Is the Book of James Really ‘An Epistle of Straw’?

We have a lot of books in our New Testament. All of them, we believe, are divinely inspired. And yet we don’t spend equal amounts of time reading them. For most of us, our reading pattern is profoundly lopsided, focusing mostly on Paul (especially Romans and Galatians) and the Gospels (with John leading the way). Indeed, some books (like 3 John) hardly get read at all.

This trend raises intriguing questions about why certain books were even included in the New Testament. What purpose do these less famous books serve? This becomes particularly acute with the book of James. Although 500 years have passed since Martin Luther called it …

Continue reading...

Here are Some Great Videos on the Five Solas from the Faculty of Reformed Theological Seminary

Last month RTS Charlotte and Christ Covenant Church came together to host a Reformation conference entitled, The Gospel of Grace and Glory: The Reformation at 500 and Counting.

The five plenary sessions of this conference were on the five solas of the Reformation: Kevin DeYoung (Sola Fide), James Anderson (Sola Gratia), Blair Smith (Solus Christus), Derek Thomas (Soli Deo Gloria), and myself (Sola Scriptura).

I might add that all these speakers (except myself!) are Systematic Theology profs at Reformed Theological Seminary.

And Keith and Kristyn Getty capped off the weekend with a concert that Sunday night.

Over the years …

Continue reading...

Are Protestants Closer to Catholics than Martin Luther? A Response to the Recent Pew Study (Part 2)

Last week, I posted the first of a two-part response to a recent Pew study which claimed that modern Protestants sound more like Catholics when it comes to issues like sola scriptura and sola fide.

While modern Protestants certainly have some significant theological weak spots, I pushed back against the results of this study on the grounds that the questions being asked were fundamentally misleading.  Indeed, the theological descriptions of the Protestant (and Catholic!) positions were flat out wrong.

Having already dealt with the sola scriptura issue in the prior post, we now turn to the issue of sola fide.  Here is the summary of the Pew survey …

Continue reading...

Are Protestants Closer to Catholics than Martin Luther? A Response to the Recent Pew Study (Part 1)

Mark Twain once quipped, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Ah statistics.  They can be very helpful. Or very misleading.  And much of it depends on how the questions are asked.

Last week it was announced that a new Pew foundation study demonstrated that modern Protestants are a lot less like Martin Luther and a lot more like Roman Catholics than people might think.

When it comes to the two main issues of sola scriptura (Scripture alone) and sola fide (faith alone) apparently Protestants aren’t so Protestant after all.  The study conclusions state:

For example, nearly half of U.S. Protestants today (46%) say faith alone

Continue reading...

Why We Need the Book of James in the New Testament Canon

In many ways, the book of James has not had an easy journey into the New Testament canon.  We have few references to it in the earliest stages, it was doubted by some church fathers, and, of course, Luther himself referred to it as “an epistle of straw.”

However, we should be immensely grateful that God has preserved this book for us. Despite its detractors, the book of James provides essential theological balance for the key doctrinal debates in the church today.  Several key contributions:

1. James reminds us that one can offer extended moral exhortations without being a “moralist.”   In an effort to avoid the charge of “moralism,” many …

Continue reading...