Friday, May 8, 2015

Inclusivity #16 - Progressive Salvationism

Some months ago I came across a Face Book group calling themselves "Progressive Salvationist". Ordinarily, if time allows, I'll click on such a SA related name to see what they're all about. I must've been in some rush that day as it slipped my mind completely to 'google' back and investigate further.

A few days ago the name came to my attention once again as members of the 'Progressive Salvationist' group were chatting on a non-related thread in the Former SA Officers Fellowship private Facebook site (many are FSAOF members and have access to our FB chat site). To 98% of our 1,000+ members the hijacking of the thread would have passed unnoticed. However, what piqued my interest was that many of those claiming membership to a group defining themselves as:“Salvationists with a liberal/progressive worldview..." were possibly progressive, but certainly no longer Salvationists!

The thread has, unfortunately, been deleted perhaps by the originator or an administrator due the multitude of non-relevant comments to the thread's purpose by the 'progressive Salvationists'. Nonetheless, I recall the names of some the persons commenting and know them as current or former members of the FSAOF. Few though, would qualify or call themselves Salvationists except in the loosest terms- giving them access to a SA related site in which to comment and for some, rant. This is not meant as criticism only to serve in defining their non-SA status.

When I attempted to join the 'Progressive Salvationist', I learned that their Facebook site had recently been 'privatized' and FB entry and membership  was by invitation only -  Is the intent to restrict membership to those of like mindedness or to conceal the many commenting progressive members who are in fact no longer Salvationists? 

We welcome your/their response-

Sven Ljungholm

Blog Creator and Chief Administrator 
(blogging daily since 2008)

Towards a manifesto for Progressive Salvationism
MAY 29, 2014

Over the last few months I’ve been involved with a Facebook group called the ‘Progressive Salvationist.’ The aim of the group is simple: “This group is for Salvationists with a liberal/progressive worldview to talk freely about their beliefs without fear of condemnation. We’re not heretics, just heterodox!

I was having a conversation on the group a while back, and somebody suggested we come up with a manifesto. I was looking for a writing project, so to cut a long story short, here we are.

This post isn’t intended as that manifesto. Rather, I just want to kick a few ideas around in case I ever get to writing the thing. Feel free to weigh in!
At this stage I’m assuming we know what is meant by ‘progressive.’ There are plenty of descriptions around the internet.

Towards a Manifesto for Progressive Salvationism
We march behind one flag

In another context I’d prefer to say, ‘There’s plenty of room at the table.’ It’s an historical peculiarity that this metaphor doesn’t work so well for the Salvation Army, but we have some good metaphors of our own.

Generally speaking, we see Progressivism as not only compatible with the fundamental core of Salvationism, but consonant. Progressive Salvationists identify as Salvationists and gladly serve in the same Army as non-Progressive Salvationists. We’re happy to work and worship alongside brother- and sister-Salvationists who might disagree with us on many points.

Progressive Salvationists affirm the Eleven Articles  of Faith. It is recognised that there are a range of interpretations of these articles.

There’s room behind the flag 

We’re committed to welcoming as many people as possible into the Army’s fellowship. Welcoming the ‘whosoever’ has been an historical strength of the Salvation Army and we wish this to continue as a defining aspect of Salvationism.

Progressive Salvationists particularly see that the mission of the Salvation Army to the poor is a necessary response to the claims of the Gospel. It is incumbent on the Progressive Salvationist not only to help meet the material and spiritual needs of poor people, but to advocate for poor people as a matter of justice.

Progressive Salvationists do not believe people should be excluded from soldiership or officership on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity. Moreover, we affirm the right of same-sex attracted people to live fulfilled sexual lives according to the same standards as opposite-sex attracted people. We do not believe the gender of either party in a relationship should prevent them from being married.

