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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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Over ninety years ago the English author and journalist Harold Begbie wrote that William Booth “was conscious of no need for any theology in his service to the world but that which led men to the heart of Christ.”1 Few would wish to fault Begbie for identifying what lay at the center of General Booth’s theological vision—the redemption of the world. Unfortunately, however, Begbie went on to suggest that the Army’s founding father wore his theology rather lightly, having shed many of the doctrines and practices acquired in his youth.2 Betraying his disdain for theological dogma, which he equated with idle speculation, Begbie portrayed Booth as a pragmatist who owed little to his religious heritage. Action was judged to be far more important than theology in the life and ministry of William Booth. It is hoped that the primary source writings contained in this volume have dispelled such a misguided perception, because Booth’s accomplishments—before and after the formation of the Salvation Army—make very little sense apart from his Methodist and revivalist background.

If it can be said that William Booth was a product of his age, then his primary debts were theological in nature. Influenced profoundly by both Methodism and transatlantic revivalism, Booth forged a theology of redemption aimed at the conversion and sanctification of the masses.3 This redemptive theology not only informed his earliest street preaching in Nottingham but his subsequent ministry within and beyond Methodism. Convinced that unrepentant souls were...

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