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March 23, 2007

Comments

Darryl

for james there is only one law: love. to claim to love and then show favoritism is inconsistent. to claim love and ignore the plight of the poor brother is to break the royal law of loving one's neighbor as oneself. showing mercy is a dominant theme of the book of james (which btw, i believe has a structure: 1:19-20: "be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry." check it out, you can trace the three elements throughout the entire book. this is nt wisdom literature.

also, there is a strong connection between james and jesus' sermon on the mount (didn't he say something about not the least stroke of a pen being taken from the law...does that make him unregenerate or legalistic?).

Darryl

ok, one more (i'm such a liar at times)-- if james is really of the circumcision group, wouldn't you expect to see something re: ritual law in james? y'know: circumcision, dietary stuff, etc.? no mention of this stuff. not a peep.

Rev_Mike

Darryl, Obviously you missed the first church council in acts and the whole of Paul's letters, but that's okay. You have already stated your love for the message sent to the 12 tribes, and you can have at it all you want. As for me, I'll simply rest in His works finished from the foundations of the worlds.

Dallas Tim

Jesus said if we loved Him we'd obey His commands (primarily to love one another). That love involves more than just mental adherence to a set of theological facts.

If our love and obedience do not show themselves genuine by our voice, attitude and actions, then whatever faith we claim to have is shown to be out of selfish convenience rather than commitment to Christ.

That's the message of Jesus, James, Paul and every other NT writer. They say things in different ways but that in no way refutes the truth of their message.

Rev_Mike

The epistle was rejected for canon for over 5 centuries...for good reason.

Dallas Tim

Dispensational easy believism wasn't around until way after James was canonized for even better reasons.

Darryl

um mike?
i actually didn't miss the first council, i assumed you knew 'bout it and assumed you knew that i knew...well anyway. sorry, i shouldn't have made so many assumptions. but that still doesn't change the point i've made nor does it do damage to it.

i actually do enjoy all of the pauline corpus--but since galatians and romans are the two that are usually associated with james (contrawise) i didn't feel the need to comment. although you mixed the "dogs" part from philippians to refer to james (to whom it wasn't).

but you can question what i know or have read all you wish and that's ok. but have you dealt with any of the arguments i've made? the "there there that's nice if you like james, but i'll stick with paul" seems a little off putting and doesn't seem to deal with the issue. let's hear your argumentation.

Rev_Mike

Let's take a small section from a 4th century church scholar...

Yet Paul could not have learned anything from James (obviously, because he has a different conception of the gospel), nor on the other hand from Peter. He was unable to learn from either man, whether because he remained with Peter for just a few days, or because James is not an apostle and may also be in heresy. But Paul did include that he saw James. Therefore, I saw the new thing that James was bandying about and preaching; but because that blasphemy was known to me and rejected by me, so too it ought to be rejected by you, you Galatians! (Victorinus' commentary on Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, commentary on Galatians 1:19)

greg

Mike,

Let me get this straight, you're arguing about James not being an apostle, even though he was the brother of Jesus and was widely respected as the leader of the church at Jerusalem, while at the same time accepting Paul's testimony that he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and that vision of the resurrected Lord is his qualification as an apostle? And that story makes Paul more believable than James? Just checking.

Rev_Mike

Greg,

The issue is not a new one. It's as old as the church itself. I have stated the positions of some early scholars, some of the views of the reformers and given some of my own personal opinions. Paul certainly left his opinions to his fledgeling congregations.

Let me say it like this, anytime I come across a legaistic, unregenerated, bound in tradition, going about to create their own righteousness church go-er, one single thing is always in common, every single time. They are spouting James, as some vehicle to impose their tradition, or their legalistic viewpoint, or their wanting to bring me back under the Law. I simply know better than to follow that message.

I said it before, I choose to rest in His works, finished from the foundations of the worlds. And God will take my faith, and say, "I (God speaking) will take that, and impute My righteosuness for that faith." Its what God has always looked for from Adam onwards, a people that will simply trust in Him. And this is probably the last time I'm going to post about this, but to just be brutal about it, that Spirit which He gave unto me, does not in any way agree with the teachings from James' epistle. Sorry.

