Friday, November 23, 2012

James 2

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The Sin of Partiality (v. 1-13)

The big point of this section is that you should treat people the same no matter their station in life. You should not treat the rich guy well and the poor guy like crap.

This is a good message, don't prejudge people based on their appearance, give everyone the same chances. 

But then a few verses later, it says that rich people are blasphemers.

It contradicts itself almost immediately. It says we shouldn't be partial, but then it follows that up by saying how terrible rich people are.

You should love your neighbor as yourself.

There we go, more good stuff. 

If you break any bit of the law you become accountable for all of it.

And again, the good stuff is followed up by nonsense. If you break one law it is the same as if you had broken any other, or all others I suppose. I've complained about this before, but equating all laws is moronic, lying and murder are equally bad? I'd just like to point out that under this logic, if your child bakes you a pie that tastes terrible and asks if you like it, it is equally bad for you to tell them it tastes good or to stab them in the face.

Guzik triest to argue here that the point is you are not allowed to pick and choose which parts of the law you want to follow, you can't say "I like God’s command against murder, so I’ll keep that one. But I don’t like His command against adultery, so I will disregard it." I disagree with his assertion, look at the verse, it says "if you fail in one point", that doesn't suggest to me that you have decided to ignore the rule, that suggests you tried to keep it and were unable. 

Since you have also broken the law, have mercy on other people who have broken the law, for mercy triumphs over judgement.

This is interesting, it would appear that the whole point of telling us that have all broken the law is so that we can have mercy on other people who have broken the law. That's nice, and mercy is good when appropriate, but there are times when judgement is necessary. Just having a blanket statement that you should show mercy is bad. It makes me think of the whole catholic church molestation problem, those priests should not be getting the kind of mercy they are getting from the church, they should be judged, severely. Mercy sounds great when you are talking about someone who stole a loaf of bread to feed his family, but sometimes it is not appropriate.

Faith Without Works is Dead (v. 14-26)

James argues that works are necessary to make faith matter. He compares having faith but doing no works to telling a starving person "Go in peace, be warm and filled" but giving them no food. He then uses examples from the old testament to justify the assertion.

James and Paul seem to be on different pages here. Didn't Jesus abolish the old law and make it so that faith is now all that matters? That being said, should I put this in the good pile? It is saying people should do good things after all, I mean it says you should have faith also, which I don't like, but at least it also says you should do good works...I guess I'll put this as a good item.

For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation)


2:3-4 Don't treat poor people worse than you treat rich people.

"if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "You sit here in a good place,"while you say to the poor man, "You stand over there," or, "Sit down at my feet," have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?"

2:8 Love your neighbor

"If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well."

2:14 Do good works, faith is not enough

"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?"


2:7 Rich people are blasphemers

"Are [rich people] not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?"

2:10 All crimes are equal

"For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it."


  1. Great blog enjoyed the visit will have to come back for more.Have you ever been to the Skeptics Annotated Bible? Steve Wells has created the best online Atheist reference site on the Net!Check it out.He covers the Bible,The Mormon Bible,and the Koran.Most of my early Atheist coments were on the Atheist Revolution feel free to check them out on my comment page.Nice to meet you.

    1. Hello, and thanks for stopping by. I agree with you, the skeptics annotated bible is really awesome. I typically don't reference it on a day to day basis, mostly because I'm afraid I would use it too much as a crutch, but every once in a while I'll use it for an assist and it really comes in handy.

  2. Good post Haus. It seems that we have many of the same types of messages in the various books, both good and bad---not liking the rich, moral issues, and similar contradictions. I am imagining that or is there as much repetition in the NT as it appears.

    1. You are right, there is a lot of repetition, although they also manage to work in plenty of contradictions, which is somewhat amusing.

      I'm getting pretty close to the end of the new testament, I'm planning on doing an huge post with a summary of all of it (or probably a handful of posts actually). Then I'll go back and do old testament and I think the feel of the old writing is a fair bit different.

  3. Whatever laws the Bible prescribes, and whatever people may believe the Bible said or Jesus said (after all, as we can tell from the many branches of Christianity it is subject to interpretation), I believe that morality should be based on humanity and tolerance. Like, religious people being anti-homosexuality because the Bible tells them it's wrong - I can't muster up any understanding for that. (I know Jesus said nothing about homosexuality, at least not in the 10 commandmends, but I'm mentioning this as an example.) They deny scientific evidence that homosexuality is normal and natural, and deny homosexuals the right to openly love other people, live with them, marry them and adopt children. That's morality based on restrictive rules and I do not believe life is best lived that way. I also do not believe it contributes to society's evolution.

    Anyway, I'm way off track here. Nice analysis.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Sabrina, I completely agree with you about the anti-homosexuality thing, the fact that people use the bible to discriminate against them is terrible. One thing I have learned from reading the bible is that being against gays is definitely supported by the bible, but so are many other horrible things such as slavery. If you are going to be anti-gay because of the bible, you need to be pro-slavery to stay consistent.

  4. The work vs. faith thing is very complicated, indeed, and you are right to point out that James and Paul appear to have different views. However, I think that the best way to look at it may be that you are saved through faith and faith alone, but if you are really saved, that is going to produce a change within you which demands action. You don't earn salvation by works, but those who are really saved are going to want to perform works, if for no other reason than gratitude to God.

    Is this good or bad? I would probably place it in the good pile, because it compels people to not be lazy in their faith. Like don't be a hypocrite, or don't be a Christian in label only, but also live out a Christian life. Of course, depending on what actions they thing are important to take, that could also be very bad...

    1. Upon further reflection I think this is where I land on it as well. I remember even as a small child asking how to rectify the idea that faith is all you need with the idea that we should do good works. The answers as I remember it was exactly what you said, works aren't necessary, but if you are really letting Jesus work through you, you will want to do the works. While in the strictest sense I would argue that it doesn't quite jive with this message, I think it is a good message to send and it logically makes a fair bit of sense to me.


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