Should Christians Support the Salvation Army?
Text: II John 5-11
I. Would you consider it right to drop money in a Catholic church’s collection box? Would you send monthly tithes to a Methodist church?
A. For Christians following the New Testament, the answer is a strong “No.”
B. We don’t agree with the teachings of these denominations, so why would we support them?
C. The Bible teaches against supporting those who teach different doctrines from the Scriptures - II John 9-11
D. Instead, we are to separate ourselves from those who teach error - I Timothy 6:3-5
E. Yet, each year the bells ring around town as a group called the “Salvation Army” asks people to give to their cause.
II. History of the Salvation Army
A. A Methodist minister, William Booth, left his congregation in 1861 to become a freelance evangelist.
B. He began teaching among the poor in the slum sections of London. In 1865 he formed an organization called, Christian Mission. In 1878 the name was changed to Salvation Army.
C. The new name dominated the organization of this group
1. They drew up Articles of War (a statement of faith)
2. Mission groups became corps.
3. Members became soldiers
4. Evangelists became officers
5. Booth reasoned that it was “just as valid to build an army of crusaders to save souls as it has been to send armies to recover a sepulchre.”
D. Today it has about a half-million members, but it also has 3.5 million volunteers helping with its efforts.
III. Beliefs of the Salvation Army
A. “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church” [From its mission statement].
1. Thus it believes, like many denominations, that it is one branch of Christ’s church.
2. I Corinthians 1:11-13 - Christ is not divided
3. In July 9, 1993, an article in the Birmingham News, titled “Salvation Army Eyes Change in Militarism” stated that several members wanted to start calling their officers “pastors” instead of lieutenants, captains, and majors” because they want the public to be aware that the Salvation Army is a church.
B. “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” [from its doctrinal beliefs]
1. The Bible teaches that all men sin, but not because they inherited sin.
2. Children are without the concept of good and evil - Deuteronomy 1:39
3. Childhood innocence is what Christians are to be converted to - Matthew 18:3
4. All men turn aside from the truth - Romans 3:12
5. Death spread to all men because all men sin - Romans 5:12
6. Sin is not inheritable - Ezekiel 18:20
C. “The Bible is not safely used without reference to the general understanding of the Christian community throughout history, any more than it is understood without the help of the Spirit.” [Salvation Story: Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine, 1998 edition, page 7]
1. God desires all men to come to an understanding - I Timothy 2:4
2. People came to an understanding without receiving the Holy Spirit - Acts 8:12, 14-16
3. Understanding is commanded - Ephesians 5:17
4. The basis of understanding is the desire to do God’s will - John 7:17
D. “We are justified by grace through faith alone....This is the essence of the scriptural truth that we are justified by grace through faith alone.” [Salvation Story, page 74]
1. James directly contradicts this statement - James 2:24
2. It is a selective reading of Ephesians 2:4-10. Verse 10 is ignored or downplayed.
3. While their own book gives credence to the need for repentance, caused by faith. It ignores passages, such as Romans 10:8-9, Acts 2:38, or I Peter 3:21
4. James’ point is that faith alone is insufficient unless it is accompanied by effort to do God’s will.
E. “The majority of Christians find value in the ritual celebrations of baptism and communion. Since 1883, these have not been part of Salvationist practice. As God meets us in Jesus, we can receive his grace without prescribed rituals and experience real communion with him by the exercise of faith.” Salvation Story, page 107]
1. Here they clearly claim the rite to alter what God commanded.
2. All Christians were baptized - Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27
3. The Lord’s Supper was commanded to be observed until the Lord’s return - I Corinthians 11:23-26
4. We read in the New Testament the example of the early Christians partaking each first day of the week - Acts 20:7
F. As noted at the beginning of this lesson, Salvationists chose to raise money by soliciting non-members.
1. The church was told to raise money on the first day of the week by the voluntary offerings of its members - I Corinthians 16:1-2
2. No other method was given
3. We do not ask the world to support the work of those who have left the world
IV. Rather than support a denomination actively teaching another gospel, let us concentrate our efforts in furthering the work of the church - Galatians 1:6-9