The Supposed James 2 problem

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Dr. Walter, Aug 25, 2011.

  1. Dr. Walter

    Dr. Walter
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    The book of James is written MORE from a practical point of view rather than a THEOLOGICAL point of view - that is one basic difference between Paul's book of Romans chapters 1-12 and the book of James as a whole.

    Secondly, James seems to be writing primarily to early churches that are primarily Jewish in membership, at least the majority, and therefore most likely written to the churches in Judea and Samaria or those churches referred to in Act 9:30.

    Thirdly, James section on justification is just another item in a list of items that James deals with throughout the book. The book of James was not written primarily to deal with or define soteriology and especially the doctrine of justification. It is rather breifly dealt with in passing.

    Fourth, James section on Justification is limited to one portion of one chapter not consisting over 13 verses (2:14-26) whereas, Paul deals with the doctrine of justification explicitly in Romans 3:10-5:1 and Galatians 2:16-3:11 with the sole design to define and defend it.

    The supposed problem of James 2:14-26 is simply a failure to consider the particulars that James spells out in no uncertain terms. Here is the text:

    14 ¶ What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
    15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
    16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
    17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
    18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
    19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
    20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
    21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
    22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
    23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
    24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
    25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
    26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.



    First, Begin where James begins! Where does james begin? Does he begin vertical between the justified and God "before God" as Paul does (Rom. 2:19-20; 4:1) or does he begin horizontal between profession toward men as James does? Here is the question that many simply choose to ignore because it does not serve their purpose for this text. Let's see;

    14 ¶ What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
    15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
    16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
    17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
    18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.


    James is dealing with the PROFESSION of justification and its relationship to men by profession without action toward men that vindicates it. Is it not the ACTION toward men that James places before the reader as the VISIBLE evidence of real justifing faith rather than mere proffesion toward men? He is not dealing with the POSSESSION of justification and its relationship to God by faith as is Paul.

    Note the illustration first given by James (v. 15-16) as a horizontal application designed to define the visible evidence of true justification before the court of HUMAN OBSERVATION instead of mere lip service or what they "say." Many reading this post will simply pass over this and ignore it because it does not serve their purpose for this text.

    Some at this point are saying, well, what about verses 19-20, why don't you deal with those verses! Tell me, how shall we deal with them? Shall we deal with then in contradiction to the horizontal context of illustrations just stated in verses 17-18 or shall we deal with them by jumping from that context into a VERTICAL context no where stated or illustrated? Shall we depart from illustrations that obviously are designed to TEST the profession of justification before men by actions toward men rather than just words or shall we jerk it out of context and force it into a vertical context between the professor and God???? Here is where exegesis turns into eisgesis for those who suppose there is a problem between James and Paul. They simply refuse to recognize the different contexts and different applications by Paul and James.

    Here are the verses:

    19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
    20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?


    Who is James addressing in verse 19? Is it not the one who has failed in the court of human observation, meaning, they have said much but done nothing TOWARD MEN?????? Come on, be honest with the text and preceding context. Don't worry about the verses that follow until we get to them!!

    What is "that faith" he refers to in verse 20 by context? Is it not the PROFESSION OF FAITH he has just illustrated in verses 17-18? The faith that only makes a PROFESSION TOWARD MEN but is WITHOUT ACTIONS TOWARD MEN! James identifies "works" as the visible evidence of true justification rather than mere lip service in the COURT OF HUMAN OBSERVATION not "before God" but before men. Come on, be honest! It is "that" kind of faith without the visible EVIDENCE of works before men that is like the faith of demons and which is dead.

    Furthermore, he is not talking about happenstance events but rather something that is CHARACTERISTIC of "that" faith as illustrated in verses 17-18. He uses the PRESENT TENSE of progressive continuous action.

    We will stop right here as that is enough to chew on before we go on to the illustrations given to distinguish between real geniune profession of faith versus "that" kind of faith.
     
    #1 Dr. Walter, Aug 25, 2011
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  2. Dr. Walter

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    I have established that James 2:14-20 is dealing with justifying faith not "before God" but before men. James is giving his readers PRACTICAL instruction concerning the visible evidence of true justifying faith - it is not what they say alone but it is what accompanies their profession in the form of "works." This is CHARACTERISTIC progressive linear evidence that the COURT OF HUMAN OBSERVATION is to use to determine the true from the false professor.

    James has provided a NEGATIVE illustration to bring his point home in the persons of demons. Now, he turns to those POSITIVE illustrations that all his readers can verify in the scriptures to support why only works accompanying profession is the evidence of determining true from false in the court of HUMAN OBSERVATION. Remember, James is not providing God with visible evidence to determine true from false but he is providing his readers with practical visible evidence to judge the nature of profession of faith.


