The Book of James — An Introduction

First, let me offer a disclaimer. There is little doubt I’ll not cover all the ins and outs of this letter regarding questions, concerns, and even controversies. Therefore it’s important for you to do some individual study in order to catch the full scope of the background and import of James’ message.

Even though some in history have referred to James as an “epistle of straw” (Martin Luther), if we look closely, it’s clear there are weighty matters being discussed in this short epistle. Continue reading

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A Little “dipsychos” Goes a Long Way

I’ve been doing a short study on the book of James. If you’ve not spent time in that book, it’s not only a wonderful book, it’s practical and challenging. Perhaps one of the most oft quoted passages in the book of James comes in the first chapter and deals with doubt or double-mindedness..dipsychos.

One of the sources for my study made a comment about James 1:5-8 and the idea of double-mindedness that made me stop and think a good bit. I’ll share that comment in a bit, but first let’s take a quick looks at the word double-minded.

The idea of double-minded, dipsychos, is a word that’s only used in James and then only twice. There are no real corollaries in the Greek translation of the OT except perhaps Psalm 12:2 where the Psalmist talks of a double-heart.  James, the brother of Jesus and leader of the church in Jerusalem, uses the word in contrast to faith.  In other words, one who expresses faith cannot be double-minded.

Faith here is not belief in God but the idea of actually trusting God to do what he says. To do what’s right for those who do believe in him. It comes in the context of asking for wisdom. “If any of you is lacking wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. BUT ask in faith, never doubting, for…the doubter (literally ‘the man’v.7) being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord (vv. 5-8 NRSV).”

In this context E. Tod Twist makes this observation about the people James is addressing; “They struggle with a conflict of loyalties: God and his direction versus self and personal desires.”  Now that my friend, should start the wheels turning.

What exactly is God’s direction? How, and more so, why do I (self), or my personal desires, send up a flag of conflict?  Doesn’t God want to grant me the desires of my heart?  If I move to do the right thing for the right reasons how could that be a conflict of loyalties?  Are the questions I have about God, the Bible, and perhaps the Christian life, as some people describe it, evidence of a conflict of loyalties?   Of double-mindedness?

As if that’s not enough, what prompted this idea of “wisdom”?  Why would I want to ask for wisdom? It seems, based on the context, wisdom has to do with the testing of my faith, endurance, and the idea of “lacking in nothing” (vv. 2-4).

As in nearly every instance the key to putting some of these pieces together is context. In this rather short epistle, the context is not so much other teachings; we haven’t gotten that far in to the letter. Rather, it deals with who the recipients of the letter were. Once we get a handle on that then we can begin to see how and why James starts off with such a deep and challenging thought.

And we’ll do just that in the next post.

HAPPY EASTER!         HE IS RISEN!!!!!

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Thoughts on Genesis 1

I plan to start a series on the Book of James but before I do I thought I’d share this post on Genesis 1.  I read a good deal about Genesis and other OT books and enjoy that genre. This post is insightful and from my perspective, beneficial. It may not be something you agree with, but that’s okay. If you take the time to read it thoughtfully that’s all that matters.  There are times when we need to think outside the box – typical Evangelical conservatism.  Failing to allow a voice to be heard that may be different from ours causes stagnation. Opening our minds to hear a different voice allows us to stretch a bit and that’s always a good thing.  Hope you enjoy the post.        The author of the primary piece is a professor of science and chemistry and has a regular blog here.         [Posts are also echoed on the Jesus Creed blog (see link at the end of the post).]

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Reading Between the Lines

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”
― Lewis CarrollThrough the Looking Glass Continue reading

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Personal and Productive

I love it when my 89 year young mother decides to start reading the Bible. She’s had some interest for a while now and has been going to church regularly with some friends of hers but that old Rainbow Girls edition of the KJV just wasn’t cutting it when it came time to read the Bible. “I just don’t understand it” she would say. So we got her a New Living Translation, which is the one my wife uses. It’s made all the difference. Continue reading

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