Thursday, November 17, 2005

Reformata Blog

C. Ryan Jenkins has put up a new blog, with Paul Helm, Sebastian Heck, Camden Bucey, and Frank Turk [!!] as contributors [I know two of the contributors, have read some material by one other, and don't know anything about Heck nor Bucey], titled Reformata or, for the longer title, Reformata, Semper Reformanda. It looks most excellent so far. And, it apparently has 1000+ daily readers, so my plugging that blog is like the fly trying to make good with the elephant, given that this blog has about 100 or so! The hard part about commending such a blog as Reformata is that it makes this blog look so hack-ish, bush-league, mom-n-pop-ish, etc. It is like the ugly sister pointing the would-be dashing suitor to her homecoming queen and head cheerleader sister.

On a related note, the Epistle of St James is often cited by Roman Catholics as the supreme argument against justification by faith alone. Often we're treated to the contextless quote "A man is not justified by faith alone, but by what he does" accompanied with the smug gotcha! attitude that accompanies a certain portion of internet Romanism.

How does somebody with a high view of scripture reconcile St James and St Paul? Or can they be reconciled? [Perhaps those who argue for the existence of contradictions in scripture are correct.] Or is there some sort of exegetical tension between them that we just have to accept? [I don't agree with this option.] Or perhaps, like some of the more ebullient Romanists I have known, we jettison all of St Paul's statements in favor of one statement of James. Perhaps we have to reinterpret one in terms of the other. Maybe the RC's are correct. Maybe not. Maybe everybody is completely wrong....etc etc etc!!

The solution to this, for myself, has to do the following things:
(i) It must take both Paul and James fully into account, diminishing neither
(ii) It cannot be forced or marked by a sort-of desperate expediency
(iii) It must approach this problem the same way that other exegetical problems are approached.

I've promised Rev. Jenkins for a while that I was going to post a link to a paper of his dealing with this question. Here's the link to his paper. Follow the directions for downloading the Greek and Hebrew fonts so that the Greek words in this paper can appear as they should.

I read through the paper carefully this summer, and, true to form, I've already had a good portion fall through the memory cracks! But this paper, which appeared in the Jan-Mar 2002 BiblioTheca Sacra pp 62-78, does (i)-(iii) above quite nicely, in my opinion. You see sober exegesis, and, even if one disagrees with the assertions that Jenkins makes, one must at least say that he has done his homework on the issue.

You can also find a discussion of this paper in three parts at the Reformata blog. More installments will come, we believe.

Anyway, I believe I have faithfully discharged a long-overdue promise to Rev Jenkins, and now he can withdraw the anathema he pronounced on me!

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