James Hazelwood, bishop of the New England Synod — in his chapter on service quotes theologian and futurist Len Sweet … “… his point is that through the ages, different parts of the Old and New testaments have particular power and resonance. The 16th century saw the book of Romans; in our time it just might be the book of James …

Blogger Louis “What Did Martin Luther Mean When He Called the Book of James a ‘Real Strawy Epistle’?Baker Deep End Blog Baker Book House of Grand Rapids, Mich.

“In sum, St. John’s Gospel and his first epistle; St. Paul’s letters, especially the ones to the Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians; and St. Peter’s first epistle are all books that show you Christ, and they all teach which is necessary and salutary for you to know, even if you do not see or hear any other book or teaching. It is for this reason that James’s epistle is in comparison a real strawy epistle, for it has no evangelical character about it.”

Quotes Timothy J. Wengert’s Reading the Bible with Martin Luther  

Third, he used the word ‘straw’ not as some sort of strange German insult but as an echo of Paul’s picture in 1 Corinthians 3:12 about building on the foundation of Christ with either straw or gold and precious stones. James builds on the foundation all right, but he uses only straw, in contrast to the gold standard of John, Paul, and Peter.” 

Craig R. Koester, Professor and Asher O. and Carrie Nasby Chair of New Testament
Luther Seminary https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=382

More important [than authorship] is the basic perspective the author brings to Christian proclamation. The driving questions concern the shape of Christian life. …

The author is aware that people sometimes confine their understanding of faith to a simple series of truth claims–something limited to their heads or their words. For James, this is inadequate. Throughout this letter, the faith that counts is the faith that is actually operative in a person’s life. People might say they believe one thing and yet do something completely different. Therefore, James will insist that true faith is whatever is actually operative in your life. Faith that is not active is not faith at all. And in this, James agrees with both Paul (Galatians 5:6) and Luther.

xxx

James Hazelwood, bishop of the New England Synod — in his chapter on service

quotes theologian and futurist Len Sweet … “… his point is that through the ages, different parts of the Old and New testaments have particular power and resonance. The 16th century saw the book of Romans; in our time it just might be the book of James …

2:14-17

Martin Luther believed that the Book of James, along with the book of Revelation, contributed to an overemphasis on doing good, which detracted from Luther’s message of Grace. But that was his time, and the needed corrective he provide in the 16th century critiqued the unsustainable practice of salvation by good works. In our era, we ask a different question. We wonder about more earthly matters. How can we make a difference? Is our lifestyle sustainable for the planet? Ehat is my purpose here? These questions don’t negate the power of grace; instead they beg the follow-up question: What does this grace mean, for the here and now, not j=just the hereafter?” American religious scholar Martin Mary summarizes it best: “It’s not what you gotta do; it’s what you get to do.” (138-39)

James Hazelwood, bishop of the New England Synod — in his chapter on service

Works Cited

James Hazelwood,

Craig R. Koester, Commentary on James 1:17-27.” Working Preacher, Aug. 30, 2009 [Luther Theological Seminary, St. Paul] https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=382

Louis, “What Did Martin Luther Mean When He Called the Book of James a ‘Real Strawy Epistle’?” Baker Deep End Blog, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Mich., Oct. 23, 2013 https://bbhchurchconnection.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/what-did-martin-luther-mean-when-he-called-the-book-of-james-a-real-strawy-epistle/

3 thoughts on “D R A F T / Theology? Shmeology. Why the Book of James isn’t an ‘epistle of straw’ — notes & quotes

    1. As Lutherans, we tend to get unbalanced in the other direction. Luther was all about justification by faith, (after all he was an Augustinian before he kicked over the traces, and he followed Augustine), so his followers — to this day — worry about “works righteousness.” But Luther made it clear (well, maybe not *too* clear) that both faith and works were always part of the package. I plan to go back to these notes and thread that needle, but I’m still thinking it through.

      Liked by 1 person

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