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The Epistle of James: True at the time but not for all time?

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  • The Epistle of James: True at the time but not for all time?

    "The interpreter of the Holy Scriptures must never forget that the Bible in its entirety, as now possessed by the Church, was no sudden gift from heaven, but the slow and gradual accretion of many centuries...

    The different writings of the New Testament all appeared within a period of about a half a century but they also furnish the means of tracing the development of the LIFE AND THOUGHT in the early apostolic Church...

    Our present canonical Scriptures, therefore, are to be recognized as the records of a PROGRESSIVE DIVINE REVELATION" (Biblical Hermeneutics: A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments by Milton S. Terry, Academic Books, p. 566)

    Now any man who has studied at a Bible college or Seminary was taught this "progressive revelation" principle. But unfortunately they reveal from their preaching that they have forgotten this principle. But Terry said that they should never forget.

    I remember when I first heard of this "progressive revelation" hermeneutic. I was a student at the Moody Bible Institute. I remember brain storming saying, "Aha! This explains quite a lot!" After I graduated from Moody I took courses that were in logic or related to logic and found that logicians say a similar thing.

    Logicians say,

    "Two contrary propositions cannot be true in the same time", and

    "Time resolves some discrepancies".

    Let's take the book of James as an example. I am Reformed as most of you have figured out by now. I am committed to the Reformed principle that salvation is by "faith alone". But James seems to contradict this. He said,

    "You see then that a man is justified by works and not by faith only" (NKJV).

    My Reformed brethren have taken two different approaches to James' epistle,

    1) James was not talking about faith + works but rather a faith 'that' works, or
    2) The epistle of James is non-canonical (Some Reformed today deny the canonicity of James).

    But how about the "progressive revelation" option? The epistle of James was pre-Paul. By the term "pre-Paul" I do NOT mean to say that they were not contemporaries. I mean that James wrote while the old covenant order was still in effect. This is very clear for he admonished his audience to "fulfill the royal law" (2:8).

    But Paul came later and said that Christ fulfilled the law in our behalf. Paul claimed that he was receiving [progressively] new covenant truth and principles,

    "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is [being] revealed (Romans 3:21).

    Therefore, Paul did not contradict James for James taught what was true at the time but not for all time.

    So both James' proposals and Paul's were true, but not at the same time. Both history and logic confirm this.

    The timeless truth now is FAITH ALONE! This my friends is God's new covenant salvation. Faith Alone IS the Gospel!

  • #2
    If it does not fit your theology...by all means, kick it out! todd

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    • #3
      Let's look at James 2:14-18 so we aren't taking one verse out of context too.

      14What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16and 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? 17Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works."




      When I read this passage, I see that James does not mean that we must do good works to become saved, but instead that IF we are saved, we should not FORGO doing good works. The key verse to look at is verse 17. If faith has no works, it is dead. If you are a Christian and you do not do good things for the Lord, you need to examine yourself. James is saying that faith without works is worthless. Not that the works save us, but that if we are saved, we must do good things and not sit idling speaking good words but doing nothing.


      Originally posted by ConqueredbyLove
      Even sheep fall down sometimes...But Jesus picks them up as they can't pick up themselves

      Comment


      • #4
        Progressive Revelation huh? That's exactly why Islam is a dangerous religion.

        Here is the problem with trying to pit James and Paul's writing against each other. It don't work because neither of them taught any different. Paul's message was repent and turn to God and do deeds worthy of repentance. James example of dead faith and live faith taught that very same thing. There is no "progressive" revelation in the Scripture... that progressive revelation thought is exactly why we have a whole lot of weirdness out there today. If the Bible was for then and less for now... toss it in the trash because why are we bothering. But Scripture... it is living... active... just as true today as it was yesterday. Follow the Scripture... follow God.


        Visit our new website
        ! The Blog might interest some.. and Lord help me!!!... for those that twitter... there as well.

        A.W. Tozer said,
        "To escape the error of salvation by works we have fallen into the opposite error of salvation without obedience.”

        GO.... SERVE YOUR KING!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by jdarnall2001 View Post
          Let's look at James 2:14-18 so we aren't taking one verse out of context too.

          When I read this passage, I see that James does not mean that we must do good works to become saved, but instead that IF we are saved, we should not FORGO doing good works. The key verse to look at is verse 17. If faith has no works, it is dead. If you are a Christian and you do not do good things for the Lord, you need to examine yourself. James is saying that faith without works is worthless. Not that works saves us but that if we are saved, we must do good things and not sit idling speaking good words but doing nothing.
          There is a big problem with your statement highlighted in red. James did indeed say that works saves.

          "You see then that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone". But Paul said,

          "By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified".

          So here are your options:
          1) The theology of James and Paul were true at the SAME TIME and contradicted each other or,
          2) The theology of James and Paul were true in a DIFFERENT TIME and no contradiction can be charged to God.

          valleybldr said: If it does not fit your theology...by all means, kick it out!
          I do not kick out the book of James any more than I kick out any other old covenant book.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by thethinker View Post
            I do not kick out the book of James any more than I kick out any other old covenant book.
            Was James written before Christ was crucified?? No, then it is not old covenant. Most place the book around 46-49 AD. and that is after Christ.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by ProjectPeter View Post
              Paul's message was repent and turn to God and do deeds worthy of repentance. James example of dead faith and live faith taught that very same thing. There is no "progressive" revelation in the Scripture...
              There is definately no 'progressive revelation' in Scripture.

