Baptism & The Salvation Army

by Jimmy Akin

in Other Religions

The reason I bring up the Salvation Army is that I got the following e-mail from a correspondent:

I was wondering what the form and matter is for Baptism by a Salvationist [i.e., a member of the Salvation Army]. I am working with a young man in prison who wants to learn more about the faith, with the possibility of coming into full communion. He was baptised in his mother’s faith, i.e. Salvationist. Is this a valid baptism? He recieved instructions and claims to have made his first communion (but not Confirmation) in another state prison location (within a different diocese). Before I proceed, I need to know where he stands. He is single and has never been married, so, other than the baptism in question, and pehaps his recieving communion, he has no obvious impediments.

I replied:

I’m afraid that there is a difficulty in answering your question because the Salvation Army does not normally practice the sacraments. See the following links:

http://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/en/Library/factSheets/Sacraments.htm

http://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/en/Library/factSheets/FAQ-23-Baptism+and+membership.htm

There have been inconsistencies in this area, and sometimes Salvationists have received baptism in another church, but the Salvation Army does not encourage its members to be baptized. As a result of the irregular way in which baptism–when they occur among Salvationsists–are performed, there is no guarantee that any particular form (or matter) was used.

There would seem to be two solutions to the situation of the gentleman you describe: (1) investigate to find out the particulars of how *he* was baptized (e.g., did he do it in a Salvationist church or another church and what was the form and matter in his case). *Probably* he was baptized validly. However, because of the doubt in this area I would probably recommend a conditional baptism for him, just to be sure.

I wish the Salvationist gentleman the best of luck and hope that he soon comes into the Church, but I point this out here because it further underscores the problem with the Salvation Army’s lack of focus on gospel teaching. Even those who do not recognize baptism as means of salvation recognize that it is a scripturally-mandated response to the gospel (e.g., in Acts 2:38), and to simply discontinue its practice is fundamentally inconsistent with the Christian faith.

In fact, the result is that Salvationists who follow the practice of their group in this matter are not Christians because they are not baptized. They are kind of deutero-followers of the Messiah, like the disciples of Apollos that Paul found in Ephesis (Acts 19:1-7, cf. 18:18-28), but they are not Christians because they lack the sacrament that makes one a Christian.

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{ 28 comments }

Jack Grimes June 12, 2004 at 3:18 pm

What is the deal with “baptism of desire”?

Is it a real baptism, that actually imparts sanctifying grace?

Or is it a nominal figure of speech that’s really only good after death? When someone dies without the sacrament but with the desire, does God ‘pretend’ he received the sacrament and give him sanctifying grace for the first time at that moment?

Or is someone baptized by desire really living afterwards in a state of grace?

I would think that someone baptized by desire would have sanctifying grace (God’s own life) in them, and thus be Christians, as Trent says justification comes through the sacrament or its desire.

Sergei Timenovich June 12, 2004 at 6:22 pm

Jack,

I believe those who receive baptism of desire really do receive sanctifying grace, and thus regeneration and remission of sins. However, they are not made members of Christ’s body, the Church.

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angie May 25, 2006 at 10:12 am

what is the salvation army sacrament?

Andrew Webb July 27, 2006 at 6:22 pm

If I recall correctly, John the Baptist said Jesus baptises with the Holy Spirit, not necessarily also with water.

In response, the Salvation Army does have the uniform, which is an outward display of their committment to God (which they sign – called the Articles of War).

And surely nobody is suggesting you get saved through being baptised? That would be a direct contradiction of Eph 2:8!

Jimmy Akin July 27, 2006 at 6:43 pm

Um, actually Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, and many other Christians do say that you get saved through baptism. The idea that you don’t is by far the minority position in Christianity.

This affirmation is not a direct contradiction of Ephesians 2:8.

Denying that baptism saves you, however, is a direct contradiction of 1 Peter 3:21.

J.R. Stoodley July 27, 2006 at 7:50 pm

If you are not born again of water and the holy spirit…

J.R. Stoodley July 27, 2006 at 8:19 pm

It may be worth mentioning that we believe baptism does save the person being baptized, but not by some kind of magic in the water or the words. The baptized is saved through faith by the working of the Holy Spirit (recieved in a special way at baptism) by the sacrifice of Christ. John’s baptism was a mere symbolic washing to bring adults to repentance. Jesus’ baptism gives the Holy Spirit “down from heaven” to reside in the baptized’s soul, bringing the union in Love between God and the soul that we call the state of grace.

