Although Evan is quite capable of fielding objections to his own position, I’ll throw my own two cents into the kitty.
I also see that you skipped over my post that deals with the intended audience of James, that the audience he writes for is regenerate, as this is an extremely important consideration as well.
The whole epistle has the context of the trials and tribulations of regenerate people. Men in such circumstances will not be saved from their circumstances by faith alone, they will not be saved from the deadly consequences of sin by faith alone.
You import into this text a concern of James that is most definitly not his concern. His concern is for regenerate people being saved from both the consequences of their trials and sins. How they are to do that is to add works to their faith.
Gee whiz! The whole passage deals with James' exhortation to his readership to do works so that they can be saved! They are to add works to their faith.
And it is interesting that he provides no remedy to the poor man who has a "false faith" unless he is to be told that he is to work for his justification (which is indeed what the passage says).
In your estimation, James is confronting an error that he doesn't choose to address to remedy! he doesn't say "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved". He is saying to do works for faith alone IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE is useless, like the exhortation to be warmed and filled to a naked and hungry person.
Wow, that you can't see these things is boggling. James' pastoral interest in his readership is that they are profitable in their Christian lives, it is not so that they can prove that they have eternal life! He had already AFFIRMED that they had eternal life in 1:18!!!
So this is Antonio’s central objection to Evan’s interpretation. Very well then.
There is no such thing as a regenerate “audience.” Regeneration is not a corporate category. Regeneration is an attribute of individuals.
James is addressing a letter to a church, a church comprised of professing believers. Does James happen to know the heart of everyone who heard or read his letter? Obviously not! The nature of mass communication is that you speak in generalities.
Of course, given Antonio’s Sandemanian theory of faith, the bar for regeneration is set low to the ground. For him, faith is prior to regeneration, and a one-time believer may become a full-time infidel, yet still be saved.
So, given his very loose and indiscriminate view of things, you might have a regenerate audience. But to interpret James 2:14ff. by that yardstick would “beg the question and apply circular logic,” since it would assume and impose his antinomian and Sandemanian theology onto the text rather than exegeting it from the text. So, then, Antonio is tacitly presuming the very thing he needs to prove. What he needs to do is to establish his presupposition, and not take it for granted as a prism through which to reinterpret the text.
How many works of saving faith (saving works)are necessary for it to consumate in salvation? What would the "sin to works ratio" be…Where does the word "genuinely" you use come from in James text? What is the difference between a genuinely good work and one that is not? Are they black and white? Or can we extract a useable definition at all in the bible? I don't think we can. Where exactly are you getting it that word "genuinely" from?
Once again, Evan can speak for himself, but Todd misses the point. The distinction is qualitative, not quantitative. Go back to the relation between regeneration and first fruits in 1:19, or Christian virtues and the implanted word in 1:21. The new birth, mediated by the word of truth, is the root, while good works are the fruit.
“Genuine” faith is regenerate faith. Saving faith is regenerate faith. Dead faith is unregenerate faith. Fruitless faith is unregenerate faith.