THQ weighs in

THQ weighs in

Monday, April 27, 2015

Protestantism is about 'word', and not sacraments, right?

Many former officers listed as a principle reason for resigning from ministry in the Army was their strong disagreement relative to the Army’s firm stand on the sacraments. Scores of excellent Salvation Army reading material has come forward throughout the years from some of our finest and most respected theologians, some (semi-warm) pro and others con, from the Founder on down. However, I doubt that it’s a debate that will ever abate.

While stationed in Moscow, Russia with my wife we were privileged to recruit, train and enroll more than 200 soldiers during our two year pioneering tenure. Almost 100% of them were Orthodox Russians, at least in name, and would expect the two sacraments of baptism and communion to be essential publicly exercised symbols of faith, and argued vehemently that they must be included in any Salvation Army rite of passage if they were to become Salvationists. Consequently, with valuable input and agreement from an initial number of recruits we settled on what constituted an acceptable form of the sacraments to link the 1,000 year old Orthodox tradition with the Russian Salvation Army’s own, from the years 1917-1923 and 1990-91. And the church grew – 

When, just 21/2 years later the expat officer leaders flipped and moved the Russian SA into one with mostly Dutch, Norwegian, Australian and American strains, the cultural divide became strained and growth stalled. Evangelism that embodied cultural relativism was sacrificed for ex-pat political ambition.
The Orthodox Metropolitan, Moscow 1991, in conversation with Captain Kathie Ljungholm and General Eva Burrows on the Army's welcome, purpose and intent in Russia.

I will share my view on this disappointing turn of events at another time.
Sven Ljungholm


Phillip Cary of Eastern College has argued, “Protestantism cannot carry through its own deepest intention – to put faith in the word of Christ alone – without a Catholic doctrine of sacramental efficacy.”

That will sound counterintuitive or worse to many Evangelicals. Protestantism is about word, and not sacraments.

Cary is right, though. That’s a big claim, and this is a small article. So let me narrow and sharpen the point. Instead of “No sacraments, No Protestantism,” let’s say “No baptism, No justification.” That should get some attention. Why would a Protestant say there’s some crucial connection between baptism and justification?

The Bible, for starters. Paul links justification and baptism. The Corinthians had been the kind of people who do not inherit the kingdom, but Paul tells them they are no longer such people because “you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

Does “washing” refer to water baptism? It seems so, since the whole passage is embedded in a baptismal formula: “you were washed . . . in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The shift from what the Corinthians “were” to what they “are” is marked by their baptismal washing, which is both a sanctification and a justification.
Paul actually uses the word “baptize” with “justify” in Romans 6. Whoever dies, Paul writes, is “justified from sin” (v. 7). (That’s what the Greek says, though your English Bible may translate the verb as “freed.”) When does one die to sin? Paul has already told us: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death” (vv. 3–4). Through baptism, we die to Adam and brought to life in society with Jesus. Paul calls that transition from the reign of Death to the reign of Life a “justification,” and it happens at baptism.
End part -1-

Peter Leithart is President of the Theopolis Institute Birmingham, Alabama.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Salvation Army Worship Service April 26, 2015 Sunderland, UK

The Salvation Army morning worship service; Sunday April 26, 2015. Sunderland Millfield UK- 125 years of Christian service in Sunderland. Join with us for a traditional SA time of celebrating the amazing love of God typical of our expressions of joy in 126 countries where the Salvation Army ministers.... The message is brought by the Army's international leader, General Andre' Cox with offices at the Army's International Headquarters, London. The Salvation Army morning worship service; Sunday April 26, 2015. Sunderland Millfield UK- 125 years of Christian service in Sunderland. Join with us for a traditional SA time of celebrating the amazing love of God typical of our expressions of joy in 126 where the Salvation Army ministers.... The message is brough by the Army's international leader, General Andre' Cox with offices at the Army's International Headquarters, London.

(click here) SUNDAY SERVICE

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Madam, would you sleep with me?

At a
“Hey Pastor! Can I Bring My Gay Child to Church?” (crickets)

At a dinner party Winston Churchill says to his dinner companion, “Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?”

The woman responds, “My goodness, Mr. Churchill. I suppose I would.”
Churchill replies, “Would you sleep with me for five pounds?

She answers, “Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?”

Churchill answers, “Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.

Okay, let’s tell a similar story but with a completely different setting: church. let’s imagine another conversation between a visitor and the pastor at church…

Do you welcome people here who are remarried?”  “Of course.” 
“Minorities?”  “Sure.” 
“How about interracial couples?”  “Why… yes.” 
“People who sometimes struggle with drinking?”  “Of course – we’re not perfect here.”
“How about people who are overweight, or who don’t wear head coverings, or who do wear mixed fabrics?”  “Don’t be silly, of course we do.”  
“That’s so good to hear, because I’d like to bring my son — he’s gay.”

Variations on this talk occur in countless churches, homes, family gatherings, communities and political parties, regularly all over the map. Sometimes only silently conveyed.

