Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Fallacy Of Believing That Saint James Speaks Of Justification Before Men


Matthew 6:1 ¶Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. 5 ¶And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 16 ¶Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

13 comments:

Tony-Allen said...

I was just curious about something - in relation to the words of James 2:24, how do our works interact with our justification - in other words, how are works profitable to a believer according to your exegesis of James' words?

David said...

Tony-Allen:

With no offense intended: I can't understand how you went from a seemingly knowledgeable Orthodox Christian to not even knowing the basic of basics of Scripture. Nonetheless, the answer to the "problem" of "faith and works" is very clear Scripturally:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." - Matthew 7:21

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy[c] angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” - Matthew 25:31-46 (I haven't found a single Sola Fide-ist yet who can give a decent exegesis of the Parable of the Goats and the Sheep; might you be the first?)

"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love." - Galatians 5:6

"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome." - 1 John 5:3

David said...

A couple of topical quotes:

"Justification is a word used in the Scriptures to mean that in Christ we are forgiven and actually made righteous in our living. Justification is not a once-for-all, instantaneous pronouncement guaranteeing eternal salvation, regardless of how wickedly a person might live from that point on. Neither is it merely a legal declaration that an unrighteous person is righteous. Rather, justification is a living, dynamic, day-to-day reality for the one who follows Christ. The Christian actively pursues a righteous life in the grace and power of God granted to all who continue to believe in Him." - Bishop Alexander (Mileant)

"Is one saved by faith alone, or by faith and works?

This argument, an argument that in the light of Apostolic Tradition is so obviously pointless, has never troubled the Church, and in fact could never trouble It. In fact, faith is not an operation merely of comprehension, but an operation of the entire intellect and reason; i.e. of internally united comprehension and will. Faith is at the same time both life and truth; it is an operation by which man, condemning his own imperfect and evil character, seeks to unite with a moral being, with the righteous Jesus, with God Incarnate, with God-Man. Faith, in its very essence, is a moral imperative; a moral imperative that would not also entail a striving for discovery would thereby condemn its own impotence, or, more precisely, its nothingness, its non-being. Discovery of faith is precisely the matter, for a prayerful sigh, just barely conceived in the depths of a grieving heart is a matter like unto martyrdom. They are distinguished from one another only in the times and situations through which God deigns to allow a person to utilize the gifts of grace.

...

David said...

What work could the thief, nailed to the Cross, have performed? Or was his work, his simultaneous repentance and confession insufficient? Or does God show mercy by removing [him]? Thus, both those who say that faith alone is not a saving faith, that works are also needed, and those who say that faith without works is salvific are foolish: without works, faith is dead, is not true faith, for in true faith Christ is truth and life; if it is not true, then it is but false and external knowledge. And can falsehood save? If [faith] is true, it is alive, i.e. performing works, and if it is performing works, then what other works are needed? The God-inspired Apostle stated, “Shew me thy faith [of which thou boastest] without thy works, [as] I will shew thee my faith by my works.” Does he recognize two different faiths? No, he condemns foolish boasting. “Thou believest that there is one God; the devils also believe, and tremble.” Does he then recognize the faith [held by] devils? No, he proves the lie in boasting of a quality even demons possess. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Is he comparing faith with body and works with spirit? No, for that would be a false analogy. However, the meaning of his words is clear. As a soul-less body is no longer a person and cannot be called a person, but rather a corpse, so faith without works cannot be called true faith, but only false faith, i.e. external knowledge, knowledge that is fruitless, and is attainable even by demons. What is written plainly must also be read plainly. Thus, those who cite the Apostle as proof that there is dead faith and live faith, that there are two distinct types of faith, do not grasp the meaning of the Apostle’s words; they in fact oppose, rather than support [those conclusions]. Likewise, when the great Apostle to the nations says, “[what use is it without love, even] though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains…” he does not affirm that without love such faith is possible; rather, in that assumption, he states that [such faith] would be useless. The Sacred Scriptures should not be read with a spirit of secular wisdom, debating over terms, but with the spirit of Sophia, God’s Wisdom, and candor and simplicity of soul. In delineating faith, the Apostle states, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…” (not only that which is expected in the future); if we have sure hope, then we wish for; if we wish for, we love: for it is impossible to wish for what we do not love. Or do demons also possess such sure hope? — Hence there is but one faith, and when we ask “Can true faith save without works?” we are posing a foolish question, or to put it another way, no question at all, for true faith is a living faith that performs works: it is faith in Christ and Christ in faith." - A.S. Khomiakov

