Saturday, November 24, 2012

St. Paul vs. St. James - justification


The topic of this document is really “justification”. But I hope to address this topic from an angle which I have never seen presented before. That angle is the relationship of the Apostles to the new guy, Saul of Tarsus, aka, St. Paul the last Apostle ordained by Jesus Christ.
As Christians, Catholic and Protestant, we tend to see the Apostles as one big happy family. Especially after the Pentecost. However, as I read the book of Galatians and consider the other circumstances surrounding the events of that day, when St. Paul felt compelled to confront St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, I get the feeling of undercurrents in the Christian family which I've never seen addressed in print.
These undercurrents are not official Catholic Teaching. I bring them up because they make Scripture reading more fun and exciting for me when we identify some of the drama which possibly was going on in the higher echelons of the Church. I hope it does the same for you.
If these undercurrents did exist, I wonder what effect they had on doctrine, if any?
The immediate question, I suppose many will have, is, “after 2000 years, you think you can come up with a new angle?”

The Background

(Redirected from THE BACKGROUND)
I do a great deal of discussing, well, to put it bluntly, of arguing, on the internet, with Protestants. The discussion is frequently about “faith alone” and I'm generally explaining why “faith alone” is a false teaching.
It is during these discussions that I have had the opportunity to study the Scripture passages which support the Catholic and the Protestant positions.
During these debates, it has become sort of politically correct to say that St. James and St. Paul were in complete agreement with each other. Protestants will say that St. James and St. Paul agree with each other on faith alone. And Catholics will agree that they agree with each other, but that they both teach faith and works.
But the Scriptures don't bear this out. St. Paul and St. James do not appear to be agreeing with each other. In fact, non-Christians and Atheists go as far as to say that St. Paul started another religion apart from Christianity.
In order to see what, in my opinion, is really going on, we need to back up to the beginning, even before St. Paul was de-horsed. When he was still known as Saul of Tarsus.
Reading the Scriptures, we see that Saul was a hard, even a cruel, man. Completely consumed with zeal for the traditions of his father, he approved of the martyring of St. Stephen:
Acts 7:57 And casting him forth without the city, they stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man, whose name was Saul.
And he asked for permission to persecute the Church:
Acts 9:1 And Saul, as yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, 2 And asked of him letters to Damascus, to the synagogues: that if he found any men and women of this way, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
And his conversion to a Christian didn't break his spirit. St. Paul was a tough man, no doubt about it! And an unforgiving man. In the following verse, St. Paul fights with St. Barnabus, because St. Paul won't forgive John Mark's so called “desertion” on a previous missionary journey.
Acts 15:38 But Paul desired that he (as having departed from them out of Pamphylia, and not gone with them to the work) might not be received. 39 And there arose a dissension, so that they departed one from another; and Barnabas indeed taking Mark, sailed to Cyprus. 40 But Paul choosing Silas, departed, being delivered by the brethren to the grace of God.
No sir, forgiving was not something that came natural to St. Paul. But we've gotten a little bit ahead of our story, you see when St. Paul first came into the Church, he was mistrusted:
Acts 10:13 But Ananias answered: Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that invoke thy name.
And St. Paul didn't do a lot to endear himself. Straightway, he began to teach in such a way that he was accused of contradicting Moses by the Christians of Jewish background:
Acts Of Apostles 21:21 Now they have heard of thee that thou teachest those Jews, who are among the Gentiles, to depart from Moses: saying, that they ought not to circumcise their children, nor walk according to the custom.
And this brings us to St. James. Irresistable force meet the immovable object. The entire group of Apostles and disciples seemed to be composed of tough men. St. Barnabus hadn't let St. Paul phase him when they had their ruckus over St. John Mark. He just took St. John Mark with him and departed from St. Paul's company. And St. James was no push over either. In fact, he literally manhandled St. Paul. Listen to this:
Acts 21:22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. 23 Do therefore this that we say to thee. We have four men, who have a vow on them. 24 Take these, and sanctify thyself with them: and bestow on them, that they may shave their heads: and all will know that the things which they have heard of thee, are false; but that thou thyself also walkest keeping the law.
You're in my diocese now Buddy! Tomorrow you shave and take a vow and show everyone that YOU ALSO KEEP THE LAW!
Yessirree Bob! St. James didn't play. You want to come over here preaching all kinds of novelties, we're going to straighten you out!
And what did St. Paul do? Did he kick and scream and object? No. He took a little weight off his head: 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day being purified with them, entered into the temple, giving notice of the accomplishment of the days of purification, until an oblation should be offered for every one of them.
But that's understandable. St. James is formidable.
St. Paul and St. James, St. James and St. Paul. I don't think they were BFF. I just don't get that impression from Scripture. What do you think?
Anyway, lets get back to St. Paul. Put yourself in his shoes. There you are on your missionary journeys and then you hear in Church, something cryptic from St. John, the beloved of Christ, “ 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us. For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us; but that they may be manifest, that they are not all of us. (1 John 2) ”? To whom is he referring? To me?
And then you hear something from St. James. “24 Do you see that by works a man is justified; and not by faith only? (James 2) ”! Is he contradicting ME?
And then, you hear your name mentioned: 2 Peter 3:15 And account the longsuffering of our Lord, salvation; as also OUR MOST DEAR BROTHER PAUL, according to the wisdom given him, hath written to you: 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; IN WHICH ARE CERTAIN THINGS HARD TO BE UNDERSTOOD, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.
Wow! Thanks for the endorsement, Pete! No wonder he had to confront them.
Galatians 2
1 Then, after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me. 2 And I went up according to revelation; and communicated to them the gospel, which I preach among the Gentiles, but apart to them who seemed to be some thing: lest perhaps I should run, or had run in vain.
And note how he speaks of them. Surely this is a man whose feelings are hurt:
6 But of them who seemed to be some thing, (what they were some time, it is nothing to me, God accepteth not the person of man,) for to me they that seemed to be some thing added nothing. 7 But contrariwise, when they had seen that to me was committed the gospel of the uncircumcision, as to Peter was that of the circumcision. 8 (For he who wrought in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, wrought in me also among the Gentiles.) 9 And when they had known the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship: that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision: 10 Only that we should be mindful of the poor: which same thing also I was careful to do.
Surely the Holy Spirit had informed St. Paul that St. Peter was first annointed to the mission of the gentiles.
Acts Of Apostles 15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter, rising up, said to them: Men, brethren, you know, that in former days God made choice among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
But St. Paul here seems to belittle not just St. Peter's mission but also his authority. As well as St. Jame's and St. John's.
What a soap opera folks! The Apostles were human!
And then of course, the famous confrontation wherein St. Paul, the man who had St. Timothy circumcised, the man who boasts that he is everything to everyone, accuses St. Peter of being a hypocrite?!
Its lucky for St. Paul that St. Peter was transformed and at a higher level of holiness at this point in their faith journey. Otherwise, St. Paul may have been out on his ear. He was talking to the man to whom Jesus Christ said:
What you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, what you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
And that's where they were folks. St. James had heard many things about St. Paul's teachings. Perhaps he had even read the manuscripts. And in my opinion, he either understood that St. Paul was teaching “faith alone” OR he understood that many of his parishoners thought that St. Paul was teaching “faith alone”. And St. James was preaching against faith alone in no uncertain terms. Lets look at the first chapter of his epistle and I'll show you:
James 1:22-25 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if a man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. 24 For he beheld himself, and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was. 25 But he that hath looked into the perfect law of liberty, and hath continued therein, not becoming a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work; this man shall be blessed in his deed.
