Friday, April 29, 2011

Reaching for Metaphors of Grace
by General Paul Rader Reaching For Metaphors of Grace – part 1.


In August last year, General Paul Rader, former world leader of The Salvation Army, delivered the annual Coutts Memorial Lecture at Booth College in Sydney.  The lecture appeared in Pipeline.
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Reaching For Metaphors of Grace – part 1.

My parents were both preachers and winsome exemplars of holiness. I grew up with holiness teaching and example. My mother was a gentle spirit with a talent for loving. My father was a single minded, passionate evangelist to the last days of his long life; promoted to glory at 92 – a Salvationist zealot. He wanted those he won to Christ to survive, and more; to thrive in grace. Holiness was for them the only safe option, as he saw it. He had entered into the experience himself and fervently urged it upon his family and all who came under the influence of his ministry.

He had a joyful certainty about his message. It was all aglow with the possibilities of grace. We found it infectious, as did others. When he died, our children wrote tributes. Our eldest recalled how God had spoken to her so often through her grand-dad: “… through that booming, passionate, hopeful, edifying, loving voice. I’m still listening,” she said. And so are we.

He introduced his children from our teens to a wide range of holiness writers.  Not all were Wesleyans. They included Hannah Whitehall Smith, Ruth Paxson, Norman Grubb, L E Maxwell, Paget Wilkes, Sidlow Baxter, Oswald Chambers.

Holiness movement
The Army has from the start been a holiness movement and despite Major Alan Harley’s rather jeremiad assessment (he makes a convincing case in an article published in the May 2009 issue of Word and Deed, entitled “Is The Salvation Army really a holiness movement?” A question with which I resonate!), I believe the Army will continue to be a holiness movement.

With other holiness denominations, the Army has struggled with the issues of doctrinal clarity, effective articulation of essentials with contemporary relevance and unanimity of understanding. But the Army is still a vital part of the holiness movement, here (Australia) and around the world. Full salvation is emblazoned on our banner of blood and fire and we mean to keep it billowing.

Like many of you, I grew up in Sunday morning holiness meetings, singing holiness songs and choruses. I was weaned on Wesley’s holiness hymns. Early on, I began seeking the blessing of a clean heart with teenage passion and persistence. At Asbury College (in the United States), I was more thoroughly grounded in the theological foundations of holiness teaching. We had questions, but used to take comfort in the thought that what they could not explain about it on our side of the street (the college), they probably knew the answers to on the other side of the street where Asbury Theological Seminary was located. So I crossed the street. Meanwhile, I married the daughter of a holiness camp meeting evangelist, whose precious mother was the epitome of holy love.

So, in the interests of full disclosure, I confess to being a child of the holiness revival of the 19th century and schooled in the Wesleyan tradition of the 18th century. I have imbibed the perspectives of a broader range of holiness teachers of the 20th century – our own in the Army, and others, as well.

I now have been preaching and teaching the truth of scriptural holiness, so far as I have understood and internalised it, for 50 years. Across those years, I have been seeking to live out the reality of its truth in the context of family and our officership calling, most often in a cross-cultural context. And now, in this 21st century, I am still searching for more adequate metaphors to relate this truth to our time. Preaching to students during the six years of my presidency at a Christian college, I have worked at trying to make this truth accessible and compelling to this generation of students – the millennials. I think I understand some of the questions better than ever. I am quite sure that I don’t have the final answers.

The ‘Shorter Way’
Among the issues that have figured prominently in defining the saving work of Christ in the human heart is the question of when and how the experience of entire sanctification can be anticipated and appropriated. What is called the “Shorter Way” was taught by Phoebe Palmer who so directly influenced Catherine Booth.

For Palmer, the altar sanctifies the gift. Entire sanctification is realised when believers fully submit to the lordship of Christ and place themselves and all they are or hope to be on the altar and claim by faith God’s promise for heart-cleansing. Catherine Booth reflects this view in her own witness to a sanctifying experience of grace (Green 1996:103-107).

