Scripture: James 2:14-26
Alucard: “Are you seriously planning to transform your soul into that of a monster?!! Into a monster of God!! Dare you make an attempt at becoming an immortal and almighty toy of providence? Spare me the same, typical bullsh*t! The monster that denies God; the monster that acknowledges God; they’re one and the same—monsters! … To be a monster like me… to give up your humanity, shows your weakness in spades. You couldn’t make it as a man, so you stoop to being a monster. A creature that’s destined to be toppled by humanity!! Stop it, human!! Do not become the monster that I am. You’ve fought this far on your own. Therefore, deep down, you should know my words are true.”
Anderson: “I wish to be born a benevolent tempest, a revered threat, an explosive torrent of piety. I wish to become a delightfully dreadful storm, one that’s both heartless and tearless. And if stabbing myself with this is the only way to fulfill that wish… Then let it be done. Amen.”
What do you think of when you think of the ideal Christian?
What about their faith? What does it look like? What is it based on?
We enter the scene and find Anderson and Alucard staring each other down, preparing for their final confrontation. Anderson reveals an ancient holy relic, Elena’s Nail, which he intends to stab himself with in order to become a monster. Upon seeing his intent, Alucard berates him and begs him not to go through with it.
Humans hold a unique position in the universe in that we are the only things in all known creation capable of having faith. Lower animals do not have the cognitive capacities necessary for faith. Purely spiritual beings (such as angels and demons) possess empirical knowledge. They know that there is a God because they have seen Him, as it were. They know what happened at the cross for the same reason. Only humans are in a position to have faith in God. However, faith is more than just “belief” and in the second chapter of the book bearing his name, James aims to show us just what faith is.
James begins his discourse in verses 14-17 by upsetting our understanding of faith by flatly stating that belief alone cannot save us. If all we ever do is say “I believe”, then perhaps we are not so persuaded as we claim to be. James fleshes out his assertion by drawing a comparison between our faith and our response to someone in need of food and clothing. If we simply say to our destitute friend “be warm and filled” what good does that do? NONE WHATSOEVER! Likewise if you go through life simply saying “I believe” what good does that do? According to James, NONE WHATSOEVER! It would seem, then, that our confession of faith, our placing faith in Christ, is more than uttering words. Instead, it is a matter of the heart. If it were just words, it would be a magic ritual rather than an interaction with God.
Still, we must ask of James, “what’s the deal? Aren’t we supposed to be saved by faith alone? Wasn’t Abraham justified by faith? James’ answer comes in verses 18-26 when he says that “I will show you my faith by my works.” Faith is a matter of the heart and coming to faith is an internal change which then produces external actions (Matthew 7:15-20, Luke 6:43-45). If we merely believe in and acknowledge God, we are only carrying out a mental action no different than what the demons do. Returning to the example of Abraham, James points out that Abraham’s faith led him to works. He picked up everything and followed God even though he didn’t know where he was going. He offered his son, who was a blessing and miracle to Abraham, just because God told him to. The bottom line is that Abraham didn’t just believe it, he lived it. James offers us another example in Rahab the former Prostitute and ancestor of Jesus Christ. Rahab didn’t just believe in God, she acted by protecting the Israelite spies. While works alone cannot save us, works are the evidence of a living faith, like a person’s heartbeat.
As humans, we can only know and understand so much about God. We cannot empirically know enough about Him to be 100% certain. However, we do have the amazing and unique ability to respond to this gap in understanding with faith, the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” Faith is not so simple as just saying “I believe”, nor does it consist solely in doing good works. It is a combination of the two.
Sometimes, though, we stray from our human faith and lose faith in God and in ourselves. This temptation tends to rear its head when we are faced with struggles in life and we are tempted to try and make it on our own. Oftentimes, to make it on our own in these situations requires becoming something other than human. The two errors into which we may fall in this case are to think that our works will save us or that our faith with justify our works (the ends justify the means).
The dialogue between Alucard and Anderson touches on this issue on a couple of ways. First Alucard makes the observation that a monster is a monster regardless of whether or not it believes in God. Think back to James’ assertion in verse 19, a demon is a demon regardless of whether is acknowledges God because it has ultimately rejected Him. Likewise, even if a monster believes in God, it still has rejected God in rejecting its own humanity because it decided that God is insufficient to satisfy it. We find Anderson making this mistake as he prepares to stab himself with the relic and give up his humanity. He did not believe that he would be able to defeat Alucard as a human and so he seeks the infernal strength of a monster. What’s more, he actually considers it holier to become a “thing” rather than a human being.
- In what ways does living out our faith do more than be evidence that our faith is alive?
- What are some examples of ways we make the error of focusing too much on faith or on works?
- Why is it so tempting to stray from our faith and humanity in times of trial?