Answering The Atheist
April 18, 2004 / Volume 4, Issue 16
THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Was Rahab saved by faith (Hebrews 11:31) or by works (James 2:25)? Is there a contradiction?
perceived contradiction comes from the questioner believing that faith
and works are contradictory. Of course, the questioner is not the only
one to believe such, many in the religious world cannot reconcile the
thought that both faith and works are needed to be saved.
Was she saved by faith? Absolutely. The Hebrew writer
expressly says “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who
did not believe...” Might I point out to the reader, the writer
references her works in the latter portion of the verse. Notice,
“...when she had received the spies with peace.”
In the writing of James, notice the primary question which the
writer asks, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has
faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” (2:14) In answering
this question, it is stated, “...faith, by itself, if it does not have
works, is dead.” (2:17) And again, “...faith without works is dead.”
(2:20) And again, “...a man is justified by works, and not by faith
only.” (2:24) And yet one more time, “...as the body without the spirit
is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (2:26)
Emphasis is made through the text that both faith and works
are necessary. “...Someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have
works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my
faith by my works.” (2:18). Of the relationship between faith and
works, using Abraham as an example, James states, “Do you see that
faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made
Salvation is not a faith OR works issue, but rather a faith
AND works issue. The Hebrew writer is correct in stating that Rahab was
saved by her faith, and James is likewise correct in stating that Rahab
was saved by her works. Both statements are true and do not contradict.
There is no contradiction.
This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible