Salvationists for Baptism and the Lord's Supper
The General of the Salvation Army
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The teaching of the Salvation Army is that wearing the uniform is equal to baptism. Being a Senior Soldier you adhere to the doctrines of the Salvation Army and agree to abstain from things harmful to the body (alcohol, tobacco, drugs etc) as well as to the soul. When you become a Senior Soldier you are then allowed to wear the uniform. But we in the Salvation Army must also take into account we have many people in our congregations who do not want to become Senior Soldiers but attend every week. The uniform therefore does not accurately take the place of baptism as baptism is for the whole Christian church.
Baptism by immersion shows vividly death burial and resurrection. Jesus said to go and make disciples baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is a symbol of your repentance, faith and trust in Jesus Christ. But it doesnt contribute to salvation.
The view that wearing the uniform is like baptism in that its a witness to the world is correct but it is unfortunately not the way Christ commanded.
Baptism in water by immersion is universally known to the born again evangelical churches as the outward symbol of your Holy Spirit baptism...and that you are identifying symbolically with Christ in his death.
The concern might be raised that people may begin to trust more in their works than the finished work of Christ on the cross for salvation. This is why a pre baptism discussion with the Christian looking to be baptized should take place or a pre-baptism course should be done. Jews had a ritual washing called the mikvah. This is pretty much what Baptism is if you look at the Hebraic roots of Christianity.
Jesus didn't baptize in water but he got his disciples to do it and he commanded them to when he ascended to heaven. They did it on the day of Pentecost. The Ethiopian Eunuch upon believing asked Philip to baptize him and he did it. We can't simply believe in part of the great commission. Jesus said to go and make disciples and baptize them.
Paul he said he was thankful he hadnt baptized the Corinthians but he added he had baptized some.
This being said Im not suggesting the Army take up the huge costs of perhaps having to have baptismal tanks installed in all the churches but that perhaps baptismal ceremonies should be held either at a pool, pond or lake (whichever is preferred).
As for the Lords Supper it would seem William Booths original concern was because of the wine used in those days while he was trying to combat alcoholism in people. Today its common practice for normal grape juice with no fermentation to be used. Likewise, we no longer have to feel we all need to drink it from the same cup (as some may find this unsanitary). Most Evangelical churches today give people their own little plastic cup with the grape juice. .Jesus said "Do this in remembrance of me" and I feel that it is an important "ordinance". We are told by scripture in 1 Corinthians 11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lords death till He comes.
Just because things dont add to getting to heaven doesnt make them useless. The Lord Himself said This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me. The Army takes the view that communion is no different than thanking God at every sitting of a meal. But it is definitely not a normal meal as we see in the scriptures.
The elements represent his body and blood. It's a symbolic memorial...chicken and gravy doesnt do it. Having a full meal is something Paul distinguishes between with the Lord's Supper. He says in 1 Corinthians 11:22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?
Its not meant to be a normal meal it would seem. It's been said before that the bread and wine was used just because "thats what was available to them." It wasnt a matter of using what was available to them...they had a ton of things available to them. The Last Supper was a Passover meal so they would have had meat too. The third Passover cup is called the Cup of Redemption. That is where our communion cup comes from it comes from the Passover Meal. Likewise the bread with no yeast (unleavened) was in the meal and was known as a matzah. Yeast was symbolic of sin and being unleavened represented our sinless Messiah and Lord. One of three pieces (more than likely Gods way of showing his triunity) of unleavened bread (matzah) is broken in half (like Christ was broken for us), wrapped in a napkin, hidden (like Christ in the tomb), and later retrieved to be served as the last bit of food eaten at the end of meal.
Essentially communion is our looking back to the Messiah (as well as looking foreword to his Second Coming) where as Passover was the Jews looking forward.
It should be noted that communion was also opportunity for confession of sins as the Bible says to not take it unworthily and to examine yourself...and to make sure you have no unforgiveness when you take it etc
1 Corinthians 11: 27-32 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lords body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
Both Baptism and the Lords Supper are symbols he ordained himself and we need to humble ourselves on these issues and realize he did say to do these things though they don't save you. They are practices He ordained for us to do in advance.
This is not a petition to get rid of our Salvationist identity. We can keep our identity and the uniforms but in the process we cannot forget the things the Lord himself requested of us. If we call ourselves to holiness and obedience then why do we continue to go on in a traditionalist attitude and refuse to submit totally to scripture? If we say we go by the scripture alone we cannot take away from it. We run the risk of becoming Pharisees if we continue to disregard what the Lord asks of us for human tradition.
Indeed, our very own articles of war state that we believe that continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.
I ask the General why then, are we being disobedient? I ask the General to please humble himself to the scriptures on this issue and not give in to traditionalist pressures.
I am asking fellow Salvationists to show their support for the scriptures on these issues and sign this petition. Ideally stating your name, your Corps and your thoughts. If you prefer to remain anonymous that is ultimately up to you. If you are not a Salvationist you are also welcome to sign and ideally state what denomination you are if you have one.