Tuesday, October 06, 2009

James 2 Without The Tension

Update: To see how I've applied what I learned in Back To Faith please read James 2 From The Text.

I've just finished reading an exegetical work on the second chapter of James that resolves the tension that most everyone finds in that chapter between James and Paul. In my book, Fail-Safe For Fallacy, I bring up the fact that the problems people have with understanding this chapter of the Bible are due to our presuppositions that the words "justification" and "save" only have one meaning or usage. However, Fail-Safe does not exist to teach doctrine but to teach Christians how to learn so explaining James 2 was beyond the scope of the book.

Truly, my grasp on James 2 has been tenuous, which is true of almost everyone I've ever discussed the chapter with, and who's work I've read.

Yesterday I started reading Dr. Fred R Lybrand's book Back To Faith. Right from the start, by reading his dedication to both John MacArthur and Zane Hodges I realized this book was going to be different from anything I've read before. His examination of the very familiar cliché "Salvation is by faith alone, but the faith that saves is not alone" is done from every angle I could imagine and more. Dr. Lybrand details the history of the various views of Faith & Works, and spends much effort to expose the history of the cliché itself. The next two chapters discuss how the cliché is both logically, and theologically invalid. I found reading these chapters to be very challenging, they exposed presupposition in my own study!! Not only that but I found myself truly thinking the Doctor had bitten off more than he could chew time and time again. Yet each time he closes another loop-hole in understanding and returns the reader safely again to the Text. These two chapters are a thrill ride for the student of the Word who TRULY wants to get beyond all the ideas of man to what the Text actually says.

I was up very late with this book last night, and awake very early with it this morning. In fact, I went into work and put in a vacation day because I could not bring myself to wait to read the very next chapter.

Dr Lybrand's fourth chapter is entitled "The Cliché is Exegetically invalid" and I knew what he would have to tackle in this chapter. James 2. (cue dramatic music) James 2 (with all assumptions included) is the Magna Carta for both the Reformed, and the Roman Catholic view on Faith & Works.

I have just now finished reading this chapter. It does not disappoint. I would dearly love to type the whole chapter out here for all to read. I can't though.. though I am tempted to risk the legal implications for the good of your personal walk with the Lord. Because I've been shown that if one effectively refutes the assumptions, and divorces them from the Text, then James can be the Magna Carta of pure unadulterated free Grace!

Brethren, if you are at all like me you will be amazed at how easy it is to let presupposition define what the Text says before we read it. Even if we claim it does not. I have been approaching this chapter with the Reformed & Catholic views in my mind. I've allowed that to color my view and so miss what the Text says.

What if we put the responsibility on James to explain what he's saying instead of on the Theologian? What if we obey the rules of logic and language? What if we let these things inform our theology instead of having our theology (or the theology we "want" to refute) inform them?

I was shocked. I am edified. I am excited. I'm longing for you to have the very same experience!!! I'm telling you I'm at 109 pages into this book and I can whole heartedly recommend it to you.


Jan said...

Because I've been shown that if one effectively refutes the assumptions, and divorces them from the Text, then James can be the Magna Carta of pure unadulterated free Grace!

I feel like I can almost guess what he says. Almost, but not quite.


Kevl said...

Hey Jan,

He caught me completely off-guard. I've found myself familiar with many of the concepts in the book - though my views of them haven't been fully developed - but this chapter goes where I didn't expect it too.



Jan said...

Well, I can see that I'm going to have to purchase it sooner rather than later.


Fred R. Lybrand said...

Jeepers...After I read Kev's comments I decided I probably needed to read it myself! :-)

Enjoy...we'll get an opportunity to really think about it together soon.

Grace and Thanks!

Fred Lybrand

Fred R. Lybrand said...

Hey Kev...after reading your great comments...I felt like I should read the book!

We'll get a chance to discuss it...I do think it is going to throw a bit of a curve into many of the discussion out there...I think my arguments are a fresh way to wrestle with some old issues (I hope so anyway!).

Thanks for the encouragement!


Fred Lybrand