Paul vs. James Review

Book Review: 

Martin Luther once said that the book of James did not belong the Bible because of chapter 2 where it appears the half-brother of Jesus is communicating that we are justified by works. Of course, if we look more closely at the letter, we know that James was not advocating a salvation by works yet the Apostle Paul wrote that we are justified by faith and not works of the law (Galatians 2:16). To many Christians, this issue seems really confusing. Who is right on this issue? Was James clearly teaching a justification by works while Paul was teaching justification by faith alone? These are all good questions as one wrestles with the Bible.

Chris Bruno addresses these issues of "contradictions" in his latest book, Paul Vs. James. In the beginning of the book, Bruno takes a look at the life of Paul and James in their upbringing and who they were before they were on mission for Jesus. Bruno does point out that James and Paul agreed that Jesus fulfilled the law and their messages were not contradicting one another. Paul focused on what it took for a person to be right with God and that was come to Christ by faith alone. James focused on the aftermath of our conversion where if one has faith, it is demonstrated by works as a result of being born again.

Yes, we are saved by faith alone, but it is a faith that is not alone. Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us that we are saved by grace through faith not by works yet we are created in Christ Jesus for good works. Our lives are a reflection of what Christ has done. To say that you have faith yet have no evidence of it means you do not have faith. This is the message that James was communicating to his readers in his epistle.

This message of faith and works is still communicated in the church today. We need to have a healthy understanding of what the Bible says when we say we are saved by faith alone and saved for works. Bruno gives two examples of the sins we commit that is a contradiction in this teaching. We commit the sin of racism when we tell another race that to be saved you must become like us and have our customs which is what the Galatian church was dealing with when Paul wrote his epistle to them. I must admit I approached this view very cautiously since this book was published by the same company that gave us Woke Church. I do not believe that Bruno was communicating anything that would sound like the Work movement that has infiltrated Christianity today. The other sin, which is against the teaching of justification by works based on our faith is same-sex marriage. You say you are a Christian yet your life does not reflect that if you are for same-sex marriage or even in support of it. The Bible says there will genuine evidence of salvation which includes hating sin.

The issue of the "contradictions" between Paul and James will not go away any time soon. I am thankful Bruno approached this book was ease and clarity knowing there is a lot of confusion in this area. He does say that if you understand that Paul and James do not contradict one another, you have a healthy view of the Bible. I hope for those who do struggle with balancing saved by faith alone but works justify our claiming we have faith, will have a better understanding that this is a Biblical teaching and not a contradiction.