Thursday, September 13, 2007

Faith and Works

I have been using my morning devotion time to read articles for my exegetical-theological integration paper and feeling a little guilty about it. So this morning I wanted to take a spiritual lesson out of it. Ask and it shall be given.

I am almost done with reading on Galatians 2:16 and now I need to do the same for James 2:24. While Paul was addressing preachers in the Galatia church telling the Gentiles that they have to be circumcised to be justified, hence his insistence that justification is by faith in Christ Jesus and not by works of the Law, James was addressing the danger of dead faith, a lesson I feel I must learn and something I must guard myself against.

I was reading these articles on James 2: “Faith that works: James 2:14-26” by Sharyn E. Dowd and “Prejudice, partiality, and faith: James 2” by John B. Polhill.

Polhill sums it up perfectly:

Theological inquiry is important. Indeed, it is essential for a mature faith, a "faith which seeks understanding." But, as every theology student knows, it is deadly when it becomes a preoccupation that replaces active ministry. Even more deadly is that sense of theological correctness that leads to smugness about one's spiritual condition and becomes an excuse for complacency and inactivity. Deadliest of all is that theological controversy which substitutes the search for orthodoxy for service and mission. In all such cases, James—and Jesus—remind us that "ye shall know them by their fruit." Faith without works is dead.
Be warned.

Picture by Andrew Beierle

Sharyn E. Dowd, “Faith that works: James 2:14-26,” Review & Expositor 97 no 2 Spr (2000): 195-205.
John B. Polhill, “Prejudice, partiality, and faith: James 2,” Review & Expositor 83 no 3 Sum (1986): 395-404.


  1. hi pearlie,

    Polhil is right. Theological inquiry is important. However theological reflection is even more important.

    We must all become reflective practitioners of our faith; hence living theologically.

  2. We can't live with one without the other, the same we can't read one without the other, hence Gal 2:16 and James 2:24.

    Now I need to turn the above 3 lines into 4 pages!

  3. Should not be a problem for you right, pearlie, to turn the 3 lines into 4 pages? Haha

    Well, the question is how to hold the theologial inquiry and theological reflection is balanced tension.

  4. Well, the question is how to hold the theologial inquiry and theological reflection is balanced tension.
    One you will have to balance tomorrow morning ;) All the best! Will pray for you.