Criticisms, comments and letters
MORE ON JUNG
I am responding to a letter from Corps Assistant Christian Jung (July 28, 2000 – Vol. 18 #14) questioning whether God only speaks through the secretary for Personnel and his board as to where officers should be appointed.
Of course, God is unlimited in the ways he can make known his will. But the suggestion that he could do better by speaking directly to the officer and then let THQ “also pray over the request” has little to commend it.
No, “the voice of God and the decision of THQ” do not always concur. But, a field officer may also “hear” what he/she wants to hear and it may not be the voice of God. At least, the many years of experience of the secretary for Personnel may give him/her the edge of wisdom in the making of appointments, not to mention that he/she and the board would have a wider view of the territorial needs than the corps officer. (I do believe, though, that a corps officer who thinks he/she is hearing God call to a certain appointment has the right–even the duty–to mention it to his superiors. If God is really calling, he will see to it that the appointment gets made.)
Brother Jung left the CFOT after one year. What kind of “call” did he explain on his candidates’ papers? Would God have called him to officership and then changed his mind?
I recall on my own candidates’ papers 40 years ago that I was asked if I would accept all my appointments as from God? I knelt and settled it, telling God that I trusted HIM to control those who make the appointments, so that whatever their state of mind (drunk, vindictive, etc. to paint the worst scenario) as long as I am fully yielded to his will, God will keep them from making mistakes in appointing me.
The key thing (for officer and non-officer-ministers as well) is to keep up to date in daily spiritual life. Then we simply leave it in God’s hands to protect our appointments as well as to change them when he wishes. We do believe, after all, that he is sovereign. Do we not?
Larry Repáss, Major
Mexico Command HQ
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I read with interest Christian Jung’s letter. It does seem that sometimes the “hierarchy” think they have special connections to the Almighty. I know this family is not the only one who has been hurt by actions of Army representatives. From our knowledge and experience of a loving, guiding Lord, he would not be so cruel, uncaring and insensitive. Never mind displaying a complete lack of common sense.
The wound is still very deep and tender. The only consolation we have is that our dedication was to the Lord in the ranks of the Army. Our dedication has not changed, we have worked through other hurts and hopefully will be able to handle this time.
We had a treasure given to us a long time ago by the then Commissioner Frederick Coutts: “The Lord will not order all your moves, the Army makes mistakes, but the Lord will use those mistakes.”
So. Calif. Division
MORE ON OFFICERSHIP
I was surprised to learn (June 2, 2000) that all retired officers were sent the survey (Inter-national Commission on Officership). I would have thought most would be happy with the way things are. I am also surprised senior envoys were not sent the survey.
I am not surprised the rank of Aux. /Captain may be dropped. Some officers I know do not believe Aux. Capts. are “proper officers” because they have not been to “the college.” I was amused at Robert Docter’s remarks in “On the Corner”–that General Gowans had not sought his thoughts on the issues. Soldiers are not consulted on anything…hats, changes to uniform, etc. (As I understand it) it does not matter what comes out of the survey, the General has the final say. If this is so, then the survey will be a PR exercise only.
Soldier, Rowville Corps
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If there is to be any type of change in the Army, I think it needs to begin in our ministry. How many of us officers really know the needs of our people? How many of us love our people and are real to them?
We need to get out of the federal funding and reach out to the community and churches alike. Train our soldiers to be more on fire for the Lord and disciple them into preaching and teaching as well. Isn’t that what General Booth did?
Richard Reuer, Captain
San Francisco Lighthouse Corps
Congratulations on the new and improved web site access to New Frontier. If I’m not mistaken, the USA West is again leading the way with this interactive medium. I have always enjoyed reading NF on-line first, thus allowing a leisurely in-depth reading of the print copy when it arrives.
Tri-Cities Enterprise Center
I very much enjoyed the most inspiring City of Angels Ballet academy article (August 25–Vol. 18 #15) which I have today passed on to the Director of the New Zealand School of Dance. He is really impressed and will circulate it to his networks.
You have a marvellous web site. Many thanks for your excellent work.
Peter Thorp, Major
Secretary for External Relations
Your August 25 issue summarizes the Army’s USA annual report by reporting $1,948 million in expenses and $1,707 in income.
Something is way off if expense is 14% more than income, a huge $241,000,000. It is ironic that after this startling news the next statement is a quote from Peter Drucker, “The Salvation Army is by far the most effective organization in the United States…” Well, not if it spends $241,000,000 it doesn’t have! What gives? You owe readers a further explanation.
Ken Baillie, Colonel
(Ed note: According to NHQ sources, the Army’s operating expenses exceed its operating income. This is income generated from program activities such as tithes, meeting collections, kettles, mail appeal, etc.
The deficit is made up through the use of non-operating and other income such as investment earnings, unrestricted legacies and unrestricted earning on endowments.)
