Johson's 400 pound Gorilla
Phil Johnson claims to view our FG challenges as not serious, and that that is his motivation for not allowing a full give and take on his blog. I don't think that deserves much comment, but it is absurd how his repeated announcements that he would respond to any challenge as long as it was over on Pulpit petered out~~vividly demonstrating how non-serious he himself is.
I challenged him on James and his response at first was expansive. He didn't dive into the specifics but talked broadly of James and the commentary tradition. Phil ended his remarks with this statement:
If we’re going to spend time debating this, can we at least deal with the big-picture issues first?
So, we had a few rounds discussing his view of the big picture problems he detects in FG take on James. (semi-pelagian, Hodges insincere motivation in his interpretation of James, and so on) Since he was on vacation I went ahead and posted my own big picture view of James during what I thought was a lull. But it turned out he had disappeared for good. No moving on to the diatribe. No comment on the analogies of faith/works, body/spirit. Phil just disappears. While I was naively checking for his return after a vacation and a trip to Mexico City, he opened up the 400 comment "window" on his own blog. Hilarious.
When I came across Rose's nudge (thanks, Rosie) the comments had exploded to the mid-300's so I quickly slipped in the issues on the demons remark and the analogies, writing:
Phil, you switched your offer. I was waiting for you to finish on James over at Pulpit.
In the NT period, the format of the diatribe (where an imaginary countering voice temporarily entered a prepared discourse) was rather strict for obvious reasons. That is, the listener of the speech had to be confident as to when the main voice reentered the discourse after the "objector's" statements. The main speaker's "re-entry" statement was therefore (1) always sharp and (2) often included a direct address. (Please see 1 Cor 15:35-36 and Romans 9:19-20.) This format proves that the demons remark was part of what was being mocked by the Apostle James. Therefore, the demons remark should never be quoted by you or your theological teammates because it is not what James himself was exhorting. He was mocking it.
Since these spaces are filling up, I will continue with your 400 spots in mind.
The analogy that closes the section in James 2 on works and faith is a comparison of two pairs. If I were comparing faith and works to a spirit and a body, I would compare the visible and more tangible things, works to body, and also compare faith to spirit, since these are hidden things. But, Phil, James is linking a body with faith. And he is observing the similarities between a spirit and works. For James, works are needed because they animate faith. This supports the idea that the faith in question is a faith in the here and now power of God which easily becomes a platitude-heavy dead-orthodoxy, far better than it supports the idea that it is saving faith that is the topic at hand.
Famous blogger Phil Johnson's serious reply:
I'm not expert in ancient literature, but the problem with your statement is that I cannot find a single credible Bible scholar who agrees with Zane Hodges about that. And I can cite thousands who agree with the historic understanding of the text. Hodges argument looks to me like the very thinnest nearly-invisible gossamer strand—so thin that an intense look at it still doesn't make clear if it's real or an illusion. Yet he's trying to use it to hold up his entire theology. If that's the best no-lordship doctrine has, it would take a fool to abandon the historic understanding of James in favor of Hodges' view—especially when Hodges himself virtually acknowledges that no one in the history of the church has ever understood James that way before.
Apparently, he's a smoke and mirrors kind of a guy, intent on protecting his lambs from the Scriptures.