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Boundless Salvation

The Shorter Writings of William Booth

Edited By 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 6. Relationship to the Church

Extract

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CHAPTER SIX



Relationship to the Church

William Booth may have been baptized as an infant in the Church of England, but he traced his spiritual lineage to Methodism. It was in the Broad Street Wesleyan Chapel in Nottingham that Booth, barely into his teens, claimed conversion and pledged his life to God. Furthermore, those closest to William—from his wife Catherine to many of his earliest and most prominent followers—had been reared in Methodist circles.1 Thus, even though the organization established by the Booths in East London had no formal ties to Methodism, there remained a profound affinity with the movement founded by John Wesley. This family resemblance was not lost on Methodists themselves, for as Hugh Price Hughes, the editor of The Methodist Times, said of the Salvation Army in 1885: “Their teaching is essentially Methodistic, and all the characteristic features of their organisation are modifications of our own.”2 Whether or not middle-class Methodists cared for every aspect of the Army, they recognized Salvationists to be their ecclesiastical kin, so much so that Hughes even proposed a union between the two religious bodies. While no such merger transpired, Booth continued to be one with Wesleyans in many respects.3

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