You may claim to be all about love and grace, but if you are deciding which people can come in, which people can serve, which people can marry, then you’re legalistic. Why is that important? Because legalism means adherence to the law for moral approval. It’s approval earned rather than given, a result of works instead of grace, a payment instead of a gift. says:
a. the doctrine that salvation is gained through good works.
b. the judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws.

Legalism leads to bondage and spiritual death. Love and grace leads to life.

If you are deciding who can be part of church, or who is warmly welcomed in church, and not looked at with subtle superiority — then you’re a legalist.

If you are behavior-focused, then you are a legalist.

And if you’re legalistic “only” on the gay issue, you’re a legalist – period. You’re just haggling over specifics.

It was the legalists of his day, Pharisees, who Jesus stood against and condemned –"You brood of vipers" to be precise.

They are easy to spot today… law-focused, behavior-focused, shaming, non-affirming Christians.

Jesus tells us to be love-focused… love God and love your neighbor. It really is that simple.

Jesus was talking about life!

And by the way Pastor, if anyone ever asks if they can come to, and be welcome at your church, no matter who they are, the right answer is always, “Yes!”

Susan Cottrell


The Salvation Army Millfield Corps, Sunderland UK - From BBC

The international leader of the Salvation Army, General André Cox.

Some months ago I streamed an address for our international website, reminding our 26 thousand officers and 108,000 employees across the world where our spiritual life comes from. There’s only one place which triggers such a fantastic spiritual growth and that’s prayer. William and Catherine Booth and their pioneering leaders were people who believed God answered prayer – and their experience was that God answers far beyond our wildest expectations or what we might dare to hope. 

Those early day Salvationists sometimes at great personal expense at times facing persecution believed that they could overcome and change the world around them. 

The first Christians and early day Salvationists shared a strong faith. They believed in the power of the word of God to touch and transform lives. And so do Salvationists across the world today. The word of God was preached and there were spectacular results in those early days not because of the individuals but because of God who was at work in their hearts and lives.Paul puts it this way when he wrote to the first Christians in Rome: As he said he wasn’t ashamed of the Good News of Christ – and neither is the Salvation Army. The message is indeed the power of God at work – saving everyone who believes, from every background, culture, ethnicity and class. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” We too believe that. We take the whole gospel to the whole person. And that might  mean battling with all sorts of problems – be it alcohol, drugs dependency, or the fear of loneliness, exclusion and rejection. The power of the message remains the same but the message requires messengers. As Paul we are called to proclaim, preach, teach and live the Gospel message unashamedly. Salvationists aren’t just what they say but we are the people we are because the Gospel has transformed us. The power of the Gospel message changes lives! The Gospel message is for all people without distinction. No one is excluded. In Paul’s mind there is no room for doubt, he has received the Gospel message which literally changed and transformed his life. God is at work right here and right now! What a tremendous encouragement that is for those who see it and experience that reality every day. It affects the way we see the present but more importantly how we view the future 

In a few weeks’ time over 16,000 Salvationists from all over the world will gather at the O2 in Greenwich to celebrate and think about the next hundred and fifty years.  What on earth are we going to be discussing? For the contexts in which we all work are often so different but the message is always the same. In Nairobi the lives of the poorest people existing off the dross of rubbish tips have been transformed through a sports project for young people. In Bangladesh and in the Tsunami affected areas of Indonesia and Sri Lanka micro finance projects are helping families get back on their feet and help themselves in a sustainable way, bringing always the self-respect which always comes with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Haiti following the earthquake local salvationists are at the forefront of projects that are enabling people to rebuild their homes by providing business training and life skills. And this is never international missionaries parachuted in, but always local community generated. It’s certainly true that The Salvation Army is best known for the social transformation it can bring to people’s lives. But that doesn’t happen anywhere in world without the love joy and peace of Jesus invading each individual. The message of the love of Jesus and the value of the individual before God never changes. 

God is calling us into a bright future. As Christians, we are not a people who live in fear because we know and experience the fact that the Kingdom of God has come near to us in Jesus. 

Paul in writing to the Philippians reminded them to rejoice, and  be thankful, and not to be anxious. Christians never base their future in worry and fear – and as an international movement we believe that God will always show us the next steps. Part of that involves clear thinking about how the gospel can transform the mega cities of the future.  Those whose lives are blighted by stress and the treadmill of materialism. One of the toughest calls for all Christians including the Salvation Army is engaging appropriately with the burgeoning young populations in these mega cities where there is so much attract and excite but also so much opportunity for disappointment and spiritual bankruptcy.

But God has not changed; His message to the world remains unchanged. God still reaches out to this world in love and despite our human weekness Paul reminds us that it is the Gospel message that is the power of God at work within us saving all who believe.

William Booth the Founder of The Salvation Army penned the words of a well-known song which is an anthem sung by Salvationists around the world in many languages. This is how he describes the wonderful gift of Salvation:
“O boundless salvation, deep ocean of love, O fullness of mercy, Christ brought from above, the whole world redeeming, so rich and so free, now flowing for all men, come roll over me.”

The truth is that this boundless salvation so rich and so free is available to you and to me if we truly want it! 

Now that is something truly worthy of a celebration and I pray that we will all indeed experience that power of God at work in our lives today.

May God bless you! 
General Andre' Cox