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General Rader Re-visits Salvation Army Values

General Paul Rader
As we whirl toward the threshold of a new millennium, the pace of change in the world about us is dizzying. Someone has observed that we cannot drive into the future on cruise control. “The old certainties that allowed simple linear extrapolations have ceased to be,” writes Jules Marshall in an article on changing public preferences and perceptions.

The Salvation Army is changing, too. It is inevitable, if we are to keep in touch with the changing realities within which we must pursue our mission. In pondering what changes might contribute to our effectiveness and faithfulness, it is a helpful exercise to review the essential values that are the foundation and the fount of our purposes, priorities, programs and practices. These are the assumptions and beliefs that make us what we are as a movement.

Whatever changes we may contemplate as we go forward must be consistent with the values that are at the heart of the Army’s life and mission. The Word of God and our own doctrinal statement undergird these values and inform them.

It has been useful to me to try my hand at setting out our values as I see them. This is a document in process. Other officers are encouraged to record their own understanding of the values that should drive our movement and determine our allocations of time, energy and resources. This listing is no doubt incomplete and inadequate, but it can serve as a starting point for reflection on what is vital to who we are and what we are about. Reflecting on our values will aid us all in staying on course in these turbulent times.

1. The Salvation Army was raised up by God and is sustained and directed by him.

2. All that we do and are is an expression of our life in Jesus Christ, our experience of the power of the Gospel unto salvation for all who will believe, and our confidence in its ability to change individual lives and human communities.

The worth of persons

3. Human persons are infinitely valuable, for they are created by God, loved by him and called into fellowship with him through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. For anyone who is in Christ is a new creation whose possibilities and potentials cannot be guessed and must not be limited by our perception of their present state or circumstance. We therefore treat people with respect and confidence in the transforming potential that lies within them when lifted by love into a life-changing encounter with Christ.


“OUR BUSINESS IS PEOPLE–They have priority over
program and procedure, structure and tradition.”

4. Our business is people. They have priority over program and procedure, structure and tradition. The Army exists for ministry to and with people. This includes not only the persons whom we serve and to whom we minister the Gospel, but also our coworkers, our officers and soldiers, our donors, our volunteers and employees, all of whom are treated with respect, appreciation for their rights and attention to their potentials and needs.

5. Every human life, born or unborn, contributive or dependent, has value far beyond our prejudiced estimations and often biased judgments. We therefore approach all human persons, young and old, women and men, however damaged and diminished, however flawed and frail, with a sense of wonder and expectation as God begins to unfold his plan of love and redemption for them.

6. God wills to relate to us redemptively as whole persons — spirit, soul and body. Every believer may be sanctified ‘through and through’ so that their ‘whole spirit, soul and body’ may be ‘kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’ [1 Thessalonians 5:23]. We therefore relate to one another and to others as persons with a capacity for wholeness and holy living.

Community

7. Our lives are nurtured, our values formed, and our behaviors learned in community. We live in community. We ‘work out’ our salvation, in ‘reverence and awe’ within community. The salvation of persons always has significance for the community of which those persons are a part. We therefore take seriously the community context of all human life and seek to create an environment of trust, mutual support, guidance and caring.

Hope

8. We are caused to hope in Christ. We live in hope and minister in hope. Essential to our mission is imbuing the hopeless and despairing with a sense of future as they begin to discover the beauty of God’s plan for them. We do not lose heart and we do not give up on those drowning in despair.

9. While we are motivated by great optimism as to the possibility for change and new life for persons and communities, we are not naive regarding the fallenness and sinfulness of the human heart. Nor are we unaware of the evil desire of Satan to deceive and destroy, to demean and damn human persons. Further, we accept that there can be a powerful and pervasive demonic dimension evident in human systems and structures, institutions and cultures. We are called to live out our faith and pursue our mission in a fallen world that may put us at risk. All the more we are determined not to back down from any overt or insidious challenge to Christ’s Kingdom, whether that challenge is in the form of personalized or institutionalized evil.

Warfare

10. We are at war! Our Enemy is real and active. The issues of our warfare are eternal in consequence. We fight against all that defaces and defiles the image of God in human persons. We oppose all that distorts truth, enslaves the will, corrupts the heart, pollutes the imagination, robs dignity, shatters hope, undermines trust, destroys community, and separates us from the love of God and fellowship with him through faith in Jesus Christ. Our struggle is not with flesh and blood but ‘against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ [Ephesians 6:12-18]. We refuse to run from the battle or to become a fortress for our own safety and satisfaction.

