Salvation by Faith, or Allegiance Alone? Matthew Bates in the Hot Seat (Part 1)

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). This book has generated a groundswell of controversy that continues to build as more theologians, pastors, and laypeople are exposed to Bates’ nuanced proposal.

Bates’ thesis, at once radical and obvious, is this: in the New Testament writings, the Greek word pistis, or “faith,” is better translated as “allegiance.” He does not intend for every instance of pistis in our Bibles to be retranslated, but for him, there are specific contexts, especially in Paul and the Gospels, in which the only reasonable rendering is “allegiance,” as in the kind of fidelity or loyalty that one would give to a king.

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.

1. Matt, it’s a great pleasure to have you as our first guest author on the relaunched Logos Academic Blog. Although we have done a few author interviews here in the past, this is our first of the “Hot Seat” series. I hope this doesn’t make you nervous, even though perhaps you should be.

Me… nervous? No, of course not. /breathes twenty-six times into a paper bag/ Feeling fine. I just like how brown bags smell. Golly it is warm in here. Could you open a window? Thanks. I’m grateful for the invitation. It’s an honor and a pleasure.

2. It strikes me as both commendably bold and yet disconcertingly dangerous that you have written a book that attempts to bridge the typically disparate spheres of everyday Christians and biblical scholars. Why didn’t you simply write this book for one or either audience, or perhaps begin with a technical monograph full of footnotes, and then follow up with a popular version of your thesis?

Salvation by Allegiance Alone is a book about the things that matter most—faith, the gospel, and salvation. So, from the get-go I was certain that this should be a book for scholars, students, pastors, and pew-sitters. However when I was writing I kept wondering, Can I deliver?

I feared that it would prove impossible to write for such a varied audience. Scholars do not want to wade through basic information that everyone in the field already knows. Packed prose and footnotes are preferred. Proposed advances should be modest within a carefully delimited scope.

Meanwhile the ordinary Christian wants nearly the opposite: personal stories illustrating the essentials, spritely prose, and practical advice. Footnotes are the kiss of death. Students and pastors form the middle ground but have unique interests and needs. When in doubt I kept the middle in mind.

Yet I recognized that in trying to make this book all things for all people, it would prove fully satisfying to no one. Despite the hazards, I jumped. As the Apostle Paul reminds us, it is not always a bad idea to seek to become all things to all people—especially for the sake of the gospel (1 Cor. 9:22-23).

As the final product has rolled off the press, I have felt emotionally overwhelmed. The quality and quantity of initial feedback has confirmed to me that it was worth the effort.

I am convinced that both church and academy need to rethink faith, the gospel, and salvation. I hope my book proves to be a thoughtful entry point.

3. In your introduction, you mention the nearly 10 years of development and composition of your proposal in Allegiance. Can you pinpoint a specific moment in time or period in your life that acted as the catalyst for the ideas you write about in the book, and what changes have occurred, for better or worse, in the issues that stimulated this work?

About half the creative energy for Allegiance came from material that I studied when I was an M.C.S. student at Regent College in 2001-2004. I read N. T. Wright’s The Challenge of Jesus, and quickly followed that up with Wright’s larger works, The New Testament and the People of God and Jesus and the Victory of God.

The Challenge of Jesus book cover The New Testament and the People of God book cover book cover of Jesus and the Victory of God

Wright helped me recognize the degree to which my ideas of faith, sin, repentance, works, “heaven,” the kingdom of God, and the like were constructed through sixteenth-century Protestant categories rather than first-century.

My PhD coursework and candidacy exams at Notre Dame gave me the opportunity to continue to learn more about Second Temple Judaism and the New Perspective on Paul. But this involved deepening rather than recalibrating.

Perspectives on Paul: Reformation and the New Perspective course cover image

A second breakthrough came when I was working on my PhD dissertation. My dissertation focused on Paul as an interpreter of Scripture. I performed spadework on several passages in which Paul gives the content of the gospel, especially Romans 1:2-4 and 1 Corinthians 15:3-5. I noticed how much the gospel centers on Jesus as a sovereign ruler.

