Thousands of young Salvationists had gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square for the nation wide Corps Cadet rally. The media was in place with cameras and microphones. One journalist randomly chose a 15-year-old-girl out of the crowd to represent them all on her program. “So, what do you believe?” asked the inquiring reporter. “I haven’t the foggiest,” replied the smiling youngster, “but we have a great time!”
Is there any contradiction between knowing what one believes and having a great time? Do you feel better for being affirmed in the following: When William Booth penned “O, Boundless Salvation”, there were 17 more verses, but Bandmaster Charles Fry objected; “Not on my nelly can we play that heavy tune that many times, cut it down, I beg you please, Gen’rl Sir!”
Let us never forget those trailblazing words spoken by the Coachmaker’s Daughter from the bleachers of the New Methodist Connexion Camp Meeting; “Give me that barrel in front of the Lame Beggar for a pulpit and watch me preach!” To which the Rev. William Booth so swiftly replied; “Come on down, babe, we’re outta here!”
It is shocking that modern Salvationists are so ignorant of the Founder’s objections to organized religion. Anymore, you can’t find anyone in our corps to list even five of the 95 theses he had George Scott Railton nail to Archbishop’s door upon arrival with his wife and her three sisters at John F. Kennedy Airport.
A practically forgotten fact is that before California became the state of California and part of the United States, the Salvationists in the area called their corps “missions” which was in line with the Spanish costumbre in the New World. It was only when the Manifest Destiny politics of Washington changed the country on them that the Salvation Army’s work in California became “cross-cultural” – in an effort to accommodate the darkly uniformed white intruders under the rally cry “Remember Clapton Congress Hall!” Many missions may still be found throughout the old West, but they bear little resemblance to modern Army buildings, though the architectural–championed by Ensign Frank Lloyd Wright, Sergeant Major of Special Projects is currently seeing a revival.
It was only by a slim margin in the St. Augustine, Fla., Corps Council that the walls of the Castillo de San Marcos were erected. Mr. Mark “Marcos” Flagler, the Army’s great benefactor at this, our longest continually operated corps in North America, felt it was more in line with the evangelistic philosophy of The Salvation Army not to erect walls to keep out the seekers (mostly French soldiers and Cuban immigrants), but he bowed to the demands of democracy.
Contrary to outside-of-the-Army popular opinion, Goodwill stores were not started in order to give Army Thrift Stores competition to increase the quality of their service. This unfounded rumor also falsely claims what any amateur sleuth would reject; “Goodwill” is not a play on the Founder’s name.
OK, so I made up, reshuffled facts and fiction and exaggerated (most of) what you just read. And today you may get by without “having the foggiest” about other languages, ethnicities and cultures, and still have a good time. But when Jesus met with Nicodemus, who was “Israel’s teacher and did not understand these things” (John 3:10), He expressed surprise at Nicodemus’ ignorance. His concern was not Nicodemus flunking a pop quiz on naming Jacob’s sons or the spelling of Habakkuk. His failure was to understand how a person gains eternal redemption.
Let’s permit ourselves to be ooh’ed and aah’ed by the things we have started to take for granted. Fundamentally, this deals with what God has done in the world and personally in our lives. It calls for us to get the facts straight, to be students and practitioners of the Word; somewhat along the lines of the new Christian who was “wowing” his way through early morning personal devotions. His friend asked him what he was reading. “Genesis.” came the reply. “What’s so great about that?” “God just created the world, man!”
Believe, and have a great time!