It appears a clarification is needed concerning a post I wrote recently on works-righteousness.Based on a couple emails, I think people were drawing the conclusion that I’m opposed to a “saved by faith” theology. Not to make those people feel bad, but I believe that this is an example of something pretty common in Christianity:i) Someone says something nettling to the theological scaffolding of evangelicalism.ii) Evangelicals jump to conclusions based on whatever is said.iii) They reject those conclusions as untenable, hence allowing them to ignore what was originally said rather than grapple with its merits.In this case all I was pointing out was that the term “works-righteousness” is ill-conceived and has no really valid meaning. It is rather applied like a scarlet letter to a wide variety of thoughts evangelicals wish to denounce.
I most certainly hold that we are justified by grace and saved by faith…the question is what do those phrases mean? Here is where our 20th century Western perspective on the world really leaves Christianity prone to misinterpretation. Since the New Testament was written by 1st century Jews, we have to ask ourselves what those words would mean in the context and the lexicon of their Jewish writers. Rather than pick definitions that are line with the theology that makes sense to us or satisfies our desires or works within some extra-biblical natural theology we dream up, we have to get down into scripture and ask what the terms mean to the Jews who wrote them… taking into particular consideration the prophecies that described the Christ and His work.