There’s only one flag for me

Progressive Salvationists see that their loyalty is to the Commonwealth of God rather than a particular state or nation. Whilst they may enjoy a particular affection for their country, and they may legitimately and conscionably take part in some celebrations, observances and obligations of their country, they recognise that their allegiance is to God alone.

Other things I’d like to put in here…
I haven’t really dealt with theological things yet. I’d like to put in something about evangelism and reaching the lost, perhaps with an explanation of what we mean by ‘lost.’

Do I offer a run-down of some of the interpretations of the Eleven Articles?
For example, it would be good to mention that Progressives don’t necessarily like the idea of Penal Substitutionary Atonement, and that there are other ways of reading the Fifth Article.

I’d like to add something about environmental matters. This could also address eschatology, a Progressive view of science and creation…

As I said above, this isn’t even at the rough draft stage. Comments, please!

My name is Cameron Horsburgh. I am an officer of the Salvation Army. My wife Trudy and I are currently the Corps Officers at the Mount Gambier Corps in the South Australia Division of the Australian Southern Territory. Trudy and I have two daughters, Shekinah and Charis.
I enjoy doing many things: discussing theology, lifting weights and playing my trumpet. I can’t guarantee other people enjoy me doing them. I also look forward to the day when schools get all the money they need and the Navy has to run a cake stall to raise money for ships.

I can be contacted in many ways, but the easiest is to email me at


Anonymous said...

At least 3 of those persons commenting wouldn't come near a SA corps - and 2 were reportedly asked to resign.

Anonymous said...

As one who was in Progressive Salvationist and then bounced because they did not like my stance against LGBT agenda. I lasted 2 months before they bounced me for stating that the practice of same sex physical acts is sin (temptation is not). I thought that the site was going to encompass more than just that as well as being a place for discussion about things that could be done to update and make TSA more relevant in today's society without forgetting that TSA is an evangelical para-church organization of the conservative bent.

John Stephenson
Canada and Bermuda


Which particular aspects of the Salvation Army code of ethics would you Salvationist Progressives want to change? Are there any that haven't been dealt with openly and debated in depth by the more than 2,000 FSA0F a blog articles?

It's suggested that a few of the SP members, and perhaps they only total a few, are simply malcontents who couldn't find enough supporters for their views in a larger transparent audience.

I truly welcome a response from them- there is at least one person, a SA officer who is a member, for whom I have the highest respect!

Sven Ljungholm
FSAOF Exec Director

Anonymous said...

I'm a former officer and an administrator in the Progressive Salvationist group that you are speaking of. I was an administrator while still an active officer.

The membership of the group, if you read the full description, it's not limited to those who are presently Salvationist. It includes active, former, and future officers, employees, soldiers, other clergy, and friends of the Salvation Army. The group is open to those who are interested in the mission and work of the Salvation Army. Members come from the United States, Canada, Australia, and quite a few other places in between. In fact, such a diverse mix of professions, opinions, theology, and nationalities all discussing and working together is uncommon in most Salvation Army groups.

I find it curious that you take exception to our membership process when the membership process for your group is quite similar. When I requested to join your group, I was required to identify myself as a former officer and provide my credentials. When people request to join our group, we ask if they identify as progressive, and if they do not, the only requirement is that they agree to follow the expected rules for civility and respectful dialogue. There are a number of people in the group who are conservative or more moderate than the majority, and they participate in a manner that is respectful of everyone in the group, and we welcome and enjoy their participation.

We have never removed someone for disagreeing with the group. We have only ever dismissed members for being repeatedly aggressive and disrespectful to others in the group. The decision to remove a member is difficult and painful, because we do not want to exclude someone, but when their actions make it clear that they are not interested in following the agreed upon rules for civility, they have decided to remove themselves from the group.
In the case of Mr. Stephenson, the current agitator, he was welcomed into the group with full awareness of what the group expectations are for behavior, and despite repeated requests by the admins to remain respectful, he chose not to be, and was removed for that reason.

