… the pew sitter who is self-satisfied and wants to be left undisturbed in a thin discipleship, for the Zane Hodges1)Of the Free Grace Theology follower who thinks faith and repentance are largely cognitive, for the unconditional, soft love of God folks who think they are (more or less) entitled to God’s love, and for the grace-ist theologian who thinks he elevates God’s glory by over cooking grace and thereby eliminates faith as allegiance (can I hear an Amen for Bonhoeffer’s “costly grace”?) and who needs to read John Barclay’s Paul and the Gift, this book by Matthew Bates is urgently needed.
Now, at long last, someone has come along and pointed the way out of the wilderness of soft grace, a grace untethered to the teachings of Christ. Again, here’s Bates. What happens to allegiance, he asks,
When we say “faith, not works” or “just believe Jesus died for your sins.” He wonders why we then say “genuine faith produces good works” but works don’t save? Why the fumbling around? Why avoid the obvious: genuine faith includes ongoing faith. Why not just translate it with “allegiance”?
Indeed. I have long argued that saving faith is measured by works (see here and here) because works, when ordered to Christ’s teaching, are the right expression of faithfulness or, in the words of Bates and McKnight, allegiance.
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