“The altar sanctifies the gift; Thy blood insures the boon divine; My outstretched hands to heaven I lift, And claim the Father’s promise mine.” - Francis Bottome (1823-94) 208 v. 4

The “Shorter Way” found definition in the heat of the 19th century awakening and the American Holiness Movement. In this view, writes Christopher Bounds, “entire sanctification is a simple synergism in which the work of consecration and faith by a Christian is met immediately with deliverance from the inner propensity to sin by the Holy Spirit” (Bounds 2005:2).

This view was dominant in the Army from the beginning and is represented perhaps
best in the writings of Commissioner Samuel Logan Brengle, although care should be taken not to oversimplify Brengle’s understanding of the experience of sanctification and the life of holiness which he developed in his literary legacy of wise pastoral counsel.

A “Middle Way” is more representative of John Wesley’s perspective as he refined his theology of sanctification over the long years of his preaching ministry. By pursuing the means of grace and attending to the Word of God, the heart is prepared to receive the grace necessary to claim the blessing of a clean heart. It is God who
creates in the heart of the believer the hunger for holiness and who beckons us onward toward that moment when in the encounter of faith and the word of promise the Spirit does the sanctifying work and, sooner or later, witnesses that the and Samuel Logan Brengle. Some were in the Keswick tradition. Brengle was the Army’s most effective and articulate proponent of scriptural holiness. He spoke at my parent’s wedding – in the days when they sometimes charged admission, took an offering and gave an invitation to receive Christ, too!

He was a prophet with a burden for the future.  “The bridge the Army throws across the impassable gulf which separates the sinner from the Saviour, who pardons that
He may purify, who saves that He may sanctify, rests upon these two abutments;
the forgiveness of sins through simple, penitent, obedient faith in a crucified Redeemer, and the purifying of the heart and empowering of the soul through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, given by its risen and ascended Lord, and received not by works, but by faith.

Remove either of these abutments and the bridge falls; preserve them in strength and a world of lost and despairing sinners can be confidently invited and urged to come and be gloriously saved. It is this holiness that we must maintain, else we shall betray our trust; we shall lose our birthright ... our glory will depart ... we shall have no heritage of martyr-like sacrifice, of spiritual power, of daredevil faith, of pure, deep joy, of burning love, of holy triumph, to bequeath to [our children].” (Quoted Waldron 1987:109-111)

heart has been made pure. Usually some level of maturity is required before the need is felt for a deeper work of grace and a full and knowing consecration becomes possible. It is then, as God grants the grace to claim His promise, that the believer
is enabled to appropriate the blessing.

Indeed, not to do so is to back up on light and put the soul in jeopardy. It is the  general demise of a confident proclamation of these understandings of entire sanctification in the teaching and preaching of the Army that Major Harley finds troubling.

The ‘Longer Way’
A third view has been gaining wide currency among holiness denominations, particularly since the mid-20th century. It understands entire sanctification to be appropriated only by a long process of growth. It is the “Longer Way”. The focus
is on a lengthy process of dying to self following on years of growing spiritual awareness. Few believers will attain the goal before death; most only when we are glorified.

All of these views have their advocates presently within the broader Wesleyan holiness tradition. They all posit a death to the self-life and a cleansing from the inner pollution of sin. They all affirm the possibility of living “self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:12-14 TNIV).

In his helpful survey of holiness teaching, Spiritual Breakthrough (1983), General
John Larsson describes the gradual modification of John Wesley’s original insights regarding entire sanctification.
Wesley himself revised his understanding over time from viewing the crisis of sanctification as available only to a few very near to the “summit of the mountain of holiness”, often only shortly before death.

Later, he affirmed the experience was available to believers earlier in their faith journey. His 19th century disciples confidently proclaimed that the crisis of cleansing and infilling of pure love for God and others is “necessary and attainable for all believers”.

It is this understanding that is reflected in our 10th doctrine: “We believe it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified ...”

Larsson concludes: “The crisis has become the gateway, not the goal. And the crisis is, therefore, not for the few athletes of the spirit who have nearly made it to the top. It is the way in to spiritual progress, and is, therefore, meant for everybody.”  (1983:46). It is this view that was presented in the 1969 revision of the Handbook of Doctrine and further explicated in the extensive writings of General Frederick Coutts on the life of holiness.

