Salvation by Faith, or Allegiance Alone?

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TylerR's picture


Logos issued perhaps the most overblown and foolish statement I've ever read:

Not since the Reformation has there been a challenge to the five solas as persistent and potentially persuasive as Matthew W. Bates’ third book, Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith, Works, and the Gospel of Jesus the King (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017).

Wow. Not since the Reformation? How much did Bates have to pay for that endorsement!?

Promo blurb:

We are saved by faith when we trust that Jesus died for our sins. This is the gospel, or so we are taught. But what is faith? And does this accurately summarize the gospel? Because faith is frequently misunderstood and the climax of the gospel misidentified, the gospel’s full power remains untapped. While offering a fresh proposal for what faith means within a biblical theology of salvation, Matthew Bates presses the church toward a new precision: we are saved solely by allegiance to Jesus the king. Instead of faith alone, Christians must speak about salvation by allegiance alone.

The author speaks glowingly of NT Wright's works. I've listened to two separate 90 min discussions Wright has had on NPP and atonement. The first was with James White, the second with Tom Schreiner. Wright is slippery like an eel - it is very difficult to pin him down on anything, and I suspect he does this on purpose. He is a wolf and should be avoided. As MacArthur recently quipped, his name actually stands for "New Testament Wrong." MacArthur even said he'd read many of Wright's books, and concluded, "I have no idea what he believes. But, I do know what he does not believe - justification by faith."

The author then made this interesting comment:

Today I have a heartfelt affection for the center of the Christian tradition. I still hold what is usually termed a “high view” of Scripture as God’s inspired Word, but I feel like I have made progress toward integrating that with other fields of inquiry.

Translation = "I don't believe in inerrancy, but I'll tap-dance so I can still be accepted by the clueless Christians who buy my books, while being lauded by the academy for being a nuanced intellectual, not a idiot fundamentalist."

The academy can a dangerous, syncophantic, stupid place. This seems like a case in point. So does N.T. Wright.

Faith really means "allegiance," in certain contexts? Yes, I'm sure that's exactly what Peter had in mind when he wrote that we are being guarded through faith for a deliverance ready to be revealed at the last time (1 Pet 1:5). This entire proposal makes me laugh.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

TylerR's picture


A commentator noted this on Logos' blog (linked above):

Many, many authors and “teachers” can arise and gain a following very quickly today, especially when their alternative, and historically nonconformist proposals, and theories cause ears to prick up. They start conversations, and elicit interviews, like yours, that’s how books get promoted and sold, and popularized. But book sales, interviews and speaking engagements do not determine the orthodoxy of an author’s writings … that takes discernment through correct Biblical exegesis and interpretation …. which unfortunately is not a popular concept in post modern Christendom. You should have challenged Mr. Bates to defend his “allegiance” view based on proper Biblical hermeneutics, but you failed to do so. Instead you seem carried away by a fascination with his new perspective. Wow. An academic blog? Since when did Christian academics throw out orthodox Christian polemics? Is it no longer acceptable to question and test “new” insights against historic orthodox Christian doctrine? Please consider these things.

Wally Morris also observed at Logos' blog:

I had a Hebrew teacher at the Univ of Georgia who said that the way to make your mark in academics is to think of something new & get it published. I suspect that is what has happened here.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture that, per Wally's comment, people do not get Ph.Ds and tenure by publishing something which is true.   They do so by publishing something new, and if indeed there is only so much truth to be discovered in one's field of endeavor, we would guess that a goodly portion of professors have gotten to that point by publishing nonsense.  It simply is what the system rewards.

And since the system collapses if one penalizes nonsense, you get what Tyler notes; he is not even challenged on his position.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture


The Logos Academic Blog has apparently been "re-booted" after a long hiatus. This is one of the first new posts. It isn't too promising. This is only the first part of a small series where the editor speaks with the author of this silly book. I look forward to some actual content in the next installments. Here is what I asked in the comments section of the blog:

This article states: “Since Jesus is now the reigning King of the Cosmos, the pistis of believers, directed to Jesus, can only legitimately be explained as the proper attitude of loyal subjects before their sovereign ruler.”

Why should I not believe you wrote an entire book based on substituting “faith” for a near synonym, in certain contexts? Do you believe your definition holds true for Heb 11:1 , and the surrounding context? If so, how and why?

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?