At the same time I began to reflect on the comparative neglect of this motif in popular and academic descriptions of the gospel. But in terms of my writing, I couldn’t pursue the matter as I needed to finish my PhD study first. The dissertation was eventually published as The Hermeneutics of the Apostolic Proclamation (Baylor University Press, 2012).

Meanwhile my first book had opened up another fruitful area of inquiry. I had determined that the Apostle Paul used a technique to interpret the Old Testament known as “prosopological exegesis.” This technique was somewhat known among studies of early church Fathers, but biblical scholars had not ever (to the best of my knowledge) clearly identified its use in the New Testament.

This technique involves finding surprising speakers in the Old Testament, and I felt that it had underappreciated Trinitarian implications. So even though Allegiance was on my heart, I felt my second monograph needed to be The Birth of the Trinity (Oxford University Press, 2015).

After finishing The Birth I was free to pursue the topic that had first intrigued me as an M.C.S. student. Final pieces of my “allegiance alone” thesis were put into place as I conducted research and wrote. I’m sure I’ll have occasion to discuss some of the more important scholarly influences as our interview continues.

4. You are, by any account, an extremely busy academic. You have a family, you are active in your church, you teach a heavy class load each year, you manage your own interview podcast, you have a blog, and you have published and continue to publish articles in some of the top-tier peer-reviewed journals in the world. How do you approach the craft of research and writing with such a busy schedule, especially for a book that requires engagement with both popular Christianity and elite biblical scholarship?

My life is indeed overflowing. I’m very grateful! However, you short-changed me in your question. I don’t merely “have a family.” For I have six—yes, that’s right—six (!) children. Any time-management skills I possess are mostly owed to my wife, who is a saint. Literally.

Okay, I get a little credit, because I am usually at the office working by 6:15am when I could be sleeping. So I do get an early start. During the semester I teach several mornings a week, but my most productive writing time occurs early in the morning on the days when I teach only in the afternoon. Large swaths of my summer break have also been devoted to writing.

Since it is hard to squeeze in research between teaching and family, the secret for me is caring—deeply and passionately caring—about the topics that I choose to research. If I am not convinced that the topic utterly matters, I’ve found that I’ll never find the motivation. So I can usually tell if a future project is a good one by touching a thermometer to my heart.

As to how I approach the craft, I am an investigator. I don’t know the answer yet when I am writing, but I have caught the scent of something tantalizing. I need to figure out how and why these ideas fit together. Writing helps me ferret out the answers and to clarify them—for myself and hopefully for others too.

When approaching a topic, and even when writing certain portions, I ask myself, Why do I care about this? Why would anyone care about this? I’ve found this helps keep me from being a dreadful boor, if not to others, well, then, at least to myself!

Good research writing shares the mystery, has a plot, and tells an evidence-based story.

5. Your personal journey of faith is very interesting, beginning in a KJV-only church (which you speak about with great affection and felicity) to doing a PhD at Notre Dame and now teaching in a Roman Catholic university. You mention your ecumenical practice of praying the Hours every morning with fellow faculty (and students?). Prayer is an essential component of the Catholic scholarly tradition, and I’m curious to know how prayer functions in your vocation as a writer and scholar.

It would take too much time, and we’d probably need several counselors (just kidding… maybe…), if I were to tell my whole story. Suffice it to say that although my journey out of hyper-fundamentalism has involved intellectual and spiritual wrestling, much as with Jacob’s battle with the mysterious angel, I’ve never found God to have unduly withheld his blessing.

Some who have made this journey are bitter. I’m not. I am grateful that early in my life numerous folks cared enough to share about Jesus with me, even if some of the packaging surrounding those ideas was goofy. I learned to love Jesus and the Bible, even if the strong-anti-intellectualism and fear of science within fundamentalism was confusing. Taking a B.S. degree in physics helped me sort some of this out.

Meanwhile God provided me with the right mentors at the right time—faithful Christians who were serious scholars. Professors Roger Mohrlang and Jerry Sittser at Whitworth University, Professors Gordon Fee, Rikk Watts, and Iain Provan at Regent College, and Professors David Aune, Gary Anderson, and Brian Daley at Notre Dame. More could be mentioned, but these were especially important to my journey.

