“So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ…” -Acts 10:48a
Recently I was asked a question by one of our volunteers who had been busily answering phones but found a lull in the rush of the day. The question? “Why doesn’t The Salvation Army baptize?” It’s a good question, one that has been asked many times before. I answered him, in a semi-rehearsed conversation. I told him about our perspective on holiness and on holy living. That these outward ceremonies only represent that which the Holy Spirit has already on on the inward parts of our heart and lives. I went on to explain that baptism isn’t necessary to salvation, but rather a public witness to that life changing event. He countered that it says one must be baptized even in the Great Commission: “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
I challenged him with a notion of my own: but Peter said, “ and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.[a] It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 3:21)
If water baptism is only a symbol of the salvation that now saves you, doesn’t that mean that it’s all about the Holy Spirit and not the water? Doesn’t that mean that, as I have already mentioned it’s not the water that makes the difference, but rather the work of Him who now resides within us at the moment of initial sanctification when we said “yes” to Christ’s dominion and Lordship of our lives? -When the baptism of the Holy Spirit first encompassed our lives?
We continued to converse about this topic of baptism and its necessity, until this very astute volunteer asked a question I had not thought about. He said; “In order to be a member of some churches, you have to become baptized (at least in his church it was emphasized I later found out). So how does one become a member in The Salvation Army?” I told him about our Soldiership classes and then how new soldiers are given uniforms as another sign of their membership into The Salvation Army, which is also an evidence of a life changing event as a soldier pledges to: “HAVING accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour and Lord, and desiring to fulfil my membership of His Church on earth as a soldier of The Salvation Army, I now by God’s grace enter into a sacred covenant…THEREFORE
I will be responsive to the Holy Spirit’s work and obedient to His leading in my life, growing in grace through worship, prayer, service and the reading of the Bible.
I will make the values of the Kingdom of God and not the values of the world the standard for my life.
I will uphold Christian integrity in every area of my life, allowing nothing in thought. word or deed that is unworthy, unclean, untrue, profane, dishonest or immoral.
I will maintain Christian ideals in all my relationships with others: my family and neighbours, my colleagues and fellow Salvationists, those to whom and for whom I am responsible, and the wider community.
I will uphold the sanctity of marriage and of family life.
I will be a faithful steward of my time and gifts, my money and possessions, my body, my mind and my spirit, knowing that I am accountable to God.
I will abstain from alcoholic drink. tobacco, the non-medical use of addictive drugs. gambling, pornography, the occult, and all else that could enslave the body or spirit.
I will be faithful to the purposes for which God raised up The Salvation Army, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, endeavouring to win others to Him, and in His name caring for the needy and the disadvantaged.
I will be actively involved, as l am able, in the life, work, worship and witness of the corps, giving as large a proportion of my income as possible to support its ministries and the worldwide work of the Army.
I will be true to the principles and practices of The Salvation Army, loyal to its leaders, and I will show the spirit of Salvationism whether in times of popularity or persecution.
I now call upon all present to witness that I enter into this covenant and sign these articles of war of my own free will, convinced that the love of Christ, who died and now lives to save me, requires from me this devotion of my life to His service for the salvation of the whole world; and therefore do here declare my full determination, by God’s help, to be a true soldier of The Salvation Army.”
I showed him the general idea of a Soldiership enrollment and pledge/covenant.
He looked at me with a little bit of surprise.
Then his next words really made me think, “But this is similar to what I experienced in my baptism.”
He went online and showed me some of the wording that was used on his day of baptism. The website blink and whisked us to his church’s website and there on the screen was the basic ceremony of baptism:
“Since you have responded by God’s grace
to the call of the gospel to believe and be baptized,
we ask you, before God and his people,
to profess your faith in Jesus Christ.
Do you turn to Jesus Christ?
Do you intend to be Christ’s faithful disciple,
trusting his promises,
obeying his word,
honoring his church,
and showing his love,
as long as you live?
