Topic 10 The development of the basic beliefs of Christianity: Paul’s and James’ Perspectives of Salvation



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Activity One


Enquiry Question

Generic Skills

Values and Attitudes

Why did James propose that work is an integral part of salvation?

Communication skills, collaboration skills,

problem solving skills



Sanctity of life, rationality


Teaching Steps

Step 1: Teacher does warm-up exercise with students and let them understand the relationship between faith and work.

    • Teacher raises the question:

  1. Does faith simply mean believing in the heart, and no concrete work is needed?

    • Teacher shows PowerPoint 1 (Walking on the Tightrope) and lets students discuss what faith is. The story is as followed:




A famous circus performer performed on the tightrope which was 20 metres long. He performed various acrobatics on the rope suspended in the air, 20 feet away from the ground below. The most spectacular was that he carried a person on his back and walked from one end of the tightrope to the other. Even though the circus had all the safety precautions, the audience was still in cold sweat. The performance was in great success, everyone was applauding. They all said to one another, ‘His tightrope walking was so perfect! I believe that his performance will always be successful. I have 100% faith in him.’
After the performance, the performer returned to the ground and challenged the audience, ‘Dear guests, who is willing to perform with me and let me carry you on my back as I walk across the tightrope?’ Everybody was astonished yet terrified. Nobody was willing to gamble on his own life. In case the performer slipped and fell off the tightrope, the volunteer would be hurt or even be killed… Though there were safety precautions, how would one know if they were reliable?
Wait a minute! Didn’t the audience just claim that they had a lot of faith in the fabulous skill and experience of the performer? How come they dared not to let the performer carry them on his back while walking across the tightrope now? Wasn’t it ironical and self-contradictory?”

Faith and Work Activity One 3-2




    • Teacher discusses the following questions with students:

  1. If you were among the audience, would you accept the performer’s invitation? Why?

  2. How would you evaluate the audience’s faith in the performer? What was missing in their faith?


Step 2: Teacher summarises:

  • The audience’s faith was limited to mere admiration and recognition towards the performer. They failed to give evidence to their faith.

  • In the first century, Christians once debated about the content of faith and the relationship between faith and work. Let us look at how they described the relationship between faith and work.


Step 3: Teacher carries out “The standpoint of James” activity with students and helps students understand the standpoints of James and his opponents.

  • Teacher reads James 2:24-26 with students. Ask students to form groups and complete the first part of Worksheet 1 (James and his opponents) by writing down James’ and his opponents’ views on justification (having an appropriate relationship with God). Students need to use their imagination to deducing the standpoint of James’ opponents from the Scriptures.

  • Teacher must state clearly that “justification” is translated into “having an appropriate relationship with God” in today’s Bible in Chinese version.

  • Teacher discusses the questions on the worksheet with students:

  1. James’ standpoint on justification: people can have an appropriate relationship with God by work, not just by faith.

  2. The standpoint of James’ opponents: people can have an appropriate relationship with God by faith alone, and need not to rely on any extrinsic act as aid or support.

  • Teacher invites students to present the results of their discussions.


Step 4: Teacher carries out “James’ justification” activity with students and helps students understand James’ standpoint.

  • Teacher reads James 2:14-26 with students. Ask students to stay in the same groups and complete the second part of Worksheet 1 (James and his opponents).

  • Teacher discusses the questions on worksheet with students:

  1. What was James’ justification? (Faith with work is living faith, faith without work is a dead faith; faith and work are complementary, faith is made perfect

Faith and Work Activity One 3-3
through work. Abraham and Rahab made clear that they had faith and work, and therefore God called them righteous people. People need work to prove their faith. A lot of people believe in God, even demons believe in God as well, but they do not take actions to prove their faith and therefore their faith is meaningless.)

  • Teacher invites students to present their ideas.

  • Teacher discusses with students:

Did James’ justification fully support his standpoint that work is an integral part of people’s salvation?
Step 5: Teacher summarises:

  • James thought that the justification of human beings (having an appropriate relationship with God) should not be based on faith alone, but also on work.

  • James made clear that faith without work meaningless. People need to prove their faith by work, and faith is made perfect through work.

  • James used the examples of Abraham and Rahab to illustrate that faith and work are complementary.

Faith and Work Activity Two 2-1






Activity Two


Enquiry Question

Generic Skills

Values and Attitudes

How did James understand the relationship between faith and work?

Communication skills, critical thinking skills, problem solving skills

Love, rationality, moral patterns


Teaching Steps:

Step 1: Teacher raises questions:

  • The great Protestant reformer Martin Luther exalted the Pauline idea of “justification by faith” (Romans 1:17), and stressed the concept that man is justified by God through faith.

  • In the Book of James, it was written that “man is justified by work”. It contradicted the idea of “justification by faith” advocated by Martin Luther. Hence, Martin Luther claimed that the Book of James was an “epistle of straw” (meaning that its content had no values) and even wanted to remove it from the New Testament canon.

