Why Luther rejected James- it refuted his faith alone doctrine

BJ Bear

Well-known member
I would love to hear your thoughts on early Christianity!
Hi Arch!

I think the scriptural and historical discussion of the absence of Paul and Peter from the founding of the church at Rome is a good place to demonstrate what it means to read Scripture like the Bereans.

In the letter to the Romans Paul makes the following claim, “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:” (Rom 11:25-26, KJVA)

A person familiar with Scripture will recognize that the statement is not something which Paul made up regarding church history or Christian history. They will recognize it as something foretold by the Lord through the prophet Ezekiel. “16. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come. 17. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.” (Eze 11:16-17, KJVA) In short, it is in the going out of the gospel into the whole that those of Israel scattered by God throughout the world shall be saved.

Can and do people interpret Romans 11 differently? Sure, but they aren't the ones who are particularly aware that Ezekiel was to speak those words to those of the Babylonian captivity or exile.

The Holy Spirit went into exile with the people of God into Babylon, see Ezekiel. And He indeed was a sanctuary unto them. Did all return to Israel? No. There remained a community and school in Babylon for well over a thousand years.

During the passion and for a time afterwards the Christians or followers of The Way were not yet associated with the Roman civil government. Travel to and from Babylon from and to Israel was not yet scrutinized in the way that it later would be.

The point is that the gospel would and did indeed travel to Babylon according to the word of God. When Peter wrote of the greeting from those in Babylon, elect with others of the dispersed throughout the world, he was indeed referring to Babylon.

On the other hand, if one is a Gentile or unfamiliar with the law and the prophets then one might be tempted to take the imagination of Tertullian with regard to Nero and Rome in the Apocalypse and run with it. His imagination could lead those unfamiliar with Scripture to conclude that Peter was not in Babylon at all but instead in Rome.

"The gospel is true and people believe it. The gospel is never true because people believe it." Our Great Heritage, Vol I, (c)NPH.
 
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Arch Stanton

Well-known member
Hello BJ!
I think the scriptural and historical discussion of the absence of Paul and Peter from the founding of the church at Rome is a good place to demonstrate what it means to read Scripture like the Bereans.

In the letter to the Romans Paul makes the following claim, “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:” (Rom 11:25-26, KJVA)

A person familiar with Scripture will recognize that the statement is not something which Paul made up regarding church history or Christian history. They will recognize it as something foretold by the Lord through the prophet Ezekiel. “16. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come. 17. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.” (Eze 11:16-17, KJVA) In short, it is in the going out of the gospel into the whole that those of Israel scattered by God throughout the world shall be saved.
I find Romans 15:20 quite interesting....

Romans 15:20 Thus I aspire to proclaim the gospel not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on another’s foundation,

That is why I stated earlier 👇

Who would keep Paul from coming to Rome?
Peter would -- Paul would not want to build on [Peter's] foundation. I don't see anyone with more clout that would keep Paul away from Rome.
The Holy Spirit went into exile with the people of God into Babylon, see Ezekiel. And He indeed was a sanctuary unto them. Did all return to Israel? No. There remained a community and school in Babylon for well over a thousand years.
Evangelical scholar Sean McDowell: “The Old Testament city of Babylon was in ruins, so he could not have been referring to that city. Rather, it was a relatively common cryptic name for Rome, the enemy of God. Like the Hebrews exiled in the Babylon of the Old Testament, Christians in Rome felt themselves exiles in a foreign land, a sinful city that oppressed the people of God.”
 

BJ Bear

Well-known member
Hello BJ!

I find Romans 15:20 quite interesting....

Romans 15:20 Thus I aspire to proclaim the gospel not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on another’s foundation,

That is why I stated earlier 👇


Peter would -- Paul would not want to build on [Peter's] foundation. I don't see anyone with more clout that would keep Paul away from Rome.
Hello!

So we agree that Paul was primarily interested in preaching where Christ was not known. But when I look at the context of the Romans fifteen passage you cited there is no mention or implication whatsoever of the clout of another preventing him from going to Rome.