    1. Abraham

    21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
    22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
    23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
    24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.


    First, ask yourself who it is that james is addressing? Is he addressing God or his readers - professed Christians? What is he calling on them to do? Look at their hearts as God does or "SEEST THOU" and "YE SEE" the works as the VISIBLE EVIDENCE of genuine profession of faith?

    Now consider this example in Abraham. It is an example that all his readers can "see" as it is written in the scriptures to see. Therefore, it is a VISIBLE written illustration provided for the COURT OF HUMAN OBSERVATION in the Word of God open to everyone to "see."

    Second, in this visible written illustraton there are others noted in the context that also observed these works by Abraham. There was his Son who saw them all. There was his servant that went with them and no doubt heard the story as did all the family - as it was verbally passed down to Moses by someone!

    Finally, James is not teaching that this specific event with these specific works which happened years after Abraham was justified is what justified Abraham BEFORE GOD, but rather it is these works and all the other works he did recorded in the scriptures that give VISIBLE WRITTEN EVIDENCE he was a truely justified man before God in the horizontal sight of men. This later specific set of works "fulfilled" the early declaration of justification in the sense of VISIBLE VERIFICATION not that they were instrumental in obtain VERTICAL justification before God as that occurred years previously.

    Now note the beginning statement of the last verse. "Do YOU SEE"! He is not asking if GOD SEES but if YOU SEE. What is there to SEE and why should they look for that? Answer - Because james is defining works as the VISIBLE EVIDENCE that they should LOOK FOR in order to vindicate the profession of faith in the cour of HUMAN OBSERVATION!

    We will stop here and continue in a later post.
     
  3. Dr. Walter

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    Rahab the Harlot

    24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
    25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?


    "Likewise" Rahab is a visible written illustration for all to "see" in the scriptures that illustrates James point that profession of faith is verified in the court of human observation by the visible evidence of works.

    Note again the words "YOU SEE"! Again, who is James addressing? God or his readers? Who needs to "see" the distinction between a false profession and a true profession? God or his readers????

    Furthermore, this visible evidence of profession was seen by the two spies. It was then later seen by all of Israel as they marched around Jericho and saw the bright crimson rope hanging from her window.

    Neither the illustration of Abraham or Rahab contradict one single word of Paul and especially his words that a man is justified by faith "without works" before God as works are merely the following EVIDENCE not the basis for justification.

    "We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus UNTO good works...." - Eph. 2:10
     
  4. Dr. Walter

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

    Now, many of you were eager to get to this verse. You want to take this verse and completely overthrow the whole preceding context of VISIBLE EVIDENCE for a true profession in the court of HUMAN OBSERVATION. You would like to purge the preceding context of the "to me...to thee....you see....see then" characterization of this practical advice given by James for use in the court of human observation as evidence of justification by faith. No, you would want to make works the basis rather than mere evidence for justification and this is your proof text for that isn't it?

    However, again, let us approach this text consistently with how James has approached every statement and every illustration thus far. He is not addressing God but addressing his human readers and providing something they can once again SEE with their own eyes. Few have not seen with their own eyes a dead corpse. Many have seen a person or animal die and the most visible evidence is when you see the chest stop moving - no more wind or breath, no more air being pushed in and out by the lungs.

    The term "spirit" is the Greek term "pnema" and is translated elsewhere "wind" or "breath" and that is precisely the meaning here. Works are comparable to the breath or wind that you can see in a living being and what is visibly absent in a dead corpse. It is the visible evidence of a living body. So, likewise, works are the visible evidence of a living faith.

    What is the first visible evidence you look for (not feel for) when you are looking at a body to see if it is alive? Is it not breathing as the motion in the chest area. Now we can all hold our breath for a period of time. A person can stop breathng for some minutes periodically. However, any body that is CHARACTERISTICALLY without breath and chest movement is dead. Works are presented again as the VISIBLE EVIDENCE to vindicate the profession of faith in the court of HUMAN OBSERVATION.
     
    #4 Dr. Walter, Aug 25, 2011
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  5. Dr. Walter

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    The point James is making is NOT that the body without SOME breath is dead but the body WITHOUT any breath is dead.

    Anyone can stop breathing for moments and still be alive. However, no one can stop breathing altogether so as to be "without" breath and be alive.

    James has been talking about "that" kind of faith comparable to demons. Demons are wholly WITHOUT righteous works altogether.

