Nothing Wavering

Every so often I like to drop in and chat with you Mormons about your understanding of my epistle. There’s always been a great deal of interest in this passage:

James 1:2-8 2 Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. 6 But he should ask in faith, nothing wavering, for the one who wavers is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.

You’re supposed to be interested in becoming perfect in the sense of being complete or whole. Good idea, no? This means that you view Life’s Little Issues as the opportunity for joy. As a believer who’s doing everything else right, the thing you really need and that you might be short on is the wisdom to do this. And in the Wisdom Tradition, God is the source of wisdom. Lucky for you that God is identified precisely as the One who Gives, isn’t it?

Now here’s a key point. You know that business about “nothing wavering?” It means that because God is the One who Gives, you can ask with perfect confidence that he will respond. It doesn’t mean that you have all the answers because, remember, you’re short on wisdom. Smarts, you know, the ability to deal properly with the things that challenge and try us, to see them as a source of “joy.”

Now the thing is, I’ve also defined the nature of this wisdom for you. Yup. But because I put it a few chapters away, and because your GD is only forty minutes long, and because you do so need to get to the bottom of how many polygamous marriages can be solemnized on the head of pin in that forty minutes, you almost never find it. Anyway, here you go:

James 3:13-18 13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show his works by a good life in wisdom’s meekness.

Wisdom’s meekness? That’s the approach to life that admits you don’t have all the answers and that God does. Trust in God and all that.

14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 Wisdom of this kind does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.

We Sages sometimes can’t quite make up our mind about things but on one point we tend to be quite clear. Folks who work in a wisdom tradition that comes from below find themselves engaged in lots of strife. And there’s a clear contrast with the other kind of wisdom:

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. 18 And the fruit that is righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.

So now…if you would like to recognize folks who have actually managed to get close to the “nothing wavering” standard and so receive the wisdom from above, you’ll see a way of life characterized by peace and peacemaking. It is this wisdom that enables them to create and achieve relationships that are peaceful precisely in those situations that invite conflict.

Nothing Wavering. Indeed.

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62 Comments

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62 responses to “Nothing Wavering

  1. Mark IV

    This interpretation of scripture has never been given in my ward. Therefore it is neither mainstream nor orthodox. I fear it.

  2. jamesbarjoseph

    Dude, I AM THE BROTHER OF JESUS!!! You don’t get anymore mainstream and orthodox than me! If your ward doesn’t have a holo deck so they can do the 1st century Jerusalem experience, I can hardly be responsible for the results.

  3. Mark IV

    I’ve been to Bibleland in Orlando, but I guess I missed the holodeck experience.

    I love you, jamesbarjoseph.

  4. jamesbarjoseph

    I love you, too, Mark IV. And I love everybody that doesn’t react to Life’s Little Issues by responding as if they just sat down forcefully on the pointy end of a wrought iron fencepost and got it stuck, too.

  5. Howard

    “nothing wavering” = you can ask with perfect confidence that he will respond.

    Sure, I agree that following this path will eventually lead to peace and peacemaking.

  6. jamesbarjoseph! I think you may get along with Jeff Holland. He’s a leader in the Mormon church and actually quoted from the third chapter of your epistle in a world conference of the church.

    Thanks for the reminder. Wisdom’s meekness: admitting that I don’t have all the answers but God does. That really does sound wise, since wisdom is first a recognition of ignorance, right?

  7. Sholomo benDawid

    Holdinator,

    What the dickens is your handle supposed to convey?!! I’m supposed to be the wisest man that ever lived and I’m freakin’ clueless here. Throw us a bone, my man!

    Anyway, you’re a little too secular for my tastes. In reality:

    The fear of YHWH is the beginning of knowledge
    but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

    Notice first off that I just used the tetragrammaton as the title for God. So just for the record I am far more orthodox than that heathen imposter Qoheleth, who uses the generic expression “Elohim” in Ecclesiastes.

    This is also important for another reason, though. There is no knowledge apart from the right attitude and relationship with God, and God’s proper covenant title is precisely “YHWH.” That means that the whole wisdom/knowledge complex is radically relational and theocentric and we’re in the subordinate position. As a Sage, I maintain that this wisdom can come through revelation, experience, observation, and reason but its ultimate source is God.