(*Note: Both of these public statements of faith are good and helpful for the body, I am not criticizing their usefulness)
After showing me this he asked me the all important question, “If The Salvation Army believes that baptism is unnecessary, then isn’t the Uniform that you wear unnecessary too?”
You know in some ways he is right.
The Uniform isn’t of course necessary for Salvation just as water baptism doesn’t save people…but could it become that to us in the Army?
Of course we know that the entirety of this transforming grace is done through the Holy Spirit alone. Each are symbols. Each are ways in which we commemorate and identify ourselves as members of that particular Ecclesia. But, perhaps it begs the question of us today, even to quantify and formulate our own response of the necessity of uniform in The Salvation Army. Do you have an answer or do you merely follow, perhaps even blindly without fully recognizing the symbolism and meaning?
Please do not get me wrong, I am not advocating that we chuck our uniforms away and lose that part of our identity, but what is the reason that we still wear the uniform? Do we wear it for public recognition? Do we wear it to look good? Do we wear it because it’s what we’ve always done? Do we wear it to fit in? -Any of these answers is NOT good enough. We must formulate a personal response and reason. Yes, we are a part of this international movement. Yes, we are identifying ourselves as members of The Salvation Army, but is that a sufficient of an answer?
Let me ask this question and perhaps some will think me a little crazy in asking, has the use if Uniforms and enrollment of soldiers simply taken the place of baptism and even communion as the commonality and qualifications of membership? Have we just exchanged one ceremony for another? Could this eventually lose it’s symbolism and meaning to future generations…or has this already happened and we aren’t prepared to admit it?
Two key observations before I close this open ended pondering today (and please comment and share your answers and questions with us):
1) William and Catherine Booth decided to exclude the use of baptism and communion because these had been abused and lost its meaning and had even become means for salvation and even power of the church. Could this be happening to the Uniforms and the use of such a wardrobe?
2) The Uniform was originally adopted so that poor and rich alike could fit into “church” or the movement of the Army. But as the price of uniforms become more and more expense even with allowances and percentages offered to members, is it necessary? It used to solidify and unify the early Army…but was it meant to last forever? Also has it now become what it should never have become – something that divides new comers and adherents from the “true” soldiers? Instead, of unifying is it undoing what the Booths originally set out to do with the lower East End of London?
Things To Ponder (Tell us what you think?):
Have we not taught the proper use of uniform?
Have we lost the symbolism?
Has the Uniform become a divider instead of something that unifies? Are we overthinking this?
Are we in need of changing the uniforms?
What of Baptism? Is it really similar to the ceremony of soldiership & renewal ceremonies? And have we just exchanged one ceremony for another?
Note: My purpose for such a pondering today is not to discourage you dear Salvation Army, but rather to better identify and have an answer for such questions as I have had this week…now it’s your turn. What do you think?
Something more for the army to ponder today.
*Disclaimer, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are solely the thoughts and opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect that of The Salvation Army. Reader discretion is advised.*
Scott…you certainly know how to cause chaos. I think the questions posed are good ones for us all to ponder anew.
This is an important question and there are so many issues surrounding it – it is more complicated perhaps than some people think.
1) William baptised babies and Bramwell was the last to do so. We are of the Catholic tradition (via Anglicanism and Methodism) and not the Reformed, so adult believers’ baptism was never a part of our thinking.
2) The cessation of the practice was due, in a major way, due to one spectacularly important fact – one that today we tend to forget about. In William’s words: ” …if the sacraments are not conditions of salvation, and if the introduction of them would create division of opinion and heart burning, and if we are not professing to be a church, not aiming at being one, but simply a force for aggressive salvation purposes, is it not wise for us to postpone any settlement of the question, to leave it over for some future day, when we shall have more light?”
Thus, Booth found it entirely OK to stop the practice of giving communion and baptising babies simply because The Salvation Army was not a Church. Had he maintained that the Army was a Church I do not believe for a second he would have got rid of baptism.
We, of course, have a huge problem today because we have started saying officially since General Clifton’s day) that we are a church. We cannot have it both ways:
Mission organisation – no need for sacraments.
