Epistle of James does not deny salvation by faith alone

The epistle of James appears to conflict with Paul’s doctrine of justification (justified means to be declared in the right and to be declared sinless - for Catholics and Protestants it means that God has decided to forget your sins) or salvation by faith alone. For this, Luther called it an epistle of straw. It appears to agree with the Catholic doctrine that faith and hope and charity are necessary for entry into God's presence to enjoy everlasting life. Charity is about doing good works for the love of God.

But the conflict is only apparent. James was writing for one kind of person - the person who claims to be saved by faith and does no good works. Paul was writing for another - the person who does good works and does not see that faith alone saves.

James was saying we are saved not by good works but for good works. He answers those who think that faith matters and good works do not. Paul is answering those who think that good works matter and not faith. So Paul and James complement each other.

It has been noticed that Paul writes about justification as in being judged worthy by God of eternal life while James 2 does not mention eternal life.  It talks about being profitable - in this world.  James is saying that as far as others are concerned, you are no good if you just believe and do no good works.
James' epistle seems to say we are justified by good works not just by faith alone. Yet it quotes with approval and to support that declaration, a verse that says that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. That is a verse teaching salvation by faith only. James said that faith needs to be lived out by good works and works of faith to be any good. By works he means living out the faith and making it real. It is about having real faith. It is not about doing good works to earn God's approval. You are justified by works in the sense that your works are your faith. Far from being a denial of salvation by faith only, James is affirming the doctrine.
The Roman Catholic Church even today refuses to admit that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is in the Bible. It wants to believe that God is duty bound to give it Heaven for doing good works. That is essentially pride. As Luther pointed out, that results in all its monasticism and celibacy and penances becoming insulting to God and virtue.


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