Tony-Allen said...

No offense taken, as I had asked that question to understand Lvka's point of view, and listen to an alternate defense. We weren't really presented with anything in the post other than two passages of scripture (which is not exegesis), and I did not wish to go at the topic with a presumptuous attitude that the other person has not done their homework. In any case, my question to Lvka was where does the justification take place - at our works or at our faith, and what was the relationship between the two. I suppose another way of wording it is which comes first - our faith, or our works - and how does that relate to our justification.

Lvka said...

Tony,

Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me? :-)

We don't "define" dogma: that's the Catholics' business. We only spot out and point out the doctrines that are untrue; or, put it another way: which part of the word apophatism do you find obscure ? (pun intended).


We weren't really presented with anything in the post other than two passages of scripture (which is not exegesis)

But don't Protestants believe in the perspicuity Scripture, and hold the Bible to be self-evident and self-interpreting? "The best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture itself".

Tony-Allen said...

I wasn't really asking for a "dogma," but obviously you had a reason for posting what you did, and you had a thinking behind it, therefore I wanted to know what this flow of logic was.

Lvka said...

Isn't it obvious? :-)

Tony-Allen said...

I've found it was obvious I was barking up the wrong tree, unfortunately. I won't bother you again, I apologize.

Lvka said...

Well, what I was actually trying to say all along was this.

David said...

Tony-Allen:

The problem is that you're using categories developed by Aristotle, passed through Islam, and taken up by the Western Church in the later Middle Ages to interpret Scripture. Which means, in the end, that you are using a combination of pagan (Aristotle) and heretical (Islamic/post-schism Roman Catholic) lenses through which to understand and interpret Scripture and so you necessarily arrive at pagan and heretical understandings and interpretations. Justification is lifelong. Faith and works are inseparable. Where there is no faith, there are no works; where there are no works, there is no faith. The Scriptures make no such distinction because they do not arise from the context of Aristotle, Islam, and Scholasticism. To be honest, Tony, I'd like to see your exegesis of the passages I quoted as well as of James 2:24. I think they speak for themselves (and the same thought resounds throughout the Scriptures) but, due to your Sola Fide-ist position, you must claim that these passages mean something different than the clear and plain meaning (which, of course, calls into question the notion of the perspicuity of the Scriptures).

Tony-Allen said...

Now see here, sir, I will not have you make such wild accusations. To accuse me of combining Aristotle's teachings with Islam and Roman Catholicism is completely false. In actuality, I have combined the works of Plato with Hinduism, Anabaptism, and maybe a little bit of Taoism (or maybe Confucianism, I'm not sure). Really, please accurately represent your opposing side.

David said...

Tony-Allen:

1. So you're really disclaiming that Luther and Calvin arose of late Medieval/early modern Roman Catholicism, which was very much the product of Scholasticism, which was in turn largely influenced by Aristotle through contact with the Muslims? I'm not saying you're combining anything; I'm talking about historical currents of thoughts. I don't think there's a credible historian out there who will tell you that Protestantism isn't the child of (and to a certain extent a backlash against) late Medieval Roman Catholicism, with all of the influences (pagan and heretical, as well as Christian) that entails.

2. I'd love to see that exegesis, if you're willing... Being that Sole Fide is so central to Protestantism and (so it is claimed) the Bible is just dripping with it, I wouldn't image that it's that difficult.

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