Thursday, June 23, 2011

Are you ready?

Get it?
James with Jimmy in July starts in less than two weeks!  I'd like to whet everybody's appetite with a few brief remarks on the letter of James.

James is unlike the other epistles in the New Testament with its emphasis on ethical and moral purity.  These exhortations, however, take two forms, inward and outward.  "Pure religion" is "to care for orphans and widows in their distress" but also "to keep oneself unstained by the world" (James 1:27).

This epistle also describes faith differently from Paul and other New Testament texts.  For James, "faith without works is dead" (2:26).  Faith cannot save us if that faith is not enlivened and acted upon.

Compare this to both the letter to the Hebrews and to Paul.  "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1), and  "Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).

Now I am not trying to say that for these three authors, faith in Jesus Christ is different.  What I am saying is that these three authors emphasize different parts of faith.  This should not be disconcerting, but rather heartening.  Faith is trust in God, the fruit of the forgiveness of our sins, as well as the inspiration to live holy lives.

I'll see you in July!

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