    James has given an example of a poor person who is needing clothing and food and the professor offers NONE - zilch - nada.

    All Christians have period where no visible good works can be seen. However, no true Christian continues WITHOUT good works altogether. This is what james is talking about and how works are the visible evidence of a true profession in the court of human observation. They do not procure justification or faith, nor are they they the basis for justification but they are the visible evidence of justification and therefore the evidence of the profession of justification by faith in the court of HUMAN OBSERVATION.
     
  6. Dr. Walter

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    Summary of James 2 and Justification

    1. This is a practical guide for his readers to be able to discern between profession and possession of true justifying faith.

    2. Hence, this passage is characterized by HORIZONTAL language - "shew me...shew thee...."

    3. Hence, this passage deals with the court of HUMAN OBSERVATION "Do you see...see then...."

    4. This passage deals with "that" faith which is completely "without works" - meaning without any good works whatsoever; (1) as in the illustration in verses 16-17; (2) as in the case of demons; (3) as in the absence of all breath from a body. This is not about justifying faith that is sometimes missing works.

    5. This passage is desgned by james to equip his readers with the knowledge to discern in a practical way the differnence between mere lip service and true justifying faith and "works" are designated as the practical visible evidence they are instructed to look for and use to make this distinction.

    6. hence, James states "faith without works is dead" does not contradict Paul's statement that we are "justified without works."

    a. James is speaking in the court of human observation while Paul is speaking in the court of Divine observation

    b. James is speaking about works as the SUBSEQUENT VISIBLE EVIDENCE that demonstrates the reality of profession versus mere lip service while Paul is speaking about the basis for justification before God.

    Hence, works are essential to vindicate your profession in the court of human observation and they are essential evidence of true justification (Eph. 2:10). However, it is just as essential that the basis for justification before God be "without works" altogether as the basis for justification before God is only the Person and works of Jesus Christ. Hence, faith in Christ obtains the state of justification before God whereas works obtain the recognition of that state before the court of human observation. It is only mere lip profession without any good works whatsoever that is to be regarded as dead as "that" kind of faith is equal to the faith of demons.
     
    #6 Dr. Walter, Aug 26, 2011
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  7. Doubting Thomas

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    I'd resolve the apparent tension between Paul and James a little bit differently than you. Although James rhetorically mentions two Christians 'showing' each other their faith (one with his works and one without), the language of the passage goes beyond 'justification', or demonstration of the genuineness of one's faith, before mere human observers. Salvation and justification before God is also clearly, and primarily, in view.

    "What does it profit, my brethren, if somene says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith SAVE him?" (James 2:14)

    Notice the question that James opens this passage with, regarding faith/works, is not "Can his faith be demonstrated before men?", but rather "Can faith SAVE him?". The rhetorical answer is clearly "No!" as James demonstrates in the remainder of chapter 2. In other words, a workless 'faith' is not just profitless in demonstrating itself before men, but it is (more importantly) profitless for SALVATION.

    Likewise James, in discussing the example of Abraham offering up Isaac, talks about how his works make his faith perfect (or complete) in verse 22. He describes how Abraham (the man, not his faith per se except secondarily) was justified by his works (v 21) in a sense. And when one refers to this account in the OT, we see that this justification takes place before GOD. Abraham and Isaac were all alone up on the mountain before God (ie there were no other human witnesses to this act) and God tells Abraham: "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." (Gen 22:12)

    So as we see the justification James speaks of here has to do with salvation and justification before God, and not merely a demonstration of the genuineness of one's faith before other men. I'll hopefully post tonight (or tomorrow--I'll be gone the rest of the day) about how more specifically I'd thus resolve the apparent tension between James 2 and Romans 3-5. *One key is recognizing that James uses faith in a more limited sense--of intellectual assent--whereas Paul uses it in a fuller sense--of 'faith working through love' (Gal 5:6). However, you can refer to my last response in the thread regarding Romans 3-5 to see my thoughts on that passage, and I see no conflict between James and Paul, both of whom speak of justification in terms of salvation, once everything is properly understood in context and carefully explained
     
  8. Dr. Walter

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    I respectfully disagree with your analysis. He is not generically asking if faith can save anyone. He first defines what kind of faith he is asking about - a faith that hath no works in attendance or a faith that produces no works. Geninue faith produces works (Eph. 2:10). However, it is not that kind of faith he asks about. He is asking if a faith void of evidential works is the kind that is saving. This is the kind of faith he continues to illustrate - a faith void of all works. Nowhere, does he define the basis of justification before God but in nearly every verse he is addressing mere lip service that claims to be saving faith BEFORE MEN. However, your interpretation gives credence to those who deny that "faith" can be the basis of justification without works as you present it James question to be in regard to genuine faith. James is not talking about genuine faith but about a FRUITLESS faith. Genuine faith is not fruitless but it is not the fruit of faith or even faith itself that justifies anyone - IT IS THE OBJECT OF THAT FAITH!!!!

