Faith and doctrines
William Booth, born in 1829 in Nottingham, England, was an active Methodist, supporting the welfare of the poor and destitute. Sometime before 1865, he and his wife, Catherine Mumford, moved to east London, where they continue to attend to the needs and salvation of marginalised people.
They were of the view that instead of waiting for people to come to church, they would visit them wherever they were. So, they targeted people living on the fringes of life in east London, taking the message of Jesus Christ to the people on the streets and attending to some of their material needs. This approach to evangelism did not go down well with the Methodist Church.
Booth parted company with it, and in 1865 when he started to preach in the streets, the Christian Mission was born. It was renamed The Salvation Army in 1878.Its mission statement says it is part of the universal Christian Church. The messages and lifestyle it advocates are based on Bible teachings. Its objective is "to make known the good news about Jesus Christ and to persuade people to become his followers".
"Everything The Salvation Army does is rooted in the faith of its members. The confidence Salvationists have in a loving and caring God finds outward expression in their love for humanity and their practical response to human need," The Salvation Army says. It is an international evangelical movement with a set of doctrines set out in Schedule I of The Salvation Army Act of 1980.
Salvationists believe in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, which to them, were given by the inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the divine rule of the Christian faith and practice. For them, there is only one God, who is "infinitely perfect". He is the "preserver", "creator", and "governor of all things" and "the only proper object of religious worship".
And though there is only one God, 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". They believe that Jesus Christ, part of the Holy Trinity, is divine, and is united with "human natures". "He is truly and properly God and truly and properly man," The Salvation Army says.
It subscribes to the Adam and Eve story - that they were born pure and innocent, but because of their disobedience, they lost their purity, innocence and happiness. Thus, everybody has become sinful as a consequence, and as such is justly exposed to the wrath of God".
Yet, there is salvation for all sinners, since "the Lord Jesus Christ has, by His suffering and death, made an atonement for the whole world so that whosoever will may be saved". This salvation can only be attained through "repentance towards God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit". For salvation to be sustained, there must be a "continued obedient faith in Christ".
While salvation might be forever, the mortality of the soul is not. "We believe in the immortality of the soul, in the resurrection of the body, in the general judgement at the end of the world, in the eternal happiness of the righteous, and in the endless punishment of the wicked," The Salvation Army says.