Friday, March 14, 2014

What is the Purpose of The Salvation Army Doctrines?

What is the purpose of The Salvation Army Doctrines? This was a question posed to me recently on my blog from Katy Scott.

Simply put The Salvation Army Doctrines are eleven statements that summarize the fundamental beliefs we hold about the Christian faith. We believe the Scriptures are inspired by God, we believe in the Trinity, we believe in the privelege of believers to be holy before God and so on.

The doctrines of The Salvation Army were adapted by William Booth from the 1838 Methodist New Connexion Doctrines.

There has been debate here and there about adapting the doctrines or rather, revising the doctrines. You can find such discussions from an older blog post of Adam Couchman. Such discussion always engenders debate and controversy, and not particularly a discussion I seek to have here at this point.

So what are the doctrines' purpose? The doctrines help to provide a foundation of belief for a Salvationist. They also give understanding of what we believe to those who may join The Salvation Army, or those who are simply interested to know. Doctrinal statements can help clear up what we believe and 'don't believe'. You could read some pentecostal doctrinal statements for instance, that would clearly say that they believe that the evidence of salvation is found in the speaking of tongues - a doctrine The Salvation Army does not suggest.

Kester Trim writes in a publication entitled 'Doctrine in the Salvation Army tradition':
The Salvation Army is not known for placing a particular emphasis on doctrine.  This is not because doctrine is unimportant for Salvationists, but because The Salvation Army has customarily emphasized evangelism and service, rather than theological scholarship.  Nevertheless, The Salvation Army’s official doctrines are viewed as essential to its corporate life and witness. (“Doctrine in the Salvation Army Tradition,” Ecumenism 179-180 (Fall/Winter 2010): 36.)
There is some truth to what Trim is saying here, though I sense doctrines are important in The Salvation Army for many Salvationists, who want to ensure they understand the fundamentals of their Christian faith and embrace a unified belief across The Salvation Army movement.

You can find The Salvation Army Doctrines here.

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