    Second, everything a person does is before God but that is not the focus of james as the focus of james is strictly horizontal and dealing with works as the visible evidence of genuine faith. In his illustration of Abraham he is not asking if God saw it, but rather if his readers can "see" it! Works "fulfilled" it not in the sight of God as God did not need any proof of what was in Abraham's heart. Moreover, in God's sight, Abraham was justified years before. Are you suggesting that God was left in the dark until Genesis 22??????? I don't think so or else God could not have made the assertion that he was justified before Him in Genesis 15!!!! Are you suggesting that there was no manifestation of that faith in the life of Abrham before God between Genesis 15 to Genesis 22????? I don't think you have a case here at all. What James is pointing to is something VISIBLE to the READER of Genesis not something visible to God. Abraham was already fully justified before God in Genesis 11 as the past tense verbs in Genesis 12:1-3 prove. Genesis 15 also points back to that specific time in Genesis 11 as a completed action (perfect tense). However, Genesis 22 was the FIRST VISIBLE TEST of His faith and therefore the first reference point to present a case from the perspective of the reader that Abraham's faith gave evidence of its genuiness before men and obviously before God but it is not God that needed the evidence.


     
    #8 Dr. Walter, Aug 26, 2011
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  9. Doubting Thomas

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    Where in the text does it say 'kind of' faith? It's not there. James doesn't say "Can this kind of faith save him?" Nope--he asks of the person who has 'faith' but doesn't have 'works': "Can faith save him?" (James uses 'faith' in the same sense throughout the passage as we'll see below)

    It depends. A genuine intellectual assent alone doesn't necessarily or spontaneously produce good works, but I agree that works of love are the result of a 'lively faith' (as opposed to a barren orthodoxy).

    Except the words 'kind of' are not written by James to qualify 'faith' in this passage. From the context James uses faith in a limited sense, that of intellectual assent, which in an of itself is not bad...it's actually good and necessary. However, intellectual assent to the Gospel is not sufficient for salvation, as what actually avails for anything in Christ is faith which works through love (Gal 5:6).
    Strike the words 'the kind that is' from that sentence and I agree. :smilewinkgrin:

    James uses 'faith' in the same sense throughout the passage, whether it is accompanied by works or not. He doesn't say: "You show me your kind of faith without works, and I'll show you my (different) kind of faith by my works". "Kind of" is something you are importing into the passage. It's not that one has a bad 'kind of' faith and the other a good 'kind of' faith. Both have 'faith' (intellectual assent), but the one whose 'faith' (intellectual assent) is without works to complete it, his 'faith' (intellectual assent) is dead and thus cannot save him. On the other hand when one's 'faith' (intellectual assent) IS accompanied by works of love (which make this 'faith' perfect) then he has a 'lively faith' (intellectual assent which works through love) which is saving.

    Though I agree that James is not addressing or defining the meritorious ground (or 'basis') of our Justification (Christ's work), he is still making it clear that our works in some sense are used by God to reckon us rightous--ie justify us. "You see a MAN is justified by his works and not by faith only" (James 2:24). In James, as in Paul, it is still God who justifies.

    No, I am merely pointing out that in the context and grammar of the passage, James makes it clear that he is talking about justification in terms of salvation, ie before God, and that our works play a role in this. *HOWEVER, that role is DIFFERENT than what is the meritorious ground/basis of our justification (ie Christ's Work--His perfect obedience and atoning death); that role, rather, is being the evidential criteria (ie FRUIT) by which GOD judges who has a lively 'faith] (ie who is actually trusting/abiding in Christ--who assents to the Gospel and is walking in love) and who has a dead 'faith' (who has an intellectual assent but whose life is devoid of fruit showing he is actively abiding in Christ).

    Almost. Certainly the meritorious ground of our justification is the perfect work of Christ alone. Our faith is what apprehends it, because or faith is what apprehends HIM. However it's not merely an intellectual assent to the truth of the gospel, no matter how genuine. One can have an intellectual assent yet not actively be abiding in Christ. If one is NOT abiding in Christ, despite his intellectual belief in gospel truth, he neither has the merits of Christ (justification in the Pauline perspective) nor the fruit of good works (justification in James 2) as evidence of a lively faith.