Instead, Paul's stated reason in an easy to read English translation continues at 15:21. “21. As Scripture says, "Those who were never told about him will see, and those who never heard will understand." 22. This is what has so often kept me from visiting you. 23. But now I have no new opportunities for work in this region. For many years I have wanted to visit you. 24. Now I am on my way to Spain, so I hope to see you when I come your way. After I have enjoyed your company for a while, I hope that you will support my trip to Spain.” (Rom 15:21-24, GodsWord)
Evangelical scholar Sean McDowell: “The Old Testament city of Babylon was in ruins, so he could not have been referring to that city. Rather, it was a relatively common cryptic name for Rome, the enemy of God. Like the Hebrews exiled in the Babylon of the Old Testament, Christians in Rome felt themselves exiles in a foreign land, a sinful city that oppressed the people of God.”
I've never heard of the author, but he is presenting the anachronistic Tertullian spin in this regard, and apparently totally discounts the historical record of Josephus and others.

That Babylon was no longer the great city and country it once was does not exclude the historical reality of the long standing community and school at Babylon. Many Christians are aware of one of it's later products, the Babylonian Talmud.

The bottom line is that like Paul, Peter was pointing his intended audience, those of the dispersion throughout the world, to the faithfulness of God to them through the fulfilled testimony given to Ezekiel.
 
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Arch Stanton

Well-known member
Hello!

So we agree that Paul was primarily interested in preaching where Christ was not known. But when I look at the context of the Romans fifteen passage you cited there is no mention or implication whatsoever of the clout of another preventing him from going to Rome.

Instead, Paul's stated reason in an easy to read English translation continues at 15:21. “21. As Scripture says, "Those who were never told about him will see, and those who never heard will understand." 22. This is what has so often kept me from visiting you. 23. But now I have no new opportunities for work in this region. For many years I have wanted to visit you. 24. Now I am on my way to Spain, so I hope to see you when I come your way. After I have enjoyed your company for a while, I hope that you will support my trip to Spain.” (Rom 15:21-24, GodsWord)

I've never heard of the author, but he is presenting the anachronistic Tertullian spin in this regard, and apparently totally discounts the historical record of Josephus and others.

That Babylon was no longer the great city and country it once was does not exclude the historical reality of the long standing community and school at Babylon. Many Christians are aware of one of it's later products, the Babylonian Talmud.

The bottom line is that like Paul, Peter was pointing his intended audience, those of the dispersion throughout the world, to the faithfulness of God to them through the fulfilled testimony given to Ezekiel.
I believe Babylon was code for Rome in a time of great persecution -- especially for the leader.

Jerome

"[Pope] Stephen . . . was the blessed Peter’s twenty-second successor in the See of Rome" (Against the Luciferians 23 [A.D. 383]).

"Clement, of whom the apostle Paul writing to the Philippians says ‘With Clement and others of my fellow-workers whose names are written in the book of life,’ the fourth bishop of Rome after Peter, if indeed the second was Linus and the third Anacletus, although most of the Latins think that Clement was second after the apostle" (Lives of Illustrious Men 15 [A.D. 396]).
 

Nic

Well-known member
On the Catholic board, Catholics like to boast that Jesus founded the Catholic Church, but that is false. The 1st century church never taught or believed in the man-made doctrines that they believe in today, and have for many centuries. The 4 Marian Dogmas are relatively late comers, but millions of people were able to be saved to eternal life by grace through faith in Jesus Christ since the first century, without knowing anything about those dogmas, or having to believe them. Which means they are man-made and unnecessary for salvation.
True. Yet Roman Catholics play a few wildcards here.
1) Things were always taught although through their opined view of Sacred Tradition.
2) These things may of officially been declared as church dogma much later, but only after dissenting views of these specific teachings where repeatedly cast as doubt rather than fact.

Then their is the apologetic view against those who left the Roman Church as catechized child. Which for me, has some merit. The idea is over and against Roman Catholic childhood memories of how they expected a child to understand the teaching. Where the truth ushers in, is the fact that people do explain things differently to certain targeted audiences or demographics. That said, the extra non-biblical binding doctrines are and will continue to be the problems as you so aptly stated.