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.

I still have lots of questions, but unlike within fundamentalism, I see further learning as a delight rather than a nagging worry that the intellectual center might not hold. As a Protestant it has been very enriching to study and serve as a professor in a Catholic context, especially as the Catholic theological tradition has often excelled at holding together faith and reason.

As to my teaching and writing vocation—which is really just part of my larger attempt at being an ordinary Christian disciple—I try to pray each day. Sometimes this is private, sometimes corporate as I join students and faculty in praying the morning office liturgically.

Not going to lie to you and say that I am always on top of my prayer game. Striving to do better there and in all aspects of my service to Jesus the King. Hopefully it is two steps forward and only a step-and-a-half back.

6. The claims that you make in Allegiance are strong, yet they are obviously driven by a heart deeply concerned for the Western church. Do you hope that your book, and its identification of allegiance as the missing component of Christian life and experience, will be the impetus for a new reformation of sorts, perhaps even a counter reformation that brings Protestants and Roman Catholics closer to a point of reconciliation? If you had your way, what would this New Reformation look like, how long would it take to reset the parameters of Christianity and the global church, and upon what doctrinal and practical pillars would it stand?

A new Reformation? Wow, that sounds ambitious. And I can’t decide if it sounds terrifying or exhilarating as I contemplate all the perils and possibilities of what a new (or counter?) Reformation might look like today. And I do spout witticisms, engage in polemics, and drink beer, but not nearly as well or as much as would be necessary for me to play the role of a Luther!

But inasmuch as the Reformation fractured the church, yes, I dream that my book will stimulate unity. I think this dream of unity is something all the faithful have burned into their hearts. Jesus prayed for it, so we know that God desires his church to be one.

“One” does not necessarily entail a hierarchical unity under a single leadership structure—other possible modes of unity must be considered too—although I would contend that true unity must ultimately be visible to the world.

As our conversation unfolds over the next several sessions, I anticipate we’ll be able to speak more about what doctrinal and practical matters could help the church move in the right direction.

Matthew W. BatesMatthew W. Bates is Associate Professor of Theology at Quincy University in Quincy, Illinois. Bates holds a Ph.D. from The University of Notre Dame in theology with a specialization is New Testament and early Christianity. His books include Salvation by Allegiance Alone (Baker Academic, 2017), The Birth of the Trinity (Oxford University Press, 2015), and The Hermeneutics of the Apostolic Proclamation (Baylor University Press, 2012). He also co-hosts OnScript, a popular biblical studies podcast.

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Tavis Bohlinger

Dr. Tavis Bohlinger is Editor-in-Chief of the Logos Academic Blog and Creative Director at Reformation Heritage Books. He holds a PhD from Durham University and writes across multiple genres, including academia, poetry, and screenwriting. He lives in Grand Rapids with his wife and three children.

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  • 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. Also: His comments about Fundamentalism reflect the typical, out-dated stereotypes that show sloppy thinking. This guy isn’t worth your time.

    • Hi Wally, thanks for your comment. Matthew does have quite an original thesis in many regards, but it might be worth reading his book (at the very least the Introduction) to get a real sense of where he’s coming from and what he’s trying to argue for. I found that he doesn’t actually fall into those stereotypes you suggest, although that was also a concern of mine before opening the book. The value of the book, whether you agree with his premise or not, is in Matthew’s ability to make his readers think really hard about how faith relates to final salvation; in that regards, he (and his book) are certainly worth the time they are granted.

      • The concerns I have are not with the book as such, since I have not read it. The concerns I have are with statements he made during your interview which suggest something more is going on with him than the interview tells us.

        For example, he says ” I learned to love Jesus and the Bible, even if the strong-anti-intellectualism and fear of science within fundamentalism was confusing.”, “unlike within fundamentalism, I see further learning as a delight rather than a nagging worry that the intellectual center might not hold”, and ” my journey out of hyper-fundamentalism”. So 3 times in this brief interview he caricatures Fundamentalism. Although individual Fundamentalist churches can fit his description, academic Fundamentalism is not that way,and he should know that. I suspect that by “fear of science” he refers to evolution. So I would be interested in knowing if he believes in any form of evolution. I took Physics in high school and won the physics award that year. So to equate Fundamentalists’ opposition to evolution with “fear of science” is absurd.