Church – a need for sacraments.
3) As far as uniform is concerned, I think that it’s a scarlet herring (did you see what I did there?) The uniform was not initially membership attire. It was Cadman’s idea that he wanted to wear “a suit of clothes that would let everyone know I meant war to the teeth and salvation for the world.” And so uniform was less about me and my salvation, my belonging to Christ, as it was a means of outward signposting and evangelistic intent.
The idea that it was a sartorial leveller so that rich and poor could wear the same clothes and not be marked out by their clothing is a myth.
4) Baptism and soldiership having equal(ish) meaning, fulfilling a similar purpose? The only place I have ever seen that in writing is Chick Yuill’s soldiership classes book ‘Battle Orders.’
I used to accept that but I would have some questions: What happens if you leave the Army? Will a new church accept your previous enrolment as a soldier as ‘baptism’? Can you submit to the baptismal requirement of your new church without denigrating the swearing-in that you sincerely underwent at the Citadel?
And what happens if a soldier is disciplined and is taken off the roll even if he doesn’t actually forfeit his salvation? Is he no longer a ‘baptised’ Christian?
And, in any case, knowing the church heritage and Wesleyan theology of the SA (being pedobaptist) should we be saying to a person who was Christened as a child (perhaps even into a Wesleyan church) that they must be ‘rebaptised’ in their enrolment?
My personal view – and, like your blog, it is indeed a personal view – is that I would be happy to Christen children if the SA insists on calling itself a church.
Soldiership, in my view, is more like an Anglican/Catholic Confirmation.
Great observations Antony! Thank you I really appreciate your helpful insight!!
In response to you and Antony, The issue of sacraments and why Booth made his decision is complicated to say the least. Rightmire and Green (as well as Andrew Eaton) have written at length about this and I will have an article in Word and Deed this fall concerning Booth’s Scriptural perspective that gave rise to his statement, which Antony quotes, from the War Cry in 1893. Booth justified his position both circumstantially and theologically in his statement on New Years Eve in the War Cry. Antony is correct in that we have to reassess based on the Army’s position as an official denomination of the Church, but I do not believe he would have come to a different conclusion then. As Rightmire points out, and as my article will detail hermenuetically, Booth believed that spiritually he was on solid biblical ground in his position. The crux of the matter for Booth was honoring right order within the Church of England (he did not want to be a scandal or cause division), the biblical/scriptural latitude afforded to issues of observance (keep in mind there is a long history of debate over observances in the Anglican church that informs this discussion that most Salvationists are not aware of), and the witness of the Spirit with respect to the leading of God (he refers to this in the rest of that New Year’s address) as a body of soul-winners with all the political, ecclesial, and social consequences that came with it. At the end of the day, Booth was clear of his calling to win souls, and he followed the Spirit faithfully to that end knowing that some decisions would ruffle theological and ecclesiastical feathers. He predicated his decision on his understanding of Scripture and did not really care to consider the long term implications for doctrine… he left that for others to decide (as stated). And decide “they” have… for better or worse. And we will live with the consequences -good or bad- as Booth did.
Yep. This one steps on some toes, alright! On the matter of baptism, I have often countered with, “and how many did Jesus water baptize?” I happen to have been infant baptized and obviously remember very little about that. As to the uniform, I regard it as both an identifier (not “THE” identifier) and part of my witness. I would regret if the Army ever moved to do away with the uniform. I’ve been humbled on the occasions when stopped randomly, and told how much the Army is respected and meant in someone else’s life.
That’s the key, not that I’m advocating the removal of uniform but rather that we can think critically on such things when we are asked.
Of course, one thing we might dare to consider is whether Booth was actually right. He was no Biblical scholar and not theologian. Dare we stick to a position just because he said it in 1883?
If we are a mission then we can do as Booth said and ‘mind our own business’. If we want to be a church then we need to be a bit more ecumenical and recognise the considered opinions of the other churches and the church’s theologians.
