The Shorter Writings of William Booth
Edited By Andrew M Eason and Roger J. Green
Chapter 2. Salvation
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As William and Catherine Booth’s Christian Mission evolved into the Salvation Army in the late 1870s, its theological mandate became all the more apparent to the wider world. Here was an organization framed explicitly around the central doctrine of the Bible—salvation. Here was an organization claiming rather boldly to specialize in the redemption of the entire world. There was, simply put, no room for confusion about its purpose for existence. Salvation was at the very core of the Army’s identity, as William Booth articulated so clearly several months after the Christian Mission changed its name: “We are a salvation people—this is our speciality—getting saved and keeping saved, and then getting somebody else saved, and then getting ourselves saved more and more until full salvation on earth makes the heaven within. . . .”1 Booth’s nascent Army was forged out of an optimistic and comprehensive soteriological vision, one that aimed at nothing less than the transformation of nation after nation.
While William Booth’s soteriology was profoundly hopeful, it was not naïve. There was no Salvationist affinity with the Enlightenment belief in the innate goodness of the human being. Booth shared with John Wesley a sober recognition of the human condition.2 William’s doctrine of salvation began with the belief that while humanity was created in God’s image, it had fallen from its original state of purity and happiness. Due to willful sinfulness and rebellion against God,...
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