He writes: “In penitent obedience, I yield up a forgiven life. In faith believing, I receive of His Spirit. That is the beginning ... a full surrender is the beginning of the life of holy living; the end of that experience I do not – I cannot – see ... In grace as in wisdom ‘hills peep o’er hills and alps on alps arise’. Spiritually, there is always the glory of going on and still to be.” (Coutts 1957:37).

“Our human nature, left to itself, always clings to the lower levels ... Few of us seize that banner with the strange device, “Holiness unto the Lord”, and are lost to sight making for the summit of the holy hill of God. Only Jesus can rouse us into making such an attempt. Then look to Him that He may quicken you with holy desire which, by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, may find its fullest expression in holy - that is to say, Christlike - living” (ibid., 21).

Critical place of crisis
Each of these views - the shorter, the middle and the longer way – contribute importantly to an understanding of the possibilities of grace and the way of holiness. Ultimately, the issue is how the experience is played out in the business
of living - in the depth of our devotion, the purity of our love toward God and others, and the consistency of our walk as the Lord Jesus lives His life in us and through us and we are transformed into His image.

What must not be lost in our engagement with the issues of purity and maturity, of crisis and process, is the critical place of the crisis. “The crisis must be followed by the process,” writes Coutts, and we agree. But then, this: “Any comprehensive view of holiness must have room for both. The experience can neither be explained, nor lived, without crisis and process.” (Coutts 1957: 37)

And let us make room for the experience of those whose progress in the life of holiness has involved a series of crises of various kinds. Indeed, E Stanley Jones averred, that “the soul gets on by a series of crises.”





The Salvation Army publishes TV4’s Queries


The denomination decides on transparency in facing Cold Facts’ Scrutiny

For the past two months, TV4's investigative program, Cold Facts has collected material for a feature program about The Salvation Army in Sweden. The SA has chosen to release all communication regarding the investigation on its website.
"But we still do not know what the program really will be about", said information officer Bert Åberg.

In the beginning of the year The Salvation Army was contacted by the editorial board of  Cold Facts who wrote that they wanted to "produce a program where we provide a complete picture of The Salvation Army" and where we "present a thorough picture about all your activities, finances, your organization’s values (ethics) and how you operate in Sweden and the rest of the world. "

The denomination elected to be completely transparent and to share/reveal all information, interviews and communications on its website. It’s a concept (strategy) like the one used recently by the Swedish parliament following an interview in the Daily News with Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on the housing situation in Stockholm


When the Prime Minister deemed that they had misquoted him he released the tape recording of the interview (in its entirety) in order that anyone could garner an impression of the content.
“We want to be completely open to the world and we think it's important that people be free to draw what conclusion they may want  from the questions we are asked by Hard Facts and the answers we provide.”


“We know that investigative journalism is often  based on  the journalist's own bias/hypothesis to build a story designed  be a scoop, a revelation of some kind, which often becomes one-sided and heavily biased", says Bert Åberg. 



As time passed, The Salvation Army has                         experienced a growing divergence between what the Cold Facts side said it wants to question and reflect, and what has in fact been raised in the interviews. The focus has often been on the economics and ethics.

“They say they want to give a complete overview of the Salvation Army. We know nothing about how the program will be presented, however, as an example, in an interview, which lasted 45 minutes, 40 minutes dealt with our views on homosexuality and abortion.”

“We want to be completely open and we are pleased to answer questions about our values relating to moral issues. However, if that’s really what interests you in sharing through the TV program, why not tell us that”, ask Bert Åberg.

“To gain a broad picture of our operations may be virtually impossible by concentrating on questions about how much money we receive from the state and municipalities, if not also asking about how people response to our message and the impact it has  on lives transformed. We are open, but Cold Facts wants to ‘surpise/shock’.

Cold Facts Editorial Director John Åsard chose to hold off making any comments. The broadcast date is not yet known.

Samuel Teglund


(translation: Dr. Sven Ljungholm, Scotland)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

THE SA IS UNDER SCRUTINY PART 8


Part 4

Cold Facts:

Why have you removed the text of the Salvation Army's attitude to homosexuality from your website?

