Monday, May 11, 2015

Salvation Army Soldier's Covenant


The Salvation Army Soldier's Covenant is a document signed and agreed upon by every person seeking to become a Salvation Army Soldier. Why not read this slowly and take in the gravity and significance of what the Soldier's Covenant involves. Jessica Bryant offers a challenging view on the Soldier's Covenant in a Journal of Aggressive Christianity article, found here. If you are already a soldier within The Salvation Army, why not take a moment and refresh your commitment to such promises, as found in what The Salvation Army call, the 'Articles of War':

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.

I believe and will live by the truths of the word of God expressed in The Salvation Army's eleven articles of faith.

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 I 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.

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Find more on the Doctrines of The Salvation Army here.

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3 comments:

  1. (A Response to a Soldiers Covenant - Part 1)
    Like many who signed their Soldier’s Covenant, I also find myself no longer attending a corps, but another protestant church. Years ago, while in my twenties, I prayed deeply about entering into this covenant and I took it very seriously. I fully anticipated I would be involved in a corps for the rest of my life

    Having read through this piece by Peter Brookshaw, I was prompted to also read the recommended link by Jessica Bryant. It is there she expresses concern, where in her words she says “As a Christian, your commitment is to God. As a Soldier, you sign a covenant choosing to follow that commitment through the Salvation Army”.

    As Ms. Bryant has expressed, when I signed the covenant, I truly saw it as something between God, me and The Salvation Army. But here I find myself no longer serving in The Salvation Army. This reality came with great difficulty and anguish. Today, I have no question that I’m where God wants me. The question still lingered for years, how can one be today in the place where God wants them, when they signed a covenant to forever be linked in service to The Salvation Army?

    There are many reasons people no longer attend a corps. Sometimes, it is due to decisions made by officers in The Salvation Army. In our situation, DHQ closed the corps we attended. The corps had been a recent plant and it was growing quickly. In fact, in its few short years of existence, it had grown to about 100 regular attenders. However, following a change in divisional leadership, DHQ determined the expansion plans of the previous administration were flawed. Closing the newly created corps seemed an uncomplicated budget cut for them, especially since they had no liabilities in the form of owned assets.

    Our personal decision to move to the town where we live was based on many factors, including the presence of a corps, good schools and a healthy community in which to raise children. We were obviously hurt by DHQ’s decision. Headquarter staff encouraged us to continue engagement with another corps in the metro area. We were torn, because our commitment wasn’t just to The Salvation Army, but our kids and our local community. It didn’t make sense to witness to neighbors and then suggest they come with us to a corps 30-45 minutes away. On the other hand, selling a home we had just purchased would have negatively impacted our personal budget much more than keeping the corps opened would have impacted the budget of DHQ.

    A few soldiers traveled to another corps community, but most never again darkened the doors of The Salvation Army. Unfortunately some never engaged with another church. We searched and eventually found another congregation in our town. Quickly the ostracizing began by some officers and soldiers around the division and the territory. Please understand, not everyone cut us off, but we were surprised how many acted as though we had betrayed them, The Army and our covenant. I began to somewhat understand how officers feel when they have left the work. Often, people would ask (and still do) why we left The Army, to which we respond, we never left; The Army left us.

    Here we are decades later. Our family has been involved in a church within the same community. This church has grown into the thousands and they are offering programs the Army often promotes, like reaching their community through a food and clothing program, emergency assistance, after school outreach for children and families living in Section 8 housing projects and more. While it is certainly not a perfect church, it is self-sufficient, meaning it isn’t dependent on outside resources to exist in its annual or daily operations. The church is dependent on God and it is through the members of the body of Christ it is financed.

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    Replies
    1. (Continued Part 2)
      Based on the linked article by Ms. Bryant, one might easily conclude someone in our situation should have made the trek to another corps. I know hundreds of soldiers who travel 30-60 minutes to attend a corps, but my personal conviction was always to engage people where I live. Every other place we had settled into was based on the reality there was a corps nearby. So was the case here, but the corps closed.

      Back to the present age: Frankly, if The Salvation Army decided to open a new corps in our community, I would not be a part of it. Something I didn’t expect has occurred since we’ve been out of a corps environment. First, I should clarify...I failed to mention earlier I was employed for over a quarter century by The Salvation Army in a variety of roles. With those many years of service, you gain a fair amount of insight into daily operations. I appreciate much of what The Army does, but have witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly.