The reason we have changed the group status to secret is twofold. First, we have done so because to be a voice of diversity can be a very dangerous thing in some environments. There are leaders in The Salvation Army who would punish employees, soldiers, officers, and anyone else for having an opinion or a question that they find offensive, uncomfortable, or simply different from their own. the second reason is that on a few occasions, those who have been removed from the group has become bitter and hateful towards those in the group and by restricting their access to the group, we limit the amount of harassment are members receive from former members. It has only happened two or three times that I can remember, but when former members have expressed an attitude of malice and resentment towards our members, we must do what we can to protect them. Keeping our membership list private is one way to do that.

Your former officer group is limited to those who have been officers of the Salvation Army. You do so because the conversation and experience is very particular to those who have served. you are the one who controls the membership of your group, so I would expect that you understand why it is necessary for admins of other groups that have particular purposes to do the same. I am Not sure if it happens with your group, but it seems like whenever our group is discussed by those who have opposing opinions, they insist that they should have access to all the details of our membership and conversations. Their nosiness is not appreciated or welcome. It is no more appropriate for our group to be monitored by those outside the group than it is for yours.

Cynthia Marquis
Veteran officer and administrator for The Progressive Salvationist

Jeff Carter said...

The Progressive Salvationist group is made up of Soldiers, and Officer, friends of the Army, and those interested in the work of the Army.

It is a "secret" group, only because the THQ of two of the admins "asked" us to make it so.

John S. misrepresents the group, somewhat, when he implies that we only discuss the LGBTQI issue: we discuss immigration, violence, war, local community activism, gender equality, socialism, history, theology, and etc...

John is also somewhat disingenuous to say that he was "bounced" because we did not like his "stance against LGBT agenda." He was "bounced," as he says, because he was rude.

The members of the Progressive Salvationist have no formal agenda, no group plan of action. What do want changed about the Army? It would be different for each one of us. Have you dealt with it in the more than 2,000 FSAOF blog articles? I don't know.

... and I was unaware that the international mission statement had been altered to read: "The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church -with a conservative bent."

Major Jeff Carter
CO Newton, Iowa

Jeni Gregory said...

I find myself growing weary with the theology that allows for personal interpretation and application to any persinal agenda that does not fit what Scripture may say. I can only hope Jesus comes back soon. I repeatedly avoided weighing in on issues of social popularity keeping a quote in mind. That quote is "the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.".I admit to the fact that it is a struggle to not join a factional argument. To stand for nothing mean to fall for anything. I get that. now I must take a stand. To allow and even encourage blatant sin and then ignore it goes beyond the pale of God's law. I believe it taxes the grace of God. Men are picking up their reprobate mind and running with it. If that's progressive theology, I want no part of it. I think Christ and Williams booth are both crying. Short it up folks stand for righteousness.

Anonymous said...

And I would suggest that I was never told by anyone that they considered my comments as rude.
No Administrator ever messaged me that they did not like my stating things the way I did till the day I was bounced. I suppose making it clear that I believe what Scripture teaches about same-sex physical relationships being sin. Always stressing that the temptation is not the sin. Maybe my contention the last time that such temptation is a result of the fall when our federal parents were expelled from the Garden with all that is said there. But we as humans (as our doctrine says) are totally depraved which I understand to mean that our natures are tainted due to the fall and its consequences. I suppose they also didn't agree with my referring to Satan as being active in this day and age by trying to convince people/society that LGBT is okay. If we believe in a God who is present and blesses us we must also accept that fact that evil exists through the work of Satan and his minions. There is much more I could say but this is not the place or time to say it nor is it my intention to out the members by name because I have an ethical issue with breaking their rule of not identifying members. Having said that I have been informed by others that HQs know who are members and somehow are getting information about specific posts from others who are on the site as members. I did not nor will not break their confidentiality about names and in truth I am surprised it took 3 months or so to toss me.