Rev_Mike

Greg,

having said that let me answer your Q's. Just because James was of blood linage to Jesus, doesn't pre-qualify him as an apostle. Jesus stated that as they pounded on the door. Second, the way of that day was blood line succession. Once of Levi, always of Levi. So it was natural for the Jewish leadership to seek out James as a successor to leadership. James was never one of the 12, and look how the disciples handled the death of Judas, they drew straws. Hell, let's gamble on chance for God's replacement. And, by the way, notice you never hear about Judas' successor ever making a mark for Christ anywhere on the stage of history. So much for gambling on that.

I look at it this was, when it was time to lead God's people out of bondage in the Old Testament, whom did God choose? A know nothing, unlearned, untrained and unbridled leader? No. He chose Moses, trained in all the wisdom of his day. I know this, without Paul, the church today would be nothing more than a splinter group of Judaism, and the face of Christianity would look much different than it does. I think the record of Paul's conversion does hold the mark of man changed by Christ, and I wish I could say the same for James, but sadly, I cannot.

Darryl

mike,
hope you forgive me, i'm not hitting all 8 cylinders tonight--i'm pretty tired.

ok. james is not an apostle.

when we understand the ministry of an apostle (small "a") is basically the same as that of a missionary--james would not have fit that description would he? he was a shepherd--an elder. that's pretty well established--and i don't know anyone who has read much who would disagree with you.

luke was not an apostle, either (unless i've missed a reference somewhere... which is possible) was mark an apostle? don't recall. don't think so. how about the author of hebrews? hmmm. don't know do we? and is john the apostle or a different john (the elder)?

apostleship or lack thereof does not disqualify james per se any more than it disqualifies luke or mark.

victorinus has an interesting idea, but it is merely an assertion that he doesn't like james. again, that does not answer any of the observations made during the past two days. victorinus also sounds like he's begging the question: "paul couldn't learn from james because james has a different view than paul." how is that? "well because james believes in salvation by works" says who? "well that's how i interpret his writings." but what if he isn't really dealing with it in the same way paul is? what if the context is different? "sorry, that's just the way it is."

honestly, i've grown up in a tradition that made a science out of turning paul into proof texts for legalistic practices (philippians 2:12 "continue to work out your salvation in fear and trembling"). yeah they used james, but they also used paul and john. the misuse of a text does not negate the validity of the text itself.

as to the jerusalem council in acts 15--james is giving a concession for unity's sake. because moses has been preached everywhere he does ask for some gentile concessions to jewish sensibilities: don't eat strangled food or food mixed with blood. this sounds remarkably similar to Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 10. Romans is a little different--written later than the jerusalem council, the situation had changed dramatically.

is james defending jewish sensibilities? of course he is! he has a shepherd's heart and his people are jewish christians. but that is a far cry from legalism.

we tend to view paul and james making theological pronouncements from their university offices after years behind a desk littered with reference books. these guys were working with local churches trying to deal with local situations much like church leaders today. both james and paul are trying to unify a fledgling movement. as i said earlier--if james' views were antithetical to paul's why doesn't paul outright denounce james? if it's because he's concerned about political ramifications--i'm not too certain i like what that is saying about paul's character!

paul does not rebuke james ever! why not?

ok, i'm out of it. i hope my ramblings aren't too disjointed! thanks for your patience.

greg

Sorry, Mike, I missed this citation:

"I (God speaking) will take that, and impute My righteosuness for that faith."

Imputed righteousness is an interpretation of the text; it is explicitly not what the text says. And I honestly don't care who the apostles are. I find little difference between the behavior of Christians today and in the first century, and I find little reason to believe they were less political.

Darryl

and i'm still waiting for a response to james' understanding of the royal law (love your neighbor) as very similar to paul's view in Romans and Galatians. in fact, i'm waiting for some kind of response to my actual arguments based on the text.

assertions alone and quotes from early church fathers (which do not directly deal with the argumentation i presented) are not very effective rebuttals.

c'mon, i'm pretty certain you can give me a good rejoinder! i'd like to hear your response to those very specific arguments. i'm very much interested in your view. (not just to argue, but this is a very interesting and enlightening discussion to me).

