Last week in the Kroc Church membership class we finished to the doctrines (and there was much rejoicing) and started to talk about unique aspects of The Salvation Army.
We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified, and that their whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We talked about what it meant to be sanctified, and I chose to focus on what it means that our bodies are to be sanctified. We have this weird idea that God is only concerned about our souls, but the truth is, He cares about our whole person. We looked at sanctification as a process (2 Corinthians 3:17-18) and as a partnership (Romans 8:1-11, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, Philippians 2:12-13).
It’s possible to take the idea of grace and believe that once you raise your hand or pray a prayer, God requires nothing more of you. The Bible however, places a great emphasis on our personal holiness.
Other people over the years have created an unhealthy relationship between the body and the soul. Neo-Platonism in the 1st and 2nd centuries taught that matter was evil and the spiritual world was good. Therefore the way you treated your body wasn’t important. We looked at how even Christians today can have that attitude if we are not careful when we say “it’s all gonna burn!” The body belongs to the Lord.
We believe in the immortality of the soul; in the resurrection of the body; in the general judgment at the end of the world; in the eternal happiness of the righteous; and in the endless punishment of the wicked.
Doctrine 11 can be a tough one to swallow for some people. We are immortal beings and there is a judgment coming. There is a judgment for believers (1 Corinthians 3:5-10) as well as unbelievers (Revelation 20:11-15). We have a great hope for a future world that is free from sin and death, however there is a real, eternal judgment coming for those who reject Christ and choose to be the lords of their own kingdoms instead of submitting to His lordship.
We moved on from there to look at some specific traits of Salvationists. We talked about the sacraments and TSA’s position to not ritualistically mandate communion and baptism. We practice this as a witness to the rest of the Christian church that water baptism and communion do not save; it is grace of Christ that saves us. I also throw in a pertinent quote from the 2008 International Spiritual Life Commission:
Our position as Salvationists is a position of freedom. The response of Salvationists worldwide to their freedom in Christ may be diverse, differing with the cultural context of indigenous Salvationist mission. Such freedom and diversity are to be prized as part of our heritage as Salvationists.
Finally, we moved on to a quick overview of officers, territorial, divisional and local structure, and a fun Salvation Army Terms matching game. Our Corps has very little traditional Salvationism in it (other than our effort to preach the gospel and meet human need) and many of the terms that are sometimes used are absent in our Corps. For instance, our Corps is called Kroc Church. We do not use the terminology “penitent form,” (altar) “fire your cartridges,” (tithes and offerings) or “Holiness Meeting” (church service). However we do talk regularly about officers, soldiers, World Services, and being Promoted To Glory. I believe there is a healthy mix of the new and the old in our Corps, and I am glad for it.