I just read with much displeasure the article, "Can Christians Help Support the Salvation Army?" I am admittedly somewhat biased as a third-generation Salvationist, but I found your posting quite misleading. It makes no attempt to understand the Salvation Army doctrines and looks simply to highlight doctrinal differences with other denominations.
A few points of clarification:
“Several in the Lord's church have helped support the Salvation Army, not knowing it is a denomination”
The Salvation Army makes no secret of being a church, a Christian organization, or a denomination. Although some people may know us best through the social work (which is expected to the work done), the social work is only there as an extension of our Christian requirement to help ease human suffering, spread the good news, and win souls for Christ.
This denomination teaches others they are born sinners
I don’t understand your argument here. Yes, we need to be like “little children” as in accepting Christ with a pure innocence like a child, but that does not mean that we are not born in a state of sin, or that man is not born with a sinful nature.
Some verses for reference, I can provide more if you like:
Romans 5:18 Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God
Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
The Salvation Army teaches no one can understand the Bible without the direct help of the Holy Spirit. In no place does the Bible teach men must receive the direct help of the Holy Spirit in order to understand and know the truth.
Again, not sure why this is an issue. Non-believers cannot fully understand the Bible (we can argue that point), but believers, those who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, can understand it fully. The difference-maker is the Holy Spirit, hence the note in the doctrine handbook (not a doctrine itself, for clarification).
John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you
Further, Acts 2 that you cite is all about the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, the people responded to the words of Peter after seeing the effects of the Holy Spirit on the disciples, but clearly it was the power of the Holy Spirit, not just the spoken words, that convicted, enlightened and upon conversion, entered them.
Page 188 of their creed book teaches baptism and the Lord's Supper should not be practiced at all today
I do not have a copy of the handbook with me for reference but I believe this to be overstated. I do not believe that it states that it should not be practiced today. Rather, my understanding has always been that it is perfectly acceptable for a Salvationist to be water baptized or take part in the Lord’s Supper (I have taken part in many as have many of my Christian friends), but these sacraments are not required for salvation. We believe the "one baptism" refers to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. As the wearing of our uniforms, water baptism is an outward sign of an inward commitment to Christ. Water baptism in itself is an act, it is the outward stating of the commitment that is the goal. No problem with water baptism whatsoever for those who wish to participate. We believe in the Baptism by Fire (Matthew 3: 11 I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."). Eph 4:5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. It says there is one baptism. Since the Bible speaks of both a water baptism (which we deem symbolic) and a baptism by fire (the Holy Spirit) which one would it make sense is the “one baptism”? As for the Lord’s Supper, thanks to God and remembrance of Christ should be given at every meal. You will not see a Salvation Army meal where the blessing is not asked. Does this meet the requirement or does there have to be pomp and ceremony around it in order to count? No disrespect to these sacraments or to those who practice them regularly, rather more power to those who truly honor them but we do not accept them as a requirement of Salvation based on our understanding of scripture.
They also teach a Christian can be sanctified, so as to never sin.
Again, I believe you have misstated. Sanctification should be the goal of every Christian. To lead a Holy life, blameless in the eyes of God (so as to never sin) is my desire, as I assume it is yours. Can this be achieved? I believe it can but being men it is not possible on our own, but only through the power of the Holy Spirit. Does every Christian reach this point? No, not even close. But again, the goal is to live a Holy life. Much like Christ taught that the Old Testament law was not to act on sinful impulses whereas the New Testament required men not to even entertain the thoughts. Are you saying Christ requires of us things that are not possible? This is not to say that we won’t be tempted, even Christ was. I have a hard time understanding why you would criticize a church for preaching sanctification and holiness (not to mention putting faith into action), it seems that should be the standard of all Christ based, Bible-believing churches.
The Salvation Army has left the Bible doctrine concerning giving.