Salvation Army:

A strange question. Do you mean that we do not have the right to change the content of our website? When working with a review of our positions on ethical issues a year ago, we removed the old ethics document from our homepage. The new one is not yet in place, however, you have already received it and know its contents (wording in its entirety).

Cold Facts:

Do you think the Salvation Army operates on democratic principles as an organization?

Salvation Army:

Our structure is similar to that one encounters in a number of similar associations/ organizations. The important thing is what we as a church and social relief organization have to (and can) offer to those applicants seeking our assistance, our members and worshipers. The Salvation Army works on the premise that members and volunteers have influence over shaping the programs (ministry) to fulfill our mission to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and indiscriminately meet human needs in His name.

Cold Facts:

Why aren’t Salvationists allowed to ‘play for money’ (gamble/ bet) or drink alcohol?

Salvation Army:

Gambling and alcohol use have evolved into major social problems and personal tragedy for many people. William Booth recognized this already in 1865 when he founded The Salvation Army, among other things to help victims of abuse to redress and transform their lives through salvation in Jesus Christ. This remains a major social issue even today with many organizations active in efforts to combat abuse. This has been true ever since the popular movements and temperance organizations began one hundred and fifty years ago. Salvation Army soldiers have voluntarily chosen a lifestyle that is in solidarity with victims of abuse (gambling and alcohol).

Cold Facts:

Why do you post all ‘our’ questions (to you) on your website?

Salvation Army:

The answer to this is quite simple. It is the only way to create transparency and highlight what issues (questions) you have and create a larger context than the (eventual) Cold Facts’ limited (restrictive) TV program duration can provide. You have (control) all the power to edit your future programs as you wish. The publication on the website is our attempt to create a balance to your TV program, so that those who are interested in us can see the preliminary work that was performed. Posting this in the only mass medium available to us might also be regarded as; 'fair play'. You have, in spite of four months of contacts, still not spoken about/ mentioned what it is we are really being blamed for, or 'accused' of!

Cold Facts:

Why will not you give a more precise account of how much you receive in state or local government grants?

Salvation Army:

We have chosen an accepted way to account for this, namely through our annual report and in providing more detailed accounting to those authorities requesting/ requiring it.

In addition, we have decided not to expend any more working hours in an effort to provide you with more detailed information for use in your TV program.

Bert Åberg

(Bert Åberg)








(
From TSA website Sweden, translation: Dr. Sven Ljungholm, Govan Citadel Corps)
.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

THE SA IS UNDER SCRUTINY PART 7


Part 3

Cold Facts:

Why are you against abortion for women?

Salvation Army:

In all questions concerning life's beginning and end, we want to be in the midst of, and support people’s positions relative to respecting life as a sacred gift from God. We know that this can be considered a bit old fashioned, but we also know that many people in our country share our values. Valuing life as a sacred gift from God means that we are not opposed to abortion in certain cases.

Cold Facts:

Why are you opposed to euthanasia in health care?

Salvation Army:

Active euthanasia is illegal and a controversial issue in medical ethics. See above.

Cold Facts:

Why is it written in your instruction manual, "Junior soldiers 'promises' that children and young people learn that homosexuality is wrong?

Salvation Army:

The wording may be seen as being ‘different’. (clumsy/awkward) The material in its entirety is old and is now being reviewed and updated.

Cold Facts:

Several of your corps officers (Pastors) think it is possible to free a person from their homosexuality through counseling and prayer, what do you think about it?

Salvation Army:

Here you have probably experienced some personal opinions from some of our officers. A corps leader’s mandate includes the provision of pastoral care. In counseling there are deep, personal (private) and confidential issues. As communities, we point out that the one who gives spiritual guidance can only help a person up to one’s (their) own choice (acceptance), regardless of the subject of study.

How the grace of God appears/ presents itself to those who talk about their sexual identity, we can (neither presume nor) predict. It is an individual and often complex (issue) and must be treated respectfully in prayer and through sharing/ counseling.

