Faith and Works – Battle or No Battle
In the Reformation, leaders like Martin Luther and John Calvin saw how the Medieval church often used pious, sacramental works to control people and missed the entire message of justification by faith and God’s grace. They insisted on Faith alone as the basis of salvation. Faith and Works (good deeds) stood in opposition, based on Paul. James was “straw” (Luther).
Different meanings for “Works.” (1) Works of law as group boundaries for a pure community (circumcision, food laws). (2) Works as actions of generosity, service, and reconciliation embodying God’s self-giving love. Paul reflects on both as he builds communities of both Jews and non-Jews. “Works of law” – protective, defining markers for Jewish communities. But they excluded non-Jews. Debates about circumcision were about including all nations. Paul always insists on (2): Life transformed by Christ’s love, actively serving others.
Faith Works to Define Life, Shape Life, Give Life