How do Protestants deal with James on faith and works?


Well, here is the parable in case it jogs your memory.

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.”

So Lazarus was at Dives’s gate, and Dives didn’t even give him a crumb from his table. Dives’s sin wasn’t that he tried to hurt Lazarus; it was that he didn’t help him in his predicament.


And, that ‘Jew by heritage’ went to hell because of not doing good works.


Jews made it to heaven by obeying the law. By not helping his fellow man the rich man showed he didn’t Love God with all his heart, mind and soul and Love Others as himself. His works (or lack of works in this case) showed the status of his heart. Christians make it to heaven by being Grace through Faith. When we claim to have a living faith then our works show the status of our heart as well.


And, that sent him to hell. You will judged by what you do and what you do not do. You are not judged by grace and/or faith.


You are making a great assumption that the rich man was sent to hell because of his works. No where in this passage does Jesus say or intimate that the rich man is in hell because of his works. Nor does it say that Lazarus was in heaven because he was poor or because of his works. The passage is silent on what the cause of their salvation was, therefore you would be wrong to assume that it was their works that differentiated their eternal states. What Christ is showing is that riches will not help you in the world to come, so if you are placing your hope in those, you are deceived. Once again, why not go to a place where the means of salvation is the object of the lesson, and clearly taught?

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”

“For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”

“Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”


Actually, he was sent to hell because of a lack of works.


And it specifically says that where?

What you have just done is called eisegesis, reading into the text something that the text itself does not bear out in context. In addition, you have now proposed a doctrine that is in direct contradiction with clear statements on the means of salvation.


“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.”

This parable echoes the exhortation of not feeding the poor and the consequences:

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink.” Matthew 35:41-42



Actually, you would be incorrect on both those interpretations since you fail to look at the audience to whom Christ is addressing the story, and the occasion why he was speaking.

If you read Luke 16 you would see, just as I have stated that Jesus had first commended a dishonest manager for his shrewd dealings with how he gave wealth to influence others. I would say that this is hardly a statement that one is saved by works or not saved by works. The Pharisees hearing this parable mocked Jesus because they were lovers of money. What is Jesus response? You are those who JUSTIFY YOURSELVES before men, but God knows your hearts. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the law to become void.

He then castigates these men who were so careful to do works before men though their hearts were not on God. He demonstrates this by repudiating their teachings on divorce which allowed for the dissolution of marriage for any reason (refer to Matthew 5 and 19 for further clarification on Pharisaic teaching about marriage). It is then that Jesus discusses the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, once again, supporting my original statement that Jesus was teaching about placing one’s faith in riches. The contrast that Abraham makes saying that in life the rich man was comforted and Lazarus was in anguish, but now this all has been reversed again punctuates the issue here, which is the placing of one’s faith in riches, just as Luke indicates earlier when stating that the Pharisees loved riches.

The very next chapter highlights faith as we see in the parable of the persistent widow, the tax collector and the Pharisee at the temple, and the ten lepers who were healed.

Once again, your eisegesis makes a mess of the text, and causes your interpretation to be in direct contradiction with those passages that are actually meant to address the issue of how salvation is effected.


What’s not true is your understanding of Luther.

“There is no justification without sanctification, no forgiveness without renewal of life, no real faith from which the fruits of new obedience do not grow.”

“Faith must of course be sincere. It must be a faith that performs good works through love. If faith lacks love it is not true faith. Thus the Apostle bars the way of hypocrites to the kingdom of Christ on all sides. He declares on the one hand, “In Christ Jesus circumcision availeth nothing,” i.e., works avail nothing, but faith alone, and that without any merit whatever, avails before God. On the other hand, the Apostle declares that without fruits faith serves no purpose. To think, “If faith justifies without works, let us work nothing,” is to despise the grace of God. Idle faith is not justifying faith. In this terse manner Paul presents the whole life of a Christian. Inwardly it consists in faith towards God, outwardly in love towards our fellow-men.”
(Luther’s commentary on Galatians 5:6)

” Now come all kinds of admonitions and precepts. It was the custom of the apostles that after they had taught faith and instructed the conscience they followed it up with admonitions unto good works, that the believers might manifest the duties of love toward each other. In order to avoid the appearance as if Christianity militated against good works or opposed civil government, the Apostle also urges us to give ourselves unto good works, to lead an honest life, and to keep faith and love with one another. This will give the lie to the accusations of the world that we Christians are the enemies of decency and of public peace. The fact is we Christians know better what constitutes a truly good work than all the philosophers and legislators of the world because we link believing with doing.“
Commentary on Galatians 5

Nothing easy peasy.


Can you define “Bible Christians”?


WHAAAAAAAAAAAT?!? You mean to tell me that Catholic Answers has not accurately handled Luther’s writings?

In addition to Luther’s commentary on Galatians, I would also recommend Luther’s Treatise on Good Works.


I think we would say the same of Luther’s understanding of the Gospel.


I find it dishonest that Martin Luther quotes ‘the Apostle’ (Saint Paul) and follows up with ‘i.e. faith alone’.


The true meaning of the parable is this: faith in riches plus neglecting one’s fellow man = hell.


One would hope that Catholics would accurately depict Luther, or better, let Lutherans do it, just like non-Catholics should accurately depict , or better yet, let Catholics do it.


That hilarity reflects on the poor catechesis you received as a Lutheran, something I regret deeply


It’s not a secret that Martin Luther taught novel ideas contrary to the Gospel. One would hope that Lutherans and other Protestants would realize the contradictions and inconsistencies that Lutheranism has within itself.


Oh we do. We just analyze his ideas as well.


And who are you to say that your catechesis was any better than mine? Did not you say that you were ELCA? With all due respect, I do not think you are, or were, in any position to criticize my ‘catechesis’ as a Lutheran.

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