…and goes away and forgets what manner of man he was”
    “If anyone seems to be religious and brides not his tongue, but deceives his own heart…”
    “this man’s religion is in vain.

    Then, James finishes chapter 1 explaining what is pure religion and begins chapter two with more of the same.

    There is more of the same in chapter 4 and 5.


    James would not have written this letter if there was not a real problem with the “brethren scattered abroad”. There were many poor Jewish new Christians in those days as we know also from Paul. These people to whom James writes apparently abandoned certain Christian principles and practices and as I said, delved into a “form of godliness but denied the power thereof” (Paul).

    Now, we know from the scriptures that no “principle or practice” will save anyone. I can only assume that all of us agree in this one.

    In Ch. 2 verse 5 James appears to recognize the “faith alone” principle since he mentions the poor, who because of their condition, are incapable of “doing works” were saved by being “rich in faith”. (“rich” is merely an emphatic word since there is no requirement or measure of faith established in the Bible for salvific faith other than the “faith of Christ” as taught by Paul in Galatians 2:16-20).

    My conclusion, therefore, from the above is that James assumes one or all of these three things:

    1 – These formal or carnal Christians were not saved at all and needed to know that faith produces some tangible results, SPECIALLY IF YOU ARE RICH.
    2 – That if they return to “works” then they will be saved since they will be acting as if they are. Or, if they “practice” their faith visibly then they will be “visibly” considered saved.
    3 – That faith HAS to be demonstrated by works in order to be “justifying faith”. In verses 21-25 James seems not to have read Paul to the Galatians chapter 3, verses 1-9

    The “disclaimer” of James is that he mentions “works” not as “the works of the Law”, but “works of charity, kindness, accepting of the poor, social benevolence, etc.” To me this makes all the more evident that James WOULD NOT accept as “saved” any RICH PERSON who would not demonstrate his faith by some visible form of the works described above.
    (In a way this goes in frontal opposition to Matthew 6: 1-4)

    In the Gospels, the disciples asked Jesus “how can a rich man be saved”. Jesus answered:
    For you it is impossible, but nothing is impossible to God. Jesus had an opportunity to elaborate in the conditions for a rich person to be saved, but he was silent leaving anything and EVERYTHING up to the Sovereignty of God. Sovereign Grace is taught here!

    That is simply why I find it difficult to ascribe ecclesiological and salvific value to the book of James.

    Should be Christians be charitable?
    Should we be accepting and helpers of the poor?
    Should we practice social benevolence and be socially involved?

    A clue for the answer to these questions is in the answer of the following question:

    “Is the Pope Catholic?”

    But, can we REQUIRE such things to judge anyone saved?
    Can anyone be COUNTED as saved because they practice those things?
    Can we preach the Gospel adding these “works” to “faith” as a condition for salvation?

    A clue for the answer to these questions is in the answer of the following question:

    “Is the Pope a foot stomping, hand clapping, tongue talking, devil chasing, sick healing loud preaching protestant evangelist?”

    James is to be taken pretty much as a “historical” book about the way some Jewish Christians scattered abroad acted; how inadequate their life style was and not to follow their example. But is NOT a book about ETERNAL SALVATION.

    It is just my take!

    (Being short is not a spiritual gift).

    Grace Ambassador

    Too Calvinist for the Charismatic; too Charismatic for the Calvinist.
    Grace Ambassador
    A pitiful servant of God; a pitbull guardian of the message of Grace

    My pledge to other members:
    A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Prov 15:1
    A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver - Prov. 25:11

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    Re: Regrouping

    BTW, i found Luther's argument as to the provenance of James in the "works of luther" under his preface to james and jude in his german translation. you can read it here:

    Though this epistle of St. James was rejected by the ancients, I praise it and consider it a good book, because it sets up no doctrines of men but vigorously promulgates the law of God. However, to state my own opinion about it, though without prejudice to anyone, I do not regard it as the writing of an apostle, and my reasons follow.

    In the first place it 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.

    In the second place its purpose is to teach Christians, but in all this long teaching it does not once mention the Passion, the resurrection, or the Spirit of Christ. He names Christ several times; however he teaches nothing about him, but only speaks of general faith in God. Now it is the office of a true apostle to preach of the Passion and resurrection and office of Christ, and to lay the foundation for faith in him, as Christ himself says in John 15[:27], "You shall bear witness to me.? All the genuine sacred books agree in this, that all of them preach and inculcate [_treiben_] Christ. And that is the true test by which to judge all books, when we see whether or not they inculcate Christ. For all the Scriptures show us Christ, Romans 3[:21]; and St. Paul will know nothing but Christ, I Corinthians 2[:2]. Whatever does not teach Christ is not yet apostolic, even though St. Peter or St. Paul does the teaching. Again, whatever preaches Christ would be apostolic, even if Judas, Annas, Pilate, and Herod were doing it.".

