“Faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” (2:17 NLT)
The “Letter from James” causes most Christians to squirm.
Mainline Protestant Christians
Their trademark is the (minimum) 20-minute sermon. Think of it as Christianity’s equivalent of a Fidel Castro speech.
“Good deed” usually means dinner together in the church’s social hall.
Mainline Protestants, you can say “I’m saved by faith alone” as much as you want, but according to James, smugly sitting on your butts is not a path to salvation.
They like to bother total strangers by “sharing” the Word of God.
Their “good deeds” usually have a string attached. Although Evangelical Christians may, for example, offer English lessons to immigrants or in foreign countries, the students are always subjected to preaching.
I once stood next to an Evangelical Christian at a public urinal. He felt obliged to “share” the Word of God with me. It was like “I can’t even pee without spouting my message”.
Evangelical Christians–you may deceive yourselves, but do you think St. Peter at the gates to Heaven will fail to see your ear-bangings disguised as “good deeds”?
Although the Catholic Church has a lot of problems, it remains strong after more than 2000 years, so they must be doing something right. Let’s look . . . .
In Mass, the priest offers a “homily”, which means “a sermon, but for a short, pleasant length of time”.
Catholics are involved in a huge variety of “good deeds”. Helping the homeless. Helping poor families (in America and abroad). Building and staffing youth recreation centers. Building and staffing hospitals in impoverished countries. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Without preaching! People know that these Catholics are good Christians by their good deeds alone.