Salvation Army, what it believes

The Salvation Army, of course, is more than a social service organization. It is also a Christian denomination. I never really knew what they believed, until a recent news article described its beliefs in some detail. For a newspaper to do this is remarkable, but I guess this time of year the Salvation Army is newsworthy.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the Salvation Army have s a fairly routine set of beliefs. They accept the Trinity, the idea of Original Sin, and Christ’s atonement.

They believe that salvation comes through faith in Christ, and this requires personal repentance for one’s individual sins. If a believer falls back into sin, his salvation is in danger, as he is rejecting Christ.

Immortality of the soul, resurrection of the body, heaven and hell, the Bible inspired by God etc.

They don’t practice baptism, however. Nor do they have a communion service. The SA considers those merely outward signs of an inward conversion. For the SA, the uniform they wear serves that purpose. The officers (who have completed a two year training program) wear a uniform which is trimmed in red. The soldiers wear a similar uniform, but trimmed in blue.

A ban on alcohol and gambling is another practice which sets them apart from some Christian denominations.

And… a key part of their doctrine is their strong social mission. Said one officer: “We don’t want people just sitting in the pews. We believe in saving souls, serving suffering humanity and building saints.”

Knowing that they are a church, I used to feel uncomfortable donating to their kettles. I’ve gotten over that, after reading of countless disaster relief efforts in which they are part.

How do others feel? I am thinking that support for a private charity is a good thing, as it lessens the need for government assistance.

There has been in the news and Catholic Answers serious concern about the Salvation Army’s stand on abortion. That would make me not contribute.

I remember many years ago, there was an explosion on an Aircraft Carrier in Boston harbor. I was part of a Fire and Rescue Team from another Navy ship in the port that was sent to fight the resulting fire aboard the Carrier.
After many hours of fighting the resulting fire and overhauling it, we left the ship. On the pier were trucks of the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, Both were serving Coffee. The Red Cross truck was charging the sailors 10 cents a cup for the coffee (this was back in the 1950’s). The Salvation Army coffee was free. Since that time, I have always donated to the S.A, and not have given one red cent to the Red Cross.
Incidentally, the SA never uses professional fund raisers or advertises for donations, whereas the Red Cross does both.

I don’t know about the coffee, but as many already know, I live in Mexico. Once, I needed surgery, and I was told a Friday afternoon here that…oh, by the way, you need to find somebody who can donate a pint of blood on your behalf, (as a precaution in case I needed any).

Anyway, I looked and could not find anyone willing to give me a pint of blood. I went in early Monday morning, had the IV in my arm. They nearly cancelled my surgery! They didn’t only because my friend put that I would do an IOU if I ever ended up needing the pint (which I didn’t).

I heard there was an ad in the US about what the Red Cross does, that if we didn’t have organizations like it, we’d need to be out there asking if they’d give us a pint of blood. I’ve actually been there!

Here, people don’t like to give blood, it would seem.

Anyway, in defense of the Red Cross, I donate to it, anyway.

Here, in Mexico, the Red Cross is the first line of defense. I live within a few blocks of one, in fact. Here, they practice medicine, have their own ambulances, and they are often the first responders here in car accidents and other emergencies.

A friend of mine was in a car accident out on the highway. If memory serves, the Red Cross ambulance, got him out of his car and tended to him, got him to the hospital.

I have so much respect for the Red Cross.

A friend of mine (God rest her soul) used to volunteer with them and couldn’t speak highly enough about how organized, systematic, efficient, and experienced they were in disaster relief.

She once crossed to Mexico with a bunch of needles and some, probably used, CPR dolls. The Mexican Red Cross I am sure appreciated the donation from the American Red Cross.

I was in Alabama for Hurricane Katrina, and again, there was the Red Cross.

So, although they may have charged for coffee in the '50s, they have since come a long way. I’d donate to the Red Cross anytime.

The Salvation Army has its roots in the Methodist Church in England and therefore their beliefs a downline of that, which of course was a modification of Anglicanism. As with many social service organizations, the orthodoxy tends to get watered down by the orthopraxis. It is hard to maintain both.

Is it really true that they don’t believe in Baptism though? Can someone clarify this and why they claim such if anyone knows?

In my limited experience they seem to stress-and act on -love for God and neighbor better than many other denominations.

The “Holiness” traditions tend to downplay sacraments. In the case of the SA, though, it has to do with their rather ambiguous status as a sort of parachurch church, I believe. Like many Protestant movements, they didn’t start out to be a denomination. They didn’t baptize as a way of saying “we aren’t trying to bring people into our particular group, but to bring them to Jesus and help them out of whatever mess they are in.” Over time they essentially became a church anyway, but they still didn’t baptize. That’s my understanding, anyway.

My family ran a small organization in Britain which was modeled on the early Salvation Army. (They thought that the later SA had become too much of a social service organization and not evangelistic enough.) When I first became interested in Catholicism/Orthodoxy, I used to tease my grandmother that the picture of Catherine Booth (SA cofounder) she had on her wall was really an icon and that Booth was her patron saint. It was really true in many ways.



Now that is encouraging…

I was an adherent to a SA church for about a year, they are
very much ON FIRE for the Lord and their MEN"S fellowship
is very warm and inviting. I even went to one of their camp
meetings in the province of Newfoundland in Canada,over
a weekend. I sang “How Great Thou Art” to a cheering, clap-
ping camp meeting!

There’s a brief statement of their beliefs at the following link. Apparently they have 11 doctrines, which are summarised if you look at the link.

They may be Protestant, but personally I think God’s got a soft spot for them, as they take His command to serve others so seriously. I’ve attached a second link which shows two war time photographs.

The second photograph shows a wounded Lieutenant Gardiner having a cigarette lit by a Salvation Army chaplain, somewhere on the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea in World War II. It’s my understanding the Salvos were walking up and down the hills with the troops, in abysmal conditions, and the Salvos were very well regarded by the troops.

Incidentally the photographer who took the photograph was Damien Parer, who was later killed in 1944 covering US troops at Peleliu on Palau Island. He was a devout Catholic himself, and not that long ago I read where one of his brothers had died after years as a religious brother.

Anyway I think God’s got a soft spot for the Salvos. I also think He’s got, or had, a soft spot for the Irish, as they provided much of the impetus for missionary work in the early Middle Ages, and also spread the Catholic Church wherever they went. But I think they might be losing it now.

What do you mean by had? God still loves the Irish! :slight_smile:

I think you are right about the Salvation Army. They have successfully run a homeless shelter in West Chester, Pennsylvania for decades now. I’ve seen firsthand what sort of great work they are doing in my community. While I am proud to be a Catholic, I’d be foolish not to recognize that these holy people in the Salvation Army are very much doing the work of the angels.

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