Jesus Creed

Bible.jpgJames reveals an early, if not the earliest, early Christian (post Jesus) understanding of “new birth” and “spiritual formation.” Notice how James thinks the community is to be formed spiritually:

“humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (1:21).

Notice that James urges that the messianists develop a disposition toward God’s word: humility and receptivity and vulnerability. It might be called “let it” disposition: let it do what it can do by letting it do what it can do.

Second, this “word” is implanted: here we have an early indication of what became the doctrine of the Spirit or the Spirit-in-Word doctrine. The word that has been implanted — look at 1:18 — is a word that is sitting there and ready to come to an active life of transformation.

Third, this “word” is connected in James to “law” (logos and nomos): cf. 1:22, 25. James’ piety is Torah observance.

Finally, this implanted word is capable of saving the person’s soul. I’m nervous about words like this because of a history of dualism and even gnosticism, but James belongs to the ancient Jewish world where humans were seen from various angles, one of which was their life-principle angle: the soul. James here is concerned with the whole life-principle of humans being saved. In other words, it is a holism instead of a dualism.

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