Chris Bruno is assistant professor of New Testament and Greek at Bethlehem College and Seminary. His newest book comes to us from Moody Publishers, Paul vs. James: What We’ve Been Missing in the Faith and Works Debate (July 2019). This is a user-friendly introduction to the white-hot topic of faith and works from a Protestant point of view.
Bruno begins with a sketch of the lives of both James and Paul and discusses their mutual ministry to churches. The next three chapters are devoted to Gen. 15:6, James 2:14-26, and Gal. 3 and 4 respectively. The final part of the book tackles some of the theological aspects of the debate and the ramifications of the issue as it touches on preaching, teaching, and how it affects real life.
Bruno is decidedly Protestant on the issue as he himself states, “I’m still convinced that the doctrine of imputation that was clarified in the Reformation is the most helpful way to summarize what Paul in particular is teaching” (111). As for the Roman Catholic view, Bruno is clear: “Both James and Paul would wholeheartedly disagree . . .” (113). Having said all that, he does affirm, “We will not be saved apart from our works of love” (113). This is because a genuine faith will necessarily produce good works, but these works do not play a role in our justification. In sum, “While James is arguing against phony faith, Paul is arguing against phony works that are rooted in a failure to see that faith is enough” (105).
I enjoyed this book but found myself wishing he had interacted with another Protestant on this issue, Matthew Bates’ book Salvation by Allegiance Alone (Baker Academic, 2017).