Paul vs. James

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 02 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

What an excellent little book with a great title!  It confidently tackles a frequently troubling apparent theological dichotomy head-on but in layman’s terms, which is the important part.  

This is an area where many who consider themselves following the Christian faith may find that they are confused by teachings based on St. Paul’s writings, stating we are saved by faith and not by works, contradicting James who apparently states the opposite.  There is much to understand here.

Much of the book deals with the background to both Paul and James and the context in which they find themselves when writing the letters that have come to be included in the bible and deals with why they make apparently somewhat contradictory statements.  The author has a real knack of getting to the heart of the matter and simplifying the arguments without stripping them of their meaning.  And you may not be surprised to learn that the author makes a case for the agreement between Paul and James but this is done thoughtfully, convincingly and portrays a genuine understanding of the problem.

The book does become a little more complex and challenging (and possibly almost controversial) towards the end, but it has earned it by then and in fact it is important that it does this to prevent the book being overly simplistic or trite. 

This may quite certainly be a book written for Christians but it is engaging and contains enough history and points of interest that those outside the faith may also find it a genuinely interesting read.  Excellent.
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ARC FROM NET GALLEY

A short great book that does away with the silliness of any two camps when it comes to these two great men of scripture.  Detailed enough to add to your insights but short enough not to be intimidated to start.  Great Bible work here,.
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Paul vs. James – By Chris Bruno

In life, there is always that one thing that sticks upon you and your reputation before the eyes of others in spite of many other things you might have done or say. The same is true to most biblical characters. 

In his new book Paul vs. James, the author is bringing to the front of what some people see as contradictions by two of the leading pillars of the early church in regards to what they are saying in regards to faith and salvation, and thus the author wants us to see that actually Paul and James weren’t opposed to each other as to their understanding of justification, but rather in the same camp as we read their statements in their contexts, so that us at the end of the day we may see the clear unity of the biblical teaching, for it is at stake.
In this book, the author, Chris Bruno, begins by a look of their early lives and influences, how they were saved, and how their ministries interacted. In part two, he dispenses the issue at hand regarding justification of Abraham and how James and Paul used it in their letters in their context and thus helping us the unity of thought. With this, the author then shows us how this legacy of the understanding of these viewpoints of justification by Paul and James has influenced the church over the centuries, and then finally finishes off as to how faith and works live in our everyday spiritual lives.

This is a great book, though short, and of which I highly recommend you to pick it up and read.
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This book really lays out the reasons why we ought not view Paul and James as at odds with each other. Paul's message of grace doesn't leave us so free as to sin without impunity and James' message of the necessity of works doesn't exclude grace but show grace at work. It's not a battle of the two men, but a joint message.
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This is pretty basic, and really most of the book is irrelevant to the topic. The only part that is relevant is the last part of the book, which is helpful to understand that Paul and James weren't speaking against each other.
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I enjoyed the premise of the book - balancing works and faith so that legalism and error do not take over, but there are a great many spelling errors that need to be corrected!
James is introduced as Jesus’ brother, who did not believe his brother Jesus was the Messiah until after His death. He then gradually became a leader of the church in Jerusalem. James spoke of the Law as being royal, in liberty and perfect. James calls believers to live a life of obedience because God’s Law was made perfect by Jesus and the law of liberty that belongs to everyone set free from their sin by Jesus.
Paul’s early life is mentioned, along with his studies in with Gamaliel, which were more rigorous than todays’ scholars as Paul would probably have memorized most of the Old Testament. Paul rigorously persecuted believers until his life-changing conversion outside of Damascus.
In the early years of the church, the church was Jewish and the customs of circumcision and keeping the Law were very important, (they still are in the Messianic community)but as Gentiles joined the church, they were not required to be circumcised or to keep the whole Law, this was a revolutionary concept!
Paul, James, Peter, and John all agreed “in the gospel mission—we are united by faith alone to Christ for forgiveness of sin and restoration of our relationship with the creator God—and they all agreed that part of their mission was to care for the poor.”
Abrahams’ life and faith are also discussed, Abraham believed that God would keep His promises and that Abraham was justified by faith and not in works.
James points out that Abraham’s faith would be the way in which he received right standing with God and that even the nations would be blessed through Abraham.
You will have to read the rest of the book to understand the differences between faith and works and how they compliment each other.
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