This class exegetes the Epistle of James from Patristic sources in order to show that the historical teaching of the church is that only faith that produces works saves.
Ed: This was made when I was a Protestant and upon greater learning and reflection my thoughts have evolved.
Craig, You lumped Catholics in with Jehovah’s Witnesses in your teaching/sermon video above. Out of curiosity, do you consider Catholics to be Christians? Do you consider Jehovah’s Witnesses to be Christian?
Catholics are Christians. JWs are heretics. How did I lump them together? Did I misspeak?
I thought I heard that in the video. It is an interesting thought you propose: Everyone has been mistranslating “vindication” as “justification” in James 2. I cannot say that I am buying it, but it is creative. How do you work around faith without works is dead. Follow my logic here for a second, please. If you have no works, then your faith is dead. This would seem to imply that you would have a faith, but there is no life – no life eternal in your dead faith. If you have works, then your faith is alive. The two have to go together. You cannot live a righteous life without doing works. Works perfect your faith. From the Catholic/Orthodox perspective, this is doctrine. The initial baptism washes away sin and gives one Holy Spirit. THer eis no work you did to deserve the baptismal graces. They were freely offered and your were baptized. And with baptism you become adopted into the family of God. But after the free gift of baptism, you must grow in your faith through obedience and righteous works. If you do not work our your salvation through cooperation with the graces God gives you, then your faith is dead and you are not living out the covenant and you forfeit your inheritance. Maybe it is just me, but that understanding/explanation seems like a much more consistent explanation of salvation and justification as found in the Scriptures and the overall message of Christ.
” I cannot say that I am buying it, but it is creative.” Well, I did not invent it :), I quoted both Clement and Cyril of Alexandria as inventing the view. SO, I’m not so creative, LOL. I was floored when I found out that James 2 is essentially mistranslated. Let me iterate, though, the term “vindicate” does not disallow for Catholic soteriology. Rather, it does radically change how modern Catholic theologians often apply the text.
Your explanation makes sense, especially in light of Canon 32 of Trent. However, the Fathers were writing about James before Canon 32.
I am not sure about this, but I think the view I explained is Eastern Orthodox in its soteriology.
For example, in my lesson I quote Oecuminius and then say faith and works are not mutually exclusive, that faith is pregnant with works, so God does not award the works, he awards faith (which manifests itself in works.) Jeremias II, the Bishop of Constantinople in the 16th century, seems to have affirmed the same: “good works are not separate from, but necessary for, true faith. One should not trust in works nor be boastful in a Pharisaic manner.”
He also wrote that “true faith…proves itself by good works” and “One should not boast of them [works] nor depend on them, for that would be sinful; but as much as you are able, fulfill the works which are the result of faith and are necessary.”
So, I think your example is almost correct, but the best way to make sense of Paul, James, the Fathers’ interpretation of James is the following:
Good works, wrought through faith, lead to God blessing us with greater faith and greater works. God rewards the faith, not the works (as works would give us grounds to boast.) But, the faith by necessary consequence has good works. So it would be proper for us to say God blesses us for doing good, but in a technical sense doing would not compel God to recompense. However, faith in Christ is a humble dependence which leads to God’s undeserved graciousness to the believer.
Make sense Rock? Please see part II to my lesson, it may quote more fathers on this topic and make it easier to understand,
Theres nothing to “unpack.” Its very clear. “Unpacking” is whats done by liars who refuse to accept what the text plainly says.
Btw “accept[ing] what the text plainly says” doesnt mean agreeing with it but letting it say what it says and not trying to change it. Like I dont agree with Pauls contrived argument in 1Cor11 (as we discussed before) but I dont refuse to accept that thats his argument and try and twist it into something else. No, he says it but I dont agree. I dont get why Calvinists cant just admit as much on James 2. Its a lack of honesty in their dealings with the text, a lack of integrity on their part.