Nic🙂
 

Arch Stanton

Well-known member
The idea is over and against Roman Catholic childhood memories of how they expected a child to understand the teaching.
If one is too young to understand, just trust The Church -- the pillar of truth and the wisdom of God is made known through her.
That said, the extra non-biblical binding doctrines are and will continue to be the problems as you so aptly stated.
No problems at all when one believes the words 'whatever you bind...' :)
 
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Tertiumquid

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Why Luther rejected James- it refuted his faith alone doctrine
I don't think this is the reason... in fact.... Luther did not think James 2:26 refuted "faith alone."

In 1530, Luther answered the question, "Why does James (2:26) say, 'Faith apart from works is dead'?" Luther answered:

"James is dealing with a moral point, not theological, just as he is almost entirely about morality. Morally speaking, it is true that faith without works is dead- that is, if faith does not do works or if outward works do not follow faith. In this way then, faith cannot exist apart from works; that is, it cannot fail to do works, else there is no faith alone.

We, however, are dealing with a theological point here since we are discussing justification before God. Here we assert that faith alone is counted as righteousness before God, apart from works and merits." (LW 61:183-184).

Similarly, In The Disputation Concerning Justification, Luther answered this spurious proposition: Faith without works justifies, Faith without works is dead (Jas. 2:17, 26). Therefore, dead faith justifies. Luther responded:

“The argument is sophistical and the refutation is resolved grammatically. In the major premise, ‘faith’ ought to be placed with the word ‘justifies’ and the portion of the sentence ‘without works justifies’ is placed in a predicate periphrase and must refer to the word ‘justifies,’ not to ‘faith.’ In the minor premise, ‘without works’ is truly in the subject periphrase and refers to faith. We say that justification is effective without works, not that faith is without works. For that faith which lacks fruit is not an efficacious but a feigned faith. ‘Without works’ is ambiguous, then. For that reason this argument settles nothing. It is one thing that faith justifies without works; it is another thing that faith exists without works. [LW 34: 175-176].

So, why did Luther reject James? He did not whimsically dismiss Biblical books simply because he did not like their content. Luther was aware of the disputed authenticity of the book. Eusebius and Jerome both recorded doubts to the apostolicity and canonicity of James. Luther did not consider James to be James the Apostle. He wasn’t alone in this. The great humanist Scholar Erasmus likewise questioned the authenticity of James, as did Cardinal Cajetan, one of the leading 16th Century Roman Catholic scholars. Luther said he cannot include James among his chief books “though I would not thereby prevent anyone from including or extolling him as he pleases, for there are otherwise many good sayings in him.”
 

BJ Bear

Well-known member
I believe Babylon was code for Rome in a time of great persecution --
The two elephants in the room remain that there is no Scriptural evidence of Peter ever being in Rome and that the evidence you provided below is again downstream from Tertullian, for example, the witness of Jerome.

What are the odds that if Peter was at Rome or could have been at Rome that Paul would have omitted him from his multiple greetings in his epistle to the Romans? Zero. That abscence of mention also would demonstrate that there is no scriptural support and not any contemporary evidence for Peter as first bishop and first "Pope" of Rome.
especially for the leader.

Jerome

"[Pope] Stephen . . . was the blessed Peter’s twenty-second successor in the See of Rome" (Against the Luciferians 23 [A.D. 383]).

"Clement, of whom the apostle Paul writing to the Philippians says ‘With Clement and others of my fellow-workers whose names are written in the book of life,’ the fourth bishop of Rome after Peter, if indeed the second was Linus and the third Anacletus, although most of the Latins think that Clement was second after the apostle" (Lives of Illustrious Men 15 [A.D. 396]).
The temptation of going all Lactantius on the reasoning previously provided for identifying Babylon as Rome rather than one or all of the other locations in 1 Peter, or all the locations listed in 1 Peter, was great but I resisted. However, to demonstrate how that bit of illogical thinking is perpetuated, even among those who are not Roman Catholic, check out the presentation of Hippolytus in this regard in the ANF Volume V.