    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.
    Originally posted by BillTwisse
    What disturbs me is not the PROBLEM that James addresses (false profession) but the apparent SOLUTION. The answer to a false profession is not doing works to change the appearance of dead faith to an appearance of living faith! The answer is Holy Spirit regeneration unto belief in the true gospel. No matter how many works are performed and how righteous they appear, unless one is born from above and possesses the faith alone that justifies, he/she is still going to hell.
    i understand what you're saying here and if it was written by paul then we would expect paul to say this. the thing of it is, that paul is a different author, writing to a different audience, in a different context, style, etc. this doesn't mean they contradict, it just means that we need to sort all of the details out. perhaps it is assumed that the faith is "orthodox" and that the issue is that these "orthodox" people within the church are professing without really having anything to back that confession. so the issue is perhaps not how does this person now get saved or become justified but how does this person demonstrate that the faith is real and not just a said faith? the answer is not that a person must have faith + works in order to be justified before God but that a person must have faith + works to be justified before the church and prove/show/demonstrate to the church that they have indeed been justified before God. so the question isn't, "what must i do to be saved?" at all. that doesn't appear to me to be what james is dealing with. the issue the whole way through is introduced by v. 14 that someone says (professes) that they have faith. the question is, "how do we know whether they really do?" or "how do we know that the faith is real?"

    ...which I would personally translate as “Can faith devoid of power save him?” Others may have a different translation.
    how do you translate it this way? where are you getting "devoid of power" from? i suppose you are trying to be more idiomatic in your rendering here. i'm still curious if you understand the nuances of the definite article (and lack thereof).

    So ‘can faith save him’ is not all there is to it. However, no issue will be settled by a mere recognition of certain differences in the translation of one verse.

    Maybe Disciple pointed out something about this ‘real’ translation earlier; there was such a massive amount of material presented that I would have to go back and read it all again to remember for sure.
    i'm not sure what you're saying here. understanding this introductory verse to the passage and translating it correctly are vital to a correct understanding of the passage. simply translating it "can faith save him?" is to do a great injustice to what is in the Greek and loses so much of the original. those translations which have that, that kind, that sort, faith such as this, etc. do a much better job of capturing the idea of the nuance of the presence of the definite article in 14b (and lack thereof on 14a). the question is, "can the kind of faith [which is not accompanied or resulting in action] save?" what does saving/justifying faith look like? how do you and i test the profession? these are the type of questions being asked by james as i see it. it's not an issue of how one can go about getting saved/justified.

    In my mind, certain canon essentials are set in concrete (The Gospels, Acts, and Paul). Paul is the final word as he received the ultimate revelation; ALL canonical writings can only be defended as such based on the true gospel of Christ‘s person and work. I accept the general epistles and Revelation as an inferior canon. This does NOT mean that I’m saying any of these other writings TEACH ERROR (I subscribe to the innerrancy of scripture). I’m saying that they derive their authority from the superior canon and must be judged and interpreted by it. I doubt a very few passages such as James 2:14-26 and don‘t feel obligated to personally defend them as canonical. However, I cannot decide the issue for the people of God at large. It is too big and has too many implications! I can only keep insisting that past issues on the canon, too hastily decided by Protestants, be re-opened and re-studied.
    and that is what i've been thinking in this whole discussion. looking back on what believers held as certainly and unquestionably inspired and Scriptural, there does appear to be a "core" set of writings. it seems to me that if you take all the disputed writings away you still have the same core message and the Christian faith. you cannot change that. so i think i would also hold to some sort of core canon and then hold reservation to those disputed books in the back of my mind.

    though, i just cannot believe that the book of Hebrews was ever disputed just based upon its content. it is one of my favorite NT writings and seems to me to be a very clear apostolic message of the centrality of Christ. but since its author seems a mystery to this day, i can see why some of those in the early church at least questioned it authenticity. but along with luther, i think i would agree that, "Whatever does not teach Christ is not yet apostolic."

    but i would not so easily discredit james or say that Jas 2:14-26 contradict anything of the gospel, and nothing of paul, or christ, or peter, or any other apostle. i believe that those who want to exclude it from the canon for the sole reason of an interpretation of Jas 2:14-26 that departs from salvation/justification by grace through faith should re-examine the passage with proper exegesis and sound hermeneutics. i believe luther reacted prematurely to the issue based upon the environment that he was subjected to of the RCC shoving Jas 2:14-26 down his throat as proof against the reformation principle of Sola Fide (and Sola Gratia). my theory is that had he camped longer on understanding Jas 2:14-26 that he would have dealt with the issue differently. but i may of course be completely wrong on this.

    and i think this discussion and the attempt to at least re-open and re-study this issue even within this forum has been very helpful and beneficial for me. i think too many Christians have been lied to in this area and i would agree with what i read that "the evangelical approach to canon determination has historically been the weakest link in its bibliology". i suppose i'll continue to wrestle with this issue but am confident that our "core" writings are the foundation of the faith passed down to us and this will never change.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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