Reflections on the Lectionary: James 2:1-17
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Reflections on the Lectionary: James 2:1-17
(September 6, 2009)

On Faith and Works

This passage includes, "What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed, and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead."
Many people seem to hold that merely confessing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savoir is the key to salvation and eternal bliss. If this were the case, only a fool would reject such an easy ticket to paradise. As James makes clearer, those who claim to have faith but don't show compassion and mercy don't really have faith at all. Those with genuine faith are inspired to address the needs of the world. Indeed, Jesus prayed for God's will to be done "on earth as in heaven," and he repeatedly ministered to those in need.
There are many ways our works can manifest our faith, and I think a very important one is our choice of what to eat. Because of modern animal agriculture's harmfulness to God's animals, God's earth, and the world's poor and hungry people, our food choices have profound implications. Currently, most Christians prefer to indulge their taste preferences than to eat in a way that is mindful of God's Creation, and, in this respect, they manifest "faith" without works.
Does salvation ultimately depend on diet? I am convinced that the Bible's teachings point to a plant-based diet for Christians today, but I don't think the Bible categorically condemns the consumption of any particular foods. Though it appears that a person's state of salvation cannot be ascertained merely by observing a person's eating habits, it is not my role to determine whether or not other people are saved. My charge as a Christian is to live faithfully, which calls me to a plant-based diet as well as a host of other choices aimed at manifesting the love, compassion, and mercy of Jesus Christ.

Go on to: Reflections on the Lectionary: Mark 8:27-38
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