If you’re a preacher, you probably know the name William Barclay from The Daily Study Bible Series commentary.
Barclay is a dangerous resource to use.
On the one hand, you will almost always find him making an insightful, practical, and/or “preachable” comment on any given text. At least, that’s what I’ve found.
On the other hand, his comments are also full of liberal assumptions that lead to liberal conclusions. For example, regarding Biblical authority, Barclay often says things such as: “even if the phrase Son of God is not part of the original text of the Gospel…” ; “…it is generally agreed that Acts 8:37 is not part of the original text of the book…”; and “Whether or not that statement is part of the original text…” He undermines faith in God’s Word.
Well, here’s another complaint to add against him—Barclay talks about faith as allegiance.
A couple of years ago, Bob addressed Matthew Bates‘s claim that faith should be understood as allegiance. I didn’t realize you could also find that idea in Barclay who said that “Allegiance to the Son is the condition of salvation.” Here is the full quote:
This means that a Christian is a man who gives his allegiance to Jesus Christ the Son. He who disobeys the Son shall not see eternal life: God’s wrath rests upon him (John 3:36). The commandment of God is that the Christian must give allegiance to Jesus Christ (1 John 3:23). John’s letter is addressed to those who give allegiance to the Son of God (1 John 5:13). The man who puts his faith in him (the Son) does not come under judgment; but the unbeliever has already been judged because he has not given allegiance to God’s only Son (John 3:18). Allegiance to the Son is the condition of salvation (Barclay, Jesus as They Saw Him, p. 62).
What is especially disturbing is that if you looked up the verses he mentions—John 3:18, 36; 1 John 3:23; and 5:13—you’ll find they all refer to believing in Jesus. But Barclay interprets that to mean allegiance to Jesus which conveys an entirely different idea. Salvation by allegiance is salvation by works and effort and loyal obedience. It is a classic case of teaching works salvation by redefining faith to mean doing good works.
I write this only because of Barclay’s large audience and influence. I remember his commentaries being in my mother’s library, as well as in the library of my Open Brethren church. You probably have him in your library, too. If so, be careful of which teachers you welcome into your house!