    That's incorrect for the reasons I gave above.

    It's not only the visible evidence of faith before men, but it is the evidence of an abiding faith by which God will judge those who are truly in Christ (and thus have apprehended His perfect merits by which alone we can stand righteous before God)

    Ah...here you are betraying your presupposition that justification is a one time once for all event (rather than an ongoing status, for instance)

    I am not suggesting anything--I am repeating what God said to Abraham. :cool: God was obviously not 'left in the dark', but it wasn't until Abraham actually ACTED on his faith in this instance that God made this statement (regardless of the fact that he was also said to have been justified--ie reckoned righteous, at an earlier moment in his life)

    Again, you are assuming that justification describes only a singular event in a person's life. Scripture teaches, rather, that though justification certainly has a definite beginning (ie when person first has faith) it is also an ongoing reality that is true for a person as long has he continues to have faith.

    Not at all, but I don't assume that once one has faith he must inevitably ALWAYS have faith--that's YOUR assumption.
    And here is where I think one of our fundamental disagreements lie--you assume 'once justified, always inevitably and unconditionally justified', something the totality of Scripture will not support.

    One is justified if one is in Christ. Since our life in Christ has a definite beginning, then it is certainly appropriate to describe our justification as a past tense completed action. However, this justification is not intrinsic to us, but is only true as long as we are in Christ. If we cease to abide in Christ, and our faith becomes shipwreck, we will no longer have Christ's merits to rest upon, and our lack of fruit of good works will be the proof of this on judgment day.
     
  10. Dr. Walter

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    What classifies one faith different in kind from another kind of faith is the characteristics the writer uses to describe it.

    For example, Paul in 1 Cor. 15:10-16 describes the characteristics of what he would label as a "dead" faith. Surely, that is not the KIND of faith that justifies or saves anyone.

    James is from the very beginning providing characteristics of a "faith" that he condemns rather than condones by the label of a "dead" faith.

    All one has to do is define the characteristics and ask if that "faith" is Biblical faith? If it does not have the Biblical characteristics it is not the same in Kind.

    For example, James provides three basic characteristics of the faith he is condemning and labeling as a dead faith:

    1. It is mere profession as lip service without works - v. 14
    2. It is mere profession as lip service without love - vv. 15-17
    3. It is mere profession as lip service without allegience to God - v. 18

    Other Bible translations understand James to be distinguishing a kind or such a faith distinct from the Biblical kind in regard to justification:

    14 ¶ 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? - English Majority Text Version

    14 ¶ What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but have not works? can that faith save him? - English Revised Version

    14 ¶ 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? - Youngs Literal Translation

    14 ¶ what good is it, my brethren, if a man professes to have faith, and yet his actions do not correspond? can such faith save him? - Weymouth Version

    The idea of "kind" is necessarily essential if there are more than one type of faith characteristically in scripture distinguished from true Biblical faith:

    1. Vain faith - 1 Cor 15
    2. Dead faith - James 2
    3. Living faith - Heb. 11

    It is obvious that james is not speaking of the same kind of faith throughout the text because he contrasting a "faith" that he labels as "dead" with a faith that is not dead, a faith that is mere profession with a faith that is more than mere profession.

    You are right that he uses the same term "faith" throughout but he does not use it in the same context or with the same characteristics throughout but contrasts it between different contextual characteristics.


    See, even you must admit that the characteristic "lively" that defines the word "faith" is not the same kind as mere, though "genuine intellectual assent alone" when attached to the term "faith". When such contrasting characteristics are attached to the same word it cannot be referring to the same KIND of faith as the contrasting characteristics demands another type/kind that james lables as the "dead" kind rather than the "lively" kind.
     
    #10 Dr. Walter, Aug 27, 2011
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  11. Dr. Walter

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    Your explanation makes no sense. You are trying to define a limited characteristic "intellectual assent" as Biblical faith and yet at the same time define it as an incomplete faith. It can't be both and yet be faith. This is what happens when you play intellectual gynastics. Even James recognizes this and so gives it the label of "dead" faith to distinguish it as a KIND of faith from lively faith.

    There is a fundemental error in your basic definition of faith. Faith is not merely intellectual assent, although it certainly includes that. Faith that is characteristic of justification in the Bible is first and foremost perception by revelation of the gospel that not only encompasses the mind but the heart and then energized by the power of the Spirit of God in regard to the will of man so that it is God which worketh in you "both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philip. 1:29; 2:13) and that is precisely why it is called a "lively" faith. Saving faith is a "gift" of God (philip. 1:29; Eph. 2:10) and is "the work of God" (Jn. 6:29)and originates with a new heart given by God that can perceive and understand and embrace truth (Deut. 4:29; 29:4; Ezek. 36:26-27 with Romans 10:10; 2 Cor. 4:6). Jesus is its author and Jesus is its finisher (Heb. 12:2) and the Holy Spirit is its sustainer in between the time it is authored and finished (Philip. 1:6; 2:13).
     