Anthony’s raises a good point about the culpability the Army has to acknowledge, or at least, make theologically optional the practices that have been central to the first century church (baptism and communion). Citing NT scholar F.F. Bruce, “The concept of an unbaptized (water baptism)Christian in the first century is unheard of.” This statement makes sense given the frequency of water baptism all through the book of Acts and other places.
From my research, I would disagree with the idea that Booth was no scholar or theologian. While Booth was a pragmatist, his theological “chops” were pretty developed given his Wesleyan leanings. To dismiss Booth as a biblical novice would be revisionist history. A better point to make is whether or not the Army today is still mandated to maintain Booth’s practices and theologies. Side note, Booth was not non-sacramental, nor did Booth have any aversion to recommending his new converts to partake of the sacraments per the research of R. David Rightmire and others.
As far as the question about the uniform, I find this question disjointed with the issue of baptism. In fact, I see very little relevance in this analogy. At no time does the Army equate the uniform as a symbol or even means of grace that has salvific significance. It is safe to say, the uniform is a branding strategy. Over time, the organization has developed a polyester theology that supports a high view of the iconic attire. I don’t have any issues with the uniform if that is the particular branding the Army identifies as the cultural marker to set apart her mission and church. My personal opinion is that there is way too much focus on the exterior attire. As a result of the function the uniform performs, identifying the caste system of organization’s leadership from the layity, there may be a bigger conversation about the idea of organizational heirarchy. Filtering through a foucauldian lens of micro power structures and oppression, there could be a great opportunity to re-identify the caste system away from rank and authority. Instead, create a common uniform that undergirds Jesus’ sentiments that seemed to denounce social ranking systems, especially as it related to his response to the religious caste system of his day.
Further, I am not a fan of the military metaphor. It’s no longer relevant and may even be a cultural deterrent given the representation of militaries, colonization, and power. Personally, I am allergic to the idea of using a metaphor that mirrors and aligns itself with a military organizational chart and function. while I see the efficiency of creating a rank and file system for logistics purposes, I think it practically is too cumbersome for most lay people that are looking for a church. The indoctrination into the Army sect, for many I suspect, seems weird at best and cultic at worse. The uniform, much like the Army parlance, seems to be an extra add on to the gospel. The yoke of doing Christianity in a system that develops its own sacraments, parlance, and ranking system that is disconnected from 2,000 of church history should be a concern.
My recommendation is to create a hybrid system that allows for the continued relic observance of the Army as well as the traditional markers of the Church. Instead of a Masonic-like existence, find ways to lean into Church and her practices that are clearly identified in the Scriptures. This is not to say the Army has customs that are not scriptural. Rather, the Army has customs that are self-perpetuating of a sectarian movement and not necessarily customs intended to replicate the priesthood of all believers. Put in very simple terms using hyperbole, I sometimes feel the stipulations, Army catechisms, conferences, relics, jargon, color scheme rankings, and all the other extras required of a person to be accepted and given “access” are kinda like the Judiazers Paul is addressing in Galatians. Strip away all the branding accoutrements and you have a person washed in the blood of the lamb seeking and serving the lost loving their neighbor and loving God with all their heart, mind, and soul, and if you get to sit first-chair cornet that is just a bonus.
I am a Salvationist and I wear the uniform proudly even if I need to do a little shopping on a Sunday (Shock! Horror!). But I’m a little put off by the vanity attached to Biblical scholarship and church history and the need to prove our credentials in exegesis.
I often doubted my baptism in the Holy Spirit having never breathed tongues of fire or spoken in Tongues but God daily proves it to me by inward conviction when I ‘grieve the Holy Spirit’, by the empathy I feel toward the sufferings of both humans and animals, by the little stab wounds of swearing and profanity, and how in our Christian ‘righteousness’ we refuse to treat the Gay Community as normal human beings. ‘Pharisees!’ I shout!
Brothers and sisters, it is a SPIRITUAL experience not attached to words on a page or the garment you wear. Remember what Jesus said if the bowl is clean it doesn’t matter what you put into it? You can fill in your own scripture reference there.
