The Salvation Army Is A Religious Denomination

By S. Leonard Tyler

Did you know, when you drop a dime, quarter, or whatever in t..e Salvation Army’s “little red-pot” on the street that you are contributing to a religious denomination? Well, you are! It is a church just as much as the Methodist, Baptist, Mormon, or any other. The Merit Students Encyclopedia (Vol. 16, 317), states it thusly:

The Salvation Army, an international Protestant religious and charitable movement, organized and operated on a semi-military pattern. It is primarily evangelical in nature but also has a vast program of social services. The Salvation Army’s activities include preaching Christianity in sixty-nine countries throughout the world. Worship services have no set form, but singing and brass bands are utilized and have become commonly associated with the movement. Each corps hold weekly religious meetings for adults and young people, and a program of Christian education is provided for all age groups.

To impress the religious nature of The Salvation Army, we quote from the Oxford Dictionary of The Christian Church, Edited by F.L. Cross (p. 1210). It reads:

The religious teaching of the Salvation Army is largely in harmony with traditional evangelical belief, but rejects all Sacraments and stresses especially the moral side of Christianity. It enjoins complete self-denial on all its followers. The technique of producing conversions is aggressive and emotional and makes extensive use of public testimony and penance; its realistic methods of presenting religion to the peoples in which open-air meetings with brass bands and banners play an important part, differ greatly from those of other Christian bodies.

Her principle doctrine is “faith only” and “direct operation of the Holy Spirit upon the human heart in salvation.” However, people in general do not think of the Salvation Army as a religious denominational church. But it is from start to finish.

The Salvation Army is not just a social benevolent organization as the Red Cross. It is a religion and church in the fullest denominational sense. In fact, it is listed as being one of the fastest growing denominations in the world. Do you want to aid her religious growth and help her convert people to her denominational, erroneous and false doctrine and church? If you aid her in her work, you help her convert innocent people and build a stronger Army.

I am not opposed to the good work that is done. But when any group of people presumptuously, in disrespect to Christ’s teaching, bind themselves together and form a church in name, doctrine, faith, worship, organization, and work, one must cry out against it. God warned Moses a long time ago in plain and strong terms regarding any prophet speaking or doing any thing presumptuously., Listen to it:

But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously . . . the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandments, that soul shall utterly be, cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him (Num. 15:30-32; see also Num. 17:12; 18:20).

No wonder David prayed,

Keep back also thy servant from presumptuous sins . . . Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer (Ps. 19:13-14).

Today we must hear and follow Christ’s Word to be His (2 John 9; Matt. 7:21, 24-29).

The reason is simple and yet profound, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). And, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up” (Matt. 15:13; see also verses 3-9).

We must not allow some good work to blind us nor to nullify the teaching of our Lord. Just because some group calling themselves a church does temporal good in helping needy people certainly does not commend them to God as being right scripturally and spiritually. God does not accept humanitarian service as spiritual salvation. We must never forget that the very purpose of Christ’s coming to earth and dying was to save the soul of man. The gospel is given for the same reason, to reveal Jesus and His way of salvation.

The gospel of Christ is given that man might be saved (John 20:30-31; James 1:21-25), just as Jesus came into the world to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Therefore, whatever state Paul found himself in while serving the Lord, he learned to be content (Phil. 4:11), and we should do the same (Heb. 13:5). It is not the material things that equates salvation, but faith which by love follows God’s directions (Gal. 5:6). “Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the’ fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22). Obedience is a manifestation of faith and love (Rom. 6:16-18).

It seems we are becoming so materially minded and subjectively related that we are unable to accept the reality of the soul of man. In this case, the soul is at stake and the teaching of Jesus regarding man’s salvation. If the false doctrine preached by the Salvation Army will effect salvation, we need not worry about the truth of any doctrine any more. But in reality that is all that counts for life eternal – Jesus and His teaching.

Community Chest Support of Salvation Army

The Community Chest should be non-religious, not religiously related. But it has become associated with and connected to churches by contributing to various programs of their benevolent work. “This ought not so to be.” But we wonder why The Salvation Army shares in the Community Chest, and is allowed to set up her booths on our streets to solicit funds for benevolent purposes? Other churches do benevolent work; why not grant them the same privilege? If it is right for one church (Salvation Army), is it not right for the other? If not, why not?

The response, “They care for our stragglers and benevolent cases.” Since when does the city government depend upon a church to do her work? The city has benevolent obligations and should expedite them and involve no church.

Some may ask, “Are you in favor of allowing all churches to set up booths on every street corner and `beg’ money?” My answer is a firm, “No.” No church, in my judgment, should establish their own teaching and program of work, join them inseparably together, then case the whole thing upon the public for support. It is my strong conviction that each church should handle her own affairs, plan her own work and depend upon her own members to support it.

Another thing. If any church solicits through the mail, radio, on the streets, or appeals to the public for support, she should be lawfully obligated to give an accounting to the public for the disposition of every dime collected.

Truth Magazine XXIII: 40, pp. 651-652
October 11, 1979