Article - Can a Christian Support the Salvation Army?

The bells are about to start ringing. The call will come forth. As you exit the doors of Wal-Mart you may hear someone say, “Sir, can you give your change to the Salvation Army?” With a little change in your pocket anyway, wouldn’t it be good to support the needy? Or, would it? Does God approve of Christians supporting the Salvation Army? What exactly is the Salvation Army? If Christians are not careful, they can inadvertently support false teaching by giving to the Salvation Army. I know that this principle may come as a shock to some. Like most of the world, the only image you may have of the Salvation Army is that of helping the needy. Let me introduce to you another side of the Salvation Army.

Many people fail to realize the Salvationists are not primarily a benevolent organization. Their primary goal of this group is evangelism. This is clearly seen in the mission statement of the Salvation Army, “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination” ( click on about us then beliefs, retrieved 10.06.05). It is evident from this statement that the Salvation Army is denominational in nature (“an evangelical part of the Universal Christian Church”. See quote above) and evangelistic in its mission. Here in lies the problem with the Salvation Army. Do they teach the biblical plan of salvation?

To answer this question we need only look at their doctrines. The following is a list of the beliefs of the Salvation Army as found on their website.

  1. We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that only they constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice. 
  2. We believe that there is only one God, who is infinitely perfect, the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all things, and who is the only proper object of religious worship. 
  3. We believe that there are three persons in the Godhead - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, undivided in essence and equal in power and glory. 
  4. We believe that in the person of Jesus Christ the Divine and human natures are united, so that He is truly and properly God and truly and properly man. 
  5. We believe that our first parents were created in a state of innocence, but by their disobedience, they lost their purity and happiness, and that in consequence of their fall, all men have become sinners, totally depraved, and as such are justly exposed to the wrath of God. 
  6. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has by His suffering and death made an atonement for the whole world so that whosoever will believe may be saved. 
  7. We believe that repentance toward God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and regeneration by the Holy Spirit are necessary to salvation. 
  8. We believe that we are justified by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and that he that believes has the witness in himself. 
  9. We believe that continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ. 
  10. 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. 
  11. We believe in the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, in the general judgement at the end of the world, in the eternal happiness of the righteous, and in the endless punishment of the wicked. ( click on beliefs, retrieved 10.06.05).

As one initially looks at these beliefs there are many that are biblical. For example, the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, nature and worship of God and the trinity are all biblical beliefs. However, the problem Christians should have with the Salvation Army begins in their fifth belief. It is within this statement that the Salvationists state very clearly their belief in the Calvinistic view of Total Hereditary Depravity. This view is in direct contradiction to what the Bible teaches. The Bible says that we were created upright until iniquity was found in us (Ezekiel 28:15). Jesus likened the inhabitants of the heavenly kingdom to little children (Luke 18:16-17). What was Jesus saying in this text? Was he saying that the kingdom of Heaven is full of a bunch of little depraved sinners? Absolutely not! Yet, if we support the Salvation Army we align ourselves with false teaching. While this belief is no doubt a damnable doctrine that turns my stomach and my change away from the Salvation Army, this is not the main reason I cannot support them. The main reason I cannot support the Salvation Army is because they teach a false plan of salvation. In beliefs 6-8 it is evident that the Salvation Army clearly teaches salvation comes by belief and repentance alone. This is in direct conflict with what the church of the New Testament taught in the book of Acts (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Jesus himself made it very clear that confession and baptism were also essential to salvation (Matthew 10:32-33; Mark 16:16). Why must a Christian never support the Salvation Army? A Christian must not support the Salvation Army for the same reason he would never give money to the Southern Baptism Association, Mormon Temple or the Jehovah’s Witness Watchtower Society. To give your money to the Salvation Army says, “I place my stamp of approval on what you are teaching and doing and I want to help.” Christian, remember that if you support the Salvation Army you are supporting the further spread of false doctrine.

This season, when the bell rings and the cry of help comes forth may it remind faithful children of God of two things: our command to support the needy on an individual and congregational level (Jas 1:27; Galatians 6:10, Acts 6) and the millions of souls who are going to eternity falsely prepared and our need to warn them (Ezekiel 33:1ff). May God help us to prove all things lest we inadvertently send false teachers on their way with our blessing (2 John 9-11).


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