  12. Dr. Walter

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    No! James introduces this as merely profession by one man to another man (v. 14). It is in the court of human observation that his profession is either justified or condemned by the characteristics James supplies to define "dead" from living faith.

    James does not call upon God to justify that profession. James does not call upon the professor to have God justify his faith. This is strictly a horizontal court of justification or condemnation.

    James does not call upon God to "see" anything nor does he call upon the professor to "shew" God anything.

    James never says "before God" about anything in this context. When he makes reference to Abraham and Rahab he calls upon the reader to "see" not for God to either "see" or to justify anyone.



    This is your commentary but not James. James does not say one word about being "before God".

    Neither is it evidence by which God will judge the saints as they already have been judged in Christ and "shall not come into condemnation" (Jn. 5:24). Instead, works are the basis for God to judge his saints for rewards but never to determine "who are truly in Christ" because He already knows His sheep and does not need to make such a determination to know who is who (Jn. 10:28-29).
     
  13. Doubting Thomas

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    Not at all--I am simply stating that JAMES (not everybody else in the Bible!) is using 'faith' in a limited sense, and is teaching that this 'faith' as an 'intellectual assent' only is insufficient for justification and profitless for salvation.
    I am not playing 'intellectual gymnastics--I am attempting to let the text speak for itself without pretending that JAMES is supposedly contrasting TWO DIFFERENT 'KINDS' of 'faith'. (I am afraid certain presuppositions preclude you from recognizing that much of our argument is semantics, and that my interpretation of this passage is not substantially different than your admission that an intellectual assent alone is insufficient for salvation, while this is what I submit is precisely JAMES' point!) Which leads to...
    Yes, James contrasts faith that is dead from faith that is alive, but not two different kinds of 'faith'. He is not talking about a 'bad kind of faith', or contrasting a bad with a good faith (or true from a false faith). He is using faith in the same sense throughout--the only thing that is different is whether this same type of faith (intellectual assent) has works to complete it or not. If it does, it is alive; if not it is dead.

    Look at the example of the human body. Whether it is alive or dead it is still a human body--not a different kind of body. If this body has the spirit, it is alive; if THIS SAME BODY does NOT have the spirit, it is DEAD. The body in it of itself is good, not bad; and it is real (it is not non-existent). However, without the spirit it is dead.

    For JAMES'S purposes, the 'faith' HE is describing in this particular passage is apparently limited to an intellectual assent, which is legitimate for him to do, since the word 'faith' has this shade of meaning. "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!" (James 2:19)
    So James is stating that this "believeing" is not bad in and of itself--in fact it is good and necessary ("You do well"). However, from what James teaches it is incomplete for salvation (since it is something even the demons can do), and from the wider teaching of Scripture we know that 'saving faith' encompasses MORE than mere intellectual assent (although it certainly includes intellectual assent as you admitted). So you thus mistake my contention that James is using faith in a limited sense to mean that I somehow have a fundamental error in the basic definition of faith, as if I think that 'faith' is ONLY used to indicate an intellectual assent in all of Scripture. I assure you that is NOT the case.. The WORD 'Faith' has various shades of meaning, which may be in some caseslimited to an intellectual assent (in this passage--James 2), or it may also encompass an act of the will in repentance and trusting in Christ. For 'faith' to be salvific we both agree it must include the latter.
     
  14. Doubting Thomas

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    James only 'condemns' this faith if it is without works. If this same kind of faith is completed by works, as in case of Abraham, it is commended. As I stated above, James uses the analogy of body without spirit being dead--if this same body has a spirit it would be alive (certainly not something to be condemned)
    How a certain writer is using 'faith' is determined by the context. In the case of James, he is limiting it to intellectual assent, not something that is bad in and of itself, but not something that can save without works of love Paul, on the other hand, does not limit it to this. In fact, Paul is pretty clear that what actually avails for anything in Christ is 'faith working through love' (which is obviously not an intellectual belief without works) (Gal 5:6)

    Yet those for are said to believe intellectually (not mere lip service) in God do well (v 19)--however this is not well enough for salvation or else demons could be saved too. So it's not mere 'lip service' James is arguing against--it's against a sincerely held intellectual belief that is devoid of works of love.
    The problem is certain other bible translations take certain liberties with the text by adding the words 'kind of' which is absent in the Greek.

