Justification and works

No doubt there has been a big dispute about James and good works.  Was James responding to Paul with his “all you need is faith”?  Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy have historically argued that the passage of chapter 2:26 “faith without works is dead” disproves the doctrine of justification by faith alone (sola fide).  Protestants have resolved the apparent conflict between James and Paul regarding faith and works in alternative ways from the Catholics and the Orthodox.  Paul was dealing with one kind of error while James was dealing with a different error.  Paul was dealing with people who said that works of the law were needed to be added to faith in order to help earn God’s favor.  Paul maintained that salvation was by faith alone apart from the deeds of the law.  Saving faith is not dead but alive.  James was dealing with those who said that if they had faith, then they didn’t need to show their love.  James countered by teaching that faith is alive, showing itself in deeds of love.  James and Paul both teach that salvation is by faith, but that faith is never alone but shows itself to be alive by deeds of love.  Both Paul and James used the law of Moses, the teachings of Jesus, and other Jewish and non-Jewish sources.  Paul was not anti-law nor was James a legalist.  The problem of grace and nature goes back to the time of Augustine in the fourth century with his disputes against the Donatists.  Do you prefer faith, works, or both?

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