John Stephenson
Canada and Bermuda

Anonymous said...

I really don't see the issue of them wanting to keep their membership secret. As some of the other commenters mentioned, there could easily be repercussions against the members for some of their beliefs. As vast and diverse as the SA is across the world, I've encountered staggering differences in theology. My own time in training was a bit muddled and confusing with two different principals and two different opinions about the holiness doctrine. Is the LGBT issue bigger than the holiness doctrine? I don't know. Perhaps it has the potential to exclude more potential soldiers. At our current corps, the officers do not allow any one they think is sinning participate in the service or help out. At our first corps, my husband was enrolled as a soldier in a class where one of the men was a homosexual. There is surely a vast difference across the board regarding thoughts on Army doctrine and stance on social issues.

FSAOF member of the USA West

Anonymous said...

Progressives, please share just one of your very sensitive issues with us to see just how important it was to keep it from the light of reason? Perhaps there's no reason for your group's existence, ya think?
SA soldier Canada

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps there's no reason for your group's existence, ya think?" The group is under no responsibility to prove its right for existence to anyone.

John, the admins do not believe that this is the appropriate forum to continue a discussion about something that happened in the group. As such, we will not continue the conversation here. It is not fair to Sven to turn the comments section muddy.

Cynthia Marquis
Veteran officer and administrator of The Progressive Salvationist

Anonymous said...

I'm with Jeni Gregory - well said. Is there no room for Christian discipline at all, or is it a platform for self-indulgence? If you don't agree with something, change the rules to make them fit your particular lifestyle, and to hell with what God and the Bible say. I agree, God must be weeping when He sees all this.

Anonymous said...

"God must be weeping when He sees all this"

Just as He must be weeping when his Christ-like followers treat their fellow man and woman who just happen to love and express that love differently than perhaps you do?

Anonymous said...


I'm a supporter of both yours and the Progressive Group after being invited to join the Progressive group by a friend from the USA Central Territory. I can vouch that neither group is subversive to TSA in anyway. Most of the Progressive members love the Army as much as anyone else.

As for a certain J.S. when I first saw him on the Progressive site a few months ago, after being familiar with his commentary on your site, I was rather surprised and a bit suspicious. My own personal (and kept to myself) suspicions have obviously panned out--and that's about all that I'm going to say about that.

And btw, for those who still don't understand this, there are 5 or 6 theories of the atonement. They are ALL represented in the SASB and HoB. As a Salvationist you can choose whichever one "floats your boat" just as you can choose to believe that the Bible is NOT inerrant as fundamentalists interpret inerrancy, as long as you believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by the inspiration of God and that they ONLY constitute the Divine rule of Xian faith and practice. You can also believe in any eschatological position you want to and not be subversive to TSA as long as you believe in the 11th doctrine and as long as you don't go around claiming that your eschatological position is the Army's and the only one on the market--when it is not. Why is it so hard for some right wing Salvationists to understand this ?

On a related note, throughout Xian history many denominations and the church as a whole (even including the Catholic Church, if I'm not mistaken) has had something called "soul competency" (or at least that's what the Baptists call it, though the Catholics may have another name for it)where regardless what the church teaches, the individual believer is still only responsible to God for what they believe whether it goes against the official position of the church or not. Why have so few Sallies been aware of this?

When it comes to the LGBT issue and same sex marriage, my beliefs are between me and God only, as long as, once again, I don't go around claiming that my personal convictions are the whole Salvation Army world's convictions on the subject! If the Army's leadership does not allow for "soul competency" then it's time for that leadership to start getting on the bandwagon and allow for Salvationists to have their own personal convictions on peripheral issues, or they better stop claiming to be part of the historic, universal church.