Hippolytus identified Babylon as the world and at enmity with the church. Later, in a Treatise On Christ And The Antichrist, in commenting on Revelation in which Babylon is mentioned footnote 1473 says,
[Note this token, that, with all his prudence, he identifies “Babylon” with Rome.] See page 522 ff.

So to put it all bluntly, in a letter which is not a vision, 1 Peter, people are encouraged by a story to deny in their interpretation the historical reality of someone being in Babylon, but in a vision, the Apocalypse, people are encouraged in their interpretation to turn to a particular possible historical reality. In other words, in this case people are encouraged to deny the sure word of God and encouraged to affirm an unsure word of God, a particular undefined interpretation of a vision.
 
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Nic

Well-known member
If one is too young to understand, just trust The Church -- the pillar of truth and the wisdom of God is made known through her.
I didn't suggest otherwise, but as a person matures questioning ones blind allegiance can highlight the development of critical thinking. At some point a person either believes non-biblical Roman Catholic doctrinal or dogmatized talking points necessary for salvation or they search out another worldview Christian or otherwise.
No problems at all when one believes the words 'whatever you bind...' :)
Binding and loosing isn't an arbitrary power that the church now declares eating meat on Fridays is a sin and thus becomes sin. If Catholics familiarized themselves and believed the whole of scripture as they allege they would certainly know this much.
Binding and loosing has to with conviction of sin and absolution or gospel.

Oddity or the norm you tell me, one catholic made it clear to me that if a person read scripture and believed the work of God for forgiveness of sins, that such a person couldn't be absolved without a sacrament or some such. That's poppycock. Clearly the word of God, the message is about and deals primarily in absolution beyond the scope of settling in any particular Christian setting. Now that's not to say that some settings are better than others in delivering the message. IMV Catholics generally make a D in this area for obfuscation, some may say that's too high because they don't see the Catholic church as Christian entity. But that's not really much of a secret.

Nic:)
 
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Arch Stanton

Well-known member
What are the odds that if Peter was at Rome or could have been at Rome that Paul would have omitted him from his multiple greetings in his epistle to the Romans? Zero. That abscence of mention also would demonstrate that there is no scriptural support and not any contemporary evidence for Peter as first bishop and first "Pope" of Rome.............

So to put it all bluntly, in a letter which is not a vision, 1 Peter, people are encouraged by a story to deny in their interpretation the historical reality of someone being in Babylon, but in a vision, the Apocalypse, people are encouraged in their interpretation to turn to a particular possible historical reality. In other words, in this case people are encouraged to deny the sure word of God and encouraged to affirm an unsure word of God, a particular undefined interpretation of a vision.
St. Ignatius of Antioch implies that Peter was in Rome when he writes in his letter to the Romans, “I do not, as Peter and Paul, issue commandments unto you” (Letter to the Romans, 4).
 

BJ Bear

Well-known member
St. Ignatius of Antioch implies that Peter was in Rome when he writes in his letter to the Romans, “I do not, as Peter and Paul, issue commandments unto you” (Letter to the Romans, 4).
That is an inference on the part of the reader rather than an implication by the author because it is only one of the the possible interpretations. For example, an obvious alternative is that Ignatius doesn't give commands like them because he is not an Apostle.

I am not arguing that is not possible that Peter could have been in Rome sometime after Paul's journey to Rome, but that neither Paul or Peter founded the church in Rome. At least not in any real sense beyond that of any other congregation any where in the world which would claim to be founded by them, that is as Apostles and authors of Scripture.
 
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Bonnie

Super Member
That is an inference on the part of the reader rather than an implication by the author because it is only one of the the possible interpretations. For example, an obvious alternative is that Ignatius doesn't give commands like them because he is not an Apostle.