It has been some time since Lt. Minna Karlström wrote the article which appeared in the June 2, 2000 (Vol.18 #11) issue of New Frontier. I am responding to some of the issues which were so well stated and serve to place into context some of the major issues confronting us.
I certainly agree that there is much within our structure and system of governance that needs careful and prayerful evaluation.
Specifically, I will address two concerns that Lt. Karlström raised; first the statement that “we have made loyalty to the organization equal with loyalty to God.” I suspect it would be nearly impossible to find objective evidence that this isn’t true. One example occurs when officers leave officership. What-ever the reason for that decision, whether initiated by the officer or necessitated by administrative decision, the impression conveyed is that somehow these poor “lost souls” are just that; lost from God’s “best” will for their lives.
Perhaps in some cases that may be true, but in any case it is not ours to judge. The point is that we do equate loyalty to the organization as equal to commitment to God.
Among officers this underlying assumption is reinforced every year during the time when there are changes of appointments. The expectation is that whatever the appointment that administration has decided, it is to be received as if God himself has spoken.
Frankly, that presumes on the sovereignty of God.
In fact, the attitude seems to be that we are to adopt a rather Calvinistic perspective as far as these decisions are concerned. It is a theology that assumes God has raised up the Army; has sustained us all these years; he has preordained and chosen the top leadership of the Army; he has in the past and continues now to speak directly through the chain of command with the final result being that I (representing all officers) am to receive my appointment as his preordained and direct revealed will for me.
Never mind the fact that I may be totally unprepared, ungifted and unsuited for the demands of this particular appointment.
I am not suggesting that God cannot and will not use anyone in any situation for his honor and glory. Nor am I negating the fact that with a positive attitude one can make a bad situation immeasurably better. It is obviously true that sometimes, in retrospect, what appeared initially to be a bad appointment has turned out to be an outstandingly good experience.
What I am suggesting is that two things need to happen. One is that officers need to have their theology carefully thought through vis a vis this issue of God’s sovereignty as it relates to the appointments process. The other is that some kind of democratization needs to be introduced into the way in which appointments are made.
Whether that process can practically include openly advertising the available appointments, for officers “to apply for” much as the average job hunter seeks employment opportunities as the Lt. has suggested, or not remains to be seen.
There would be enormous logistical obstacles to overcome. But, the Army has overcome any number of daunting situations in our history. So why not apply our best thinking on how we can give officers more of a voice in the appointments and decisions that greatly affect their lives?
Richard Love, Lt. Colonel
Honesty, open-minded, willing and outstanding best describes your June 2, 2000 edition. Many at our corps are grateful you have invited reader feedback. Your request for input represents a truthful, authentic journalistic action towards opening the door to democracy within The Salvation Army.
I came to the ARP in 1980 with my Master’s Degree in Socio-logy Addictions Science, with a soul on fire for Jesus and his love for alcoholics’ and addicts’ salvation. Over the years as corps officers were assigned to us, I always asked at our first meeting: “Will we have a democratic dialogue?” Most new officers replied, “Yes. Be-cause we need to count on your experience and know-how.” The few who replied, “No, that’s not the Army way” would then advise staff regarding hierarchy. The “Yes” officers empowered staff to cohesiveness and a large unified community. The “No” officers broke up all alliances in their quest for power–personal power.
Lt. Karlström’s piece is brilliant in its entirety. She has captured the profound and aching need for our Army: to change and become a democracy, empowering all of us to go forward in God’s Army for the salvation of souls.
I am 66 years old and have come to believe our Army’s political system of kings, queens and commoners–the royalty vs. gentry–is a betrayal of Christ’s sermon on the mount. If each corps world-wide was allowed democratic dialogue, our quest for new Christians would flood our corps, based on inclusion instead of exclusion.
Lt. Karlström’s article and others have encouraged The Salvation Army to soften, if not totally abandon, its military structure…If we believe God called the Army into existence as an army, then we must believe God called us to have more than the trappings of what we once were.
One problem may lie in the actions and attitudes of some in authority. Scripture doesn’t teach an absence of leadership, but rather an attitude of leadership. Our military structure must never be used as an excuse for an ungodly or unkind tone with those under our command. Rather we are to be Christ-like always.
Secondly, the problem could be that some on the lower end of the rank spectrum are having trouble following.
Before joining The Salvation Army, I had been a pastor in a tradition that was democratic, with no “rank structure.” The only problem was there was no structure to support the kinds of things the Army has been blessed to do. At my current position, I have been blessed to lead a free health clinic, a free meal program, choirs, evangelistic outreaches, and the list goes on.
If we are to be all that God called William and Catherine Booth to begin, I believe we must no longer try to distance ourselves from our military heritage, but embrace it. We should not shun uniforms, but wear them. For the sake of the mission of the Army and message of the cross, we must uphold and strengthen the military structure of The Salvation Army.
Kalispel Corps, MT