              Originally posted by thethinker View Post
              I do not kick out the book of James any more than I kick out any other old covenant book.
              Good. Both are relevant, as no book in the Bible cancels out any other.

              (it's no wonder Jesus wondered if He would find faith on earth when He returns!![Luke 18:8])

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              • #8
                The RC holds to progressive revelation hermeneutic, and history shows us where and what that leads to. Stick with the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, there is no other revelation than Jesus Christ. The Church preaches Christ plus nothing.

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                • #9
                  So do the Berean folk out there today with their Pauline only stand. They even have to make Paul's writings progressive revelation because their teaching is just an outright mess and so they explain it away when something they teach is contradicted by even Paul... as progressive revelation. I suspect that this is much of what we are seeing here.


                  Visit our new website
                  ! The Blog might interest some.. and Lord help me!!!... for those that twitter... there as well.

                  A.W. Tozer said,
                  "To escape the error of salvation by works we have fallen into the opposite error of salvation without obedience.”

                  GO.... SERVE YOUR KING!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Teke View Post
                    The RC holds to progressive revelation hermeneutic, and history shows us where and what that leads to. Stick with the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, there is no other revelation than Jesus Christ. The Church preaches Christ plus nothing.

                    I do not think that the RCC holds to "progressive revelation" at all actually.
                    “What Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that first place both of credit and obedience is due; the next whereunto is whatsoever any man can necessarily conclude by force of reason; after these the voice of the Church succeedeth. That which the Church by her ecclesiastical authority shall probably think and define to be true or good, must in congruity of reason over-rule all other inferior judgments whatsoever” ( Laws, Book V, 8:2; Folger Edition 2:39,8-14).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I do not see any conflict between James and Paul. They are speaking of two different things.

                      Jas 2:18 But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works.

                      Paul speaks of justification in the sight of God. But James is talking about our faith being justified by works before men. Two very different things. When we are truly saved, we behave differently than before. We do "works" as a result of being saved, not in order to be saved. As James says, faith without works is indicative of a dead faith - before men. But men cannot know what is in one's heart.

                      Though we are justified by faith, God does command that we be obedient. Being obedient means doing what God commands, such as getting baptized, praying, repenting, treating others with love, etc. etc. If we are justified, we will also be obedient. The only way we as mortals can tell if a person is saved is by their works.

                      So I see no conflict here, just different perspectives.

                      I do have a concern with the concept of "progressive revelation". It is true not all scripture was written at once. BUT no scripture will conflict with earlier scripture. Later scripture only adds to earlier scripture.

                      This, as someone else mentioned, is one of the things that gets Islam in trouble. Earlier parts of the Qur'an do contradict later parts, The earlier scripture is said to be abrogated by the newer. The Qur'an actually says it's OK to ignore some of the earlier verses. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, the later verses are more violent than the earlier, as they were written when Muhammad had more power.
                      Last edited by RevLogos; Apr 6th 2008, 02:29 AM. Reason: spelling
                      In Christ,

                      -- Rev

                      “To preserve the government we must also preserve morals. Morality rests on religion; if you destroy the foundation, the superstructure must fall. When the public mind becomes vitiated and corrupt, laws are a nullity and constitutions are waste paper.” – Daniel Webster, 4th of July, 1800, Oration at Hanover, N.H.

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                      • #12
                        Wow! I think you have a problem on your hands with this one. Paul referred back to Abraham when speaking about only faith that saves. In other words, Abraham wasn't saved by works either. James referred back to Abraham to show that Abraham was justified by his works. But when you read the OT passage that both refer to, I think it is safe to say that Abraham was justified when he believed God and his works revealed his faith.
                        Matt 9:13
                        13 "But go and learn what this means: ' I DESIRE COMPASSION,AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
                        NASU

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                        • #13
                          Okay guys... this thread isn't going to be about the Catholic Church so let's stop this direction now.


                          Visit our new website
                          ! The Blog might interest some.. and Lord help me!!!... for those that twitter... there as well.

                          A.W. Tozer said,
                          "To escape the error of salvation by works we have fallen into the opposite error of salvation without obedience.”

                          GO.... SERVE YOUR KING!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Perhaps it is why Paul spoke these words.

                            Romans 3:29-30 "Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith."

                            Who was James writing to?

                            James 1:1 "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting."

                            Israel was given a work, a responsibility.

                            Romans 3:1-2 "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God."

                            In Jesus Christ, terrell

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                            • #15
                              Howdy thethinker,

                              I was taught the same thing in seminary but sometimes those places should be called cemeteries. I am not saying you did not learn a lot but one thing it taught me was to not trust man's "wisdom".

                              I have to agree with Terrel, the reason the teaching appears to be different is because Paul and James taught different groups. They do not contradict each other at all.

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