    And yes, we up here think Jeffy is one of the Good Ones. When he comes on, we put up the harps and just do the incense thing so we can all hear better.

  8. Sholomo benDawid

    Freakin’ HTML!! TAlk about things that come from below!!! Anyway, somebody close that “blockquote” tag, will ya?

  9. Whoever Wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews

    “nothing wavering” = you can ask with perfect confidence that he will respond

    Or as I put it:

    Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. 16 So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

  10. I’m feeling a bit passed over here.

  11. jamesbarjoseph

    Judith,

    Did they refuse to post your thoughts on that aggregator? Is it because you only spent three years and four months mourning your husband by living in a tent on your roof and wearing sackcloth and ashes? Is it because as a woman you took some initiative and summoned the city fathers to ask them what in world they were doing, talking about the surrendering the city just because they’d been without water for thirty-four days? Or is it because you uttered about the longest and most theological dense prayer since Sholomo dedicated the temple and women aren’t supposed to do that theological talking stuff?

    Yeah, babe, we understand and we’re cool with women who know their own minds and can “help” others get to the proper wisdom relationship. You just stick around here and tell us how you feel!!!

  12. Caiaphas

    You FPR loonies better listen up!!!

    This is your first and only warning. We here at the Jerusalem temple don’t like unorthodox types in any dispensation and ve haf vays of making our vishes stick…

    Just sayin’s all.

  13. Mm. This thread is quickly becoming one of the most enjoyable I’ve ever read. I think I’ll respectfully back out of the conversation though, since I don’t own a harp and have not died yet.

    Oh, but fearing YHWH is to me the equivalent of recognizing my ignorance as a human.

  14. Er, did Caiaphas just imitate a Nazi accent???

  15. Pingback: Celestial Encounter of the, um, Seventh Kind? « Of Reading and Home Teaching

  16. Hêlēl ben šahar

    Cue the Rolling Stones…

    Please allow me to introduce myself
    I’m a man of wealth and taste
    I’ve been around for a long, long year
    Stole many a man’s soul and faith

    And I was round when Jesus Christ
    Had his moment of doubt and pain
    Made damn sure that Pilate
    Washed his hands and sealed his fate

    Pleased to meet you
    Hope you guess my name
    But what’s puzzling you
    Is the nature of my game

    I rode a tank
    Held a general’s rank
    When the blitzkrieg raged
    And the bodies stank

    Pleased to meet you
    Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
    Ah, what’s puzzling you
    Is the nature of my game, oh yeah

    music fades; lights come up a bit

    Judith, honey! Long time no talk. Holofernes sends his regards and says he still remembers the hangover from that night – he says he lost his head over you like no other woman and I think he means it, too.

    Anyway, all the boys down here have obviously been hangin out together for so long that they’ve started to do that male bonding thing and talk like each other. They’re so tight that when we got our copy of Aerosmith Guitar Hero I couldn’t get them to stop long enough to take out the trash.

    Chou, baby, and give that YHWH a pinch on the fanny for me. I don’t really mind that you liked him better than me, right from Day 1. You might not have really been my type, you know?

  17. jamesbarjoseph

    OK, folks, let’s keep it clean and civil…that John C. is a hard man when it comes to the intellectual standards of FPR.

  18. Solomon

    #17–Does that mean I’m not welcome to sing here? Bummer.

  19. B.L. Zebub

    That’s just the problem. You so-called intellectuals have such low so-called standards.

  20. jamesbarjoseph

    F# 18 Shlomo, old man!

    We’re totally into harpers harping on their harps ever since John spent so long in the caves of Patmos that alliteration started to come naturally. So give us the low-down on Heaven’s Top Forty if you’d like…and fill us in how God’s grace can turn even the most unorthodox behaviors to his own purposes, too, will yah?

    And what’s with the name spelling? Unless you’re as confused about your identity as that guy who wrote the Epistle of Paul to Hebrews, your name is SHLOMO BEN DAWID.

  21. My bad.

    As far as who wrote Hebrews, I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. Sorry.

  22. Mark Hoffman

    Well, it wasn’t me. Or was it???? mwahahahahahahahahaha

  23. Peter, James, and John

    #19 B.L. Zebub:

    Comment Deleted by Chris H.

