Monday, September 3, 2018

Debunking Catholic Apologist Steve Ray On James 2

  • Discussion:
          -This article strives to further interact with a post published by Roman Catholic apologist Steve Ray at Catholic Answers called Ankerberg Aweigh on the topic of James 2 as it relates to justification. Following are quotations from the author in pink alongside my comments:

          "This passage does not sit well with Ankerberg's interpretation. He says that it is always faith that is proven by works, whereas the apostle James seems to say it is the person."

          On the contrary, the context of James 2 is indeed contrasting two different kinds of faith, one that produces good works and another that is dead. A man is "justified" in the sense of vindication or proven. Here is a sample of the context from the Roman Catholic New American Bible:

          "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead." (James 2:14-17)

          "We must take care with this theory, or we'll end up scratching a few verses out of Genesis. Was it men who were testing Abraham's faith? The book of Genesis says God, not men, who was testing Abraham in Genesis 22. Ankerberg writes that James is referring to justification before men, because God can already see the heart (37)."

          It has yet to be demonstrated how the fact that it was God testing the faith of Abraham in Genesis 22 is problematical for the Protestant understanding of James 2. God can test our faith to build up our character (Romans 5:3-5). God can test our faith to produce obedience. Even though God already knows whether our faith is genuine, Abraham was tested so that future generations could see for themselves that he is worthy of being considered the father of our faith.

          It is not as though Abraham was seeking justification through the performance of good works. Romans 4 plainly indicates otherwise. While man looks at outward factors as evidence, God looks at our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). The Lord Jesus Christ instructed Christians to let their lights shine before men (Matthew 3:8; 5:16). The theme of "justification before men" is attested to in Scripture. A faith that saves is one that obeys God. A saving faith is very much alive and active. A faith that is not evidenced by good works is dead. The context of James 2 discusses the inherent features of a saving faith. It is obvious that the word "justified" is the context of James 2 means vindicated or proven:

         "Indeed someone may say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble." (James 2:18-19)

          "Another problem with the Fundamentalist interpretation is that there were no men around to be "vindicated" before-this test was strictly between God and Abraham."

          Sure there was. Isaac himself got to witness the greatness of his father Abraham's faith. This incident was also penned down in Scripture by Moses. Therefore, multitudes of readers in later centuries could also see the greatness of Abraham's faith. He trusted in the Lord to the point where he would even give up his dearly beloved son. Such a man can justly be called the father of our faith.

          "James thinks Abraham was not justified in Genesis 15 or 17, but much later in Genesis 22, when he offered up Isaac. He states, "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?" (James 2:21, KJV). And then James is bold enough to say, "So you see, a man is justified by his works, and not by faith alone" (James 2:24)."

          The problem here is that the context of James 2 is not about how one is made right with God, but rather how one who is right in the sight of God demonstrates the reality of his or her faith. The context uses term justify is used in an evidential sense.

          Romans 3-5 is the place in Scripture where the doctrine of justification is defined in the most comprehensive manner. Indeed, it is the Apostle Paul who speaks of this subject more than any other biblical writer. There is no evidence here for the notion of justification being a lengthy, complicated process. According to Hebrews 11:8, Abraham was justified in Genesis 12:

          "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go."

          The constant emphasis in Scripture on becoming righteous is by faith, not works. Genesis 15:6 is simply the proclamation of Abraham's salvation as a result of his faith and a promise to future believers that they will be saved by the same means.

          "James elaborates what faith is, and its crucial element of obedience (works), as does John in his first epistle. The Catholic vs. Protestant argument, the faith vs. faith and obedience debate, has nothing to do with the discussion Paul was having with the Jewish Christians in Rome and Galatia."

           We can agree with the first sentence, insofar that works are the evidence (not the cause) of our justification. The rest of the quoted excerpt is nothing but a diversion technique. Those details are of no relevance in this case. Scripture contains truths and principles that are certainly applicable to all people at all places and times. Even though the Apostle Paul was obviously unfamiliar with the Catholic verses Protestant debate, he still knew the basic contents of this controversy because he had to address in writing the Judaizers who promoted a faith plus works gospel.

2 comments:

  1. The RCC cultists have to twist these passages because their whole ideology is wrapped up in works-salvation. And THEY determine what works must be done!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great job, Jesse! I've always said that one of the main problems that Catholics have is CONTEXT. The truth is staring them right in the face, but they can't see it because "Mother Church" won't let them.

    ReplyDelete