If we believe (as we Catholics do and as I bet Mr. Webb does) that we are saved by God’s free gift, not our own merits, completely unearned by us, then why refuse to believe that this can be given through baptism? Don’t forget that faith itself is a gift, one which can lead to salvation, and it can be given by God to anyone. Thus it can even be given to babies, even if the baby can not really think about the issues involved. This is a wonderful testamony to God’s great power, generosity, and love for us, one which most Christians through all of Christian history have believed in, and which is quite biblical. Why take offense at this generosity of God just because it does not fit into your own narrow definition of faith as a completely conscious rational activity? Salvation after all is a strange and wonderful thing, and God is pretty much literally dieing for us to be reconciled to him, so why be surprised that he chooses to save us (at least until we reject him later) in such a simple and unexpected way?

steve September 6, 2007 at 4:43 pm

the salvation army is a man made church.it clams st.paul did not practice water baptaim in his minestry.its time the salvation army read the book of acts.paul did rebaptize 12 disciples of john the baptist,in the 19 chapter of the book of acts.baptsim is in the bible from john the baptist to the book of acts.3000 souls baptized in the second of acts.i can go on.i came out of the salvation army.you can reach me at the email above.

J. Moss July 14, 2008 at 8:40 am

I must reply to the above. The Salvation Army is not man made,if that were so then so would every other church be “man made”. William Booth was led by the Holy Spirit to the East End of London and there he began a wonderful ministry. Was the Methodist Church “man made” God used the ministry of John Wesley for this purpose. Was the Early Church “man made” Again it was the work of the Holy Spirit. It is true that the S.A. do not observe the Sacraments, nor does the Quaker Movement, and they are a very good and devout company of Christians. Are you saying that this will keep these people out Heaven? I have no doubt that many who do observe the Sacraments are good Christians, but as in every church for some people it is nothing more than a formality. I had friend who attended church, not The Salvation Army, who said it was good for business. What say you? I do not suppose I will meet you on earth, I trust we will meet in Heaven, but give that friend of your ST JOHN 3 16, for when nothing else will do JOHN 3 166

Mary July 14, 2008 at 5:32 pm

The Salvation Army is not man made,if that were so then so would every other church be “man made”.

No, every church except one would be man-made.

And since Jesus said, “You are Peter, Rock, and on this rock I will build My church,” not “on this rock I will build My churches.” that is required. Since He has only one church, every other one must be man-made.

William Booth was led by the Holy Spirit to the East End of London and there he began a wonderful ministry. Was the Methodist Church “man made” God used the ministry of John Wesley for this purpose.

I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

There have been many Christians led by the Holy Spirit to institute many ministries. But not to institute schism.

Was the Early Church “man made”

The early Church was not formed by schism from the Church.

james moss July 17, 2008 at 11:29 am

I do not fully understand your comments re schism. We belong to Jesus Christ, not the “Church” organization, but we do need to attend a church that is most suitable to our understanding, making sure that its teaching is according to Gods Word. Over the years there have become many branches of the Church. Who is right or wrong, not for me to condemn or judge any one or another church. With what judgement we judge we will be judged. We could go on for a long time like this, we all have different ideas.

Mary July 17, 2008 at 7:25 pm

We belong to Jesus Christ, not the “Church” organization,

Jesus is “his body, which is the church,” and “And he [God the Father] put all things beneath his [Jesus’s] feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.”

Therefore, what you describe is impossible. To not belong to the Church is to not belong to Jesus.

(Note the use of the singular.)

Mary July 17, 2008 at 7:32 pm

but we do need to attend a church that is most suitable to our understanding,

That is an unfortunate phrasing. It is our business to (through the grace of God) make our understanding, like the rest of us, suitable to the Church.

You may mean “what we understand to be the best Church,” but you didn’t quite say it.

making sure that its teaching is according to Gods Word.

Here, however, you have gone far astray. The first question would be “and what is God’s Word?” and if you answer the Bible — you can do so only on the authority of the Catholic Church. That is where the canon of the Bible came from.

Even if I grant the canon of the Bible — how can you tell whether the teaching is accord with the Bible? Why, by interpretating it yourself.

But the Bible itself, in the Letter of Peter, explicitly says that no prophecy — nothing inspired of God — is of private interpretation. And all Scripture is inspired by God. You are therefore saying we must do something that is explicitly forbiden by the Bible.

Mary July 17, 2008 at 7:35 pm

Over the years there have become many branches of the Church. Who is right or wrong, not for me to condemn or judge any one or another church.

You admit in the second sentence that they are not “branches of the Church” but different churches.

