Doug Wilson had a good short bit on the harmonization between James and Paul as it relates to some critics of the Federal Vision (*koff* jOHN rOBBINS *KOFF*), and in agreeing with him I somehow called down the wroth (it's "wrath", but when you see stuff like this you know you have to pronounce it "wroth") of the proverbial Tim Enloe.
I said this: I don't know if I've made it obvious over time that I'm an incurable Baptist, but I am. So in that, I don't agree with much of what AA-ism says even in the scope of what it is trying to say.
However, the kind of objection Robbins makes is either extremely esoteric or extremely ungenerous. The web page on which he "cites" the AA majors as denying justification by grace thru faith is not very convincing because it doesn't really keep the statements in context.
And in that, I have a hard time believing that even he thinks that a faith that is not working out sanctification is the kind of faith Paul was talking about in Romans. Yes: the Law doesn't justify us but rather defines us as sinners. However, in Christ we have a willingness to accept the judgment of the Law and be conformed to Christ both "objectively" (that is, with Christ as our righteousness -- something we can bank on) and "subjectively" (that is, as it says in Rom 12 as one example, transformed by the renewing our minds rather than being conformed to this world -- something to show for it).
There's a good bit of controversy involved in the federeal vision, but I can't see why contending over something that people of good faith and acting in good faith ought to agree on [should be part of that]. The harmony of Paul and James ought to be something which, to paraphrase Tim Enloe, we do not hand out merciless beatings over.
Or about which we end our sentences with prepositions.
To which the Enloe in question responded:
It's not the harmony of James and Paul that the "merciless beatings" are being handed out over. It's whether God is allowed to do things through matter without some of His more perfectionistic children concluding that that is "works" in a sense that violates the Disembodied Propositional Principle of Sola Fide, without which there is no Gospel (TM, 1517, 1646, 1689) at all, and therefore no Visible Church. After all, we don't want to run around proclaiming that "just some sign" involving ultimately irrelevant physical water has any kind of validity outside of personal internal subjective conditions making it so. For then we wouldn't be able to be incurable Baptists, but would have to be orthodox catholic Reformational Christians instead. And then the sky would fall along with the Church.Sheesh! As if THAT'S what I was talking about!
See: my point was that it seems a little odd to bother with an "argument" (such as it is) from John Robbins that is itself somewhat saucer-eyed. I think Pastor Wilson made a keen point that it is wholly reformational to read Paul and James as in-harmony, and that people who want to take that and turn it into some kind of scrapping of the Solas are, to one degree or another, loopy.
I'm not sure whether Tim thinks about our conversations when we aren't directly interacting, but I do. I'm wondering right now, given his hoopty-do over whether "God is allowed to do things", if he has considered that God is actually "allowed" to do the things which He says He will do. You know: maybe Baptism does do something -- in the context that it is Baptism as defined, say, as "an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ".
I'm just saying that this explanation is at least as plausible as the AA explanation which says the work prior to faith has any meaning.