Salvation Army

General Information

The Salvation Army is an international Christian evangelical organization that was founded in London in 1865 by William Booth, a Methodist minister and evangelistic preacher. As a religious movement engaged in social services, the army has, since its inception, made a goal of approaching sociological problems with Christian concern.

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In keeping with its name (adopted 1878), the Salvation Army is operated on a military pattern. Ministers are officers with military rank, and the general, headquartered in London, is the army's top international leader. Parishioners are soldiers, the main center of worship is the corps, and the Articles of War are signed as a declaration of faith by enrolling Salvationists. Both officers and soldiers are entitled, as missionaries of God, to wear the army uniform and to bear the symbolic red shield.

Basic training for each officer, following a required high school education, is a 2 year in - residence course at a Salvation Army School for Officers' Training. Besides formal study, the curriculum includes practical field experience in corps community centers and other institutions as well as orientation in all possible areas of Salvation Army service.

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Salvation Army assistance is given without regard to race, age, sex, creed, or condition. Among its many programs are correctional services for prisoners and parolees, day care, senior citizen clubs and residences, summer camps, emergency and disaster services, missing persons bureaus, rehabilitation for alcoholism and drug abuse, family counseling, and visitation to institutionalized individuals.

In an effort to attract those frightened away by church formality, the Salvation Army stresses music rather than the sacraments; music has been made an integral part of its ministry. Salvation Army brass bands, string combos, and vocal groups exist the world over.

The Salvation Army has grown from one man's dream in 1865 to an international phenomenon with headquarters in 82 lands and approximately 25,000 officers preaching the Gospel in 110 languages. The army, with a total membership of more than 2,500,000, operates more than 3,600 social institutions, hospitals, and agencies and nearly 17,000 evangelical centers.

Paul S Kaiser

C Barnes, God's Army (1978); S Chesham, Born to Battle (1965); C W Kew, The Salvation Army (1976); R Sandall, The History of the Salvation Army (1947 - 73).

Salvation Army - William Booth (1829 - 1912)

Advanced Information

Founder of the Salvation Army. Born in Nottingham, he grew up amid poverty, became a pawnbroker's assistant, was converted at fifteen, and subsequently became a Methodist pastor. A missing dimension in his ministry, however, made him restless. For Booth, the Lord's requirements involved loosing the chains of injustice, freeing captive and oppressed, sharing food and home, clothing the naked, and carrying out family responsibilities. Victorian England, on the other hand, upheld God - appointed stations, especially for the poor. William Booth argued that to speak of godly poverty was no indication that God approved destitution. For him this was no theological issue: people did not stop dying in hopelessness and squalor while theologians discussed nice points of divinity.

Aided by the remarkable Catherine, whom he married in 1855, he began the Christian Mission as a rescue operation in London's East End. Renamed the Salvation Army thirteen years later (1878), it waged war on a dual front, against the pinch of poverty and the power of sin. Mainline churches shunned the new movement; magistrates and police offered little protection when mobs jeered, threw stones, broke windows, vandalized the Army's property. Booth pressed on, seeking castaways, exposing vice, providing homes and food, employment and medical care, reconciling families, and giving unwelcome publicity to frightful social conditions that no other agency would tackle.

On the basis that the devil was a proud spirit who could not bear to be mocked, Booth identified him as the chief enemy, challenged his monopoly of "all the best tunes," and used the big drum to deafen him. Booth fearlessly waged war against such contemporary evils as the sweat shops and girls sold into prostitution. In 1890 he published In Darkest England, and the Way Out, which set the tone for the Army's increasing emphasis on its social program for which, rather than for the message of "blood and fire", the movement is best known today.

His Army spread throughout the world, but Booth was always very much in control. A writer sent to interview him said he expected to meet a visionary and saint, and found instead the astutest businessman in the city of London. Booth was responsible for a whole network of social and regenerative agencies; Lord Wolseley once described him as the world's greatest organizer.

Criticism came because his Army observed no sacraments. Booth denied he was against them. Perhaps the wranglings these had caused in other churches did not encourage him to change his mind. By the time the century closed, Booth had won his fight: freeman of London, honorary doctor of Oxford, guest at the coronation of Edward VII and of the United States Senate, which he opened with prayer. In 1912 "the General laid down his sword", and people of all ranks were among the thousands of funeral mourners.

J D Douglas

H Begbie, Life of William Booth; S J Ervine, God's Soldier; R Collier, The General Next to God; F Coutts, Bread for My Neighbour and No Discharge in This War; E H McKinley, Marching to Glory.

Salvation Army - Doctrines

General Information

We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.

We believe that there is only one God, who is infinitely perfect, the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all things, and who is the only proper object of religious worship.

We believe that there are three persons in the Godhead-the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, undivided in essence and co-equal in power and glory.

We believe that in the person of Jesus Christ the Divine and human natures are united, so that He is truly and properly God and truly and properly man.

We believe that our first parents were created in a state of innocency, but by their disobedience they lost their purity and happiness, and that in consequence of their fall all men have become sinners, totally depraved, and as such are justly exposed to the wrath of God.

We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has by His suffering and death made an atonement for the whole world so that whosoever will may be saved.

We believe that repentance towards God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit, are necessary to salvation.

We believe that we are justified by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and that he that believeth hath the witness in himself.

We believe that continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.

We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified, and that their whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We believe in the immortality of the soul; in the resurrection of the body; in the general judgment at the end of the world; in the eternal happiness of the righteous; and in the endless punishment of the wicked.

(from the Salvation Army)

The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

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