        He says ” 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.” I would like to know if he believes in inerrancy. This interview series is called the “hot seat”, so ask direct and specific questions about this.

        He also says “as the Catholic theological tradition has often excelled at holding together faith and reason.” That statement is questionable since the Catholic Church places reason and Tradition ahead of Scripture. Thus the current Catholic views about evolution and universalistic salvation. What does he really believe about Catholic theology concerning justification? Pin him down.

        He says “I join students and faculty in praying the morning office liturgically.” What does that mean? Get him to explain.

        Since I haven’t read the book, the best I can say is that I have doubts about what he is trying to do with this book and its premise. But his comments are VERY revealing.

        • These are all important questions, Wally, and I appreciate you raising them. My goal in the Hot Seat series is to take authors to task on the fundamental (pun not intended) aspects of their work under discussion. All of the questions in this first part of the interview stemmed from reading his Introduction in “Allegiance,” so I recommend reading that to hear Matt’s whole story and to see how much, if at all, he caricatures various strands of the Christian tradition. FYI, the remaining parts of the interview are where things really heat up. Those should be posted over the course of the next few weeks.

        • Worth noting for interviews: not everyone reading the interviews cares about whether the scholar is a bonafide fundamentalist.

          • My concerns are not “whether the scholar is a bonafide fundamentalist”. One of my concerns is that he repeats (three times in a brief interview) outdated stereotypes of Fundamentalist academics, and that reflects poorly on his own academic integrity. There’s more behind his comments than he lets on.

  • Tavis, why the incessant need of so many to attempt to form “bridges” between Catholic and Protestant theology? There seems to be a certain post-modern angst about finding a composite theology that somehow transcends fundamental theological divides, as though “unity” is an ultimate ideal of Christian life that “Jesus prayed for”. There is nothing wrong with holding the line, and defending the necessary breeches between Catholic and Protestant theology. There is nothing pious about seeking a supposed theological compromise, that ignores Catholic false teaching. The Catholic gospel combines faith with works. The Catholic magisterium has never repented of the unbiblical doctrine of Purgatory as a place where sin-stained “believers” can work off the demerits of their sins. And on and on it goes. Bates is surfacing as just another well-trained academic, who is choosing to use his academic prowess as a way of challenging orthodox interpretations of Scripture under the banner of “moving the church in the right direction”. It is the Catholic Church that needs to move in the right direction by repenting of their false faith-plus-works gospel and every other twisted theological premise stemming from that diseased root. With any due respect Tavis, and with true concern, your enthusiastic appeal that Bates would lead us to see “allegiance as the missing component of Christian life” and spur us to a “New Reformation” by “resetting the parameters of Christianity and the global church” seems to betray a motivation on your part to join Bates, and Wright, and others like him, who offer “new” insights, and “over-looked” and supposed “neglected motifs” like “allegiance” INSTEAD OF FAITH in the Biblical Gospel rightly taught. Do not these attractive and intriguing “new” insights ever appear slightly insidious? The writings of the New Testament epistles, more often than not, were occasioned by the interminable “new insights” of the Gospel, and of Christ, and of the Church, that were attempting to invade and compromise the orthodoxy of the teachings of the Apostles. These attacks persist today, unabated, but realized in new forms, and propagated through technology-driven media forms unknown in the first century. 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, and 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 postmodern 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.

    • Hi Phil, many thanks for your extended comment. You raise some important issues, to be sure. Instead of a prolonged response, I suggest waiting to see how things heat up in the rest of the interview. The reason we named this interview the “Hot Seat” is because my goal is to challenge the underlying assumptions of invited authors’ work for the benefit of all parties (church, academy et al). I’m not sure at which points you detected a “fascination” on my part with his thesis (I actually take a very different line of interpretation than he does in my current work on Romans). Be assured that I don’t let Matthew get off the hook very easily as the conversation continues. Part 1 was simply an introductory ice-breaker of sorts before the real discussion gets underway.

