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Boundless Salvation

The Shorter Writings of William Booth

Andrew M Eason and Roger J. Green

William Booth (1829–1912) is remembered for the major role he played in founding the Salvation Army, an evangelical organization now operating in more than 120 countries. Few people, however, are aware of the fact that Booth was also a prolific author. During his long lifetime he wrote countless articles and speeches on a variety of topics, ranging from Christian doctrine to female ministry and missionary work. The most important of these shorter writings are presented in one volume for the first time here, along with perceptive commentary by two leading scholars of the Salvation Army. Boundless Salvation: The Shorter Writings of William Booth convincingly demonstrates that Booth’s enormous accomplishments arose from deeply held religious convictions. It argues persuasively that his life and ministry must be understood in relation to the Methodist theology and transatlantic revivalism that inspired and guided him. By showcasing and analyzing these religious contexts, this edited collection sheds considerable light on a towering figure of the Victorian period. In the process, it offers valuable insight into the origins and development of the Salvation Army, one of the most remarkable organizations to arise during the nineteenth century. Boundless Salvation: The Shorter Writings of William Booth will appeal to a broad readership, especially to those with an interest in religion and history.
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Chapter 3. Holiness

Extract

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CHAPTER THREE



Holiness

Like other evangelicals of his day, William Booth viewed the Bible as authoritative for faith and life. Not surprisingly, therefore, the organization he helped to establish held a high view of scripture. As the Christian Mission’s first article of faith proclaimed in 1870: “We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and are the only rule of Christian faith and practice.”1 This affirmation—which mirrored the stance of the Methodist New Connexion and the Evangelical Alliance—gave prominence to the authority of the scriptures. Even though higher criticism gradually undermined the faith of some Victorians in the trustworthiness of the Bible, this was not the case for William Booth. He continued to hold that the Old and New Testaments formed “an inspired Book and [were] the only authorized rule of life.”2 Consequently, the members of the Christian Mission and Salvation Army were encouraged to immerse themselves in the Bible, reading and memorizing it on a daily basis. There was no doubting the sincerity of this pastoral charge, for Booth believed that all of the Army’s “teaching and operations [had to be] continuously justified by direct reference to the Scriptures.”3

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