‘We are saved by grace through faith in Christ!’ Everything else is window dressing.
The uniform has been and can still be a good thing. It’s distinctive. As for the future of this great movement, I am confident that our greatest soldiers may or may not wear a uniform, and we should keep the main thing the main thing. The uniform doesn’t make you a soldier, though many do enlist and wear one. And sure, it is a great sign of something spiritual going on if the message is communicated in public. But frankly, I’d rather go to war alongside a true soldier (at heart) without a uniform than alongside a stranger just trying to fit in.
Our polyester baptism is similar in many respects to the water baptism of several traditions. Would it transfer to membership in other congregations? Some yes and some no, but the same is true of water baptism. There are plenty of churches who require or request you to be dipped in their pool as a step towards membership, no matter what has come before.
Repent and be Baptised… Said Peter .. Sacraments are more than symbols.They are times of impartation they were spoken of by Christ himself.Not only spoken but submitted to as to fulfil all righteousness.
In My view, it has nothing to do with church membership but union with the living God .
Ian Larsen…I agree with you completely. Went to SA for a time and was horrified to discover they dont teach the great comission regarding water baptism!! And dont share the Lords Supper to remember His death till he Comes!!!! Deplorable!!!! Catherine Booth was pulling strings and making decisions i found out . Also William Booth had freinds who were of a sect that had stopped water baptism and Holy Communion
Good stuff. I would agree with the challenge. Neither are necessary. I would push forward with the response that including both is the most profitable solution, that is if we can come to baptism with open minds and not cultural biases.
I will leave for others to defend our uniforms. I think they have purpose, one of my favorites is to plea to a crowd to come to a uniformed salvationist if you are ready to receive Jesus, or if you need prayer, or if you need help. Trained and Holy Spirit baptized Salvationists should jump at these opportunities.
As for baptism, not only is it Biblical (certainly not necessary but absolutely recommended in every corner of the New Testament) but I think we lose the depth of teaching and meaning of baptism when we read the New Testament. Every time I preach on a passage that includes baptism (which is practically the entire New Testament) I must re-explain it. Baptism has not been made personal to the average Salvationist today, yet it is part of the comunication of the gospel itself.
That is not to criticize the movement I love, but an opinion. We should baptize.
Can I suggest baptism for a Salvo is full immersion in our community – my thoughts come from looking at the iconic picture of Salvos rescuing people from the ocean of sin in Booths book ; Darkest England… I think we should actually be in the water, teach people to swim don’t hope the tide eventually washes them over to the shore.
In this context the uniform makes complete sense and we would be mad to not wear it when wanting/needing to make an impact in our communities.
I find it both a burden and a resource – our community has an expectation that I sometimes find hard to live up to.
1. If my Corps Officers said they wanted to baptize all soldiers in the Corps, I would demand that I be allowed to hold my nose as I am being dunked. No further discussion would be necessary.
2. I was privileged to be on the cover of The War Cry back in the early 1990s (full page, two pictures, one each in my SA and US Army uniform). A few months later, TSA in Sweden used the same pictures on the cover of their War Cry. I am blessed. TSA will always have a uniform. Speak positively about it or go and serve the Lord in another part of his vineyard.
If we were allowed a glimpse into the heavenly throne room of our eternal God I am sure he might be amused at our deliberations on the finery and details of our particular expression of church. If we accept him as Saviour through Christ, having renounced our sins and sought forgiveness then been spiritually blessed in our quest to be like him in word and deed then we have become part of the body of Christ, the Church. We are a church in essence and by adoption. What we actually call ourselves and what we wear or what symbols we use to confirm our status – as important as they may be to our own expression of Faith – are largely incidental to the fact that we are who we are, children of the most high Living God. I don’t need the symbols of sacrament, the water of baptism, the uniform of witness to know that. I simply choose these things as part of my expression of Faith. If I do not choose those things it doesn’t make me unworthy of membership. I make my confessions and promises and public pronouncements to witness to all that I am saved by grace – and I am sure God is happy with that and blesses all of us who then follow in the footsteps of Christ in whatever capacity in whatever Christian denomination. I can break bread with fellow believers in church or at home if I wish, wearing whatever attire I choose, but when I share sacred fellowship it is not about the ceremony, but it is in the knowledge that Jesus is our Saviour and only by the blessing and power of the Holy Spirit are we part of the embodiment of Christ and therefore his Church.
