Works-righteousness: a square contractual peg in a round covenantal hole
In antiquity, the key distinction between contract and covenant was one of performance versus loyalty. This was widely understood and accepted; so how plausible is it that first century Judaism treated God’s covenant as a contract requiring performance, rather than as what it claimed to be—a covenant requiring personal fidelity?
Is final justification unchristian?
Final justification does not add anything to the conditions of justification; nor does it entail that God grounds his verdict in our works rather than in his Son’s. On the contrary, final justification is on account of the very same faith that first joined us to Jesus and his vindication—and our works are a proper part of that faith.
Does James teach justification by works?
Yes—inasmuch as works are a proper part of the living faith by which we dwell in Jesus, and he in us.