    As I pointed out above, the only contrast is whether this same type of faith he is describing is alive or dead--not two separate types of faith.

    Contrasting between whether the 'faith' in question also has works or not in no way implies he is distinguishing between two completely different types of faith--only whether this same type of faith has works to complete it or not, thus making it alive or dead.


    No it doesn't demand that it's another kind of faith, any more than the presence of the spirit demands that a human body be anything different than a human body.
     
  15. Doubting Thomas

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    It is not the 'court of human observation' that determines whether one is saved or not (v 14--"CAN FAITH SAVE HIM?")--it is GOD'S COURT.

    Whether this faith can SAVE or not is in God's 'vertical' court of justification, not in some alleged horizontal court of demonstration

    James is ASKING "CAN FAITH SAVE HIM"? Horizontal human courts don't "SAVE"--GOD DOES.


    Ironically, it is you who are ignoring the language of verse 14 which dealing with the matter of SALVATION certainly DOES bring us "before God".

    Umm, go down a couple of verses: "...all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth--those who have DONE GOOD to the resurrection of LIFE, and those who have DONE EVIL, to the resurrection of condemnation" (John 5:28-29). Obviously those who trust in Christ have passed from death unto life (yet they have to remain in Christ or they will be cut off--John 15:2,6), but those in Christ will bear fruit as evidence they are truly His.

    Yet many who think they are sheep and who even have an intellectual knowledge of the gospel will be SHOWN BY GOD that this is not in fact the case.
     
  16. Dr. Walter

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    Thank you. I now know your theological bias that you bring to the table in this discussion. You simply do not believe the Biblical doctrine of justication by grace.

    You are wrong about James 2:14 and that it is brought before God. He is not asking God if faith can save. He is asking his readers and his readers are not God. He is bringing this question before human readers not before God.

    14 ¶ What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

    However, you could care less who it is addressed to as your theological bias cannot permit you to be in error at this point because if you are in error here your whole house of interpretative cards come falling down around and humpty dumpy has a big fall and no one can put him back together again.

    However, the FACT is that verse 14 is not addressed to God, but is directly and explicitly addressed to the HORIZONTAL court of human opinion "MY BRETHREN." - case closed.

    Furthermore, you definition of faith that you attribute to James is wrong. James does not commend that definition of Faith but condemns it as "dead" faith. Believing in God is better than not believing in God but neither one defines saving faith because God is not the object of saving faith but the object is Christ alone and his redemptive provision.

    You simply ignored the Biblical characteristics that define saving faith and then attempted to persuade readers that james had his own little separate definition for his own contextual contrived purpose. However that is rediculous. James is not presenting a new or different definition of "faith" but he is condemning a wrong definition.

    You simply ignored the fact that there are other KINDS of faith in the Bible distinguished from "dead" faith such as "vain" faith and "miracle" faith none of which save. Why? I will tell you why. If there is more than one kind of false faith then there are KINDS and you do not want to admit to that.

    I stand by my exposition and I don't believe you can overthrow it with any objective evidence and I have yet to see any objective evidence. Your idea that verse 14 and the question "can faith save him" is addressed to God is contradicted GRAMMATICALLY and in clear English as the question is addressed to "MY BRETHREN." Last time I checked the plural "brethen" is never used to describe God. James places this question squarely before the HORIZONTAL court of human opinion "MY BRETHREN."
     
    #16 Dr. Walter, Aug 27, 2011
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  17. Dr. Walter

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    My opponent builds his whole case that the words "can faith save him" places the question before God rather than before the court of human opinion.

    Rightly so! Because if it can be proven that James is not addressing God but addressing the court of HUMAN observation then the entire rest of his exposition of James 2:14-21 falls with it with a mighty fall.

    Simply look at the highlighted words in the following quote and it is supremely obvious that James is addressing the HORIZONTAL COURT OF OBSERVATION and not God at all.

    14 ¶ What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
    15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
    16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
    17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
    18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.


    The same holds true with the Biblical illustrations that follow:

    22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
    23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
    24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.


    God is not called upon once by James to judge, to see, to shew anything. Even in the following verses the horizontal court of human observation is clearly implied:

    19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
    20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?


    Certainly to believe in God in any sense is better to deny God but that hardly constitutes Biblical faith. More importantly, it is clear that james continues to address "thou" and "man" not God. He merely brings the demons in to apply to the judgement from the court of human of observation.
     