      • Hi Tavis, thanks so much for the reply. I will stay tuned, and hopefully to see you toe the orthodox line. 🙂

  • 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?

    • Hi Tyler, great comment. Regarding your first question, I would just kindly point out that the statement you quote is my personal synopsis of Matthew’s thesis, not something directly cited from “Allegiance.” Having read the entire book myself, I can assure you that Matthew is very careful not to broadbrush his argument to include every instance of pistis in the NT. To answer your second set of questions, I humbly suggest that you read Matthew’s first chapter, where he discusses Heb 11:1 and similar passages, albeit in a short section. His approach there is commendable, if not completely persuasive to every reader. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts after having engaged with his work, and the rest of this Hot Seat interview.

  • Update – I read the excerpt from Logos’ website. I liked the way the author briefly handled Heb 11:1, especially the way he interpreted the Greek text to speak of a “substance” based on evidence, rather than an abstract “confidence.” He appears to be arguing against a false form of “faith” that is common in generic conservative Christianity. I was intrigued enough to order it from my library via ILL.

    To be honest, this introductory article seemed (to me, at least) to paint the author as an ecumenical Jell-O mold; somebody rebounding from the far right-wing of an intellectually vacuous fundamentalism, who has discovered something “new” about “faith,” and is anxious to share it with the world – all while having a nice group-hug under the banner of an ethereal “unity.” The book’s actual intro doesn’t read that way at all, so I’m very cautiously optimistic. As I said before, I’m looking forward to the heart of the issue in the coming posts.

  • Upon finishing the book, reading this first “Hot Seat” interview and followed by the comments above, I would like to offer another perspective…one which unfortunately is relegated to the shadows all too often. When the profound things of Scripture collide with our egocentric world views and our innate fears of jumping into the deeper waters of history, culture and the writings of the early Church fathers our eyes become scaled over while we blindly follow the next cult of personality claiming to have found the hidden answer. Their are too many unwitting Gnostics today who are too obtuse to realize their blindness. Bates is certainly not one of them. Perhaps his argument will fall atop hardened hearts or maybe, just maybe, the boldness of calling us to allegiance may wake a slumbering Church?

    Not only does Dr. Bates point out the changes in what baggage the word “faith” carries with it in postmodern/post-Christian West which infects and greatly distorts the theology of the laity, he reminds us that the, “Gospel is holistic. That is, we must be careful to not overspiritualize the gospel, as “pistis” involves active allegiance to Jesus the king” (pg. 209). Continuing, he writes, “Jesus’ disciples must take up the cross not as an optional extra but because allegiance to Jesus and his gospel means that acquiring his death-to-self disposition is the only way in the end to find that you have a self that belongs in his eternal kingdom” (210). This is a very strong counter-cultural statement deserving of some time to soak into one’s world view.

    Returning to Bates’ emphasis on retooling our use of “faith/belief,” he adds, “With its [faith] anti-evidential, anti-rational, and ‘leap’ connotations, the English word faith is of LIMITED VALUE when discussing eternal salvation in our present climate. Meanwhile belief is also inadequate, because in contemporary idiom it suggests that we are saved by having the right facts squeezed into our brains. It primarily means ‘acknowledging as real or true’ but does not sufficiently capture the connotation of enacted loyalty” (212-213). Emphasis my own.

    He is making broad and sweeping assessments on both our contemporary exegesis but also upon our practical present-day expressions of following Christ. In dealing with these larger and thematically global [theologically speaking] themes, his diagnosis holds true along with his remedy. The most challenging aspect of treating our ills lays in our own laps. Will a hyper-busy and hyper-connected bifurcated church slow down long enough to ponder and savor the deeper things of Scripture or will its obsession with solving everything within one hundred and forty characters become its epitaph?

    We must commend Bates, whether or not we agree with his thesis, for his courage to present the well intentioned and broken Church with such a monograph while Her attention span and courage has been ever so compromised.