  • James stressed work while Paul stressed faith as the way of justification. Are the two in conflict? Are you willing to defend James?


Step 2: Teacher carries out “The Trial of the Book of James” activity with students. Help students understand the background of James’ proposition that faith and work are complementary.

  • Teacher hands out Appendix 1 (Were James and Paul in conflict?), asks each group to play the role of a defense lawyer and defend the Book of James against the two major accusations listed in Appendix 1, showing that James did not oppose the Pauline idea of justification by faith.

  • Teacher invites a student to read the two accusations against the Book of James listed in Appendix 1. Each group should refer to the tips for defense in Appendix 1 and look for evidence to support the Book of James from James 2:14-26.

  • After hearing the speech by each group, teacher asks all students to be arbitrators and vote whether James opposed or complemented the Pauline idea of justification by faith.

Faith and Work Activity Two 2-2
Step 3: Teacher carries out “The Mission of the Book of James” activity with students. Help students understand that the idea in the Book of James complemented the Pauline idea of justification by faith.

  • Teacher asks students to complete Worksheet 2 (The Mission of James).

  • Teacher discusses the questions on the worksheet with students (Teacher may refer to Teachers’ Reference Material 1 (The views on James and Paul towards faith and work) for reference answers):

  • What was the ground of justification according to James?

  • How did James describe the relationship between faith and work?

  • How did James describe the content of work?

  • Were Paul’s and James’ views on justification in conflict? (no)

  • Did James complement or oppose the Pauline idea of justification by faith? (He complemented the Pauline idea.)

  • Teacher invites students to present the results of discussions.


Step 4: Teacher summarises:

  • When James discussed faith and work, his emphasis was different from Paul’s. Hence, their views were not in conflict.

  • James stressed the differences between the dead faith (faith without work) and the living faith (faith with work). Only faith with work is the kind of faith that can save people.

  • James thought that work (good deeds, charitable work) and faith are complementary. Faith is made perfect through work and both contribute to the salvation of the humankind.

  • James complemented the Pauline idea of justification by faith, helping the Christians of the Early Church understand the significance of good deeds and charitable work in salvation.


Step 5: Teacher distributes Students’ Reference Material 1 (The views of James and Paul towards faith and work), briefly explains it and wraps up the activity.

Faith and Work Activity Three




Activity Three


Enquiry Questions

Generic Skills

Values and Attitudes

What is the impact of James’ view on “integration of faith and work” on Christians in the modern times?

Communication skills, critical thinking skills, problem solving skills

Love, respect for others, moral patterns


Teaching Steps:

Step 1: Teacher raises question:

  • How would you evaluate James’ idea of the integration of faith and work?

  • Is the integration of faith and work difficult?


Step 2: Teacher carries out “Integration of Faith and work” activity with students. Help students understand how the James’ idea has influenced the believers.

  • Teacher shows PowerPoint 2 (Two episodes in the life of Father Nouwen) and helps students learn the two incidents of which Father Nouwen put his faith into practice.

  • Teacher hands out Worksheet 3 (Integration of Faith and Work) and asks each group to name two examples of Father Nouwen manifesting the spirit of the integration of faith and work in the Book of James. Also, ask students to put down the corresponding ideas of James on integration of faith and action.

  • Teacher discusses the questions on the worksheet with students:

  • Was Father Nouwen a man of faith and work?

  • Is it easy to live according to the spirit of the integration of faith and action in the Book of James?

  • Teacher invites students to present the results of discussion.

  • Teacher points out:

  • In Christianity, “work” is considered as being obedient to God’s will in every aspect of life. Hence, “work” is the medium for manifesting our faith.


Step 3: Teacher further discusses with students:

  • How does a life of which faith and work complementing each other look like?

  • How does such a life benefit oneself and others?


Step 4: Teacher summarises:

  • James’ idea on the integration of faith and work has become the standard for a living faith. It has significant influence on Christians of future generations.

  • Father Nouwen had faith and work. He lived out James’ idea of integrating faith and work.

Faith and Work Extended Activities
Extended Activities:


  1. Teacher asks students to look for the following:

  • Political propaganda and slogans of different political parties and politicians.

  • Propaganda and policies of the government, such as Action Blue Sky, Coming to Hong Kong, etc.




  1. Teacher asks students the following questions:

  • What were the ideas behind the propaganda and policies?

  • Were these propaganda and policies been implemented?

  • Did the contents of the propaganda and policies match the results of the implementation?

  • If they had not been implemented, what would the reasons be?

  • Hence, did the government, political parties or politicians have faith in their own plans?




  1. Teacher can invite students to do sharing in the following period.




Faith and Work Appendix 1






Appendix 1: Were James and Paul in conflict?