  24. Lucifer

    Cue Elvis Presley

    The warden threw a party in the county jail.
    The prison band was there and they began to wail.
    The band was jumpin and the joint began to swing.
    You shouldve heard those knocked out jailbirds sing.
    Lets rock, everybody, lets rock.
    Everybody in the whole cell block
    Was dancin to the jailhouse rock.

    Number forty-seven said to number three:
    Youre the cutest jailbird I ever did see.
    I sure would be delighted with your company,
    Come on and do the jailhouse rock with me.
    Lets rock, everybody, lets rock.
    Everybody in the whole cell block
    Was dancin to the jailhouse rock.

    music fades; lights come up a bit

    #22 Mark—

    Glad you’re in such good spirits. Virgil stopped by the other day while he was out for a climb. Says there’s a nice vacancy in the tenth bolgia but you should bring your own calomine lotion and Preparation H. Seems that the alchemists have other things on their mind these days than being helpful and some itching sores are worse than others…

    Til later, then…

  25. jamesbarjoseph

    As far as who wrote Hebrews, I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

    Shlomo. It’s not the like the suspense is killing us. I’m already dead. So’s he. And for that matter, so are you. Put the more poor man/woman out of his/her misery, already and tell him/her who she/he is before I run out of pronouns.

  26. The Teachers of Galatia

    Sniff. I bet you people secretly like what that guy Paul teaches about salvation coming by grace through faith, too.

    Radical crap. Jesus was circumcised so it’s Rabbi Tuck’s Little Guillotine all around, gentlemen.

  27. Refraining from references to certain rituals would be greatly appreciated by the mgmt.

    Also, remember the C stands for “Chrysostom”

  28. ToG,
    Don’t you go making me write sermons about you. It could go poorly.

  29. Whoever Wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews

    You know, I have to say that I don’t think that innovation and thinking outside the box is always a problem. I’m the first guy/gal who associated Jesus with priesthood and that hasn’t turned out half bad, now, has it?

    Hat tip: The Psalmist

  30. Ok, ok, ok, I’ll tell you. The person who wrote Hebrews is actually Edward de Vere. Do with this knowledge what you will, I was my hands of it! er…wait…that was a different biblical figure…

  31. Job

    RE: #24

    Speaking of sores…

    Bit of a strange story to relate here. You all know my background, right? Earlier in my life I had seven sons and three daughters, seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred she-asses, and a partridge in a pear tree. (The she-asses, you know, is not a sexist thing. He-asses are uncontrollable when then catch the scent of a she-ass, so wisdom dictates you use she-asses unless you want your ass chasing all over creation. Literally.)

    Anyway. Although my sons used to invite their sisters to drink with them, it was all in good, clean, fun. And just to make sure that YHWH also saw things that way, I used to make a holocaust after each party to sanctify them. You know, the whole burnt offering thing. So no problems there, but you do have to keep an eye on kids these days.

    And then one day, poof!! The Sabeans carried off the oxen and the asses, lightening struck the sheep and their shepherds, the Chaldeans took the camels, and a tornado brought the house down during an all-night Lord of the Rings marathon organized as a bar mitzvah party for my youngest son.

    The whole thing was so stressful that I got a world-class case of the boils and since the barbers hadn’t invented local anesthesia yet I sat scratching myself with a piece of pottery on the dung heap. Even my wife turned against me, suggesting that I go ahead and curse God and die while she went to the temple to do some initiatory work for her ancestors.

    Oy vey! If I were a rich man and all that…

    Since my new laptop is wireless I got it out to do a bit of surfing from my dunghill. I ended up at this LDS aggregator and I thought “What luck! These guys have had some hard times in their history, so they’ll have some good advice for the righteous who nevertheless suffer.” Not so!

    Seems that if you are doing the right things you’ll prosper but if you are a slacker the Lamanites will come after you. Sabeans. Chaldeans. Those losers at the National Weather Service. And now somebody called the Lamanites. Who is in charge of Homeland Security around these parts, anyway?

    Anyway, the Problem of Evil is a major issue. No one’s found a decent answer yet, but for my money when they do it won’t be terribly orthodox. Cause there’s not much “orthodox” about an all-powerful, loving, God who also allows evil.