    En Cristo,
    Rev. Dana Craft

    • Well said, Dana Craft. I was once one of those hyper fundamentalists, because they were the ones who introduced this unchurched pagan to Jesus. 45 years ago I was in the top 10% of my high school class, but was counseled to avoid college and work with my hands as the Bible taught, so I wouldn’t lose my faith. It was years before I started to read authors outside my comfort zone. I still consider myself a fundamentalist, as well as evangelical and reformed. Sometimes we are too quick to judge, and I have found it better to hear someone out completely first. I recently taught a group of men a Bible study about faith and wanted to refresh my memory of the Greek for pistis, since I did not know their teaching background.Quoting Little Kittel, 3. pístis has the sense of a. “confidence,” “certainty,” “trust,” then b. “trustworthiness,” and c. “guarantee” or “assurance” in the sense of a pledge or oath with the two nuances of “trustworthiness” and “proof.”

      Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 849). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.
      Doesn’t “the sense of a pledge or oath” carry the idea of allegiance? Those men realized that day that their faith was not passive, but actually required something of them, namely allegiance to their Lord and King who had rescued them. I’ve only had my Kittel a few years so this was a revelation for me and is confirmed in the rest of Scripture. I’m looking forward to reading this book to further flesh out the implications.Unlike some, I will reserve judgment on Mr. Bates until I have tasted his words.

    • Dana,
      Your quote from Bate’s book: “Jesus’ disciples must take up the cross not as an optional extra but because allegiance to Jesus and his gospel means that acquiring his death-to-self disposition is the only way in the end to find that you have a self that belongs in his eternal kingdom”. To “find that you have a self that belongs to His eternal kingdom” by appraising whether you have a “death to self disposition” is, in effect, an attempt to achieve confidence in one’s salvation by an appraisal of the evidence of one’s “allegiance to Jesus and his gospel. By following this approach, a person will naturally default to looking at their works to find such evidence. Tell me then Dana, how this is not basing confidence of one’s salvation on works? If this is true, then will I not always be looking at my works in order to see if I am dying to self? And if I am constantly looking at my works to see if I am displaying a “death to self disposition”, then would I not be relying upon my ability to achieve allegiance to Jesus and His Gospel in order to be saved? Based on this, your single citation of Bate’s teaching quoted above, I would say Bates seems to present a very dangerous confusion between one’s lived out loyalty to Christ and Biblical salvation by faith. Am I missing something here? Having not read the book, and honestly, I cannot justify the time to read it, because it would necessitate sacrificing what limited time I do have for the reading of other more important theological resources as helps to my study of the Scripture. But who knows, perhaps I do not see the missing link. Look forward to your reply. Thanks.

  • I am not sure how to take Phil Owen’s comments on Jesus’ prayer fro unity. If John’s reporting on Jesus prayer to the Father that all may be one as Jesus and the Father are one in the Holy Spirit cannot be taken as prophetic ( in the old testament sense that what is spoken by a prophet will ultimately be realized) then what is the point of our faith?

    • Francis,
      I was specifically referring to oneness between Protestants and Roman Catholics. Jesus was not praying that we, Protestants and Roman Catholics, would become “one” as a fulfillment of prophecy in spite of our real and serious theological differences. There can be no oneness between Roman Catholics and Protestants as long as there is no unity in doctrine. And on the fundamentals there still is no unity. Allegiance to Christ, in and of itself, does not invalidate serious theological differences. But in fact, the issue of “faith”, in and of itself, actually reveals the theological divide. This is why it is so important to make a clear distinction between “faith” and “allegiance”.

  • As a Greek Orthodox Christian, whenever I read of Protestants broaching subjects such as this my attention is attracted, and that is also why I can understand the reactions of Wally Morris and Phil Owens. I’m looking forward to the other parts and maybe I’ll even end up purchasing the book.

  • Intriguing. Since I haven’t read the book yet, merely ordered it, that is all I will say for now. I’ll even refrain from mentioning how tedious it is to read extensive comments by others in my position.