      In the Soldier’s covenant, we agree to remain loyal to The Salvation Army, its leaders and to support the worldwide work of The Army. How can I do this when I’ve come to believe there are significant areas within the policies and practices of The Salvation Army, where the organization has compromised its integrity and God’s direction? For example, many programs and institutions within the organization receive significant funding from government entities and/or the United Way. In many locations, accepting these monies has been on the condition that the organization agrees to remain silent on matters of the scriptures. This includes rules prohibiting evangelism, or as is often worded, no-proselytizing.

      There are many programs directed by lay-administrators who are not Christians. In some places, a higher premium has been placed on degreed credentials than commitment to Christ. Within the organization, there has become a significant divide between ministry (or church related programs) and other Army programs. For example, there is a Salvation Army children’s shelter which serves abused, abandoned and neglected kids. The Shelter attempts to work with the broken families and treats the children well. Because the program has government contracts, they are silent on matters clearly discussed in the scripture. They don’t tell the kids about the love of Christ. There are no bible studies. Everything is gauged by secular clinical practices and procedures.

      In print, the mission of The Salvation Army remains clearly “to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs without discrimination”. If we don’t have the former, the latter is futile when it comes to making an eternal difference in the lives of those touched by the program.

      So back to an earlier question I raised: How could I serve as a soldier when I’ve come to believe there are significant areas within the policies and practices of The Salvation Army, where the organization has compromised its integrity and God’s direction? There are many other concerns I could have brought up here, but what I’ve mentioned above cuts to the fundamental root of the organization’s problem in my opinion. Have I broken the covenant, or has the organization broken a covenant? God certainly hasn’t.

      Harvard was funded as a Christian University. When it strayed from its roots, Yale was founded to offer a higher education institution based on a biblical worldview, because Christian leaders had lost confidence in Harvard. The American Red Cross was founded by Christian ministers to bring aid to people in the name of Christ. Which of these three organizations could possibly be mistaken as a Christ centered ministry or institution today.

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    2. (Continued – Part 3)

      Across the United States, The Salvation Army is more commonly mistaken for a social service organization, than a Church. I’m sure this isn’t news to you. Anymore, I’m surprised when someone actually knows you can attend Sunday worship at The Salvation Army. There are still some very Godly men and women who are serving within the ranks of this ministry. I’m pleased to know many of them. My deep concern is that within our generation, The Salvation Army will have gone the way of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, The American Red Cross and so many other Christian based institutions, by selling out for the dollar over serving God, no matter the cost.

      Near the end of the Soldier’s covenant it reads, “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.” Persecution is here and it is getting worse. In the Middle East, Christians are losing their life for the cause of Christ. In the United States, they are losing their businesses, their livelihood, and all they own for being true to their Christian faith.

      In recent years, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods Specialties stood up and said we will not offer abortifacient drugs to our employees. The government sued them to force them to comply to this element of the newly enacted Affordable Care Act. A Catholic group of nuns, known as The Little Sisters of the Poor, made the same stance and have been attacked by our government for it. Seriously, nuns were sued by the government for not offering abortion inducing drugs to nuns. Where was The Salvation Army? Why wasn’t The Salvation Army standing against this unjust law, which violates one of the clear position statements of the ministry? I suspect William Booth would have said something. Was it because this wasn’t popular? Is it because it could bring about persecution? Is it because it doesn’t impact them just yet? If it is the latter, you should read up on Martin Niemöller.

      The bottom line, did I leave The Salvation Army, or did the Army leave me? In reality, I don’t think I understood where The Salvation Army truly was in relation to the level it had already compromised its mission when I joined its ranks. So, there is fault on both parties here. After years of attempting to influence and correct some of these missteps of the organization, I recognized anything I had to say to my superiors on the divisional and territorial level met deaf ears.

      I challenge you and all who remain within The Army to stand with God and unite with the body of Christ who will stand with you. Tell the government we will take no more money from them. Some have told the story of William Booth’s response when he was asked why he would take tainted money from sources where it had been earned through inappropriate means. In believing the money could somehow be redeemed by the ministry’s good work, he reportedly responded "the problem with tainted money is, t'aint enough of it". Things are different today. When someone gives you money with a restriction that violates the moral foundation of the ministry, it doesn’t matter if it is Joe Blow, Bill Gates or Uncle Sam, you must reject the money. Tell them “we will not compromise biblical truth in order to gain popular acceptance by man”.

      (If you wonder why I remain anonymous, it is simply to spare unwanted attention on family members who are still within the ranks of The Salvation Army as soldiers and officers.)

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