Those who read his Epistle and somehow get faith alone out of it are simply twisting his words. St. James said, “by works a man is justified and NOT BY FAITH ONLY. (2:24)”
That's pretty clear.
BUT, the Catholics will say, St. Paul was not teaching faith alone either.
No, I don't believe so either. And we'll go through a thorough examination of his words in order to show that he wasn't in a little while. However, I think we need to understand something else about St. Paul. St. Paul was taught by one of the greatest Jewish Theologians of all time. GAMALIEL.
Acts 22:1 Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye the account which I now give unto you. 2 (And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew tongue, they kept the more silence.) 3 And he saith: I am a Jew, born at Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the truth of the law of the fathers, zealous for the law, as also all you are this day:
The rest of the Apostles were mere fishermen. Except for Matthew, a tax collector. None, except St. Paul, were trained theologians. So when St. Paul taught the Christian faith, he spoke in terms which St. Peter said were, “...hard to be understood...(2 Peter 3:16).
And this explains, to me anyway, why in Galatians, he questioned whether he was running in vain, and spoke so disparagingly about the Apostles. He was thinking, “they just don't get it!”
And he was right. Again, that's just my opinion, but I think he was right. They were talking past each other. He was speaking over their heads.
Ok, so the difference between St. Paul and the other Apostles is that they were Jews brought up by Jews, but he was a Jew brought up by Jews and taught by one of the greatest Jewish Theologians of all time.
So, lets tackle a few of the “hard to be understood” points that he makes to see if I'm making sense.
The first thing we must consider is that St. Paul used the word “justification” differently than did the rest of the Apostles. In order to understand what I'm talking about, we must understand the word.
“Justification” means to make one “just” or to become “just”. What does “just” mean?
“Just” means that:
a. one is free of sin. b. one has been forgiven of sin. c. one is reconciled with God
Ok, so how is one made just or how does one become just? How is one “justified”?
From a Jewish perspective, and all the Apostles were born Jews, in order to become just, one must keep the commandments. In this way, one “becomes just” in the eyes of God.
Matt 19:16 And behold one came and said to him: Good master, what good shall I do that I may have life everlasting? 17 Who said to him: Why asketh thou me concerning good? One is good, God. But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
But St. Paul, a student of Gamaliel, knew that the most important work of all towards justification was FAITH.
John 6:28 They said therefore unto him: What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered, and said to them: This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he hath sent.
Therein lies part of the dilemma. But there's more. You see, St. Paul understood that all the Christian Sacraments are forms of justification. It is not apparent to me, from Scripture, that the other Apostles realized this as yet.
Lets briefly go through the Sacraments and see how they are all forms of justification.
Baptism-Forgiveness and remission of sin. Born again a child of God. Confirmation-Sealed with the Holy Spirit. Become a soldier of Christ. Communion-United to God in the Person of Jesus Christ. Remission of venial sin. Reconciliation-Forgiveness and remission of sin. Reunited to God. Marriage-Matrimony-the public vow to God to do His will and remain united to Him through one's spouse until death. Holy Orders-becoming a special minister to God's people, essentially representing God. Anointing of the Sick-sins forgiven and reconciliation with God. Especially important during the Last Rites when one is expecting to die imminently.
Ok, lets review what justification means. Becoming just or being made just.
Everyone of the Sacraments falls in the latter category. God makes us just. The Sacraments are God's work. Not ours.
Except for one thing. We must believe. Let me give you a few Bible verses:
Matthew 9:27 And as Jesus passed from thence, there followed him two blind men crying out and saying, Have mercy on us, O Son of David. 28 And when he was come to the house, the blind men came to him. And Jesus saith to them, Do you believe, that I can do this unto you? They say to him, Yea, Lord. 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, According to your faith, be it done unto you.
And that is the way the Sacraments work. According to our faith. There are two examples in Scripture I've which I'm aware to illustrate this issue.
Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.