Cold Facts:

Why are you working politically against giving homosexuals the same rights as others? (Eg, have you not been against gay adoptions, gay marriage and against including gays as subject to the law on incitement of racial hatred)

Salvation Army:

On the issue of gay adoptions, we share the view with many other organizations, including non-church organizations in our country. Our position on same sex marriage is rooted in our interpretation of the biblical view of marriage, which is defined/ limited to ‘one man and one woman’. In the case of gays and the law on incitement to racial hatred, I don’t believe we have made efforts against this (been a part of such a movement). The law on incitement to racial hatred should obviously apply to all people. We are constantly seeking to innovate and improve our way of communicating what God's good news, the gospel, means (says to us) in our time.

(Bert Åberg)








(
From TSA website Sweden, translation: Dr. Sven Ljungholm, Govan Citadel Corps)
.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

THE SA IS UNDER SCRUTINY PART 6


Part 2

No response in three weeks - I sent a reminder

Nearly three weeks later, I had not yet received a reply to this email, so I sent a reminder,

2011-04-18 from Salvation Army
Hello (informal),

It has now been a few weeks since we heard from each other. Since I received no reply to e-mail that I sent on 31 / 3, I wonder again if you would like to clear up the questions that I raised, and if you know anything more about when the program will be broadcast.
Kind regards,


Answer from Cold Fact the day after, with our response to this.

The day after came the following e-mail and here is also our response to this.

2011-04-19 from Cold Facts and response from The Salvation Army

Hi,

Cold Facts:
We are continuing with the program and it is expected to be broadcast in a few weeks. You have promised openness and transparency yet you still do not want anyone in leadership  to be interviewed. This is not acceptable in that you are an organization that receives public funding and is a major recipient of public charity. Shouldn’t the public know where you stand and why?

Salvation Army:
We are extremely grateful for the favorable reception/ esteem which the public has/ holds for the Salvation Army and are happy that we can carry out all the activities thanks to the numerous donations that makes such a difference to many suffering/ vulnerable people. We report all income through standard acceptable procedures, such as audited annual financial reports.

Of course, our leaders are agreeable to granting an interview, but not on the conditions that you previously stipulated. Our conditions for making ourselves available are that our leadership be allowed to view the entire program in its final edited format, and that we be able to discuss (internally) with each other about the program and thereafter that (Commissioner) Marie Willermark be allowed to answer select/ certain questions about the program and that the interview portion be broadcast unedited and uncut immediately following your broadcast (as a part) of the program.

Cold Facts:

Our desire is still that someone from management/ leadership will participate in an interview, but since you chose not to do so we will send our remaining questions via email. We would be grateful for a quick reply.

Salvation Army:

You have received answers to any questions you have posed and we see no real reason for our leadership to participate in any interview and wonder what answers they would provide that you have not already received. But as I said, if you are interested in an interview based on our conditions, get back to us.

Cold Facts:

Why are you a member of the Swedish Evangelical Alliance?

Salvation Army:

The Salvation Army is not a member as a denomination (or as a religious community) in the Swedish Evangelical Alliance. It is an association of individuals and membership is personal. People and churches have met thousands of years to have a dialogue of how faith and one’s life experience should be applied in contemporary times and some members of the Salvation Army are also associated in this context.

Cold Facts:

Why will no one from leadership agree to an interview?

Salvation Army:

We have answered this question before. You have posed questions about this for four months now and I have answered (all) your questions. If there are any further questions then revert as usual via email. Note, we have reasoned (discussed internally) this matter and can see a solution under the conditions I have outlined


(Bert Åberg)






(From TSA website Sweden, translation: Dr. Sven Ljungholm, Govan Citadel Corps).

Monday, April 25, 2011

THE SA IS UNDER SCRUTINY PART 5




TV 4 - Cold Facts examines the Salvation Army - (# 6 IN 4 PARTS)

On Honesty and Trust

When, after careful consideration and after thinking through the pros and cons on the issue of interviews, we eventually turned down the Cold Facts team’s offer an interview with someone from within The Salvation Army's leadership; we took for granted that our decision would be accepted and respected. The (our position) reason was that a pre-recorded interview is often crudely edited; edited and pasted into the program with words often used out of context, and SA leadership is not interested in contributing to such programming (drama).

# 1 Spontaneous Visit - The Salvation Army headquarters in Stockholm

On March 31, 2011, a reporter and a cameraman (Cold Facts – TV team) entered our headquarters unannounced on Nybrogatan seeking to meet with the ‘information officer’ or someone from The Salvation Army's leadership.

