Worship, Beliefs & Practices
The faith of the Salvationist is often described as being in ‘the mainstream of the Christian faith’.
Because The Salvation Army has such a high profile, the fact that it is an evangelical movement of the Christian Church often escapes attention.
Yet The Salvation Army’s primary motivation in providing practical social service comes from a spiritual base: its first purpose is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with people of all ages, creeds, and colours.
Every weekend, church services at The Salvation Army endeavour to worship and present the message of Jesus Christ. All the elements in the service work together and churches use a variety of means to communicate the gospel through Bible message, music (traditional and contemporary), drama and personal experiences.
Family participation in worship is a vital component of church life of The Salvation Army. In addition to church services, Salvation Army corps provide an extensive range of recreational and support activities for all age groups. Many are designed for families or single adults, while others are specifically designed to appeal to youth, children or the elderly.
There are 11 doctrines of The Salvation Army, which are the basis of its belief and teaching. These doctrines are expounded in The Salvation Army Handbook of Doctrine.
- The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian Faith and practice.
- There is only one God, who is infinitely perfect, the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all things, who is the only proper object for religious worship.
- There are three persons in the Godhead – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost – undivided in essence and co-equal in power and glory.
- In the person of Jesus Christ, the Divine and human natures are united, so that He is truly and properly God and truly and properly man.
- Our first parents were created in a state of innocence, but by their disobedience lost their purity and happiness. In consequence of their fall all people have become sinners, totally depraved, and as such are justly exposed to the wrath of God.
- The Lord Jesus Christ has by his suffering and death made an atonement for the whole world so that whosoever will may be saved.
- Repentance toward God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit, are necessary to Salvation.
- Justification is by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and those who believe have the witness in themselves.
- Continuance in a state of Salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.
- It is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified, and their whole spirit, soul and body may be preserved blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- The Salvation Army believes in the immortality of the soul; the resurrection of the body; the general judgement at the end of the world; the eternal happiness of the righteous; and the endless punishment of the wicked.
Unlike most other Christian denominations, The Salvation Army does not observe the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion.
The Army believes it is possible to experience the inward grace of which the sacraments are outward signs, without the need for the rituals themselves.
The Army observes the major Christian festivals of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, but the emphasis given to others varies from one country to another. Another important event is Founder’s Day, 2 July, which marks the start of William Booth’s preaching campaign in London in 1865 which led to the formation of The Salvation Army. This day is commemorated on the nearest Sunday to 2 July and often features an appeal for candidates to become Salvation Army officers.
Those who become soldiers (members) of The Salvation Army accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord; accept Salvation Army doctrines; abstain from things that are harmful to body and mind (tobacco, drugs, alcohol, gambling); and are encouraged to serve in the local church. Many people worship at The Salvation Army without becoming members and without wearing uniform.
While accepting the ‘ministry of all believers’, the Army believes some individuals are called by God to full-time service as His ministers. The Army makes provision for the training and commissioning of officers, who perform similar functions to ordained clergy in other churches.
From the beginning, The Salvation Army has taken a firm stance on the place of women, and has accepted the validity of female ministry. This was largely shaped by Catherine Booth’s firm conviction that women should be free to preach the gospel. Today, women officers are commissioned and appointed on the same terms as men. A married female officer is an officer in her own right, and undertakes the same course of preparatory training as her husband before being commissioned.