And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)
Helping The Salvation Army
I recently presented a sermon on the Salvation Army as the season of bell ringers are heard throughout the land. The common response to the sermon was that most people were unaware the Salvation Army was anything but a community organization. As people of God, we must be careful how we interact with the world and especially condoning the practices of false doctrines. To that end, an examination of the Salvation Army is worthy of sharing their origin, beliefs, practices and how Christians should view the work of the Salvation Army.
The World Book Encyclopedia describes the Salvation Army as “A world-wide Christian religious body with semi military structure. It provides food, shelter, and clothing to the needy, and administers to the spirit by bringing religion to many whom churches never reach.” In 1865, William Booth served as a Methodist minister in London, England. He became concerned with the poor and homeless of London’s east end slums and began to encourage the new converts to attend the churches of the area. Victorian England was not ready for the hungry, destitute beggars of society to fill their pews. The poor were not welcomed and they were not comfortable in the world of the upper caste that looked upon them with derision. Booth decided to take matters into his own hands and established the East London Christian Mission. In 1878 Booth changed the name of the group to the Salvation Army. Eliza Shirley, a lieutenant in the Salvation Army, is credited with bringing the work to the United States in 1879 and the Salvation Army became an official group in 1880.
Few people recognize the Salvation Army as a church. They are an evangelical part of the universal Christian church that does charity work all over the world. Their beliefs are based on “what it says in the Bible” and their mission is to love and help people in need. They believe the scriptures are inspired of God; there is only one God and three persons in the Godhead. Jesus is considered divine and human. Booth’s background as a Methodist preacher lends a heavy Calvinistic view to salvation. The Salvation Army teaches the doctrine of total depravity and limited atonement of Christ. They accept justification by grace through faith rejecting baptism as necessary for salvation. “Repentance, faith, and regeneration by Holy Spirit are necessary.” Continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ including the doctrine of once saved, always saved (Calvinism). Salvationist accepts the immortality of soul, resurrection of body, judgment, eternal happiness, and endless punishment. The Salvation Army is opposed to abortion and denies LBGT dogmas but accepts both. Women fill the role of preaching and leadership within their church. The Lord Supper is not provided. The Salvation Army is a church.
Hearing the ringing of the bells and seeing the red buckets is the seasonal sounds of Christmas. The Salvation Army is heavily involved in many programs for the community. Each red bucket represents a church asking for donations to continue their work. Thrift stores are packed with merchandise sold to further the cause of the Salvation Army. Programs by the Salvation Army propagate the work of a church that is not built upon the truth of Jesus Christ. Hugh Davis, a gospel preacher of days gone by, writes: “Although the objective of the program may be commendable, it creates a problem for some in that, if they participate, they will be contributing to a religious body they do not endorse and with which they cannot have fellowship. Make no mistake about it – the Salvation Army is not a civic organization, but a religion. Contributions made in response to this appeal could as well be made to the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, and the Unitarian Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses or any other denominational church.”
Paul warned the Corinthians to be separate from the world. The New Testament church began at Pentecost; not 1865. The Salvation Army is a man-made organization seeking to usurp the organization of the New Testament church and fails to teach the Biblical pattern of salvation. They do not teach the whole counsel of God.