I’ve just received a link to this thread and thoroughly enjoyed reading through it all – what a terrific (and gracious) variety of perspectives and considerations – thank you!
I don’t think I know Keith, but for what it’s worth, while there is so much to chew on, I’d completely agree with his conclusive perspective.
Regarding this discussion I have always liked some, but not all, of Metcalf’s position in his book on the subject of sacraments. He speaks of sacraments as a symbol of an inward grace yes; but he also says that God continues to bless people through the sacraments and we cannot discount that. My favourite quote from the book, although I don’t remember it word for word, is about how the blessings of the sacraments are important and soldiers must be sure to claim them for themselves. I can see how the same blessing of a public declaration of faith can be found in the soldiers enrolment. But in all of this discussion we must not discount the work of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives, including outside of the things that we do within the walls of the church.
Hi! I was reading in the book of John 4. Jesus did not baptise with water. He let the deciples did all of that,
Its because to Him it isn’t important. His concern is in the holy spirit baptism.
As far as the uniform is concern I would rather aproach a salvationist who’s in uniform any where in the world .
The only things that are necessary are of the heart. All other things can be helpful if we remember this This is covered in ‘In the Master’s Hands’. The Salvation Army’s spiritual priorities and it’s all-embracing position are explained in a clear and very readable way. SP&S Ltd £4.95. Recently published.
I was born into the SA and with this I went through all of the stages of being a junior and then senior soldier and with this I wore a uniform. I became a senior soldier in 2009 at a young age and with this came a lot of individuals in my corps telling me how to wear my uniform. I didn’t agree with some of the messages I was given such as no jewelry or nail varnish etc because I felt that none of these things impacted my relationship with Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. As myself I would often bring up why this mattered so much and what the big deal was. I was often told it was so that all of us soldiers looked the same, it was about how we looked to those outside of the church four walls, people see the uniform and know who we are. Often I would disagree and argue it thinking that my personal relationship with heavenly father was more important than what I looked like to those on the outside. Sadly I feel like many people see more of the social services side of the SA and not the faith based church that you are. Obviously I know that William Booth set up the church with the idea of helping and assisting others and yes the SA does a great job at doing this but to me the other side has fallen through and uniform as become more about others knowing who these people are than the individual relationships with God.
now in 2017 I am no longer a part of the SA one reason being because of the constant battle of the uniform. When I left I questioned being an adherent and remaining in the church but after thought and some conversations found that this could be worse, yes there would be no uniform but with no uniform yet still following the Doctrines of Christ further battles of ‘why not wear a uniform and be the same as everyone else’ seemed to be posed. Right now I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints which means I have now been baptised and follow further Doctrines of Christ. Here I do not wear a uniform yet people are able to see that I follow Christ and his ways along with being happier and of course most importantly having a stronger relationship with Christ and his Father.
I think uniforms can be a good thing and I have in my time seen so much positivity through the uniform but I do think the SA as a whole and it’s individual soldiers need to look at why the uniform is there, does it need to be as ‘strict’ as it is and are there other ways soldiers can identify to the church without always having to wear some form of uniform. Most importantly for me and the one question that made me find another church where I belonged was..’what is more important my individual relationship and faith with Christ or how we look and come across to those in society?’