Tips for Defense


  1. James’ definition of faith

  • Faith and work complement each other.

  • Faith is made perfect through work.




  1. James’ view on work

  • People need good work to manifest their faith.

  • Faith without work is a dead faith.

Faith and Work Teacher’s References Material 1


Material 1: The views of James and Paul towards faith and work





Paul

James (James 2:14-26)

Ground of justification

  • By faith, not by work (the Law).

  1. Not just by faith, also by work at the same time.

The content of faith /

Relationship between faith and work



  • People have to believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that his death and resurrection aimed to save the humankind.

  • The Gospel gives life. The Law brings death.

    1. Faith is shown by good work.

    2. Faith and work are complementary.

    3. Faith without work is dead.

    4. Faith is made perfect through work.

The content of work

  • Mainly means practicing the Jewish laws such as circumcision.

  • Faith will produce corresponding work, e.g. faith will produce love.

    1. Good deeds, charitable work

Conclusion



  • When James discussed faith and work, his emphasis was different from Paul’s. Hence, he is not counted as opposing Paul.

  • James stressed the differences between the dead faith (faith without work) and the living faith (faith with work). Only faith with work is the faith that can save.

  • James thought that work (good deeds, charitable work) and faith are complementary, and he stressed the role of work in faith and salvation.

  • James complemented the Pauline idea of justification by faith, helping the Christians of Early Church understand the significance of good deeds or charitable work in salvation.

Faith and Work Worksheet 1
Worksheet 1: James and his opponents

  1. With reference to James 2:24-26, write down James’ views on justification as well as his opponents’.





  1. With reference to James’ justification, which of the following are the reasons for James to hold his standpoint? Put a  in the □.

The justification for James’ standpoint


  • Faith is the most important. Work is not important at all.

  • Only faith with work is living faith. Faith without work is dead faith.

  • To accept that God has sent Jesus to die for the world.

  • Faith is perfect even without work.

  • Faith and work are complementary. Faith is made perfect through work.

  • The examples of Abraham and Rahab proved that, just by believing in God was enough to be called righteous people.

  • The examples of Abraham and Rahab proved that they had faith and work, and therefore God called them righteous people.

  • People need work to prove their faith.

  • A lot of people believe in God, even the demons do. But they have no work to prove their faith, and therefore their faith is meaningless.

  • A lot of people believe in God. It is good as long as they are willing to believe and their faith is already perfect.

Faith and Work Worksheet 2






Worksheet 2: The mission of James


  1. Refer to James 2:24-26 and complete the following table.







Paul

JamesJames 2:14-26

Ground of justification

  • By faith, not by work (the Law).






The content of faith /

Relationship between faith and work



  • People have to believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that his death and resurrection aimed to save the humankind.

  • The Gospel gives life. The Law brings death.









The content of work

  • Mainly means practicing the Jewish laws such as circumcision.

  • Faith will produce corresponding work, e.g. faith will produce love.






  1. Based on the table above, circle the correct answers in the following two statements and briefly explain your answers.

  1. There were (conflicts/no conflict) between Paul’s and James’ views on justification.








  1. James (complemented/opposed) the Pauline idea of justification by faith.





Faith and Work Worksheet 3


Worksheet 3: Integration of Faith and Work


  1. Try to complete the following table.




Examples of Nouwen manifesting the spirit of the integration of faith and work in the Book of James

Corresponding ideas of James on the integration of faith and work

(James 2:14-26)















  1. Was Nouwen a man of “faith and work”? Is it easy to live according to the spirit of the “integration of faith and work” in the Book of James?










Faith and Work Students’ References Material 1




Material 1: The views of James and Paul towards faith and work





Paul

James (James 2:14-26)

Ground of justification

  • By faith, not by work (the Law).

  1. Not just by faith, also by work at the same time.

The content of faith /

Relationship between faith and work



  • People have to believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that his death and resurrection aimed to save the humankind.

  • The Gospel gives life. The Law brings death.

    1. Faith is shown by good work.

    2. Faith and work are complementary.

    3. Faith without work is dead.

    4. Faith is made perfect through work.

The content of work

  • Mainly means practicing the Jewish laws such as circumcision.

  • Faith will produce corresponding work, e.g. faith will produce love.

    1. Good deeds, charitable work

Conclusion



  • When James discussed faith and work, his emphasis was different from Paul’s. Hence, he is not counted as opposing Paul.

  • James stressed the differences between the dead faith (faith without work) and the living faith (faith with work). Only faith with work is the faith that can save.

  • James thought that work (good deeds, charitable work) and faith are complementary, and he stressed the role of work in faith and salvation.

  • James complemented the Pauline idea of justification by faith, helping the Christians of Early Church understand the significance of good deeds or charitable work in salvation.

Reference:



http://bible.fhl.net/bible_teach/apo/la-4.htm

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