  • I am wandering how did the author go from mpoint A to point zz23 (something I just made up.) It just seems quite wierd for someone to go to the works of Philo or Josephus(cannot remember which one the author used but it was one of those authors) or getting your defining understandings from the Apocrypha? I also wander how far afield did the author go to find out what it really means to keep faith or break faith. For those of us who have served, especially in war time in battle, those words take in such clear and not misunderstood meanings that I do not think the author really understands. Yes it is about loyalty and alliegance but goes quite further and deeper than what he expressed in his book. The other question I do really have a hard time understanding, when we are imputred with the works and rigteousness of Christ and Christ was judged a sinner for our sins by God, where does this exactly leave works done by us in order to get or remain saved?

  • Perhaps authors who are “On the hot seat” should be asked if they ever resource the material they use? This author sure did not. In one of his sources, he references a book by NT Wright. NT Wright lied and misrepresented what Josephus said and did.But this was used as one of the main resources for interpreting, “Repent and believe the gospel” that Christ said in Mark 1:15 is changed to, “repent and be loyal to me”.

    It just so happens, own quite a few works by NT Wright through Logos including the book resourced. I happen to also have a copy of Josephus’ autobiography. The guy who was hired had 800 soldiers with him and was hired to attack and kill Josephus. Josephus found out about this and after the person coming in to that city-the guards locked the other 800 soldiers out of the city and easily repelled them. Josephus told the person who took the job and those with him to throw down their weapons or they will be killed. Then Josephus pulled the man over hired to lead this attack and told him he knew of his plans. Because hye did not want Jews attacking Jews-doing Rome’s work themselves, he told the man that if he reprented and pledged aliegance to Josephus, he would spare his life. So the ideal becomes the reason why Josephus told him that-does not mean what Christ said in Mark 1:15 is magically transformed from “Repent and believe the gospel” becomes understood as, “repent and pledge your aliegance to me.

    Right now, I live in the Philippines and all my books are in the USA. I am not a scholar but I do have these resources throiugh Logos. Took me about five to ten minutes to figure out what was said was wrong. If this guy is a scholar, what is hios excuse? Here is what I found about Josephus:

    (22) 104 The men residing in this city had determined to stand firm in loyalty to the Romans and so had been anxious about my arrival. They tried to remain unafraid concerning themselves by distracting me with a different matter. 105 In fact, they had sent [word] to the bandit chief Iesous,519 at the frontier of Ptolemais, promising to give him many goods if he would strike up a battle521 against us with the force that was with him—they were 800 in number. 106 After he accepted the promises, he wanted to attack us unprepared, without prior warning. So he sent [word] to me, asking to receive license523 to meet and greet me. When I gave my consent, because I had no prior knowledge of the plot, he gathered up his gang of bandits and hurried against me.

    107 This sordid project did not, however, get past me so as to realize its purpose. For when he was already approaching, one of the men with him deserted and came to me, indicating his design. On discovering these things, I went ahead into the marketplace, pretending to be ignorant of the plot. I brought along526 many armed Galileans and even some Tiberians.528 108 I then ordered that all the roads be patrolled with the utmost security and charged those at the gates to allow only Iesous, whenever he appeared, to enter with his principals, but to lock the others out,530 beating back any who tried to force their way. 109 After they had done what was commanded, Iesous entered with a few men. When I then ordered him to discard his weapons immediately—for if he disobeyed he would be killed—and when he saw the armed soldiers come around him from every direction, he became afraid and submitted. Those of his followers who had been locked out fled when they found out about532 his arrest. 110 Now I called Iesous aside privately and told him that I was fully aware of the plot that had been hatched against me, and of those by whom he had been sent. Nevertheless, I would grant pardon for what had been done if he would change his thinking534 and become loyal to me. 111 When he promised to do all of that, I released him, allowing him to reassemble those men whom he had formerly led.536 Then I threatened the Sepphorites that if they did not quit their foolishness I would exact justice.538

    Josephus, F., & Mason, S. (2003). Flavius Josephus: Life of Josephus (pp. 73–74). Boston; Leiden: Brill.

Written by Tavis Bohlinger