Good comnents however we are to be ‘clothed with Christ’. I took a sick friend to her SA Church…she had not been for some time. She has a fab singing voice and was in a secular group that went round all the old folks homes to cheer them but when she offered her voice to the SA Church singing group was told she was not a unformed member so was declined. To me this is legalism and I have seen many SA Churches close as they dont do bible study, pray, heal the sick, etc but run op shops, rent housing, have paid workers in roles such as Govt workers do. They offer a social gospel but omit offering a salvation gospel. Both are necessary. We are all called to offer ourselves to the service of Christ, and are guided by the Holy Spirit in what we do. It should not be determined by church rules or indeed church doctrines but what Gods word says. We should not add or subtract from the word or place church rules above scripture…slippery slide to apostacy. There are many great and even better secular social do good agencies but the SA Church needs to go further and advocate its spiritual calling. It has become just another business really.
Perhaps its original purpose where uniforms allowed both the poor and rich to attend church dressed the same is long over.
Having read most of the comments on Baptism, would the writers agree that allowing the soldiers/members of the Salvation Army to be members of the Society of Freemasonry, is by far a more important subject to deal with.
I googled “What does the Bible say about baptism?” I got back over 100 references to different scriptures in the New Testament showing the importance of baptism. Over 100! I grew up in the SA, and was told that baptism was no longer necessary. Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist. In Matthew 28, 18-20 Jesus commanded his follower to go and mark disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
There are so many scriptures says to DO IT. Yet the Army’s tradition makes the scriptures invalid. Look it up, don’t just take my word for it.
John answered all of them: “I baptize you with water, but One more than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Jesus commanded his disciples to teach and preach the kingdom of God, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Ethiopian eunuch was baptized in water by Phillip. There are numerous passages in the Holy Scriptures about baptizing, and Jesus did not say for his followers to baptize new Christians with fire. Is baptism absolutely necessary to be saved? I think not, nevertheless, the scriptures make it quite clear that it is extremely important. You can google “baptism” and find all the references. Look them up and decide. Many of the Army’s doctrine are dictated by man, not by God. This is true of almost all Christian religions today. Jesus had the same problem with the religious leaders in his day. I guess not much has changed.
Is there any validity to the notioin that when it is said that “go and be baptized by water and the Holy Spirit, that it refers to the natural birth and re-birth through the Holy Spitit?
No there isn’t. Further Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus commands to Baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… what part of this command is not understood?
SO interesting! As an believer looking for a church I’m asking about these issues. I’ve learnt a lot online today, on SA website and particularly on this thread. So thanks to all contributors. I’m feeling very uncomfortable with these issues, because of how they appear to reflect on the Army’s attitude to Scripture. As mentioned above, the Army as it was initially founded was a Mission organisation, not a church. So soldiers presumably would still go to church somewhere else for communion and baptism. It worries me that someone said the Booths didn’t believe in these things – perhaps they didn’t mind it becoming a church. Now that it is a church, it seems people are having to twist the Scriptures to explain why they don’t encourage new believers to be baptised. Personally, I find myself in sympathy with the idea that the way Communion is traditionally done in church is far removed from the original format and intention. HOWEVER, again, it (in some form) has been commanded by our Saviour, so how can any church say that it’s not necessary? A discussion of its format, frequency and meaning is appropriate. And finally the matter of uniform and the SA vow. I think both are problematic. How can you pledge allegiance to something like an organisation whose tenets may change? The Bible warns us against vows. “Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No.” We should pledge allegiance only to God and His commandments. I agree the uniform enables the public to identify a ‘trained up’ member of the church (is everyone in uniform trained in speaking to enquirers?) but the same could be achieved with a large badge, or a particular colour cap or headband for example. I fear the uniform no longer serves a positive purpose as in its Victorian heydey, but is now about nostalgia and looking tidy and official. It is possible to believe all the Army doctrines, agree with the Mission statement and commit oneself to the lifestyle including no alcohol etc., without having to dress in identical clothes at church and any public setting (by this token, if it’s for the sake of others’ salvation, surely it must be necessary to wear it at all times except in your own home?) If the SA identifies itself as a church (not a Mission operation only), then the uniform only hinders this, by being a burdensome requirement on anyone who wants to join. In the Bible the only clothing that is mandated is that it be modest. This can be achieved by appropriate teaching, without a uniform. At least one sister in this thread has said the uniform is a problem. Surely it’s obvious that very few young people would wish to dress like that, however genuine their fervour for the Lord, and it’s simply NOT necessary, so why would you put that obstacle in their way? PS I’m all for a bit of nostalgia, I do love your brass bands and your singers and timbrels, there’s still a place for that of course, but this is the Good News of Salvation we’re talking about, l think the Army needs to get its priorities right. God bless you.
