Do James And Paul Contradict each other?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JesusFan, May 4, 2011.

  1. JesusFan

    JesusFan
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    Know they really dont, but know Martin Luthor called james "straw espistle" and did not teach from it much...

    Comes up while witnessing to Catholics mainly, as they are taught by their church that James does teach that Christians saved by combo faith and works?

    How to harmonize Paul/James then?
     
  2. mandym

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    Different emphasis on the same doctrine. Paul leads up to salvation where as James speaks to salvation and after.
     
  3. JesusFan

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    Would James be addressing then the point Peter told us to make our "election and calling sure?"
     
  4. jbh28

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    Paul teaches that true salvation is by faith and not of works.
    James teaches that true salvation is by faith that produces works. Paul is emphasizing that works don't save you. James is emphasizing that faith produces works. There is no contradiction.
     
  5. mandym

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    I do not know that he intended to address that directly but in either case our works are evidence of our faith not the cause of it. And it is clear from Jesus to Paul and even Peter that if one is truly a Christian then there will be evidence of our faith by our works.
     
  6. JesusFan

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    So james would be saying that UNLESS you can evidence by your lifestyle "'something" that shows that you are saved, probably not really saved?
     
  7. humblethinker

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    Below are a couple of excerpts from a book on 'Logic' that I recently read. This seems like one of the best explanations to aid in understanding James’ –vs- Paul’s teachings.

    Perhaps we should... confess ignorance on the precise causes of things until someone brings forth good, solid, decisive proof, one way or another.

    In their reasoning about causes, people often commit an error I shall dub causal reductionism. They ignore the existence of more than one cause of things. Aristotle was so impressed with the complexity of causation that he identified four different kinds of causes. Modern scientists use a distinction that is helpful in some cases: necessary and sufficient causes.

    A necessary cause is any condition without which the effect will not occur, whereas a sufficient cause is a condition with which the effect will occur. A necessary cause can prevent the effect by its absence but can not, without a sufficient cause, cause the effect by its presence.

    For example, suppose a room is full of sunlight and you ask, "What causes this illumination?" Your answer must be multicausal. I can point you to a hole in the ceiling as a necessary condition for the illumination. But the sufficient cause is the sun shining through the hole. Now, the hole in the ceiling could prevent the light by its absence, but could not, without the sun, cause the light merely by its presence. At night the hole would not cause the room to be illuminated. We would say, in simple English, that the sun was the real cause of the light, and the hole was the necessary condition for the real cause achieving the result.

    One can see from this example how wrong it would be to belittle the importance of a necessary cause. The hole in the ceiling may not be the real cause of the light, but just cover the hole and see if any light gets into the room! Life is full of such cases in which the true or real cause of something is nevertheless crucially dependent on a necessary cause to achieve its results...

    Christians use this multicausal approach to harmonize the apparent contradiction between Paul and James. Paul claims that salvation is not by works (Ephesians 2:8; Romans 3:2), whereas James seems to contradict this by asserting that faith without works is dead (James 2:20). Martin Luther called James "an epistle of straw" because it seemed to disagree with Paul's doctrine of salvation by faith. But there is really no contradiction here if Paul was talking about the sufficient cause of salvation and James was talking about a necessary cause.
     
  8. Allan

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    Yep. Paul deals with the process of salvation (though he does deal with the application of living holy through faith). James deals with fact of one's salvation in a practical way (where the rubber meets the road as the expression goes), while John brings both together to reveal how it all looks together. Paul's main emphasis shows faith and not works brings one unto salvation, but James illustrates how one's salvation brings forth the actions that are a natural accompaniment to salvation.

    Does Paul not state - It is by grace we are saved through faith, it is a gift not of works so no one can boast.

    Does James also not state regarding the kind of faith that is saving (verses empty or vain faith that produces nothing) - One says I have faith, and I say I have works. Show my your faith without works and I will show you my faith through my works... Don't you know oh vain man, that faith without works is a dead faith... you see then how man is justified by works and not faith only.

    The key here is that faith is belief in action, and James uses Abraham to point to the fact that faith apart from action (acting upon what you believe) is no faith at all - (I tell people that if you don't act/live according to what you say you believe, it isn't really faith but "opinion").

    The point of both writers (in various ways) is that no man who claims to have faith will not act in accordance to what they believe. If they do, it is a vain or empty faith.. which is much the same as saying their words are as empty as the life they live.

    Does not Paul state much the same thing in saying - if there is no resurrection, then our faith is in vain [empty]. While of course we can not cause our own resurrection, the point is still made.. if there is no action accompanying our faith it is a dead, having no life, no power, and therefore we have received no salvaiton

    Did not Jesus state in Mat 5, regarding those who were believers and that how they lived would prove whom they served and were sons and daughters to, - that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.
     
    #8 Allan, May 4, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2011
  9. Allan

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    One more quick point I forgot to add...

    There are those who hold to a Reformed position but only hold to 4 of the 5 points and ALSO agree with faith preceding regeneration :)
    Systematic Theology by Willard Erickson, is one who comes to mind, among others.
     
  10. sag38

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    I believed that my friend's 1947 model cloth covered airplane could fly. But, that belief did not really become faith until I actually climbed into the cockpit and he took me up for a ride.
     
  11. Allan

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    OOPS.. I started to derail the thread.. my apologies everyone. It is now becoming habit to speak of C/A in stuff. Sorry.. back to your regularly scheduled programs.
     
  12. JesusFan

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    That is closest to my position, as I view regeneration/faith as like repentance/faith same time flip side of each other

    What interesting is that I think some of my Cal bethren would not see those like me and Mr Erickson as being "in the camp" as we do not espouse ALL of the Cal system!
     

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