This one appears to be a real stretch, and my gut tells me it is at the root of your criticism of the Salvation Army. Salvationists are encouraged to tithe, just like any Christian church. I was on the finance board for my corps (church) for years and I will say that many are regular and generous givers. Some are not. I don’t think the Salvation Army is unique in this regard. Do we accept donations from non-members? Absolutely. Do we solicit them? Yup. How is that contrary to Corinthians 16? We give on the first day of the week. I see nothing forbidding the acceptance of any “outside” funds for God’s work. Shelters, drug, and alcohol treatment centers, missionary work, aid to the poor and homeless, hospitals, etc. require funds to run. And thank God that He lays it on the hearts of even unbelievers to provide financial support. If we were a non-mission church, closed our doors, and simply catered to the saved, funds would not be required. But we are trying to honor the Great Commission, and do our part to reach out to the marginalized and win them for Christ.
Finally, I don’t understand your concerns but respect your right to have them. All I would ask is that you don’t resort to inflammatory comments or snips of information to justify your dislike of the Salvation Army or to further spread your opinion or message. Be fully factual and the truth will speak clearly. I would invite you to take some time and volunteer at one of our shelters or even attend a Sunday meeting and let me know if you see anything un-Christ-like. On the contrary, I would hope that you would see Christ’s love in action.
You state that your “heart's desire is that they be saved.” I can assure you that your desires have been met as true Salvationists are indeed saved thanks to the grace and promise of God through his son Jesus Christ.
I was left scratching my head over this one. You claim that the remarks were "inflammatory." However, in every point you quoted, you state that what brother Danny Pettus wrote was an accurate, though short, description of what you and your denomination teaches. That you disagree that those beliefs are biblically wrong is understandable, but the fact that someone points out beliefs different from what the Bible teaches is not inflammatory. You claim that you respect the right of others to hold views contrary to your own, but you judge and chastise those who clearly express those contrary views. We are following the principles laid down by the apostles. "Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them" (Romans 16:17).
Brother Pettus' article was directed to Christians who understand the various points raised are contrary to God's teaching. It wasn't his intent to explain in detail why those points don't match the teachings of God.
You don't strike me as a man interested in examining his own religion in light of the gospel, but in case you are curious as to why we note that some of your beliefs are wrong:
Regarding the topic of being born sinners, see:
The fact that all commit sin is not a consequence of inheriting sin from Adam. It is a simple statement of the failure of each individual to avoid committing sin. The blame is placed on each person, not on a distant ancestor.
Regarding the topic of needing direct aid from the Holy Spirit to understand the Bible, see:
You refer to John 16:13, but this is Jesus' statement to the apostles that they would be inspired by the Holy Spirit in order to communicate accurately God's word. Early in the same discourse, Jesus stated, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). This statement cannot be applied to all Christians since we were not present to hear Jesus' original words. We have no memory of those teachings, such was only true of the apostles. And the apostles stated that Jesus' promise to them was fulfilled (I Corinthians 2:10-13).
Regarding the topic of whether baptism today is by water or by the Holy Spirit, see:
- Which baptism is referred to as the one baptism of Ephesians 4:5?
- The New Birth of Water
- When Was Cornelius Saved?
Regarding the necessity of partaking of the Lord's Supper as a memorial, see:
Regarding sanctification being sinless and distinct from salvation, see:
- Are we judged based on justification or based on sanctification?
- What are some of the errors of Wesleyans?
Regarding funding the work of the church, see:
I appreciate the invitation, but I do not support false teaching.
I see now what I am dealing with. The fact that you failed to respond to any questions posed in my initial note and resorted to the reference of web sites to support your position speaks volumes. Further, your comment "You don't strike me as a man interested in examining his own religion in light of the gospel" speaks even more, as it makes incorrect assumptions. I could go back and forth challenging the many errors in your response, but it's futile as it's clear now that the agenda is to tear down those doing the Lord's work so you can somehow feel better about meeting with like-minded people and not reach outside your four walls to those in need. If that works for you, fine, but my brand of Christianity, like my Savior, is living and requires action, not navel-gazing and discrediting brothers. I'll leave it at that. Keep up the smear campaigns, spit on those fellow Christians who do not see details exactly as you do because you alone have perfected the interpretation of Scriptures. I'm sure all of this pleases the Father and is winning souls for Him.
That the reply didn't agree with your contention doesn't lead to the conclusion that your points were not addressed. The articles cited are all ones posted on my web site where you found the initial article to which you objected. I don't bother rewriting information that is already present on the web site.
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:21-23).
Personal brands of Christianity do not exist.