11. We are not without an armory of grace to protect and empower us for the fight of faith. The ‘weapons we fight with . . . have divine power to demolish strongholds . . . [to] demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and . . . [to] take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ’ [2 Corinthians 10:3-5]. We therefore place our trust more in our spiritual weaponry than in our tangible resources.

Mission

12. Our quasi-military structure as a motif for mission and life in community expresses a necessary commitment to Christian militancy. Only when the Army is marching out in mission, to proclaim the Gospel, to be present to human need, to oppose evil, to live the Gospel in costly love, to serve with humility, to heal with compassion, is it truly a Salvation Army.

13. Unity in the international dimension of the Army as well as within our local corps communities is expressed in loyalty to the movement and its leadership, and by commitment to one another and to the great cause for which we are persuaded God raised up The Salvation Army. We therefore work to challenge as many persons as possible to own the Army’s mission, to include them in planning and action, and to inspire loyalty and trust.

14. We are committed to the poor, the powerless, the excluded, the forgotten, the pariahs among the most needy. We aim at social redemption, sustainable development and the formation of inclusive communities.

15. Our mission is integrative and holistic. Our concern is for the whole person, individually and in community. Our service is rendered without discrimination, but not without sensitivity to the circumstances and faith commitments of those we serve. While dealing with the immediate need, we recognize that often a sinner may be more sinned against than sinning, and compassion requires an awareness of the context and conditions that create situations of human need and moral failure.

16. The Salvation Army is committed to the global mission of the Church of Jesus Christ in obedience to the commission of our Risen Lord to preach the Gospel and disciple the peoples and nations of earth.

Diversity

17. We are committed to the principle of adaptability, embracing change when it can be shown to further the achievement of our objectives in mission.

18. While celebrating our global unity, we respect and celebrate cultural diversity. We affirm and are enriched by this diversity within our movement.

Witness

19. The saving, sanctifying and soul-nurturing grace of Christ is available to all by faith without the necessity of employing material elements or a dependence on ritual or intermediaries, though these may be helpful. The Mercy Seat is a constant reminder of the availability of that grace to all who will believe.

20. Music and the arts play a vital role in Salvationist life and mission, attracting unbelievers, communicating the Gospel, stirring to action and expressing our praise and devotion.

21. The uniform speaks of our availability to the public to give ‘an answer for the hope that is in us’ and our eagerness to serve others in the name and spirit of Christ. Uniform also identifies us with The Salvation Army as a Christian Church and an agency for evangelism and compassionate service.

Stewardship

22. Without apology The Salvation Army looks to the general public to support our efforts to meet the physical, social and spiritual needs of all, without discrimination. Yet every Salvationist is expected to be a faithful steward, placing his or her resources and energies at God’s disposal for the advancement of the cause of Christ and the work of the Army. We recognize that we have a responsibility as a movement to be faithful stewards of the public’s generosity, as well as the stewardship commitment of our own people. This requires of all Salvationists the highest standards of personal integrity and corporate accountability.

Army buildings and corps life

23. Fulfilling our role in the total task of human redemption requires that we build the Army — in strength, intelligence, readiness, cohesion, and commitment. We will therefore work to ensure that the Army is a fighting force growing in spiritual vitality and numerical strength.

24. The Salvation Army is the spiritual home of Salvationists. It accepts responsibility for the pastoral care and the spiritual nurture of its soldiers and adherents and their families. It is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. It is in itself a Church body, and its local corps are centers of worship and service. They provide for family worship, Christian instruction, fellowship and service, both to the community and to one another within the Body of Christ.

25. Worship is at the heart of our community in mission, as together we experience the real presence of Christ in the midst of us by his Spirit.

Calling

26. Salvationists are called to a high standard of personal dedication and willingness to live and serve sacrificially, in the spirit of Christ Jesus, who declared, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” [Luke 9:23 NRSV]. All Salvationists are therefore called to a life of joyful submission and self-sacrifice.

27. Salvationists, officers and soldiers alike, are equally bound to the movement and committed to its life and mission by calling and covenant. This is expressed in The Soldier’s Covenant, which is publicly affirmed in their swearing in as soldiers under the Army flag. By that act, they bear witness to their own experience of God’s saving grace, confirmed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ, believing that God has led them to live out their faith as soldiers of The Salvation Army.

28. We respect the dignity of all persons and value their contribution to our task. We need both the passion and potentials of youth and the experience and wisdom of the aging.

29. The relationship of Salvation Army officers to the movement is made sacred by each individual officer’s calling and covenant. We recognize the right of both women and men to equal consideration, for they are equally called and gifted by the Spirit for both ministry and leadership within The Salvation Army. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for [we] are all one in Christ Jesus” [Galatians 3:28].

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