I'm also reminded of the recent book by Norman Murdoch wherein Murdock revealed that in the 1960s, the U.S. leadership and two high ranking officers in particular, were against the election of Frederick Coutts because he didn't subscribe to a theory of atonement that they liked (probably substitutionary though the book doesn't say which theory), was politically a Socialist and a pacifist concerning war. (Coutts had actually been in one and none of them ever were. Go figure.)They also thought the literary department in London was a--get this--hotbed of liberalism!!!!!!???? How silly and childish! It's been 50 years plus. I and many others LUV ya' TSA but it's time to GROW UP already!

Daryl Lach
USA Central


I've had a good private exchange today /with Major Cameron Horsburgh, a FB friend of several years. I shared that the uniqueness of the FSAOF group is, among other characteristics, that all were trained and educated in a Salvation Army training college, most come from a similar SA background and culture, all served in very similar circumstances for an average of 12+ years and many remain in ministry in one form or another.

I, of course, don't know all of the members that make up the PS group. However, a number have written to me privately, people I've known from my USA and European appointments. From what’s been shared, the issues with which they wrestle, as expected, are very similar t ours, except that our blog allows for debate on a very different public level.

While the majority of the substantive blog articles is written by former officers we often include submissions from active officers, "from the General down to me" and from theologians/philosophers, etc from other confessions. I dare say there’s not a subject under the sun that we haven’t examined and torn to pieces and attempted to make whole in a new and positive way..

I’m wondering if there isn’t the possibility of coming together in some way to pool our resources. If there are ‘former’ officers in your PS group who are not yet FSAOF members kindly encourage them to join with us – they will get insight into the thoughts of other former officers and also the opportunity to comment privately.

I am also prepared to offer the opportunity to Progressive Salvationist members to write a weekly blog article – our several thousand weekly visitors will then have the opportunity to comment. The visitors include scores of Salvation Army officers of every rank, The PS voice will be heard without fear of reprisal. Incidentally, I would take the comments of some (officers) who’ve been “told to remove themselves from your fellowship” by HQ with a grain of salt. But, that’s another issue altogether, one that’s been played out the last 3 years by a handful of LG folk within our fellowship – mostly seeking recognition and a larger following - the cries eventually died out as they recognised that the scores of LGBT FSAOF members saw their posts as malicious and self-serving. A host of FSAOF members are legally married to same-sex partners, others are divorcing same-sex partners, and at least one is waiting surgery.

I must get back to writing tomorrow’s blog but look forward to further exchanges- to explore where we share the same vision for 'our' army. For those who've departed the colours, and those who see no chance of a return, stay tuned.

Without William and Catherine Booth there would have been no shoulders on which Railton, Roberts and Cadman could have climbed. Instead of finding differences let's see where we can climb on each others' visions and goals to make it a better, more committed and effective Army.

Sven Ljungholm

Harold Hill, retired officer said...

Just wanted to say, Thank you, Darryl. Well put! - Harold Hill

Anonymous said...

In this year of celebration,
As our lips sing out your praise
O Lord, make our generation
Messengers with hearts ablaze.
Make us worthy of our history,
Help us seek and find the lost,
Fill us with the love of Calvary
And the fire of Pentecost.


Anonymous said...

Cynthia Marquis veteran officer? My info is that you served three year.
And to equate the need for secrecy of your group with the FSAO is laughable. One group is made up of persons, many with an ax to grind, unwilling to speak openly. The FSAOF is comprised of more than 1000 former SA officers each having dedicated an average of 14 years to SA service with hundreds still serving as SA employees or in ministry elsewhere.

And as far as protecting our ideas and discussions from public view, visit the blog again (scroll up) the names of hundreds of our members are there along with today's blog article.

Almost 1,000,000 blog visitors and two thousand blog posts as of May 9.

USA South FSAOF veteran member - 7 years

Kathie Chiu said...

Dear anonymous from the USA South. Seriously? It's so easy to be nasty when you're anonymous. It's comments like yours that degrade another person and damage the body of Christ and make dialogue impossible.

RJL Central said...

I've refrained from commenting until now.

