The Shorter Writings of William Booth
Edited By Andrew M Eason and Roger J. Green
Chapter 3. Holiness
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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
Among the teachings that William Booth felt to be scriptural was the doctrine of holiness. As he told his followers in 1877: “I simply insist that it is described in the Bible, and that the...
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