I’ve been working through James again, a very timely discourse in this election season, and came across this comment on James 3.12ff. from the great Alfred Plummer, another commentator in the long line of great Durham exegetes. He says this in his James commentary…..
“To develop a [person’s] intellectual powers is not always the best way to make him ‘humble himself as a little child’….First purify the heart and regenerate the will, and then the recovery of the intellect will follow in due course. It is easy to reach the intellect through the heart, and this is what the wisdom that is from above aims at doing. If we begin with the intellect, we shall very likely end there; and in that case the man is not raised from his degradation, but equipped with additional powers of mischief….It is evident that the heavenly wisdom is preeminently a practical wisdom. It is not purely or mainly intellectual; it is not speculative; it is not lost in contemplation. Its object is to increase holiness rather than knowledge and happiness rather than information. Its atmosphere is not controversy and debate, but gentleness and peace. It is full, not of sublime theories or daring hypotheses, but of mercy and good fruits. It can be confident without wrangling, and reserved without hypocrisy. It is the twin sister of that heavenly love which ‘envieth not, vaunteth not itself, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, takes no account of evil’.”
He is meditating on “Is anyone wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his way of life, his words in unpretentious wisdom. But if you have bitter zeal and party spirit in your heart, do not boast and give the lie to the truth. That sort of “wisdom” does not come down from above, but is earthbound, ‘natural’, diabolical. For where there is zeal and party spirit, there is restlessness and every evil practice. But the wisdom which is from above is first pure, then peace-loving, considerate, obedient, full of mercy and good fruit, without being divided, without hypocrisy. But the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace, by those who make peace.”
It seems clear to me that neither political convention was listening to this wisdom, but was stoking the fires of party zeal.