I am not arguing that is not possible that Peter could have been in Rome sometime after Paul's journey to Rome, but that neither Paul or Peter founded the church in Rome. At least not in any real sense beyond that of any other congregation any where in the world which would claim to be founded by them, that is as Apostles and authors of Scripture.
I wrote to the church historian, Dr. Justo Gonzales, who wrote the two volume history The Story of Christianity. It was required reading in the Seminary when my husband was going there, to become a pastor in our church. I have read some of the first book. It is well written and geared towards lay people, so it easy to understand. I tracked him down and asked him some questions about how the early church evolved into the Roman Catholic Church today. I won't go into that. But he did say that there is some evidence that Peter DID get to Rome and may have died there. But he too told me that there was already a well-established church in Rome long before Peter got there, and that it would already have had its leadership. He said that most of the work of spreading the Gospel back then fell to ordinary people sharing their faith with others who are curious and want to know what it was all about. So, someone carried back the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Rome before either Peter OR Paul got there. So, Peter would not have been the "pope", supreme over the whole church, ruling out of Rome.
 
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BJ Bear

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I wrote to the church historian, Dr. Justo Gonzales, who wrote the two volume history The Story of Christianity. It was required reading in the Seminary when my husband was going there, to become a pastor in our church. I have read some of the first book. It is well written and geared towards lay people, so it easy to understand. I tracked him down and asked him some questions about how the early church evolved into the Roman Catholic Church today. I won't go into that. But he did say that there is some evidence that Peter DID get to Rome and may have died there. But he too told me that there was already a well-established church in Rome long before Peter got that, and that it would already have had its leadership. He said that most of the work of spreading the Gospel back then fell to ordinary people sharing their faith with others who are curious and want to know what it was all about. So, someone carried back the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Rome before either Peter OR Paul got there. So, Peter would not have been the "pope", supreme over the whole church, ruling out of Rome.
Thanks Bonnie! Although we didn't define church history, the context was largely one of person, place, and time. In that sense discussing church history apart from secular or world history can be flawed.

It can be flawed because the providence of God and consequent obvious facts can be overlooked. Some common sense facts relevant to this topic are the dominant languages of the east and west, Greek and Aramaic; the benefits of empire in the west and east; the Israelites which were dispersed in the west and east who would come to Jerusalem yearly for key observances and then return home, etc.

In short, the Lord set things up for a bonfire, a spreading of the faith. Alleluia!
 
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BJ Bear

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I wrote to the church historian, Dr. Justo Gonzales, who wrote the two volume history The Story of Christianity. It was required reading in the Seminary when my husband was going there, to become a pastor in our church. I have read some of the first book. It is well written and geared towards lay people, so it easy to understand. I tracked him down and asked him some questions about how the early church evolved into the Roman Catholic Church today. I won't go into that. But he did say that there is some evidence that Peter DID get to Rome and may have died there. But he too told me that there was already a well-established church in Rome long before Peter got there, and that it would already have had its leadership. He said that most of the work of spreading the Gospel back then fell to ordinary people sharing their faith with others who are curious and want to know what it was all about. So, someone carried back the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Rome before either Peter OR Paul got there. So, Peter would not have been the "pope", supreme over the whole church, ruling out of Rome.
If in your reading of that history you have already reached the fourth century then is the subsequent church history sanitized or does it explicitly or implicitly give the reader the impression that it was sometimes a very messy business? Thanks.
 

Bonnie

Super Member
If in your reading of that history you have already reached the fourth century then is the subsequent church history sanitized or does it explicitly or implicitly give the reader the impression that it was sometimes a very messy business? Thanks.
I haven't read it in years, but the book did cover the ups and downs of church history. For instance, it discussed how doing penance came to be established. And how purgatory came to be taught and why....stuff like that. Later on, it discussed the good and bad popes and what each accomplished or did not accomplish. It just gave a passing nod to Alexander VI, saying he was one of the worst popes ever to sit in Rome.

So, the author from what I remember, showed that the way the church grew and changed could be messy, indeed. Gonzales isn't a Catholic, but some of his reference books are used in Notre Dame university. I once checked their library.
 
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