This is not what Jesus prayed for, for His followers. He prayed that “they may be one just as we are.”

Mary July 17, 2008 at 7:40 pm

Who is right or wrong, not for me to condemn or judge any one or another church. With what judgement we judge we will be judged.

The question is not “What should we think of other people?” but “What should we do ourselves?” The question you should consider is not whether other people are in a culpable state of schism, but whether you are.

Whether you are willfully keeping separate from the church that Jesus founded on Peter, “the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.”

steve October 5, 2008 at 8:43 am

hi,the salvation army,is a man made church.it was founded by william booth,he was not there on the day of pentecost when the holy ghost filled the upper room.there were hundred and twenty there,and he was not one of them,sorry.i believe what was preached in the book of acts,not some man made church.

steve October 5, 2008 at 9:07 am

i no what the salvation army say,about water baptism. that the apostle paul did not practice water baptism in his ministery.manual of salvationism,for students,page 51 section 1.the salvation army says paul did not practice water baptism in his ministry,saying;christ did not send me to baptize with water but to preach the gospel.the bible says paul rebaptized twelve followers of john in acts 19:1 to 6.so,who is right.the salvation army or the bible.thanks steve

steve November 3, 2008 at 1:42 pm

hi,the salvation army begain in,england,with william booth,the year was,1865.with flags and uniforms.turn to the bible,the book of acts,read it.the early church,had no flags or uniforms.will anyone dare to say that the apostles gave wrong instructions on the day of pentecost to 3000 convicted souls.ah,how near such men come to committing blasphemy againt the holy ghost.

steve hooper November 5, 2008 at 5:32 am

angie,you said the salvation army has the uniform,which is a outward display of there committment to god.( which they sign-called the articles of war).would you show me in the king james bible,were any one wore a uniform.thats salvation army uniform.when it comes to the articles of war.were is that in the bible.thats all man made garbage.baptism in water is all threw the bible.acts2:38.like i said,man made,church.

steve November 10, 2008 at 6:36 am

angie speaks of a direct contradiction of eph2:8.out side of jesus christ,there is no,salvation.you can put on all the salvation army unforms,and sign all the articles of war,you like.there is only one gospel,and one way to heaven.that is threw jesus christ.if you are trying to get to heaven,on the back of the salvation army,the bible says you are a thief and a robber,there is no other way,and no other,gospel.but that witch was preached in the book of acts.all the best.

Serena November 10, 2008 at 9:28 am

I used to be Evangelical Friends (the least-known and by far most-populous segment of the religion started by George Fox in the 17th Century), and they don’t think you need to be baptized, either, though many are through another church.

One thing that struck me about the Friends Church after I was baptized was a feeling something was missing. I left that denomination as a result.

I was surprised to learn SA doesn’t baptize either. If that makes them non-Christian, then I guess EFs are too. So Christians and non-Christians are in church together and don’t know it.

steve hooper November 25, 2008 at 8:34 am

hi,the bible talks about,in st.matthew 15:14,about the blind leaders of the blind,and if the blind lead the blind,both shall fall into the ditch.this is what i speak off.

steve hooper November 25, 2008 at 11:27 am

hi,i speak off the blind leaders of the blind,.how both will fall into a ditch.its like the little old lady,who started going to church.she went and both a new king james bible.went to church for one year.one morning her salvation army officer meet her at the door.he said,to the little old lady,how come you have only three pages left in your,bible.the little old lady said,everything you donot beleive in,i cut out.

steve hooper November 25, 2008 at 11:29 am

hi,i speak off the blind leaders of the blind,.how both will fall into a ditch.its like the little old lady,who started going to church.she went and both a new king james bible.went to church for one year.one morning her salvation army officer meet her at the door.he said,to the little old lady,how come you have only three pages left in your,bible.the little old lady said,everything you donot beleive in,i cut out.

BuglerJay January 24, 2009 at 8:49 pm

I don’t get the big deal over baptism. When Christ was on the cross, one of the criminals hanging adjacent to Him came to Him asking His intercession with the Father, and received it. That fellow certainly was not baptized, but went to heaven anyway. IMO John 3:16 says it all and the rest is just a matter of ritual.

Have a blessed day.

BuglerJay January 24, 2009 at 8:49 pm

I don’t get the big deal over baptism. When Christ was on the cross, one of the criminals hanging adjacent to Him came to Him asking His intercession with the Father, and received it. That fellow certainly was not baptized, but went to heaven anyway. IMO John 3:16 says it all and the rest is just a matter of ritual.

Have a blessed day.

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