#1 Misunderstood text: James 2 – Part 1

June 12, 2011
By dreiher2

Faith Without Works

There are so many great resources which clearly explain James 2, I don’t know where to begin. Judging by what people like D.A. Carson say, you might think that our interpretation is somehow strange or unusual. In his book, “Exegetical Fallacies,”, under the subheading “omission of distanciation,” which is his shorthand for “reading one’s reading personal theology into the text,” he claims that Dallas Seminary, and in particular, Zane Hodges, are guilty of this error. He goes on to state that Dallas, and Zane Hodges are the only people in all of church history who stresses the sharp distinction between justification salvation (by faith alone) and sanctification salvation (by works, see page 137). What Carson forgets to mention, is that the great majority of writing on Justification and Sanctification that survived through Church History, was mostly by Augustinian and Roman Catholic writers. Carson, who is Reformed in his Theology, should be the first to admit, that it is questionable as to whether what we have recorded as “Church History” correctly reflects the Biblical views of faith and works. To be honest, I think that MOST Reformed teaching is much more guilty of forcing the text to fit their own theology, than the Dallas views. Nevertheless, by using church history as a test, in many cases the majority is right, but in many cases the majority is usually wrong, especially with faith and works issues.

Regardless of what the “Church” has taught through the centuries, Biblical evidence clearly shows salvation rarely refers to salvation from hell into heaven. Actually, if you do a word study of the words “Salvation” (greek soteria) and “Save” (greek sozo), in the New Testament, you will find this is true. The normal use is “deliverance” or “wellness” or “soundness.” I would say that most of the time it refers to temporal deliverance by works, or performance of some kind. I would recommend watching the video “How to lose your Salvation” by Dr. Earl Radmacher. It is about 50 minutes in length, but if you have never heard of the word salvation meaning anything else but salvation from hell, you should watch that video. The video is about 50 minutes in length, and it is a “youtubized” audio file, so it is not actually a video of him speaking. Click HERE to watch the video.

The next video you need to watch is from a message given by Dr. John Hart, in the 1999 GES conference in Dallas. It was entitled, “James 2:14-26, How to energize your faith.” It is a pretty old video, and the overheads are not very clear. (6/17 note – I uploaded a version with all the slides dubbed in). I am working on dubbing in his original presentation slides. Click HERE to watch the video.

- Don

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