I see this as a case of oil and water - I highly respect what one group's achieved, the other not so much, because they've not told us. I suppose it comes down to one group being respected by the SA and the other not so much.

Which is the most effective in presenting their agendas to a receptive SA leadership group? Seems to me that there isn't any similarity at all. One group identifies themselves openly and the other not so much.

I'd prefer communicating with persons who's identities are known and who represent honestly the banner under which stand, I believe we all do.

Frankly FSAOF keep doing what you do best!
Retired SA officer,


More than 2,800 persons read this article.

Anonymous said...

Imagine a 2,800 Officer attended Officers Councils where this was the discussion of the day...


I received the below for posting but held off out of respect - but it begs belief so here goes -

FROM ANONYMOUS: "I challenge those of you who have made comments anonymously to have the courage of your convictions and put your name to what you say. If you're going to criticize the Progressives for being a 'secret' group, isn't it hypocritical of you to stay anonymous?"

(the spelling suggests it was written by someone in the USA)

Go figure...



"in our frantic effort we stumble from remorse to resentment, from self-pity to self-flagellation, from self-deception to depression, from brokenness to bitterness, from faith to agnosticism, from frustration to anger, from hurt to hardness, from hardness to helplessness...."


I just received this message: "....I submitted the comment re: courage of your convictions. I had intended to attach my name with my comment, as I believe in not engaging in the behavior that I was calling into question. However, I did not realize that I had inadvertently selected the 'Anonymous' submission button...."

A person's name was included- but, how can this 'honest' person assume that posts submitted under the same name, anonymous, hadn't made the very same error????

Anonymous said...

This is getting complicated - who cares who writes the comments? The fact that they are aired makes them all worth considering. And if I included my name, who would know me? It seems to me that those who protest against the anonymity this fellowship provides do actually protest too much. Consider the comments with an open mind, and don't beat yourself up about who would say it.

Anonymous said...

"Progressive Salvationists identify as Salvationists and gladly serve in the same Army as non-Progressive Salvationists. We’re happy to work and worship alongside brother- and sister-Salvationists who might disagree with us on many points."

Is that really true?
GMT London


Two FSAOF members have contacted me privately referencing a question asked in the blog article relative to the PS group's status change from 'closed' to "private". 'Is the (your) intent to restrict membership to those of like mindedness or to conceal that many 'progressive Salvationists' are in fact no longer Salvationists?'

Why has no one answered these essential questions? Do all the PS members identify themselves as Salvationists? If not, the misrepresentation does not bode well - we're off to a very shaky start.

Persons seeking entry to membership in the FSAOF must provide us with some very basic information. And of the hundreds of persons seeking entry less than 10-15 have been mistakenly welcomed into the membership and subsequently removed. In each instance an inadvertent error had been made by admin in approving membership.

Is the integrity of persons seeking to join PS tested? If not, there is every possibility of misrepresentation and the integrity of your whole membership comes into question. Or is SA affiliation of less importance than you suggest.

We would like answers to our questions. Please forward them to me or any of the other administrators. Thank you,

Anonymous said...

I am not sure why people are upset over a group of people who chat online in a private setting. It is private because for many it is not safe to not be private. It is not a secret society, it is a safe space to explore and question. Why do we have to place a legalistic framework on a a group that clearly wishes to converse in a civil and thoughtful discourse. Who is threatened by this and why. Let Grace and Freedom prevail.

Lurch Kimded said...

I am happy to worship with anyone seeking truth in peace and love.

There will be disagreements, there will be arguments, there will also be times of unity, harmony, and recognition of similarities as well as differences... that is what makes us human. We unite despite our differences for common goals.

"In the past we had little to do with other races. Evolution teaches us that we must fight that which is different in order secure land, food, and mates for ourselves, but we must reach a point when the nobility of intellect asserts itself and says: No. We need not be afraid of those we are different, we can embrace that difference and learn from it."