The receptionist asked if they had an appointment and she received a negative answer, and as a consequence they were not allowed in (any further), through the security door.

They then, (instead) asked the receptionist, "what is your view on homosexuality?", to which she replied that she did not want to answer any questions. The team remained in the entrance area staying inside the front door, but outside the security door and video taped everything that occurred inside, through the glass wall. They also asked the same question of a visitor who temporarily visited the premises, whereupon the simple reply was, 'I do not work here' and continued past them (the TV crew).

# 2 Spontaneous Visit – ‘they’ (TV 4) also traveled to London

On Friday, 1 April, a reporter and cameraman from Cold Facts entered The Salvation Army's International Headquarters in London. The same thing occurred there.

Cold Facts had on a previous occasion demanded an interview with the General or anyone within the senior international management who had earlier, via e-mail declined a request for an interview.

A reporter had also had a lengthy telephone conversation with the Communications Director at International Headquarters, Laurie Robertson, who reiterated several times that, ‘there will be no interview’, but (instead) he referred him (them) to The Salvation Army in Sweden, who have responsibility for operations in Sweden, and (who) will determine how they would respond.

When the film crew came to the IHK in London they informed the receptionist that they had an appointment with Laurie Robertson, which was not true.

When Laurie was confronted with the film crew from Cold Facts, it wasn’t long before they began asking him about ‘homosexuality’. (TSA position)

The point is that Cold Facts have received answers to all the questions about the Salvation Army's position on this issue in writing via email.

In addition they (our positions) are also available on our website, where we have previously published five articles about their investigative reporting and posted all the material openly on the website.

They claimed, among other things, that The Salvation Army in certain countries has contributed to the jailing of homosexuals. This is something that neither Laurie Robertson or any of us here know anything about and we wonder from where they are collecting this information. They had difficulty understanding (accepting) that there would be no interview with anyone at International Headquarters.

# 3 visit - the Annual meeting of the Swedish Evangelical Alliance

Cold Facts closely monitored the annual meeting of the Swedish Evangelical Alliance, among other things with a intent to secure an interview with Marie Willermark, although she had already declined their offer.  In that Cold Facts had announced their intention to be present many members chose to stay home even though they were officially registered to attend the annual meeting. In that sense, one could claim that investigative journalism intervenes in the democratic process, since the annual meeting would have been affected by reduced participation and engagement (interaction).

It's not surprising that not all people want to participate in a television broadcast, regardless of the content, and consequently refrain from attending (the conference). The Cold Facts’ film crew huddled outside the premises for nearly four hours and asked various questions of the visitors.

With reference to this intrusion and Cold Facts’ method of working, Tuve Skånberg Director of Claphaminstitute wrote a column in the magazine The World Today on April 11.

Link: http://www.varldenidag.se/opinion/kommentar/2011/04/11/Vem-ska-granska-granskaren/

Subsequent to the Cold Facts spontaneous visit to the headquarters here in Stockholm, I wrote this email to Cold Facts;

2011-03-31 from The Salvation Army

I heard that you sought me, or someone in leadership yesterday and that we were not available.

As you already know, please feel free to ask your questions by e-mail and that's also the (only) venue by which I will answer your questions. I'm really busy with other matters most of my working hours, so please use email or voicemail. It is the only way to reach me.

Someone told me that you asked both the receptionist and a visitor who left our building, “what is your view on homosexuality? "

I had not perceived or understood from the questions you posed to me to date that this very issue is of such focus to you. Why have you not told me?
And what further questions on the subject that I have not already answered might you have?

It would also be interesting to know what your program is supposed to be about, that is, have we done something wrong, something reprehensible or criminal?

Usually, Cold Facts takes on just such cases. I think that now, after nearly three months of contacts with me, that you ought to present the (your) true focus/concern, so that we can address this. I have been honest with you, but I do not see quite the same attitude on your part.

Or, as journalists say, What have you got to hide? :)

Sincerely, (Bert Åberg)










(From TSA website Sweden, translation: Dr. Sven Ljungholm, Govan Citadel Corps)