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Document Details :
Title: The Way of Perfection - Spirituality in the Letter of James
Author(s): WELZEN, Huub
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 13 Date: 2003
The letter of James is a spiritual text, characterized by a spirituality of two ways that is also present in the Jewish wisdom tradition and the synoptic Jesus. These two ways are the way of perfection and the way that leads to death. The perspective in which both ways are set necessitates the spiritual work of discernment, that takes place through trial (testing). Trial may be considered a pivotal point in discernment, as it reveals whether someone’s acts originate in his relationship with God or in selfishness. The fruit of trial is either perseverance (endurance), which manifests itself in good works, or sin. The way in which the letter of James speaks about works and sin demonstrates that the spirituality concerned is a practical spirituality.
The orientation to perfection means an orientation to the end and, consequently, an eschatological spirituality. From the perspective of the end, perfection has its effect on everything that precedes the end: the way, the works, the beginning and the person who goes the way. Perfection has its origin in God. The orientation to divine perfection also has its consequences for the spiritual attitude towards works. Due to the fundamental unattainability of divine perfection, doing good works and persevering have become selfless and are no longer self-seeking. The way of perfection leads to a life that does not count itself.