What Missionaries Need to Know About the Faith and Works Debate

Chris Bruno explains why Paul and James’ different language on justification has more to do with contextualization than disagreement.

What Missionaries Need to Know About the Faith and Works Debate: Chris Bruno on Justification and the Missiology of Paul and James

For New Testament students, fewer topics are more frequently studied and debated than the relationship between faith and works in the book of James and the letters of Paul. The question “how are we justified?” isn’t just a question asked in churches and seminaries—it’s also a vital question that relates to how we do missions. Could it be that Paul and James emphasize different truths, not because of doctrinal differences, but because they’re thinking like missionaries and contextualizing for their audience?

In this interview, Chris Bruno (Ph.D., Wheaton) returns to discuss his latest book, Paul Vs. James: What We’ve Been Missing in the Faith and Works Debate (Moody, 2019). Chris serves as assistant professor of New Testament and Greek at Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis. He previously taught Bible and theology at Cedarville University and Northland International University and served as a pastor at Harbor Church in Honolulu, Hawaii. Chris and his wife, Katie, have four sons. Follow Chris on Twitter and listen to our previous episode with him on biblical theology.

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Alex Kocman & Scott Dunford

Alex Kocman is the Director of Communications and Engagement for ABWE. He serves as general editor for Message Magazine and co-hosts The Missions Podcast. After earning his M.A. in Communication and B.S. in Biblical Studies, he served as an online apologetics instructor with Liberty University and a youth pastor in Pennsylvania, where he now resides with his wife and three children. Read his blog or follow him on X/Twitter.

Scott Dunford is the pastor of Western Hills Church in San Mateo, Calif. Previously, Scott served as Vice President of Mobilization and Communications for ABWE and as a missionary in East Asia. Scott graduated from Northland International University (B.A. in Pastoral Studies), earned his M.A. in biblical studies from Central Baptist Theological Seminary, his M.B.A. from Cornerstone University, and is currently enrolled in Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s D.Min. program with an emphasis on missions.