  18. Dr. Walter

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    Unto what kind of resurrection do those who have done evil come?? Did I read that right "CONDEMNATION"? (judgement). In other words, they have already lived and died and the KIND of judgement they are already determined to stand in is not the same as those who have done good? Is that correct? So those who have done good arise to what kind of judgement? Did I read that right "LIFE"?

    Hence they are resurrected to a judgement that has already determined their end rather than a judgment in order to determine their end as you suppose!!

    What does the two different kinds (condemnation versus life) of judgement determine then? REWARDS in connection with that predetermined end. The wicked will be rewarded according to their works in eternity of condemnation. The righteous will be rewarded according to their works in eternity of life.



    John 10:27-30 has absolutely nothing to say and nothing to do with what sheep know or think - nada - zilch! This text declares what Christ knows and thinks.

    27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
    28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
    COLOR]

    Are you calling Christ a liar in regard to what he claims to know and think???
     
    #18 Dr. Walter, Aug 27, 2011
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  19. Doubting Thomas

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    You have a theological bias that you bring to the table as well, and don't pretend that you don't. And I assure you that I do believe in the Biblical doctrine of justification by grace (through faith)---I just deny that the Bible teaches such as grace is irresistible.

    Of course James is not asking GOD if faith can save--what an absurd evasion! Of course James is addressing the READERS and he is asking THEM "CAN FAITH SAVE? Thus James is not merely asking if 'faith' (without works) can profit them in the court of human opinion--he's asking THEM if 'faith' (without works) can SAVE, which puts the matter in God's court! It is the height of silliness to suggest James is not thinking in terms of God's juridicial court simply because he's asking his READERS a question about faith/works. The fact that James is asking if faith without works can SAVE demonstrates he is asking them how this would fare in GOD'S COURT. (Of course God already knows the answer!)

    14 ¶ What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? CAN FAITH SAVE HIM?

    Here it comes--the wild accusations of error and theological bias apparently not permitting me to see my error (along the dramatic humpty-dumpty analogy thrown in to boot) , as if whom James is addressing somehow mitigates against the point I am suggesting he is making. That's absurd as I pointed out above.

    Case isn't closed. That James is addressing humans in no way takes away that the subject he is discussing (TO HIS READERS) is whether or not faith without works can profit for SALVATION. (You might as well assert that Paul is never talking about God's 'veritical' juridicial court in regards to salvation and justification and faith, because all of HIS letters are addressed to....wait for it...HUMANS). This line of thinking of yours is ridiculous.

    James condemns the situation of the faith he is describing when it is without works.
    Is Jesus not God? Is it better to believe in the existence of God, since it is true, than to disbelieve it? James seems to think so because he tells his readers that they "do well" for doing so. His point in this passage, however, is that this intellectual assent to truth, though good and necessary, is INSUFFICIENT for salvation.

    It's not James "own separate definition"---it is certainly within the lexical range of the word "faith" to refer to an intellectual assent. (*Of course, the lexical range of "faith" also refers to, and in the wider Bibilical context "saving faith" indeed includes, much MORE than this--I never denied this!). And it is certainly not "contrived"--the context particularly verse 19 shows that this is the sense in which James is speaking of faith throughout this passage.
    It's not a new or wrong definition at all--it's just that this particular (and lexically permitted) definition of 'faith' is insufficient for salvation if there is no works present.

    This is incredible! I have spent these last several posts stating that James is dealing with one specific definition of faith in this particular passage (and acknowledging that the wider Scriptures obviously also has a more comprehensive definition), and now you are accusing me that I don't acknowledge more than one "KIND" of faith in the Bible. You can't have it both ways. :cool:

    Again, this is such a ridiculous objection, that I can't believe that one who calls himself a "DR" is actually making it. I never said James was addressing God. My point was never that James is ADDRESSING (writing his letter to or asking this question to) God--my point that James is discussing SALVATION, a matter which involves GOD's court, by asking this question to his readers.
     
  20. Doubting Thomas

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    Again, as flimsy a straw man as there ever could be.

    Your dramatic descriptions of the mighty falling notwithstanding, this leap of logic is breath taking. ONCE AGAIN, James does not have to be personally addressing God in order for the subject matter (faith/works) he's describing to be in reference to salvation and justification in GOD'S COURT.

    Yes, look at the highlighted parts all you want--it still doesn't change the point that James is making (which I indicated ****in allcaps, underline, and bold****)



    God doesn't have to be personally "called upon" "to judge" in this passage in order for the SUBJECT that James is discussing is 'faith' and 'works' in reference to God's judgment and SALVATION (and not merely to some alleged court of human opinion).
     

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