Darryl

one other thing--i do like james' letter. but don't think for a moment i believe in a works oriented righteousness.

when you say "okay. You have already stated your love for the message sent to the 12 tribes, and you can have at it all you want. As for me, I'll simply rest in His works finished from the foundations of the worlds," that seems to be somewhat of a slap toward my view of salvation.

(if that isn't what you meant, my sincere apologies.) my trust is only in the work of jesus for my salvation--not in any work of righteousness. i just don't believe james is teaching a works oriented righteousness. your statement of trust, while good, commendable, and true--does not deal with the issue of whether james is offering a legalistic tirade is merely being misunderstood by you and martin (and, to be sure, a few others...)

Rev_Mike

Greg, Paul said this..

Rom 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Rom 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
Rom 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Rom 4:6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
Rom 4:7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
Rom 4:8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

The word in the 3rd verse, (counted or better said imputed) is in the middle voice, God did it for Himself.

IMPUTE:
Theology. to attribute (righteousness) to a person or persons vicariously; ascribe as derived from another.

Darryl

greg,
you said: "And I honestly don't care who the apostles are. I find little difference between the behavior of Christians today and in the first century, and I find little reason to believe they were less political."

was that a response to mike or to me? not certain.

i agree with you. folks are folks no matter what century they live in. however, what i read of paul does not give me the impression he would back down from james--especially if he believed james was "of the circumcision group."

not certain if that was your reference.

greg

It was to Mike. And Mike, so if I find a verse that says something else, am I right?

Rev_Mike

Greg, Moses said it, David said it, Isaiah said it, Jesus said it, and now we have Paul saying it.

I'm sorry you have such an issue with that.

greg

Mike,

Let's do prophet flash cards! I'm going with Isaiah 56:1 and Matthew 25 to contest imputed righteousness. Now, pick a verse that says something different and explain why there is no problem with mixed messages.

Rev_Mike

Greg,

Isaiah said it well, He is my righteousness. Concerning Matthew 25, I show no favoritism, and my lamp is fully well prepared for that time.

If you are using this as a proof text for getting out there and helping the poor, and finding the very least of them all, I see you seem to live in a pretty nice house, have money to pay bills, obviously have a nice PC to post here on. Drive a car, and have clothing. Why are you being the hypocrite and calling others to do that which you yourself don't? If you truly feel so strongly about it, why aren't you in some far flung regions of the Congo? Why aren't you over in Africa in the Darfur region? Isn't that what Paul was trying to get across to Peter in his rubuke to him in Galatians?

greg

Excellent job sticking to the point, Rev Mike. We were talking about imputed righteousness and I was playing the prooftext game. Call me a hypocrite later, but finish this first.

Rev_Mike

Greg,

I was sticking to the point. In all that I said. Your position that Mat 25 or Isaiah 56 somehow states otherwise is absurd. Also notice Jesus pulls from the direct quote from Isaiah in the parable of the sower from the 13th chapter.

greg

Rev Mike,

So it's absurd because you say so? So then I could just say your point is absurd too. Wow! Look how far we've taken this conversation. I'm about ready to convert to imputed righteousness.

Rev_Mike

Greg,

I don't actually remember asking you to "convert" to anything. I stated my position. You gave your opinions above.

Kelly

Wow! Having grown up in a church that became abuse and basically a "cult" - I can relate to what you are saying! What saddens me is the anger and bitterness that seems to fly on the printed words you have laid before us.

I, do, however, want to comment on one point you made....and while I have not read everyone's responses...I may come back and post again!

