Justification By Faithfulness: The True Doctrine Of Jesus And Paul -- By: A. B. Curtis

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 065:260 (Oct 1908)
Article: Justification By Faithfulness: The True Doctrine Of Jesus And Paul
Author: A. B. Curtis


Justification By Faithfulness: The True Doctrine Of Jesus And Paul

A. B. Curtis

Speer, Illinois

One of the oldest conflicts known to religion is that between faith and works. On the one side is the theoretical and on the other the practical, on the one the external and on the other the internal, overt act and inner intent being pitted against each other.

Zoroastrianism is a religion of good morals, and yet as a system it abounds in superstitious rites and observances to disbelieve in which means certain death. Brahmanism, on the contrary, is a religion of speculative theories, yet its scriptures abound in texts making all hinge upon the deeds of righteousness performed. In the Christian Scriptures the same conflict goes on. Amaziah’s priest makes all the favors or disfavors of Jahweh, the national God, circle around the correct performance of a ceremony, and Amos, the prophet, combats him with a theology in which the common moralities are paramount. Isaiah protested against a religion of faith which was without works, Paul as earnestly assailed a religion of works which was without faith. It was this same Paul who said: “A man is not justified by the works of the law, but only through faith in Jesus Christ”; and over against him in the New Testament is the common sense Jewish Christian, James, asserting that “by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

Is there any way out of the difficulty which shall be at once both sensible and biblical? Certain it is that there is nothing under heaven a mere belief in which will save a man, if by salvation we mean anything that is at all worth while, and James does well to say so in the very faces of the Martin

Luthers who persist in calling his book “an epistle of straw.” On the other hand, it is equally as certain that there is no list of duties a mere mechanical performance of which will bestow salvation,—the salvation which is force of character, and magnetism of person,—and Paul deserves praise for telling us this, all his modern detractors to the contrary notwithstanding.

Personally, I believe the problem is soluble; with Browning—

“I have tried each way singly; now for both.”

There is an English word ready at hand that bridges the chasm, and, above all, gives good sense. Furthermore, by substituting it in the texts where it rightfully belongs, it presents an excellent composite picture of the biblical teaching as a whole concerning salvation.

Dogmatic theologians have often lamented the absence from the chapters of the Old Testament of the doctrine of salvation by faith. It is the purpose of this Not...

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