Salvation Army: Christian denomination of Protestant origin dedicated to bringing the gospel of salvation, mainly to people who were previously alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes or some other type of social undesirable.
Origin and history
It was born in England during the second half of the 19th century as a consequence of the socioeconomic situation brought to the country and the world by the Industrial Revolution. Its founder was William Booth and his wife Catherine Booth . The Booth spouses decided to give their lives to the apostolate among helpless people. of the big city “Tonight,” said William to his wife, as I passed a tavern, I heard a voice say to me: where are you going to find people more heathen or more in need of help than here? God , I have offered you and our children for this great task. These will be our children from now on and we will work so that our God is also theirs”.
Collaborators soon joined him and the new venture was renamed the Christian Mission, dedicated to bringing the gospel of life-changing salvation to the abandoned masses. The work soon achieved enormous popularity. In 1870 Booth gathered his people in assembly, wrote constitutions, and founded new centers in various parts of the nation. The following year his War Cry magazine announced to its readers the birth of a Salvation Army, destined to bring to the world of the poor “the Blood of Christ and the Fire of the Holy Spirit.” Anglicanism _ made an effort to encompass the movement within one of its apostolic organisms, but without result: the theology of sudden conversion, the technique of its propaganda, the elimination of Booth’s sacramental and liturgical life were incompatible with the doctrines and life of the established church.
The Salvation Army rapidly advanced through England and the rest of Europe . In 1880 his envoys arrived in the United States making the movement a great religious force in the country. Crossing the Rio Grande, Booth’s disciples went to Latin America, where they work in all its republics. They have accompanied the Protestant missionaries in their overseas ventures and work in all the major cities of Asia , Africa and Australia . The founder dies on August 12. 1912, at the age of 82, after having received the highest honors.
Booth and those who joined him adopted a military structure in organizing the ministry. In their mission statement they described themselves as a salvation army. The name stuck and resonated with the purpose of the group in the community. Booth said that people found it difficult to pay attention to the gospel if they were starving or freezing to death. So The Salvation Army put a lot of effort into providing social services for those most in need. By 1900 this church already had soldiers, or pastors, in 36 countries. They established some 3,000 service points in Europe during World War II, offering medical and other aid to war victims and soldiers. The mission of The Salvation Army continues today in more than 120 countries.
Salvation Army Doctrines and Beliefs
- Salvation is by the grace of God, through faith in Christ .
- Upon death, the just will immediately pass into the presence of God, the unjust will be condemned to hell.
- The Bible, composed of the canonical writings of the Old and New Testaments, is the word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
- The sanctification of the believer is a work of the Holy Spirit.
- Salvationites do not participate in Holy Communion or water baptism .
Structure of the Salvation Army
The Salvation Army uses a military structure that has facilitated the organization and mobilization of this church around the world. For example, each church is referred to as a body and is led by an officer, who is the minister. Depending on how long this officer has in the ministry, his title is cadet, captain, or major. The general is the one who presides at the international level from the main offices in London. Each officer is an ordained minister of the and wears blue uniforms with white shirts. Members of the church (or body) who have gone through training, or discipleship classes, are called soldiers and also wear uniforms when leading services.
A service center is established in every city or town where The Salvation Army has a presence. Usually members of the community in need of some type of basic help such as food or simply a coat for the winter, can get it from a body or agency run by the organization. Around the world The Salvation Army operates clinics, schools, rehabilitation programs, shelter homes, food assistance programs, and disaster relief among many other things.
It is varied and focuses on the most needy sectors of the population. It includes shelters for the poor, homeless, and drunkards; economy kitchens; shelters at reasonable prices for workers of both sexes; information and job search offices for the unemployed; maternity homes for unmarried women; hostels for prisoners, entrusted on a trial basis, by the justice to their care, until they can find employment; refuge houses for women of public life; youth institutions for delinquent boys; orphanotrophies; campsites for children and young people, etc. They also carry out a systematic work of visits and material assistance.
The philanthropic work is completed, when possible, with preaching in the streets and public squares or in their own chapels. To achieve the conversion of their listeners, they use the reading of those biblical passages in which they speak of the mercy of God, of abundant pathetic examples of the evils caused, even in this life, by the vices in which they live submerged, of burning exhortations to get out of them and start a life of peace for themselves and their loved ones, etc. The benches of penitents in their chapels are famous, from which those who, repentant, wish to obtain their forgiveness, go to the altar. Not all Protestant confessions look sympathetically on the method, but Salvationists insist on its efficacy for the pathetic conversion they seek, the only one that can impress the people with whom they deal. Conversion is not an end in itself, but a stage aimed at making converts apostles for the conversion of others. There are no statistics to prove how many of these converts go on to join the ranks of active propagandists. But it is true that the nearly 110,000 of its members employed in a hundred countries embrace these ideals and put them into practice in their jobs.