Reference was made at yesterday’s Watchtower Study about how “For centuries, the relationship between faith and works has been hotly debated in Christendom.” Some insist it is saved by faith, and some insist by works. So the Study explored that topic, and it is a big ‘Duh.’ A child can understand it. Barely any ‘education’ at all is required. It is different ‘works’ in different contexts that Paul and James refer to.
So you begin to wonder why the learned one haven’t been able to settle it “for centuries.” Is it that “debate” is their method of choice, as though the way to settle anything is through triumph of the intellect? One brother pointed to a faulty silver lining in that approach; it enables professional debaters to say that it’s okay never to reach resolution because the Bible writers themselves couldn’t agree! However, said that Watchtower (paragraph 9): “Jehovah inspired both Paul and James to write what they did. (2 Tim. 3:16) So there must be a simple way to harmonize their statements. There is—by considering their writings in context”—and, without fuss, they did it.
Or is it that God blesses those who put obedience first? As in, ‘obedient ones are blessed with understanding, but the ‘great thinkers’ never figure it out?’ As in, “Look! To obey is better than a sacrifice,” (1 Samuel 15:22) in this case, the ‘sacrifice’ of brainpower. As in, ‘You don’t have to know everything, but act upon what you do know.’
I suspect that’s why the scholars will never be running the show at JW Central. It’s too easy for scholars to take refuge in their scholarship and be unconcerned that no practical application is ever made of it. Said Jesus to the learned of his day: “How can you believe, when you are accepting glory from one another and you are not seeking the glory that is from the only God?” (John 5:44) The first activity interferes with the second—it is a trap scholars can easily fall into. Run with what you have, instead. If you don’t have everything, as you never will, figure it out on the fly.
Or is it some other factor? Is it that the faith people are such because they don’t want to do any works? Or the works people are such because they don’t have much faith, but do like to shine before others? At any rate, it is very strange that the relationship between faith and works can be cleared up in a single Study at the Kingdom Hall (it was just a refresher study anyway, not anything new) whereas the theologians have debated it “for centuries.”
Some of these points came up in field service the day before. ‘Here you are going door-to-door,’ one evangelical man said to us, ‘but don’t you know that salvation is by faith and not by works?’ ‘Yeah, everyone knows that,’ I replied. None of Jehovah’s Witnesses think they’re ‘earning’ anything. It’s just a matter of showing appreciation for a priceless gift. If you receive such a gift and it makes no change whatsoever in your life afterwards, one might justifiably wonder just how much you really do appreciate it.
This fellow also went on and on about the pastor of his church. The pastor will quote this or that from the Bible and then you should not just take his word for it, he would say, but you should check it. ‘Yeah, we’re trying to make all our people pastors,’ is what I would have said had I thought of it in time—our best lines always occur to us too late. Of course, not all our people are pastors—we too have plenty of weak or immature Christians—but the Witness organization doesn’t cater to them by appointing just a single person to serve as the ‘pastor.’ There’s no reason everyone can’t attain to the role. Besides, a pastor is always at risk that his special qualifications and background doesn’t go to his head. Sometimes it does.
****** The bookstore