In reference to "If God is active in the world, he's the best disguised force in existence." - while I will agree that God seems to be in hiding - I feel one of the main reasons this is true is because as believer's we are reluctant to live transparent lives - lives that are willing to step up to the plate and say that our marriages are not perfect, that we get angry at our family and friends, etc....and then allowing God to transform us through our confession. I have found that people appreciate honesty and vulnerability in the lives of believers! Believe me, there were times I stopped believing, too! But, I have seen God do an incredible miracle in my marriage - and one of the main reasons was because my husband and I chose to step up, admit we had a problem, seek Godly counsel and then allow God to move powerfully in our lives! God is not in hiding.....we are keeping him in hiding!
I pray that God softens your heart towards Him and continues to give you the courage to step out and share your heart in such a raw and honest way!

greg

Kelly,

You're welcome anytime. Your response, though well-intended, breaks down to me lacking faith or trust or understanding. If I can just summon the proper amount of faith, God will do something. That's not been my experience. Sorry.

Kelly

Greg,
It's not just about faith...it's about obedience! People forget that part of it! If you think I had the faith that God was going to heal my marriage - you are wrong! I had given up any hope that God would intercede....but, as a believer I decided to obey what God's word said.....and I even obeyed with a bad attitutde! But, God honored my obedience by restoring my faith!

greg

Kelly,

I'm 42. Do you really think I haven't tried faith and obedience?

Kelly

I am almost 42...and have tried (and failed) at faith and obedience numerous of times!

I am curious about your story - how long were you in the Pentacostal church, how long have you been out, etc. Do you have it posted somewhere?

Also, was there one particular incident that has caused you to begin feeling this way? I grew up in a church that basically dictated God's word to everyone - and then, if you got the courage to leave the church - you never really knew if you believed what you believed because it was dictated to you or because it was really what God's word says....did that make sense?

Joe

the evilness of theodicy.

Big Mike McVey

Taken from, "Reading Hebrews & James: A Literary and Theological Commentary" by Marie E. Isaacs. Warning this is long.
"Even those who accept that it was written by James the brother of Jesus... claim the Letter of James as evidence of such conflict, and read it as a piece of anti-Pauline polemic (Hengel, "The Letter of James as anti-Pauline Polemic," 248-78).

"At first glance, James' discussion of faith and works (2:14-26) might seem to support the latter view. Like Paul (Rom 3-4; Gal 2-3), James uses the vocabulary of justification, righteousness, faith, and works; appeals to the example of Abraham; and cites Gen 15:6 in support of his argument. Yet a closer reading of the text shows that, far from opposing Paul, James is debating a wholly different issue. Paul is concerned with the admission of Gentiles into the church. For him, insisting that they must be circumcised and keep the food laws is tantamount to claiming that they are saved by the performance of "works" of the Law rather than by faith in Christ. James, on the other hand, is writing about a wholly different issue. There is nothing to suggest that he has been caught up in the debate about the terms of entry for Gentile Christian converts, nor the question of the status of Mosaic Torah which that raised. Jas 2:14-26 is not about the respective place of "works" of the Law and faith in Christ in the economy of salvation. Rather, it is part of a larger unit (Jas 1:19b-2:26) concerned with the topic of "word and deed" in which James exhorts his readers to hold both together. Here he seeks to demonstrate that true piety is exhibited in a life where faith and its active performance are one. Indeed, he claims, they are inseparable; there is no such thing as "faith alone.""

As far as being imputed, being imparted seems to be more consistant in the context.

greg,
I have known you now for almost three years. You are not a heretic. A heretic is one who is willing to not only believe something but force the belief on others to the point of division in the church. That definition does not describe you. It descibes terrorist fundgelicals. Second, you might not be insane, but you are a pompous ass. You are my vision for what a postmodern day Paul looks like. I remember sitting in class with you and seeing the enthusiasm with which you discussed things like being culturally relevant. Like Paul, I don't think you are always right, but I know you are headed down the right path.

That's all for now.

Stefan Mai

Beautiful, I totally feel you. Nice to know there are others.

Maire Hel

I am late. Congratulations, you are a responsible and thoughtful heathen. Maybe you find comfort in reading Marc Aurel, Hadrian etc... you might be a mystic these days :)

JackAz

Me too.

Church. Belief. Christians. Bleh.

Jesus? Can't let go. Don't know why.

JackAz

Me too.

Church? Belief? Christians? Bleh.

Jesus? Can't let go. Don't know why.

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