A year and a half ago (or so) when Orthodoxy was not even on my radar, I taught a Bible study on James 2. I recently re-listened to it. My comments are as follows:
- It seems to me obvious that the teaching of James is that faith saves us, and not works. Rather, saving faith qualitatively includes works. This is proved linguistically (if we understand the original language) and by the consensus of the Church in their extensive commentaries on the passage.
- While works have a role in salvation (particularly our sanctification/Theosis), this is not what James was talking about. So, to take this passage as a counter-argument against Protestant soteriology is ultimately self-defeating, because James was not passing comment on sanctification and therefore not offering the soteriological nuances that differentiate Protestantism from Orthodoxy/Roman Catholicism.
- It is pretty clear that in the video, I unbiblically rejected the efficacy of sacraments. I honestly cannot guess my own psychology as how I would have responded to someone saying that the Scriptures say we need confession, baptism, the Eucharist and etcetera. So, ultimately what I teach here is incomplete as we do need the sacraments.
- Upon reflection, it seems pretty clear to me that in retrospect a thorough (and Pro-Protestant) interpretation of James 2 was probably the crucial intellectual development I needed to become Orthodox. The usual Orthodox/Roman Catholic apologetic for the chapter is both unbiblical and unorthodox. Orthodoxy does not teach that our works are an additional requirement for salvation. They are necessary (as Protestants who are not antinomian affirm), but they do not earn us the priceless gift of salvation. By thoroughly understanding justification Biblically, I was also able to afterward understand sanctification and Theosis properly. Ultimately, Protestantism ignores Theosis and when their best theologians do not (such as John Piper), it begs the question as to why one should even remain Protestant as the soteriological question is then settled.
Thank you, my readers, for joining me in my journey with Christ.
On another note, if you have money to burn, please consider helping missionary efforts in Cambodia, my wife’s country. It has more Buddhists per capita than any nation in the world and the people there are receptive to a new religion. It is of paramount importance that Christianity, and specifically Orthodoxy, makes in-roads in this fertile field. For more information on donations please see the Orthodox Church of Cambodia (Moscow Patriarchate) website.