    Know whad ah mean, Vern?

  32. Peter, James, and John

    #27 GoldenMouth

    How’s this?

    #19 B.L.Zebub

    Go Directly to Jail. Do not pass “Go.” Do not collect $200.

  33. The Author of Judith

    Does anybody know who I am? Really?

  34. Legion

    We think it’s really difficult to do anything without wavering… for we are many. Speaking of a hard life. do you know what’s its like when the most pleasant thing you can think of doing is possessing pigs and running them off a cliff? We do. Plus, James bar-Joseph, as you have said yourself (c.f. 2:19), we believe in God as well as anybody, and yet we tremble because of that. Doesn’t seem fair, no?

    Re 31: Jobey-baby.

    Who says evil is a problem? We have no problem with it.

  35. Joshua barJoseph

    #34 Legion–

    My dad can beat up your dad!

    Nahnahnahnah…

  36. Um, can anyone please explain why no one cares that I am the freaking twin brother of Jesus (by a different father)?!? It’s like, I travel outside of the Roman empire to convert India and everyone just ignores me. My dumb brother James’s “wisdom” totally sucks compared to mine! I hate you all!

  37. The Virgin Mary

    Judas, honey!

    Think for a minute! Why are you telling people that you’re the TWIN brother of Joshua (Jesus) by a different father? How could that be?

    Although my, er, private life was “out of this world” for a bit, there’s really no cause to be making it quite that exciting, is there?

  38. Mark

    #34, Legion–

    Whassup? You know the real irony of that whole Gerasenes thing was that after MY MAIN MAN put you in the pigs, the local hoi polloi ran him off?

    Yup. They were happier with the nutjob screaming day and night in the graveyard cause, well, it was what they were used to and not such a new thing, ya see.

  39. SimonbarSinister

    Where is that shoeshine boy?

  40. Edward, the Author of the Epistle of Edward to the Hebrews

    #33, The Author of Judith–

    You appear to be a Palestinian Jews, probably an early Pharisee, of the Hasmonean period. Most likely, you lived near the end of the reign of John Hyrcanus I (135 BCE – 104 BCE) or Alexander Janneus (103 BCE-78 BCE).

  41. Mom, I’ve put up with this “virgin” business for too long! It’s half the reason everyone ignores me!!! Fortunately, in my writings it isn’t included.
    Even Jesus agrees in comment 35!

  42. Edward, the Author of the Epistle of Edward to the Hebrews

    Make that “or THE BEGINNING OF THE REIGN OF Alexander Janneus…”

  43. Zoroaster

    Um, you do all know that your entire religion was stolen from mine, right?

  44. Akhenaton

    Zoro, whoa baby. Where’s the love? I tried the monotheism thing too and I’m pretty sure they stole some of it from me. By the way, I haven’t heard from you in a while. Text me–the new iphone accepts hieroglyphics. Holla atcha boy.

  45. Cornelius

    #11 Judith,

    Yeah, sometimes it’s hard to get a decent break when you don’t fit the mold. Took Peter three dreams and a personal visit from the Spirit to get things rolling for me.

  46. jamesbarjoseph

    #41 Judas

    The other half of the reason that everyone ignores you is that you wrote the shortest book of the NT and it’s filled with utterly weird crap. I do like the line in v.19, however, about those who cause divisions being devoid of the Spirit and constrained to the natural plane.

    And hey, no hard feelings over those wedgies, eh? It was you who stole my gladiator cards and lost them, after all…!

  47. Nefertiti

    My man apparently forgot that WE tried the monotheism thing. It seems all I get remembered for is my stunning beauty, but you forget that I got my degree in theology from Amarna State. Isn’t that right, sweet Akhy?

  48. Satan

    Cue the Bangles

    All the old paintings on the tombs
    They do the sand dance don’t you know
    If they move too quick (oh whey oh)
    They’re falling down like a domino

    All the bazaar men by the Nile
    They got the money on a bet
    Gold crocodiles (oh whey oh)
    They snap their teeth on your cigarette

    Foreign types with the hookah pipes say
    Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
    Walk like an Egyptian

    music fades; lights come up a bit

    #43 Zoroaster; #44 Akhenaton

    Mammon said he told you boys to shovel out the stables but Chaos and Old Night told me they saw you headed in this direction to play hooky. If Uriel sees you up here, your tight little pagan [fannies] are grass… So time to head home, gentlemen, we wouldn’t want our work to pile up on us, would we, now?

