Is your allegiance in Christ?

An intriguing new argument made by Bible scholar Matthew Bates in his book, “Salvation by Allegiance Alone,” states that the word “faith” in the New Testament, especially the epistles of Paul, could be translated more accurately as “allegiance” in many cases. (I have not yet read the entire book, only the introduction.)  He argues that when we are being asked to have faith in Christ, the meaning is more closely aligned with the concept of fidelity, as in swearing loyalty or fidelity to a king. Given the Pauline letters’ emphasis on the kingship of Christ, this makes sense, and it provides an intriguing new way of thinking about our relationship with Christ.

The concept of allegiance suggests a more devoted kind of discipleship than mere belief or mental assent that Christ is Saviour. When we pledge our allegiance to someone or something, we declare what side we are on, who we are working for. We declare our loyalty, our flag, our colors. We become, in the truest sense of the word, disciples. The root of the word disciple is the same as that of the word discipline. In declaring our allegiance to Christ, we submit to his discipline, or in other words, the devotional life he, as King, requires of his subjects.

This declaration of allegiance has saving power. In an earthly kingdom, declaring allegiance to a king makes one a citizen and a subject. Period. A life of discipleship (think, devoted citizenship) must follow, but the individual has declared to whom they belong. It doesn’t matter whether the loyal subject is a peasant or a wealthy landowner. The protection of the King is guaranteed. Similarly, when we declare our allegiance to Christ, he becomes our Saviour and Protector as we become His disciple-subjects, regardless of our relative weaknesses and strengths at the time. But if we are serious about our allegiance to the King, we will eventually become good subjects.

Loyalty oaths and pledges of allegiance can be dangerous when it is mere human beings asking for them. Often, when a person demands loyalty and allegiance, they are up to no good and are trying to manipulate someone. But in declaring our loyalty and allegiance to Christ, we are making the safest and wisest pledge we can, and are yoking ourselves to the only Master who truly has the power to guide us to eternal life.

Sometimes using the same language gets us in a rut. When we use the same word over and over again, often for our entire lives, it can lose meaning. It becomes background noise. Suggesting alternative translations, if not completely changing meaning, can at least offer new perspectives of what seems like a familiar term: faith. So, fellow-citizens, keep the faith…or… keep your allegiance in Christ, our King.

Sheldon Lawrence is the founder of bibledice.com, an award winning essayist, and author of the recent afterlife novel “Hearts of the Fathers: A story of Heaven, Hell, and the hope of new life after life.” 

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8 thoughts on “Is your allegiance in Christ?

  1. It was really interesting for me to read how you have thought about it! It actually makes great sense!
    I had a question. What do you think about “faith alone can save us” Then? I kinda think it sounds wrong, since Jesus tried his best to teach us how to *act and live* at first. And here, interpreting faith as allegiance and being a deciple, we both are on the same page that “we need to have the decipline that Jesus introduced to us”

    I really like to hear your idea about it.
    If then, how would you interpret the verses people use to prove “actions cant get us to heaven”?
    I really think actions are how we prove our faith/alligiance, and thats a *part* of having faith.
    Curiously looking forward for your ideas on this subject!

    God bless!

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    • Woah! I’m really enjoying the tetepatl/mheme of this blog. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s very difficult to get that “perfect balance” between user friendliness and visual appeal. I must say you have done a superb job with this. Additionally, the blog loads extremely fast for me on Opera. Outstanding Blog!

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    • Kim, thank you for your reply and sorry for the delay. It sounds like we agree on the importance of discipleship. I think too often people use “faith alone” as a kind of excuse. I believe that faith and grace enable discipleship rather than excuse us from its demands. Salvation isn’t just about escaping hell but becoming a certain kind of being in Christ. The relationship between faith as trust/belief and faith as allegiance/works becomes dynamic and mutually supportive. I’ve seen in my own life where I sometimes need faith to motivate me to good works, and other times when some act of rote obedience and discipline increases my faith.

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      • Thanks for your reply! I really like how we think alike about that topic. I really like your blog! It’s so enlightening, giving believers new insights in Scripture. God bless you.

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  2. …On earth as it is in Heaven. We need to use the time we are given here on earth to practice our citizenship for our arrival in Heaven. This means praying, fellowshipping, spreading the good news and imitating Christ, our Savior, to the very best of our human ability! Show Christ your allegiance through your works!

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  3. Things are too much like a gang identification already. There’s a danger of becoming a false prophet. People aren’t meant to ape belief or to work without any sort of evidence–they become fakes.

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