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Salvation by Allegiance Alone

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

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Jesus Creed 2017 Book of the Year

One of the Best Books of 2017,
Englewood Review of Books

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 a professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. He is the author of Gospel Allegiance, Salvation by Allegiance Alone, and Why the Gospel?, which won a 2024...

    Continue reading about Matthew W. Bates


Jesus Creed 2017 Book of the Year
One of the Best Books of 2017,
Englewood Review of Books

"Biblically sound and penetrating, theologically alert, and pastorally sensitive. Bates challenges the weak-kneed but all too common understanding of faith as (merely) trust and demonstrates conclusively that if the gospel is about Jesus as Lord, then the response to the king is allegiance. This book deserves a study guide and a pastoral follow-up. Bates book came early in 2017 and it held on the entire year for me as the best book I read."

Scot McKnight,

Jesus Creed blog (Patheos)

"[An] exceptional new book. . . . Bates needs to be read by all seminary students and by all pastors."

Scot McKnight,

Jesus Creed blog (Patheos)

"A welcome book. It is useful--vital, even--for Christians of any traditional or denominational stripe grappling with the Gospel. The book, which is clearly aimed at a mixed audience of laity and students, forwards a simple but important thesis: contemporary Christianity has, for the most part, gotten it wrong when it comes to 'belief, faith, works, salvation, heaven, and the gospel' itself. . . . [Bates's] argument . . . is robust and demands a close reading from anyone who would immediately dismiss the thesis out of hand. . . . If Bates is right about salvation and allegiance--and I believe he is--then we must work in our churches, with our brothers and sisters, to reframe our theology and evangelism accordingly. Salvation by Allegiance Alone is an engaging, well-written, and persuasive work of biblical theology that advances a strong claim and supports it with solid exegesis. It is very accessible and would be a welcome addition to the library of any thoughtful Christian. I can easily imagine its usefulness in churches, colleges, and seminaries, and for this reason I recommend it widely. This important book deserves the widest possible audience among Christians."

Danny Yencich,

Englewood Review of Books

"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

"Written for a broad but theologically literate audience, this study addresses the chronic debate about the relationship between 'faith' and 'works'--or, put another way, the general Protestant affirmation that justification is by 'faith alone' versus the teaching on justification by faith and 'works' characteristic of Catholic tradition. Bates, who is a Protestant scholar trained at Notre Dame and teaching at the Franciscan-sponsored Quincy University, makes the case for an organic connection between faith and works. . . . Informed Catholic readers may not see this as particularly novel, but Bates provides a solid and biblically illustrated argument for the intrinsic connection between faith and Christian action."

Donald Senior, CP,

The Bible Today

"In contrast to earlier studies that suggest trust in the atonement is at the heart of the gospel message, Bates shows that the gospel climaxes with Jesus' enthronement as king."

Philip Jenkins,

Christian Century

"I highly recommend this book. . . . So much is at stake in these matters--from an individual's personal salvation to the church's mandate to make disciples. No doubt a careful interaction with this book will provoke fruitful discussions and no little self-examination."

William W. Klein,

Journal of Biblical and Theological Studies

"Bates's argument is engagingly written, biblically grounded, and its tone is ecumenically friendly--though his view requires him to reject some tenets of classic Calvinism. His angle on the matter is very fruitful, and--even where one disagrees--stimulates conversation on a topic that is perennially important not just for interdenominational dialogue but for the life of all the Lord's people as we seek to be faithful in our time and place."

James B. Prothro,

Concordia Journal

"Bates's book has many virtues to it as he holistically examines salvation across the New Testament. He repeatedly stresses the importance of the communal over the individual. . . . He offers a clear way beyond the Reformation controversy of faith v. works. He beautifully stresses the present reality of glorification in the life of the Christian rather than a progressive order culminating in future glory. This book shares many personal stories that will help believes to shift to a more participatory model of discipleship avoiding all passivity and negativity about the world."

Garrett Galvin, OFM,


"Bates makes a number of important contributions to the study of NT soteriology in his book. . . . Though Bates is a Protestant, he is respectful of Catholic theology and makes great strides toward reconciling these two branches of the church. . . . Seminary professors will find Allegiance Alone to be the perfect catalyst for generating lively classroom debate. The book could be used as an additional reading in courses on soteriology, Pauline theology, or evangelism. The end-of-chapter questions are outstanding and (if assigned) will cause students to think deeply about 'faith, works, and the gospel of Jesus the king.'"

Anthony Daw,

Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry

"Bates offers a compelling case for understanding faith (pistis) as allegiance. Those who have followed the recent academic debates (especially between John Piper and N. T. Wright) on the nature of faith will find the book illuminating. Yet it remains accessible for readers who are unaware of this context, offering practical discussion of theological matters shaping the church's mission. This book will be helpful for students, pastors, and lay Christians alike."

James Matichuk,

Bible Study Magazine

"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)

"Not since the Reformation has there been a challenge to the five solas as persistent and potentially persuasive as Matthew W. Bates's third book, Salvation by Allegiance Alone."

Tavis Bohlinger,

Logos Academic Blog

"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

"Bates's book is excellent. It is thoroughly researched and argued, and is very convincing on many levels. . . . Bates's work is not only a boon to academic studies of New Testament soteriology. It also has direct import for the Church. . . . Bates's allegiance model incorporates the best elements of traditionally Protestant and Catholic soteriological concepts and produces a model that is simultaneously faithful to the biblical data and a workable middle-ground between the two traditions: incorporated righteousness. While Bates's book is probably not going to heal the whole rift between Protestants and Catholics, it is a great step toward increased ecumenical theological understanding. . . . Salvation by Allegiance Alone is excellent. Buy it, read it, and let it challenge you to give embodied pistis to Christ the King."

Taylor S. Brown,

The Christian Revolution blog (Patheos)

"I commend Matthew Bates for his creativity and boldness in issuing this challenge. It is a bold and provocative thesis, logically argued and clearly written. Salvation by Allegiance Alone is excellent for students, clearly being road-tested in his own classes. Salvation by Allegiance Alone has the potential to shake up one's faith intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Ideas change people, and however one lands on the thesis, the ideas contained in this book are worthy of deep consideration."

Lindsay Kennedy,

My Digital Seminary blog

"I find several things helpful in this work. One is that it addresses the question of 'cheap faith' that does not seem to eventuate in any kind of transformed life, often because the person does not think or expect that this follows. Another is that it does reflect the full gospel that the church has confessed through history, the gospel of the king and his kingdom and sets our pardon for sin in the context of being restored subjects, indeed vice-regents, in his kingdom. Finally, and Bates alludes to this, the idea of allegiance may address the sharp divides around grace, faith, justification, and works that have separated Protestant and Catholic for five hundred years."

Bob Trube,

Bob on Books blog

"Worth reading and accessible to non-specialists. . . . Bates reexamines the biblical texts themselves and redirects our thinking about the place of 'believing' in salvation, suggesting that intellectual assent is but a minor piece of a much richer call to allegiance to Jesus the King."

Benjamin Lappenga,

In All Things blog

"In my estimation, this is a very important book, one for which I have been searching for nearly a decade. . . . Bates's work is an honest attempt to allow the Biblical text to say what it longs (by the Spirit!) to say, and a helpful approach in answering vexing theological dilemmas. . . . I will wholeheartedly recommend this rare and important book to friends."

Kristopher Walhof,


"Bates' main thesis is important, and this book should be in libraries, classrooms, and pastors' studies, even though some will hesitate to concur with some of the author's points."

Paul A. Rainbow,