Technically, this is not a direct response to Nick's question. It is, however, in connection with his question.
You may find the following comment exchange here.
My comments in this blog entry addressed comments from the comments segment of Whiling Away the Hours here. I offer the following exchange because the distinctions made in this discussion are crucial to the discussion I am engaging in my responses to Nick's question.
Stephen posted the following response concerning my comments in "An Exercise for My Readers."
Barb - I guess I'm flattered that a college professor would take the time to parse my words. However, what is our education system coming to when college professors assign comments made by bloggers to their students? :-)
One of the most important tasks in understanding meaning is to look at context. It doesn't appear that your friend, Mr. Caneday, has actually read the entire discussion. If he had, he would have understood what I meant. To clarify, I meant that works are never, never -- to use the well chosen words from the OPC Report On Justification -- "a part of what faith itself is." If your friend looks up the word "meld" in the dictionary, my point will become more clear to him, though I gather from the content of his web site that he still won't agree with it.
By Stephen, at 8/15/2006 11:28 PM
Following is my response to Stephen.
I understand what meld means. I offered no quibble with your use of meld. That was not and is not the point that I addressed.
Instead, I addressed your first two sentences, where your error is. I said, The three-fold fallacy occurs in the first two statements. The two statements contradict one another.
Here is your statement: Faith is inseparable, but distinct, from its fruits. Works are never, never part of faith. We must avoid language that in any way melds them together.
If faith and faith's fruits are inseparable but distinguishable, then the two cannot at the same time be separable, which is what you are saying when you state, Works are never, never part of faith.
If Works are never part of faith but at the same time works are the fruit of faith, then you have contradicted your earlier statement. Have you not? You cannot have it both ways at the same time. Can you?
What is my point? It is simply this. You overstate your case when you say, Works are never, never part of faith.
It seems to me that we need to be very careful how we express the relationship between faith and works, lest we contradict Scripture. This is my point.
Indeed, faith is not faith's fruits. James distinguishes faith from works, but he does not allow us to say that they are separable. Is this not James's burden in 2:14-26? It seems to me that any reasonable understanding of your statement, "works never, never are part of faith" poses a rather large problem in view of James's argument. James's expressions surely indicate that faith and works are organically inseparable in such a manner that to use any language that separates the two does injury to both. To say that the two are organically inseparable is not to say that works is simply another designation for faith, or vice versa. They are distinguishable, and in this sense, then, the two are not merged into one indistinguishable unit. Keep in mind James's imagery of the body and the spirit and his use of words such as, "the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead."
Grammar matters, especially in doing theology.
By A. B. Caneday, at 8/19/2006 12:36 PM