Salvation by Allegiance Alone

Rethinking Faith, Works, and the Gospel of Jesus the King

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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 book includes discussion questions for students, pastors, and church groups and a foreword by Scot McKnight.

Foreword by Scot McKnight
1. Faith Is Not
2. Loyalty and the Full Gospel
3. Jesus Proclaims the Gospel
4. Faith as Allegiance
5. Questions about Allegiance Alone
6. Resurrection into New Creation
7. Restoring the Idol of God
8. Justification and Allegiance Alone
9. Practicing Allegiance


"In this well-argued book, Matthew Bates recovers a deeper sense of what the act of faith consists of as it is depicted in Scripture. He wisely observes that the story of the rich young ruler in the Synoptic Gospels presumes that salvation depends on certain human actions. How those actions are related to salvation by faith alone is a central question raised by this book and elegantly answered."

Gary Anderson, Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Theology, University of Notre Dame

"In this bold, provocative book, Matthew Bates challenges Christians of all traditions to reexamine basic assumptions about the gospel, grace, the nature of salvation, and the meaning of 'faith.' His argument for saving faith as embodied, enacted allegiance is rooted in solid scholarship and presented with both zeal for the kingdom and concern for the church. This is a much-needed corrective to many misunderstandings."

Michael J. Gorman, Raymond E. Brown Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology, St. Mary's Seminary and University

"Matthew Bates argues that faith or believing is not mere assent, not easy believism, but covenantal loyalty to the God who saves his people through the Lord Jesus Christ. Bates forces us to rethink the meaning of faith, the gospel, and works with a view to demonstrating their significance for true Christian discipleship. This will be a controversial book, but perhaps it is the controversy we need!"

Michael F. Bird, lecturer in theology, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia

"Bates makes a powerful argument that the New Testament writings find their climax in their portrait of Christ as the enthroned king. The right response to this king is not simply trust or intellectual assent but rather wholehearted allegiance. Bates's reframing of faith, works, and the gospel is a necessary correction to prevalent distortions of Jesus's gospel. This is an important argument written by a creative, careful, and trustworthy biblical interpreter."

Joshua Jipp, assistant professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"[An] outstanding book. . . . Some theologians (past and present) think that any kind of obligation attached to grace must somehow entail a dangerous works righteousness. Such people are wrong. But you'll have to read Salvation by Allegiance Alone to see how deftly and biblically Matthew Bates dismantles this worry about works while simultaneously offering fresh proposals regarding how a gospel-infused allegiance connects with righteousness. . . . The superficiality of American evangelicalism's gospel-obsession with security and assurance has led me at times to wonder if we should not teach justification by discipleship. Or justification by faithfulness. But Matthew Bates has landed on a beautiful and biblically sound term: allegiance."

Scot McKnight (from the foreword)

The Author

  1. Matthew W. Bates

    Matthew W. Bates

    Matthew W. Bates (PhD, University of Notre Dame) is assistant professor of theology at Quincy University in Quincy, Illinois. He is the author of The Hermeneutics of the Apostolic Proclamation and The Birth of the Trinity.

    Continue reading about Matthew W. Bates


"One of the virtues of Bates's re-interpretation of faith is that it might 'ultimately contribute to the healing of that long-festering wound between Catholics and Protestants.'. . . Bates's provocative book contributes to a Protestant revision by outlining a biblical gospel of Jesus' kingship that summons us to join Him and be loyal to Him and His kingdom."

Peter Leithart,

First Things

"What Bates has accomplished in such a small book is admirable. His writing is clear and accessible, yet rooted in solid scholarship. This book gets to the heart of the Bible's vision on salvation, faith, works, and the gospel. . . . Bates has given much food for thought, and calls the Church to realign its priorities as it relates to the good news of King Jesus."

Chad Thornhill,

The Bible and Culture blog (Patheos)

"Bates has written an important new book. . . . The book is full of high points . . . that will preach on Sundays and that reorient the Western pastor soaked in the hedonism of individual indulgence to the paradigm-shattering news of the gospel about God and not us. . . . The most helpful part of the book was Bates' frequent interaction with the scholarly literature in the footnotes. Bates introduces many of the controversies of New Testament scholarship like pistis Christou, dikaiosune theou, and justification/participation and helpfully situates them both in the larger context of the good news and the scholarly literature."

Ben Davis and Mark Wampler,

Theologian's Library blog