SO interesting! As an believer looking for a church I’m asking about these issues. I’ve learnt a lot online today, on SA website and particularly on this thread. So thanks to all contributors. I’m feeling very uncomfortable with these issues, because of how they appear to reflect on the Army’s attitude to Scripture. As mentioned above, the Army as it was initially founded was a Mission organisation, not a church. So soldiers presumably would still go to church somewhere else for communion and baptism. It worries me that someone said the Booths didn’t believe in these things – perhaps they didn’t mind it becoming a church. Now that it is a church, it seems people are having to twist the Scriptures to explain why they don’t encourage new believers to be baptised. Personally, I find myself in sympathy with the idea that the way Communion is traditionally done in church is far removed from the original format and intention. HOWEVER, again, it (in some form) has been commanded by our Saviour, so how can any church say that it’s not necessary? A discussion of its format, frequency and meaning is appropriate. And finally the matter of uniform and the SA vow. I think both are problematic. How can you pledge allegiance to something like an organisation whose tenets may change? The Bible warns us against vows. “Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No.” We should pledge allegiance only to God and His commandments. I agree the uniform enables the public to identify a ‘trained up’ member of the church (is everyone in uniform trained in speaking to enquirers?) but the same could be achieved with a large badge, or a particular colour cap or headband for example. I fear the uniform no longer serves a positive purpose as in its Victorian heydey, but is now about nostalgia and looking tidy and official. It is possible to believe all the Army doctrines, agree with the Mission statement and commit oneself to the lifestyle including no alcohol etc., without having to dress in identical clothes at church and any public setting (by this token, if it’s for the sake of others’ salvation, surely it must be necessary to wear it at all times except in your own home?) If the SA identifies itself as a church (not a Mission operation only), then the uniform only hinders this, by being a burdensome requirement on anyone who wants to join. (I realise there are different levels of joining, another facet which doesn’t seem Biblical to me, but if you want to sing or play, you need a uniform). In the Bible the only clothing mandate is that it be modest. This can be achieved by appropriate teaching, without a uniform. At least one sister in this thread has said the uniform is a problem. Also, surely it’s obvious that only a minority of young people (a category I no longer fall into) would wish to dress like that, however genuine their fervour for the Lord, and it’s simply NOT necessary, so why would you put that obstacle in their way? PS I’m all for a bit of nostalgia, I do love your brass bands and your singers and timbrels, there’s still a place for that of course, but this is the Good News of Salvation we’re talking about, l think the Army needs to get its priorities right. God bless you.
wearing of uniforms should be compulsory in order to identify our selves from other people
It’s 2022 and seems I’m a bit late to this discussion. However, I grew up in the Salvation Army. I felt called to be baptized at another local church years ago and it actually became an issue between me and my Salvationist Grandfather who called baptism “nonsense “ though he was otherwise a strong believer.
I left the church for many years. I recently came back to Christ but do not feel called back to the Salvation Army yet. This came after some long contemplation. I will never say never but this issue of the uniform replacing baptism…to me it feels like a Pharisee like behaviour to put the rules and traditions of men above things commanded by our Saviour himself. In fact, my opinion, the more I think about it, has become a form of righteous indignation I guess you could say. It’s appalling to me the Sally Ann continues this considering it’s man made and not what Christ commanded. When man’s tradition comes before the Lord’s own words? That’s a HUGE problem. I do not believe the sacraments save but they were still commanded by Christ and it baffles me after all these years it’s still not been adopted back in. As someone else said…Booth said they were not a church…but now they are. And as such should be doing both baptism and the Eucharist. That’s what Christ commanded. Not the wearing of uniforms.