    #47 Nefertiti, honey,

    Did I ever tell you how much I like a woman with brains? I’ve got some great etchings in the theo section of my library in the Pandemonium Fortress…and I myself have these divine ideas I’ve been hoping to discuss…

  49. Nicodemus bar none

    I have it on good authority that the wind wavereth whithersoever it listeth.

  50. R

    #48,
    Hey you! Get back into the background where you belong! Golden calfs and serpents I can handle, but this blatant self-personification is simply too much.
    <grumble>lousy upstarts always trying to steal the spotlight…</grumble>

  51. Jose bar engrill

    Boys boys boys, why yagotta fight? come on over to my pub and talk this out like reasonable…. whatever you ares.

    I was talking to my unitarian minister and he said, “everybody is right and we’re all going to heaven. That sounds nice doesn’t it?

  52. Legion

    Jeshua, could you cut the “my dad is soooo cool” talk. Listen, our Dad looks like he’s winning right now doesn’t he? We’ve read your books, (twice actually, once in 666th grade and once in 13th grade) and guess who fathered the contention you are involved in….?

  53. Glenn Reynolds

    #50

    Jose barEngrill. Heh.

  54. Salome

    #41, Judas,

    I’ve put up with this “virgin” business for too long

    It is a mystery, my child. Let me tell you how it all went down, cause Luke and Matthew seem to have been a bit clueless, and that twit with the nativity creche is totally OTF.

    Joseph dropped Mary off in a cave, making her as comfortable as it could. Then he went looking for a midwife and as chance would have it there was one wandering around the mountains with nothing else to do.

    She reported that she accompanied Joseph to the cave, which was filled with a luminous cloud. Then there was a bright light, which gradually disappeared and was replaced with the Holy Child, who went and took the breast of his mother all by his precocious self.

    When the midwife came out of the cave she met me and said:

    Salome, Salome, I have a strange sight to relate to thee: a virgin has brought forth — a thing which her nature admits not of.

    But I said [I am quite sure I will need to personally check out the situation]

    Ed.: Readers who wish to get the details are encouraged to see the Protoevangelium of James and while doing so to remember that folks were different back then…

    But I would go carefully with the virginity stuff when it comes to your mother…

  55. Huston

    “how many polygamous marriages can be solemnized on the head of pin”

    Dude. Sweet.

  56. There is a whole lot of criticism of NT GA’s on this thread.

    You have soooooooooooo ruined your chances of being on the new aggregator.

  57. Nefertiti

    Sorry Satan, # 48, I guess bearing so many daughters to an ungrateful husband merited enough for me to walk in wisdom’s paths (the wisdom from above, that is). Your offer is tempting, but after checking out your profile on lds-singles, I just don’t think we’d get along that well.

  58. Legion

    Re: 53 we are a little uncomfortable, though strangely pleased with the lurid details of your post. You get a devilish seal of approval, but we would prefer not to think about such things. Even we get grossed out.

    Re: 55

    This was our goal from the beginning. To keep people mired in sin!

  59. Asherah

    Nefertiti, You go girl. I like an independent woman! I have had to be one ever since they started making me into a fertility idol. How about we go hit the club and “waver” our booties? I hear there are a lot of singles dances for 3100+ in Utah. I’m taken, but I will help you find a man who can treat you right.

  60. jamesbarjoseph

    Geez. What is it with the schizo demons and pagan dignitaries and deities? John C is NOT going to be happy when he looks at this thread tonight. We’ll probably get a lecture or something.

    Where are all the biblical authors and characters?

  61. Mogget

    And Peter, James, and John are banned by Mogget…

    Time for James barJoseph to return to his eternal rest. We do appreciate his stopping by. And thanks to all who participated.

    Sometime tomorrow I will clean this up a bit, that is, delete a few things and bowdlerized a few more, and then lock the thread. Otherwise…I fear the spam that some of these words will attract…

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