We can fill in the blanks. If we believe, we will be baptized and be saved. But if we don't believe, even if we are baptized, we won't be saved. Because faith is necessary for the GOOD effects of baptism to be actuated. I capitalized “GOOD” for a reason. That reason may become clearer in the next example:

1 Cor 11:23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread. 24 And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. 25 In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me. 26 For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. 27 Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. Do you see? If a man eats unworthily, that is, without faith, that man is committing a mortal sin. Let me quote the rest of that verse: 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.

So, faith is necessary for justification by the Sacraments. If faith is lacking, one actually will condemn himself. And, although Scripture is silent on the matter as pertains to the rest of the Sacraments, I believe the same requirement applies. It is probably the reason why so many marriages fail in this era. But back to St. Paul. I believe St. Paul is using the word justification to apply to the Sacraments. I see no indication in Scripture that the other Apostles are doing the same.

OK, I know, you're a Protestant and you don't see St. Paul using the word justification and Sacrament in the same sentence. Well, lets go through a couple of his verses and see what we can understand: Romans 4:6 As David also termeth the blessedness of a man, to whom God reputeth justice without works: 7 Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin.
Does anyone see the resemblance between this description and the Confessional?
I'm not a theologian. But I understand that King David is alluding to himself here. He is alluding to the sin he committed with Bathsheba and he was forgiven by God. He repented of his sin before a Priest of All Mighty God, Nathan. And God heard his prayer:
2 Kings 10:13 And David said to Nathan: I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said to David: The Lord also hath taken away thy sin: thou shalt not die. And St. Paul, in using this example is alluding to the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation. Is there another example? Yes.
Titus 3:5 Not by the works of justice, which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the laver of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost;
Huh? Most Protestants deny that this verse refers to Baptism. But there is no other WASHING (i.e. laver) of regeneration and renovation by the Holy Ghost. This is precisely what Jesus was talking about when He said that Baptism was necessary:
John 3:5 Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

So, we see again, that St. Paul is connecting justification with the Sacraments. SO WHAT'S THE PROBLEM? Its a disconnect. Although St. James and St. Paul, used the same word, “justification”. They didn't use it in the same way. St. Paul, as I said before, is including the Sacraments as forms of justification. That is why he says that faith apart from works, justifies. All we do is believe, God does the rest. Our Protestant brethren are probably saying, “isn't that what we've been trying to tell you all this time?” My answer is, “only if you believe in the Sacraments of Jesus Christ.” You see, most Protestants believe they are simply “symbols” which do not effect what they symbolize. But we believe they are symbols within which God, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, effects precisely what they symbolize, IF WE BELIEVE. This is a sort of Catholic “faith alone” doctrine. St. Thomas Aquinas says it best with regard to the Source and Summit of our Faith, the Eucharist: "Word made flesh, by Word He maketh Very bread his flesh to be; Man in wine Christ's Blood partaketh, And if his senses fail to see, Faith alone the true heart waketh, To behold the mystery.(Pange Lingua)"
What remains unsaid here, is that we also believe that we share in the life of God, we partake of God's grace when we partake of the Eucharist. Ok, we said it once and we said it twice. When St. Paul says faith apart from works justifies, he is speaking mainly of the Sacraments.

So, then, when does St. Paul ever speak of justification not in reference to the Sacraments? Right here: Romans 2:13 For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. Does this sound familiar? Listen to St. James:
James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
They are both on the same page when it comes to this form of justification. What is this form of Justification? It is when a man makes himself as just as he can by repenting for his sins.
You see, in Catholic doctrine, there are two types of justification.
1.Justification of repentance or conversion, which is the ongoing justification of the sinner from the moment of his awakening of faith to the time of his death and even to the time of his salvation or condemnation, as the case may be. 2.Sacramental Justification of Baptism, Confession, Confirmation, Anointing and Eucharist. The action of sanctifying grace in our souls.
Number 1 above, is what St. James is talking about. But we have been comparing St. James describing number 1 to St. Paul describing number 2.
However, when we compare their sayings discussing number 1, we find that they are in complete agreement.
Are they in complete agreement about number 2. YES. But St. James never discusses number 2. At least, not as far as I'm aware. So, how do I know that they are in agreement? FAITH ALONE. I have faith that the Holy Spirit imparted to St. James the information he needed to finally understand what St. Paul was teaching.
St. Paul, in my opinion, was way ahead of the curve. But if St. James and more importantly, St. Peter, had not understood what he was teaching, St. Paul would not have been an Apostle for long.
So, enough of the drama and the background. Lets examine the actual words they spoke according to the Douay Rheims and the King James Bible. Why those two Bibles? Well, they are highly respected in the Catholic and Protestant communities. But more importantly, they are in the Public Domain and I won't get sued if I copy their texts extensively.

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